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The Funding Crowd 18 (Sep 3rd-11th)

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We've only been able to pride ourselves for our punctuality during a week, as The Funding Crowd is coming out late again. And to add insult to injury this will be a less verbose issue than usual, due to many time-constraining factors we've experienced this past week. So without further ado, let's get started!


Bad news keep dominating our finished campaigns roundup. And most of them are dead projects with no chances of being finished. Happily, there are a bunch of success stories to help us forget about so many failures:

The Losers

· Magí in the Land of Mor ended its campaign abruptly as its Indiegogo page has been taken down by its creators.

· Red Echelon TD, Dungeonforge, and Metanact campaigns all had failed to raise a significant amount by the time their campaigns expired. To make matters worse, there hasn't been any announcements regarding the future of any of these games.

· Both College: the Game and Enhanced Wars projects were canceled by their respective creators after realizing they were not going to make it. Unfortunately, this may be the last time we hear about these games. There's still a chance of completion for the first one, but the second one is definitely over for good.

· Enspira Online was one of those rare cases of failure having raised more than 80% of their goal. A Windows version has been made available nonetheless, but a Linux port is probably out of the question as the relevant stretch goal wasn't obviously reached.

· And lastly, the most relevant loser of the week is without a doubt Elementary, My Dear Holmes. This campaign, which had been accused of fraud some days ago, has been ultimately suspended by Kickstarter. No public explanation has been issued though, something everybody would have thanked given the severity of the issue at hand: namely, a few hundred fake accounts consistently pledging way above the average amounts until the project was funded. The game creators pledge innocent and they probably are, but unfortunately instead of taking a firm stand and demanding the removal of all those fake pledges they let the mess grow bigger and bigger until somehow Kickstarter decided to end it all for good.

The Optimistic Losers

· Stunt Runner only managed to gather about a quarter of its funding goal and so it will need the help of some publishers to see the light of day. They already have a couple of them interested, but that could be potential bad news as the initial launch platforms might change because of that... Until we find out, and despite what we just said about negotiating with publishers, they are asking for your votes on Greenlight.

· Both Bliss and Conquer Mars fell way short of their respective funding goals but both their developers are committed to finish them.

· Finally, The Solar Games couldn't succeed either and its creators are going to take the Indiegogo road instead.

The Winners

· Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope had become a winner pretty early and ended up raising more than 300% the basic goal. The funding surplus has gone to implement a hardcore mode, an enhanced pet system, and an overtime mode as an epilogue of sorts to the game. They are still accepting PayPal pledges on their website so you can get your slacker copy and help the fourth stretch goal -a WiiU version- become a reality.

· Sword 'N' Board didn't have as easy a campaign as the previous winner did, but nonetheless it ended up succeeding and meeting its first stretch goal -a crafting system- in the process. PayPal pledges are also still accepted, so more stretch goals could be achieved in the end.

· Proton Pulse Rift fared notably better than its "brother project" BouncerVR and it finished with a 230% mark, what enabled an online rank system and contracting experienced game musicians as stretch goals. Moreover, what was initially a possibility has been finally confirmed and Linux will be fully supported. Finally, all the fans of VR games are called to vote on its Greenlight page.

· And finally the Winner of the Week is none other than Project Phoenix, which blew away its initial $100k funding goal to end up raising tenfold that amount. As a result many stretch goals have been conquered, and many more can be achieved with further pledges via PayPal.


Time now for Speedster's detailed review of the most relevant ongoing campaigns:

· Caribbean Island: A Pirate Adventure is a point-and-click adventure inspired by (need we say it?) the old classic Monkey Island games. The flexible funding model was chosen because the entire campaign is basically for stretch goals, "making the game more awesome" rather than essential to make the game exist at all. The DRM-free Linux download is going for $15, so it is not a big monetary risk for other devoted fans of Monkey Island.

· Awesomenauts: StarStorm was one of those Biggies destined to be a winner. This project has coasted to victory with a backer community including thousands of current Awesomenauts players eager for an expansion introducing new characters and new features such as spectator mode and twin-stick controller support. Last week the horde of backers claimed the $200k stretch goal for a whole new map: a battle station scenario featuring automated flamethrowers. The next big stretch goal will come at $270k, bringing new features for match-making including detailed customization when launching a new match. Anyone up for a team deathmatch with double speed, triple damage, no turrets?

· OBSUDO is an online multiplayer game that sounds quite different from all current MMOs -- the team intends to create a virtual hackers' paradise. Their goal is to make the gameplay approachable for ordinary gamers, but still challenging enough to keep the interest of IT pros. The latest video from the OBSUDO team presents early concepts on how the gameplay might achieve this ambitious vision. OBSUDO now has a Greenlight page.

· Tetrapulse is not just another Unity3D TPS; it has an interesting twist. In this co-op TPS, your ammo and your health are the same. That's right: the more you shoot, the less vital energy you'll have left. "But then how can you survive to kill enough enemies?", you may ask. Fair question and the answer to it is the Heartstone, the life source that replenishes your energy whenever you touch it. Multiple players can grab it at once but then they must move as a single being, thus fomenting co-operative play. Tetrapulse is descended from an existing Global Game Jam project, which helped provide enough credibility for over $5k in pledges during the first week and even a mention or two in mainstream gaming news. Unfortunately the second week of the campaign has been quite slow, a classic case of mid-campaign doldrums, except for the news that Tetrapulse has found a publishing partner to get them on Steam without having to drum up Greenlight votes.

· Pocket Rumble is a retro 2D fighting game with Street Fighter-like gameplay. How retro? 8-bit pixel art retro! 2-button controls retro! (Though the latter will be optional). Pocket Rumble is off to a decent start for a project by previously-unknown developers, but needs to pick up the momentum soon in order to reach the winner list. Pocket Rumble belongs to the club of projects with a Greenlight page.

· Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora is a noir side-scrolling adventure platformer starring Private Investigator Emma Jones and her partner Franky the fedora-wearing cat who must investigate a series of murders. Clearly this game is going to be an interesting mashup of various influences. The character art-style is blocky like certain other Lego-inspired modern hits, and also in common with the team's previous game starring Emma, Jones On Fire. The gameplay features a special revolver which holds up to 4 different non-lethal bullets, with the various types of ammo being discovered as powerups throughout the game; players much load their ammo wisely in order to solve levels. Hot Tin Roof is already 65% funded with over 50% of the time remaining, so this project continues to earn its way towards a spot on our winners list. It has already earned coverage in the documentary "Game Loading: Rise Of The Indies" which was recently funded by another Kickstarter project. For those who have not yet tired of Noir-themed puzzle platformers with feline sidekicks clogging the Steam catalog, here is your chance to vote for Hot Tin Roof.

· Neverending Nightmares is a horror-infused stealth game inspired by living through the nightmare of dealing with mental illness. After the financial disaster of his previous game Retro/Grade, Matt Gilgenbach needs this campaign to be able to stay indie and make the game of his dreams -- which happens to be very much on the nightmare side of dreams, with art hand-drawn in black, white, and blood red. Fans of Amnesia: The Dark Descent should consider pledging to help put Matt's nightmares to good use; this campaign has hit 35% funding after about half the time has passed, so plenty more horror fans are needed.

· Mighty No. 9 is a side-scrolling action game headed up by Keiji Inafune. I guess there must still be some hard-core Mega Man fans out there, helping make Mighty No. 9 a Kicktraq-chart-topping *smash* *hit*. The funding rate in the second week has settled down from the initial peak into the range of $40k-60k per day -- if that sticks, there will be another million dollars raised during the mid-project *slump*, not even counting the final 48-hour pledging frenzy. No need to worry about the normally ambitious $1.35M goal for cross-platform support, with that stretch goal now in the rear-view mirror as well as the $2M one.

· Epic Space Online is a cross-platform space MMO which is already in beta, and is running a campaign for adding huge ships to the game: carriers and destroyers. Both will be manned by teams of players working together. The base goal has already been met, probably with a lot of help by current players of the beta who consider this top-down 2D shooter/sandbox MMO/space trading game to be worthy of getting some cool expansions. If reached, the first stretch goal will add escape pods for crew members on a failing ship. Epic Space Online would appreciate Greenlight votes from interested spacers.

· The Moaning Words is an unusual mix of game and interactive story where player choices, card battles, and solving of graphic puzzles all affect how the story plays out. Did we mention that noted science-fiction author Alan Dean Foster is responsible for the game writing, or that the plot is mysterious and Lovecraftian, inspired by the Call of Cthulu pen-n-paper RPG? At the time of writing, funding progress stands at 45% and only 158 backers after 19 days... one would imagine there are still a lot of fans of Alan Dean Foster and Lovecraft that have not yet stumbled onto this project. They still have 11 more days to do so, before it is too late.

· Penguemic Word Domination is worthy to become a winner based on its title alone. This vocabulary-mastering game created by a bunch of Linux enthusiasts and starring an army of penguins has to be a terrific way to study for an upcoming SAT/MCAT/LSAT/GRE verbal exam, so keep that in mind if you or anyone you know still needs to take one of those tests... or if you simply want to help our beloved penguins achieve Word Domination. The Penguin Army faces enemies who attack with a superpower related to a specific difficult word, and the player's task will be to counter the attack using the available allied unit and spell cards -- which are also words, but only one of them is the appropriate response. In order to prevent rapid-fire guessing, the cards have a cool-down time before they can be used again. Whenever a region is conquered the defeated creatures become allies, and they can be used in subsequent battles, in a pure Monkey Island sword-fighting insults fashion. The penguins have reached 40% funding at the 40% point time-wise, so they are right on track for a close victory.

· Octopus City Blues is a surreal adventure set in Octopus City, a city literally built around a giant octopus. In it you'll take the role of Kaf Kafkaryan, a middle aged slacker with an octopus blood addiction, who has been having dreams about a bizarre world. While trying to help the inhabitants of his dream world, he'll get involved in a conspiracy that will put Octopus City at stake. The game resembles a conventional adventure set in an unusual place full of tentacles, with a strong focus on exploration and having replay value due to player choices having different effects on the final outcome. Octopus City Blues has already achieved 200% of the base goal, with another 2 weeks remaining for further progress towards stretch goals.

And now we'll discover the latest and finest Biggies and Hidden Gems that were launched in recent days:



Alteil Horizons is a mix of a collectible card game with turn-based strategy and RPG aspects, brought to life by experienced artists from Zelda and Final Fantasy. It's being developed in HTML5 and so it'll run on any modern web browser. Its TBS and RPG mechanics make it something more than your regular CCG and something definitely worth checking out if you're into these kind of games. More than 25% of its $100k funding goal has been raised during its first week so it seems like it's going to make it, mid-campaign doldrums notwithstanding.


Ambrov X is an episodic, story-driven, sci-fi RPG set in the Sime - Gen universe. With it its creators aim to achieve an experience that delves deep into emotional themes, but with some doses of action and adventure as well. A high degree of immersion is expected to be achieved as the game will be fully voiced and will feature cinematic dialogue scenes. It's being developed in Unity3D and will be available for Linux and DRM-free. That is, if its highly ambitious $500k goal is reached. You can help it happen by pledging $25 or more and obtaining the full 5 episodes


Now here's something new: Field Hockey Game is the first ever field hockey simulator game. That's right, field: no ice, no skating, and no protecting helmets -- except for the goalies, of course. 24 top international teams will be present in the game, from both men and women's hockey, as well as every technique and peculiarity of this sport. Its £330k goal is almost as aspiring as with the previous entry, and so far it seems as unlikely to be reached... unless field hockey fans around the world hear about this project and come back it massively.


The developers of Doctor Radio's Immersive World are seeking to gather the somewhat humbler amount of $250k to be able to finish this 3D adventurous shooter focused around the concept of manipulating different kinds of radiation and put them at your own service. A wide arsenal of modular guns will be at your disposal for a variety of uses like killing enemies or unlocking doors. It will be released for all desktop platforms -after all it's very Unity3D-ish-looking- if its really poor initial week can be compensated with a radical increase in momentum during the rest of the campaign.


If anyone still doesn't know about it, we'll say that 0 A.D. is a free and open-source RTS game of ancient warfare. It's already present in many distros repositories and GOL has covered its development ever since its inception. Conceived as a tribute to the ancient world, it's been available for everyone to play for many years. However there's still a lot of work to be done before calling it 'finished', and that's why its developers have launched this fund-gathering campaign. They aim for $160k, almost 10% of which has been raised in one week, and although it doesn't seem like the 100% mark will be achieved, it's a flexible funding campaign so everything counts and will go to the further development of this open-source gem. If you haven't played it yet and don't know exactly how to install it in your system, take a look at this quick guide.



Our first Hidden Gem is not a Linux game but an engine for Linux games. Specifically, Thetical is a strategy-RPG engine with a number of accompanying development tools. However, while games using this engine will run natively using the Panda3D Runtime, the development tools will need Windows virtualization of some sort. The origin of the engine must be tracked to an open-source clone of Final Fantasy Tactics. Since its origin many custom tools have been developed specifically for the engine, and now this campaign is aiming to gather funds in order to finish and integrate them all into an easy to use sRPG developing platform. So all RPG-designer wannabes are called to back this project and help it reach its $20k goal.


The Last Hero is a Flash-based pixel action-RPG. Its artstyle strongly reminds us of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery although this one promises to be a true RPG as the very few screenshots (we could swear there was a video in the Indiegogo page before) can bear witness. However it's somewhat different from many regular RPGs: for instance, here character progression is achieved by finding artifacts rather than by defeating enemies. Its funding goal is a rather low one at less than $1k, but even with more than 3 weeks to go it will prove an epic quest to fulfill unless things change dramatically soon.


Here's an interesting concept: Anguish is a psychological horror game that claims to adapt to the players sensitivities and worst fears. It allegedly does so by facing the player with many commonly scary things. Depending on the player's reactions to the different stymulus, a powerful algorithm determines the most frightening ones and thus will use them more often. Speaking about the gameplay itself the developers want to focus more on atmosphere, horror, anxiety, dread, and puzzles rather than on action, so fans of Amnesia will find at home here. An early demo with no AI has been released for everyone to get a feeling about what can be expected in the game atmospherically-wise. Maybe it's a problem on our end but it looks like the demo is bugged and some textures are not properly rendering, so we couldn't fully appreciate the graphical ambiance.


It's time for some RTS and tower assault action with Attack of the Gelatinous Blob. In this game you'll play the bad guy, a mad scientist who wants to take over the world with his hordes of blobs. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this game is the fact that all blobs are born equal, and they acquire different abilities and attributes depending on what they eat. Blobs can also be mutated if you have the required technology and they can be combined in order to create bigger and more powerful blobs. This is the first Canadian Kickstarter campaign we feature here since projects from that country were recently authorized in that site. This particular one is asking for C$20k and you can secure a copy of the game for as little as C$10.


Cimmerian Space is an HTML5 space shooter game featuring real time combat, trading, and bounty hunting that lets you explore a 3D universe using a web browser. It also features detailed 3D models and photographic shots of the crew members. It's been compared with Star Citizen but its creators like to remind everybody that theirs is an HTML5 browser game, it downloads in just a few seconds and it should run without problem on a simple laptop. It will use a freemium business model, with unlockable characters that will provide additional missions and story lines. The £5k funding goal will serve to carry out a photoshoot for the crew members, to code their respective story arcs, and to design their assets.


Just like our #5 Biggie was a browser-based card game, so is the #5 Hidden Gem Avillum. In this case it's a truly Trading card game, where players will be able to trade their own cards to get others they don't have. It's Action-RPG inspired with a focus on the classic heroes-fight-monsters-for-loot mechanic. All the cards come to life in the form of animated sprites in the battle arena, a feature that enhances that retro RPG battle feeling. If you want to get a taste of the game before pledging you can sign up for the alpha. This is another Canadian project, they are asking for C$10k, and they could really use more pledges from TCG fans out there.


Take the darkest levels from the Trine saga, make them fully 3D, change the characters for a goblin, a human child, and an elf and you'll have a close approximation to Future of Past, an action adventure mixed in with a bit of logic and RPG elements. It's being made in Unity3D and, judging by the alpha footage available, the developers and artists are putting the engine to damn good use. It'll be of course available for Linux and it's aiming for a $25k, flexible goal. While we understand many may be turned away by the flexible scheme, the creators are detailing every middle funding milestone so at least backers know what they can expect. Unfortunately it looks like it won't be much, as only 1% of the total amount has been raised during the first week of campaign. Looking on the bright side, there's still a lot of time left to invert the trend.


We've got no purely educational game this week, so we'll just go with Luna's Wandering Stars. It's mainly a 2D puzzle game, but if features realistic gravitational physics and can be a fun way to learn about planets, asteroids, black holes and other astronomic objects. In it you play as the not-so-scientifically-accurate Luna, the Goddess of the Moons, and you'll have to help Pluto regain its planetary status by helping the other planets in the Solar System. This one has only been around for 4 days but it already smells like a winner with more than half its $4.5k goal raised. Part of its popularity may be due to its built-in level editor and online sharing, features that are always welcome and help grow a community around a game.


If we described #4 as Trine in 3D, CO-OP can only be described as a Sci-Fi Trine. It's a 2D puzzle side-scroller were you'll have to swap between two robotic characters in order to overcome obstacles, solve puzzles and progress throughout a recycling facility controlled by drones. This is yet another Canadian game, and its campaign has a minimalistic $1 funding goal. This is a stunt that's been pulled before -remember Energy Hook?- and the creators claim they didn't want to limit themselves and ask for a specific amount. So instead the effectively by-passed Kickstarter's fixed funding policy and are running a flexible funding campaign that will allow them to make a faster progress on the game as more and more funds are gathered. Truth be told, the game looks very polished and solid and it's already raised C$1.3k in three days (currently trending to more than C$11k total) so we truly believe they will deliver.


Our favourite Hidden Gem of this week is The Fall, a mix of action platforming and adventure gaming all put together in a story-driven exploration of an alien world. Its looks remind us of former failed Kickstarter project Dark Matter with a bit of the narrative from Waking Mars. Like in Tiger Style's hit you'll control an astronaut stranded on a barren planet, only that this time around the human being is unconscious and you'll play as ARID, the AI embedded in the astronaut's suit. Game mechanics and artstyle are very well integrated with each other: e.g. most of the game locations are in darkness, and the use of a torch will serve as the screen-scaning-for-objects mechanic typical from point & click games. There'll also be combat, although more of a stealthy nature rather than direct confrontation. All in all, a highly atmospheric game that will be released episodically. The funds from this campaign will theoretically cover the expenses for Episode 1, although its current success can ultimately enable the developers to start working on future episodes as soon as the first one is released. You can get a copy of Episode 1 for C$10, or grab the whole trilogy for C$25.

And that was not all for today: I -muntdefems- would also like to announce that, due to personal affairs that will require my full attention, I won't be able to keep writing this column (nor The Cheapskate's Corner) as of October. Thus I'll try to reach the 20th edition of The Funding Crowd, a nice enough amount of columns, and will adopt a lower profile managing the sales page and contributing to the crowdfunding wiki. However, I'd think a true pity if this column were to end here and that's why I'd appreciate it enormously if anyone volunteered to carry it on in one form or another. Candidates feel free to offer your services in the comments section. ;)

But as I said this is not over yet and we'll see each other again next week with more projects worthy of both your interest and your money. Until then remember to check our crowdfunding wiki if you want to keep updated about the lastest crowdfunded Linux games. Bye! :)

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About the author -
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]( Golden Age of Linux gaming.
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DrMcCoy 12 Sep, 2013
Anguish is a very strange bird indeed.

1) The IndieGoGo campaign has barely any information about the game at all. Or the people behind it. The video shows random scenes for a minute, in bad quality.
2) There doesn't seem to be any information about "Atrics Game Studios" online either. No website, no nothing.
3) The "alpha"... "New Unity Project" by "DefaultCompany"? Broken textures (I get them too). Broken floor layout (30 seconds walk into neighbouring room, BAM, the floor is 2m lower, and the wall is missing and you fall into the blue skybox void).

The whole thing, alpha, IndieGoGo campaign and YouTube channel looks like it's been thrown together in an hour tops.

Which is very unfortunate, because I love the idea of a psychological horror game that adapts to the player. But Anguish doesn't look like it's anything but this tiny spark of an idea.
DrMcCoy 12 Sep, 2013
Also, thanks for all the fish, muntdefems. :/
Mike Frett 12 Sep, 2013
I'm sorry to hear you have to go, I will definitely miss these columns. I think they were a large part of what I enjoyed. Looks like quite a job, maybe somebody would pick it back up at least in part or a summarized version.
scaine 12 Sep, 2013
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Gutted to hear that you're stepping down, Munt, but my wallet is currently breathing a quiet sigh of relief. I wonder about these columns - they must take a huge effort to produce. Perhaps a smaller scope would encourage a new champion of Crowdfunding to emerge? Maybe just a "Top 5 projects to Back this week" type of article.

I'd still question the research needed to produce such an article, but the WIKI would be a good place to start, I suppose. And no, I'm not volunteering! :D
Liam Dawe 12 Sep, 2013
If no one else steps up I will be doing the column in a much smaller concise style, be warned :D

Probably close to scaine's idea of a top 5 or something like that.
s_d 12 Sep, 2013
Munt, I want to thank you for your amazing service, and commitment!  This has been a standout addition to the GOL community, and will be missed, no matter what shape this turns into.  I will help keep something going with Speedster, and think that others will help as well, but on a smaller scope (wow, you really set the bar!).  I definitely want to thank you, also, for continuing to shepherd the crowd-funding wiki, as it is almost a certainty that anyone continuing on this path would do well to subscribe to changes on that crowd-funding article (daily digest mode, preferably, haha!).

I wonder if we could bug you to continue contributing in a way that does not involve writing words or visiting Kickstarter pages?  Specifically... if we are able to crowd-source our articles (as Speedster is attempting to organize at this moment), would you mind cooking up your awesome article graphic for us, just like old-times?  You'd share your sense of humor with us with those, and they were always sure to entertain.  They were one of those details that really added a lot of fun to the column, and I know I miss them.  Of course, we have GOL Tux, as with this issue, and can continue to use him, but any time you want to contribute a nifty twisted version of him, it would be very welcome.

For my personal workload, I'd really need another writer or two to help.  I have some other scope-reduction ideas that I've passed on, and anyone else wanting but help in any way (including with only the graphics!) should send a PM to Speedster.
Liam Dawe 13 Sep, 2013
Alex has actually been working on a standard image for The Funding Crowd which would make things take a little less time:

Please do give him feedback on it.
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