By Rory Appleton
The Fresno Bee
A determined group of developers has nearly funded a project to bring horror movie franchise “Friday the 13th” to the multiplayer gaming realm, and they’re promising absolute authenticity. In other words, the game will feature enough gore and digital nudity to make even the most hardened traditional game publisher crack.
That’s why Gun Media took the project to Kickstarter, where 7,100 hungry horror fans have donated nearly $500,000 to the cause. Using crowd-funding will allow the development team to stay true to the franchise without having to compromise with people in big offices over things like ratings and release windows, they say. The campaign aims to reach its goal of $700,000 by Nov. 13.
I’ve been interested in this project for a long time. “Friday the 13th: The Game” actually started out as “Slasher Vol 1: Summer Camp,” one of two asymmetrical multiplayer games announced in late 2014 — the other being “Last Year.” An asymmetrical multiplayer game is one where a team of several weak, specialized characters team up against one player controlling a strong super-character.
Both games promised players the chance to control one unstoppable killer or one archetypal teen (the jock, the bad boy, etc.) working to escape his machete. The characters in both were blatant rip-offs of “Friday the 13th.”
It was “Summer Camp” who emerged victorious, as “Friday the 13th” creator Sean S. Cunningham personally sought out Gun Media to begin a collaboration on a proper game adaptation. “Summer Camp” became “Friday the 13th,” which is slated for an October 2016 release — if the funding comes through.
“Last Year” was also successfully crowd-funded, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the “Friday the 13th” architects attempted to hack its competitor to pieces in courtrooms due to a potential licensing dispute. The summer camp map on “Last Year” is seriously called Camp Silver Lake, as opposed to Camp Crystal Lake, the film franchise’s setting. The killer also looks exactly like Jason Voorhees, the hockey-mask-wearing asthmatic who has murdered teenagers on big and little screens for nearly 40 years.
“Summer Camp” was already well on its way before the re-branding. The project’s Kickstarter page is designed to finish and polish the game, which has been in development for a year.
The Kickstarter page is a beautiful example of how to drum up support and buzz for an ambitious video game concept. It features several behind-the-scenes videos with executive director Randy Greenback, a developer with 20 years of AAA experience, as well as Cunningham and Kane Hodder, who portrayed Jason in several sequels and will assume the role for the game’s motion capture.
And let’s not forget Tom Savini, that awesome dude who plays minor parts in basically every B movie made in the last 30 years. He’s also done the special effects and makeup for dozens of horror movies, including the original “Friday the 13th.” He will apparently be coordinating the look and feel of the game’s version of Jason.
The page tells exactly what the game will entail: a team of counselors must use various skills and their environment to escape or defeat Jason, who is nearly unstoppable. The gameplay appears similar to other asymmetricals like “Evolve.”
Gun Media acknowledges that balance is always the number one issue in these types of games. My biggest fear would be that the team, which is clearly comprised of horror fans, overloads the Jason character with too many amazing features, making it impossible for the counselors to survive. The team acknowledged this, noting that it will be a major development priority going forward.
The funding campaign also lists exactly where all the funds will go with a nifty pie chart. If you are leery about investing, a graphic showing exactly where each dollar goes may be comforting. Pretty pictures and actual spending are different things, but it’s an effective tool for raising money.
Overall, the Kickstarter page is something that should be mirrored by all looking to fund a major game project. Tell us what it is, give us as big a look inside the process as possible and show us where our money will go.
If the game releases in any shape or form, it will probably be better than the 1989 adaptation for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I was only a baby when it came out, but trustworthy publications like Nintendo Power and Game Informer named it one of the worst games ever made.
I am hopeful about the project. It seems to have a clear vision and path. It is a shakeup for the horror game genre, which is incredibly stale from decades of single-player point-and-click scare generators. I know that many, many things could completely doom the game between now and next Halloween, but I’m looking forward to calling dibs on the “Girl Next Door” counselor. She seems really lame, but I bet she will have some hidden power that makes Girl Next Door players vital assets.