PAUL BENJAMIN: Writer, Editor, Supermodel

Kickstarter: The World-Maker

It’s no surprise to my blog readers that I love fantasy games like D&D and video games. When those two things are combined, you can bet I’ll be glued to my monitor with controls at my fingertips. One of the greatest fantasy video games of all time was called Planescape: Torment. I just funded a Kickstarter to help some of the original creators of that game build its spiritual successor – Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Sojourner of Worlds by Chang Yuan from the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter page

If you don’t already know about Kickstarter.com, here’s the basics: Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that lets lots of people give a little money online to help creative people make awesome things. You just go to the website and you can see people who make things like comics, video games, movies, gadgets – just about anything, really – pitching their ideas with short videos. There are also cool rewards available depending on how much you pledge. You might pledge $2 for some cool digital art, $20 for a graphic novel or $600 for movie/TV actress Kristen Bell to record a personalized video greeting for you. That last one is from the Kickstarter to raise money for a movie based on the Veronica Mars TV series that launched Bell’s career. The biggest reward there was $10,000 for a speaking role in the film – it’s already been taken.

If the project doesn’t reach its goal, you don’t get charged. If the project reaches its goal, you pay your pledge and get updates about the state of the project while it’s in development. If the project exceeds its goal, the makers can use that extra funding to make that thing even better.

Enter Torment: Tides of Numenera. The video game is set in the world of Monte Cook’s new tabletop role playing game, Numenera. We’re already going a little meta here because that tabletop game was only made possible when Monte Cook, famous among a niche community because of his contributions to games like Dungeons & Dragons, raised over $500,000 on Kickstarter to make his own game (his original goal was $20,000).

Covers for the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle

I was interested in Tides of Numenera from the start because of the legacy of Planescape: Torment. I finally jumped on board when I saw that if the game reaches enough pledges, they’ll add Patrick Rothfuss to the writing team. Patrick Rothfuss is one of the best fantasy authors out there today and if you’re not reading his The Kingkiller Chronicle books you’re missing out. Mr. Rothfuss wrote a lovely piece on his blog about how he came on board the project that made it clear that in addition to being a brilliant writer, he’s a nice guy I’d enjoy hanging out with at a convention. Done.

Kickstarter is changing the landscape for creators. Indie comics creators have a whole new option for making their books possible and maybe even (gasp!) profitable. Video game developers no longer have to be enslaved to a big production company’s bottom line and can make games targeted directly at the people who want to play them. I just looked at my profile and discovered I’ve helped fund fifteen projects so far. I’m sure there will be more in the future. So what are you waiting for? Head over to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and help people start creating worlds.

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