Looking through Kickstarter, I see a refrain come around over and over, that it’s due to simple publisher/venture capitalist stupidity that a given project isn’t already being made. That every single project on there is an obvious moneymaker, especially the successful projects, and that there’s no possible reason other than sheer dogged stupidity that money isn’t being sunk into it.
That seems pretty immediately wrong, though, just on the face of it. I’m not going to say that rich people are smart by definition – I’ve met some staggeringly dumb people with tons of money, for example – but I will say that most successful venture capitalists and publishers don’t stay that way because they’re not good at picking what they fund. If they’re leaving money on the table, there has to be a reason for it.
Fortunately, several of these reasons are pretty obvious to me just at a glance, and I’m not even an investor. So why is it that no one is funding a given game outside of Kickstarter?
Killer apps don’t exist.
Some terminology for the uninitiated – a “killer app” is a game for a specific platform that’s so good, you just have to have it. It’s one of the big things that console exclusives are made of, games that are really awesome but just can’t be bought unless you’re willing to shell out for a Wii or a PS4 or a Macintosh or whatever. And you’ve probably heard of several; games like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog often get brought up as examples of the first killer apps.
Only they don’t actually exist. The concept and terminology has been around for a long time, usually in concert with gaming platforms, and they just don’t exist in the way that writers and even companies want to pretend they do. Absolutely no one is going to buy a $300 piece of hardware for a game. Ever. It doesn’t exist and we have to stop pretending it does.
The Jurassic Park franchise seems a lot like its main draw – it keeps dying out, then getting resurrected through increasingly flimsy means as an excuse every few years. We’re getting another movie soon, and while the temptation to see it remains because I both love Chris Pratt and dinosaurs, I also know that there’s literally no movie that has been made or will ever be made that can actually live up to what was done with the first film.
Which itself was less of a great film and more of a long love letter to special effects with a fairly straightforward plot, but at least it inspired one of the best fan videos of all time.
But I have to say, the discordant screeching of that right there is how I feel when I fire up pretty much any video game based on the franchise. Every single time. I’m not saying that every single one of them is terrible, I’m saying that none of them really replicate what Jurassic Park is or was, and we might need to find a different way to get our dinosaur-shooting impulses out in video game form. A different, non-Turok way, preferably.
I find myself for the first time in the weird position of being able to say that Forward to the Sky is probably my favorite of the vaguely anime brawler titles that I’ve played for this feature, which is not a phrase I expected to type more or less ever. Not that I consider that to be high praise, though; it just means that the game manages to deliver its contents more effectively than others.
By the same token, it’s not dismissal, either. Like so many before it, this game was and is a labor of love; the people who made it are self-described fans working to make a game that feels like an anime game, and to their credit they’ve succeeded at that. The downside is that ironic as it sounds, a game all about climbing a tower winds up without a whole lot of verticality. The demo itself feels like a demo for what’s coming next, because it’s a very thin experience; at the same time, it’s a product that clearly wants to be exactly what it is.
It’s impossible for me to properly state the impact that Super Mario Bros. had on me as a youngster. I can’t say conclusively that it was the first game I ever played, although it might have been; I can conclusively say, however, that it’s the earliest thing that stuck in my memory. It was a remarkably long time before I owned an NES, so I remember playing it constantly at the houses of friends, including a few friends who may have been less “friends” and more “other kids my age with an NES.”
The down side was a number of visits that did no favors to my ability to socialize with others as a youngster; the up side was that I can go back to the game as an adult and re-examine it to find that yes, the game is pretty damn brilliant. It’s not an endless challenge like Tetris, but it does have a number of mechanical elements that make it a brilliant challenge, and chief among those is the one element of the game that no power-up can alter – the timer.