[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]any Kickstarter video game campaigns enter their final 24 hours with stress an anxiety.  Will they make their funding goal? Will key big dollar backers change their mind?  One campaign that doesn’t need to worry about any of that, and instead just jump for joy with each stretch goal crushed is the X-COM and Master of Orion 2 inspired Halcyon 6.  In development by the folks at Massive Damage, Halcyon 6 struck a chord with backers, to the point that the original $40,000 funding goal is a distant memory to the $180,000 raised as of this writing.  To learn more about Halcyon 6, the successful Kickstarter, and what’s going to happen with all of that money I spoke with Halcyon 6 producer Peter McLaren.

Cliqist : Can you start things off by telling me a bit about yourself?

Peter McLaren : Hi! My name’s Peter, I’m the producer of Halcyon 6. But we’re a small team, so I’m really part designer, part admin, part creative director, part manager. I’m one of those “multiple hat-wearers.”


Cliqist : You guys aren’t first time developers, and in fact you already have a couple solid titles you’ve released.  Why go the Kickstarter route?

Peter McLaren : We loved our idea, and because of Square Enix Collective we had a decent idea it would have some traction. Still, we knew we’d have trouble bringing it to market without kind of testing the waters further. Obviously building a game is a huge investment in terms of time and money, and nothing is ever a sure thing. On top of that, marketing costs are kind of insane right now. It’s easy for small company releases to fall into anonymity. When every third commercial on TV is Kate Upton speaking in Game Of Thrones-isms while hawking an iOS game, you know you’re in trouble.

With that in mind, Kickstarter’s just the best way for small companies to spread awareness about the game they’re creating. If you can get people’s attention, you can guarantee yourself a certain amount of traction upon release, however small. In a market where the worst case scenario is “nobody, anywhere hears about your game”, that counts as a big plus.


Cliqist : For anyone that’s missed the Kickstarter up to this point, can you explain what Halcyon 6 is?

Peter McLaren : Halcyon 6 is a sci-fi survival strategy game with crew and fleet management, combat and base-building components. Think XCOM wrapped in Master of Orion 2 with a little Crusader Kings II and FTL thrown in. In the game, the player takes control of a small crew of Starfleet-esque officers who have discovered a mysterious, ancient alien space station, which they then repurpose to help drive back a terrifying alien fleet.


Cliqist : What’s your favorite part of the game?

Peter McLaren : The roster management system and the way it creates emergent story. Crusader Kings II is definitely a giant influence in this regard. What Paradox accomplished with it is stunning, even if it’s not exactly the most attractive package. Between CKII, FTL, The Banner Saga and even something like 80 Days, I think emergent story systems are the future of narrative in interesting games.


Cliqist : Do you ever get tired of being asked the exact same questions in every interview?

Peter McLaren : Haha, well we actually haven’t had that many interviews, so not really?  With any luck, we’re going to be sooooooooo tired of it in a few months!


Cliqist : You guys are destroying you Halcyon 6 funding goals, congratulations!  What do you attribute the campaigns success to?

Peter McLaren : I wish we knew! I’ve heard a few different things from various backers. I think the art was a big part of it. If you look at other recent successful campaigns like Star Mazer or Children of Morta, having a great visual style is just huge. Also the fact that nobody else was doing a game quite like ours was important too. We’ll be sending out surveys after the fact, and we’ll let you know what our backers tell us!


Cliqist : Any concerns about getting struck by the over-funding curse?

Peter McLaren : I assume you mean with implementing the extra features and content from achieving the stretch goals? I don’t think we’re too concerned. We’ve had kind of a cyclical experience designing the game. That is to say starting with a big, perfect idea, which we then shrunk by making difficult decisions, cutting off pieces and features to make a kind of minimal, streamlined product. The stretch goals, on the other hand, are serving to bring each of those features back into the game concept piece by piece as our backer and funding pool gets bigger. We aren’t adding them just for the sake of adding them. In each case, their cost and viability were vetted months ago.

Cliqist : Your estimated release date is listed as Q4 2015. That’s right around the corner! Any concerns about making that launch window?

Peter McLaren : The nice thing about H6 is we’ve designed the game to be scaleable. Like Crusader Kings II, H6 is easy to add to and subtract from. Each new feature brought in by stretch goals will be added as a separate module via content update after release. So Q4 2015 Early Access is still reachable despite all the stretch goals, because we’ll be launching those additions after. Q4 2015 won’t have all the content we’re planning, but it will be enough to create the compelling experience our backers have demanded.


Cliqist : Is there anything more you’d like to tell our readers?

Peter McLaren : Is it too obvious to answer with “check out our kickstarter”? Haha, probably. To anyone who backed us, we’d like to give an absolutely gigantic thank you. We’re kind of stunned at how well it’s gone.

To anyone who’s maybe putting together a kickstarter of their own right now, drop me a line at peter@massdmg.com and I’ll do my best to get back to you promptly.

Also, Ken’s in the process of putting together a Post-Mortem for the kickstarter, which will also answer questions as to what we did well and what we could have done better. Well, I guess not “Post-Mortem”, maybe “Pre-Mortem”? “Mid-Mortem”?


Cliqist : Can you close us out with a Halcyon 6 inspired haiku?

Peter McLaren :

Predatory Horror,

The Chruul are the cruelest

Joke on humankind.


Or something more lighthearted:


The reactor’s down,

The Chief Engineer’s drunk,

So I press restart.

Thanks to Peter for taking the time to answer our questions!  Be sure to check out the Halcyon 6 Kickstarter campaign and see what the fuss is all about!

About the Author

Greg Micek

Greg Micek has been writing on and off about games since the late nineties, always with a focus on indie games. He started DIYGames.com in 2000, which was one of the earliest gaming sites to focus exclusively on indie games.

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