[dropcap size=big]V[/dropcap]isual novel fans should recognize the name AJ Tilley as he has gone to the crowdfunding well several times before. Including an initial campaign for Echo Tokyo back in December of last year. Well, he’s back and asking for more money to “expand the game beyond the original plans”. What this means remains to be seen as comparing the two pitches there’s not a lot changed. But, more on that later.
For those who don’t know what Echo Tokyo is, it’s a Cyberpunk theme visual novel where you play as two protagonists. Shizume Misaki is a detective in the city known as “Echo Tokyo” and her story revolves around…you guessed it. Detective work. The other character that you’ll play as is Keiji. Little is known about this guy. Even the pitch says he has a “mysterious past”, which can unravel as the game goes on.
The city in Echo Tokyo is basically an irradiated wasteland at ground level. Everyone that can lives in the skyscrapers dotting the landscape. And each of these are connected via sky bridges. No need to set foot on the ground, right? They plan on making the city pretty much open, which is a strange thing when you think about what a visual novel is. While I don’t doubt this could be an interesting and unique take on the genre, perhaps this is one reason why these extra funds are being sought.
Okay, stop me if you heard this before. Because chances are if you’re a fan of visual novels and were around in the tail end of last year you already know all of this. There’s nothing new here. So, why when they exceeded their initial funding goal in January are they still seeking additional funding? The answer is a simple “I don’t know.” Not without asking the person behind Echo Tokyo myself. The second attempt flew completely under my radar.
Here’s the thing. Not a single update announced the need for another campaign. I’ve been following the development since I backed it during the initial funding phase, and nothing that I read indicated the need to go back to Kickstarter. Echo Tokyo was doing fine by my recollection. The only setback that I heard about was having to switch out artists. Even so, it was never mentioned that it cost enough to warrant double dipping. As I said, this was all out the blue. I had to hear about it from a third person. Which is some cause for concern.
That said, it’s not the first time I’ve seen a project creator have to go back to the well but pretty much every time there’s a reason stated. Here it’s barely even discussed in the pitch of the new Echo Tokyo campaign beyond wanting to “create an even better experience for our players be they original backers or new ones”. I don’t consider this a shady excuse or a scam to get more money, but it does raise some concerns from someone who’s been around the block a few times. Still, if you missed out the first time, you’ll get a second chance now.
Update: Roughly half a day after writing this article I finally got an update from the original Echo Tokyo campaign mentioning the new campaign for Echo Tokyo. Apparently, it’s to let those who didn’t have the chance to back the first time around a second chance (which is what I figured) as well as letting more stretch goals be hit. The game is still on track an there’s nothing to be concerned about. Still, it would have been nice to get the update before going live first.