By Nathaniel Liles
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m just as guilty as the rest of the internet when it comes to the crazy hype surrounding the Potato Salad Kickstarter. I do my job here with two glorious monitors, and for a day straight, one of my screens was perpetually watching that damn campaign, and it was hilarious to follow it and chime in with social media. My friends and I watched as it reached $75,000, and we watched as $30,000 of that suddenly disappeared. We watched as Zack Danger Brown went on talk shows and received a tater tot salad recipe on Twitter. It was hilarious, and it was an extremely interesting social phenomena. We recognized that it was just a $75,000 joke, and we were all in on it.
Unfortunately, crowdfunding isn’t a joke. Places like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo aren’t places that you go to play a joke. While the media saturation that this project evoked wasn’t Mr. Danger Brown’s fault, it still had far-reaching negative effects. Kickstarter is where artists and game developers go to follow their dreams and seek the funding they need to buy things essential to the development process like materials, talented help, and licenses, and while the entirety of the internet was focused on the Potato Salad campaign, we missed out on some really cool ideas. Not only that, but the developers missed the chance to make the game of their dreams. They missed out on a chance to share themselves with the world, and if you donated to Potato Salad, it’s your fault.
This article stands to memorialize the failed dreams and missed experiences of an entire gaming community that could’ve benefitted from a more meaningful contribution. Instead of backing Potato Salad, maybe you could’ve backed FranknJohn, an incredibly well stylized adventure game where you beat things with your head. You could’ve enjoyed crazy, randomly generated roguelike, and you could’ve even enjoyed it with a friend over local co-op. There are dozens of hats for you TF2 fans out there, and tons of swappable body parts that act as equipment. This is one of the coolest projects I’ve ever seen not reach its goal, and £30,000 isn’t even close to outlandish. Unfortunately, after a full round of waiting around for people to fund it, it didn’t even meet half of its goal, finishing up a few days ago with only £13,346 pledged.
Another casualty of misappropriated crowdfunding was the single most original and fun-looking puzzle game I’ve ever laid eyes on. It was called Hard Rain, and it was a combination of tower defense-style gameplay and the physics-based fun of a pachinko machine. Think Peggle, but you’re playing as the pegs. You could’ve been taking advantage of differently powered hexagons to keep a flood of hundreds of pachinko balls from succumbing to gravity, challenging your mind and your understanding of video game physics. The developers even had an alpha demo available, and it was awesome. The graphics were gorgeous, the music was appealing as hell, and they were only asking for $5,555 to finish this great game.
Another game that failed during the Potato Salad craze was an MMO I was certain would be funded. You may’ve already read about Esyra the Dragon Slayer here on Cliqist.com, but the game didn’t even come close to its goal, reaching only €137 of its €5,000 goal. It was an MMORPG, and while those are in no short supply, this one might’ve changed everything we know about online gaming. It was going to give players the option to play single player as well, and since most MMOs would be horrible if you were playing alone, it was being built from the ground up to be fun either way. An MMO that holds up without its community is something that the world has never seen before, and we could’ve all been enjoying that. The graphics were positively stunning, and now we’ll never got to slay those dragons.
Do you have a graphing calculator? Did you help fund the Potato Salad campaign? Well then I guess you won’t be playing video games in class this next semester, because TUGWACSA would’ve allowed you to do just that by bringing the genre of classic RPG right to your calculator. Your teachers wouldn’t suspect a thing, and the developer of TUGWACSA were only asking for a meager $1,500. That’s only a fraction of the money blindly thrown at the Potato Salad campaign.
There’s also GeneRally 2, a top-down arcade racing game with massive potential to be modded and added onto by the community. We’ve all seen the effects a good fanbase can have on a moddable game. Just look at either LittleBigPlanet game! A healthy modding community can make a game thrive forever, and not only that, but the original GeneRally is already done, free, and fun, complete with a ton of user-created content. There was also a playable demo of GeneRally 2 available to anyone who visited Kickstarter, but since side dishes are so important to the people of Kickstarter, this project only reached £6,350, less than half of its modest goal of £20,000.
So, you may be wondering… What’s the point of all this? Well, it’s simple. While internet communities the world over were entranced by a creamy side dish, dozens of people lost the opportunity to create art, music, and video games that will now never exist. Zach Danger Brown did nothing wrong. He’s not at fault here in any way. He just wanted to make some potato salad. He didn’t even know how, and that’s okay. The fault here is with every single person who donated to this ridiculous campaign. Your five dollars could’ve helped a musician create an album that would’ve changed your life. Your ten quid could’ve created a work of art that brought big, manly men to tears of big, manly joy. Your attention, your appreciation, your shares on Facebook, your Tweets, and your money could’ve created the single best game that has ever been made or ever will be made. Now we’ll never know.
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ere’s what you can do to fix this. Go find a Kickstarter page that’s currently seeking funding and donate. Donate half of what you gave Zach Danger Brown and you will have done immeasurably more good than his potato salad ever could have. Maybe you can donate to Apocalypse Neighbors or Choice Game. How about the gorgeously atmospheric Temporus or maybe the cute, quirky Pixel Soccer. Maybe you prefer to someday see the glorious, pixelated vistas of The Deer God or the rust-laden world of InSomnia. Every week we post dozens of new campaigns, each one as glorious as the last, but so many games never saw the light of day because of potato salad. Don’t let any of the failed campaigns I’ve spoken of here lie dead in vain. Take the money you’ve pledged to potato salad. Withdraw your support and give it to something that’s truly worthwhile, and let a new wave of glorious crowdfunded games be born in the wake of potato salad.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg” ]Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free on his BandCamp page. You can watch him play games on his Twitch channel. You can also follow him on twitter at @NathanielLiles. And finally, you can read more of his writing over at EliteGamingComputers.com. He’s a pretty connected guy. [/author]