Kickstarter’s Zinequest 3 has officially kicked off and will be hosting multiple indie-developed, analogue RPGs, hacks and collections throughout February.
Browse the games section of the crowdfunding platform and you’re likely to spot a multitude of projects sporting logos and branding for something called Zinequest. Those pleasantly surprised by the influx of new material but unsure of the occasion can read a little bit more on Kickstarter’s dedicated Zinequest page, but the truth is much of the work happens elsewhere, through social media hashtags, collaborative Discord servers and anywhere two creators - and their bubbling ideas - collide.
In short, Zinequest is a grassroots challenge, not unlike a game jam, that tasks indie game designers with completing and crowdfunding a physical project that runs on Kickstarter for two weeks. Some view it as a way to shake out the creative cobwebs and finish that game they shoved to the back of their digital drawer. Others connect with peers to produce experimental work and hacks of existing games. Whatever fuels the fire, players benefit from projects collated under the “zinequest” category, and designers capitalise on the public market atmosphere and community-wide energy.
For an example of what a Zinequest project looks like, Dicebreaker spoke with Jack Harrison, designer on the solo RPG Artefact, whose new title Bucket of Bolts will be available as part of the event. “The indie TTRPG scene is packed full of novel, delightful games and supplements - with more released every day. Almost all of them are digital releases, though, and for me this makes it hard to remember to actually play them. ZineQuest encourages people to take their games and make a tangible product.”
Harrison released a deluxe version of Artefact last year, while others took the opportunity to adapt past games as physically printed media for the first time. “The extra attention from the campaign can fund new art, content or consultancy, making our games even more polished and compelling.”
Bucket of Bolts is a sci-fi hack of Artefact that transposes its focus on an item’s storied and often complicated history to a deep-space setting. Harrison says the Millenium Falcon was a huge point of inspiration, and the artwork provided by illustrator Torben Bökemeyer brought that concept to life.
“Sci-fi is full of these ‘lived in’ spaceships, showing their age and experience through rusted bolts, mismatched panels and carbon scarring. These ships weren’t built that way, though, but we usually only see a thin slice of their history with a single crew & captain. I wanted to make a game that let you tell the whole story, from factory to junkyard,” Harrison said.
There are currently over 470 projects on Kickstarter for players to explore, and they range from fully designed games and hacks like Bucket of Bolts to supplements, adaptations and experimental art projects. Journeylands #1 provides a system for adventure across a “psychic landscape” in a bespoke, trundling rig that can be played on its own or slotted into existing settings. Grasping Nettles allows a group to tell a collaborative story about community and conflicts that span generations and any one individual. Thursday takes more than a name nod from Netflix’s Russian Doll, examining mistakes and learning from them while trapped in an interminable time loop.
Kickstarter’s Zinequest 3 campaign runs throughout the month of February, with individual projects being added every day. Easily search through them all by clicking this link.