By Joseph Leray
Lab Zero Games, the minds behind the cross-platform PC and PlayStation 3 fighter “Skullgirls,” are asking fans of the game for $150,000 to create, develop, test, and release a new character: an undead opera singer named Squigly, who hosts a parasitic snake living inside her.
In most cases, this type of thing would be handled internally with publisher money, but there’s a hitch: Autumn Games, the publishers of the Reverge Games-developed “Skullgirls,” is in the middle of a costly legal battle related to some of their other projects. With cash running out, Reverge Laid off the “Skullgirls” team, who reformed as indie outfit Lab Zero to further support the game.
Before the Lab Zero team was laid off, Squigly was about 30% finished, which amounts to a $50,000 discount for the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Here’s a breakdown of how the money will be used:
•$48,000: Staff Salaries - 8 people for 10 weeks
•$30,000: Animation and Clean-up Contracting
•$4,000: Voice recording
•$2,000: Hit-box Contracting
•$5,000: Audio Implementation Contracting
•$20,000: QA Testing
•$10,000: 1st Party Certification
•$10,500: IndieGoGo and Payment Processing Fees
•$20,500: Manufacturing and Shipping Physical Rewards
Here’s what stands out to me: almost 20% of the raised money will go to IndieGoGo fees and shipping physical rewards, which include T-shirts, posters, postcards, and CDs. Gotta spend money to make money, I guess.
Lab Zero have already raised over $140,000, so it’s extremely unlikely that Squigly won’t get funded. When she is, she’ll be available for free for the first three months, when her price will go up to $5.
As is common in crowdfunding ventures, the Squigly campaign also includes several stretch goals, should the funds raised exceed the $150,000 asking price -- a story mode for Squigly and up to two new characters with unique stages. For reference, Lab Zero’s Peter Bartholow told Kotaku that the budget for the entire game was about $2 million.
Squigly herself is a neat character: her pet Leviathan makes her a long-range fighter, but her dash speed and jump are floaty. To compensate for that, she has special moves that affect the in-game character to disorient opponents by forcing them to keep up with the change in perspective.
While crowdfunding and the ballooning development costs that require it are nothing new, it seems like smaller teams are finding unique twists on the system that suit them best. Klei and Introversion have been successful with paid demos for “Don’t Starve” and “Prison Architect,” respectively, but Lab Zero’s attempts to fundraise a specific piece of DLC are the first, from what I can tell.
For more information on Squigly and Lab Zero’s plans for new characters, be sure to check out their IndieGoGo page.