Those pictures of Japanese scenery on Niten’s Kickstarter page look amazing. Like, seriously, uh-MAZING. If those really are screenshots ripped straight from the game, why aren’t people swarming over the project like rabid dogs, itching for a hunk of what creator Donald Macdonald has crafted? The game’s only got 13 more days to reach its £15,000 goal, but so far it’s only raised a slight £3,129. So what’s wrong? Are people simply no longer interested in a candid, beautiful first person experience? Or are there other factors at play here?
Backers are obviously intrigued by the stunning Japanese island, while others are curious as to what Niten can bring to the table. On Kickstarter, “Gary” posted “love the concept behind this”, while “laracroft” (I doubt that’s their real name) posted “those screen shots look really good”. A few, with good reason, inquired about Niten’s narrative, which Donald explained as “uncovering sections of narrative” which you can piece together post-game as a “fully illustrated graphic novel”. In the project overview, he describes it as “the history of the island its previous inhabitants; a Samurai master and his orphan-child student”.
But that’s where things get rather wishy-washy. Donald sums up Niten as being a “story-driven exploration game experienced through first-person gameplay”—the latter being obvious enough, but apart from a few lines of text, where is the story? It’s great that Donald is focusing on the gorgeous virtual island he’s created, but he can’t let that detract from revealing story details to the public. My guess is that it’s all still in the works and isn’t polished enough to bring forward yet, but without a story line Niten lacks a premise, and a game without a premise simply isn’t going to cut it—especially when it comes to the cut-throat biz of crowdfunding.
At the bottom of the overview Donald guarantees a VR version of Niten, which he speculates will be finished four months after general release, which is understandable. He also adds that he will have to “completely remake the game with VR as a sole focus.” Which sounds great and all, but if potential backers are examining a project that in all honesty is not ready for Kickstarter, will a potential VR remake really make them change their minds?
Sometimes numbers lie, but more often than not, they tell nothing but the cold, hard truth. And if Niten’s Kickstarter numbers are anything to go by, it just isn’t going to cut it. As we know, with any speculation—stats-driven or not so much—Niten could very eclipse its target and leave me with nothing but my own words to chew on. But I’ll bet cash that if something doesn’t change, and fast, Niten will be yet another hopeful Kickstarter campaign ground to dust. Donald has got to give people a reason to play and invest in Niten, and that starts by focusing on the fundamentals. He needs to reveal more of the story and how it ties in with the gameplay while also spreading the word like raging wildfire through the web, otherwise he’ll be rebuilding the campaign from scratch in less than two weeks’ time.