It's been already three weeks since our last article, so it's time for a new issue of The Funding Crowd, the 47th! After Palladium comes Silver, a rarer metal but also much much more valuable. That's why, even though the amount of picks have dwindled a bit this time around, we hope you agree they are at least of top-notch quality. So dear reader please don't act as a Kalashnikov and, instead of shooting your way through this issue, prepare to slowly savour the treats we've selected for your crowdfunding pleasure.
I admit that I missed out on the Myst phenomenon back in 1993, perhaps due to not owning a Mac. However, even the 2000 remake for PC passed me by, despite having owned my first PC for five years by that point. What apparently made Myst special was (for the time) the incredible pre-rendered graphics, surreal atmosphere, intelligent, intriguing puzzles and a story that made you care about its multiple endings.
In terms of spiritual successors to this well loved series, the best is probably The Room series by FireProof Games. However, that may be about to change with Quern: Undying Thoughts. Unlike The Room and its sequel, Quern is a first-person exploration game set on a mysterious island. Unlike Myst, however, it is a true first person game, using an FPS mechanic and does away with its inspiration's "cross fades".
So, drawing on Myst and author Jules Verns' books, Quern hopes to create a mystical, engaging atmosphere to draw the explorer into the world and discover its mysteries. A mechanic reminiscent of The Talos Principle, many of the puzzles you complete might later interact with future puzzles to open additional areas, secrets or story. Indeed, Zadbox Entertainment are hoping to do away with the overused concept of "find key, open gate, repeat" and instead prefer to draw on the Metroid mechanic of having later discovered items used in unusual ways to open previously inaccessible areas.
The small team are using Unity 5 as their engine, but this is probably the most beautiful Unity 5 game so far promised. The small target of £20k is due to the near completion of the game: it's due in about a year from now. The money is to cover some small operating expenses incurred over the past year's development, finish the remaining 50% of the storyline and finally complete the voice narrative to a sufficiently high standard. The game is currently around 6 hours long, but will be nearly double that length once ready.
A pledge of £10 will secure you the game.
Steamroll is an isometric puzzle adventure game, with elements of strategy and minigolf games. It is being developed using Unreal Engine 4, and has a striking, realistic steampunk look. The game is far enough along in production that it is at a playable stage, but needs additional funding to be completed and expanded before its planned release later this year.
In Steamroll you control a steam powered, rolling vehicle called the Scarabeus, and have to traverse some kind of indoors facility. Along the way you encounter several obstacles, like ledges, debris and closed doors that you have to deal with, and here's where strategy and the surprising element of minigolf games is at play. Around each level, you'll find docks that the Scarabeus can be deployed in, and when it is, you'll be able to launch smaller steam balls that have unique, configurable abilities. You shoot the steam balls, using trajectory prediction lines to guide them to their desired location, and when they're triggered, either by impact, manually or with a timer, their use come into effect. Want to get rid of some debris? Use a bomb. Need to get up a ledge or get your next ball around a bend? Use a ball that turns into a ramp or an angled wall.
The developers are aiming for a total of 12,000€, and have already raised over 3,000€ in pledges with three weeks left of the campaign. Steamroll is also on Steam Greenlight, where it was greenlit in just a week, so it will be on Steam, but also on DRM-free stores, like GOG.com. To acquire a copy of the game on completion, you only need to pledge 7€ to the project. And if you want some digital goodies, the 18€ tier comes with the soundtrack and a digital art book.
Never Ending Night is an exploration platformer with a dim and minimalistic art style reminiscent of that of LIMBO and Monochroma. In the main mode, you delve into a story of relationships and self-exploration, inspired by the developers' own sufferings of broken hearts. The Expedition Mode, which is available as a higher tier add-on, is more focused on combat, takes place in a procedurally generated world, and is intended as a natural extension to flesh out the game world.
The game puts you in control of Cain, who sets out to put and end to the never ending night in the land of Zarek. You have a mechanical butterfly sidekick, named MLBY, who aids you on your journey, to illuminate this dark and eerie world. The focus is on action and story, but with some light environmental puzzles to make your way through the darkness.
The modest $2,000 goal has been passed more than twice over, and the developers are now aiming for the stretch goals. Unlike most other campaign creators, these developers intend to add additional features and content based not on money pledged but on number of backers. If they can get 100 supporters on board, they will add the soundtrack to all Expedition Mode backers at $15 and up. They also have mobile version and free DLC goals at 150 and 200 backers respectively. If you just want a digital copy of the story mode on Steam, you'll get that by pledging $7 or more.
We just couldn't end a list of Hidden Gems without recommending a pixel art game, so here comes The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human to fill the unwritten pixely quota. And creators Y/CJ/Y do really take their pixel art seriously, as you can attest if you've watched their pitch video.
Taking the form of a metroidvania action adventure The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human will put you in the shoes of the last human being alive, who returns to Earth from a failed space mission only to find it completely flooded and the human race long ago extinct. Considering this apocalyptic submarine setting it's no wonder that two of the main inspirations for this game are Planet of the Apes and 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, but so is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and with it comes the ecological themes: climate change and the degree of humanity's responsibility for it.
Gameplay-wise, and true to the metroidvania spirit, entire new areas will open to exploration as the player unlocks up to 10 upgrades for the spaceship/submarine Argo 9. Add some epic boss battles to the mix, and you'll get a splendid blend of action, exploration, and mystery as you unravel the fateful demise of the human race. And all of this with the accompaniment of some synth rhythms perfectly toned to the mood of each area and moment (although we must confess we're somewhat disappointed for the absolute lack of accoustic David Bowie covers in Portuguese).
Jokes aside, and all things considered, The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is the kind of thing that mustn't be let to fail. All the more so when a Linux version will only happen if the campaign gets fully funded. And with less than 3 days to go before the deadline, there's still almost kr10,000SEK missing. That's about £800/$1,200/1,100€, so raising that amount totally falls into the realm of possibility. And considering the entry barrier is lower than $10 (including a DRM-free copy of the game, a wallpaper pack, and your name in the credits) there's no excuse not to throw your money at Y/CJ/Y so they can turn it into pixely metroidvania goodness!
No time for Losers, 'cause here are the Champions of Crowdfund:
The Elsinore team probably wouldn't mind a time loop giving them a few extra trips through May 26th, the day of victory when the campaign for this unique (time looping combined with a Shakespearean setting!!) adventure closed with over $32k, 268% of the base goal.
A final tally of over $24k gives the young team behind a•part•ment a chance to turn this exploration of relationships from a student-entry in this year's Independent Games Festival into a more polished game.
Almost 850 backers contributed over 27k€ to the making of the mysterious adventure The Mystery of Oak Island. Although this will be the first commercial game from this company, Visionaire Studio is in very good shape to complete the game in a timely manner, thanks to having their own game engine that has been used in other games and having a well-received fan game under their belts: Zak McKracken Between Time and Space.
The campaign for Through the Woods horror game had a huge jump in momentum during the last week, except for a horror-inducing setback in the final few hours when a $3k pledge being pulled. However, the net result was still a resounding win, with over 1,200 backers contributing 109% of a decidedly non-trivial $40k base goal.
Winterflame ended successfully in large part to some very generous backers -- only 606 backers managed to bring it across the $68kCAD finish line. It was truly an epic show of support for a puzzle-adventure promising an epic combination of art, story, and puzzles.
Corey and Lori Cole will be profusely thanking their 1,800 new backers for believing in them second time around: they had secured loans for the completion of Hero-U against their house and they've achieved their target $100k on their second visit to Kickstarter to finish their game. Hopefully their $500k across both campaigns will see the game released!
Like the best drivers, Power Drive 2000 had saved a turbo boost for the last lap, and so it raced past its goal with little less than one day to spare. At the end the campaign fell very short of the magical figure of 2,000 backers, who pledged well into what's usually stretch goal territory. No additional goals had been set for this campaign though, but at least the devs promised to include really iconic bonus cars if the game got funded. They have also enabled PayPal donations for those who missed the Kickstarter or forgot to pledge. And now we speed fans only have to wait almost a year until the game releases on May 2016 (or maybe a little less should they choose the Steam Early Access route, as they got Greenlit during the campaign).
It will surprise no one to learn that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has become the latest Kickstarter poster child, ending the campaign with an incredible $5.5M in pledges from a clearly enthusiastic (and affluent) 65 thousand backers. Indeed, Bloodstained will steal the crown of most successful video game from Torment: Tides of Numenera which garnered just over $4M for InXile back in March 2013.
In the end, eleven thousand backers were impressed enough by the beautiful Umbra that they pledged an impressive $400k and netting a frankly insane number of imaginative stretch goals along the way, including expanded side quests, a female character option and various multiplayer enhancements.
And finally, as you'd expect from a project which funded £175k inside a single hour, the incredible story of Yooka-Laylee ended on a high. Garnering nearly £2M, the Banjo Kazooie spiritual successor is another Kickstarter phenomenon and nearly 70 thousand backers will be looking forward eagerly to the game's launch in October next year.
There still time left to pledge towards Road Racer Hills, the side-scrolling Trials-in-a-car clone! While they only have a week to go to collect the vast majority of their $35k target, remember that this is a Flexible Funding Indiegogo project, so the $5k they already have will still count.
In the previous issue we were very excited about sandbox-MMORPG Voxelnauts. So much in fact that we completely missed its most amazing feature: it's being developed entirely on Linux! Luckily Liam made up for our oversight with a full article on GoL commenting on the fact. Unfortunately, the good news end here. Since we last talked about this campaign pledges have been quite stalled, up to the point where success is now highly doubtful. Merely a few days remain and almost half the $200k has yet to be raised. It looks like only a massive last-moment upsurge of backers can save the campaign. The game, on the other hand, will probably go on regardless of the Kickstarter's outcome as it was quickly accepted onto Steam.
Second time has been indeed the charm for 2Awesome Studio's puzzle-shooter Dimension Drive which has raised enough funds by now as to not have to rely on huge and dubious last-minute pledges. And this time around it's doing so well as to having already unlocked two new game modes as stretch goals and being near to achieve the third one: local multiplayer, both co-op and PvP. Be quick if you want to take part in this campaign's success as its ending in about two days.
Ladies and gentlemen, here's a project for a first-person narrative horror adventure. Yes, yet another one. But bear with us and we'll tell you what's special about this one. For starters it's being developed by some Dead Space and Bioshock veterans, so technical competence is to be expected. But Perception's main asset is the fact that Cassie, the young woman protagonist, is blind. And as such the player won't be able to directly see anything, but only to get a sense of the surroundings with echolocation, that is through sound.
Now this in itself is hardly a novel mechanic, as it has been already used in other games like the minimalistic puzzle adventure Dark Echo, or the long-ago-Kicsktarted-but-still-unreleased horror adventure Pulse. But in contrast with these two examples, in Perception the narrative is a strong pillar of the experience. You see, Cassie is having recurrent nightmares about an abandoned haunted manor. Tired of them, she decides to investigate and she soon discovers the house to be real: the aptly named Echo Bluff state. Despite her physical limitations she travels to the mansion, resolved to untangle the mystery with the only help of her cane, her mobile phone, and her extremely sharp wits.
Once in the house Cassie will discover its history by exploring the hallways and corridors, while at the same time hiding from the evil Presence that dwells in them. Well, hiding from It, or trying to deceive It by using distractions and sound bombs. In this sense, the game reminds us a bit of Alien Isolation, and that's certainly a good thing, as long as devs succeed in making the malign Presence convey the same sense of helplessness as the xenomorph did in the aforementioned survival horror hit. But here making noise is mandatory as it's the only way of seeing, so the player will have to constantly weigh the risk of being too loud and getting caught by the baddie against being too stealthy and not getting anywhere.
But back to the narrative part of the game we cannot help but sensing some connections to the early 90s TV show Quantum Leap, in that Cassie won't only explore all the spaces in the manor but also all its epochs. And in each time travel she'll be tasked with discovering what happened and righting the wrongs, so the evil spirits can at last rest in peace. And talking about doing the right things we think it's worth mentioning that the devs are fully committed to help the visually impaired, not only by raising awareness with this game (and they are currently looking into releasing a blind-accessible version), but also by raising actual money: up to $25k of the game's proceeds will go to the NPO World Access for the Blind.
They are asking for $150k, although Linux support won't happen unless $175k is reached. A reasonable stretch goal enough, but the current trend is pointing to a lower figure. Let's rely on a good final rush to turn the tide in our favor, then. If that finally happens, know that there's a $20 entry fee for a Steam key, although they will try to get the game on GOG.com too. There are other stretch goals beyond the $175k one, but they honestly seem too out of reach. However, very much like in our selected Gem Never Ending Night, Perception's stretch goal table interestingly mixes purely monetary goals with others that only depend on the amount of backers, so even a mere $1 pledge can help make a real difference towards the end product.
Given that we dedicated a full article to Brian Fargo's resurrection of the classic Bard's Tale RPG series a week ago, we will be brief in reminding you of its existence here! Already nearing its target of $1.25M and with a full three weeks still to go, we have no doubt that InXile will have another crowd funding hit on their hands.
While Kicktraq estimates the funding trend at around $3.5M, it's more likely that it will slow slightly given that the curve has smoothed out somewhat. That still leaves rooms for plenty of stretch goals, the first of which were announced just recently - an enhanced NPC system and better crafting.
You can get onboard (and no, we'll leave Bard jokes at the door this time around) for $25, but we'll repeat again that while there is a beta option available, InXile noted that they may not be able to produce a Linux build for the beta, although they do hope for a same day release.
So this was Issue 47, as shiny and valuable as pure silver. Usually we would be wishing you goodbye until Issue 48 in about three weeks but today we will instead say "see you soon", as you can expect to hear from us pretty soon. The reason? Isn't it two obvious?
Usual plea for help:
Please PM one of the team: (scaine, Speedster, muntdefems, flesk, or DrMcCoy) if you think you can help or just want to chat about Crowdfunding, or indeed, the Periodic Table! And of course, remember that you can use the comments, Wiki, or forums to keep us up updated on any suggestions that you'd like to see covered.