13th July 2014

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Draft targeted for 2014-07-13

Covers crowdfunding news from 2014-07-02 through 2014-07-13

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: Speedster Nominate projects: Speedster, Liam

Order nominated projects: scaine

Writing:

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

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

<PROJECTS OVER $100k>

Hidden Gems

Relaunch: After Reset

Sunset nominated by Faugn. Dropped due to near-completion. Already 3 times over its target.

Splee and Glob: Monster Defense nominated by Liam, done by team that did Ghostcontrol Inc

Starlight Drifter Dropped due to lack of interest by scaine, already successful campaign.

Tormentum Dark Sorrow

Bulb Boy

Insomnia

Article content

Intro paragraph

Welcome to TFC#35! We have some wonderful projects to cover this issue, two of which are relaunches of previously failed (some might say simply over ambitious) projects. We also have one studio who have already published in the traditional sense trying crowd funding for the first time for their next title. And finally, we have one of the quirkiest and endearing characters we've come across trying to worm his way into your heart and light it up. Literally.

Confused? Then read on and all will become clear.

What Happened

Losers

Strictly speaking, none so far... though it would take a miracle to turn around a couple of those Still in the Running.

Winners

Over 2.5k cats have thrown (hopefully non-shredded) money at Catlateral Damage. The final tally of almost $62k (50% above the original goal) has earned these generous backer cats 2 extra levels in which to wreack havoc: a supermarket and a museum.


Still in the Running

Areal has not managed to dispel the controversy mentioned last issue. Many prospective backers are still skeptical that the stated goal of $50k is nearly enough to finish off an ambitious game like this, regardless of the claims about West Games self-funding the rest; backers are also clamouring for a look at the pre-alpha custom engine that West Games has mentioned but is not willing to demo yet. In general, West Games has done a really poor job of inspiring confidence among S.T.A.L.K.E.R. fans, aside from having some genuine S.T.A.L.K.E.R. talent on the team, and it looks like they will need to regroup and come up with the funding some other way.

Twin Souls has likewise been having a hard time of it, though in this case the problem is lack of publicity rather than controversy. The 800-some backers who did manage to find the project and are eager for a 3D Mark-of-the-Ninja-like masterpiece can at least take comfort that the project creators are planning a relaunch in case no last-minute miracle occurs for the current campaign.

Finally, some more good news... the previous top pick, metroidvania Timespinner, has already reached about $75k, or 50% above the base goal. So far the extra funding is dedicated to a PS4 port, but the interesting feature of local co-op support is a mere $15k away -- it could easily happen if the ending days are as good as the initial days of funding.

Biggies

No Biggies again this time around! Perhaps it's just the summer sun that's keeping the big projects away, or perhaps they just don't want to compete with Transformers, X-Men or the Guardians of the Galaxy. But once again, that just means more time for the Gems! Speaking of which...

Hidden Gems

After Reset

We kick off our Gems section with a relaunch. And, technically, a downgrade! After Reset missed its epic $900k target back in November last year. In fact, it failed in a suitably epic fashion, garnering only $50k of that ambitious goal. Now, undeterred, Black Cloud Studios is relaunching its Kickstarter project and asking for... $35k. A bit of a come down we're sure you'll agree and a target that downgrades After Reset from a Biggie to a Gem.

And yet, a Gem is still a Gem and this is a Gem worth bringing to your attention.

Let's start with how they're achieving this massive downscaling without (they hope) losing your faith and interest in their game. First of all, while the game failed back in November, it did raise nearly $50k and around 1400 interested backers. It also raised $15k in Paypal pledges which allowed the team to carry on development through the winter and launch a successful Kickstarter project based on a graphic novel of their game and universe. Between those two projects, Black Cloud Studios garnered 15k followers on Facebook, raised awareness of their intellectual property and Greenlit their project in an impressive five days. But the biggest reason that they're asking for so little second time around is that this is a project solely to fund the prologue of the game. Indeed, if you pledge for the game at $20, the expected release date is October this year!

The game revolves around a distinctly Fallout-based story line - post apocalyptic scenario, some humans go undergound with technological benefits, while others brave the radiation and stay on the surface. War ensues when the bunker-dwellers return to the surface (i.e. you). Indeed, the whole game has a Fallout vibe, albeit more slanting towards the Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 games, rather than the third in the series. The view is top-down, although the world is fully rendered in 3D and you can pan/tilt/zoom into various views during play.

There are various hardcore RPG mechanics on show here. Extensive character customisation, weapon adjustments and an in-depth battle mechanic reminiscent of D&D. The story is focal, but the world is a non-linear sandbox, so while you can ignore the story and do your own thing, the overall theme of the plot will keep cropping up, giving you the opportunity to progress at any time. Additionally, there will be companion characters (with back stories and interactive personalities, ala Baldur's Gate) and your very first such character will be the AI inside your head which triggers the opening plot and guides you through the early stages of the game. In a nice twist of the RPG mechanic, if your character's intelligence is low he/she will communicate with the AI as a "spirit", or even ignore it altogether, but if your character is intelligent, you can interact with the AI in a more advanced and productive way, opening plot lines and presumably side quests around it.

While the world map on show in the videos looks a little bland, this is apparently by design to showcase the post apocalyptic "Yellow Zones" that represent battle maps for the various factions. While they certainly do appear depressingly yellow, there is a nice level of detail available when zooming in to see the action up close or to loot a stash that you've stumbled upon in the wilderness.

The game is also hopeful to capitalise on the internet to crowd source game decisions during play. Details are scarce on how this optional feature works, but essentially, how everyone plays the game will affect the game world for those coming after. This sounds like a unique feature and, if implemented well, could open the door to some interesting replayability.

A slight concern is raised at the $87 tier because that tier includes "Enhanced Violence Animations" which are apparently "extra hard-core death animations made with motion capture technology". This is a concern because if you're pledging below $87, the project makes no mention of this feature outside of that short description. It remains unclear if this will be available separately as DLC, or if it's a backer-only reward for those at the $87 tier and above.

So to round up, the DRM-free (and Steam-key) Prologue release will be in October this year and is available for $20.

Splee & Gløb: Monster Defense

From the developers who brought us the Linux title, "Ghostcontrol Inc", comes Splee & Gløb: Monster Defense. The developers are German in this case, although the studio, Application Systems, have offices in London, Paris and Heidelberg. This is mentioned purely to explain the spelling of "defence" as "defense" since this author had to fight the urge to make grammatical changes to the project's title when researching this piece! I've never before had to ignore so many red squiggly lines in my write up!

But before you jump to conclusions and think "just another tower defence game" (do you see what I did there?), give this a minute of your time. While the fact that the "towers" are actually "monsters" is really just a bit of fluff to fit the narrative, there are some really nice features in this game that other TD titles don't do, or do rather badly.

The first of these is co-op. It's called Splee & Gløb for a reason - these are the two very different playable characters in the game. And that's the second of this title's features - these are playable characters - ala Sanctum and Sanctum 2. You get to run around the map during each wave and make a difference in-game, by introducing new obstacles, attacking the invaders, or repairing towers, er, healing monsters. And that's the third feature - while some of the invaders might head straight to the map's end goal, many others are geared towards attacking and ultimately destroying your defences instead.

So, co-op, playable characters, hostile, interactive invaders. Check. The story, such as it is, involves a robot invasion on a peaceful planet. As tower defence goes, par for the course really and the less we focus on the plot, the better! The graphics, on the other hand, are pretty spectacular. There's a sense of Nintendo's wonderful Pikmin to the style used here and the animations are a match for the intricate level of detail on show.

The Steam crowd certainly approved. They Greenlit this title in an impressive three days! So a £10 pledge will secure the game DRM free and you'll get a Steam key as well when it releases towards the end of the year. Sadly, the project is chronically neglected by backers and headed towards failure. They have raised just shy of £3k so far, and have just a few days and a final week to secure their target £60k. It's not looking likely. There's even a couple of hundred early bird pledges available at £8, so go give this project some loving and pledges and see if we can't bump start it to success!

Tormentum Dark Sorrow

It's been a while since we've featured an Indiegogo project and so it's doubly satisfying to cover Tormentum: Dark Sorrow, which is not only launching on Kickstarter's greatest adversary, but it's also made the fine choice to opt for Fixed Funding. This project needs our help to raise the final third of its $9k target. With well over two weeks left to do, that's eminently achievable.

And once you take a look at the visuals on offer here, you may well be tempted! While its describing itself as a point n click adventure, it's actually more in the style of a hidden-object game with various puzzles along the way to challenge the player.

Tormentum has had huge press coverage since its launch in mid June, including an article by Gaming On Linux no less! As Liam notes, it's impossible to watch the trailers for Tormentum without thinking of H.R. Giger's grotesque but wonderful art style. They are influenced Giger, and also Polish painter, Zdzislaw Beksinski, whose work you can see here, via Google Image search (since his website has a number of broken links!)

But now for some bad news. In fact, no less than three pieces of bad news.

First, despite claiming Linux compatibility, it appears that the studio behind Tormentum, OhNoo, are using Adobe's Air to produce the game. As you probably know, Adobe dropped support for Air on Linux around version 2.6 or so, and given that it's now up to version 14 on Windows, we'll be very surprised if Tormentum runs on Linux without a hitch. Certainly, even if it works on the older Air, be prepared to install the ia32-libs, since there's no 64-bit support here.

Bad news number two comes in the form of language support. The developers are Polish, and while they are supporting English on launch, it's not their first language and they may run out of money before getting a professional edit.

Finally, the least of the bad news, the game is only intended to run for around 4 hours or so.

And yet, this incredible looking game might well be worth it. For only $9 you secure a copy of the game DRM-free, and since they've already been Greenlit, you'll get a Steam key on launch too, due in October this year.

Bulb Boy

Not a single big media site or YouTuber who has played our next Gem appears to have a bad word to say about it. IGN, Pewdiepie, Rock Paper Shotgun, Mark Plier, Joystiq... the list goes on. Not bad going for a point n click adventure which claims Machinarium as one of its inspirations! And yet it's easy to see why this Gem has caused a stir.

Describing itself as a point n click horror with reflex battle sections, it's certainly not shy about defining its own genre. The question will be whether the three man studio behind Bulb Boy can extend the plot while continuing the obvious quality they have already showcased. Indeed, you should try out their Linux demo to see what all the fuss is about (65Mb download). It will take you about 5 minutes to play through... and yet still be worthwhile.

The story is told in picture-based bubbles - no pesky dialogue to be translated in this game! And in one fell swoop, Ojtam Games launch in all languages simultaneously! Clever. As far as it can pieced together, the plot appears to be simply that darkness has fallen at Bulb Boy's house and invaded by various monsters. The game's mechanic revolves (literally as it turns out) around a boy whose head is actually a bulb and can be unscrewed and placed in various different bodies throughout the game in order to solve a variety of puzzles, or do battle with the diverse range of nightmarish creatures he'll encounter.

This is a charming game, with quality visuals, slick animations and interactions and an unusual plot. It will take just $15 to secure a digital copy, or only $5 if you want it on Android and think they'll hit the stretch for that platform. Sadly, that's not looking likely - they need a big push, with just under two weeks remaining to secure most of their asked for $40k. So despite DRM-free, despite big name coverage and despite its obvious quality, Bulb Boy needs our help!

It's not due until the tale end of 2015, but be warned - if you try that demo, you'll likely end up pledging!

InSomnia

And we finish this section with another relaunch, albeit we didn't cover InSomnia first time around, back in November 2013. And like our first relaunch, we have another top-down post-apocalyptic RPG!

InSomnia's graphical engine looks very slick, invoking memories of Baldur's Gate, except this time in a fully realised 3D steampunk world. That allows the team to keep the top-down quasi-isometric views, while allowing for some beautiful camera adjustments and real time lighting effects.

The story revolves around The Ark, a 400 year old now-derelict spaceship, capable of transporting millions, which appears to be mostly abandoned when you enter the scene, waking from cryogenic sleep and piecing together what's happened during your 20 year stasis. Working out what happened to the Ark, its origins and history, forms the plot and drives your hero to progress, interacting with the remaining inhabitants and the factions they've formed. The RPG elements are based on use - keep doing something and you'll get better at it. Other RPG elements include a branching dialogue system and a series of "points of no return" which will dictate future game play as the plot progresses. InSomnia is also promising to include a co-op mode, although the exact nature of how that will work wasn't completely clear.

It must be noted that the advertised Tech Demos are Windows only. In fact, the whole launch date is Windows-only, pegged at Q4 next year, and only thereafter will Linux be worked on. Since, as always, many of the available tiers on offer include alpha and beta access, we emailed the project studio asking for clarification on whether there will be Linux builds too. Sadly, while Studio Mono replied promptly, they promised only to "do their best to release betas for all platforms", but were unable to make guarantees that this would actually happen. Take from that vague answer what you will!

Studio Mono are basing their game around the concept of chapters. The main game will consist of Season 1, comprising of 4, possibly 5 Chapters, each of which will consist of around 4 to 5 hours of game play. So the main campaign, as it stands, should be between 15 and 20 hours or thereabouts. What's interesting is that Studio Mono are gambling big on InSomnia and hope to release one season a year for four years, each season roughly matching the original in terms of content and game play. And the ace in the hole for this campaign is that Kickstarter backers at each tier which includes the game, will receive all seasons for free.

Assuming they pull this off, that's a fairly incredible pledge. And all the more incredible when you note that you can get on board for only $15. So despite some dubiety over the Linux release, this one could well be worth a gamble!

Conclusion

And that's our round up complete. Two RPGs, one tower "defense", and two point n clicks. Bags of character, heaps of depth and oodles of potential. The only question is, which will you back?

And a bonus! We didn't have time to include the excellent looking Deer God in our round up, but stumbled across it late after it got a shout from the almost-certainly-doomed Twin Souls developers. Definitely worth a look and only $10 to get involved. We're not completely convinced that it will "challenge your religion", but its beautiful parallax scrolling and haunting atmosphere is definitely worth a look.

Please use the comments, WIKI, forums or direct messages to keep us up updated on any suggestions that you'd like to see covered. And again, as always, if you want to try your hand at writing a paragraph (such as any of those you've just read) for future issues, all you need to do is direct message one of the team that brought you this issue - scaine, Speedster, and Muntdefems.

See you next time!

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