Kickstarter has proven to be quite the haven for a few upstart gaming projects to get financial support from the people who want them most, consumers like you and I. Kickstarter will likely be giving us a new adventure game from the minds at Double Fine, a new Wasteland title, and a brand new game console in the form of the Ouya. Two more projects have landed squarely on the radar as well, and both look to be interesting for different reasons.
The first is the Oculus Rift, which bills itself as “the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for gaming.” Currently, the Rift is raising funds to get development units in the hands of game developers so they can integrate support in their games to make use of the tech. The Rift promises to be the best and most affordable immersion headset on the market when it eventually releases. The headset has a 110 degree field-of-view, and promises low-latency head tracking.
So far, the VR headset has gotten quite a few positive testimonials from many big name gaming visionaries, including Valve’s Gabe Newell, Epic’s Cliff Bleszinski, and id’s John Carmack; developer kits will actually include a copy of id’s Doom 3: BFG Edition, which is the first game optimized for the Rift.
There are several donation levels to for the Kickstarter campaign. Most of the low levels, obviously the ones intended for consumers, offer t-shirts and posters in return for donaters’ financial support. To actually receive a dev kit, you’ll have to spend at least $275 (or $300 if you want it pre-assembled). Oculus hit there $250,000 target on their first day; the campaign currently sits at over $675,000 raised with 30 days left to go.
If done right, and affordable, this could be huge for consumers if/when the product makes its way to store shelves. VR has been one of those technologies many people assume will make its way to the consumer video game space, and the Rift could potentially be the product to get it into homes. The device is likely over a year or two away, but it certainly bears watching, especially if they pick up support from many big name developers.
The other product that may have a bit more immediate relevance in the consumer space is a new digital collectible card game called SolForge that is a joint venture from Gary Games, creators of a CCG called Ascension, and Richard Garfield, who was the creator of a little CCG you may have heard of called Magic: The Gathering. You know, the game that freaking started the collectible card game genre.
SolForge looks like it will share many similarities to how Magic: The Gathering works in its online iterations. SolForge itself will be free-to-play as you will unlock new cards and earn currency as you progress through the game. Of course, you will be able to speed up the process by buying booster and starter packs to build your deck faster (though Gary Games says the price for these will be “significantly lower” than those of leading digital card games on the market). SolForge will also include a full single player campaign for you lonely folks who don’t like your card battling online (that and to unlock new cards).
The new mechanic SolForge brings is the ability to transform your cards to more powerful versions of themselves. The example given is you could have a dragon egg transform into a dragon whelp, which can then transform into a full-fledged dragon.
SolForge is designed to be played on the go, supporting fully asynchronous gameplay, which I will tell you is a welcome feature in the genre. Gary Games plans on launching iOS and PC, with a version on Android and other platforms possible if they reach their “stretch goals.”
A little confession on my part: I was a huge Magic: The Gathering fan back in the day (I also messed around to a lesser degree with the Star Wars collectible card game), and still hold a great deal of fondness for the genre. Many an afternoon were spent battling and tweaking my various decks with my best friend at the time who lived across the street, and I made my poor mother spend more money than she should have to acquire more cards. As many folks of my generation did, the game phased itself out of my life when I got to high school, and I didn’t pay it much mind until the Duels of the Planeswalkers games appeared on PSN a few years back. It’s now a bit of a guilty pleasure for me (and thankfully, the DotP versions don’t have much in the way of purchaseable upgrades), as my love for the series was re-kindled.
So yeah, my interest is a bit piqued for SolForge. The concept looks interesting, and the ability to play it across platforms makes it very easy to stay immersed in the game. That said, an Android version will be mandatory for me to get down with this, as I don’t, and likely will never, own an iPad or any other Apple device. Considering Android has the largest market share of any mobile OS out there, you would think an Android version of this would be automatic; after all, how will I play this on my Ouya if there is no Android support? But I digress…
Gary Games is also aiming for $250,000 on this one, though they aren’t yet seeing the immediate return the Rift has seen. SolForge is currently sitting at just over $25,000, or about 10% of their goal with 39 days to go. I do hope they make it, as a collectible card game built from the ground up for a digital interface, as opposed to one being shoehorned in, is an exciting proposition. I wouldn’t be surprised if I put my venture capitalist hat on again for this one.