Crowdfunding has subsidized some truly incredible pieces of media over the last few years, including films like What We Do In The Shadows and the games like FTL, Hyper Light Drifter, and Broken Age. As business model, though, it leave something to be desired for many creators: Services like Kickstarter, backers only donate money during a short campaign period. As a result, some developers have turned to Patreon, a crowdfunding service that allows creators request to set up monthly donations to fund their project on an ongoing basis. (Don’t worry: Most channels still offer special rewards and access for donors). Here are a few of the best active video game projects on Patreon.
The Roguard Team
Many big-name Japanese and Korean games eventually make their way to the West with official English translations, but there are a number of others that do not, leaving potential fans with no way to understand the on-screen text. The Roguard Team is working to fix that in the popular Korean MMO Ragnarok Online Mobile with a free patch on both iOS and Android devices. Updates come out first to Patreon supporters as soon as they’re available, and to free users after four weeks. The software includes a list of in-game items with their English translations, as well as the game’s skill trees and maps. Depending on your donation amount, you can even assign more than one account to the Patreon version of the patch, so your friends can receive updates quickly, as well.
Game Maker’s Toolkit
If you’re interested in learning how to make video games, but don’t know where to begin? Consider checking out the Game Maker’s Toolkit. Creator Mark Brown’s videos outline what makes certain games and genres successful in order to help prospective developers with their own creations. One episode focuses on Nintendo’s “play first” approach to design across nearly all its games, while another explores the games that use player-characters’ deaths as a mechanic in its own right. Other videos in the series discuss everything from hand-holding tutorials to morality as a game mechanic and even “adaptive soundtracks.” Patrons who donate at least $1 a month will receive access to a special Game Maker’s Toolkit Discord server, which the community can use to discuss its latest “GameClub” pick.
Raiding in World of Warcraft is one of the most exciting features in the game, but there is nothing more frustrating than attempting to take down a boss for hours, only for your guild to fail over and over again — with 25 people gathering together at the same time to play, it can feel like a waste of time. Patreon user Kihra’s “Warcraft Logs” service began in 2013 and offers analysis on enemy encounters so they can adjust their combat strategies accordingly. Kihra still plays World of Warcraft and works to fight each boss in order to contribute data, and the program also includes logs for WildStar, Rift, and Final Fantasy XIV. Patrons enable the service’s servers to keep running, with Kihra estimating that they cost about $5000 per month.
Animation can be the difference between a good game and a great game, and the process of creating artwork from scratch can be time and cost-intensive. With more than $5000 in monthly donations as on now, Mike Inel is able to devote his time and energy to creating beautiful animations in a variety of styles. His past work includes a 3D anime adaptation of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time, and his current project is turning that idea into a 3D game. The action game features six locations as well as boss fights, and a public demo is available to try for PC. Patrons will receive a demo with what Inel calls “more defined gameplay,” as well as their names listed in the credits. While the funding is typically used for Inel’s expenses alone, he will also occasionally bring on more artists, editors, and voice actors to help with his current project.
Former GameStop video producer Danny O’Dwyer began Noclip in 2016, and the documentary series has already chronicled the development of the recent Doom reboot, Rocket League, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and even Frog Fractions. His long-form approach allows the audience to get inside the mind of developers, but his videos don’t just focus on success stories. His Doom documentary also uncovers information about the canceled Doom 4, which was going to have a survival-horror feel, while his Final Fantasy XIV series examines just what went wrong with the MMO when it originally launched. Patrons receive exclusive videos not available to other viewers, as well as a credit at the end of each documentary.
Bay 12 Games
Dwarf Fortress is a legendarily complex simulation game created by Tarn and Zach Adams of Bay 12 Games. Though it uses a very simple text-based graphical interface, there are dozens of systems under the hood and unprecedented player control. Much like Minecraft, which itself was influenced by Dwarf Fortress, the game allows you to fight against undead creatures that appear at night, build structures, and even divert water and magma away from your villages. The game also features randomly generated poetry and dances, as well as animals that are unique to each world. The title has been in active development for 15 years, and the Adams brothers have turned it into a full-time job, with backers the sole source of funding for the project. Patrons who donate will be able to have a story entry written for them by the Adams brothers, and those who pay by mail can even have a “dwarfy” crayon drawing sent to their address.
Grand Theft Auto V continues to be among the best-selling video games each month, even though it originally launched in 2013, and its PC community has embraced mods that drastically alter the experience. One developer, JulioNIB, has created some of the game’s best mods, adding Just Cause 3‘s grappling hook, the Green Goblin from Spider-man, and even the nano-suit from Crytek’s Crysis series. The Crysis mod isn’t even limited to just the player character — the weapon wheel has even been modified to look like it does in the first-person shooter. Future planned mods include Dragon Ball and the X-Men, and a full list of every mod he has created can be found here.