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Auditorium devs look to Kickstarter for sequel funding


Will Stallwood and Dain Saint of indie studio Cipher Prime don't want to buy new Ferraris.

Actually, they may want to do that -- because hello, Ferraris -- but that's not where their current focus lies. Cipher Prime wants to make a sequel to its first title Auditorium, titled Auditorium 2: Duet, and has turned to Kickstarter to crowdsource a portion of its budget.

Cipher Prime is the conductor behind a trio of ambient, subtly beautiful, rhythm-based brain busters. After launching the originally Flash-based Auditorium in 2008, the developer orchestrated two follow-up titles: Pulse and Fractal. Since then Auditorium has been ported to iOS, PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP, and today marks its launch on Steam -- and, Stallwood hopes, the launch of its sequel's development.

Speaking exclusively with Joystiq, Cipher Prime's Will Stallwood says development of Auditorium 2: Duet will only take place if the team manages to hit its sizable Kickstarter goal of $60,000. According to the developer, the goal represents half of what the team needs to complete the project, with Cipher Prime contributing the other half of necessary funds.

Plans for Auditorium 2: Duet include multiplayer, a feature the developer has yet to add to its list of accomplishments.

"There is a whole slew of new features popping up," Stallwood said. "We're really hoping to make a very unique co-op experience with Duet. Maybe one of the most exciting things multiplayer will bring is the idea of creating music rather than just filling levels."

But if Cipher Prime doesn't make its Kickstarter goal, well, Stallwood isn't too optimistic.

"We're going to be in some shit," he said.

Cipher Prime raised money for the first Auditorium through PayPal donations, and those went really well, Stallwood said, but they presented a few drawbacks that Kickstarter answers directly. With PayPal, anyone can give any amount of money to anyone, with no guarantee of a finished project or actualized result. Kickstarter has an approval process that PayPal lacks, meaning backers have an extra level of security in their investment. It also means Cipher Prime is tied to its original vision, with money being exchanged only if its funding goal is met.

Stallwood knows he's taking a gamble with the Kickstarter project, but after funding Cipher Prime's previous titles through shaky investments, personal credit cards, and a lot of hope, he's ready to try a less "I might go bankrupt" route.

"On the note of funding our own games, it just feels like a huge, scary, apocalyptic nightmare."

- Will Stallwood

"It's so utterly mind-bendingly scary," Stallwood said about paying for Cipher Prime's development costs out-of-pocket. But like fans of Paranormal Activity, he and Cipher Prime keep coming back for more.

"It's worth it as long as we make good stuff," Stallwood said. "We don't need a lot of money to feel fulfilled."

If it's fully funded, Auditorium 2: Duet will come to Steam first, and the more money Cipher Prime can raise, the more platforms its game can come to. Stallwood has dreams of raising $120,000 and building Duet for iOS and consoles, and then finding a way to integrate iPad/Steam cross-platform play, or even PS3/Steam capabilities.

Maybe if he raises $1 million Auditorium 2 will be a holographic universal-platform title with 3D visuals, surround sound, and each note will taste of a different fruit. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Stay tuned later today for exclusive details on Cipher Prime's vision of Auditorium 2's planned multiplayer mode.

Update: One of the wonderful aspects of working with indie developers is their ability to listen and immediately respond to fan input -- Cipher Prime has altered the reward tiers for donations to Auditorium 2: Duet, in part from your suggestions in the comments below. Check out the shiny new rewards right here.

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