KICK OFF

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“[Kick­s­tarter] needs to clean up its soft­ware be­cause the back end is ter­ri­ble,” Lan­ning tells us when we ask if he has any other is­sues with crowd­fund­ing. “Almost ev­ery­one who is get­ting into crowd­fund­ing re­alises too late that they’re sign­ing up to de­vote most of their en­ergy to be­com­ing a phys­i­cal goods dis­tri­bu­tion company. They prom­ise T-shirts, hats and all this stuff, but Kick­s­tarter isn’t cap­tur­ing the shipping in­for­ma­tion from the peo­ple who’ve in­vested in those tiers. A lot of peo­ple use a sep­a­rate email ad­dress for pur­chases, so now you’ve taken some­one’s money, but you don’t re­ally have a way to com­mu­ni­cate with them. So while I find Kick­s­tarter an in­ter­est­ing model, for a Sil­i­con Val­ley boom­ing web 3.0 company, I think it should fix the damn soft­ware on the back­end and lis­ten to the com­plaints that vir­tu­ally ev­ery one of their suc­cess­ful cam­paigns has had.” lav­ish worlds and cin­e­mat­ics, but also fur­ther strengthen the link be­tween its cre­ators and the com­mu­nity. Lan­ning ap­pre­ci­ates the po­ten­tial ad­van­tages, but has mis­giv­ings about sys­temic prob­lems with the crowd­fund­ing model.

“There’s a game that’s be­ing played with crowd­fund­ing,” he says. “I don’t mean this in a neg­a­tive con­text, but we have to ac­knowl­edge it: you al­ways ask for less than you need. If you’re ask­ing for $2 mil­lion, no one’s go­ing to do­nate. So you have to fig­ure out how you would de­liver some­thing at your low cap­ture. If you have all the archived as­sets like we do, if you have good re­la­tion­ships and a pas­sion­ate team like Just Add Wa­ter, you could do it for a cou­ple of mil­lion – which is what New ’N’ Tasty cost. But it’s still a cou­ple of mil­lion. But if we only asked for $600,000, and we raise that, we’ve still got to de­liver. I don’t feel com­fort­able ask­ing for an amount of money that I can’t ac­tu­ally do some­thing with.”

Crowd­fund­ing an en­tirely new project, noth­ing to do with Od­dworld, is still an ap­peal­ing prospect for Lan­ning, how­ever, and re­cent tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments have in­spired him. “Right now my pri­mary in­ter­est is in VR,” he says. “I’ve been watch­ing this stuff closely since the ‘80s… as I got more demos on Ocu­lus and Mor­pheus, I re­alised ex­actly how game-chang­ing this is go­ing to be. And as a de­signer, I got re­ally ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing that in ways that I think can be ahead of the curve.

“I’m not think­ing of Od­dworld as a prop­erty for VR right away be­cause I don’t want to try to fit square pegs in round holes; I want to ap­proach the de­sign medium purely for what the de­vices are best at. I just purely want to look at solv­ing [the chal­lenges of] those new de­vices in a great way.”

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