Welcome back to The Funding Crowd! Today we are bringing you issue #33. After leaving the first anniversary celebrations behind, we went back to work in order to scrutinize all the movements taking place in the crowdfunding world. Here you have the result of such work, including 5 brand new Gems (well, 4 actually, since one of them is a relaunch), 2 Biggies, and a detailed account of the outcome of our previous picks. Hint: they were all successful! :)
As we just told you, we begin our Gems section with a relaunch:
Anima Gate of Memories: Extended Campaign
In a slightly controversial move, this is actually the second campaign being run for Anima: Gate of Memories. The first one realised a quite substantial $110k back in January this year. Curiously, that title was due to launch in June this year, but instead, we now have this second campaign to raise an additional £15k for more content such as full voice overs and additional narrative. It's not entirely clear if the initial game will launch as-is while this campaign raises funds for a kind of DLC enhancement, or whether they're putting back the whole game to make way for this additional content from the outset, but the developers did at least clarify that everyone who pledged first time around will get this new content for free.
So if you missed the first campaign, what kind game is Anima? It's a story driven action RPG very much in the style of Devil May Cry. You play as a female warrior known only as "The Bearer of Calamaties", so called because she made a pact with a demon called Ergo Mundus. Part of the pact devoured her past, including her name, but also gave her control over Ergo. What this means to you, the player, is that you can instantly change between the two characters at any time, even mid-move. Each character brings unique skills to the battlefield and chaining these together by switching characters will be the key to victory.
The game is set in an open world - not quite a sandbox, but with plenty of Metroid-like scope to revisit earlier locations later in the game to access previously locked areas with your new, more powerful abilities. It's worth pointing out that the graphics in this Unity-engine game are of an incredibly high calibre for a Kickstarter title. Both the animations and the background locations look stunning.
With almost 200 backers having already pledged nearly £7k and with over three weeks remaining, it's hard to see how this second campaign can fail. You'll need to use the £15 tier to secure the game and although no Greenlight campaign was linked to, they appear to have secured a Steam-based publisher and promise a key on completion.
Our first two true Gems share the common traits of being at the final stage of their campaigns and having reached their funding goals as well as some stretch goals. The first one comes from Poland and its creators, the fine people at PlayWay, surely enjoyed some of the great early 90s hits by Delphine Software, thought that games like those aren't being made anymore, and decided to change such state of things. Indeed, The Way really captures the atmosphere (and probably a little more than the atmosphere) from classics like Another World or Flashback: exotic and dangerous environments, strange artifacts and technology, and a lot of puzzles and action in this 2D side-scrolling adventure.
You've got barely 2 days left to put your pledges in if this project struck a chord with your younger selves. $10CAD will make you worthy of a DRM-free copy of the game and of having your name in the credits.
Second time's the charm for Spain-based Yanim studio. They experienced the bitter side of crowdfunding on their first failed attempt just two months ago. Indefatigable, they launched their second campaign shortly after. With a lower goal, and Linux support from the start, this time they have emerged victorious and so Red Goddess will see the light of day. Just like the previous Gem it's a side-scrolling action adventure, but with an extra half-dimension and less pixely graphics. It's also set in a mysterious and exotic planet, which in this case is entirely located in the main character's subconscious. Divine, the young red goddess from the title, remembers nothing from her past and is feeling troubled and confused about it, so she decides to embark on this introspective journey throughout her mind, metroidvania-style. Expect a mix of combat, puzzles, platforming and backtracking after gaining new powers, all seasoned with a couple of fine mechanics like Divine's ability of splitting herself into two halves just like the main character from Anima (in her case they are fire and ice, or Rage and Fear), or being able to enter the minds of her enemies.
You also need to be quick if you want to secure a copy of the game for $15, as this campaign will end in about 3 days.
Triggered is a difficult game to summarise. Ostensibly a 2D side-scroller, it's the game's premise that makes it interesting, because it's actually a game about mental illness. The gameplay revolves around a central character, Simon, who one day discovers a huge cavern leading off the mine dug under his idyllic village. The cavern is filled with monsters and to overcome them, Simon must acquire powers and transformations to help him survive. However, the twist is that the powers aren't activated, but triggered, hence the game's title. Simon must also use various "grounding" techniques to channel his triggered powers appropriately.
The background reading to this Indieogogo campaign is intriguing and quite dark. The lead programmer on the title, Shane Brandon, suffers from mental illness and after a very emotional Reddit contribution, he felt motivated to bring a team together to make Triggered. You can read his short profile here, but the Reddit entry gives you a better handle on what he went through.
A $10CAD pledge will get you a copy of the game which is projected for August next year. This is a Flexible Funding campaign, so while it's currently only raised around $1,000CAD of the $12,000CAD goal, please do be aware that your pledge will go through regardless of the outcome of the campaign. Sadly, this also means that if the campaign fails and the title can't be made, you'll still have pledged your money with no return.
That said... having read the background, it seems to us that this is a title that will be made, come what may. You can't say that about every Flexible Funding campaign!
If you watched sci-fi flick, Pacific Rim, you'll already know that a Kaiju is a massive monster that destroys cities. In fact, Kaiju is a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange creature" and if you're also thinking of Godzilla right now, you're on the right track.
Kaiju-a-Gogo feels like a spiritual successor to classic 80's arcade game, Rampage. First choose one of three Kaiju and one of three mad scientists, then begin the carnage! You will initially plan several attacks around the city until its inhabitants weaken and bow down to your mad scientist's rule, after which, it's on to the next city. In between attacks, you retreat your Kaiju back to your Secret Lair which gives you the opportunity to enhance and add to your Kaiju's size and power through a skill tree featuring over 90 abilities. You will also have the option of expanding your Secret Lair itself which will bring unique benefits to your Kaiju's development.
Kerberos Productions are the same outfit behind the Sword of the Stars games. Fully independent since 2012, their first indie game is rogue-like The Pit while the second Sword of the Stars game couldn't be more different - Ground Pounders is a hex-based strategy game, currently in Early Access and about to go gold.
You can secure a copy of Kaiju-a-Gogo at the early bird price of $12CAD, or $15CAD once the early bird offer runs out. With only around half of their $50kCAD goal pledged so far, here's a project that needs fresh influx of backers!
Please follow us to page #2 for our review of the Winners, as well as to find out the identity of our two new Biggies!
As we hinted in the previous page, we have only happy endings to report this time, with all of our recent picks ending up as Winners!
· KeeperRL, the open-source dungeon builder inspired by Dwarf Fortress and Dungeon Keeper, managed to surpass their $5k goal by 40%. This is a gratifying result after the extensive reporting on the project here at GOL, which was acknowledged by top billing in the websites-due-thanks list on the campaign page. The fact that the other websites being thanked were in alphabetical order is entirely coincidental. ;)
· Chronicles of the Rift is another open source game-building project which has been featured here at GOL, this one taking inspiration from the classic RPG Baldur's Gate II. The token base goal was easily surpassed, and the still-modest end result funded a few important features so that the resulting initial release will hopefully demonstrate enough potential to attract more Indie developers.
· Moving on to the actual games... steampunk-fantasy run-n-gun project DIESELSTÖRMERS turned out to be the second successful project for Black Forest games, achieving funding a suspenseful 5 hours before the clock ran out. The Kickstarter funds will provide the boost needed to get this game to the next milestone of Steam Early Access on the way to a final release that will be a culmination of 8 years of hard work and dreams.
· Meanwhile the highly stylish boardgame-inspired roguelike Popup Dungeon loped across the finish line with multiple days to spare, then snagged a couple of stretch goals including a bonus tileset, with theme to by picked by a vote among backers. The dedicated team behind Popup Dungeon put out an impressive stream of updates and have a previous (Windows-only) game under their belts, which no doubt helped them cross the $100k boundary between Gem and Biggie.
· The futuristic freerun/parkour game Hover: Revolt of Gamers, inspired by the likes of Jet Set Radio and Mirror's Edge, was another Gem that encroached into Biggie territory with a final total over $116k. With the credibility from a successful campaign and appealing demo, the team actually managed to get Hideki Naganuma, the original Jet Set Radio composer on board for some music!
· Heart Forth Alicia is a really good-looking Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard on her journey to stop a Spirit from consuming her homeland. This was an even bigger smash hit than the previous two, which is fortunate since Linux support depended on the $120k stretch goal to fund a fully native port from MMF to C++. The ending sum of $232k was almost 4 times the base goal, allowing for plenty of room for ports and the hiring of a mystery composer who turned out to be Manami Matsumae of Mega Man fame.
· The Universim started out with a seemingly intimidating goal of $320k... but there happened to be over 11,000 people just waiting for a chance to play gods guiding their human pets from the Stone Age through to the Space Age, and who jumped on this opportunity to make it happen. That ambitious goal was crossed with $67k to spare. The Universim is now taking a page from Star Citizen with a serious attempt to continue fund-raising at their own site, complete with counters for backer count and total funding.
Pedigree? Just what is pedigree? Well, it would seem that this project contains a perfect example. Cateia Games have acquired the services of one Steve Ince for their upcoming 2D adventure game, Kaptain Brawe 2. If you're not familiar with the name, Steve Ince is the man behind Beneath a Steel Sky and most of the Broken Sword games. See? Pedigree. And Steve will be right at home with Kaptain Brawe (pronounced "Brave") given that it's an attempt by Cateia Games to recreate the classic Lucasarts games such as Full Throttle and Monkey Island.
Even the game itself appears to be a perfect fit for Steve's writing. The first Kaptain Brawe title was released in late 2010 to reasonably positive reviews. The story followed our bumbling Kaptain as he stumbled into a massive space conspiracy. Its light hearted universe and simple mechanics captured a lot of what made Monkey Island the hit it was. With Steve on board to drive the story more tightly, it's hard to see how this title could fail.
And yet... fail it might. It needs a big push! Currently trending to only around 50% of its $150k goal, this project needs more than its current 350 backers to close the gap. It certainly has time on its side with well over three weeks to turn the campaign around, but there's a slight chance that Cateia Games perhaps thought that Steve's reputation would make this a walk in the park. And that's clearly not the case.
It possibly didn't help that the initial campaign page only listed the much-maligned "PC" tag for platform support. They recently outlined how their engine is multi-platform and promised Linux support, but perhaps some of the damage has already been done there. But here's a project that we should really want to succeed: if Kaptain Brawe 2 is funded and launched for Linux, Cateian games wants to backport their entire catalogue of similar games; their lead programmer Krešimir Špes, who maintains some Open Source game libraries, probably wants an excuse to work on some nice native Linux ports.
For the duration of the Kickstarter, the first episode of the first game is available for free. If you have a supported platform (Win/Mac only) feel free to check it out. Further, a mere $3 pledge will give you access to the second part of that first game. To get your mitts on the sequel, however, you'll need to pledge at the $20 level and the game is expected to arrive in around a year's time.
Superhot is a game you'll likely have heard of before. Originally an entry in the 7 Day FPS event last year, Superhot got a lot of media attention for its slick multi-platform demo and unusual mechanic, namely that time only moves when you do. That mechanic makes the game incredibly tactical. Despite being a first person shooter, ninja reflexes are not required. You simply stop moving, line up your shot, then start moving again to deliver wonderfully satisfying headshots from within a hail of bullets.
Seven of the ten original developers behind the tech demo have now decided to expand their ideas for Superhot into a full game. As they plan to continue to use Unity for the engine, multi-platform support is assured and they intend to focus on the PC platforms for the initial release. Consoles may follow thereafter, and the team are undecided on tablets/phones.
Already a winner at the time of writing, Superhot is rolling through its stretch goals at a furious rate. So far they've committed to better animations and a speed run mode, and the team are just a few thousand dollars short of the next stretch which is to add a replay mode. Their FAQ also hints that a new stretch goal for a level editor will be added shortly. With nearly 9,000 backers, it's not inconceivable that even more stretch goals will be created and achieved over the next 11 days.
A mere $14 secures you a copy of the game on release (around June 2015), and since the game was a runaway success on Steam's Greenlight, your pledge will snag a copy of the game there too.
That was all for today! We hope you enjoyed this first issue of The Funding Crowd, Year 2, and we also hope to see you again next time for issue #34. As usual, we would like to remind you that you can join us if you like by sending a private message to one of the contributors who brought you this issue (scaine, Speedster, and muntdefems), by replying down below about joining up, or alternatively by posting your suggestions in this column's thread in the forums. Your help will certainly be welcome!
See you! ;)