Last month at PAX South I had the opportunity to speak with a plethora of indie developers about their crowdfunding experiences. Their stories were as diverse as their projects, but didn’t always have a happy ending. Failure to secure necessary crowdfunding dollars can be a devastating blow to a small team, not to mention a demoralizing one. This makes the amazing comeback of Lunchtime Studios’ Lords of New York all the more inspiring.

The Kickstarter campaign launched in Spring of 2013. The developers estimated a $295,000 budget to create their 1920s poker adventure RPG. Lords of New York was Lunchtime’s first foray into crowdfunding, but not one they entered into blindly. Prior to launching their own campaign the developers backed nearly 60 other projects to get a better understanding of the process.

Despite their best efforts, and extremely precise budgeting, they were ultimately unable to secure the funds needed. It was a hard blow, but one which Co-owner Dan Higgins told me in hindsight, probably made the project better in the long run.

One of the most substantial improvements was the creation of their new animation program. The new program allows them to create highly expressive 2D character animations from a single piece of art. This serves the dual purpose of smooth, clean animation and a smaller art budget since less assets need to be created.

The scope and focus of the game also underwent some changes. The point-and-click elements and plans for console release were cut. This allowed the devs to adhere to a more focused timeline without over-promising additional features. Initially the game was primarily focused around the story-mode. After receiving feedback Lunchtime Studios added a robust multiplayer. This allowed poker-savvy fans to jump right into rounds of 4-player poker with their friends when Lords of New York launched on Steam Early Access last month.

Have I Got A Story For You

Luckily, for those of us not especially poker-inclined, the story-mode is still in the works. This is an adventure game after all and Lunchtime Studios has never been shy about their desire to deliver a compelling story against the glitzy backdrop of prohibition-era New York.

Vince will be the first character to get the story-mode treatment later this summer. Additional characters will follow as DLC. Each character has their own unique story arc that occasionally leads them to interact with the other characters. This makes the world feel more cohesive and alive for the player. Yet another sign of the supremely high quality Lunchtime has set for themselves.

Dan explained that their ultimate goal was to be the Pixar of 2D games. After seeing their animation software in action, I’d have to say they are well on their way. It has been a long road for Lords of New York. Five long years of development, failures, and successes have paved the game’s way to where it is now. A refreshing reminder that crowdfunding failure can’t keep a good game down.

Check Lords of New York out for yourself on Steam Early Access now. Or (if you’re more like me) you can always wait for the upcoming story-mode this summer.

About the Author

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Fortnite books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games as Cliqist's EIC.

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