Three years ago Jason Rohrer signed a deal to make his first game for a traditional publisher. The man bend the now iconic Passage (a game that seems to have made everybody cry, at some point), reached an agreement with Majesco to make an ambitious political game for the Nintendo DS. Diamond Trust of London was modeled after German board games and set in Angola in the final weeks of diamond trading before the Kimberly Process too effect, a program designed to limit the sale of conflict diamonds.
Development went forward without much difficulty, but there was increasing reservation about how profitable the game could be as a cartridge, which are significantly more expensive to manufacture than disc-based games. Majesco told Rohrer they would manufacture the game if he could get 3,000 pre-orders sold through GameStop. He only got 23.
Majesco eventually gave the game back to Rohrer. He then set it up with Zoo Entertainment, who planned to publish it through their IndiePub label. The game was originally supposed to be released sometime in the fall of 2011, but it never arrived and no announcement was made about its status. Two weeks ago, Rohrer announced a Kickstarter page for the game, asking for $78,000 to help finance a run of 1000 cartridges.
With 5 days to go the game has raised almost $77,000 from more than 1,100 backers. Interestingly, the game’s donation categories scale up dramatically, entering a price category that seems more befitting of a fine art auction. Donors who pledge $10,000 will get copies of the game hand-delivered to them in their towns anywhere in the world by Rohrer and Tom Bailey, who wrote the game’s soundtrack.
The project is notable because, unlike many other game projects on Kickstarter, it is essentially finished and the funds being raised are meant to cover the high cost of manufacturing the game and avoid digital distribution.