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Editorial: Other games that need the Kickstarter approach

If you are an old-school PC gamer, it's been an extraordinary month in terms of seeing how this supposedly dead or dying platform cam still command a loyal audience. Double Fine, the development team headed up by classic LucasArts adventure game creator Tim Schafer, just completed its Kickstarter campaign this week. The team wanted $400,000 to fund the making of a classic point-and-click adventure game. In five weeks, the campaign generated over $3.3 million in pledges.

It's happening again with yet another Kickstarter project. inXile Entertainment is trying to fund the creation of Wasteland 2, the long awaited sequel to the 1988 post apocalypse RPG. Many of the team members behind the original Wasteland will be developing the second game. So far, the Kickstarter campaign has managed to raise enough money to match its goal of $900,000 in in less than 48 hours with over a month to go before the funding portion ends.

This proves two things: First, that Kickstarter is pretty awesome. Second, it proves that major game developers like Double Fine and inXile can find an audience and funding for a game that normally might be rejected if the studios tried the normal approach by pitching these games to established publishers.

So what does that mean for PC gamers? Hopefully, it means that major game developers and even big game publishers will dust off some of their older but still great game properties and use the Kickstarter approach to see if there is enough of an fan base to not only buy new installments in these franchises but also to fund their development via the crowd sourcing method.

With all that in mind, we have a few suggestions for games we would like to see revived by putting the project on Kickstarter or by using another method of crowd sourcing.

Homeworld 3 - Relic's debut game back in 1999 was simply one of the best PC games of all time, bar none. The space-based RTS title truly used 3D space to its advantage as players controlled vast armadas of ships in real time. It didn't hurt that the game looked incredible for its time and had a story line that was impressive by game standards. Relic released a sequel, Homeworld 2, in 2003.

Relic is now owned by THQ and the publisher also has the trademark rights to the Homeworld franchise after acquiring it from from Vivendi Games (now part of Activision Blizzard). However, THQ isn't exactly in the best of financial situations right now so the only way we would ever see a true Homeworld 3 is via a crowd sourcing funding model. We would be one of the first to back a Homeworld 3 Kickstarter campaign and we know we are not the only one. Are you listening, Relic and THQ?

Freespace 3 - Volition's first two games in the space combat series are simply the best if you love piloting a space fighter and just shooting things. Interplay released Descent Freespace: The Great War in 1998, and its even better sequel Freespace 2 was quickly created and released in 1999. You really felt like you were piloting a well armed space vessel, shooting it out with aliens while massive capital ships were all around. The story, the visuals and the gameplay all came together for these two terrific games.

Volition was later acquired by THQ but Interplay still had the access to the Freespace trademark for PC games. We say "had" because a quick check at the US Trademark and Copyright web site indicates that Interplay's hold of the Freespace trademark for PC gaming purposes was canceled in October 2011. That means the Freespace property could be up for grabs. Hmmmm.... we would love to see someone, preferably a person or persons who worked on the first two Freespace games, snap that trademark up and get a Kickstarter project going.

Freedom Force 3 - Before Ken Levine and Irrational Games worked on the Bioshock franchise, the developer's best games were, in our opinion, the two titles in the Freedom Force series. This top down tactical RPG series had players controlling super heroes molded in the style of the Jack Kirby-drawn Marvel Comics of the 1960s. The art style of the game matches the over-the-top look of Kirby's drawings but were totally original properties. The gameplay was solid and Irrational Games also offered mod makers lots of support.

While both games (Freedom Force in 2002 and Freedom Force Vs The Third Reich in 2005) were critically acclaimed, they didn't actually sell that well. In our view, they were a bit ahead of their time. Irrational Games is now owned by Take Two Interactive and, yes, Take Two also owns the Freedom Force trademark. Perhaps when Levine and Irrational Games finishes off BioShock Infinite later this year, they could ask Take Two for permission to launch a Kickstarter project to bring the third Freedom Force game to life.

No One Lives Forever 3 - There are a ton of classic first person shooters we could have picked for getting the Kickstarter treatment but, quite frankly, we don't think any of them would be as much fun to play as a new game in the No One Lives Forever series. Developer Monolith created the first game for the now defunct Fox Interactive in 2000. The sequel, from publisher Vivendi Games, came out in 2002 and a small side project, Contract J.A.C.K., was released in 2003.

Set in the 1960's, the games mostly centered on Cate Archer, a super-spy in the James Bond mold who works for the UNITY organization. Archer's missions were mainly to stop the evil group H.A.R.M. from completing their nefarious tasks. The mix of first person shooter gameplay with stealth elements kept the games interesting and there was more than a dash of humor along the way. That aspect of the game influenced its weapons and gadgets; players could throw lipstick grenades or even employ a robot poodle to distract guards.

Monolith was later bought by Warner Bros. Interactive. Earlier in 2012, Monolith released Gotham City Imposters, the multiplayer shooter with some of the humor that made No One Lives Forever so memorable. However, the US Trademark web site shows that No One Lives Forever is still technically owned by Vivendi Games, which later merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard. Thus, it would seem like the rights to No One Lives Forever could be in Activision's hands. Still, it would be terrific to see some developer try to take Cate Archer on yet another mission and Kickstarter could help set that up, pending permission from Activision.

Of course, there are lots of other game series that could be revived by a Kickstarter fund raising effort: Wing Commander, System Shock and Blood would seem to be prime candidates. With two big game developers now successfully funding games via Kickstarter, we hope we will see even more of this activity in the coming months.

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