Resonance Cascade

XII Games’ Vince Twelve has just announced a pledge-based donation drive for his forthcoming indie adventure game, Resonance, which according to Twelve, is a game of “Speculative Near-Future Hard-ish Science Fiction!” The developer has even promised to put this astonishing, genre-bending tag-line on the game’s retail box if certain requirements are met. Here’s the bottom line on the deal, straight from the source:

I’ve set up a Kickstarter project for the game. Kickstarter collects pledges from kind individuals like yourself and, if the project meets it’s fundraising goals by the deadline, delivers your pledges to the creative endeavor that you’ve pledged your support to (in this case, Resonance!) In return, supporters get gifts or rewards for their pledge amounts! If the goal is not met, then no money or gifts change hands.

Twitter-toting tomfoolery aside, players of Resonance will get to control four unique characters, each of whom are searching for the secret vault of a spectacularly murdered particle physicist, and must work together to keep the scientist’s horrifying discovery from reaching the clutches of a dangerous organization looming in the background.

My two plus two cents, a trailer, more images and the various types of pledge after the jump!

The reason I want to talk to you about the pledge system in-depth is its relative youth: While subscription-based systems are nothing new in the realm of the commercial MMO, they are only slowly starting to gain foothold in the indie gaming community. Preordering, then, is not too rare (Natural Selection 2’s preorder editions spring to mind), but seeking actual pre-release funding for a game via individual donations is still a rare sight indeed. While the pledges are a variant of the subscription model, here the donations are used to directly fund projects that potentially exist only in concept - instead of maintaining a system already in existence, for instance.

In this way, the pledges can be a great enabler, a form of empowerment for smaller-sized independent companies: Instead of having to seek for private backers or attempting to secure a publisher, developers can potentially rely on a small flow of unique donations, creating a positive type of cascade: A player trusting a game with his or her donation tangibly leads to it actually being made. Not only does this mean that we, the player, get what we want, but also in the way desire: Take a look at what Trent Reznor did with Ghosts I–IV, for instance.

Finally, I should mention, the game is being made by designers and artists that have already contributed much to the community, be it in game form or otherwise: In addition to Twelve, Shane Stevens, Nauris Krauze, Nikolas Sideris, Deirda Kiai and Joshua Nuernberger are all on board. A quick Tour de Google will surely reward you with free games to play, blog posts and forum discussions to read.

Here are your alternatives, starting from $1 all the way up to $500, which gets you producer credit:

  • $1: A mention under the “Special Thanks” section of the game’s credits!
  • $15: All the above, plus a coupon to download the game for free when it’s done! This is as good as a pre-order! (This is likely cheaper than the game will be sold for when it’s complete.)
  • $35: All the above, plus an early playable sample sent to you before the end of November! (a complete scene from the game missing only voice acting)
  • $50: All the above, plus a guaranteed spot on the play-testing list. Play the game early and give feedback to improve the game!
  • $75: All the above, plus a poster, which I’ll send you as soon as the above time period is up!
  • $250: All the above, plus a character based on you will appear in the game!
  • $500: All the above, plus your name in the credits as a producer!

Under closer scrutiny, the $1-14 range does befuddle me, as you don’t actually get the game in return for your investment. This choice would only make any sense if you absolutely could not afford to pay for the game right away but still want to contribute to the game early on in development. I would also advise you not to let the rather ludicrous top-level entries dissuade you from looking at the baseline pledges; the 15-35 dollar variants, surely, are great points of entry for those looking to play the game.

Lastly, definitely worth noting is that as soon as I had pointed out to Vince that his poster pledge was slightly expensive ($100 originally, though obviously you’re not paying merely for the poster – you’re funding the game, rather), he instantly brought it down a notch. He also let us know that you will be able to order these forthcoming posters separately.

Think of the system as an inverse chastity pledge - the more you pledge, the more certainly… wait, what? Resonance, coming 2010, funded by you.