FPS roguelike Paranautical Activity sets its sails for Kickstarter

UPDATE# 2: Campaign ends a success, Oculus support added.

UPDATE# 2: Paranautical Acivity's Kickstarter has ended a success, raising $12,540 with a goal of only $10,000.

Since it skirted past the $12K mark that means the developer will add Oculus Rift support to its already in beta first-person shooter/roguelike.

UPDATE: Paranautical Activity developer Mike Maulbeck has responded to my concern that the beta reward on Kickstarter would be a tough sell when people can simply buy the beta for $2 more right now and not have to wait for the campaign to end to receive their code.

Apparently the developer can send out codes prior to the campaign ending if he were to PM backers individually, but they could still cancel their pledge and reap the benefits that way. "Once we hit our goal I may be able to send out codes, but Kickstarter doesn't give me access to any real information (email addresses and such) until the campaign is over," Maulbeck explained to me in an e-mail. "So I'd have to resort to sending each individual code manually via Kickstarter PMs. Also people would still be able to cancel pledges, which means people could just pledge, get a code, and remove their pledge."

Maulbeck isn't too bothered by this as he doesn't believe the beta is the main reason people donate in the first place. "I imagine the big selling point of the Kickstarter isn't getting beta access. It's neat exclusive stuff like shirts, physical copies, or designing stuff to be implemented into the game," Maulbeck told me. "A lot of people who already bought the game from our site have gone out and given us a bunch of extra money for the Kickstarter to take advantage of these exclusive goodies."

It's a strange conundrum developer Code Averice has found itself in, with a game that's simultaneously already commercially available, but not quite complete - like a Schrödinger's cat of video games. "We're in a pretty unfortunate situation where we have a game that isn't what we want to call done, but we aren't making enough off of it to continue development," Maulbeck said. "The only way we can generate a big enough press storm to get the sales/funding required to keep on going is either to release it and rely on press from reviews/release coverage, or do a really weird Kickstarter like this. We've opted for what seemed to be the best of two strange options."

"The way I looked at it is there was no downside to just going balls deep and seeing what happens. We tried our best to make interesting tiers for both existing fans and people new to the game. Fans get an opportunity to snag exclusive goodies, new people get discounted access to the game, everybody gets a more polished and interesting experience thanks to the extra funding."

Original Story: Randomly generated first-person shooter Paranautical Activity has seen something of a stormy development. In June it received some attention from Adult Swim, which should have been a major boon for the two-person New Jersey-based developer Code Averice, but it turned out to be a lackluster opportunity when the publisher discovered that it couldn't guarantee a release on Steam, allegedly due to the fact that the game was already on Steam Greenlight and Valve didn't want the publisher to override the process.

With that option no longer desirable, Code Averice has gone the newly conventional route of Kickstarter to polish up its FPS/roguelike hybrid.

While Paranautical Activity is already out in beta form, Code Averice isn't yet satisfied with the project. "Paranautical Activity is our dream game - a combination of all our favorite things gaming has to offer. We want to keep working on it for as long as we can to make it the best game it can be," said Code Averice's Mike Maulbeck on the Kickstarter page. "Unfortunately, the longer we work on it, the more money it has to make to be financially viable. We're getting dangerously close to a point where Paranautical Activity will be more expensive than we can afford, and we'll have to wrap it up and move on."

Paranautical Activity is already for sale on the developer's site, Desura, and GamersGate - where players can buy it for $9.99 on PC, Mac or Linux - so that's helping Code Averice sustain itself somewhat. "While these sales aren't quite enough to sustain development, they make a great buffer," Maulbeck said, but noted that it would need another $10K in combination with these trickling sales to continue development for another four or five months.

This extra development time would go into adding new enemies, items, weapons, bosses, and levels. At the $12K stretch goal Oculus Rift support would be added, followed by an endless Infinite Mode at $15K, a co-op mode at $20K, and competitive multiplayer at $30K.

Prospective backers can support Paranautical Activity for $8 and receive a beta key when the campaign ends on 3rd September. Unfortunately, Code Averice can't send codes out before the campaign ends - possibly because it can't risk giving out rewards if the campaign fails, or perhaps it's Kickstarter's policy. I'm not really sure, but have asked the developer to clarify if it will be able to distribute beta codes when it hits its goal. It seems like a tough sell when people could just buy the beta now for an extra $2, though I suppose that money would also be going to the developer, so that's not exactly the end of the world for them.

More patient players or returning fans can pitch a little extra to get other goodies like a digital download of the assets required to make a physical copy of the game, while $18 donations come with the soundtrack and two beta keys.

Paranautical Activity's current total comes to $4,453 with 28 days to go before its 3rd September deadline.

It's also afloat on Steam Greenlight, hoping to recoup from its loss of momentum when Code Averice thought Adult Swim could coax Valve into bypassing the process.

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