Offworld successor Venus Patrol launched

Brandon Boyer, IGF Chairman and former editor of Offworld here at BB, is launching its successor: Venus Patrol. Within hours of establishing a Kickstarter project to make it possible, he's already raised $47k, leaving the $50k target within easy reach -- if you miss Offworld, go there right now and help put it over the edge.

I ran a blog about videogames called Offworld for Boing Boing from winter 2008 through autumn 2009, and doing so changed my life forever. It wasn't the first time I'd written about videogames 'professionally', but it was the first time that doing so started to make me feel like part of a bigger and entirely amazing community. A community of artists, musicians, designers, coders, nearly all of whom had taken the terrifying risk of jumping out of the rat race and trying to live life on their own terms: by creating things they know only they can create and trying to find an appreciative audience who might support them.

The pledge swag is amazing: $1 gets you an exclusive wallpaper from Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi and Minecraft skins by Emmy award-winner Pendleton Ward; $25 gets you three indie games released exclusively for the project; $75 gets you Moon Grotto 7", a vinyl EP featuring "hidden" music & remixes from SWORD & SWORCERY EP composed by Scientific American; $200 gets a set of prints of 8-bit era artwork by Double Fine's Scott C.; and more.

Plans extend beyond writing, too: "Venus Patrol is just the first volley in a much longer game: the roots, foundation, and interstellar pirate radio station on top of which a number of other in-progress projects that branch out of the web will be built," says Boyer.

Prospects are looking good for the new site, with early coverage at ShackNews, Joystiq and Kotaku.



  1. Translation:  Brandon Boyer sporadically updated an indie game blog before ultimately quitting after less than a year.  Now he wants you to give him cash so that he can start blogging again.

  2. That’s not true. He didn’t quit. I only got involved with this stuff as it was going down, but it was a victim of 2009’s generally catastrophic advertising lull. Our ad partner could not sell it there, so we were faced with eating big operating expenses (and couldn’t) and that’s what got Offworld put to pasture.

    The pitch at Kickstarter explains quite well why running a site like this isn’t anything like a tumblr; there are significant expenses that come with high-quality writing and the freedom to explore and maintain an awareness of what’s going on outside your immediate field of view.

    Brandon posted to BB for a while as a columnist, but soon became busy with the IGF gig. It’s great to see the site relaunched in a way that, from the get-go, will be less dependent on things beyond his control.

    1. Rob is right, Brandon didn’t quit on us! From a business perspective, it just didn’t work out for a number of reasons. But the editorial was fantastic and I’m really happy that Brandon is doing this. 

    2. Interesting. I wish this was explained as such at the time. The vague explanation(s) posted made it seem like there must have been some blowout that everyone was politely keeping quiet about.

      If I recall, this happened at the same time as the Gadgets subsite was folded back into the mothership. Seeing the ad-dollar explanation now, I wonder if this also correlates with the NYTimes separate Technology section (in the print paper on Thursdays) being folded back into the Business pages (i.e., “Wow, if we make a separate Tech section we’ll be able to sell all sorts of expensive Tech ad space” –> “this just isn’t working out”). I’m having trouble finding info online about the start and end dates of the NYTimes section.

      As for BB/Offworld, I imagine this wasn’t made clear/explicit at the time to keep the readership from realizing that all sorts of editorial decisions over here are/were being made with business/money reasons in mind? (Or — and this is just a guess — because Brandon turned down an offer for significantly less money to provide weekly posts on the main page, and that fact was rightfully deemed private?)

      In any case, upon further reflection, it *is* a bit disappointing to see it spelled out this way, because Offworld really was one of the best sites on the internet during its brief run, and while we knew Boingboing was a profitable enterprise, we didn’t necessarily realize it was being run quite so much like a business. I hope (for example) Maggie doesn’t get fired if the science posts stop generating sufficient profit.

  3. That vid, the stuff written on kickstarter, and some quick research on Mr Boyer has me convinced that this will be the site I’ve been hoping for the past few years. I wish I was hip to Offworld when it was active.

  4. Offworld was fantastic. Best coverage of the games scene I ever read. I missed it when it was gone.

  5. Oh, god, I thought I was the only person who missed Offworld. I was so confused when it disappeared, and kept checking back far longer than I should have.

    Happy to hear there were no hurt feelings! Aside from mine, that is. Seriously felt abandoned.

  6. It was about the same time as gadgets being folded back in; gadgets was in stronger shape, but by that point I was the only editor remaining (Joel and John were gone) so it made sense generally given than it wasn’t likely to expand and it would be hard to keep the publication schedule where it should be.

    Brandon actually did go to the main page! For several months. 

    I think the problem was that Offworld was set up as its own thing, so when the advertising dough ran out there was nothing left to support it independently of BB. Its separate identity and focus made it impossible to just fold into the front door of BB the way you could with ‘gadgets and tech etc.’ The times were sufficiently difficult in other respects that we just didn’t have the wherewhithal or the resources to keep a separate thing rolling. 2009 was nasty.

    So we live and learn. You’ll notice, for example, that Maggie isn’t off on her own running “Boing Boing Science” or “The Empiricist from Boing Boing” or whatever. Accordingly, the only measure that matters is whether the locals are pleased with the writing.

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