Kickstarter Page: AdvertCity
Project By: VoxelStorm
Goal: £1,200 (Already Funded)
End Date: April 15th 2014
In a nutshell: “A cyberpunk advertising tycoon strategy game, set in massive procedurally generated cities with a retro vision of cyberspace.”
This week’s choice was a tough one, not because it was slim pickings in the kingdom of Kickstarter, but because there was too much I could cover. In the end, it was a toss up between two projects: Dragon Fin Soup, a SNES style RPG with a dark fairytale tone by Grimm Bros, and AdvertCity, an advertising tycoon game by VoxelStorm. Both look fantastic, and I urge you to check them out, but I decided to focus on the project that felt more obscure to me. Still, you needn’t feel guilty about not funding AdvertCity or Dragon Fin Soup, since they’ve already been funded three times over. Everybody wins, I’m just your friendly neighbourhood “look at this cool game” guy.
When I was a snot nosed youngling it seemed liked “Tycoon” games were growing on trees. In fact, so popular and successful were games like Roller Coaster Tycoon and Theme Hospital that their copycats basically became a joke akin to modern “Simulator” games, to the point where I could walk into my local GAME store and pick up a copy of Mall Tycoon 3 and think “Yeah, that’s about right.” It seems that society’s collective growth in the understanding of capitalism, globalization and corporations left us a little too jaded to appreciate the allure of the “Tycoon” game, as they’re all but extinct now. This is where AdvertCity comes in.
Developed by Manchester based developers VoxelStorm, AdvertCity is effectively a Tycoon game for a world of sceptics and cynics. The game throws you into a growing metropolitan area filled with faceless, amoral corporations like “Planks Planks Planks” and “$MUSIC$”, who’s trust and respect you must gain by advertising their products within the city. As your reputation grows you’ll unlock more ways to advertise your cheap crap to buildings of different sizes – i.e. a billboard draws more revenue than flyers. One must be careful which companies they advertise for though, since everyone is in competition in AdvertCity. One of the most interesting aspects of AdvertCity is switching between the “Meatworld” and Cyberspace, and being able to employ physical or digital ads within those spaces respectively.
AdvertCity boasts a fairly minimalistic syberpunk look, one that could either help or hinder the final game. If the cityscape looks too complicated and lacks definition, it might be difficult to work with, but that same simplicity might also make operating within AdvertCity a breeze; it’s difficult to tell yet. One thing I am certain of is the quality of the game’s electronic-jazz-noir soundtrack. Get a load of these dark and tasty jams:
AdvertCity is a fantastic concept, mainly because of its commitment to slyly poking fun at corporate entities and the way they work. When I spent some time with the game, I was not disappointed to see this same sense of humour consistently popping up throughout the game. Mechanically, though, AdvertCity could still use some work. The game’s UI feels rather bare and unhelpful to begin with, and many of the game’s systems require trial and error to fully figure out (i.e. which companies are rivals?) The debt one gathers from bank loans also racks up in real time with no chance to pause or slow time, which could cause significant problems.
That being said, AdvertCity is toying with a really intriguing concept, and now that the developers have acquired some cash, I’m sure they’ll be able to iron out their design. According to AdvertCity‘s KickStarter page, the beta demo I tried out was assembled in one week, which is pretty damned impressive, so I’m confident that VoxelStorm can turn out a decent new take on the “Tycoon” game with more time and money at their disposal.