“[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.”