Sometimes you come across a crowdfunding campaign that you really want to like. Something about the aesthetic or concept speaks to you. Somehow though, the campaign page fails to live up to its promise. Such was the impression I came away with from the Indiegogo campaign for Deep.
On the surface (ha, water puns) Deep has all the trappings of an enjoyable 2D survival horror story. Played as a side-scrolling mystery and claiming to serve up fast-paced combat, environmental puzzles, and a gripping story. Unfortunately, this is conveyed through a deeply boring trailer.
Featuring the main protagonist, Mark, the trailer would have been a great time to tease the story and build suspense. Instead he steadfastly wanders around with nary a horror in sight. The trailer does introduce one tentacled monstrosity, but gives no sense of what’s happening with the combat system.
One particularly noteworthy aspect of the campaign is that despite launching on Indiegogo, it has a fixed funding goal. Typically developers take to Indiegogo over Kickstarter specifically to take advantage of the flexible funding method. It’s a dangerous gambit to demand an all or nothing approach on a platform which already sees far less traffic than its competitors.
Still, I want to like Deep. I like the premise of an outsider getting wrapped up in the mysteries of a creepy coastal town. The pixel art looks good and lends a bit of an old fashioned and remote feel to the environment. Some of developer, Remolino Lab’s ideas sound interesting, only to be presented very poorly on the page. Part of this is likely due to language barriers, as many of the typos and word choices clearly just come from the developer not being a native speaker. The page could arguably improve with some editing, but not all of the project’s issues are so superficial.
No News Is Bad News
Basic project information is completely absent. One of the stretch goals teases the option to play as Diana in chapter two, but there’s no mention of the game being episodic or who/what Diana has to do with any of this. Towards the bottom of the page the developer mentions that he has “many ideas for the development of the game,” but doesn’t bother elaborating on any of them.
This could easily be attributed to the aforementioned language barriers, but I’m concerned it’s more to do with inexperience and perhaps a bit of naivety on the dev’s part. Selling a campaign to backers is different than selling a game to players. You can’t just hint and tease your ideas or plans, you have to let them know right up front what you are going to make. All the boring details; how it will be made, when it will be done, what you’ll do to make backers part of the development process. All of these things are absent from Deep’s campaign.
At the end of the day, potential doesn’t bring in funding half as well as preparation. Deep may be a great game, but it’s campaign has a long way to go still.