I recently read PC Gamer’s February issue and was intrigued by Andy Mahood’s article in the In Simulation section titled “People Published.” In it he talks about UK developer Slightly Mad Studios development decision to solicit regular people to raise money for a game project. This isn’t just a plea for money; depending on your level of contribution you can play monthly builds of a game up to attending developer meetings and being in charge of a sub-forum (if you have $33,000 laying around). The point is, though, this could be a great way for Indie developers to make the games gamers want to play (you know, like EA before they went all corporate and answered to stock holders).
This article also made me think about two projects I had looked at before (even purchasing two licenses from one of them). Cortex Command is a popularly modded game being developed by Data Realms. It is a side-scrolling shooter with tons of weapons and enemies and environments to play with. It is currently in beta and available for the PC and the Mac. Another game under development by Goldhawk Interactive is Xenonauts, a remake of the classic strategy game X-Com. It is in Alpha right now and only available for the PC, but the company is implementing many user requests into the final game.
Both of these companies allow you to purchase access to their games right now for around $20, which is probably cheaper than the final products will sell for. You can also spend a little more to help the developers with their projects. These games are the labor of developers who care about their fans and supporters so check out these upcoming games.