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The Funding Crowd Issue 25

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Happy Holidays! We bring you The Funding Crowd #25, a week late this time. Sorry :-(




A rare Gem indeed, in Diplopia we have a game with the potential to be a therepeutic device to millions of individuals, children and adults alike.  Named for the condition commonly (but not entirely accurately) known as "double vision", this combination of cutting-edge research and gaming technology merges the very impressive Leap Motion control system with the recent VR darling Oculus Rift.  The most common causes of diplopia in humans, including the "crossed eye" condition known as strabismus and the "lazy eye" condition known as amblyopia, can apparently be addressed by playing tricks with the stereo-imaging of VR games.  Coupled with hand-eye co-ordination exercises that force the brain to integrate information present only in one eye's image with the image of another, the project creator claims to boost effectiveness of the treatment by a factor of six as compared to unpleasant conventional treatments.

Assuming the research is sound, and this Funding Crowd member did read some research last year suggesting a video-games related approach like this was a promising avenue, then things get even better.  Previously, it was believed that only young children could benefit from this treatment, but, again according to the referenced research, it has recently been discovered that more effective treatments can be applied to adults!

Note that the Linux connection is only confirmed by the project creator in the comment thread, where he professes the use of Unity3D as the game's engine technology, and claims to be a Linux user himself.

The game itself appears to be a VR arcade puzzler, and somewhat spartan at that, but it is possible that this simplicity is required to properly ensure the therapeutic nature of the game treatment.  In any case, geeks with diplopia (and associated conditions) may rejoice that the funding goal has been met and greatly exceeded.  So, such geeks, fans of Leap or Oculus, and Funding Crowd readers with an interest in games for purposes beyond entertainment can help the project at any price above $1, but can pick up a copy of the game at $20.


The Diviner

Here we have a cool throwback to yesteryear, back when graphics adapters served infinite resolution and upgrades were only a book away;  that is, the GPU of the mind, and of course the venerable text-adventure RPG!  Of course, in updating such a concept for the gamer of today, the team is bringing lush hand-painted still-images into the interface to sit alongside the copious prose written to deepen the lore, the characters, and the world they occupy.

Drawing influences from a variety of titles during the emergence of computer RPGs, such as Wasteland and Oregon Trail, The Diviner brings the player into a Byzantine-inspired pre-industrial world shaped by deities, royalty, factions and treachery.  The developers promise a more "choice and consequences" sort of design in an attempt to avoid stat grind and min-max'ing styles of gameplay.  Stats and customization will be present, however, as will item inventories and a player stronghold.

Somehow, this intriguing but decidedly niche offering has found great success on Kickstarter reaching it's goal only a week into the campaign!  The developer, Two Crowns Entertainment, has committed to offering a DRM-free version, and will provide Steam keys to backers if they are accepted onto the service.  Additional features and content are, of course, planned for any funding beyond the original goal so interested adventurers are encouraged to take a look, and the journey begins at $10.


Super World Karts

The team at One Legged Seagull Games wants to offer fans the chance to glance back at the 16-bit cart racing era, while looking forward to new characters, challenges, maps, and unlockable achievements.  Super World Karts Grand Prix boasts retro-styled pixel graphics in a 3D environment reminiscent of the Super NES's mode-7 capabilities, full-HD display resolution, and tight multi-player controls, including analogue controller support.

With crowd-funding, the team plans to increase the number of playable tracks from 10 to 35, add 8 more playable characters, more weapons, tournaments, secrets, and additional entire game modes. Split-screen is amongst these promised features, so those missing the days of Mario Kart, but want to play new characters on new tracks, this racer might be for them.

One notable aspect of Super World Karts is many cross-over promotional characters from other Kickstarter projects (Lobodestroyo, Fist of Awesome, Dr. Boom and Read Only Memories) which can be unlocked immediately for backers of both projects, or by playing the game well and completing certain achievements.  Backers of this project can join the race for a $16AUD entry fee (~£9 or $15USD).



When one's urge to tweak and tinker meets the primal urge to knock down one's own creations, it's time find an outlet in a title like Scraps!  In it, Moment Studios has built a multi-player auto combat game featuring constructs of the player's own fevered imagination.

Build your car from the ground up, part by part, from cockpit and chassis to wheels and weaponry.  Your creations can be as ridiculously unbalanced as they are overpowered, with the developer's sophisticated physics model giving you just enough rope to hang yourself with!  Or, perhaps you'll have just enough rope to clothesline your opponent.  In "versus" combat mode, the player decks out their vehicle as best they can with limited finances between rounds, but in the open-ended sandbox mode, the sky is the limit.

Take a peek at the first minute and a half of the pitch video for an example of sandbox tinkering played out to it's inevitable and hilarious conclusion.  Sadly, backer-exclusive in-game content is featured in the campaign, and no statement has been made regarding DRM.  Backers can test a pre-alpha prototype of the builder interface right now, and then pledge $20NZD (~£10 or ~$15USD) for a copy if they'd like to see more.


Tower of Elements 2

Every so often, Kickstarter will sneeze out a quirky genre-blended title, the likes of which are unlikely to exist without a strong level of support via fan-funding.  So, when we see an oddity like match-three puzzle-combat crossed with tower defense RTS, our interest is definitely piqued!

Frogdice Games, developer of the recent Dungeon of Elements, is no stranger to Linux, nor to genre crossings.  In fact, their debut Linux title, DoE, is itself is a puzzle-combat collision of Dr. Mario-style falling-pill puzzling woven between classic RPG elements, a crafting system, and the eponymous elemental lore.  In this title, the elemental angle is used to govern the match-3 puzzle effects, which can result in elemental attacks against invaders.

In ToE 2, the player must "match-three" themselves to glory for themselves and their kingdom.  When managing the battlefield itself, players rely on comfortable tower defense mechanics, deploying soldier units along with barriers, walls, explosives, as well as other options.  The game additionally features ten boss battles, random quests, and other assorted goodies.  Check out the pitch, if it interests you, and find a copy available DRM-free for $10, with a Steam key also promised if ToE 2 is accepted on the service.


The Losers

. Between Me and the Night failed big on Indiegogo, with only $1k out of $70k pledged. No news yet from the creators regarding whether they have other irons in the fire for keeping the project alive.

. Bolt Riley reggae-themed adventure game ended up with a very respectable 1k backers and $51k in pledges, but that was still well short of their budgetary needs of $120k. The team is now looking for traditional investments again, hoping that the demonstrated level of interest will be enough to keep the project going.

. Dino Run 2 failed at about 50% funding, and the Pixeljam team is turning their attention to releasing Dino Run SE on Steam. A future relaunch of Dino Run 2 was left open as a possibility, but no promises were made.

. Dragons of Elanthia already is an existing game, so while the $200k goal for taking it to a new level was well out of reach, the team still has other plans to grow the game. Interested parties can keep up with news on their website.

. Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore ended with over $200k and 3815 backers, which was unfortunately about 50% of the budget needed for this fairly ambitious fantasy RPG. The good news is that the team at G3 has already gotten "Plan B" underway, which involves collecting $50k of seed money through Paypal backing within 2 weeks, which is deemed enough funds to finish up the first chapter of six in the overall storyline. Paypal backers have come up with $41k of the $50k seed money in the first week, so this initial funding stage should be successful by G3's deadline of Dec 21 (the money would otherwise have been refunded). Later funding is expected to come via Steam Early Access, with a new build of Deathfire to be released after each chapter is completed -- more of the RPG players on Steam who propelled Deathfire rapidly up through the Greenlight rankings should be impressed enough to chip in with funds instead of just votes once the game is actually playable.

. After Reset was an ambitious post-apocalyptic RPG with an even bigger funding shortage than Deathfire, only reaching about 5% of their goal. Still, attracting 1362 backers was enough for the project to gain some credibility and potentially a publishing contract. Like G3, Black Cloud Studios has also opened up direct backing and has plans to release on Steam Early Access, though their plans do not yet include a specific funding target for reaching the alpha for Steam Early Access.

. The 7th Guest 3 campaign topped out at about 27% of the goal, but made substantial progress in reconnecting with fans of the series. The team has not specifically announced their new plan, but it involves further community-building efforts. Fans of this classic horror series are invited to join a mailing list as the first step.

The Winners

. Dex is a cyberspace RPG that boasts dual realities, where problems can be attacked in either cyberspace or meatspace. Dex had a very good run -- ending at more than double the £14k base target, and the project was already Greenlight while the kickstarter was still running.

. Hand of Fate card-based roguelike managed to pull out a victory at the 30-hour mark. Those who are intrigued by deck-building mechanics with combat played out as 3D graphics can watch for Hand of Fate to hit Steam one of these days, since the Greenlight campaign has been going well.

. The Slaughter noir adventure also pulled out a victory in the tail end of the campaign.

. Elliot Quest ended up with enough Zelda 2 fans to hit the first stretch goal, and is now hoping their new backers will help get Elliot Quest Greenlit.

. Interstellaria likewise found enough  space exploration fans to achieve the first stretch goal, and is looking for Greenlight votes.

. Lords of Xulima finished three times over its target securing three major stretch goals along the way which added additional enemies, quests, playable classes and even entire map regions. Having now secured funds from both Indiegogo AND Kickstarter, our fingers are crossed for a polished, content-filled experience come February next year!

. Paradise Lost: First Contact also smashed its $75k target securing two minor stretch goals and one major one. While "achievements" and "extra languages" won't excite most, the third goal adds extra content and the fourth goal, still to be decided, could see an overhaul of the graphics, particularly the animations.

. Ascendant just nipped over the finish line with hours to spare, assuring funding but no stretch goals.

. DYSCOURSE managed to cross the finish line a bit sooner, with over a day to spare.

. The Girl and The Robot more than doubled its $15k target in the end, securing a number of stretch goals, chief amongst which is additional content. However, it's possibly worth noting that another achieved goal was Wii-U support, good news for those (few) of us owning that console.

. Great news for The Mandate, securing not just its target in its unusually long campaign, but going over that by another $100k to reach two stretch goals. The first stretch goal was a bit "meh", simply upgrading the $100 tier to include extra content, but that second stretch goal is a corker, allowing for planet-side away missions!

. Bloom: Memories achieved its funding goal 8 days before the campaign ended. Paypal pledging will be coming soon at the developers' website, with funds to be counted towards the stretch goal of a playable prologue unlocked after completing the main game.


Her Majesty's SPIFFING space-themed adventure game project has had no luck at maintaining momentum after the initial batch of articles discussing the Kickstarter launch, despite the charming British humor of its creators. The team has admitted defeat on this round, out of options for an eleventh-hour crowd-funding miracle, but haven't given up in spirit! In the team's latest update, they reaffirm their commitment to the project no matter what, and are planning a spring relaunch of the campaign.  They've listened to feedback from their over three-hundred backers, dozens of which are crowd-funding veterans, and are considering ways to retool the pitch the next time around.  Lastly, they're inviting new backers to come on for £1 to receive updates about the project as it progresses toward relaunch, as well as the spring launch announcement itself. Stiff upper lip!



Trainz Simulator: A New Era

Digital train-sim fans rejoice!  Trainz is here, and appears to be unstoppable.  Complete with the requisite oblique font for simulator titles, fans are promised an incredibly detailed rail simulator with an impressive list of features.  Beyond the realistic train driving simulation, which is the hallmark of any good vehicle sim, N3V Games promises to provide a more complete experience for train fans, including the opportunity to build one's own rail lines, infrastructure to operate multiple trains, and a huge number of improved physics and graphical improvements to their next-gen simulator engine.

This train extravaganza appears only to be marred by a complex and peculiar DRM arrangement, involving in-game paid elements, DLC's, and periodic activations.  It really is quite complex, and interested fans are encouraged to peruse the longest FAQ section this Funding Crowd writer has ever seen at the bottom of a Kickstarter page, with over thirty questions asked and answered!

Fortunately, not all of the questions deal with in-game payware and DRM activation, such as the tidbit which guarantees that even without the stretch goal, the developers expect to port to Mac within 90 days of release and then Linux and SteamOS some time after that.  Exactly when is not certain, but the project creator will probably not have a good picture of that until funding is complete and they have time to formalize the development budget.  So, it's a good thing that train fans are among the more patient of gamers, and if they're willing to stick it out until at least March 2015, they'll have a treat on their hands for $24AUD (which is scant over 13 pounds sterling or $21 USD).

Thanks for bearing with us, dear reader!  We at The Funding Crowd wish you a happy holiday season, however you choose to celebrate.  The end of the year can be a time for gathering close family and friends, or it can be a time to catch up on your gaming backlog.  As always, the column is brought to you by the usual crew, s_d, scaine, Speedster, and of course the unstoppable muntdefems.  If you would like to spend some of your spare time discussing crowdfunded gaming gems, we welcome you to join in as a member of The Funding Crowd yourself!  Just snap a PM off to the above mentioned folks, and we'll be pleased to have your input for future issues.

Meanwhile, stay up to date with our wiki and don't be shy about adding your own content there.  It is a wiki, after all, and is only as good as the community that built it, and we must say, Liam has built a heck of a community here.

As with this edition, expect a modest week or so additional hiatus before we Kick it off to Gogo into the new year! Article taken from
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The comments on this article are closed.

Liam Dawe 17 Dec, 2013
I cleaned up the formatting a bit fyi, lots of unfinished or empty link url tags.

Ps. Thanks for the kind words.
Speedster 18 Dec, 2013
Sorry about the broken urls, Liam. I noticed I had left closing tags off some of them, which made a real mess when pasting in WSYWIG mode, and tried to fix those, but apparently there were even more that I missed.
Frogdice 18 Dec, 2013
WOW! Just....... WOW!

I am incredibly honored that Tower of Elements 2 is #1 on your list of Hidden Gems.

I mean... seriously... I am blown away.

Thanks so much. I am glad you dig the game and our campaign.

I am so proud of our team for the hard work they put in and the passion they pour into our games. And the fact that we can develop for Linux in addition to Windows and Mac means a lot to me. Linux has been at the core of Frogdice from the beginning. Our oldest game, Threshold RPG, has run on Linux servers for 15 years.

Thanks Speedster!
Speedster 18 Dec, 2013
To set the record straight, this was as usual a team effort so all thanks go to The Funding Crowd team :)
Frogdice 18 Dec, 2013
Doh. Sorry. Thank you Funding Crowd Team. 

You all amass a TON of data so I am not surprised there is a group of you.

I'm still totally geeked out. Thanks!
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