Surreal Games, an independent game studio created by the co-founders of mobile gaming company Cellufun, is looking to Kickstarter to fund what it says will be a 3D virtual world (also called Surre.al) that will work across devices and provide access to a wide variety of game environments.
The target for the campaign (which should be live here) is $100,000. If that doesn’t seem like much money for a big, ambitious gaming project, well, the team already raised $300,000 in angel funding, and it has been developing the technology for the past 18 months. You can see a demo of Surre.al in the video below, and as CEO Arthur Goikhman (he’s also one of the Cellufun co-founders) says, “It’s not just a gleam in our eye.”
So why raise money on Kickstarter? Goikhman said he was definitely inspired by other successful Kickstarter campaigns — he specifically mentioned virtual reality products like Omni and Oculus Rift. (In fact, he said that Surre.al will work on the Omni and Oculus Rift platforms, as well as PC, web, iOS, and Android. Meanwhile, Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Omni-maker Virtuix, described Surre.al as “exactly how I envision virtual reality.”)
Goikhman also said that maintaining creative control of the project was important, but in this case, “It goes both ways,” because project backers will be able to influence the game itself. The game’s core environment will be a cruise ship (presumably more vast and more exciting than a real ship), but the point of a cruise ship is to go to other places. So Surre.al isn’t just looking to backers for financing, but also for feedback on what they actually want to see in the world.
The hope, Goikhman added, is to build a virtual world that isn’t just of interest to hardcore gamers but to “mid-core” and casual players and backers, too.
The campaign starts now. A lot of the prizes in the campaign seem to revolve around benefits within the virtual world itself, but people who pledge at least $5,500 will get a detailed physical model of the cruise ship. The goal is to launch the game in December, though that could change if users want the team to pursue some particularly ambitious additions.
By the way, you may be thinking that when it comes to virtual worlds, we haven’t seen any big, lasting successes — the closest is probably Linden Lab and its virtual world Second Life, and that’s certainly had its ups and downs. Nonetheless, even Second Life creator Philip Rosedale seems to think there’s still a big opportunity here, as he’s working on a new virtual world startup called High Fidelity.