Big Band Skullgirls

Lab Zero Games, the caretakers of XBLA and PSN fighting game Skullgirls, last week reached a couple more stretch goals in its Indiegogo DLC crowdfunding campaign. Newly pledged funds will go towards the creation of the game’s first male character, Big Band, along with a stage and story mode for the saxophone lung-implanted veteran of the “Grand War.”

The man with the musical respiratory system’s story mode will focus on “a grizzled veteran tackling a new threat.” His stage will come complete with a new track from Michiru Yamane.

As of this writing, $449,504 have been pledged by Skullgirls fans. That number puts the campaign on pace to eclipse what was originally the final stretch goal of $625,000, which would mean Lab Zero would create a level and story mode for a fan-voted mystery character. The mystery character will be bankrolled at the $600,000 mark.

That mystery stage and story mode is no longer the final stretch goal, however. Polygon reports that, in an interesting move, Lab Zero is now offering to donate usage of the game engine it created for Skullgirls to developer Mane6 for use in its Fighting Is Magic game. Magic was originally a My Little Pony-themed game until IP owner Hasbro stepped in and put the kibosh on Mane6’s usage of the license.

Of course, “donate” is being used rather loosely here considering that the team is requiring an additional $100,000 on top of the final Skullgirls-centric stretch goal ($725,000 total) be donated to the Indiegogo campaign before it will permit Mane6 to house the engine under Fighting Is Magic’s hood. Still, it seems on the surface to be a small price to pay for something Lab Zero’s founders worked so hard to create, especially given that its costs would be shared among fans desiring to see its usage granted.

As for Lab Zero, there were many who scoffed at the notion of it asking for $150,000 to fund the creation of “only” one character (Squigly) when the studio began its Indiegogo campaign last month. But after backers pushed campaign contributions over that initial goal in less than 24 hours, the scoffing section of the audience fell silent.

Aiding in its quieting has been Lab Zero’s forthright divulging of precisely how the funds it has asked will be used once they are collected. Tops on the list is the $48,000 10-week salary pay for the studio’s eight in-house developers, which comes out to a modest average weekly pay of $600 per developer. A significant chunk of the pie will also be distributed to third-party contractors to bring the developers’ vision of the Squigly character to life.

After being let go by original Skullgirls developer Reverge Labs last summer, the eight key developers behind the game decided to form their own studio, and received backing from publisher Autumn Games to continue work on the franchise they created. However, funding has been tight for Lab Zero, with only a portion of the team having been able to work full time on the DLC.

Lab Zero also has plans to release a Steam port of its fighter at some point after all of the DLC tied to the Indiegogo campaign has been released. Backers of the Indiegogo campaign who donate a minimum of $30 will receive a free Steam code for the PC version once it is released.

Originally the game’s creators envisioned a trilogy of Skullgirls titles, but they have since been forced to scale back that plan and now hope to one day have the opportunity to release a single sequel. The studio has said that approval of a sequel’s development is tied closely to the success of the DLC.

Source: Lab Zero Games