Welcome back to The Funding Crowd! It's late, we're tired, and we want to go to sleep, although not before finishing and publishing our weekly crowdfunding column! But since we suspect nobody ever reads these introductory paragraphs anyway, we ask you to cut us some slack and let us get on with the really important stuff. First of all, what happened?
· We start with a cancelation as Lexis Numérique decided to call off Taxi Journey's funding campaign. Fortunately this is not the end of this game as they plan to grow a community on Facebook prior to launching a new campaign next September.
· Time for sadder news as Dungeonforge failed to get funded. More appropriately, we should say that it failed to get noticed as the funding level was very low indeed. There's been no announcement from its developers regarding the future of this project.
· Inverto is another campaign that ended this week without success, in this case having reached only 1% of the total goal. As was the previous case, there's been no announcement either about the creator's plans regarding his game.
· More bad news came from the Storm campaign, which failed but at least managed to exceed the 50% mark with $1.7k out of the $3k goal. There's no statement from its creator either, which is really disheartening since this could be a bizarrely funny game.
· Anthymn wasn't equally unsuccessful, meaning it received a noticeable amount of support despite having raised less than 7% of its ambitious $600k goal. There hasn't been any official announcement that we are aware of, although everything hints to the continuation of the project.
· World of Diving ended its campaign in failure, but its creators are determined to finish it. In order to do so, they are accepting pledges on their website.
· Fleish & Cherry in Crazy Hotel, a former #1 Hidden Gem of ours, couldn't finally make it and was left with less than 25% of the total goal. In the face of adversity, the creators have decided to continue working on the game nonetheless.
· Deus Ex Machina 2 couldn't finally capitalize on its prequel cult following and ended its campaign withouth breaking the 50% mark. Nevertheless its creator Mel Croucher has stated that the game will be released in the near future, although only "for PC and Apple Mac, with other formats in the pipeline". We're quite unsure about where to put Linux, whether under the PC tag or with the other formats, though.
After so many bad news (although some of them still carried a bit of hope), let's end with a couple of happy ones:
· You probably know it already, but GhostControl Inc. ended its successful campaign during last weekend. It's finally grossed £12k, what allows for a number of stretch goals such as talking ghosthunters, additional equipment, an ironman mode and the possibility of acquiring a helicopter to quickly get to the haunted locations. We won't have to wait too much to play it, as it is due to be released on September.
· The other winner of the week is Tesla Breaks the World!, which got successfully funded by a somewhat narrower margin than the previous game. And a good deal of responsibility for this success must certainly be attributed to Nikola Tesla's big fan Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal fame) recommending it. There are no stretch goals as such, but the developers have taken some good ideas from backers that could be implemented in the game. Additional features or not, we aren't supposed to be waiting much before it is released either, as this one is slated for next October.
· And we finish with more happy but in this case unexpected news: Magnetic By Nature, a former Hidden Gem that was funded some weeks ago, has recently won 'Best Developed Game' and 'Audience Choice' awards at Game Wars 2013, resulting in an additional $10k to the previously crowdfunded $11k. This new influx of cash will allow the creators to develop "additional level packs to be distributed as DLC after the initial release", "two fully themed zones of exciting original content complete with new music" and some "prototype gameplay elements, including magnetic accelerator fields that enable a slew of fast-paced puzzles!" We sincerely congratulate them for their success and can't really wait now to get and play the enhanced version of their game.
And now we move the spotlight onto Speedster, who as usual will be reviewing the most interesting ongoing campaigns:
· Elliot Quest has a flexible funding campaign, but the game will get finished faster if more progress can be made towards the modest $6k goal over the next month. This Zelda-inspired action-adventure game already boasts a web demo (which does work on Linux). The project creator has announced plans to cut his living expenses to be able to work full-time for a while despite slow progress on the campaign.
· The Maker's Eden is another flexible funding campaign, but again the additional funds will help the project creators get it on the market sooner rather than later. This sci-fi noir adventure has a demo (or "prototype" according to one of the project leads, who wants people to know it's not polished yet) that is playable on Linux.
· Soul Saga is just getting started in fulfilling last week's prediction of being a big winner, having crossed the base goal on day 13 out of 30. This "love letter to J-RPG classics" has strong cross-platform support, with all three major desktops and Wii U in addition to the PS4 and Vita, modern descendants of the platform which inspired it. Soul Saga continues to rack up stretch goals, possibly having reached #10 by the time you read this.
· Leadwerks 3D game development system offers a chance to build games FOR linux, FROM linux, instead of exporting Linux clients from a game editor running on Windows. Leadwerks for Linux is still closing in on the base goal, but at the current rate of pledges it will easily be a winner. A respectable ending pledge-peak will even take it past the first stretch goal, which will allow backers with the full license ($100 and up) to create Android and OUYA games, in addition to desktop Linux games.
· OZombie by American McGee (of Alice fame) still has almost a month left in the campaign, but so far the pace is too slow to its ambitious goal in even twice that time. Fans of McGee's Alice series need to start stepping up in force, or this project is going down. Note that the zombies featured in this game are not the mainstream zombies, so you might want to give the project a second look if pop-culture-zombie-overdose was the main thing holding you back.
UPDATE:OZombie is no more, because the name gave too often the wrong impression. However the project is not cancelled, but renamed to the more accurate (though bland) "Oz Action Adventure" as the current working title. American McGee is also working on a new pitch video, which also will be more reflective of the actual plans for the game.
· KR-17 has had another rocky week for pledges this week, but has just announced a new platform: OUYA will now be supported as part of the base goal. A few hundred OUYA owners hungry for pixelated puzzle platformers is all it would take to send this one into the "funded" category!
· Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead has already crossed the base goal to become a winner by the halfway point in the campaign! This sandbox survival game also has the distinction of being an open source game project; thus, rather than depending on game copies for backer incentives, the developers are offering in-game participation as rewards, including an opportunity to contribute a character story for only $60. Having achieved the base goal already, the developers have set the first few stretch goals to add significant new features, with the third batch of features targeted for 235% of the base goal.
· FRONTIERS - Explore, Discover & Survive is an open sandbox RPG that so far emphasizes single-player gameplay, with a large detailed world awaiting your exploration. However, with the warm reception it has received on Kickstarter so far (after a failed attempt to gain traction on IndieGoGo) a co-op multiplayer feature is likely to be funded by the end rush of pledges; mod support is on the way even sooner, and Oculus Rift support is already in the bag!
· Megatokyo game has hit yet a nice milestone of over a ten fold of the base funding, helped no doubt by avid fans of the web comic upon which this game is based. Of possible interest to fellow Linux users, the Megatokyo game engine is open source Ren'py and there has already been a short demo made available which is of course playable on Linux.
· Dark Matter is a sci-fi/horror action platformer inspired by Metroid, offering plenty of atmosphere and a mix of aiming and strategy. Although the goal is still very far away, the project creators are working to get the word out. In order to stay in the running, Dark Matter needs a big media blitz this week, such as this favorable RPS review which inspired a spike in backing.
· Satellite Reign is a cyberpunk real-time strategy game project led by game development veterans reponsible for Syndicate Wars, which gives them the sort of credibility required for a reasonable shot at the ambitious £350k goal. Satellite Reign had a strong debut, which so far has earned a very favorable opinion from our old friend the Kicktraq cone.
· Chipmunk2D is unique in this list in that the main goal of the project, a plugin for Unity game development tools (Unity as in 3D game engine, not the UI by Canonical), does not run on Linux. However, the tool can be used to produce cross-platform games, so the $15 reward is two games that can run on Linux: Waking Mars platform-adventure and NightSky puzzle platformer.
· Void of Darkness is now sitting at almost 14% with 2/3 of the campaign still to go. Things are not yet hopeless for this space action RPG inspired by Starflight 1&2, but many more spacers must be recruited in order to reach victory.
· Dropsy: A Surreal Exploration Based Adventure Game wins the award this week for longest self-descriptive title. This game aims to be suitably bizarre and humorous for an adventure starring a clown who talks to animals, but needs to pick up momentum among fans of bizarre humorous games in order to stay in the running; it is approaching the half-way point with less than a quarter of needed pledges.
· Race to Mars has not had any more solid funding days since last Monday, so hope has been fading for this Mars colonization sim. There is still time for a big push in the remaining 2/3 of the campaign, but continuing along the current trends too much longer will lead to failure.
Time now for some new material, although we're off to a slow start as there's only two noteworthy Biggies this week.
The first one is Insection, a 4-player co-op sci-fi FPS. In it you take the role of one of four military veterans who do contract jobs in the newly colonized universe, a couple of hundred years in the future. Your team is called by an almost-almighty corporation to get rid of an unknown insectoid alien species that's threatening that corporation's trading and profits but also the lives of some innocent civilians. Between alien-killing sprees, you'll slowly uncover the truth behind the alien invasion and the involvement of the corporation in it.
In order to make it attractive to all kinds of FPS players the game is designed with goal-based missions, though these goals are entirely optional and can be skipped in order to please the more trigger-happy gamers. The AI in the game is highly responsive and adaptive, mimicking the behaviour a hive-mind species would display. There are quite a lot of different enemies and weapons to face them, including autonomous machinegun turrets with the ability of following you, and up to five game modes, out of which we'd like to highlight the Versus one that lets you play either as a human or as a bug à la Natural Selection 2.
It's being developed with Unity3D and you know what that means: Linux support right off on release date. The funding goal is quite an ambitious one with £280k though, and after almost a week into the campaign it seems very difficult for it to succeed, and that would be a pity as its creators have said that they won't continue developing it should the campaign fail.
The other Biggie we want to showcase is Champions of Demah, a multiplayer hybrid between an RTS and a 3rd-person action game, set in the fantasy world of Demah. The campaign has been around for many days now but they announced Linux support last Thursday, and so we're glad to include it here in The Funding Crowd. In case our word was not enough for you, here you have the announcement directly from Robert Mizen, CEO of NRD Studios:
Alright, now we've sorted this out let's talk more about the game itself. It's set during the Times of Assent, a period of Demah's history in which two brothers are competing for control of the kingdom, and so they both are asking for champions to lead their armies to victory. The player, of course, will take the part of those Champions. According to its developers, it will be the first RTS-action hybrid game to reach the full potential of this genre. In order to achieve such an ambitious goal, it's been designed to feature up to 32 players online, 9 playable classes, a detailed dynamic system of skills combination and customisation, a clan (or Order) system, or a reputation system by which players can show off past exploits and victories to their enemies.
Such an ambitious game has an accordingly ambitious funding goal of £100k and some allegedly amazing planned stretch goals, the only one that's been revealed at this point being £125k, which would suppose the addition of dragons to the gameplay. Unfortunately, unless there's a drastic increase in backers and pledges, we'll likely end up without knowing what else could this game have offered us. If you want to know, you can still back this project during the next 18 days: £15 will get you a copy of the game as an early bird, £25 will grant you beta access and from £35 and upwards you'll also receive special DLCs to boost your characters.
And finally, let's recap the 10 most interesting projects that might have escaped your attention: they are our Hidden Gems of the week.
The first Hidden Gem we're presenting this week would certainly occupy a higher position in our list were it not being developed in XNA for Windows only. The door for a Linux (and Mac) version is left open in the form of a stretch goal that more than doubles the $35k base goal. And considering the campaign has started quite well -especially on its first day- we've finally decided to talk about Dungeonmans, a 2D roguelike with turn-based, tactical combat -- something like DROD with deep RPG mechanics. It's the story of the Dungeonmans Academy, an institution devoted to knowledge that feeds on the learnings and findings of its members. As a result future heroes will carry some of the powers and knowledge acquired by their predecessors, a really handy feature when failure is faced by permadeath! Aside of this ingenious progress system the game offers a huge and permanent world with a wide variety of environments and randomly generated dungeons, a challenging tactical combat system, or the option to choose between six predefined classes or going classless and progressively build the character on the go.
Apart from the aforementioned $75k Linux support stretch goal, there are many more additional features to be added to the game should the $35k base goal be achieved, such as a new class, the ability to create new settlements and see they grow, an expanded soundtrack, the ability to direct the growth and expansion of the Academy yourself, and even flying vehicles -- with the consequent air-to-air combat. But as we like to say, first things first and although reaching the base goal seems pretty guaranteed at this point, achieving the Linux support one is a whole different kettle of fish. It's the same old story with high stretch goals: should we back the project now in order to let it gain momentum and thus enhancing the chances to eventually reach the relevant stretch goal -and taking the risk of contributing to a game that may never come to Linux-, or should we wait until that stretch goal is within reach and only pledge then?
From our contributor's standpoint, we like to talk about fixed funding campaigns as they show a higher level of compromise from the developer's part. Unfortunately most Indiegogo campaigns are of the flexible type, but this is not the case for Glory of Decadence, a free online fantasy CCG (Collectible Card Game). In it, you'll play as a god trying to defeat the other gods with the help of some factions: Damneds, Broods, Outlaws, Zealots or General helpers. Like other trading card games, your aim will be destroying your oponents' resource cards or make them discard their whole deck. The game will also have a virtual album feature where players can show off their collections. About the cards, they will be obtainable with Manna, a virtual currency that can be earned as prizes at free contests and championships. When buying new cards, the player can choose between keeping them, trade them for other ones or sell them for Manna. There's no mention of being able to buy Manna with real money, so we expect this game not to be of the pay-to-win sort.
It will be playable on Linux with a web browser as it's being developed with HTML5 on the client side. It's currently in beta state and it can be apparently accessed on its website after liking it on Facebook. As we said before, this is a fixed funding campaign aiming to raise $7k. So far nobody has backed it but there's still plenty of time with 40 days left. The latest crowdfunded trading card games for Linux haven't succeeded, so surely the fans of this genre would appreciate this one getting funded.
Infection: First Contact can be described as a mix of a visual novel, a choose-your-own-adventure and a sci-fi thriller. In it you'll play as a simple errand boy on a space ship, though you'll end up having a decisive role in the narrative and the outcome of the story. For this is an interactive story crafted by your own decisions and actions, which will ultimately lead to one of the game's multiple and varied endings. À propos of the endings there isn't a single one that's punishing and the developers claim to be proud of all of them and that they are quality finales, so replayability is a factor here.
The project has a relatively modest $15k goal but it hasn't experienced a very spectacular debut days, so in the end that figure could prove a really unsurmountable one. We hope this isn't the case, the bad beginning being only due to having launched the campaign near the weekend, and that even some stretch goals such as a female player option, 3DS and Android releases, or even a sequel can be achieved.
It's time for some first-person action with The Darkest Odyssey. But this isn't simply a FPS game, it also has some adventure and sandbox elements mixed in for good measure. We changed the game type but remain with the same space theme, as here you play as an explorer with your own ship and crew. The ship is your base of operations where you can craft equipment and weapons, carry out experiments or plan future missions on unexplored planets. The randomly generated planets are the dungeons you'll have to explore. Perhaps the single most interesting aspect of this game is the mutation system: you can craft a mutation-gun (available right from the start for all $20+ backers) to induce mutations to monsters, stranger NPCs or even your own crew members. Those mutations range from increased agressivity up to growing additional limbs.
It's a game likely to please fans of the Alien universe, as this has been one of the main inspirations for the developers. Unfortunately they haven't noticed it yet as this is another campaign without any backing so far. Its goal is even lower than in the previous case -only $10k- but there's almost a month left so we're not yet evaluating its chances as nil, although backers should start arriving very soon in order to avoid failure.
This must be the Space Week or something as #6 goes to Gates of Horizon, another space game. This one though is a space conquest MMORPG, where both strategic and management aspects are equally important. There's also a strong sandbox element by which you'll be able to do anything you see fit, as there are no preset goals or restrictions. Play with or against your friends, build and command your fleet, manage your crew, mine resources and craft items with them, etc.
The game client will be free and open source, built with Unity3D and available on all major desktop and mobile platforms on release, with consoles and the web as possible future expansions. Because of this, the GUI is being optimized for every input method inherent to each platform. The business model will be based on subscriptions, fortunately with no sign of in-game microtransactions.
So far the game has attracted a good deal of attention and backing, but still insufficient to achieve its $60k goal. Money-based stretch goals are out of the question by now, but there are also Facebook-liking stretch goals to unlock new game elements. So if you find this project interesting go and drop them a like at least. Needless to say, your financial contribution will be equally appreciated by the creators. For only $20 you can get beta access, a whole year subscription and some in-game boosts.
Fourth space game in a row -this is the last one, we promise!- and yet different from all the previous ones: Factions of Ki is mainly a multiplayer arena shooter. A tactical shooter, mind you, so it's not all about quick reflexes and easy triggers. Team work and strategy are vital aspects of this game. Taking the best of arena combat games, battles are designed to be 5v5 tops and last for about 25-30 minutes in which players must perform coordinated attacks to capture essential control points, achieving mission objectives and defending against enemy forces at the same time. In a nutshell, Factions of Ki is a condensed, more intense version of EVE Online. Every battle will be crucial, as the winning faction secures a portion of the sector the fighting has taken place. Once a faction controls 80% of a sector, all its members will gain some attribute bonus to help them in future battles.
The game is being built in HTML5 so there'll be no need of clients, updates, patches or browser plugins, you'll only need a web browser with HTML5 capabilities. Being a free-to-play game the lower pledge rewards grant beta access and in-game boosts ($10 and upwards), and there's an interesting referral upgrade bonus scheme to encourage you spread the word among your friends and convince them to back the project. Unfortunately, many more referred friends are needed before we can say this campaign has a chance to succeed.
We're leaving outer space with Project Aella, a down-to-Earth crime scene investigation game which combines various genres throughout its different missions. It's the story of a young female protagonist who has already experienced loss and a rough life. During the game she will encounter a wide variety of characters, some of which will be playable in certain missions that require a specific skill or combination of them. Besides you can upgrade those skills as you progress, one of the RPG aspects of this game. All the characters are based upon real people, as a way to try to retain their unique personality, as well as having voice acting for both PCs and NPCs. The music scores will also enhance each character's personality with a distinct backing theme.
The game is being developed with Unity as a means of releasing it to as many platforms as possible, Linux being of course one of them, but also the OUYA console. It's been designed to have downloadable episodic content after completion, and an online co-op mode in which each player will take the part of a different game character -with its unique strengths and weaknesses- to carry out missions together.
Considering the kind of game it will be, this campaign has a ridiculously low -alas, flexible- £4.5k base goal. Unbelievable as it may seem, the support so far has been virtually nonexistent with only two backers. We strongly believe it deserves a better luck and so we encourage you to back it if you like this project and really believe in it.
Having reached the Top-3, it's time for some retro-looking games! Introducing Fran Bow, the deceptively adorable-looking little girl that stars in the eponymous "very creepy point & click adventure game", as their creators put it. And very creepy indeed it is, as you can bear witness yourself if you play the recently released demo. But before you inmerse in it, lets us explain you that this is the story of a little girl with a troubled mind. Not surprisingly as her parents are brutally murdered and shortly after her only remaining loved ones -her cat and her aunt- mysteriously disappear and she is locked in an asylum for children. Her only goal -and yours, as the player- then is to escape from there, find Midnight the cat and her aunt Grace and finally find out what happened to her parents and who's responsible for their murder.
This adventure is presented to us in full glorious grimy pixel art with an accompanying soundtrack that sets the mood perfectly. The basic user interface will be inmediately taken in by anybody who's ever played a point & click adventure, but it includes a particular element that lets you switch between different -so to speak- planes of reality, an essential game mechanic in order to make progress in the story. A story that will be divided in 5 chapters, the first of which is already finished and available in the demo, and inbetween chapters there'll be minigames inspired by arcade classics.
The game will be totally DRM-free and available for Linux on release, and rewards include a digital copy of the game for one platform of choice ($10), a copy for all platforms the game is released ($25) or the collector's edition of the game ($80, including the multiplatform game, two postcards, an A3-sized poster, the OST and a dark magic potion!). To make it more to our liking the campaign is of the fixed funding type, so there's no chance of the developers fleeing with your money in their pockets. Jokes aside they aim to gather at least $20k, and only 7% of that amount has been raised on the first week. There are plenty of time left till the end of the campaign, but Fran needs more support in order to have a happy ending -- if such a thing is possible in her creepy world. Will you help her try?
This week's silver medal goes to Project Maiden, a game that could've easily been our #1 had its Linux support been announced earlier. We were writing this very same lines when we were contacted by the creator telling us he'd finally decided to make it a cross-platform release and that Linux support will be achieved at the $10.5k mark -- base funding goal being $9.6k. "Enough with your behind the scenes stories! Tell us about the game!", we almost hear you cry. Alright, this is a game that can be briefly described as a reverse Zelda. That is, a game that attempts to challenge and contravene some of the more deep-rooted assumptions and prejudices in videogames. As such, you'll play as a non-damseled female character who starts with all the powers (Rockjump, Transmute and Stoneskin) and must progressively lose every one of them as you progress. Obviously, as you lose powers the levels will become more difficult and will require more elaborate tactics to get past them. The story is set in a fantasy world devastated by war. Only two races have survived, with no means to carry on the war so a truce has been signed between them. The only loose end is your character, who's inherited the powers from the last God of the land and it's up to you to preserve the truce or to end the war.
Like the previous one, this game's art style is the one we like best: retro-looking, pixelated characters with a 90s flavour to them. It also features cool sword-fighting battles highly reminiscent of classics like Prince of Persia or The Secret of Monkey Island -- we mean the sword-losing animation, obviously not the fighting mechanics.
In top of all that, the game will not only be DRM-free on completion, but also free as in free beer. As such, rewards for the lower tiers are the usual your-name-in-the-credits, or beta access and soundtrack (this one from $15 onwards). But the fun starts at the $80 level, where you can get your likeness inmortalized as an in-game villager, and beyond: become an enemy soldier or even an NPC. Be quick if you're interested in some of the latter options as they're limited and almost all of them gone!
Mwahahaha! We lied to you: space games were not over at #5! However our top Hidden Gem of this week, Lacuna Passage, is quite different from all the other space-themed games we've presented to you before. Instead of building fleets to conquer distant worlds, you'll only get to move within 25 square miles of the surface of Mars -- maybe more if a certain stretch goal is achieved. Indeed, this is a story-driven exploration and survival game in which you play as the only survivor of a crashed mission, sent in order to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the first ever manned mission to Mars. You're stranded in the martian wastelands with no oxygen, water or food, and you must decide whether to survive and wait for rescue or to try to find the truth about the previous mission, even at the expense of risking your life.
The developers claim to be putting a high level of realism into the game, with the use of real satellite-based topography of the Red Planet, in-game physics adapted to the gravitational and atmospheric peculiarities of Mars, a realistic and complex medical monitoring system or a user interface like the one used in jet-fighter helmets. As they probably truthfully state, "it's the closest anyone of us will ever get to experiencing the real thing". If only to appease this depressing realization that we'll never get to escape the gravitational pull of our beloved Earth, this game deserves to be funded and completed so we all can sublimate our own space exploration dreams. And we seem to be in luck as the first week of campaign has been tremendously successful, attracting more than 500 backers who have raised 37% of the $40k goal. With success almost guaranteed we must now look into what the stretch goals could provide, the most relevant being extended voice acting at $47k and Oculus Rift support at $62k. We'll have to wait until later in the campaign to better judge if these goals are feasible or not, but by now both of them are inside the Kicktraq cone so we must be optimistic.
And this is all for today. We'll meet again next week with more news about present and past crowdfunding campaigns for Linux games. In the meantime, don't forget to check our crowdfunding wiki to get the most up-to-date information in the subject. And don't hesitate to contribute to it if you spot any error or inaccuracy, or if you know of a missing project. Bye!
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It's a 4-player co-op RPG based on a very popular web comic, but appears to be struggling like the other Biggies. For some reason, the name makes me think of the upcoming South Park RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, called The Stick of Truth. Anyway, like the South Park adaptation, this game has a colorful cartoon-like quality to it, somewhat reminiscent of Torchlight.
OZombie isn't going to get funded from Kickstarter, that's pretty clear by it's progress and other campaigns progress that have had large goals. But they may get private funding to finish up. Leadwerks is a success, and should be funded by weekends end. I'm ready to see what kind of Games folks will build with Leadwerks.
Gaming on Linux is progressing quite nicely, despite the people who verbally assault it and wish it the worst; mostly by hardcore Windows users and Console kiddies. Their continuous bombardment doesn't faze me at all.