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Most webcomic artists use Kickstarter to sell pre-orders for a printed collection of their work. Not Fred Gallagher of Megatokyo. His non-Japanese manga webcomic about two American fanboys stuck in Tokyo is already available in six print volumes. He turned to Kickstarter to fund the creation of the Megatokyo visual novel game for the PC, Mac and Linux, using the open source visual novel game engine, Ren’Py.
From an interview with GameZone, Gallagher states:
The Megatokyo Visual Novel Game is a game based on my long-running webcomic Megatokyo. A Visual Novel is a form of interactive fiction with static graphics, background music, sound effects and a story with multiple paths and numerous possible endings. You play these games by clicking to advance the dialogue and graphics and making choices that cumulatively determine your story path. The game will be in three parts – the first part cover the content in the first three volumes of Megatokyo books, the second part covers the content in volumes 4, 5 and 6, while part 3 will be entirely new content with all the good, the bad, the neutral, the really bad and the awesome endings for the various story paths.
The response from fans was phenomenal. With a funding goal of $20,000 USD and stretch goals to $75,000 USD, nearly 5,000 fans gave under $300,000 USD in pledges. (I’ve pledged at the $35 USD level to receive all the digital downloads when they become available.) The visual novel will happen over the next 18 months, with part one due in February 2014.
According to Publishers Weekly, this kind of success isn’t unusual:
There are many more examples of successful comics projects on Kickstarter. Indeed this year comics projects on Kickstarter have a success rate of 48% (general publishing has a 32% success rate) and have raised more than $19 million funding 2805 projects so far this year.
The official website for the Megatokyo visual novel can be found here.
As a child I loved reading the classic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, which is technically possible to do with ebooks. Creating an interactive visual novel is something that intrigues me. I have the writing and programming skills to make that happen. Alas, I’m not an artist. If I ever got serious about learning how to do black-and-white ink drawings, I might do a visual novel someday.