Friday, September 16, 2005

The Arcadia Project

I’ve written before about micro-funding game development, where subscribers have access to a game as it develops and can suggest new features, changes, etc. Shaun Sullivan of the excellent series PureSim Baseball (, now being distributed by Matrix Games) had a subscription model at one point in the series, and the outstanding independent game Mount & Blade ( has a setup where you can “buy” the game before it’s actually completed, play the game in its current version, make recommendations, and download all updates. Best of all, it’s $12 versus buying it after it’s released for $25.

Derek DiBenedetto of Stormcloud Creations is using a version of this micro-funding model to fund “The Arcadia Project.” Here’s a description (from the website at
This project is the very first fully community supported, community development-assisted and funded PC game project ever done, on a level never before attempted. We'll be starting from the GROUND UP. You can help us name the game, add and tweak features, submit stories and ideas, and vote in polls for new features, all on our special members only forum.

The subscriptions are $16.95 versus a projected final purchase price of $19.95, so you save three dollars and also get to fully participate in the game as it develops.

If this were a new developer with no track record, this funding model wouldn’t be realistic, but Derek has a long record of making interesting games with almost zero budget: Interstellar Trader 2, Coliseum (the gladiator game I wrote about last year), and Voyager are all interesting and fun games. So it’s an investment in someone who does have a track record and does have talent.

Here’s a description of the game (again, from the website):
The game itself: You can recruit adventurers, view detailed stats on their abilities, age, birthday, height, weight, everything. Build a camp of 6 adventurers, and put together parties of 4 and send them on dangerous quests to many realms, in search of riches. They can get hurt, killed, possessed, or a host of other things, and you may be offered choices in the story according to what happens on their quest. You must sign them to contracts (called 'pacts') to keep them working for you, all the while keeping yourself in the black financially.

The game is intended to be a "Championship Manager" combined with a RPG sensibility, complete with adventurer 'personalities' that emerge over time.

That’s a terrific idea for a game. And I think this funding model is going to be very successful for developers who are one or two-person operations. These kinds of projects are a major reason why games developed for the PC will continue to be interesting, even if most of the highest-budget titles wind up on console platforms in the future.

Site Meter