Welcome to a new issue of The Funding Crowd! It looks like the summer lull is definitely over, as tons of interesting and good-looking projects are knocking at our doors in search of our pledges. We are bringing to you a more varied selection of genres than last time, but on the other hand they are all Hidden Gems, as we couldn't find any worthy big project that isn't doomed to fail (we're sorry, The Hum!).
So, before getting into the list of Gems let us first review the final outcome of some previously featured projects and see how some others that are still going on are doing.
· Braven Arts failed largely due to a lack of publicity, which the project creators have realized and have resolved to remedy.
· K.O.L.M attracted 382 dedicated backers, most of whom fondly remembered the original, but sadly that was not enough to make the goal. The Kicktraq graph makes it clear that like with Braven Arts, there was not enough work done ahead of time to mobilize the fan base and get a good launch in those critical first few days.
· Bolt Riley managed to bolt ahead to a photo-finish victory in the final day of this relaunch, so the funds needed to get the first game in his saga into publishable state are now secure. Those who missed the brief 7-day campaign can still pre-order via a Humble widget.
· Jenny LeCLue has a promising detective career ahead -- already Greenlit on Steam, her campaign closed out with almost 4k backers pledging $105k, meaning the popular voice acting stretch goal was achieved.
· Since we last peeked in on Kaptain Brawe 2, the good Kaptain has mostly been stranded in an extended period of mid-campaign doldrums (the campaign itself being rather longer than most) -- except for a new high-level backer who wants to help adventure game expert Steve Ince design a fiendish puzzle for ole' Brawe. Though being stuck at 42% funding is rather disheartening, there is still hope that the momentum will pick up when the campaign end finally draws near: the current campaign just needs to pick up the remaining 130 backers from the original attempt, and then talk the same number of backers into pledging merely 84% of the earlier pledges (since the goal was dropped to account for matching funds).
· In contrast, the highly cross-platform classic-style RPG Elysian Shadows has a lively campaign going on, getting plenty of attention as is needed for a Biggie class of project. As a result, the $150k goal was crossed with a week to spare, so the final push will be all about stretch goals!
Let's begin the Gems section with a pair of relaunches:
It was one of the Biggies in the last issue of TFC, and its campaign would still be running by now if it hadn't been canceled by the creators. The reason is that they were approached by several console companies that wanted the game on their platform. Among these companies there was OUYA, who offered them to take part in their #FreeTheGames Fund program by which they will double all pledges dollar-by-dollar (up to $250k) if the new campaign is successful. So it's the same thing as last time, plus the added bonus of console ports of the game and a funding goal only half the original one -- $50k vs $100k.
More than one year ago, almost back at the very beginning of this column, we talked about a charming and acclaimed project for a reverse zombie survival game. Despite having so much in its favour, it eventually failed to get funded and has been lying low ever since... until now. Ray's the Dead is back, ladies and gentlemen, and it is doing so well this time around that it got funded in less than a week. During all this time the game has been announced for release on the PS4 and it has been Greenlit on Steam. Speaking of which, Steam seems to be the only form of distribution on Linux, so DRM-free purists may end up a bit disappointed.
There has been something of a flood of visual novels on Steam recently, so it's perhaps unusual to see us covering one in a Kickstarter. There are two reasons for doing so, however. First, this particular series has been suggested by none other than Gaming On Linux stalwart, Dr McCoy! Second, there's a reason that IDHAS Studios has created this Kickstarter and it's simply because they're in a spot of financial trouble. Why is that a good second reason? Well, they're in a spot of financial trouble, possibly because you can download so many of their previous visual novels absolutely free!
Indeed, while Rising Angels: Fates is a sequel to Rising Angels: Reborn, you can visit the IDHAS website and download Reborn absolutely free gratis!
That website will also give you a teaser of the excellent art on display here. While the animē style is typical of the genre, the quality is clearly a cut above. The story revolves around Natalie Puccile, a Special Investigations and Tactics officer and her interactions with the multi-racial crew. And by multi-racial, we mean cat-people (Lupide), angels (Frikon), elves, humans and more.
This Kickstarter aims to focus on giving the player more control over the story. Often in visual novels, there is heavy emphasis on relationships only, but while Fates will still have elements of this, they are concentrating on the investigation elements of the game that will determine the fate of your protagonist and crew.
The project is already over a quarter of the way to its modest $4k goal and you can get on board for only $15, with the game due in October next year. Finally, a minor point, but the game isn't on Steam and doesn't look likely to appear there. The project doesn't mention DRM, but given the studios stance on making so many of their previous releases free of charge, it looks unlikely that the issue would arise!
A shining star in the dark mire of proprietary assets! Yep, next up, we have Script Kiddies. We'll get to the game in a minute, but first, let's elaborate on that "shining star" thing. Very simply, if this game is funded, author Austin Dixon is promising to open source the whole lot. The code, its functions and scripts, the game's sprites, assets and backgrounds. And why? Because he loves programming. Dixon describes having learnt to code this game as a life changing experience and he wants to pass the bug on to as many people as he can. Now this pixel-art platform head-to-head isn't AAA gaming, by any stretch of fevered imagination. However, just to make this game, Dixon's scripts had to cover aspects such as camera control, dynamic speech-bubble systems, screen shake, physics, path-finding, and of course the platforming itself.
So how does it work? You get three floors, each floor has a computer terminal. You play one of several characters, each of whom has a special ability to help you, or hinder your enemy. On the other side of the screen, a mirror image of those three floors and their terminals. Jump up to a terminal to begin a button-match/mash "hack" and once you complete it successfully, you'll launch a virus at the opposing player. Of course, they're doing the same. Viruses (Virii?) travel across the screen at a fixed rate. If you're quick, you can rush to the "about to be infected" terminal and launch a counter virus. If one gets through, it's game over.
You can snap up Script Kiddies for a piffling $7, but you should consider the $35 which snags you, quite simply, the cutest USB key in the WORLD and includes the game, wallpapers and all open source assets on its 2GB capacity. The game is due around April next year, but Script Kiddies is in a spot of bother. It has a very modest goal of only $8,500, but aside from this author, only 30 other backers are on board. A piffling $500 raised! It's injustice!
So, simple, fun, relatively cheap and success will result in a new open source game.
It's really not often that a Kickstarter will include a demo, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that A Rite from the Stars did so AND included a Linux version in the available downloads. Curiosity piqued? Let's look at the game.
Risin' Goat are a Spanish studio who cite classics such as Loom and Broken Sword as their inspiration for their game. However, while A Rite from the Stars is a point-n-click adventure game, it doesn't actually present itself as such, thanks to wonderfully detailed, fully rendered and animated 3D environments and characters, and a dynamic lighting system that really brings those environments to life.
The story follows a young boy's rite of passage to becoming not just a man, but a legend amongst his peers, by conquering the three tenants of his tribe - Wisdom, Courage and Spirit. Each of these follows a different story arc, with unique game mechanics. The Spirit realm, for example, looks like it might follow a slight Psychonauts slant by allowing you to interact with the spirit world overlaid with the real world, but with new challenges.
Risin' Goat believe that they're nearly at the halfway mark with their game and are looking for $40k to carry them up to an expected launch in February next year. With only $10 needed to secure the game, it's no wonder that they have 350 backers to date, but that low pledge level might have hurt them in the long term - they're only $15k funded and into their final 9 days of the campaign.
The game will be DRM-free on release, but you can also vote for them on Steam's Greenlight here. And if you're still undecided, check out this Youtube video for around 8 minutes of game play. After that, $10 will probably feel like a bargain!
Next up in our lineup of Gems we have arguably the most bizarre project of recent times: Major Drip: Case of The Runnies. It's a 2D platformer with beautiful backgrounds that wants to take you back to the SNES and Genesis/Mega Drive era when, in the words of developer Josh Modica, every gaming experience was something new and different. To this end, he has spent a great deal of time developing the game's most promiment feature: its complex control mechanics.
"Alright, alright, but what's so bizarre about this game, then?" you may be asking yourself by now. Well, basically the main character is a nose. That's right, a friggin' big NOSE with two little eyes that walks around using two nose hairs as legs. If that's not weird in your book, we don't know what is. He, the very Major Drip from the game's name, hasn't always been on his own, though. He used to be part of a whole face, along with Mr Mouth and so on. But one day, a tremendous sneeze sent him flying away. Next thing he remembers is being all alone and having to learn to move using his feeble nose hairs. They work quite okay for walking, but whenever he encounters an obstacle he must resort to propel himself by sneezing. Most of Major Drip's hopes to return to the face that was once his home lay in how well you control these sneeze-jumps as well as in the optimal use of the crazy power-ups you'll find along the way. To better understand the control mechanics of the game just take a look at the pitch video for this Kickstarter.
And speaking of the campaign, it could certainly do with a flow of pledges as fluid as Major Drip's nasal secretions. Until now only a third of the needed $20k have been covered, and little more than half the time is left. The full package consisting of a DRM-free copy of the game, 2 HD wallpapers, and a digital strategy guide can be yours for only $15. But wait! There's still plenty of $10 early backer rewards left, so you've got no excuse not to help this not-so-little nose in need.
Are you the tranquil type of player who prefer a slow-paced narrative-driven game to frantic action-packed shooters? Do you in contrast enjoy said shooters, particularly realistic military ones, but sometimes wish you had the option to explore the causes and consequences of the blood baths depicted in them? If you fit any of the two previous profiles, congratulations, we've got a game for you!
The Sun Also Rises is a narrative adventure game that explores to so-called War on Terror, and is allegedly based on accounts from both US soldiers and Afghan civilians. Forget about emptying magazine after magazine on everything that moves, here the main focus lays in the human tragedy that is war, and in many of its aspects and consequences: PTSD and the reintegration of veterans into society, the interactions between US soldiers and innocent civilians, the difficult moral dilemmas faced by those in the chain of command, among others. It is a multiplayer game, but not in the sense you would expect: the developers from Horse Volume call it passive multiplayer, in the sense that the actions you make during your game are stored in the cloud and will affect the gameplay for future players. To that end you can choose between a US medic who must treat both his compatriots and the local civilians, an Afghan boy who lives near the US base, and a CIA analyst who oversees and directs the operations from America.
If the concept and mechanics of The Sun Also Rises weren't a strong enough selling point, its audiovisual assets don't fall behind at all: presented in a warm and colourful palette, the art style gets immediately in your eyes. No doubt intentionally, the characters are left blocky and without any facial feature, so players can better project themselves and empathize with them. Soundwise, the quality is assured with collaborators like KPOW! Audio (The Banner Saga, L.A. Noire) and David Firth aka Locust Toybox (of Salad Fingers fame).
With regard to the funding and its chances of success, this project is certainly living on the razor's edge. Two-thirds of the campaign have gone by and it currently rests a little above the 60% funding mark. Considering there's always a spike in pledges on the very last days The Sun Also Rises should get successfully funded at the end, but we'd advise you not to wait that long and fork out the $20 that will secure you a digital copy of the game.
Continuing with the war theme, and being the Great War centenary, one would've thought we'd be swimming in WWI-themed game projects by now. But apart from the FPS Verdun and the TBS Steam Squad, both still in development, nothing of worth had appeared so far. This is why a WWI buff like this TFC member cannot help but get truly excited once he discovers something like Fritz.
Intentionally distant from more obvious genres for a war game like the aforementioned FPS or strategy (be it in real time or by turns), Fritz has been conceived as a narrative RPG, with brief instances of combat in real time scattered in between. For this is what the brave men who took part in this horrible war got to experience the most: tedious and routine days on the lines, with guard and maintenance duties, and only sporadically the brutality of direct combat with the enemy. Most of the time they spent it in trenches and dugholes with their comrades' company. No wonder then that the main aspect of this game is character development by interacting with the fellow NPCs.
But above all, what sets this game even further apart is that it's seen from the German perspective. Indeed, you get to play the eponymous Fritz, a German soldier on the Western Front who must fight the French. As the multinational Truceful Entertainment team explain, they chose to follow the non-trodden way and feature the German and French sides of this war, which have usually been somewhat neglected in favour of the British and American ones. Also, from a purely gaming perspective, it's more challenging to play the German side as they had less supplies than the Allies, one of the most important factors that determined the eventual defeat of the Central Powers. All in all, a highly interesting and original take on the war games scene, rendered in a minimalist pixel-art style that perfectly conveys the insignificance of a human life amidst the madness of war.
If we were to make an analogy between the war and this crowdfunding campaign, the armistice is right around the corner. But here this is terrible news, as the $15k funding goal hasn't been achieved yet. Only an unexpected and decisive final push would take Fritz and his companions to the final victory. The Kaiser needs you, will you heed his call?
Here at The Funding Crowd we don't usually feature projects where Linux support is relegated to a stretch goal, or at least we try to prioritize campaigns that show an unconditional love for us. However, when something as good as Hard West shows up and it only needs a reasonable enough surplus to produce a Linux build, we have no other option than talking about it.
Created by CreativeForge Games (although they are running the campaign through PlayWay's Kickstarter profile), a Poland-based studio that's about to release its first title, Hard West is already well into development so if this is Kickstarted it will serve as fallback fund in the worst case scenario, or as a means to expand the original scope of the game if things go really well.
So what is it, then? Unless the TBA multiplayer stretch goal is reached, it's a single player turn-based tactical game set in the reckless Far West we all know from the movies, with an extra dark and creepy tone to it. This is actually an important point: this game doesn't pretend to be realistic or historically accurate, and it will feature unlikely ricochet trickshots, crazy gun designs, and myths and legends alike. On the other hand, it isn't also a comedic production: the scenarios (6 originally, 8 after the first stretch goal was conquered) will try to look as realistic as possible within the reach of hand-drawn graphics.
The gameplay can be loosely described as fast and decisive turn-based combats spread throughout the exploration of a world full of extreme surprises. Players can expect to find both the greatest of treasures and the most horrible of deaths. The creative freedom taken by the authors allow for the presence of some fantastical elements and sometimes players won't be sure whether they are awake or in a vivid nightmare. Regardless of their awakening state though, they will have to gamble their lives in tense life-or-death combats. Even though the encounters will be over rather quickly, they're one of the aspects of the game that has received more attention by the developers. They have chosen the combat system of the XCOM series as their model, and they have added a couple of tweaks and simplifications to better adjust it to the needs of Hard West's different setting.
If you are not sold yet, we can only recommend you to take a look at the campaign's updates in which the guys at CFG explain in deep detail the process of level design, the combat mechanics, or reveal their musical inspirations when creating the game. The project is already funded but, as we said at the beginning, a Linux version won't be guaranteed until the $90k stretch goal is reached. Fortunately even the most pessimistic predictions seem to top that figure, so let us anticipatorily celebrate the coming of such a promising title to our favourite OS. Only a fistful of Canadian dollars (15 to be precise) is what you need to obtain a DRM-free copy an a Steam key when the game comes out, in about a year's time.
And that was all for the moment! As usual we hope you enjoyed this issue of The Funding Crowd, and we are looking forward to seeing you again next time around. The usual team (scaine, Speedster, and muntdefems) will be back in a couple of weeks with more news and interesting projects that need your love and cash to become a reality.
Remember that you can make suggestions to us either on the Wiki, the forums, or via direct message.
See you next time!