Point and Click Adventures reborn on Kickstarter

The 1980s and first half of the 1990s were probably the golden age of the adventure game. Heavyweights Sierra and LucasArts created many inventory-based graphic adventures such as King's Quest, Space Quest, Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, to name but a few. As the 21st century approached, interest in these games waned while production costs skyrocketed. Sierra eventually closed down entirely (though there are signs of it starting back up again, it remains to be seen in what form that might be) and LucasArts focused on their Star Wars franchise.


Although there have been adventures created in the meantime, such as The Longest Journey (and its sequel Dreamfall), Vampyre Story, Book of Unwritten Tales and TellTale Games' episodic continuations of the Monkey Island and Sam and Max series, as well as many fan-produced efforts, there wasn't enough to keep adventure game fans happy. And then Kickstarter and Tim Schafer came along. Schafer, of LucasArts fame, decided he wanted to do an old style point and click adventure and set up a Kickstarter campaign to gauge the interest. Adventure game fans responded overwhelmingly by making the campaign one of the fastest and best-funded ones ever.

If they can do it, surely we can, too!

The success of Double Fine Adventure stimulated other adventure game development veterans to start their own campaigns. Not all of these projects ended up being funded, but quite a few have. On the whole, being less dependent on publishiers and relying on crowdfunding has led to a resurgence of the point-and-click adventure game genre. Here's my pick of adventure game Kickstarter projects that I've backed, spending much more than I would have spent on these games back in the day. Why the extra investment? For the fun of being involved, for getting to follow the process, for some of the awesome rewards the developers come up with, and most of all: to ensure that these games get made.

My picks

Have you noticed?

Bill Tiller, who worked on The Dig, Curse of Monkey Island and created Vampyre Story deserves special mention, as he was involved in at least 4 Kickstarter adventure game campaigns, 2 of which are currently still open at the time of writing. If Vampyre Story and his LucasArts work are any indication, both Duke Grabowski and Kaptain Brawe 2 are certainly worth backing. The funding goals for these projects are quite modest, too. So go support them!

Like many projects on Kickstarter, the developers often come up with a large number of tiers from which to choose your support level. T-shirts are particularly frequently seen rewards, as well as downloadable sound tracks or piece of concept and game art. In many cases, you might even opt for a physical copy of the game when it ships. I find that option particularly appealing, but for the most part I think I'd prefer money being spent on the actual game development rather than swag.

Another thing that stands out is the timeframes. All the projects that were successfully funded have gone way past their estimated release dates. This is in part due to the increased scope of some of these projects, and in part due to underestimating the time and effort it takes to build an adventure game from scratch. Even the veterans fall into this trap. With the vast increase in graphics quality and things like writing and recording dialogue, the days of Sierra churning out a new AGI adventure game in glorious 16-colour EGA in a matter of months are long past. These projects can take many man-years to complete. That some projects have been released and others are still being worked on nonetheless is a testament to the blood, sweat, tears and love the creators put into them. When you back a game project, be prepared to wait a long time to see the fruits of your investment.