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The Funding Crowd 10 (July 9th - 15th)

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Wow, it seems like yesterday that we decided to start a weekly crowdfunding column and it's been 10 issues already. The Funding Crowd has grown an order of magnitude but still hasn't been able to get rid of its chronic lack of punctuality. Let's hope the saying is true and that indeed with age comes wisdom, and our next columns arrive on time.




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In the meantime, let's check the outcomes of campaigns that ended during the last seven days. As usual, we'll start with the bad and bittersweet news:


· The Indiegogo page for the Lotus project disappeared without prior notice. We've got no idea why did this happen but we suspect there might have come up some legal issues with Hasbro, which where the reason behind the demise of Cockatrice, an application Lotus was a fork of.


· Go Go Monkey Squad failed to reach its $5k goal, and its developers had to content themselves with the $400-odd raised. There's been no official announcement about the future of this game, so we don't know whether there'll be a web version for us Linux gamers to play.


· Clash of the Monsters ended its campaign having raised more than 170% of its $1k base goal. So what's bad about all this? The fact that a Linux version depended on the achievement of a $5k stretch goal. The developers haven't issued any statement on this regard, but we're not to expect any Linux release for the time being.


· Space-conquest MMORPG Gates of Horizon campaign was prematurely ended by its creators, who decided to cancel it and relaunch it in a few weeks when they've finished up a playable demo in order to get better exposure for their game.


· Our grim predictions finally came true and Fire with Fire failed to get fully funded, getting only one third of its goal. However, as the creators of this project decided to entitle their last backers-only update, this is not over yet.


· BEEF is another project that ended in failure, albeit temporary: its creators have announced they'll run a second campaign, so BEEF is going to have another chance to defeat The Butcher.


· Oz Action Adventure (formerly known as OZombie) has been cancelled, with possibility of a future relaunch. American McGee needs to concentrate on the Alice Otherlands movie project before that opportunity escapes, so there was a good reason not to stick it out to the bitter end with the Oz game project (which already looked like it needed a relaunch anyways).



And we'll end with a couple of happy ones:


· The St. Christopher's School Lockdown passed its exams with merits as it got amply funded although it couldn't reach the first stretch goal, which would've supposed the funding of the second episode. But that's still possible, as they've enabled PayPal donations on their website. In any case, the first episode is not to be expected until December 2014, so that's a lot of time for gathering more funds. In the meantime you can check their IndieDB and Greenlight pages for updates and news about the game.


· Another successful project last week was Chipmunk2D for Unity which almost doubled its $5k base goal, although there weren't any planned stretch goals to account for the income surplus. Anyway, looks like the Chipmunk2D engine will be coming to Unity to help develop phisically accurate 2D games for Linux.


· And lastly, the biggest winner of thie week: Soul Saga which blew away its initial $60k funding goal to almost reach $200k. Obviously quite a few stretch goals have been achieved in the process, including voice acting, airship combat, a job board with tons of side quests, new ancient and forgotten monsters or a new massive combat system. Fans of PS1-era JRPGs can celebrate, although they'll have to wait one whole year until the game gets finished.







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It's Speedster's turn to keep us updated about the still ongoing campaigns worthy of our consideration:



· 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. This classic-Zelda-inspired action-adventure game already boasts a web demo ([which does work on Linux). This campaign ends next week, so don't delay too much longer in checking it out if you might be interested.


· The Maker's Eden is another flexible funding campaign, but again the additional funds will help the project creator 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. The latest project update focused on a Steam LUG interview, which is hosted by some fellow GoL members. Time is running out to show support for this campaign; the clock runs out sometime this Friday.


· 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 nailed the base goal this week and is already halfway between the base and 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. This stretch goal is a slam dunk, and the project creators are working with current backers to scheme up more stretch goals to follow it.


· KR-17 made progress in pledges this week; maybe the OUYA announcement of last week is working. The Kicktraq cone has now befriended the project, predicting a clear path to success. If you are a platformer enthusiast who has been pining for a peek at the gameplay, pine no longer -- update #6 offers a nice survey of footage from a variety of levels that are currently in-progress. The footage includes a pixel-art robot who climbs oil rigs to set explosives and wears a captain's hat while escaping on a boat, what more could you want?


· Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead 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. The previous week saw a significant slow-down in pledges, but some of those stretch goals are still easily within reach given a strong finish in this final week of the campaign.


· 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) the Oculus Rift and modder stretch goals are already in the bag! The co-op multiplayer feature, which the project creator has had his eye on all along, is likely to be funded by the end rush of pledges. The exhilarating final pledging rush may be going on even as you read this article (assuming you are reading this within the first couple days of being posted).


· Megatokyo (based on the web comic of the same name) continues along the path of success, gaining around 600 backers, $30k pledges, and an article on Kotaku. 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. This campaign ends on Thursday of this week, so prepare to see another impressive spike in pledges in the final 48 hours.


· 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 has hit the mid-project doldrums; if the pace of about £4k per day is maintained, the goal will not be hit until the final burst of funding -- but it will be hit. That projection is based on the healthy number of Satelite Reign backers (finishing with at least 9k at this rate) and the reputation of the project creators, who should have enough respect among the gaming media to get publicity for the end push.


· Dropsy: A Surreal Exploration Based Adventure Game maintains its achievement of longest self-descriptive title. This game aims to be suitably bizarre and humorous for an adventure starring a clown who talks to animals, so fans of "weird" and "adventure" should check out the trailer released in a recent update. This week is important for Dropsy's success, since a strong showing could get this project within striking distance during its final push next week.


· INSECTION is a rare find for those who appreciate the genre of 4-player co-op sci-fi FPS, and after a very slow first week... several hundred people suddenly managed to discover INSECTION this last weekend! We suspect this little piece on the NY Post might have something to do with it... The project could use some updates, but clearly the creators have been doing due diligence in the PR department, with their Kicktraq page listing 6 other news articles in the first week.


· Project Aella looks pretty unusual: a crime scene investigation game that features exploration, stealth, fighting, upgradable skill system, and full voice acting with characters based on real people. Flexible funding has been selected for this project, but more backers are definitely needed in order to do justice to this ambitious vision.


· Fran Bow promises to be a worthy game for fans of creepy thrillers starring little children, who can check out the mood in the Linux-supporting demo. If the project manages to pick up momentum and 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 targets).


· Project Maiden puzzle platformer had some ups and downs in funding last week, but the prospects for reaching the Ubuntu stretch goal at $10.5k look pretty good. Luckily the Project Maiden campaign does not mirror the storyline, or else we would have started out with full funding and cross-platform support on day 1... and slowly be losing them both.


· Lacuna Passage looks like a pretty safe bet for a winner, having passed 50% funding mark days ahead of the halfway point in time. The success for this Mars exploration and adventure game will be well deserved, with many touches of realism such as use of real Mars topography, a physics engine adjusted according to Mars attributes, and a UI inspired by an actual UI used in jet-fighter helmets. Lacuna Passage also has a Greenlight page, so those who want to see it on Steam someday can go vote.






After all those reviews and recaps let's go with this week's new projects, both big and small:




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This week we've only got a Biggie: Laika Believes: The Sun at Night. And it's fallen into this category only because its creators decided to aim for the six-figure goal, because otherwise it's got all the ingredients of a genuine Hidden Gem. The game is a 2D action platformer that tells an alternate story of Laika, the Soviet space dog. In actuality Laika died in her capsule, but here she returns from space with laser beams, a robotic body and a defensive shield, to find the USSR as an uncontested mega-power who rules the world with an iron fist. Understandably enough, she'll seek revenge against those who sent her to space in a metroidvania-inspired platformer with some RPG-touches. Being such an emotional story, the narrative is a fundamental part of the game, with many unique characters and quests to complete. The art style began as the typical retro pixel-art, but evolved into the current 2D hand-drawn style that suits the action so well. As we hinted before they are asking for the uncontemptible amount of $100k, which will mainly go to finish the art and sound, as well as to some necessary gameplay tweaks before releasing the game -- with a planned Linux version, although it seems that not on day one.
This project hasn't escaped a good deal of controversy, due to its probably too manichean view on the former Soviet Union and to misleadingly hinting that the soviets were the only ones to kill animals for the sake of the Space Race. But ideologies aside, the game in itself is solid enough to merit our attention and to encourage everybody to support it. It really needs it, as only a 5% has been raised in almost a week.







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Crypt Run is a game that would certainly rank higher in this list were it not for the fact that Linux support is relegated to a 200% stretch goal -- $10k over the $5k base goal. However chances are this stretch goal will be reached even way before the end of the campaign and so we'll likely end up with a new arcade hack 'n slash game to put our hands on. The game's looks highly remind us of The Binding of Isaac or Obludia, but it incorporates some truly innovative and interesting mechanics. Namely, as the game's motto goes, "Death is just the beginning" because when you die, instead of being all over you're transported to the Realm of the Dead where you'll find, among others, some of the foes you've previously killed. This fact alone helps deepen the gameplay, as there'll be some challenges that will require travelling between these two realms in order to complete them. In order to get a better idea of what Crypt Run is about, you can play its web demo -- although we've never been able to complete a satisfying play as the animation stops whenever a barrel or a chest is opened. :(






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Our second Hidden Gem is a retro-looking, pixelated 2D platformer. That's right, the kind of game we love best! Belonging is the story of J. Fang, who must return the colour to his world by recovering all of the lost marbles. As each red marble is collected, a different element in the game goes from grey to a rich detailed environment. The initial greyness that imbues the game helps create an intended classic cult film impression which goes well with a story allegedly "with more plot twists than a Korean soap opera".
The humble $1.6k goal will serve to improve the current art production method (consisting in hand-drawn graphics, captured with a cell phone and edited with MS Paint) and to release a free web-based trial version with the first levels of the game. If the funding overcomes the initial goal there are some planned stretch goals, the most interesting being the $5k one, consisting on the release of all the graphical art under the Creative Commons - Attribute license.






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Sandman: Escape from Dreamland is also a sort of retro game, although not as much as the previous one. It's a 3D platformer, similar to those made for consoles during the last decade, featuring 80 levels divided between 20 different worlds and environments. In it you'll play as Martin, a regular guy who falls asleep during an important work meeting only to awaken and find yourself trapped in the dream world. There you find the Sandman himself, who asks you to help him to regain his lost powers -- by collecting hourglasses, the source of those powers.
The game supports Linux from the start and will only get funded if $10k are gathered by the deadline (yay for fixed funding!). This amount is however the very minimum to complete a basic version, and the developers have designed many more features and mechanics, which will be introduced as stretch goals as the campaign porgresses. We also hope that during this time some aspects get polished a bit, particularly the animations which are a little stiff at the moment, in order to attract platformer addicts as backers.






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Here's a really interesting proposal: Metanact, a fast-pace, twin-stick space shooter in which levels are directories in your filesystem and enemies are your own files. Are you mad at a particular school/work assignment? Let off some steam by blowing it to pieces! You'll have to make a little use of your imagination to visualize those explosions though, as at the moment the game sports a quite retro vectorial graphic style. However everything is subjected to change and, if enough funds are raised, the creator might decide to hire some artists to do a complete overhaul of the art and the music in the game. The first hurdle to be overcome is the $5k base goal -as this is another fixed-funding campaign- which would also grant us a Linux version of the game.






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Another good dose of nostalgia is served up by Celestian Tales: Old North to all good narrative-driven RPGs fans out there. A game inspired by JRPG titles of the 90s, but without giving up some modern touches such as a higher resolution or more detailed character illustrations instead of pixel art. It's the story -spanning over three decades!- of six well-being yougsters sent by their respective families to serve a lord in order to get a feeling of the real life and to understand what does nobility entail. What matters the most in this game are the character's inner struggles and dark secrets, and there's little room for great magic or epic tales. The choices you make as a player will carry their consequences, and you'll have to take responsibility for your actions. Under this light it's no wonder there'll be more than fifteen possible endings, depending on you choices throughout the game.
It's being built using Unity, so Linux support is guaranteed on release. Of course, that's only if the $40k funding goal is reached before the campaign ends, an hypothetical scenario that can't be taken for granted right now. On the other hand, more support in the form of new backers would certainly improve its chances.






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To enter the top half of this week's Hidden Gems list, we had an awesome mini-review to introduce Whilom: Sins, a 2D brawler/RPG with anime and comic book aesthetics. Unfortunately, when we checked the project before publishing the article, we found it had been canceled just minutes ago by its creators. However, not all is lost as they will strike again with a new campaign once they've got a better product to show. And we'll be there to analyze it again.






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Next on the list there's a two for one: Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly. It's a 3D adventure-creating tool (plus a 2D cutscene creator) -Adventurezator- including a full adventure campaign created with it -- When Pigs Fly.
Adventurezator lets you easily create -and publish- your own adventures; and by easily we mean by point-and-clicking alone. You set the characters, their objectives and the objects they can interact with. The rest of the behaviour is emergent: e.g. orcs will fight with humans, gremlins will rapidly reproduce if soaked, etc. Plus you'll be able to create introductions and endings with the cutscene creator. It may look like a simple tool, but it's able to produce something as convincing as this hilarious teaser trailer.
In addition, When Pigs Fly is a fine example of what can be done with Adventurezator. It's a full adventure that tells the story of Edmund, a pigman trying to become human back again, and Zookwinkle, a garden gnome. They together will face challenges and meet celebrities like Isaac Newton or the Seven Dwarfs.
The campaign will be considered a success if $20k or more are contributed by its backers. Until now only 10% of that sum has been raised, so many more graphic adventure fans are needed to help make it come true. Incentives are certainly not on the short supply as the cutscene creator can be obtained for as little as $5, or the whole package for $12/$15.






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Occupying this week's third place there's Ten Aces, a tactical turn-based strategy game. As stated by its creators, it's "a game for those who like to challenge themselves, and win because of their skill, and not their luck". In effect, any kind of random event or effect (like critical hits, for example) has been completely removed from it. To further ensure a balanced gameplay the developers have implemented a points system, similar to that used in Warhammer. Combined with an elaborate abilities system that adds a lot of depth to the game, it gives the player the chance to choose between few and powerful units or a more numerous and versatile squad with weaker components. The game also features permadeath, both for the player and for the enemies, so any action can potentially have a future consequence later on (e.g. some defeated enemies' allies coming to avenge their death).
The chosen business model is quite interesting: the multiplayer will be completely free, and new characters will be available in exchange of in-game currencty. The single-player campaigns, on the other hand, will be sold for real money. This way, equality in the multiplayer will be preserved.
As it's increasingly usual, the game will be available for Linux on release. What isn't so common yet is there being a Linux demo available to try the game before deciding whether to pledge or not. This is one of those rare occasions, and we're very happy about it. So don't hesitate and download the Linux demo (it says Ubuntu but we'd guess it will work on most distros), and if you like what you see and experience go and back this project. Your $10 pledge will get you a copy of the finished game and will help Ten Aces get closer to its $15k funding goal.






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The second place is for Extinction Limit, an open-world sandbox combat/strategy game that strives to break away from the traditional formulas of this genre and therefore puts more focus on skill-based combat, strategy, and thoughtful approaches to problem solving. The setting is a small desert town in 2042, where a geological surveyor named Lillith has been sent by her contractor. Suddenly hordes of genetically-engineered hyper-evolved hostile organisms attack the town and Lillith becomes a reluctant hero as she tries to defend herself and those around her, as well as to find a way to the safety of the nearest city. In such a scenario exploration, resource management and base maintenance and enhancement will be essential for survival, although the game will allow many different approaches, both for dealing with enemies and for carrying out the maintenance. Related to this last aspect of the game, we find possibly the most interesting of its mechanics: the need to apply common sense as well as some technical knowledge to the maintenance tasks. In contrast to the usual mindless go-fetch quests from many games, here you'll have to look for needed parts or supplies in the most likely places. Plus, when in need of some replacement you'll be able to choose between finding a whole functioning part -with consequently less chance of success- or try to repair it using some simple electrical work. The same goes for being able to program elemental scripts for your defensive turrets and other devices. All these game mechanics will be entirely optional, in order to not shoo away less technically inclined players.
The project's $10k base goal includes Linux -and Windows- support, with Mac relegated to a stretch goal (sometimes it feels good not to be the third leg :P). A $10 pledge will get you the game on release, but there are other reasonably-priced rewards to entice backers to contribute a little more, such as packs with extra content and outfits for the main character.






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And this week's gold medal couldn't go to no other than Monochroma, a cinematic puzzle platformer set in a dystopian 1950s industrial world. It's all about being a kid, as the creative director of the game emphatically explains:

"Platformer games are about our childhood. Think about it for a moment. What we do in a platformer is what we used to do when we were children playing at the playground. We're adults now and don't need to push a box and jump over it. We never climb wooden ladders or swing on a rope. In Monochroma, I try to celebrate everyone's childhood by setting the tutorial at a playground. It was my way of saying «thanks» to all the developers that carry childhood memories within and keep the genre alive."

We certainly had never looked at platformers that way, but not everything is happy running and jumping in this game: you'll have to take care of your injured brother and carry him on your back to safety, facing many dangers and puzzles to be solved in order to progress.
But just as the nameless protagonist carries his brother around, the game also carries the inevitable burden of being compared to great modern classics of the genre. Among those, a name particularly springs to the mind: LIMBO. It's the most direct referent for Monochroma, given its astounding visuals in black & white -with some splashes of red- and its total lack of narration, dialogues or cutscenes -- which makes it potentially understandable and relatable by anyone regardless of culture and background.
However, from what we can see, this game is consistent and innovative enough to dismiss any accusations of being a LIMBO clone. We would've liked to have more arguments in its favour from having played the demo, which was allegedly available for Linux. Alas, it looks like there was some problem with it which hasn't been solved nor addressed yet. Anyway, this doesn't stop us from awarding it this week's #1 and hoping it gets successfully funded. After the first three days of campaign it seemed like an easy job, as almost $9k out of the $80k total goal were raised, but contributions have alarmingly fallen since then up to the point of calling its ultimate success into question.

UPDATE: The Linux demo is finally available! It may require fiddling with Unity config files or command line options but otherwise it works flawlessly. So now we can't really think of anything bad to say about this project... Go and back it. Now.






And this is all for now. Remember that you can get a more updated picture of the crowdfunding scene in our crowdfunding wiki and we highly encourage you to contribute to it in case there's something wrong or it lacks a new project. See you next week! ;)


. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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A Linux user for more than 15 years, I've just recently rediscovered the passion for gaming. Couldn't have chosen a better time than now: the [second](http://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/linux-techdemo-available-for-race-the-sun-.1752#4850) Golden Age of Linux gaming.
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Orkultus 17 Jul, 2013
Lol that Crypt Run.....uh 5k dollars more for a Linux version? No thanks. I asked them what engine they are using. I hope it's not Unity.
Orkultus 17 Jul, 2013
Although their little demo was in the browser. Working on Linux.
Speedster 17 Jul, 2013
Precinct could have been another Biggie, except so far they postponed the Linux port to $200k extra!

Some current backers are trying to explain why that's not a great idea, so we'll see.
Mike Frett 17 Jul, 2013
Sigh...If Devs would use Cross-platform tools to begin with they wouldn't have to complain about porting. They should know DirectX is a limited API, locked down to a closed platform.

Goodness forbid they used something like Unity where exporting is a snap, that would be down right shameful if they put a stretch goal for Linux on something like that. That would be undeserving of support or the breath wasted to mention them.

What's really shameful is Blizzard, they sit on a native WoW client for Linux by their own admission. I wouldn't see any problem releasing that with agreement to users that it's unsupported. But noooo they want to be a-holes. And what happened to their Linux game for 2013, still no word about that.

Ugh...I get so irritated at things like this.
muntdefems 17 Jul, 2013
I was aware of Precinct and I was saving it for next week's article, in spite of the high stretch goal. What I didn't know is that it's being build on Unity! $200k for a Linux build on Unity? WTF?!?!

I can concede that maintaning multiple ports have some associated costs, and some learning process if the developer is not familiar with the additional platforms, but an additional 40% of a $500k budget it's outright untolerable! :><:
Liam Dawe 17 Jul, 2013
Quoting: muntdefemsI was aware of Precinct and I was saving it for next week's article, in spite of the high stretch goal. What I didn't know is that it's being build on Unity! $200k for a Linux build on Unity? WTF?!?!

I can concede that maintaning multiple ports have some associated costs, and some learning process if the developer is not familiar with the additional platforms, but an additional 40% of a $500k budget it's outright untolerable! :><:
Indeed I sent the author a message to clarify it and pointed him to Cheese's article on Linux as a stretch goal.
Liam Dawe 17 Jul, 2013
Well they replied, may have to do a full article on it to get the word out with what they told me.
muntdefems 17 Jul, 2013
I must also say that, after a couple of months where they had almost disappeared, I've recently noted an increase in the number of projects with Linux support stretch goals. It could perfectly be a spurious trend, though.
muntdefems 17 Jul, 2013
Quoting: liamdaweWell they replied, may have to do a full article on it to get the word out with what they told me.

I really hope it was good news... :|
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