Oh hey, Black Isle Studios! Long time no see guys. What, it’s been about nine years?
Back in December 2003, celebrated RPG development house Black Isle Studios died. They died because their publisher Interplay was also dying. Most of the team went off to join other development studios such as Obsidian Entertainment. Others did not.
Now it looks like those others have decided to revive Black Isle Studios and what do you know, they want your money. No, this isn’t another Kickstarter campaign; Black Isle is happy to take your money upfront and give you pretty much nothing in return for your generosity. Yep, sounds a little dicey/ballsy/presumptuous – take your pick.
The newly revived Black Isle Studios has a game idea. That idea has some pretty concept art and a four paragraph description over on the newly launched Black Isle website. The game idea is known by its codename Project V13, which is the same codename they had for that Fallout MMO that Bethesda managed to block from being developed because of IP ownership. This means that they’ve probably reworked their original Fallout MMO into this new Project V13.
So where does the money come in? Over on their website they’ve got a donation slider ranging from $5 all the way up to $10, 000. At the moment, they’re asking for your money so that they have a budget to build a prototype of the game. (I’ll just let that sink in.) Yes, this is a funding drive in order to fund a prototype of Project V13. If it’s successful and if the prototype turns out to be feasible, then there’ll be a second fund raising drive in order to make the final game (my money is on this second one being an actual Kickstarter campaign). So basically, this is a fund raiser built in order to fund another fund raiser.
Deciding to give Black Isle some money now, won’t get you a copy of the game once it eventually releases. No, instead of giving you a copy of what you’re essentially investing in, you get access to their forums. Seriously. If you contribute a minimum of $10 then you’ll be able to read their developer forums. You’ll also get some forum badges and a certificate saying how awesome you nearly are. If you pledge a minimum of $20 then you’ll get to actually post stuff on that forum. You’ll also get some slightly shinier forum badges and a certificate saying how so very close to full-awesome you are. Finally, if you happen to be one of the top 20 contributors, then you get all of the above, as well as a listing on their “Top 20 Contributors” board and a certificate guaranteeing your gullibility awesomeness.
Putting the “being a dick” cap aside for a moment, Project V13 actually sounds pretty cool. It’s basically a post-apocalypse RPG with RTS and management elements thrown in. You get to design a character who levels up and learns skills, but you also get to run a post-apocalypse settlement, which is where the RTS/management elements come in. You can read more about it over on the official Black Isle website. There’s also a very cheesy video in which the team introduces their idea against the backdrop of the Mayan apocalypse. If you just want to hear about what they’re planning to make, then skip to 2:30 on the video.
While Project V13 certainly sounds like it has potential to be interesting, the way Black Isle is going about funding a fund raiser is a little off. Perhaps I’m just in hyper-scam-awareness mode after this week’s wonderful WarZ circus? Whatever the case may be, Black Isle is well aware of how odd this approach is and they’ve provided an update post on their page. I’d paste the most important pieces of that update, but they’ve managed to disable text copying and I really couldn’t be bothered to type the whole lot out. You can read what they say on the “Updates” tab on the main page.