Welcome to The Funding Crowd, issue #36! Summer is still going on in the boreal hemisphere, but make no mistake: boreal has nothing to do with boring, so here we come to bring you the games which are most worthy of your hard-earned money! A total of seven projects, including Biggies and Gems, relaunches or not. Now, we hope you are really into RPGs and point-n-click adventures, because most of them fall into those two categories.
Let's begin the Gems section with a couple of relaunches:
Hopefully, this campaign will prove you can't keep a bumbling, well-meaning space Kaptain down. The previous campaign to sponsor Kaptain Brawe and his mighty behind-the-scenes talent (Steve Ince of Broken Sword & Beneath a Steel Sky; Bill Tiller of The Curse of Monkey Island & A Vampyre Story) ran out of time at $90k out of $150k. The cunning people at Cateia Games have managed to cut the goal in half, to $75k, which should be a slam dunk given that the previous campaign for almost exactly the same project managed to reach above $75k by a healthy margin. What do we mean by "almost"? The only difference in scope is the addition of an Ouya port which qualifies the good Kaptain for matching funds, hence the trimming of the goal from Biggie to Hidden Gem territory.
There is still plenty of room for adventurers with a good sense of humor to join Kaptain Brawe's crew! It is a typical $20 for the "get the game" Ensign tier, but adventurers with enough cash should peruse the $65 tier which includes many interesting perks such as the soundtrack, a digital comic, a digital card game, and a short story by Steve Ince.
Another adventure hero who has seen some budget cuts before attempting a comeback is Jamaican Reggae legend wannabe Bolt Riley, whose first campaign also failed to achieve its Biggie-like funding goal back in November last year. He is now back with a reduced goal, a reduced scope (only Chapter 1 of a planned trilogy series), and above all a super-reduced duration: only 7 days (!).
So fans of the both relaxing point-n-click adventure games and Reggae music genres, this is our second chance to make this story about music, self discovery, friendship, and love, possible. And a little more love is what it needs, for half the week has gone by and there's two thirds of the goal still to cover. There are no physical rewards this time around, so your $15 pledge ($10 for the earliest of birds among you) will go to the production of the game in its entirety and it will grant you a DRM-free copy. For $30 you will also receive the soundtrack, and if you're feeling particularly generous you can appear in the game starting at the $150 pledge level.
Our first new Gem is obviously no relaunch, but it's been highly influenced by big classics of yore. Created by the young brothers Paul and Kevin Kim, Braven Arts is a 2D JRPG with turn-based combat, and strong reminiscences of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Suikoden.
The story takes place in Asteon, a world once full of magic but that had to rely on technology ever since the Primal War, a cataclysmic event which provoked the disappearance of all magical energies. After many centuries magic has returned, but not everyone is capable of using it, so a war is looming on the horizon between the magic-wielding Arc Council and the technology-inclined Remo Magi. Between these two factions there are still some small guilds that strive to remain neutral. And here's where you'll enter the story, as the leader of one of these guilds who has been appointed to investigate the mysterious death of one of the Arc Council's highest members.
A political and suspenseful plot will be unfolding as you make progress in this 16bit-style beautifully rendered huge world, full of cities, forests, caves, and a lot more environments, and with secrets and side quests in every region. A wide variety of characters recruitable for your guild is also promised, and depending on who you choose they are supposed to interact among themselves different ways, giving rise to dialogue sequences in which they express their opinions on how the adventure is going.
Combat-wise, the Kim brothers have chosen to implement a classical turn-based system à la Final Fantasy, but with the addition of a grid system: heroes and baddies stand in two different 4x4 tile grids, giving a whole lot of tactical and strategic depth to combat. Characters can be relocated within their own grid in order to achieve optimal damage output, or alternatively to avoid area-of-effect enemy attacks. The grids are alterable, and tiles can be flooded or set on fire in order to synergize them with your own abilities: e.g. if you land a lightning attack on a foe standing on water, the poor chum will get a critical hit.
Braven Arts is, in conclusion, particularly recommended to the nostalgics of the good old JRPGs from the 90s that don't mind a deeper tactical twist to their combat. The converse is also true: lovers of turn-based strategy games with deep tactical combat who don't mind retro graphics will also feel at home with this game. Both these type of gamers will not be disappointed if they contribute to this project: the usual $10 entry fee will get you a digital copy of the game, and if you cannot wait and you want beta access then you'll have to fork out the very reasonable sum of $25. The creators need all the help they can get (and then some) if they are to reach the basic funding goal.
Well, it seems that all good things do indeed come in threes: after the already discussed Kaptain Brawe 2 and Bolt Riley relaunches, here comes a brand new 2D point'n'click adventure to delight the fans of the genre. Meet Jenny LeClue (Detectivú), a young detective whose main ambition is to solve great mysteries. No wonder then she's bored of her idyllic home town Arthurton, where nothing exciting ever happens. But everything changes for Jenny when the town's college Dean is murdered and Jenny's mother is accused of the crime. She will then embark on a darker-than-it-might-seem adventure to try to clean her family's name and find the real culprit.
But wait, that's not all there is to the story. Jenny LeClue is not real... No, we really mean it: she's the creation of author Arthur K Finkelstein, the narrator that will guide you throughout the adventure. His presence in the game will allow you to influence the way Jenny's story is written, i.e. how will the events unfold, even in future chapters! Because this is only the first of a planned trilogy, with episodes 2 and 3 becoming a reality if the project is sufficiently overfunded.
All in all expect a hand-drawn adventure with gorgeous vintage looks, unrolling in a highly interactive world. Almost everything in it will be clickable, according to creators Mografi, and even the dialogue scenes will have an extra layer of interaction as Jenny is capable of inspecting her interlocutors in search for clues in order to tell whether they are lying or not. As we hinted before this game is deceitfully childish-looking, as it actually deals with more adult themes like relationships and grief, and it has its element of horror as well.
Funding of the first chapter is going full steam ahead and it's almost done at the time of writing, with half the campaign still to unroll. Part of its success may be due to Mografi's innovative ways of engaging the community: apart of the usual early bird discounted tier, they have thus far run two challenges in order to reach a certain funding figure and during which they offered additional cheaper pledges. Both challenges have been taken place until the end of day Tuesday, so maybe next week there'll be another one. But anyway, the base $15 is worth it enough even there are no more discounts ahead. By contributing this much you'll get a DRM-free copy (plus a Steam key if the game gets Greenlit, which will occur sooner than later) of every episode that's funded by this campaign, so the more pledges the better for everybody!
Fellow Linux gamer: before this second Golden Age of Linux gaming came upon us, did you used to roam around sites like Armor Games as a substitute for your native gaming needs? If so, you probably ended up playing two little gems by the name of K.O.L.M. and its sequel K.O.L.M. II. And if you are anything like this TFC editor, you fell in love with their minimalistic looks, the probably sickness-inducing see-sawing motion of the screen, and above all the little robot protagonist and his maternal issues.
These two games formed part of an intended trilogy (K.O.L.M. II actually ended with a cliffhanger), but author Antony Lavelle left Armor Games before he could complete the series. Having largely regretted it, he recently contacted Armor to ask if he could finish the third game by himself. The answer was affirmative, so here he is asking for funds to not only produce a third and final episode for the trilogy, but also to remake the two first installments.
And remade they are certainly being, as they have been added an extra half-dimension, as well as some more immersive dynamic lighting and overall better detailed graphics. Luckily though, the game mechanics and the story are not being changed in the slightest. You'll be playing as Robbie, the broken and insecure robot who needs to rebuild himself by exploring the dark world he has awakened in, and finding various of his lost components. Components which, in a true Metroidvania style, will grant Robbie new abilities and powers that will in turn enable him to access new areas and make progress. Robbie will face many dangerous enemies, but his most important battle will be his relationship with mysterious Mother: a voice inside his head that loves him but also is always ready to verbally abuse him and make him feel bad.
The very popular spin-off K.O.L.M.I.A.M. (or K.O.L.M. in a minute) is also being remade, so that opens the door to user-created content and co-op modes, providing the corresponding stretch goals are met. So before we can start thinking about those, the main £25k goal must be secured, and that won't be a piece of cake: almost half the campaign has gone by and barely 25% of the funds have been raised. You can put K.O.L.M. £5 closer to become a reality and get a copy of the game on release, or double that figure to also receive the amazing soundtrack by Tommy Robin a.k.a. Ockeroid (who was also in charge of the music department in the two previous games).
· Splee and Glob: Monster Defense topped out at only 5% of the goal, despite rapid Greenlighting at Steam. No doubt this comes as somewhat of a surprise to the creators, who have solid credibility from the successful release of their previously Kickstarted project, GhostControl Inc. The publicity for this new effort was for some reason more limited than for the first one, the appearance on our own Gems list being one of just a few mentions of Splee and Glob in the gaming media. The devs have not given up after this initial setback; they have promised to "use the gamescom show in Cologne to find out how we can bring Splee & Glob to life".
· Twin Souls campaign only reached 44% of the goal, to the regret of over 900 people who backed. Most likely Lince Works still needs to build their fanbase, in order to get about 2k backers on board during a campaign, but $31k pledges was a sufficient show of interest that they are not giving up on Twin Souls yet; expect further details sometime this week.
· The Bulb Boy campaign was unsuccessful at meeting the funding goal, but looking on the bright side, it did attract enough interest among media and backers that the project is getting offers of funding from publishers. Looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel for Bulb Boy (but hopefully without any onrushing train!)
· Areal continued to provide more drama up to the final 2 days of the campaign: West Games spread the word that they had received an email purporting to be from Vladimir Putin, and there were a couple of odd funding days raising over $25k with only 2 new backers. The funding anomaly kicked the funding level well above the goal... until the project ended up being cancelled by Kickstarter for rules violation. As usual Kickstarter didn't give specific reasons for the suspension, but under the circumstances it's a good bet that those funding spikes came from someone too closely associated with the project.
· The late-breaking-extra-bonus project from last issue, Deer God, fared well at Kickstarter to finish with almost $52k pledges -- about double the minumum goal, encompassing the first 5 stretch goals.
· Tormentum Dark Sorrow attracted enough fans of dark, twisted adventure games to join the ranks of successful fixed-funding Indiegogo campaigns, beating their $9k goal with over $3k to spare. Unfortunately that was not quite enough to fund the first stretch goal of additional translations, so only English and Polish are being promised for now.
· Insomnia developers should be sleeping better with the successful conclusion of their campaign. The end result of $92k includes the first stretch goal of hiring professional voice actors to do the voice-overs for both characters and NPCs, with a choice of multiple voices for the player's hero.
· Timespinner had a great final week. The final total of over $176k pushed it past the 6th stretch goal of "challenge dungeon", an optional area with procedurally generated elements and an extra dose of difficulty. Metroidvania fans who managed to miss the campaign (and who lack time-spinning skills to turn back the calendar) can still back at one of the 3 lowest tiers with a Humble widget.
· So far so good with the new plan for After Reset -- it seems there is a sufficient proportion of fans longing for a Fallout-inspired post-apocalyptic sci-fi RPG who are willing to give the episodic release plan a try. The minimum funding level was long ago surpassed, and the final 48-hour burst of pledges could take After Reset up near $100k level, a reasonable amount for an initial episode. Those exciting final hours are still a ways off, given the unusually long funding period for this relaunch, but backers should have plenty of new updates to entertain them in the meantime; Black Cloud Studios has been doing remarkably well at their goal of posting significant updates on a daily basis.
Take an oldschool 16bit RPG and pin down its pixely graphics and chiptune melodies, but let all the rest evolve to today's technological level. What do you get? Well, something awesome for sure, and not too dissimilar to what Elysian Shadows is going to be. The homonymous Elysian Shadows Team's main goal is to bring back all that we loved in old classics such as Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger and add to it 3D environments, dynamic lighting and shadows, physics, particle effects, and positional audio, as well as game mechanics from other genres like action games or platformers. In brief, what they want to produce is, in their own words: a next-gen 2D RPG.
In order to achieve their purpose they first spent a long time developing their own custom engine from the ground up. In doing so, they ensured the game engine would be able to perform all the fancy stuff they had envisioned and also, more importantly for us Linux gamers, it would be totally cross-platform from day one, without the need of the ever unreliable after-release port. In fact, it is so cross-platform that the game will be available even for the Sega Dreamcast! --that's how the project began actually, as a Dreamcast-only game.
Not everything in Elysian Shadows is in-house, though. They have teamed up with Snake Hill Games to use their also-Kickstarted Sprite Lamp tool for embellishing the game's 2D pixel art with dynamic lightning and shadowing, the results of which speak for themselves.
Gameplay-wise Elysian Shadows features a vast and continuous world to explore, a world torn up on a confict between magic and technology, amidst which the protagonist Julien is thrown when he and his friends uncover a mysterious ancient artifact. Exploration, action-packed real-time combat, and character progression according to the game's class (or job) system will ensue. Even some platforming can be found whenever the game swaps to a 3D perspective upon, say, entering a building. That is to say, only the environment becomes 3D, but the sprites remain 2D-flat, in which is (in the opinion of this member of TFC) the sole weak spot of this otherwise fantastic and highly-promising game. Totally worth the $15 entrance fee, which not only includes a DRM-free copy of the game on release, but also some digital goodies and an in-game Zelda-inspired exlusive sword.
The campaign has barely started and it has already amassed almost a third of its ambitious $150k base goal. Success seems a sure bet here, so the real challenge will be how many stretch goals from the detailed roadmap can be achieved at the end. They include some additional platforms, but also cool new features like New Game+ or support for DLCs, user-created content, and the Oculus Rift, among others, up to the ultimate and crazy (?) $800k goal to produce an MMO version of the game.
Frogdice, The Funding Crowd's official favourite indie game studio, strikes again! After successfully funding and delivering Dungeon of Elements and ReignMaker, they are now looking to fund Stash, an MMORPG taking place in Primordiax, the fantasy world featured in all of their games.
After two fantasy-themed games with casual-ish mechanics (Dr.Mario-like and Bejeweled-like, respectively), they have gone one step beyond and are aiming at producing a full-fledged multiplayer online RPG. In a sense, they are returning to their roots as Stash can be considered an evolution of Threshold, Frogdice's MUD from 1996 that is still in operation today (and will continue to run for their faithful MUDers, even after Stash comes online).
So, having the lore part of the game already almost covered, their "only" concern are game mechanics. As any MMORPG worthy of the name, Stash will feature a huge world to explore and to exploit, lots of monsters and loot, crafting of new items, extensive character customization, the forming of clans to fight for dominance, and optional PvP. But here and there, the pen-n-paper roots of the Frogdice team and their experience as game masters of a MUD, are showing.
First and most directly evident is the tactical and turn-based, rather than real-time, combat where player skill (strategy and tactics) is as important as character skill (abilities and gear).
The other aspect which sets Stash apart from most typical MMOs is the fact that players actions really determine future plot developments. Thus, unlike in many online games where everything resets in a "Groundhog Day" manner, here your actions will have permanent consequences: i.e. the boss you've just slain won't magically re-appear for the next player. The developers will act as true GMs of the world, adapting the plot to the player's actions in more ways than you'd think possible.
Stash will be free to play, with optional in-game purchases, cosmetic or not. But fear not, we are assured that anything with in-game influence will also be obtainable by just playing the game. A kind of starter kit called Citizen Package will cost $20, but during this campaign it can be obtained at a discount with a $15 pledge that also gives right to beta test the game before it goes public.
This F2P nature is always an added difficulty in a crowdfunding campaign, especially when aiming for a $100k goal, and all things considered the campaign's current status can only be described as promising. However pledges seem to have lost momentum since day one, and the project risks ultimate failure -- more backers with a fondness for pen-n-paper RPGs are needed to avoid Frogdice being forced to stash this project away for a while.
And that was all for now! We hope that you enjoyed this new issue of The Funding Crowd, fans of RPGs and point-n-clicks or not, and that we'll see you next time around. We (scaine, Speedster, and muntdefems) will be back... errr... ideally in just two weeks, but we're not going to let our pride write out cheques that we cannot later pay, so let's just say that we'll be back soon. With more Biggies, with more Gems, and hopefully with more Winners, which would mean more Linux games are coming our way.
As usual, remember that you can use the comments, Wiki, forums, or direct messages to keep us up updated on any suggestions that you'd like to see covered.
See you next time!