The Funding Crowd is back later than ever on its 13th instalment. What happened is that we avoided publishing it yesterday as Tuesday the 13th is the bad luck day in Spanish-speaking countries, as you may know...
Not really, let's say it's been a combination of summer heat, lazyness and some badly-timed social obligations that prevented us -and by us here I mean me, muntdefems- to work on this column. We just expect the delay has made you more eager to read it. :)
And what a better way to begin than telling you this week there's been far more good news than bad ones? Please do read on to find out:
· Dungeonmans overcame its funding goal by quite a wide margin but the Linux -and Mac- support stretch goal remained unachieved, so chances are a Linux version of this game will not be happening at least in the near future.
· Tom vs The Armies of Hell, one of the Biggies from our last column, was recently canceled when it became clear the campaign wasn't going to succeed. The creator has decided to invest more time on the later parts of the game as well as on a marketing campaign and will be launching another crowdfunding campaign in the near future. In the meantime you can help it make its way into Steam and get a little taste of the game with its playable demo -- and make sure to let the developer know if it works, to convince him on supporting our OS.
· Laika Believes: The Sun at Night was equally canceled, but only to adjust the funding goal as the creators acquired some private funding support. They've already launched a new campaign with a lower goal, which we'll be briefly commenting later on.
· Elliot Quest technically failed to achieve its $6k goal and only managed to raise 25% of that amount. But don't worry, because the sole developer of this game is determined to finish the game no matter how much finantial support he gets. For the time being, he's put it on Desura in the Alphafunding program, so you can still get access to the current build even if you didn't back it on Indiegogo. It's also on Greenlight so you can go and vote it if you'd like to play this game on Steam.
· Leadwerks, the 3D game development system for building games for Linux within Linux, more than doubled its initial $20k goal. Such backing support has allowed for a number of stretch goals, like Android+Ouya support, Blender integration and 64-bit builds for exporting to Windows and Mac. Sadly, the total raised amount fell relatively short of a very interesting stretch goal: a Visual GUI editor.
· Lacuna Passage fulfilled our expectations and became a winner a bunch of days before the end of the campaign. The funding surplus enabled the addition of developer commentary and enchanced Oculus Rift integration to the game. It can be pre-ordered through the Humble Store and voted on Greenlight as well.
· High-ranked former Hidden Gem Project Maiden ended its successful campaign with a 125% funding mark. Not bad at all considering it will be a free game. That extra 25% will allow for a full-band soundtrack and the New Game+ feature, among others.
· Thanks to an unbelievable ending spike, KR-17 achieved success in its second attempt. It will support the OUYA but not multiplayer, as funding fell $300 short of the required $4k stretch goal.
· Deus Ex Machina 2 had already reached the base goal halfway its campaign, but £2.2k more were needed to ensure a Linux version of the game. At the very end, the magic £12k figure was achieved and so we can all celebrate. If you missed the oportunity to back this project as we did, you can do it on their website where they're still accepting PayPal pledges.
Let's now turn our attention to Speedster who's going to refresh our memories about the noteworthy ongoing campaigns:
· 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 which was updated just last week with both bug fixes and new content. 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 other targeted platforms). Success seems possible though not certain, with little more than 50% of funding and over 3 weeks left in the campaign. One of the project devs cares about Linux enough to have dropped by on one of our previous crowdfunding articles, so it would be nice to see this one succeed.
· Celestian Tales: Old North wants to follow in the footsteps of 90s JRPG classics, but using modern hi-res graphics instead of mimicking the old pixelated graphic style. The timespan of the story is one of its unusual points, as it focuses on growth of 6 characters over three decades, starting as youths and ending as experienced knights. Choices made during the game have consequences, with many possible endings for each of the 6 playable characters. Last week saw another RPS mention for Celestian Tales and clearly the project creators have not given up, continuing to post interesting updates. However they really need to get a sizeable burst of momentum now that the campaign end approaches, in order to raise the remaining $20k in the last few days.
· Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly is a mix of game development tool and adventure game (developed with the tool, of course) for one very low price of $15. If you ever had an idea for an adventure game but haven't implemented it due to not having time (or patience) to learn suitable game creation tools, you should really check out Adventurezator -- it promises a really low barrier-to-entry for designing games in your spare time. Or, if you merely aim to be a consumer of games who enjoys bizarre mashups of famous fantasy characters and historical figures, you still ought to check out Adventurezator for its included game, When Pigs Fly. On the other hand, if all you want is a quick way to amuse your friends by creating cutscenes such as this then the minumum pledge is only $5. Prospects finally took a turn for the better in the last few days and this unique project got recently funded!
· Monochroma is a rather serious and artistic puzzle-platformer set in the 1950s, starring two children standing up to an evil corporation. The story is told in a completely visual manner using black-and-white graphics accented by splashes of red, and the physics simulation leans emphasizes accuracy rather than super-hero-worthy jumping ability. If you are intrigued by this unusual sort of game, give the Linux demo of Monochroma a whirl. The funding period is relatively long at 45 days total, but the campaign has reached the midperiod where progress has slowed but not stopped. The current funding rate will not do the trick even with the long campaign, but hopefully enough progress can be made during the next couple weeks to bring the project within striking distance of their goal for a big final push. Monochroma is also on Greenlight, ready to be voted for by interested Steam members.
· 7 Days to Die bills itself as "The Survival Horde Crafting Game" which blends elements of open-world sandbox, FPS, survival horror, tower defense, and RPGs. Apparently this horde of zombies is interested in recruiting any zombie processes lurking on your Linux box, since they specifically reached out to GoL for support. It looks like this strategy has worked, with the project having reached the ambitious $200k with more than a week left in the campaign. The Kicktraq cone is now fawning all over 7 Days to Die, predicting a final figure between $300k and $500k which in the best case scenario would allow for all the recently announced stretch goals. 7 Days to Die also has a Greenlight page for those who think Steam does not yet offer enough zombie-apolcolypse games with crafting, looting, mining, exploration, and character growth. Apparently there are a lot of you with this opinion, because 7 Days to Die is doing great on Greenlight, with #1 ranking at last report!
· Balrum is a single-player open-world RPG that emphasizes a balance of combat and non-combat skills such as building, farming, and crafting: for instance, building a home and choosing a guild play important roles in how the plot develops. Last week was not a bad week for Balrum funding progress if counted as a mid-project slump week, but the average pledges for the finishing week needs to go up a lot in order to finish successfully after a slow start.
· Plee the Bear open-source platformer game has earned 28% towards their modest initial goal. The starting point for this game is already available as free software. So far the pure donation-without-rewards funding strategy has not been doing too well for the poor bear, with progress stagnating for at least a week; perhaps the project leaders should study the Kickstarter success of previously covered open source game Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.
· Tangiers is an innovative project mixing surrealism and stealth. It is still just as hard to do it justice in a single paragraph as it was last week, so we will leave you with a few quotes from the project as teasers and leave the rest as homework: "The world collapses and rebuilds itself the more you interact with it", "The spoken words of its inhabitants materialize physically", "Architecture adopts the mind-state of its inhabitants, who are in turn physically and violently changed in response". So far this bizarre vision has been well accepted; despite a somewhat slower week for pledges, the £35k goal is still well within reach with 87% funding and almost a week left in the campaign.
· Crypt Run is a medieval hack'n slash where half the adventure happens in the Realm of the Dead where you meet again creatures that you had previously dispatched in the Land of the Living. Crypt Run is a previous hidden gem that fell off the list for a few weeks due to supplying a rather unrealistic stretch goal for Linux support, asking for as much funds for the Linux port as for the base game itself. Now that base funding has been achieved, the team has taken some time to try out their current development build on Linux. Armed with some actual facts, they were able to refine their Linux cost estimation to something more sensible and achievable, $1.5k. The decision may have done the trick as pledges increased significantly after the announcement, and the total $6.5k mark was achieved shortly after. Now that a port is guaranteed, Linux users can check the early web demo to help determine whether the premise and style appeal to them.
· Organic Panic is a physics-based action puzzler which pits fruit and vegetables against cheese and meats. Organic Panic also includes a fully-functional level editor which was used to build all the official levels, so players can design levels for their friends as well as playing co-op or competitive modes with them. Unfortunately Organic Panic had a rather slow week last week, so now the fate of the project comes down to whether the remaining $8k can be raised in a final pledging spike over the last day and a half. It's certainly difficult but not impossible, as yesterday's pledges added up to more than $5k.
· Orbs CCG is an online version of collectible card games such as Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh. The base goal explicitly includes support for Linux, so there will be no ActiveX or other IE-specific hacks in the implementation; mobile versions of the client are rather more trouble to develop, so the Android version (along with iOS) is at the highest stretch goal and likely out of reach. The base goal has already been achieved, so those who have been waiting for a Linux-compatible online CCG can go jump on this opportunity to help such a game exist.
· Kingcraft is a fantasy-themed RTS with 3D voxel-based graphics and gameplay inspired by classic games in both turn-based and real-time strategy genres. Linux support is included in the base goal, so don't be afraid to pledge early and help build needed momentum -- progress is at 29% with about 50% of the campaign time remaining.
· DwarfCorp fantasy RTS casts players in the role of leader of a colony of capitalist dwarves ready to explore new lands and make a profit out of them. The graphics for this game are a combination of old-fashioned 2D pixelated sprites with their more modern cousins of 3D voxels, and the colony-building UI is reminiscent of classic turn-based management games such as Colonization. Apparently there are a lot of dwarves out there eager to turn a profit, as the base goal of $20k has already been achieved and the $25k stretch goal for Linux support should be attained this week.
· Insignificant open-world RPG started out with a rather modest goal of $1,760 which seems appropriate to its smale-scale theme: playing as a tiny person reminiscent of The Borrowers from classic literature. Not only has the base goal been conquered, but the first stretch goal as well, which allows adventures to take place indoors as well as outdoors. The next milestone comes at $4k, which allows underwater adventures and funds development of the model of a second playable character.
· Chroma Squad is an already-funded project for a rather off-beat management sim game, in which the player is in charge of a Sentai TV studio. This includes everything from hiring actors and buying equipment to dealing with fans and competing with other studios, with the actual TV episodes playing out as turn-based battles with explosive cinematics. Early success can partly be attributed to the good reputation of the team, who created the well-respected Knights of Pen and Paper, which unfortunately does not include Linux support. Greenlight for Chroma Squad has also been launched.
· Candle has a unique visual style to set it apart from other games that are a cross between adventure and platformer genres: hand-painted with watercolor and ink. This project needs to gain some serious momentum in order to succeed, needing to double the existing daily average for the remaining 9 days. Funding needs to reach $43k in order to get a Linux port and be a success by our standards.
Finally, to be fully acquainted with what's going on, let's review the latest campaigns to be launched:
The Solar Games is the first of a series of videogames with social impact, focused on the lack of available electricity in certain parts of the world. This instalment will be a solar kart racing game, a sort of Super Mario Kart meets Mad Max: it takes place 20 years in the future, when global climate change policies have failed and the world has been turned into a wasteland. Cel shaded graphics and optional comedic commentary tracks make it a fun and light-hearted game, but without forgetting its aim for social impact. The player will be able to race in both single- and multi-player modes, using up to 5 different types of karts, in real-world-inspired locations. The first completed track is based on Jacmel, Haiti, and there are plans to include other locations from Africa, China and India. In-game music will also contribute to the immersive experience with the option of listening to local artists from each place. The game will support Linux from the start and it needs the rather ambitious -and precise- amount of $346,532 to be completed. However, if it succeeds we won't have to wait too much until its release, scheduled for December 2013.
Before the actual Hidden Gems Top-10, let us briefly talk about a couple of campaigns that are either a relaunch of a previously mentioned project or are new campaigns for games which have been available for some time and are relatively well-known within the indie scene:
Former Biggie Laika Believes: The Sun at Midnight has been relaunched with a much lower goal after the developers could secure a private source of funding and consequently need less money to finish their project. Now only $20k are needed and a quarter of that figure has been achieved in just 5 days, so everything points to the success of this second attempt.
Constant C, the 2D puzzle platformer that's been coming to Linux for already quite a long time, has been launched on Indiegogo with the modest aim of raising $5k to help finish the porting tasks and to add more language options to the game. The campaign hasn't experienced a very enthusiastic beginning but there's a lot of time left to gather as much funds as possible. A Linux port is promised to be coming soon, so you can take this chance to pre-order the game at half price: a $5 pledge will get you a copy and a Steam key if/when greenlit.
And last but not least, Paranautical Activity is also seeking funds from the crowd after their Greenlight affair and early access sales not being as high as needed. In contrast to the previous game, this one is going full steam ahead to achieve its funding goal in just a few days. Planned stretch goals include Oculus Rift support, an endless mode and both co-op and competitive multiplayer modes. We've got no doubt a number of them will be reached by the end of this campaign.
And after these hors catégorie entries, let's go with this week's full-fledged Hidden Gems:
As you may know we like to showcase educational projects here at The Funding Crowd, and The Trail West is one of those projects. It will be the evolution of a previous Android game entitled Build Bridges, Dam Rivers, it will feature better art, more educational content and a competitive scoreboard, and it will be released for desktop systems including, of course, Linux. Its educative content will be focused on two main areas: the physics involved in building structures and some historical background about the locations in the game during the conquest of the West. The funding goal is low enough to be still pretty feasible despite a poor campaign beginning. You can grab a copy of the game for as little as $5 or, alternatively, supply every student and teacher in the school of your choice with a copy of the game with a $150 pledge.
Jacob's Island is a visual novel telling the story of Kenna, a young human female who wakes up in an unknown fantasy world. This world is somewhat more modern and complex than those in the typical fairy tales and the society inhabiting it is more open-minded and libertarian than our own, particularly regarding relationships and sexuality. In it, Kenna will have to find out who see is and what happened to her. Now here at The Funding Crowd -I'm again talking specifically about me- we're not very into visual novels, but we can nonetheless appreciate the merits of this particular one. For starters it breaks away from the typical manga look and instead it sports its own particular art-style. Secondly, it seems to be tackling important social themes to make the player draw parallelisms between Keena's world and our own. And finally, because it supports Linux right from the start and there's even a demo to try out.
Timothy Arceri wants to become a Mesa 3D contributor and has launched a fixed funding Indiegogo campaign as an experiment to find out if people is willing to crowdfund the development of open source drivers. His plan consists on working full-time during two weeks on implementing the GL_KHR_debug extension and documenting his experience as a reference for future contributors. This extention serves to improve the user experience within OpenGL development tools and to improve OpenGL programmers efficiency. This way, more people is likely to start developing OpenGL applications and games and that can only mean more games for Linux. Clearly a win-win situation. So far the experiment is performing quite well, with more than 60% of the basic goal already funded and almost three more weeks to go.
Tim himself recently reached out to GoL to explain his project and he stayed around a bit to answer our readers' questions, for which we thank him greatly.
ZED: Absolution is a fast paced top-down arcade shooter which has been under development for some time. Now its creators have launched an Indiegogo campaign -of the fixed funding type, like the previous entry- to help finish the game in a timely manner and with some additional features. It's a game clearly inspired by the classics but at the same time adding some modern aspects to the mix such as multiplayer support, detailed 3D environments, levelling systems for both players and weapons and probably even Oculus Rift support (WHAT!?). Whatever the features this game is about ZED, a veteran seraphim warrior banished from Heaven for whatever reasons, who must attain salvation by fighting the hordes of Hell and collecting the souls of the damned. Luckily enough, the collected souls will also allow the protagonist to acquire new weapons or to upgrade his (hers? Its? Angels don't have sex, have they?) current arsenal.
The game will of course support Linux, otherwise we wouldn't be talking about it here, but only if at least 25 thousand Canadian dollars have been raised by the campaign's end due in exactly three weeks. Unfortunately looking at the pace the campaign has taken since its debut, gathering that amount will prove more difficult that earning the Divine Absolution ambitioned by ZED. But as we said there's still three weeks to turn the tide and gain more support and backers. Will you help it with your pledge?
Time now for Stunt Runner, a physics-based 2.5D puzzle game which can be best described as "Lemmings meets The Incredible Machine". Following this analogy, a formerly popular stunt actor named Smash Johnson will play the part of the Lemmings, as he's called back by you to do the stunts of your latest film. After many years of self-abuse and bad life habits, his head traumas only allow him to run blindly straight ahead and so you'll need to modify the environment putting different physics-based props and gadgets in his way in order for him to successfully finish a stunt rehearsal or the recording of an action sequence. The developers like to boast about how every level will have multiple solutions, but this is not the only cool feature of the game: it'll have a built-in recording feature to immortalize your greatest solutions -or your most embarrassing blunders- and to upload them directly to Youtube. The help further develop a community around the game, it'll also feature a level editor and leaderboards. According to the creators they've already completed two movie sets (think of them like areas or worlds), and they still have to develop another two sets, more usable items, more obstacles and traps, and a community level system -- a place where user-created levels can be uploaded, shared, downloaded and voted. And that's not all, as there are many planned stretch goals is pledges manage to overcome the initial $55k funding goal. However, we'd better not delve much into them since after the two first days of campaign even the basic goal seems quite out of reach. Let's hope this campaign doesn't conform to the classic bow-shaped funding profile and the traditional mid-campaign lull turns into a steady growth in support.
The first Hidden Gem in this week's Top5 is Sword 'N' Board, 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. We can then expect difficult and challenging puzzles in order to fulfill Sidd's quest: none other than finding the pieces of his lost video game console! Here's where this overall "ode to imagination" theme falls apart in our opinion. Really? The kid is entertaining himself with the power of his own imagination only because he's lost his console and as a means to recover it? It's not like we care much about moral teachings in games, but surely the creator could have thought of a better motivation for the main character. Anyway, we think Sword 'N' Board is a pretty interesting proposal and we liked what we saw about it -- we haven't given it this week's #5 for nothing, after all.
This project didn't support Linux when it was launched -or we miserably failed to realize it- but they added it briefly after. It only needs to achieve the modest enough goal of $7.5k to become a reality, but every day of campaign that goes by this quest seems more and more difficult to fulfill. We're afraid imagination alone won't be enough to lead this project to success, so your very real contributions will certainly be highly appreciated.
The previous project was the first retro game in this list, but its graphics were not pixelated enough as to satisfy our tastes. Luckily the #4 Hidden Gem is Crash Point, a 2D cyberpunk Metroidvania with pixel art and some RPG elements. It's the story of Val, a mercenary black listed after a failed mission, who accepts a job from one of the megacorporations that rule the world. The mission seems simple enough: infiltrating Avalon Prime, a sort of government-built housing complex that has become the bastion of hope and independence, and extract Dr. Merculious. But the apparent simplicity quickly turns into a nightmare for Val who will have to deal with the various inhabitants of the complex, although not all of them will be hostile to her and some will even become her allies. Like any Metroidvania worth of the name, combat is one of the core aspects of this game. There are a wide variety of weapons and cybernetic enhancements to buff up Val's combat power. But there's more than one way to overcome challenges: she can also use Hacking, which is in fact a different kind of stages with puzzles and platforming areas.
The development team claim to have almost completed the programming and a little of the game art so far. To finish the rest they're asking for $40k, mainly to pay for the team's housing and feeding needs during the rest of the development process. After the first week, they've barely managed to raise 10% of the funding goal so they really need to attract much more attention and backers during the rest of the campaign if they want a chance of success.
Occupying the third place this week there's Beyond Black Space, a roguelike / RTS / space sim where you are the captain of the last surviving ship from Earth, a sort of Noah's ark in space looking for a new home. As the captain, you'll be able to control every aspect of your ship, your officers and your crew: you decide how to equip the ship, what roles to assign to the officers and what repair tasks to assign to the crew members. Combat against enemy alien ships will work in a RTS fashion: you'll have to decide which particular enemy systems to target in order to destroy or disable them and at the same time managing the works to repair any damage you might have suffered. "Wait a minute, haven't I already played this game?", you may be thinking. "Yeah! That's just FTL!". Wrong. In any case it'd be FTL 2.0 as it takes the main premises from that game and brings them to the next level. For example Beyond Black Space has a very rich and deep story; over 1,000 random scenarios/missions; the ability to engage alien fleets, i.e. more than one ship at a time, and to obtain precious rewards when doing so; interaction with alien races, becoming their allies or declaring war to them; complex asteroid-harvesting mechanics in order to obtain resources for your upgrades and repairs; or a crafting system to convert those resources into useful things. On the whole, nearly all the features FTL was missing to become the ultimate space roguelike.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most of the Hidden Gems in this list, this campaign has encountered a very cold reception during its first days: only 27 backers who have contributed to barely 1% of the basic funding goal. Being it a longer-than-usual 45 days campaign there's still plenty of time to remedy the situation and set a course to success.
The silver medal goes to Poltergeist, a retro-pixelated puzzler that could be loosely considered as former #1 Hidden Gem GhostControl Inc. counterpart. Indeed, here you'll be the ghost of the late Henry B. Knight and your objective will be to scare away all the tenants living in your house in order to have some peace in the afterlife. As the title suggest, you'll get to be a poltergeist with many powers at your disposal: lifting and throwing objects, possessing objects and people, summoning spectres and other creatures, etc. Of course it won't be as easy as that as you'll have to face enemies such as priests or ghost hunters that try to prevent you from getting rid of everyone in your manor. The final game will feature more than 60 levels, divided among different historical periods.
The game began as a simple concept back in 2011, a prototype of which entered the Square Enix "Latin American Game development contest 2012" and won the first prize. Once the creators regained the rights to the game they began working on the prototype to improve it in many ways: redesigning the sprites, an improved UI, new powers and enemies including "boss fights" in each time period, and more levels. And this is what this campaign is all about: raise funds to let the creators finish their dreamed game. Unfortunately this is another fixed funding Indiegogo campaign so it's all or nothing, and less than $1k has been pledged during the first week out of the $25k funding goal. At least it's also a 45-day long campaign so there's still time to fix the situation and invert the trend.
And lastly, the best Hidden Gem of this week is Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope, another 2D metroidvania, this one telling a story about love, hope, and redemption. Like the previous metroidvania included in this list Ghost Song features retro-looking art, although much more glossy and detailed as these animated GIFs can bear witness. Some of the other goals the creator had in mind when he conceived the game are a challenging action gameplay, a lot of atmosphere, and emotionally resonant themes. About the game difficulty, it's allegedly not designed to be punishingly difficult despite its Metroid and Dark Souls influences: in the creator's own words, it will be "tough but fair". And regarding the story, it's not told using long cutscenes or walls of text but through being in the game and observing the events as they occur. All we need to know is that the action takes place in Lorian V, a mysterious and cursed moon. Everybody who goes there ends up dying and their ghosts go around haunting the place until someone destroys their physical remains. Only then they can be freed from this terrible existence. Other features of the game include a large open-ended world to explore, with optional hidden weapons and abilities to incentivize exploration, large bosses and an atmospheric and lonely tone.
The game began as a small metroidvania made in Flash and meant to be played on browsers. It slowly grew into something so big and complex that made the creator reconsider everything and start anew with the Unity3D engine, so Linux support is a given. He's asking for $15k to bring a programmer and music artist onto the team and together complete the game in less than a year. Luckily many Kickstarter regulars seem to agree with us on considering it a great and interesting project as it has been funded in just two days! From now on, during the remaining four weeks, it'll be only a matter of raising the bar up to try to achieve the 3 planned stretch goals or even more.
And that was all we had for you! We'll see you again next week, no promises on the exact day though. :P Until then don't forget to check our crowdfunding wiki in order to keep up to date with the state of Linux games crowdfunding. Bye! ;)