Independent gaming has had a rough start on the Nintendo console front, though the eShop digital offerings have gotten better and better as the platform has grown and Shovel Knight is evidence of that.
Yacht Club Games says that after they completed their Kickstarter campaign and closed with just over $300,000 and that by the end of the project the team had gone without pay for some time. I think the passion shines through in the dedicated recreation of old-school mechanics on new-school technology. Even if you leave yourself in one of the townships and let Shovel Knight sit there for a while, you'll notice the world come alive.
Still, it sounds like the team had a difficult time keeping every employee within the realm of a living wage for the duration of development:
At this point you have to be thinking, $30k minus taxes for one year's salary, a grueling work pace (think: 12-18 hours a day, 7 days a week) and no stability whatsoever...why bother? An NES game, that's not going to sell. The 80′s are over, man, get with the times! The cool kids are all into the AAA explosive action sequences. You'll never make it!
When you've put all of your development on crowd-funding and expected people to complete work on the game, your boss should immediately become those that handed out the money in the first place. The project itself should leave room for a certain stake in return to Kickstarter's backers which currently have no legal claim to the material or revenue. It's up to those individuals to demand those rights before handing over their money, but there could be a growing precedent on an organization that doesn't hold the users accountable for their own actions.
The quote above from Yacht Club Games developers on the studio blog shines light on the kind of cultural consequences in a creative medium that might cloud the potential for indie games moving forward or for traditional funding methods as they mature over time.
Video games need extensive planning given the sheer number of people needed to create a project on large scales. For more sales and funding statistics, check out the Yacht Club Games blog post here.