1st March 2015

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Draft targeted for 2015-03-01

Covers crowdfunding news from 2015-02-08 through 2015-03-01

TFC #42

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: <NAME>

Nominate projects: <NAME> (others are welcome to chip in a suggestion or two)

Order nominated projects: <NAME>

Writing:

  • Intro: <NAME>
  • What Happened: <NAME>
  • Still in the Running: <NAME>
  • New picks: <MULTIPLE NAMES>
  • Conclusion: <NAME>
  • Graphics: <ONE OR MULTIPLE NAMES>

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

<PROJECTS OVER $100k>

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove - Isometric rogue-like, reboot of cult classic.

Adopted - 1st-person exploration game from a dog's point of view.

Hidden Gems

<PROJECTS UNDER $100k>

Orphan - Soon-to-finish campaign for a 2D action/platformer (think LIMBO with combat). With a good final rush it can succeed.

Strength of the SWORD ULTIMATE - Already funded fighter/brawler.

Orion Trail - Pixelated space adventure (Oregon Trail in space). Has a demo.

Two Tomorrows From Now - Experimental FMV improv game. Includes a demo.

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire - Turn-based tactics RPG with nice rotoscoped animations.

Call of Combat - Multiplayer tactical RTS.

Edge of Eternity - Already-funded tribute to classic J-RPGs. Includes a demo.

Clive -N- Wrench - 3D action platformer makes comeback on Kickstarter.

Don't Be Patchman - Pixel-art action adventure game.

Slain! - 2D pixelated hack-n-slash with lots of gore and impressing visual effects.

CrossCode - Action/Puzzle RPG. Includes a demo.

Article content

Intro paragraph

Finally we come to issue #42, which seems an appropriate occasion to come clean and confess that we are not really The Funding Crowd, but merely A Funding Crowd. Didn't you hear that we come in six-packs? But DON'T PANIC. No matter who we are, we're here again to guide you through the immensity of the crowdfunding worlds and to show you the marvels of the most interesting projects for Linux games. So relax, take a sip of a Pan Galactic Garble Blaster, and start reading!

What Happened

Winners

In an infinite universe anything can happen. Thus, do not be too shocked to discover that every single one of the picks from our previous issue has turned up in the winner's circle:

Shadowrun: Hong Kong blasted right past their final ONE MILLION stretch goal to a $1.2M total! "Slacker backer" pledging is still open through March 13th.

STRAFE® ended up less than 50 backers away from 5 thousand, an impressive feat for a genre that usually does not fare well with crowdfunding -- FPS. On the other hand, STRAFE® has a completely different feel from the run-of-the-mill FPS games that you can buy off the shelf, along with developers who show off a charming but gory sense of humor, so perhaps it's not all that surprising that it turned out to be unusually successful.

Starr Mazer attracted over 5,000 backers and made $193,566 with a goal of $160,000. This was enough to reach the first stretch goal for more musical guests, but not for any console ports. To give these another shot, pre-orders using the Humble Widget will currently count towards the stretch goals; so if you really want to play Starr Mazer on any of your consoles, you might want to give that a try.

Children of Morta started out as a Gem but performed like a Biggie: this story-driven roguelike hit 167% of the base goal, almost $109k. This total covers the first four stretch goals: console support, local co-op, a new chapter, and arena challenges.

Moonman is another unique project that beat the odds, easily surpassing the base goal and the first stretch goal despite non-US currency (meaning fewer payment choices for backers, generally a funding handicap). Guess that ancient magic mollusc really knows how to get things done!

This Is the Police was one those rare conditional Funding-Crowd-picks, where it had Linux support allocated to a then-unreached stretch goal, so would-be backers were advised to keep an eye on it rather than immediatedly pledging. Obviously this project earned its place in the winner's circle by reaching not only the base goal, but the stretch goal with Linux (and Mac) support, coming in at $35k.

Biggies

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove

Gamers all over the world should give a round of applause to whomever brewed up that fresh and really hot cup of tea, because a previously improbable wish is on the verge becoming reality -- one of the original ToeJam & Earl creators has resolved to make a proper successor to that surreal classic. Not just any old successor, but a successor that comes complete with, in creator Greg Johnson's words, "ROOOCKET SKAAAAATES!!"

After two disappointing sequels, much in part to publisher involvement, this upcoming installment will be more back to the roots. The game will have 2D sprites and an isometric view. It will feature the two iconic aliens ToeJam and Earl, who have crash-landed their spaceship on Earth. Like the original game, it will have a rogue-like structure, and you progress upwards through procedurally generated levels. As you do so, you'll fight light-hearted parodies of humans and collect randomized power-ups along with spaceship parts. The focus will be on online co-op multiplayer, but local split-screen co-op is planned if feasible. The creators are going for a nice-looking 90s underground comic book style for the game, and they promise that the game will contain plenty of funk.

Less than a week into the campaign, and it's already closing in on the halfway mark of its $400K goal. This feels like a sure bet, and the question is mainly how far it can go. If you just want to support the campaign and get a copy of the game when it's done, you can do so by pledging $15. If you want some kind of physical goods, you don't need to look further than to the tier above, as merchandise comes quickly in the medium to high tiers. Hopefully the creators haven't underestimated the costs of producing, handling and shipping like so many campaign creators have done before. By their own words, they seem to have investigated the costs though, and estimate that $100K of the $400K will go towards Kickstarter and Amazon fees along with physical goods.

Adopted

Take the gameplay from our 2014-favourite Catlateral Damage and the setting and narrative of The Novelist, mix it all together and you'll get something very alike to Adopted. It's a first-person exploration game although it should probably be more aptly described as a first-dog exploration game, as the player must take the role of a Boston Terrier. From its one foot from the ground point of view, you'll have to use all your doggish abilities (i.e. sniff, bark, fetch, chew, swallow a joint G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg battle fleet, etc.) in order to influence the lives and the actions of your owners, the soon-to-be-married Marisa and Wyatt, as well as the absent-minded Maid of Honor Laurel. The three of them form the human, non-playable cast of the game which, with all the stress of the impending wedding, are not exactly on the best terms with each other. Your main goal as the appropriately named Luchador will then be to fight for correcting the situation and keeping the peace and harmony in the house... or wreaking complete havoc in your owners' relationship up to the point to breaking their engagement.

Technical-wise, Adopted will implement some sophisticated AI to make the NPCs react to the player's actions and it promises dynamical changes in the story depending on those actions. On the graphical side and faithful to the (false) topic about dogs' vision, the game is rendered completely in a grayscale except for the interactive objects and humans, which are outlined with bright neon colours. Finally, as any other first-person perspective game of our age, it also promises Oculus Rift support at launch.

Its Kickstarter campaign had a promising start with almost 10% raised in the first 24 hours, but it has lost a lot of momentum since then. Despite being praised and endorsed by Mike Bithell (Thomas Was Alone) among others, it still has a long way to go before hitting its $140k goal. You can help it get closer to that figure with your $15 pledge for a DRM-free copy of the game and your name in the credits ($10 if you're quick enough).

Hidden Gems

CrossCode

A project that looks like it could be a surprising success is the retro-inspired 2D Action RPG CrossCode. With a very ambitious goal of €80K, it hardly seemed doable at first. Less than a week into their campaign, creators Radical Fish Games have managed to rake in a respectable €15K, and they still have well over three weeks to go. Whether they'll make it is still highly uncertain of course, but it's always nice to see an underdog make it. And this is a game that looks promising.

The game was previously featured in an article on GOL when a browser version of the demo was made available. It is a game built around the mechanic of throwing balls, which you use both to fight and to solve puzzles. The protagonist of the game is the mute Lea, who has lost her memory and is stuck in fictional MMO of the distant future. Her only hope to regain her memory is to play the game. The game is divided into story, puzzle and exploration modes, and judging by the demo, they all seem well fleshed out.

Pledging €15 will give you both a DRM free build and a Steam key on release. The €25 also gives beta tester access, but what this means for a Linux backer seems uncertain, since they so far have given little info on when to expect the Linux version, other than that it will be ready before the final release.

Clive 'n' Wrench

3D collect-a-thon platformer Clive & The Stones of the Ancient Bunnies makes a return to Kickstarter, but this time under the new and snappier name Clive 'n' Wrench. The goal is unchanged from their last run, but they've already made more progress towards the £25K with over twice as many backers and more than twice as much pledged. That said, they still have far to go, as they are still well short of £5 with less than three weeks left of the project.

The game is inspired by 3D platformers of the late 90s and early 00s, like Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon and Jak and Daxter. Clive 'n' Wrench has you controlling the titular dual protagonists as they race through 10 different time periods to collect watches and ancient stones to stop the evil Dr. Daucus from taking over the world with his mutant army. The game will be stuffed with collectibles, enemies and mini-games and promises a solid dose of the kind of 3D platforming that has been sorely missing for the last decade.

For a £10 pledge you'll get a digital download of the game once it's released. A £40 pledge puts your name in the credits, while a pledge of £60 or more scores you a t-shirt. The game could also use some help on Steam Greenlight, and even if it doesn't end up getting funded this round either, I don't think we've seen the last of this game, as the creator seems determined to finish it.

Don't Be Patchman

Don't Be Patchman is an action adventure game involving stealth, combat, puzzles and exploration. You play as Patchman, who is a prominent figure among the peaceful people the Sheeple. Drones arrive and subversively enslave the Sheeple, no small thanks to your oblivious protagonist, but as the game begins, you get a chance to redeem yourself by overthrowing the Drones.

To do so you must grow and eat plants to gain abilities and to use both as weapons against the drones and to free your people. The Sheeple are being subjected to propaganda that makes them only want food from vending machines provided by the Drones, and in order to break the spell you need to destroy the proganda and provide the Sheeple with a healthy alternative. The Drones of course wants none of this and they will do their best to destroy both you and your produce on sight, so in order to succeed you'll have to fight the Drones when possible, and otherwise stay out of sight.

The developers, Naturally Intelligent, are asking for $25K CAD to make this project become a reality. They're already past $5K CAD, but still have a long way to go to reach their goal before the campaign ends in a little over three weeks. If you want to help, you can do so by pledging $10 CAD for a copy once it's released. If you have more money to spare, the tiers above offer interesting things like a hackable version of the game and exclusive in-game content. There's also a Steam Greenlight page for the game where you can vote if you want to be able to play the game on Steam when it's done.

Orion Trail

What do you get when you cross the classic video game The Oregon Trail with Star Trek? Probably something not quite unlike Orion Trail. Be a starship captain and keep all most some of your crew alive while the galaxy throws weird things at you.

Be it warp weasels, alien banquets or jungles on mysterious planets, every encounter has a variety of decisions that can change based on your current situation and crew. In turn, each decision you make will influence your resources, such as food, fuel and phaser fodder crew. And yes, things will go wrong. Horribly wrong. For the universe is a vast, strange and frankly quite dangerous place. You're more likely to get eaten by the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal than to live long and prosper. But would we want it any other way?

The fee of entry for the game is a mere $10, but $20 will also get you the SID-alicious soundtrack by Rainbow Kitten. Other rewards include the naming of crew and red/blue/gold shirts. They're still missing nearly half of their $90,000 goal, but that should be manageable in 10 days, right?

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire

From a game about space faring to a game taking place on a dying planet after the collapse of space faring civilisation. Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire lets you play as the titular Tahira, a reluctant princess of descendants of colonist on a forgotten outpost world. The planet is growing more inhospitable by the year, a vast army threatening to crush your people is gathering and now you, the sole heir to the throne, need to make a stand.

Taking cues from both western RPGs like BioWare's games and eastern RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, Tahira is a story-driven RPG with tactical round-based combat. Converse with people to gain allies and influence the story. Travel and explore the world to learn more about its current denizens, and maybe unravel the history of the history of the long-gone space farers. During combat, take control of different units and allies, leveraging their unique skills to gain victory.

Graphically, the game features beautifully rotoscoped animations, giving it a realistic, but hand-drawn appeal. The design and setting are influenced by travels through Asia and the Middle East, and the music (by composer Max LL) too mirrors the sounds and cultures of these regions. To deepen the atmosphere, the two stretch goals they've picked out would improve the soundtrack through orchestration and add voiced dialogues.

One word of "warning", though: this will be an episodic game, and most of the work has gone into the first episode alone. This crowdfunding campaign only covers that first episode, as they don't want to promise more than they can deliver.

Currently, with 17 days to go, they've managed to get a bit more than a third of their $68,000 (AUD) goal. $10 gets you the first episode, $25 the episode plus the soundtrack, a digital art book and a high-resolution copy of the world map.

Slain!

Who says pixel graphics are ugly and belong to the past? Someone who has never heard of Slain!, surely. It's Wolf Brew Games' first creation, and though it's admittedly heavily influenced by hack-n-slash classics from the 80s and the 90s like Altered Beast, Ghosts 'n Goblins, or Shadow of the Beast, it sports stunningly atmospheric graphics and enough gore to satisfy your darkest desires. It's set in a gothic world where dark forces have seized seven great towers, each one guarded by an army of nasty creatures and a mighty overlord. Bathoryn, the lycanthropic hero, will set forward to conquer the towers and liberate them from their evil occupants.

The game is split up into seven areas, as you could have guessed, but each one is in turn divided into two different sections. The first one covers the approach to the tower in a horizontal side-scrolling fashion, is mainly focused on combat, and has a mini-boss at the end. The second one is the proper ascension (or descent) of the tower, and there the focus changes towards platforming and puzzles. The grand finale for each tower is of course the battle against its overlord. The gameplay retains a basic characteristic of the classics of yore, and that is its brutal and unforgiving difficulty, both in the combat and in the platforming involved, so this is probably not a game for the faint of heart or for rage-quitters.

The entry fee to secure a copy of Slain! (both a DRM-free download and a Steam key), plus your name in the credits and a wallpaper, is set at $15. It's certainly a sure bet, as it currently sits at the 75% funding mark with more than 3 weeks to go. But we haven't told you the best part yet: we almost won't have to wait until its release, which is set for May 2015, a mere two months!

Conclusion

And that's all for now! We didn't expect to bring you the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, but at least we hope to have provoked some Deep Thoughts on you, and to have interested you in some worthy projects. We expect to meet all of you again in the next issue of The Funding Crowd. Until then, so long and thanks for all the views!


Usual plea for help:

Please PM one of the team: (scaine, Speedster, muntdefems, flesk, and DrMcCoy) if you think you can help or just want to chat about Crowdfunding! 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.

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