The Kickstarter funding drive for new single-player Longest Journey adventure game Dreamfall Chapters has begun. We knew it would.
It's a top-notch pitch. Ragnar Tornquist - boss of new developer Red Thread Games and the creator of The Longest Journey games - spent four months perfecting it. There's footage of the prototype Dreamfall Chapters game and clearly communicated plans about the project and the road ahead.
The ask: $850,000.
Ragnar Tornquist had a dream about Kickstarter, he told me, and in it Dreamfall Chapters was funded in six hours. Perhaps it was a premonition.
"How confident am I?" he mulled. "I'm confident we have done the best job we could have done in the time we had and with the money we had."
"We've put together a good pitch and we're asking for a realistic amount of money. It's high, definitely, but it is the amount of money we need. To ask for less would be unethical of us because it would mean that would need more money in order to make the game, and we don't want to lie to players."
$850,000 isn't the total budget for the game. Red Thread used a grant of $175,000 from the Norwegian Film Institute to get the project off the ground. "We are also putting some of our own money into it and we're also looking to raise a little bit more through grants and everything," Tornquist explained. Those various funding wheels are in motion but the Kickstarter money remains "the bulk of it".
"We've done the best we can," reflected Tornquist, "and anything else that happens is sort of out of our hands. We're going to work hard through the Kickstarter; we're not going to give up no matter how bleak it may look from time to time - we're going to keep pushing."
Expect the Kikstarter page to feature regular meaty updates about the project.
"What happens if we don't reach the funding is that we will finish the prototype that we have already received a grant to make, which means we'll be working on it for another month or so," Tornquist said. "Then we will start working on other things in order to, basically, feed our families and to keep our offices."
I apologised for steering him onto a rather grim topic.
"No, no, no, it's not grim," he said, "it's something that we have to be realistic about.
"The plan is for the company to be alive and to keep going. Dreamfall Chapters will be, at the very least, massively delayed [if it's not Kickstarter-funded]. We will of course then look around for other ways to fund it, ways that are not as good for us or the players, but we will try to get the game made. But instead of a year and a half, it could end up taking five years. And that is the grim reality of it.
"But we'll keep fighting and we'll keep our heads above water no matter what. We're not going to give up, but Dreamfall Chapters will not be our main focus if the Kickstarter fails."
We're going to work hard through the Kickstarter; we're not going to give up no matter how bleak it may look"Ragnar Tornquist
By comparison, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey - the last game in the series - cost "somewhere between four and five million dollars". The Longest Journey - the first game in the series - cost between $3-4 million. Assuming Dreamfall Chapters raises something like $1.5 million all told, it's still a lot less.
It is, acknowledged Tornquist, but those other projects were bloated and hamstrung in their own ways. Dreamfall: TLJ needed its licensed engine rebuilt, and it needed to cram a PC game onto inferior Xbox technology at the time. The Longest Journey, on the other hand, had an inexperienced team with expensive ambition.
In contrast, Dreamfall Chapters will be built by veterans of video game - and The Longest Journey - art and design and project management. Then there's Unity, the indie-friendly engine Tornquist couldn't heap enough superlatives on.
The Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter page doesn't mention a Mac or Linux or tablet release, but all are planned as stretch-goals.
"When it comes to tablet, though, we will wait until after launch," Tornquist said. "We definitely want to make a tablet version of Chapters but we want to make it a proper tablet version ... so it's something we want to give ourselves a little bit more time for."
Other stretch-goals will enhance the world with additional characters and locations and side-stories.
Oh and PS: if the Red Thread team looks cold in that video it's because they were. "It was very cold," Tornquist said. "We were freezing, seriously."
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