Above: Bolt Riley goes for a run.
Undaunted, they tried again, this time for a week and a smaller amount: a single chapter of the point-and-click adventure game. And they were successful, meeting their funding goal Friday.
“I was pretty confident despite not knowing if it would work or not most of the time, even until nearly the end when we had our photo finish,” Sharon said. “We got about 30 percent of the funds in the first two days — we launched on Friday. It mostly came from our previous backers.
“Then on Monday, we sent out a press release that got picked up, and then I sent out a wide message to all my Facebook friends and email contacts on the day before the end of the campaign. All together, that seemed to work: We got to 757 people who believed in us in that short time frame.”
They squeaked by: At the end, they received $32,104 in pledges for their $31,668 goal. (If you don’t reach your goal amount, Kickstarter does not pass along any of the money.)
Up next: Composing Trenchtown
The new cash will go toward finishing the first chapter, which follows an aspiring reggae music star as he attempts to bring together his band and overcome neighborhood toughs. Adventure Mob staff previously estimated the company has spent $300,000 on the game thus far.
“I love reggae music,” Sharon said. “I was introduced to it when playing Monkey Island in my youth. Bob Marley’s songs are in the top of my playlists.”
When a publisher expressed an interest in a reggae-themed game, Sharon jumped at the chance. The publisher went out of business, he says, but the game lives on.
“The game is in alpha stage, with most of the design and art ready, and some of the code is already in place,” he said. “We now need to finish coding, and then get voice acting. And we want to commission some original music that would be composed specifically for the game, because a great soundtrack is critical in a game about reggae music.”
Watch for Bob Marley’s car
Many of the backers commented on the art style, a colorful retro look that fits well with the reggae theme.
“We were looking at other adventure games out there, and some of our favorite TV shows,” Sharon said. “I love the show Archer, and our art style and technique is a bit similar to theirs.
“Our art director, Oran [Bar-Tal], along with the art team lead, researched the time period in 1970s Jamaica. We bought a lot of coffee table books with tons of pictures, and did a lot of research on how Jamaica looked back then, and had our team conceptualize and then produce everything by hand.
“We made sure everything is gritty and dirty, but still retains that ’80s cartoon style. That VW van, for example, is inspired by pictures we saw of Bob Marley’s actual car.”
Technically, Adventure Mob’s Kickstarter deadline for finishing up Bolt Riley’s first chapter isn’t until April 2016, but Sharon plans to finish long before that. They will distribute the game on Ouya first and then desktop and tablets. The game is two-thirds of the way toward Steam’s top 100, Sharon said.
“Crowdfunding is tricky, but I love it. I have a background in physics, where I learned some methodology of experimenting with theories, I’m glad that this experiment with a short Kickstarter proved itself.”
Raising money in the middle of a conflict
Sharon was only disappointed by one thing in his Kickstarter campaign. A friend from abroad who said he would not donate to the game because of Sharon’s status as an Israeli developer and the bloody conflict with Palestine.
Ironically, Sharon had worked with Mercy Corps just last year to arrange for the permits for six Palestinian developers to attend his annual game conference: The Israeli Game Development Day 2013. One of them was Khaled Abu Al Kheir, the Palestinian developer featured in a GamesBeat article the friend linked when explaining why he would not donate.
“I’ve read the article. I think me and my Palestinian counterpart both share the same vision about our profession. We want to make games to bring joy and fun to people. It’s very evident from the interview, and I was pleased to hear that,” Sharon said. “It feels like the choice of whether to support a game or not should be because of the game, and not because the creator’s country of origin. Regardless, I still consider him a friend.”
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