Posted muntdefems, 27 August 2013 at 6:59 pm UTC / 13258 views
Welcome to a new edition of The Funding Crowd, none other than its Sweet Sixteen! But rather than conveying a meaning of growth this issue is a lite one, with fewer content than usual. This is partly due to lack of time on our end, partly because there were less exciting new projects than usual this week, but mainly because we really want to get back to our former Monday schedule. We've nearly did it this time, and we're sure to nail it next week!
So without further ado let's get down to it, and we'll start as always taking a look back at the campaigns that ended since our last weekly meeting:
This time neither the good nor the bad news have prevailed: there are as many from one type as from the other. But considering many of the failed projects still have a chance of becoming finished games someday, we have reasons to feel optimistic about the overall results:
· Mik'64 crowdfunding campaign ended abruptly when its IndieGoGo page was taken down without prior notice. Obviously we don't know anything about the future outcome of this game or the one-man studio behind it, which was to be sustained by this campaign's pledges.
· Spacecraft: Galaxies wasn't unsuccessful either, even though it stood the entire duration of the campaign. But ultimately raising less than 10% of the base goal can't be considered anything but failure. There hasn't been any announcements from the developers, so the future of this game is as doubtful as the previous one.
· Zombie Kill of the Week is the last presumably doomed project of the week. It totally failed to raise any funds in spite of the fast-paced action and fun gameplay it provides. Given the absence of news from the developers, the existing single-player beta may be the closer we ever get to playing this game.
· Black Talons, the promising tactical RTS game, was canceled by its developers after having raised only 10% of the funding mark in almost half of the allotted time. However this is not the end of the story, as the creators will continue to work on the game nonetheless.
· Hell IX was canceled as well, although this one had performed notably worse than the previous project. But just like it, its developers are determined to keep developing this game and they are considering a Kickstarter comeback in the future.
· Cropling is a game we never talked about before because it was very early in development and was hard to tell if it had potential or not. Its IndieGoGo campaign ended recently having also gathered about a 10% of the base goal, but since it was a flexible funding the creator has obtained some funds that will allow him to further develop a game that was starting to look very good in recent updates. We'll certainly keep an eye on it and will be reporting any potential new crowdfunding campaign for it.
· Tread Lightly is another game we never featured before. In contrast with the previous project, this one achieved its humble funding goal thanks to a couple of generous pledges during the ending rush. One of the reasons we remained silent about it was the initial lack of information about its plot, mechanics, and goals. But as the campaign progressed the creator gave away some details about gameplay, and as it successfully ended he inmediately made the game publicly available for anyone to play.
· Insignificant, the open-world RPG that lets you play as a tiny person reminiscent of The Borrowers from classic literature, conquered the base goal along with a bunch of stretch goals: indoor settings, underwarder settings, a second playable character, soundtrack by a professional composer, Oculus Rift support, character appearance customization, NPCs, as well as alchemy and enchantment skills. Non early-access backers and regular Joes alike will have to wait almost a year before getting their hands on it and beginning their insignificant adventures.
· DwarfCorp's Mysterious Benefactor turned out to be a legitimate one, so the entire $46k raised will count towards unlocking almost all planned stretch goals. Well, maybe all of them since you can still make your pledges through PayPal at their website -- but only until August 30th! After that date, you'll only be able to help this game by voting for it on Greenlight.
· Monochroma managed to become another winner this week, partly thanks to some generous pledges from other people in the game industry. Whatever the source of funding the important fact is that this game will see the light of day, and on a date not too far from now: on next December. So if you dig it but you didn't back this project in spite of its long funding period, you'd better take advantage of the PayPal donation system they've put ut on their website before it's too late. Whether you back the game or not, you'll always be able to play the demo, available for Linux. Monochroma is also on Greenlight, ready to be voted for by interested Steam members.
· Orbs CCG successfully achieved its base goal quite early in the campaign, but it practically stayed there for the rest of the funding period. A bittersweet victory indeed, as the $2k mark was a bare minimum to ensure the existence of the game. However the show goes on and hopefully when it is released it will gain enough popularity and support to allow for further development.
· And finally the OpenGL support improvement for the Linux Graphics Drivers campaign ended successfully, thus proving that crowdfunding doesn't need inmediate tangible rewards to work out, and that it can succeed by promising a long-term benefit for the whole community. Even before the campaign ended, Timothy Arceri was already hard at work and documenting his progress on a wiki. He's already into his second week of working on the GL_KHR_debug extension, so we'll be able to see his results soon -- and hopefully use them.
Now you know what you can do nothing about, it's time for Speedster to update you on the ongoing campaigns for which you can make a difference with your pledge:
" target="_blank">of the demo. Since this project already managed to reach the $20k goal, your pledge of only $10 gets a copy of Fran Bow for your favorite platform, while a pledge of $25 provides access to Fran Bow on all supported platforms (Android being one of the other targeted platforms). Pledges during this final week of the campaign can go towards the stated goals of broader testing on mobile devices and more language translations (base goal includes English, German, and Spanish). Fran Bow project is now officially on Greenlight, and would appreciate your votes.
· Laika Believes: The Sun at Midnight is one of those creative platformers with a strong focus on story, in this case an alternate-reality story in which Soviet Russia's plans of world domination became reality, at least until the dog astronaut Laika returns to earth after having mysterious adventures in space. The original $100k campaign was overly ambitious for a not-yet-famous development team without an enticing playable demo to promote the project, but some additional funding was acquired by other means, so the re-launched campaign has the much less ambitious goal of $20k. Sadly time is running out even for relaunch; there has been little media coverage of the new campaign, so most who dismissed the first campaign based on the unrealistic target probably don't know that there is a much more modest target now. There has been a steady stream of updates from the Laika team, so they have not given up the fight; perhaps they will be successful in ramping up the publicity to raise another $13k during this final week. Steam members fond of games with heroic astronaut dogs are welcome to vote for Laika on Greenlight.
· Constant C is a crazy 2D puzzle platformer set in a world where normal physics do not apply, so skills such as gravitational shift and time flow control are used to solve challenging levels. The game engine has been finished for Windows, so the base $5k goal of the campaign goes into Mac and Linux ports of their engine. Given that there has already been positive buzz about the Windows port, it is a little surprising to see the pledging so stagnant and so little publicity about the campaign. The team is going to need to do something about the lack of publicity if they want to see this campaign succeed, but with almost a month left before the deadline they may be putting it off for later. Hopefully they will not wait until it is too late... Constant C also is on Greenlight, with a nice gameplay video based on their Windows port.
· Paranautical Activity mixes old-time FPS action (think Doom or Quake) with the randomness of roguelikes for replayability. The modest $10k goal for the campaign will go towards adding lots of content (levels, weapons, enemies, items) when moving from the currently-existing public beta to the actual release. The base goal has already been achieved during the slow middle period period of the campaign, leaving stretch goals such as Oculus Rift support and multiplayer support as interesting targets for the customary spike in momentum during this final week. You may have previously run across Paranautical Activity in the news, when an established publisher offered to get it on Steam... but Valve vetoed that opportunity because the game was already on Greenlight. Apparently the only way to get out of Greenlight is to become Greenlit, so those who want to see Paranautical Activity on Steam should go vote.
· Sword 'N' Board is a puzzle adventure with an obvious Zelda-esque inpiration but with some twists. In it you play as Sidd, a kid with an active imagination who battles imaginary enemies throughout cardboard forests and dark pillow fort dungeons. It's a kind of mixture of childhood nostalgia with a little adult humour, that above all tries not to take the player by the hand like modern games use to do: it rewards exploration and trying things out for oneself without being explicitly instructed by the game itself. The project creator/sole developer has been very responsive to backer suggestions, which has already resulted in a Linux build of the early demo and a bargain-priced in-game participation tier at $30. Last week saw much-needed momentum building for Sword 'N' Board: three new interviews to attact new backers, a large pledge to push way past the 50% mark, a second large pledge to hit the 75% milestone, and a new Greenlight page (despite some qualms about what happened to Paranautical Activity).
· Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope is a metroidvania game with deep themes of love, hope, and redemption. The setting is rather unusual, mixing sci-fi with ghosts who are doomed to wander a cursed moon until they can be freed. Exploring will gradually reveal artifacts that tell a story of the past of this troubled place and those who haunt it. The 2D graphics are both suitably moody and beautiful. This game has already garned more than 200% of the base goal, which includes the first two stretch goals of a "hardcore" mode and a pet who evolves over time based on what you feed it. Pledging progress was in mid-project sluggish mode last week, but momentum should start picking up towards the end of the week for a shot at more stretch goals. Meanwhile, there is a new video showing off the current state of the art to tide us over while waiting for more stretch goals.
· Project Phoenix continues its progress as a wildly successful Biggie, sitting at over $600k in funding! This squad-based RTS will be set in a beautiful JRPG fantasy world created by a star-studded cast of artists and composers, such as Kiyoshi Arai and Nobuo Uematsu. Project Phoenix is the first major Kickstarter project to be produced from Japan, and has ambitious non-monetary goals about leading the way to more innovation in the Japanese game industry, with key team members willing to forgo salary if it had been needed. Speaking of team members, there are still some mystery members who have signed up but not yet been willing to have their names announced, but there are also some experienced new team members such as Asami Hagiwara and Koji Moriga who had no such restrictions.
· Dungeonforge is another relaunch where the team has some great ideas but is lacking the huge reputation of say, a Project Phoenix team, which is also generally required to inspire enough confidence to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from backers. The team has thus dropped their initial scope in order to get the goal down to $50k, and has relaunched with flexible funding at IndieGoGo. The base idea of a cross-platform free-to-play RPG with content developed by the community seems worth exploring, but there does need to be some interesting initial content to attract enough community to become self-sustaining. Hopefully this new campaign will be successful in funding that bootstrapping process!
· Enspira Online is a rather unusual MMO, designed to be non-violent and suitable for young children. Enspira Online seems like an appealing project, but it has had trouble picking up momentum so far. The project creator is the seasoned MMO developer known as Runesabre in his Ultima Online days, so there is no lack of credibility due to inexperience; perhaps the usual crowd of Indie game backers are mostly interested in games for themselves, rather than games for kids. Probably most of us don't have kids (though we know of some notable exceptions) but perhaps we can at least help spread the word to those who do.
· Shiden is a retro arcade-style shoot-em-up for those who like to "get into the zone" and pit their reflexes against amazing odds. The download copy of Shiden is offered for only $5, while the physical box edition is similarly low-priced (for a Kickstarter reward) at only $40. This project picked up enough momentum to hit the goal even before heading into the final few days!
· Caribbean Island: A Pirate Adventure is a point-and-click adventure inspired by (need we say it?) the old classic Monkey Island games. The flexible funding model was chosen because the entire campaign is basically for stretch goals, "making the game more awesome" rather than essential to make the game exist at all. The DRM-free Linux download is going for $15, so it is not a big monetary risk for other devoted fans of Monkey Island.
· Proton Pulse Rift and BouncerVR were the first pair of games to share a spot in the Hidden Gems list, since they are based on a common core mechanic: Oculus Rift control of a paddle to bounce a ball. They have different bells and whistles, but both are worth taking a look at, especially for VR enthusiasts. The Proton Pulse campaign is sitting pretty at 200% of the base goal and over a week left until close. On the other hand, things are not looking good for the BouncerVR campaign on IndieGogo, which still needs $2.5k heading into the final week -- not a huge sum for a project with momentum, but far too much for the current trickle of funds coming in. BouncerVR even has alpha-level demos available, both with and without Oculus Rift control (for those who are waiting for the consumer version of the Rift).
· College: the Game is an action/satire game about college life in which you'll literally have to battle your way to get your diploma. There are 17 different majors to choose from, which are the equivalent of classes in a more typical game, because your major determines what weapons and items can be used. Will you pick the English major for proficiency with The Pen, or Pre-Law for proficiency with The Gavel? Note that per Kickstarter policy the side-bar tier descriptions could not be updated, but the $25 rewards are now a really good deal. In addition to a DRM-free copy of the game itself and the soundtrack, there is actually an in-game appearance: "A student is based after you!"
· Waking Amy is a 2.5D platformer with features aimed at both action and puzzle fans, with a good dose of story and atmosphere to boot. The playable character is a young girl stuck in a coma, who must solve puzzles and battle enemies in order to escape multiple levels of different "Dream Worlds" and return to the real world. One of the main points of focus by the developers is to provide multiple ways to overcome challenges, allowing a wide variety of playing styles ranging from hack-and-slash to carefully strategic. The developers also emphasize cross-platform support, with Linux and Mac both guaranteed at launch. Waking Amy already has an alpha-level demo available for Indie game reviewers, resulting in some interesting gameplay footage (linked from the Kicktarter front page). Pledging has slowed down for Waking Amy, but that is only typical for a project at this stage of the campaign. Sufficient progress has been made that the spike of pledges at the campaign end should carry Amy victoriously across the finish line.
· Awesomenauts: StarStorm is our latest Biggie to become a winner. This project has coasted to victory with a backer community including thousands of current Awesomenauts players eager for an expansion introducing new characters and new features such as spectator mode and twin-stick controller support. The base goal of $125k having already been reached, further progress will go towards the $200k stretch goal for a whole new map: a battle station scenario featuring automated flamethrowers.
· OBSUDO is an online multiplayer game that sounds quite different from all current MMOs -- the team intends to create a virtual hackers' paradise. Their goal is to make the gameplay approachable for ordinary gamers, but still challenging enough to keep the interest of IT pros.
" target="_blank">The latest video from the OBSUDO team presents early concepts on how the gameplay might achieve this ambitious vision.
· Elementary, My Dear Holmes! is a point & click adventure game that tries to turn the classical Sherlock Holmes stories upside down by putting Dr. Watson in the lead role. As we reported last week Linux support was relegated to a 150% stretch goal, so we were cautious about it even though the backers response during the first days had been very positive. Well, that was last week. Today, just after the campaign reached its $50k base goal, the developers announced they just moved the Linux version to the base goal, so we've got another point & click adventure coming our way! The game will be released on March 2014 for the OUYA and desktop versions will come six months later, in accordance with the exclusivity clause from the #FreeTheGames Fund, in which the developers are taking part.
If none of the preceding games raised your interest, or if you still have some spare money allocated for crowdfunding, here are the latest projects we deemed worthy of this column:
Our only Biggie this week is Quantum Rush, an online-only futuristic combat racer conceived as a way to revive and expand the genre. Being an online-only game means that you'll only be able to compete against other human players, in races up to 20 participants. It will also be free to play, offering purchases to expand the gameplay experience but without negatively impacting that of the other players -- although they don't go into detail about how they plan to achieve this. Anyway, the game will focus on combat, speed and vehicle customization. Regarding this last aspect there'll be a whole tech-tree-style research system with which to unlock improved vehicle parts, as well as integral customization options: from choosing the parts combination that best fits your needs, to editing your racer color and skins. During a race you'll have to carefully manage your vehicle energy and heat, two aspects that introduce a strategic element to your driving style.
The game is being made with Unity3D, and if the pre-alpha footage shown in the pitch video is to be taken as a reference, the final game will feature truly amazing graphics. A Linux version is of course guaranteed, but it will come some time after the Windows release. Doesn't matter, we're used to wait and I wouldn't certainly mind doing it for such a promising game like this one.
And finally let's review the list of Hidden Gems, exceptionally reduced to 5 entries this week:
System Lords is a browser-based MMORTS that will allegedly work in any device with a web browser, so it qualifies to be considered a Hidden Gem. Unlike many similar games, this one will be sold outright and it won't include any form of micropurchases whatsoever. Now that's an effective way of guaranteeing a fair experience for everybody. Largely based on the Stargate SG-1 universe -but conveniently modified as to avoid copyright infringement-, the game will put you in the shoes of the God-like leader of an ancient species whose ultimate goal is to conquer and dominate the galaxy. In order to achieve it, you'll have to build, train military units, research different fields of tech knowledge, and fight your way through 800 unique planets. The game experience also carries on to real life with the alliances system, in which you'll be able to communicate with your friends and allies and discuss your faction's next moves on a private forum.
The game is almost done now and the funds raised in this campaign will be used to advertise the game in order to attract players, as well as to to hire translators to add more languages, and to hire an artist to revamp some of the existing art and to begin working on a future game expansion. That's why the funding goal is rather low for such an ambitious game, but unfortunately even $5k will prove a tough challenge to overcome as the first week wasn't too prodigal with pledges. Speaking of which, the higher your pledge the more invites you get, so it's a really convenient game to group-back with your friends.
Icebound is a visual novel set during an ice age in a world in the middle of an industrial -as well as alchemical- revolution. The main characters are Dougal, a low profile alchemist, and his bat-like familiar Isaac. They arrive at a small town where great powers await to be uncovered, so they will compete against other alchemists in order to overcome a dangerous quest and defeat a terrible monster. To differentiate it from many other visual novels the creator has opted for a story with mature characters, detailed art, and a seemingly jovial world that nonetheless encloses darker aspects. The game will also offer the possibility of being played straight through, or to also complete optional puzzles inspired in alchemy to deepen the plot and get a more complete experience.
The game is well into development, will be completed regardless of the outcome of the Kickstarter, and will support Linux on release. However if the funding goal is reached, apart from getting more polished, the game will also include full voice acting. Additional stretch goals would include mobile ports, more cutscenes, an animated opening video as well as them and ending songs. But as we always say, first things first as the base goal is totally within reach but not guaranteed as of yet. In the meantime you can get a taste of the game with its Linux-compatible demo to decide if it's worth backing.
Bronze medal goes to Tetrapulse, a Unity3D co-op arena shooter in which your ammo and your health are the same. That's right: the more you shoot, the less vital energy you'll have left. But then how can you survive to kill enough enemies?", you may ask. Fair question and the answer to it is the Heartstone, the life source that replenishes your energy whenever you touch it. Multiple players can grab it at once but then they must move as a single being, thus fomenting co-operative play. The second and no less important use of the Heartstone is activating the planetary force field beacons in each region in order to clear it from enemies. "Which enemies? Where do they come from? What do they want?" Who cares, they are ugly robo-bug aliens who are attacking your lovely planet and must be exterminated!
The game's origins must be sought in a prototype created for a Global Game Jam, that has ultimately become this fast-paced, action-packed shooter which offers nearly-infinite replayability value thanks to its procedurally generated levels and the use of online stats and leaderboards. The Kickstarter campaign has started quite well, raising 20% of the funding mark in just one day. There are no announced stretch goals yet, but we bet we're going to see them soon. Plus, the success of this game will probably mean the success of many other ones as its creators are taking part in the Kicking It Forward initiative.
In second place is Pocket Rumble, a 2D fighting game with a retro style, simplified 2-button controls, and a Street Fighter-like gameplay. As any good old-school fighting game it features 8 basic playable characters, with two additional extra characters from Divekick and Fantasy Strike. If the campaign is successful enough as to achieve the corresponding stretch goals, more fighters will be added to the cast, each one with their own stage, back story and theme music. And the best part is that all DLCs, even future ones not related to stretch goals, will be free forever! Back to the game mechanics, the developers wanted to emphasize strategy over agility or execution, hence the simplified controls and universal special moves -- all of them are in the likes of ↓ → A/B. Additionally they've implemented a frame data bar, an indicator of a fighter's active and inactive frames (you get temporarily stunned after attacking, blocking or being hit) which can be used to take advantage of the opponent's inactive moments. Another strategical element is the buffering system by which players can easily perform those special moves while their character is stunned, so they get executed right after their fighter gets back in action.
The game will feature full controller support as well as a Linux version on release, and they need to gather $16k by the end of the campaign. It's not an impossible challenge to overcome, but more backers and funds are certainly needed to make it possible. If you're determined to support it you can get the game for only $10, or the game and the soundtrack for $15.
And finally, the undisputed Hidden Gem of the Week award goes to Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora! It's a noir side-scrolling adventure platformer starring Private Investigator Emma Jones and her partner Franky the cat -that wears a fedora- who must investigate a series of murders. Other than the title it has obviously nothing to do with Tenessee Williams' play, and its plot and mise-en-scene are influenced by film noir classics. The game mechanics are a little reminiscent of Metroid, in the sense that you've got to acquire new abilities (different types of ammunition for your special non-lethal revolvers) in order to get access to new zones and to make progress. The art style -and the blocky characters in particular- can be traced back to The Real Texas, a game that also had a big influence on Jones On Fire, a previous game by the same studio.
The game is advertised as being 3D, although we'd rather label it as 2.5D. We don't mean it in the usual sense of a 2D sidescroller with deep backgrounds; what we understand by 2.5D is a truly tridimensional environment which can be experienced and explored only two dimensions at a time: i.e. your characters can move like in a classic 2D sidescroller but in certain locations they can make a turn Fez-style and enter a previously perpendicular alley. This neat mechanic alone has took the developers more than two years to get right. But that's not all: the variety of cartridges for your tool/weapon help increase the strategic depth needed to solve some of the puzzles or to reach some of the secret areas -- much like in Rochard, but with the added difficulty of having to previously choose the exact number and type of ammunition needed to carry out a stunt.
The game is being made using Unity3D, but the creators have choosen to dispense with many built-in functions in order to achieve the result and experience they exactly desired. What they haven't dismissed is the multiplatform export capabilities of the engine, so the game will be available for Linux for sure. So far the Kickstarter has been highly successful, and 25% of the basic funding goal has been reached in little over one day, so we're pretty sure it will soon become a winner and stretch goals will start to trickle soon.
That's all for today! We'll see each other next week, hopefully on Monday, with a more complete recap of finished and ongoing campaigns, and of course with a full Hidden Gems Top-10. Until then you can check our crowdfunding wiki in order to be kept up to date with the latest developments in the crowdfunding world, and maybe even contribute to it. Bye!