11 May 2014

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Draft targeted for 2014-05-11

Covers crowdfunding news from 2014-04-21 through 2014-05-11

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: Muntdefems

Nominate projects: Speedster, Scaine, Muntdefems, Gemini

Order nominated projects: scaine

Writing:

  • Intro:
  • What Happened: Speedster, scaine
  • Still in the Running: Speedster
  • New picks: scaine
  • Conclusion:

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Completed projects

completed_tfc_picks

TFC #2

Pandora: Purge of Pride image

Race the Sun image

TFC #3

Dungeon of Elements image

TFC #4

Catachresis: A Way Too Scary Game image

Rehearsals and Returns image

TFC #5

Quintet image

TFC #6

GhostControl Inc. image

TFC #8

Chipmunk2D for Unity image

TFC #10

A Wizard's Lizard image

TFC #14

Shiden image

TFC #15

Dead Sky image

TFC #16

Icebound image

TFC #19

Soul Power image

TFC #23

Secrets of Rætikon image

TFC #25

ReignMaker image

Nominated projects

Biggies

(scaine) Tales of Mythica: Assertion GGN Games attempts to take on Skyrim with this UE4 open-world 1st-person RPG with a game world claimed to be three times bigger than similar games.

(Gemini) The Universim New studio Cryptivo's take on the God Game, quite far along in development and aiming for late 2015 release.

Hidden Gems

relaunch: Chronicles of the Rift engine part of previously-covered open-source campaign Shattered Time

(scaine) Popup Dungeon Cartoon roguelike dungeon crawling, with a unique twist on the artwork. Reminds me of CardHunter (good thing).

Inspire Me time-travel adventure about ensuring famous historical breakthroughs occur despite meddling by a mischievious kid who borrowed the time machine

The Eldritch Cases: Dagon Lovecraft horror adventure

DIESELSTÖRMERS steampunk-fantasy single / co-op multiplayer action adventure by Black Forest Games (Giana Sisters)

(muntdefems) R.A.T.S. sort of arcade/roguelike by the creators of Aztaka

(muntdefems) Hover: Revolt of Gamers open-world free-runner and parkour game, inspired by the likes of Jet Set Radio and Mirror's Edge. Already at 200% funding

(muntdefems) Courier deep RPG where you play as a mail carrier instead of a powerful warrior or wizard. Interesting at least.

(muntdefems) KeeperRL open-source dungeon builder inspired by Dwarf Fortress and Dungeon Keeper. Liam has talked about it several times on GoL.

(muntdefems) Buck 2D metroidvania/brawler, a little like if Shank were a dog.

(muntdefems) Pann mythological 2D rhythm action platformer, visually resemblant of Ascendant (which btw has just been made available to backers! :D)

Interview Questions

Links

Daniel's Android Games on Google Play

Pixellation Games page

G+ Profile Page

Soundcloud page

Twitter page


As a special feature celebrating the first year of Funding Crowd articles, we bring you our first developer interview. Please meet Daniel Swiger, creator of Shattered Time and Chronicles of the Rift projects. The former, Shattered Time, was an ambitious attempt to crowdfund both an open source RPG-building system and an RPG built upon it, with free licensing for all game assets produced, both code and content. Chronicles of the Rift project continues toward the same goals but with a change in funding strategy, focusing on an initial release of just the open source RPG tools, with the actual game part of Shattered Time postponed for a later separate project.

TFC Team: What are your favorite Open Source projects? Favorite CRPGS?

Daniel: I would have to say Blender. It is such an incredibly powerful program, with so many features and capabilities. It has come so far in the last few years it not only stands against the professional competition, it really is a competitor. And when it comes to the sheer number of features and implementation, it actually wins.

Gimp and MyPaint are both excellent programs which bring serious question to the value of their professional counterparts as well.

Favorite CRPG would fall to Baldur's Gate II Just an absolutely amazing game, with a great story that really responded to player interaction in ways that no other game has actually matched since, in my opinion. And the hand drawn style of the art has withstood the test time better than just about any other game, apart from looking a little low res next to a 1080p game, it's still an absolutely beautiful game. Definately a heavy inspiration in the core design of Chronicles of the Rift, and eventually, Shattered Time.

Other games I loved, the original Dungeon Siege and Neverwinter Nights, The Witcher, Dragon Age Origins, Mass Effect, but have never felt like anything really compared to the classic Infinity Engine games.

TFC Team: Your G+ page talks about your musical background, and we know you have published a fantasy novel, The Islands of Perpetual Light. What inspired you to create games?

Daniel: It was really a combination of factors. I loved the concept of telling a story through a video game in my early teens and that got me into 3d modeling for a few years, and I actually had quite a bit of experience in programming going back to age 9. I hated it at the time though, so I pretty much ended up losing interest in the insurmountable looking barrier of ever developing a game on my own. I had no desire to be involved in the industry as it was at the time. To a teenager in the 90s it just looked like games were made by suits in cubicles.

While that probably wasn't the most accurate portrayal, it pushed me in a different direction. I focused on writing stories, and eventually got into music by way of a guitar.

Around a decade later the Indie Development scene was suddenly on the map. I developed a lot of respect for people who had managed to develop their own game, in what was certainly against all odds just a few years ago. I decided it was time to revitalize an old dream and ended up actually loving working with code. Scripting and programming countless details and concepts, and ending up with something almost tangible, is very rewarding.

While having a scattered background in writing, music, modeling and graphic arts is very jack-of-all-trades in virtually anything else, in game design it makes for bit of super-powered cocktail. lol


TFC Team: Speaking of creative talents, are you planning to do the graphics for this project in addition to programming, writing, and music? Is there any custom art in the current early concept demo, or is it just stock art so far?

Daniel: The music in the concept and Kickstarter video are pieces I composed. A significant amount of the art and textures in the demo are stock, about two thirds, but I do intend to change that. Designing the art for the interface, etc, is more of a finalization process. The interface itself is function over form at the moment, I'd like to redesign it once everything is functioning the way I want, and that will be the point I start putting in more custom design.

Since the goal is to have something fully functional right out of the box, I definitely want to have a nice interface designed that anyone can use and have their game look great. While also being simple to modify.

I'd like to include a few different creature types in the end result as well, which will include custom models and animations (something that is quite difficult to find for free). Some of those might go up on the Unity asset store as stand alone free downloads, as well. And of course, after the initial release, while developing my own game, I will likely release a lot of additional assets.


TFC Team: What led you to focus on creating a truly free game? Surely the quality on display in what you've achieved so far deserves reward?

Daniel: Even in the Indie Gaming scene, who are all generally great people willing to help others and lend a hand with code problems and issues, everything is kept close to the chest in fear of piracy and cloning. Cloning is much bigger issue than piracy, in part because it is not only protected, but encouraged by copyright laws. And makes the Cloner lots of money.

But there is no avoiding it, it's going to happen. There is always a much better developer than you, with zero creative talent, just waiting for the next app to clone in a single weekend. Or a big name like I'm sure we can all think of, who can drop the project in front of a hundred paid developers and stuff it full of microtransactions with an in-house lawyer who knows exactly how little has to be changed to make it legal.

But this is more of a symptom of the early stages indie development is in. Most games are incredibly simple, because they had to be designed from scratch. I think if indie developers can push past that, move into sharing and developing each others games, all developers and gamers will profit from it.

An indie developer will never reach the quality of a AAA game, because they have hundreds of thousands of man hours in developing those games. But if a hundred thousand indie developers all shared their work and development, you would have a hundred thousand high quality games. At that point originality and vision would truly stand as king, because the end product would be much more complex, and much harder to clone. Clones can copy simple gameplay, art and design. But what they can't copy is great gameplay, amazing art or deep storytelling. Remember they are in their business because they have technical skill, and lack truly creative talent.

I've been told time again, as so many other developers have, that micro-trasactions, gambling and taking advantage of the "whales" is the only way to survive in this industry. I think there has to be a better way, so I'm trying something different. Indie games are new, crowdfunding is new, why fund a game and then continue to charge full price for it? That cost of a game is supposed to pay back the investment that was used to make the game. Crowdfunding there is no investment to pay back, except completing the game.

Maybe it's an experiment that will never really work, but I'd still like to try and pioneer 'a better way.'


TFC Team: The original project, "Shattered Time" had a $100k target. Do you think the higher target turned people off from pledging? Or perhaps its open-source nature (if it's going to be free, why should I pledge)?

Daniel: The higher target did, to some degree. I think we are already starting to see a lot more projects aiming for higher (realistic) goals this year, and it may have just been bad timing to set a goal so high. It may have done better with a lower goal, but it's hard to say. Some people messaged me saying the goal should have been below $10k and I was honestly surprised that anyone would think a two year development project would be possible with one third of the average minimum wage income for a single year. I guess that's why so many successful video game projects failed to ever release a product.

I've seen a lot of creators in all categories with promises and reward packages that far outstrip their goals. Even when only a third of the successful ones come through by the skin of their teeth, it's created a false sense of just how much money it really takes to complete a long term project.

As for the Open Source "why should I pay" attitude, it did bring up a lot of responses and messages, and a lot more people pledging $1 who might have pledged more. I don't think it was ultimately an issue in itself, as the campaign still could have been successful with 100k people pledging a single dollar.


TFC Team: What (cruel, useful, or both) lessons did you learn from the original Kickstarter?

Daniel: Definitely having a focused message. I could probably count a number of things that could have been done better, a different goal, reward structure, better quality video, simpler descriptions... But the single biggest flaw was not having a single selling point. I was trying to market the game for it's story concept, and the open source development, and the free aspect, and the intricacies of the gameplay.


TFC Team: Why did you choose Kickstarter, when IndieGogo's flexible funding is already in place for such projects?

Daniel: Really my primary goal is visibility, and raising awareness. The more people who know this project exists, the more people will start using it to develop their own games once it is available. To that end I considered running both, have visibility from discovery happen in two different places. I decided against that after reviewing crowdfunding sources and articles, and Indiegogo, even more than Kickstarter, is about driving people to your campaign. The self discovery tools for IGG don't start working until a campaign is already somewhat popular.

With Kickstarter I'd already had quite a bit of page views and funding from people who had discovered the campaign via Kickstarter itself, so it had one point in its favor there. Additionally there were those who already knew about Shattered Time and were waiting for the next campaign, it seemed better to run it on the same platform again. And finally, Kickstarter has a much better average funding rate for video games than IGG does.

Even though there are 600 different crowdfunding portals today, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the only ones with any real successes in the gaming category, but the odds for indie gamers without a pre-existing following definitely seems to tilt toward Kickstarter.

Also Indiegogo has a minimum goal of $500, and I liked the sound of starting at a dollar better. lol


TFC Team: If Chronicles is a huge success, what's your vision for it? What kind of best-case scenario do you hope for?

Daniel: I really want it to eventually be more than just RPGs. Internally there is not a major difference between an AI firing a gun in an RPG, or a first person shooter, or a real time strategy. Through continued expansion and mods that could be built either by myself, or by contributors of the community, I really hope to see Chronicles of the Rift grow to offer a wide range of gameplay design choices.

Imagine if you could start a project, choose exactly what kind of camera you want, what kind of controls, setup the core gameplay for more complex, or simpler RPG elements, whether you control a single character, or whole armies. Now imagine if you could set that up in a single day.

Not only would you be able to choose what kind of genre you want to design, but the modular system would allow you to combine those genres into an entirely unique style of gameplay. All from within the editor. I already have one such concept in mind, but I don't want to talk too far into the future, still have two projects to run before I get there. ;)

Article content

Intro paragraph

Year in Review

Introduction

Esteemed Funding Crowd readers, can you believe that it has already been a year since the first issue? Since that time, the ambitious goal of weekly crowdfunded coverage by a single author has evolved into a more sustainable pace, with a small team collaborating via the GoL wiki to put out ussues on an approximately bi-weekly schedule. Crowdfunding of Linux games continues to thrive with a wide variety of genres and themes... (blah blah writer's block, please finish Munt...)

Released Picks

Lets's start out by celebrating the success of some of our previous picks, over a dozen projects that have already been released since appearing in a previous The Funding Crowd issue:


· TFC #2:

Two Gems from this early issue have already been delivered, the stylish Victorian-themed first-person puzzler Pandora: Purge of Pride (available at the game's site, Desura, IndieGameStand, and ShinyLoot), and the high-speed solar-powered racer Race the Sun (available at the game's site, Humble Store, and Steam).

image image


· TFC #3:

Issue #3 saw one early finisher, the unique mashup of Dr. Mario-style puzzlers with RPG crafting and equipment known as Dungeon of Elements (available at the game's site, Desura, Humble Store, and IndieGameStand).

image


· TFC #4:

Another double feature from issue #4, starring a pixelated horror-inspired game, possibly not quite as scary as the title implies, Catachresis: A Way Too Scary Game (available as an online HTML5 game), and the "conversational platformer" that invented a new genre for itself, Rehearsals and Returns (available at the game's site, Desura, and Humble Store).

image image


· TFC #5:

Issue #5 featured another early finisher, the space action game coincidentally named Quintet, available for free at the game's site.

image


· TFC #6:

Issue #6 introduced Ghostbusters fans to the now-completed RTS/business-simulator GhostControl Inc. (available at the game's site, Desura, GamersGate, and IndieGameStand).

image


· TFC #10:

Jumping forward to issue #10, we find a RPG rogue-like where ghost-runs are a significant part of the gameplay A Wizard's Lizard (formerly known as Crypt Run) (available at the game's site, Humble Store, and IndieGameStand).

image


· TFC #14:

Issue #14 introduced us to the classic arcade-style shoot-em-up Shiden (available at the game's site and Desura).

image


· TFC #15:

The following issue brought us Dead Sky, a fast-paced shooter and tower defense hybrid. The crowdfunding campaign was utterly unsuccessful, but its creators were able to finish the game nonetheless (available at Steam).

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· TFC #16:

For a complete change of pace from the frantic shooting in the two previous picks, issue #16 introduced us to the now-available dark-fantasy interactive novel Icebound (available at the game's site and Desura).

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· TFC #19:

Issue #19 had quite a list of Gems, but only one already funded-and-finished game, the ghost-themed 2D platformer Soul Power (available at itch.io).

image


· TFC #23:

Already into the crowdsourced era of this column, issue #23 brought the beautifully looking aerial exploration game Secrets of Rætikon. Just like our pick from issue #15, this one didn't manage to get funded but it nevertheless has been finished and released by its creators (available at the game's site, Humble Store, and Steam).

image


· TFC #25:

The final finisher for our first year came in issue #25, another oddly engrossing multi-genre mashup, the RTS/puzzler/city builder/tower defence released as ReignMaker (formerly known as Tower of Elements 2) (available at the game's site, Humble Store, and Steam).

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Indie game studio FrogDice deserves special mention, having funded AND delivered 2 games for Linux in a single year, Dungeon of Elements and ReignMaker. We can testify personally that both games were of professional quality and well supported, as demonstrated by fast developer response to problems in the initial Steam build. The FrogDice team is more familiar with (and appreciative of) Linux than many game studios due to having run game servers on Linux for many years.


Stats

And after the successes, it's time for some cold stats. A year of crowdfunding goes indeed a long way, producing a vast amount of data we've gathered in our crowdfunding wiki throughout all this time. And now we've gone all over it and we've crunched all those numbers in order to obtain some insights into the art of crowdfunding Linux games. These are the results:


· There is a total of 1,400 finished campaigns registered on our wiki: 1,055 from Kickstarter, and 345 from Indiegogo -- actually there is also a couple from other crowdfunding platforms, but they are so few that we chose to ignore them.


· Out of them, 435 were successful while 965 were not. That gives us a 31.1% success rate. Looking at these number by platform, we obtain a slightly better 38.5% success rate for Kickstarter (406/1,055), while Indiegogo must do with a meager 8.4% (29/345). This Indiegogo fiasco was to be expected though, as it could be easily concluded after the ad hoc analysis on the subject we performed last month. The Kickstarter figure, on the other hand, is slightly better than the overall 33.9% success rate for all Kickstarter gaming projects (3,361/9,917). We know that these numbers also include all non-video games campaigns, and nevertheless the difference might not be statistically significant, but we couldn't resist to share with you the fact that video game campaigns with Linux support are objectively more successful. :P


· The other side of the coin are the so-called abandoned projects. Now that's a rather hairy stat, as that category can equally fit an openly abandoned project and another one whose creators simply hasn't clearly stated their intentions towards the game in the face of a failed campaign. So simply put, the stats we're going to show you most certainly include some games that are not abandoned at all, but we cannot keep track of every single one of them after a couple of days have passed since the end of their campaign. Having been warned, here you go: out of the total 1,400 analyzed campaigns 528 of them can be tagged as abandoned, that's a 37.7% of abandonment rate. Again, Kickstarter comes off better with a 29.2% (308/1,055) while Indiegogo presents a staggering 63.8% (220/345). A reasonable explanation is that Indiegogo, with its flexible-funding option, is the preferred venue for highly inexperienced developers with poorly crafted games that usually don't get funded and are subsequently abandoned.


· Another issue of interest to us is whether Linux support is included right at the start or instead it depends on a (sometimes unreasonable) stretch goal. Luckily, only a 13.2% of all project decided to relegate our favourite OS to a stretch goal (185/1,400). Out of those 185 which did, little less than half of them were successful at the end: 76/185 for a 41.1%. The platform breakdown is yet again favourable to Kickstarter (74/148; 50.0%) rather than Indiegogo (2/37; 5.4%). So, in average, supporting Linux right off or conditioning the support to the achievement of a stretch goal doesn't seem to affect the ultimate outcome of a campaign.


· Finally, we analyzed the final funding marks of every campaign and we've combined them into these charts:

Thumbnail Full chart

By observing these charts, we can draw some conclusions:

a) Interestingly enough, there are very few projects on either Kickstarter of Indiegogo with a funding mark between 50% and 100%: they either fail completely or succeed.

b) Among those that suceed, most of them attain a final funding mark no higher than 150%.

c) Therefore we could infer that, when a campaign is well above the 50% mark and success seems feasible, the final push from both backers (upping their pledges) and creators (spreading the word and reaching out to more gaming sites and social networks) most of the time makes it possible to achieve the funding goal, but not much more than that.



Finally, our egos wouldn't be satisfied if we didn't try to find out up to what extent we might have influenced the crowdfunding world from this humble tribune. So we've computed the same stats again but this time taking into account only those projects that have been featured in The Funding Crowd since its inception. These are the results:


· In the first 31 issues of our column we've featured a total of 334 finished campaigns: 281 from Kickstarter and 53 from Indiegogo.


· Out of them 156 were ultimately funded, that is a 46.7% success rate, which is significantly bigger than the overall 31.1% (score one for TFC! :P). As usual, our featured Kickstarter campaigns fared better (148/281; 52.7%) than their Indiegogo counterparts (8/53; 15.1%).


· The abandoned projects, with the same precautions as before, they amount the 15.0% of our total number of picks (50/334). The platform breakdown gives us a 11.7% rate for Kickstarter (33/281) and a 32.1% for Indiegogo (17/53). In both cases, these results are less than half the overall ones -- obviously, another TFC success.


· With regard to Linux support as a stretch goal, we at The Funding Crowd don't favour this practice and so we don't usually feature projects that do so. However, there's been some cases in the brief history of our column: 41 campaigns with a stretch goal for Linux support have appeared in our pages, what represents 12.3% of the total. And again we score another point as 23 of these 41 projects (all of them from Kickstarter) were ultimately successful, which is a better success rate than when considering all projects (56.1% and 41.1%, respectively).


· And finally, these are the final funding mark charts for our picks:

Thumbnail Full chart


As you can clearly see and as we've made abundantly clear earlier, it seems that The Funding Crowd has had a decisive impact on those campaigns that have appeared in it. Numbers don't lie. Of course, the possibility exists that these results are biased in the sense that we tend to showcase those projects wich seem more likely to succeed and so their stats are better. But who doesn't like to think he/she's making a difference, right? So let us dream!

Conclusion

(maybe say something like "making this column has been like a dream for us..." and thus linking it with the last sentence in the Stats section?)

A few short years ago, if someone had told us such an amazing variety of games and game engines would come to Linux in a single year, we might have told them "suuure, dream on", but now crowdfunding is helping that dream come true, with Wasteland 2 being instrumental in finally pushing Unity to make their Linux port public... and Unity's success with cross-platform support helping inspire Unreal and CRYENGINE to follow suit! There are so many great crowdfunded games still in progress, we will have plenty to report on in the coming year -- hope you will join us.

Tables

Include them as an appendix?


Total Campaigns In The Wiki

Funded / Not Funded

Platform Total Projects Funded (%) Not Funded (%)
Kickstarter 1,055 406 (38.5%) 649 (61.5%)
Indiegogo 345 29 (8.4%) 316 (91.6%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 1,400 435 (31.1%) 965 (68.9%)


Abandoned

Platform Total Projects Abandoned (%)
Kickstarter 1,055 308 (29.2%)
Indiegogo 345 220 (63.8%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 1,400 528 (37.7%)


Linux Support Depending On A Stretch Goal

Platform Total Projects Stretch Goal (%)
Kickstarter 1,055 148 (14.0%)
Indiegogo 345 37 (10.7%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 1,400 185 (13.2%)


Funding Percentage Attained

Platform Total Projects 0-25% (%) 25-50% (%) 50-100% (%) 100-150% (%) 150-250% (%) 250-500% (%) 500%+ (%)
Kickstarter 1,055 517 (49.0%) 98 (9.3%) 34 (3.2%) 221 (20.9%) 95 (9.0%) 57 (5.4%) 33 (3.1%)
Indiegogo 345 290 (84.1%) 22 (6.4%) 4 (1.2%) 16 (4.6%) 7 (2.0%) 4 (1.2%) 2 (0.6%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 1,400 807 (57.6%) 120 (8.6%) 38 (2.7%) 237 (16.9%) 102 (7.3%) 61 (4.4%) 35 (2.5%)


Graph: small / big


TFC Picks

Funded / Not Funded

Platform Total Projects Funded (%) Not Funded (%)
Kickstarter 281 148 (52.7%) 133 (47.3%)
Indiegogo 53 8 (15.1%) 45 (84.9%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 334 156 (46.7%) 178 (53.3%)


Abandoned

Platform Total Projects Abandoned (%)
Kickstarter 281 33 (11.7%)
Indiegogo 53 17 (32.1%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 334 50 (15.0%)


Linux Support Depending On A Stretch Goal

Platform Total Projects Stretch Goal (%)
Kickstarter 281 37 (13.2%)
Indiegogo 53 4 (7.5%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 334 41 (12.3%)


Funding Percentage Attained

Platform Total Projects 0-25% (%) 25-50% (%) 50-100% (%) 100-150% (%) 150-250% (%) 250-500% (%) 500%+ (%)
Kickstarter 281 81 (28.8%) 36 (12.8%) 16 (5.7%) 81 (28.8%) 37 (13.2%) 20 (7.1%) 10 (3.6%)
Indiegogo 53 36 (67.9%) 8 (15.1%) 1 (1.9%) 3 (5.7%) 2 (3.8%) 2 (3.8%) 1 (1.9%)
Kickstarter + Indiegogo 334 117 (35.0%) 44 (13.2%) 17 (5.1%) 84 (25.1%) 39 (11.7%) 22 (6.6%) 11 (3.3%)


Graph: small / big

What Happened

Losers

The Land of Eyas campaign came to a close with less than 50% of the $10k goal, but all is not lost -- the concluding update is quite upbeat about pushing forwards with a greenlight campaign, with developers determined to somehow get the game finished if successfully greenlit. They promise free copies of the game to early supporters to celebrate, if that does happen.

Winners

Armello's theme of "bringing tabletop adventures to life" really struck a chord among fellow geeks of kickstarter, closing with $300kAUD -- 150% of the already impressive base goal of $200kAUD. The League of Geeks plans to start with backer-only alpha and beta releases, followed by Steam Early Access, and finally the official release.

Legends of Persia had a very close call, not passing the modest $3k goal until the final 24 hours! At last report, the team is happily working away on a launch trailer and expects to drop a beta version of their diablo-inspired action-RPG-adventure into the hands of eager backers in the very near future.

Grail to the Thief managed to hit its $10k stretch goal, which will enable this audio adventure to be enjoyed on mobile devices as well as desktops.

We covered Serpent in the Staglands: after it was suggested to us in the comments to our last column. And who knows, maybe it was that tip and our subsequent coverage that helped push this to nearly three times its $10k target. With additional sound, writing and content, this one should sell well on its release at the end of this year.

It felt touch and go for Last Life for a while, but it finished strongly, ending on over $100k, easily surpassing its $70k target. In terms of stretch goals, it fell just shy of funding the second episode in one go, but it will be a better game nonetheless for having proper voice overs added to all major sequences. This one is due in May next year.

And finally, HABITAT: A Thousand Generations in Orbit managed to easily hit and surpass its target but without hitting a single stretch! Without any additional content therefore, we're hopeful that you'll be playing this "Kerbal meets SPAZ" game on time, at the end of the year.

Still in the Running

One of our Biggies from last time, Heart Forth Alicia is dashing towards the winner's circle, having smashed its $60k goal several times over to scoop in an impressive $180k, which is important because we Linux gamers got our platform supported at $120k. There is still a bit more time to join 6000 other backers in putting money and their names behind this ambitious metroidvania RPG, with title credits including backers of every tier.

Biggies

The Universim

Many thanks to Gemini for pointing this one out in the previous article's comments! It's not often that we see a campaign that instantly has us reaching for the "pledge" button, but this is one of them!

New studio Crytivo is taking on the God Game genre and frankly, doing so with style! Already quite far along in development and aiming for late 2015 release, the pitch video seems to suggest that you take on the role of a living planet, inhabited by primitive humans. Initially protective of your visitors, you watch as they destroy your resources, consuming everything they can, before turning their gaze to your brother and sister planets to repeat the process over again.

Except that it's not that simple. The final frames of the immensely professional trailer suggests that you're not alone in this universe and that alien civilisations will rise up against you.

The quality on show here is incredible. The premise, the graphics, the sound track, the voice acting and the hook all add up to promise a game of incredible quality and depth. Of course, promises can be broken, but to have this level of quality on show at the Kickstarter phase of development is a great sign.

You can pledge as low as $15 on Kickstarter to secure a copy of the game, with higher levels securing the usual alpha and beta access. Levels beyond that are actually very creative - one has you starting the game with access to a new type of factory that can conduct cow-based experiments (no, really) and the $60 tier will start you on a "mystery" planet, whatever that entails.

Due in October next year, it's good to see Crytivo being realistic about how much development still remains in a game of this magnitude. And they still have a hill to climb in terms of funding. While they've achieved the first two thirds of their funding, they have a little over a week to secure that final $100k.

Get pledging!

Hidden Gems

DIESELSTÖRMERS

Controversy! We bring news of Black Forest Games, the development studio behind the lovely looking Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, looking for pledges for their latest game on Kickstarter! Why is this controversial? Well, because Giana Sisters recently featured on the Humble Bundle 11, back in February/March this year. They put a Windows-only build in that bundle, but crucially promised it for Linux and OSX later in the year.

Well, it's not quite been three months since the end of that Humble Bundle, but still, this author suspects that once development of DIESELSTÖRMERS ramps up, there won't be much in the way of porting going on!

But that said, what a cracking title this is shaping up to be. It's a direct relaunch of Black Forest Games' failed Kickstarter from August last year, Project Ravensdale.

If you've ever played "Shoot Many Robots" on Windows, or perhaps "Awesomenauts" for Linux, you'll know what you're buying into here. Basically, it amounts to side-scrolling, multiplayer bullet hell. What helps DIESELSTÖRMERS stand out, perhaps, is the Arc Connector, an entity that links all four players, allowing them to collaborate in the creation of additional abilities as required.

Ironically, if Project Ravensdale had succeeded, we'd probably be just about playing by now, with its estimated May 2014 release date. With that failure, Black Forest Games had to continue to develop it in their free time while working on other things (perhaps porting Giana to Linux and OSX, who knows!), and this, along with a larger scope, has pushed the estimated release of DIESELSTÖRMERS back significantly. You can pledge to DIESELSTÖRMERS for as little as $14, but you unless you pledge higher for the beta release or planned Steam Early Access, you won't be playing it until May next year now.

Hover: Revolt of Gamers

The Funding Crowd remembers getting onto the Dreamcast bandwagon pretty late on. In fact, we were clearly too late to save that ailing console, and its demise came only months after that crucial purchase. However, its impact on us was huge. We fired up Jet Set Radio and had to scoop our jaw from the floor at what we were witnessing. Grand Theft Auto III was still a year away at this point, but here we were at the end of the year 2000 (the millenium bug all but forgotten), in a proper 3D open world. The cell shaded graphics. The freedom to move around the city. The interaction with traffic and pedestrians. It was all so incredibly novel back then.

Slide forward fourteen years (and yes, that's as depressing as it sounds) and we have Hover: Revolt of Gamers. The art style immediately invokes Jet Set Radio, but Hover takes it further. The animations, the open city, the rail grinding. This is practically a remake and at the very least an homage to Jet Set Radio's legacy. Sure, Midgar Studio mention both Jet Set Radio and Mirror's Edge as inspiration, but it's impossible to watch the video for Hover without waves of nostalgia for Sega's last console.

Funding for this wonderful looking game is already through the roof. Asking for only just shy of $40k, current funding is well over double with over a week still to run. So far, stretch goals have unlocked additional characters, new sound tracks and a whole new section of the city. The next stretch goal is Wii U support which might explain why funding has levelled out since achieving a massive spike to hit $80k (additional city district). It's probably fair to say that the typical Wii U owner doesn't regularly visit Kickstarter to fund their next game choice.

There's still a year of development ahead for Midgar Studios, but you can get on board with Hover, pardon the pun, for as little as $15 and since they're already Greenlit, you'll have your choice of distribution when April 2015 comes around.

Chronicles of the Rift

After Daniel Swiger's previous Shattered Time project failed to pull through, he picked himself up, narrowed the scope and now he's back with this attempt to bring a new 3D RPG game engine to the world. For free.

Yes, you read that right. Every piece of code and every asset in Chronicles of the Rift will be free to use in your own projects, as you see fit. This time around, he's laser-focussed on the engine. You're not specifically funding a game with this pledge, but instead funding Daniel to work on the Chronicles engine so that future devs can use it, free gratis, to easily sculpt their own creations. Read our interview with Daniel for more details on why he believes open source collaboration on gaming frameworks can become a great boon for the Indie game dev industry.

With a beautiful and smooth isometric view, the engine is reminiscent of the Infinty Engine used in Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment (among others) albeit in gloriously animated 3D. Indeed, Daniel is interested in replicating many of the features from the Infinity Engine should he secure the funding to work on this full time.

Daniel is starting with a sound base to work from. His project runs on top of the free version of the Unity 3D toolkit, so this engine will be available to literally anyone who owns a PC.

So get your open source hats on and head over to his Kickstarter. Every dollar helps make this selfless project a better framework for future games and therefore, gamers like ourselves.

Note: the interview link HAS been updated to the published version

Popup Dungeon

If you like CardHunter, but hated the fact that you had to run it in Chrome because of its ridiculous and infuriating requirement for a minimum Adobe Flash version of 11.5 (one version later than is available for Linux), then keep reading. Here's a strategic, turn-based RPG with an optional co-op element that tries to look like a digital version of a traditional table-top set up. And so now you know why we mentioned Card Hunter!

But where Card Hunter's mechanic was based on a randomised "deck" of abilities, Pop-up Dungeons is aiming more squarely at the traditional RPG. And to emphasise this, the project announced recently the addition of a Dungeon Master mode where a DM can be specified to control the overall pace and direction of a given party's foray into the game.

It's a game with a unique art style. Based on the real-life concept of "Papercraft", you can create literally any character yourself and wrap it into a 3D model for use in the game. This is a big selling point for modders as it means that you can use simple templates to draw up a 2D print and the game will wrap it into 3D automatically.

And it's not just the textures you can craft yourself. In a decidedly Morrowind-like process, you can craft your own spells, abilities or even entire characters. You choose the name of the spell/ability, add instant effects, specify area of effect, duration, size of impact and so on. You even specify experience required to use the creation, and its overall cost. Presumably the game engine will scale its difficulty according to what abilities you bring to the table.

As for the dungeons themselves, they're based on the rogue-like mechanic of infinite design and possibility. The game even take it a step further by adding a feature called "Portals of Fate". Step through these and literally anything can happen - treasure, monster-zoo, boss fight, or a whole new procedurally generated dungeon.

The studio behind Pop-up Dungeon is Triple.B.Titles who have already brought a Windows-only game to Steam through Kickstarter. This time around, multi-PC platform support (Linux, Windows, OSX) is at the base-level, although there are stretch goals for console support too.

Their kickstarter now supports a pledge via Paypal. The entry point is $15 with higher pledges securing the usual alpha and beta access, or additional keys. Oddly enough, despite mentioning that the studio brought RingRunner to Steam via Kickstarter previously, they still had to run a Greenlight campaign for this title! The good news is, however, that it's already succeeded.

In fact, the only downside to this wonderful Gem of a game is the release date. With a grand scope and only three developers on their team, they're sensibly scoping this project out to 2016. January, right enough, but it will be a long wait to get your hands on this one, sadly.

Conclusion

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Hidden gems 5-1:

http://imgur.com/llchtai,1DxNguZ,rK4lv3s,gg9oNzd,kyzOCF3

Biggie:

http://imgur.com/iNvRyWS