Mike Sennott ’09, co-founder of Universal Happymaker, just launched its first game, Astronaut: The Best, a narrative comedy game for PC, Mac and Linux on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The team is looking to raise $12,000 over the next week to fund the remaining development of the game; the fundraiser campaign ends Oct. 21.

Universal Happymaker is the “spiritual successor” to the experimental narrative games that Sennott and co-founder David Mershon made while in graduate school. The Guardian called this much-awaited game “laugh-out loud funny and refreshingly whimsical.”

Astronaut: The Best is a strategy game “where you turn underdogs into presentable astronauts using lies, magic and/or hard work,” according to the company’s website. The description itself already indicates the humor in the game, explaining, “Your duty is to train a procedurally-generated team of deviant screwups into brilliant space heroes, or give the impression of having done so. Anything less, and you will be killed and left in a ditch.”

With already over 200 backers on its Kickstarter page, the project has gained considerable momentum but has not quite met its goal of $26,000 dollars. Beyond the obvious benefit of enjoying the launched game, pledging to support Astronaut: The Best has other advantages. Pledging even five dollars will put the donor’s name in the credits as a backer, and greater pledges result in far greater returns, such as “a bonus concept sketch,” “a horoscope made specially for you by our writers” or “a National Anthem for your self,” to name a few.

At Hamilton, Sennott participated in the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Appreciation Society and was a computer science and creative writing double major. He says, “I’ve been putting those skills to work” since he left the Hill as the game’s co-designer, writer and programmer. He then attended the University of Southern California for interactive media.

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