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As a virgin indie game company, it can be hard to justify the amount of time that goes into building and marketing your first (or even second or third) product; the process can be quite costly. Large game houses have the ability to raise money through publishers to offset those costs, but indies usually have to wait until after their games are done to see any compensation. Monetarily, you’re stuck fronting your time and money for projects with unknown future net profits. Emotionally, it’s hard to get attached to a game that may never become successful.

This is a definite barrier, though not insurmountable, for the independent game market. What’s the point of breaking from the traditional big-house developer model if we’re going to handcuff ourselves by following their traditional business approach?

Recently, I ran across this excerpt from a Gabe Newell interview from a little over a year ago.

What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games. In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea you have. I’ll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I’ll also get a copy of that game.’

So move financing from something that occurs between a publisher and a developer… Instead have it be something where funding is coming out of community for games and game concepts they really like.

I agree particularly with the last sentence. If indie game developers can’t raise money from publishers before a game’s development, why not look to the customers? Indies are already known for their closer customer relationships anyway. But how would this work in real life? Lunar Giant is going to try to find out.

And to that end..

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been accepted into the Kickstarter program. Host to such great projects as “Indie Game: The Movie” and “Remade“, Kickstarter is an online program that provides “a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors,” and is “powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.”

And what better project to test out alternative game funding than with Delve Deeper 2? With the Delve Deeper 1.3 patch forthcoming, we’re also taking some large steps towards making Delve Deeper 2 a reality.  With a Kickstarter funding campaign coming up soon for the game, Delve Deeper 2 is still quite a ways off. But once our project is up, we’ll be offering Delve Deeper 2 pre-orders, limited edition schwag, and all sorts of other fun one-off gifts and honors to our loyal, donating customers. Here’s a list of some of the stuff we’ve come up with so far, by donation level:

$10-$25: Your name in our special “Thank You” website, and in general, our everlasting thanks!
$25-$50: You’ll get a closed beta invite to Delve Deeper 2, your name in our beta-tester credits, and the full game when it’s done (as well as your name in our website, everlasting thanks)
$50-$100: You’ll get everything above, with a Delve Deeper Collector’s Edition (DD 1 + DD 2, a CD choc full of concept art) bundled in the “Delve Deeper Dirt Bag”.
$100-$250: You get everything above, plus you get a tshirt, and can name an enemy or a relic. Additionally, for every $10 after $100 (up to $250), you get a unique item in game.
$250+: You get everything above, plus a limited edition piece of art from Delve Deeper 2, signed and numbered
$1000+: Everything above, plus dinner and a game night with us if you’re in the Chicagoland area!

We’re looking for your input to come up with more/other ideas for donation level gifts, etc, and we’d love to hear what you guys have to say! Leave your thoughts in the comments, or email us at press@lunargiantstudios.com.

But I digress.

By raising funds early for our next big game, we believe we’ll be able to devote more time and energy to the quality and turnaround time of the product. It’ll also give us a better idea of how many people are interested in our game, and how viable it is as an idea.

I can’t stress enough how excited we all are about this project. The possibility of having customers get behind our game from the start is thrilling. And the prospect of helping to break the traditional funding mould for indie game companies is just as interesting.

So stay tuned. We’ll keep you guys updated on the process!