Indie developer Pixelbionic has a lot going on this week: Its game gets a name change, a new designer behind the wheel, and a just-launched Kickstarter campaign seeking $650,000 in funding in the next 31 days.
Pixelbionic’s game started life earlier this year as Autoduel, an online combat car game that sounds like a cross between Twisted Metal, Interstate ’76, and Guild Wars. Players customize cars and form teams to do battle and complete other objectives to earn more customization options and materials. Co-founders Mike Arkin and Maxx Kaufman were later joined by Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe and Interstate ’76 creator Zack Norman, for an extra dose of authentic car battle game DNA.
Now renamed MotorGun, Pixelbionic’s team picks up Gears of War and Unreal Tournament Lead Designer Lee Perry to uphold the creative direction of the game and bolster its battlegrounds. Perry plans to design an exclusive battleground for backers as part of the campaign’s stretch goals.
Navigating Kickstarter for a first-time developer isn’t easy, but Pixelbionic has a wealth of successful games campaigns to learn from. Co-founder Arkin (pictured, right) told Gamesauce that the team even received personal mentoring from Wasteland 2‘s Brian Fargo (which closed with over $2.9 million in funding on a $900,000 goal) and HEX’s Cory Jones (closed at over $2.2 million on a $300,000 goal).
“We are very lucky that there have been some great Kickstarters before us,” Arkin said. “We’re trying very hard to take all the lessons that those people have communicated to us and use the advice wisely.”
Over the last eight months, Arkin and his team have planned out goals and rewards for its Kickstarter campaign. Aside from Perry’s exclusive battlegrounds for backers, the upper tiers of funding grant backers exclusive cars as well as access to the beta and even the alpha version of MotorGun. Lower tiers get access to the game when it launches and an MP3 of the game’s soundtrack.
The stumbling block many first-timers encounter is pledging more than they can deliver either in content or physical rewards. Arkin says the team is aware of this obstacle and that he and Kaufman have done the math to avoid it.
“Max and I are experienced developers and we’ve planned the project and budgeted very carefully,” he said. “We’ve been conservative about the features that we’re promising and the stretch goals where we can announce new features we’ve already planned.”
MotorGun is targeting an October 2014 release. After the Kickstarter campaign closes, players can still pay for the game or make donations on Pixelbionic’s site.
“Once it launches, we plan to add content – more battlegrounds, more vehicles, more parts, more game modes,” Arkin said. “We plan to keep adding things… until we stop.”
AJ Glasser is a Bay Area games journalist with seven years of editorial experience both online and in print. Her studies in virtual communities and background in news reporting have consistently increased traffic to every site on which she’s worked. But the real reason people keep hiring her is to hear horror stories from her days of localization and quality assurance testing in manga and video games. She holds a master’s in journalism from Stanford University and a bachelor of arts in international relations from Mills College.