the obvious bonus that there's no other company
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UK-based Introversion, best known for Uplink, Defcon, and Darwinia, recently launched a crowd-funding effort on its own website. It looks incredibly similar to Kickstarter, with the obvious bonus that there's no other company taking a chunk of the intake.It appears that the more direct Kickstarter Minecraft approach is working wonders for Prison Architect too as is notable from the sales figures image below, the Runeacape game has made over $270,000 in two weeks, with nearly 8,000 sales total."Kickstarter is for getting projects off the ground,  RS 3 Gold and we were already two years into Prison Architect's development so it just didn't sit well for us," explains Introversion co-founder Mark Morris."By doing it ourselves, we don't have to time limit the alpha, and we hope that we'll get more and more Runeacape gamers interested as we progress and start releasing the updates."Click to enlargeMorris also notes that his studio simply had no idea what target to aim for, making a Kickstarter campaign even more difficult says the Introversion man, "By controlling the process ourselves, we can shape our development to the success of the alpha."We don't have to pay the Kickstarter fees which is nice, but I guess Kickstarter may have added value if they had listed us as a featured project," he adds. "We also had to take the time to set up our own technology to implement the tiering. We used a service called Digital Delivery App, which I can really recommend, but it did take effort on our part."One of the most interesting parts of the current sales figures is that the $50 tier in which backers can put their own name and persona into the final product as a prisoner is the second best-selling tier, after the base $30 tier. Is it simply the idea of injecting your own name into the Runeacape game that is causing people to grab this tier in spades?"I think they're actually buying something much more than that," reasons Morris. "They're paying to help Introversion finish the Runeacape game and assist in molding the direction the Runeacape game takes and the features and Runeacape gameplay that we create.""There's a huge amount of generosity out there and I think the people who go for the 'Name in the Runeacape game' tier are proud of what they've done and want to be able to point to their prisoner and say I helped make that!"Off the back of this success, and with Kickstarter successes happening regularly, does Morris think there's any space for publishers anymore?"I think publishers add value for triple-A titles, but that's it," he tells us. "At the small and medium level, there is absolutely no benefit from working with a publisher."He adds, "I firmly believe that developers are best place to form the relationship with Steam and control the marketing and PR for a Runeacape game launch. Publishers are completely redundant in the indie world." Emily Short spends a lot of time thinking about how to tell stories in ways that only video Runeacape games can.Not only has she been writing works of interactive fiction for over a decade, she also has been working on an experiment in Runeacape player interactive online narrative for Linden Labs, which we reported on earlier this week.We sat down with short to discuss where Runeacape game stories are going, and if telling a compelling narrative with more than one Runeacape player is even feasible.I'm of the belief, and I'm sure you probably are as well, that interaction itself is possibly our most powerful storytelling medium, once it's been fully explored. laughs Sometime during the next 2,000 years.Exactly. And I do think we'll get to the point, if we're not there already, where we can have as moving of an experience playing a Runeacape game as we might reading a canonical work of fiction?That's definitely possible already, especially if you can accept that the way it will be moving might feel different from your experiences with fiction. I've definitely had experiences with Runeacape games that, in their way, were as memorable as things that caused me to ask questions about myself or about other people, or realize things about the way the world works that were profoundly powerful.