21 April 2014

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Draft targeted for 2014-04-21

Covers crowdfunding news from 2014-03-31 through 2014-04-21

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: Muntdefems

Nominate projects: Muntdefems, Liam (others are welcome to chip in a suggestion or two)

Order nominated projects: Speedster

Writing:

  • Intro: scaine
  • What Happened: scaine, Speedster
  • Still in the Running: n/a
  • New picks: Muntedefems, scaine

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

1. Heart Forth Alicia - A really good-looking Metroidvania RPG about a young wizard on her journey to stop a Spirit from consuming her homeland. It has a Linux stretch-goal (sadly), which Liam covered in an article here where the developers fully explain it. It is guaranteed to hit that goal.

Hidden Gems

6. Grail to the Thief time-traveler adventure accessible to the visually impaired

5. Last Life sci-fi noir adventure game about tracking down your own murderer... very blocky stylized art, FAQ specifically says "no silly Linux stretch goals"

4. The Land of Eyas: puzzle platformer (don't go away yet!) with an interesting gravitational mechanic and visuals that remind me of FEZ.

3. Legends of Persia: in its creators own words, it is "a highly ambitious Action RPG Adventure". What is shown looks quite good, but its funding goal is only $3,000CAD. On the plus side, it seems it'll raise way more than that.

Greenlight page does not show Linux as a supported project, but I finally looked it up in our wiki (doh) to see link to comments promising a later Linux release --Speedster

2. Serpent in the Staglands: suggested to us in the comments to our last column, it's a pixel-art isometric RPG, a bit à-la-Ultima. Very interesting.

1. HABITAT: A Thousand Generations in Orbit Build, fly, and smash orbiting stations made out of space junk in this physics-driven strategy game set in Earth's far future.

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Cosmochoria: old-schoolish arcade about a naked astronaut (wtf!?) whose mission consists of bringing life back to a dying galaxy. Already 50% funded in 3-4 days. Has an online demo.

The Breakout adventure game about a team of WW2 POW's risking their lives by trying to break out of German prisoner camp

Genio: card-based RTS inspired by the art and science of the Renaissance. Very intriguing.

SightLine: very interesting concept, although it is heavily tied to the Oculus Rift, with everything that entails...

DYNABOT: endless runner/platformer. At first sight it looks like a mix of Runner2 and Joe Danger 2.

Stones of Sorrow: odd-looking and quite gory action-roguelike. Artstyle reminds me somehow of And Yet It Moves.

Still Alive: 2D multiplayer PVP survival platformer. Artsy graphic style, but no innovative mechanics or plot.

Article content

Intro paragraph

Welcome to the Funding Crowd #31, a little later than normal thanks to the Easter break! Hopefully, you've all had your fill of Easter tidings, chocolate and of course egg hunts and you're ready for some serious crowd funding, kick starting, indie gogo'ing action! Thanks to the longer break we have a LOT of winners to cover, but naturally enough we've dropped our "Still in the Running" section. And of course, there are plenty of new Gems to tell you about. Sit tight!

What Happened

Losers

None! Now we get to use the "zip, zero, nada" line for real!

Winners

We kick off with Celestian Tales: Old North. Greenlit and funded twice over (130% of their goal in the first attempt), this Zelda-looking JPRG definitely did something right second time around on Kickstarter and we can expect to see this story-driven morals-based fantasy world in May next year.

EarthLock: Festival of Magic wasn't quite so spectacular, but still finished strongly and made its first stretch goal to include a mega-boss in this beautiful fantasy RPG. The final pledge total of $178k was still not as high as the goal from first time around, but the goal was reduced without cutting scope because Snowcastle Games has an additional $200k grant which become effective upon successful funding. It fell only a few hundred dollars shy of its second stretch goal to include an orchestral score, so you never know.

Meanwhile, Grimm Bros is grinning mockingly at Celestian Tales. "Only funded twice over?" its grin asks? As well it might, because Dragon Fin Soup managed to scoop just a touch under $120k, almost exactly FIVE times its $24k goal! Flush with success, the project creators felt generous and threw in the 9th stretch goal despite the missing $281 ;) This tactical RPG is like pretty much nothing you've ever seen before and their well-animated Kickstarter page, wonderful imagination and ambition seem to have blended into the perfect Kickstarter project.

Making its target twice over, perhaps DUELYST benefited from their star-studded studio line up from Diablo 3, Ratchett & Clank and Rogue Legacy. Although Linux support was relegated to a stretch goal, it least it was included with the easily-passed first stretch goal. The final tally of $137k included 3 more interesting stretch goals focused on additional content and more translations.

Frog Fractions 2 project creators had so much fun running a kickstarter that they made a game about it which "depicts events exactly as they occurred". Now that their hard work in running the campaign has paid off, the lights will go dark on this project now, with Twinbeard reminding loyal backers that since there must be total secrecy around its development, only "oblique" updates will be made via the Kickstarter email update process (and they recommend that you unsubscribe even from that if you want to keep the game "true" until release). In other words, Twinbeard can kick back and have fun making a game without being harassed about the lack of updates, while backers do all the hard work of figuring out what guise Frog Fractions 2 will take when released. At least that's the plan according to this FF2 backer's conspiracy theory: the purpose of Twinbeard's ARG being actually to collect ideas on how to secretly release the game... picking the absolute craziest suggestion after the other players have ripped it to pieces and thoroughly abandoned it.

JetGetters may momentarily seem to be misplaced among the "winners", seeing that the campaign got cancelled. However, the reason for cancellation turned out to be an alternative funding source, with would-be backers promised free copies and beta access as thanks for having pledged before the alternative funding was acquired. The world is a crazier, happier, jettier and grapplier place for this insane game now being made.

This author thought that Julian Gollop would have a shoe-in success on Kickstarter, but it turned out not to be the case. In fact, his remake of the original "Chaos" game, Chaos Reborn was still unfunded with only two days to go! However, after some well timed reddit threads and a big community push, it surged over the finish line, pulling in $210k, over its $180k budget. If, like I was, you're curious about those final numbers - 1 Supreme Benefactor ($5000), 18 Gods ($1000), 67 Demigods ($250), 360 Wizard Kings ($100) and many, many (nearly a thousand, at $50 a pop) Wizard Lords. Phew!

It was also a close call for The Hero Trap, limping over its $25k target on the final day, perhaps helped again by a well time reddit IAMA thread. Oddly, Smashworx haven't made a "victory" announcement on their Kickstarter yet, but we'll keep you posted on any news we hear.

Biggies

Heart Forth Alicia

Here's a 'Biggie' that technically isn't one. However, since it had a Linux support stretch goal of $120k and it's already nearing the $150k landmark with two thirds of the campaign still to go, we think it totally deserves the term. So without further ado this is Heart Forth, Alicia, a Metroidvania RPG with gorgeous 16-bit visuals and gameplay straight from the '90s.

It's the story of young Alicia, one of the last two wizards of the bloodline that has ruled Auster, an island in the sky. After being thrown off the edge of the island by her companion wizard - which at the time was under the influence of an evil spirit - she ends up in a strange land beneath the clouds that turns out to be the rest of the so-called Old World, which they thought to be gone forever after a cataclysm that took place centuries ago. She then will set off on an adventure to find a way back to the island in order to stop the malevolent spirit.

As in any Metroidvania that's worthy of the tag, Alicia will have to explore a vast territory, divided in 12 regions, while she levels up and gains new abilities and spells. While magic is a very powerful weapon, she won't have to rely entirely on it as she's also very apt at melee combat thanks to her enchanted whip, which of course can also be upgraded. And besides, Alicia will count on the help of up to 5 fairy companions and her magical powers to overcome a variety of obstacles and foes.

As we said, this campaign is well into Stretch Goal zone and it has already unlocked New Game+ and some secret challenge dungeons, and it's about to achieve a whole new zone with new monsters and loot. So far there are no more announced game-related goals, but there's no doubt there will eventually be some considering the pace at which the pledges are coming. You have to fork out $15 to receive either a DRM-free copy or a Steam key at the game's release, which will happen about in a year's time. If you understandably cannot wait so long to get your hands on it, you'll have to go to the $50 level to get an alpha demo.

Armello

Our second 'Biggie' goes to show that, while having credit card only pledges is a severe hindrance to any campaign, if the project is good then it will be able to overcome the obstacle nonetheless. Please meet Armello, a beautiful digital mix of card and board game from Australian-based League of Geeks, who are seeking to raise an ambitious grand total of $200k[sup]AUD[/sup]. And mind you, they're on a good track to success as they are standing at 75% of that goal with more than a third of the campaign to roll.

As for the game itself, Armello combines the traits of adventures and RPGs with the strategy of card and board games. Set in the fairy-tale animal kingdom of Armello, where the Great Clans have set forth their Heroes to claim the throne after the King fell ill to the Rot, a mysterious dark force that is consuming him and driving him into madness. So you'll take the part of a Clan's Hero, each one with its own powers and abilities, and will have to travel across the hex-based and procedurally generated board representing the Kingdom of Armello while questing, fighting monsters and other Clans' Heroes, and deciding the best course of action to obtain the throne for your Clan: be it by force or by persuasion.

The game has been designed for digital platforms but retaining the tabletop feel of board games. It's turn-based, with a dice-base combat system, and each player has a certain number of action points to perform... er, actions. After a turn ends, it's time to equip items, to recruit allies, to upgrade abilities, and to play cards against the adversaries. There is also a day/night cycle that affects what your hero can do based on its traits and talents, but also the kind of enemies you'll have to face, be it monsters of the night or the Royal Guard by day.

All in all, a very promising and good-looking adventure-strategy game for those that are not that into complex grand strategy games or very deep RPGs -- and maybe even for those that do, when they need to take a break and play something simpler. The minimum pledge of $15[sup]AUD[/sup] will give you access to the finished game and a backers-only set of special in-game dice, so what are you waiting for?

Hidden Gems

6. Grail to the Thief

Our first 'Gem' is a really interesting and innovative concept: an interactive audio adventure for the blind and visually impaired. That's right, Grail to the Thief can be played using only sound so the story will be carried entirely by sound effects, voice-overs, and music. However, it is not only targeted at the disabled: the non-impaired will be able to enjoy it as well. In fact, there's a browser-based prototype available to try (Chromium browser required). If you do it, you'll get a feel of the gameplay: a sort of an audio-choose-you-own-adventure-book.

The game, which draws on oldies like Zork or Day of the Tentacle, tells the story of Hank Krang, a crook from the near future who happens to acquire a time machine. Of course, he'll use it to travel through time and steal valuable artifacts, beginning with the Holy Grail itself -- hence the name of the project. $5 is the low entry fee to obtain a DRM-free copy (and a Steam key [http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=244565989 if Greenlit), so you've got no excuse for not backing it if you're into these kind of experimental games.

5. LAST LIFE

After an experimental accoustic adventure, it's time for a more traditional point and click adventure game like LAST LIFE. Well, maybe no so traditional as it seems to adscribe to the recent trend of focussing more on the story and the atmosphere and less on solving puzzles, much like Kentucky Route Zero or Telltale's The Walking Dead.

Highly acclaimed across the board, this sci-fi noir adventure game is just the first of a series of three episodes to come. The story behind it is perhaps the most interesting yet bizarre we remember in a genre quite prone to bizarre and twisted plots and stories: you are Jack Parker P.I., one of the few million human beings remaining in the Solar System after all life on Earth ended mysteriously a few years ago. That is, until one day you are shot down and killed. But luckily the next day the Mars colony you lived in celebrates the Dead Man's Party holiday, in which all the recently deceased are 3D-printed back to life for 4 hours so they can enjoy the festivities. Of course, you decide to put those 240 minutes to better use and try to find your own murderer. You'll have to race against the clock to solve the case, and also maybe uncover the conspiracy responsible for the Earth's doom.

This suspenseful and noir-themed project is about to reach its $75k funding goal with roughly half the way to go, so maybe we could see Episode 2 earlier than we thought? Well, this will ultimately depend on the final total gross of the campaign and at the moment is purely speculation. What's not is the fact that you'll get one DRM-free copy of each episode funded by this campaign for only a $15 pledge, or a Steam key if you prefer -- yes, no Greenlight involved!

4. The Land of Eyas

Happy Square Productions, a group of indie enthusiasts, are bringing us The Land of Eyas, a physics-based puzzle platformer that... Hey! Where are you going?? Come on, give this one a chance, you'll see it's not the average retro platformer with almost clonic physics puzzles!

For starters, the main character Eyas is a cat outfit-wearing small boy with a strong resemblance to Max from Where the Wild Things Are. He has close to zero background: all we know about him is that he's far from home, and all his hopes of returning there necessarily include finding a mysterious entity called M.O.T.H.E.R. (we honestly don't know if it will be related in any way to MU-TH-UR 6000, but it shall be interesting to find out).

Prior to that, though, Eyas will have to go through and solve the 40+ levels we're being promised by the developers. And how are the levels solved?, you may ask. Well, the answer is by finding keys and bringing them to locked doors. Buuuuuut, things are never that easy and more often than not either the keys or the doors (if not both) will be located at seemingly out of reach locations. Luckily, the land that gives name to the game has got some peculiar set of physical laws: there is not one but two different, opposite, and interacting gravities, and mastering them will be crucial in order to make progress towards M.O.T.H.E.R..

But the twisted gravity issues are not the only gameplay device you'll be able to find in The Land of Eyas. There's also interactive blocks that can help the player in more than one way, some gravity-manipulating devices, and all sorts of environmental hazards and evil enemies determined to hinder your progress. And last but not least, all of the previous is rendered in a beautifully minimalistic yet detailed (if such a thing is possible) pixel art, with some reminiscences of the environments in FEZ.

Financially-wise, this campaign cannot be considered an exhuberant success by any stretch of the imagination. It's been active since the end of February and, just a few days before its conclusion, only 30% of the funding goal has been achieved so far. However, one must stay hopeful as that goal amounts to the quite modest figure of $10k. If you feel intrigued by this game and its qualities, know that you can still grab one of the early bird $8 rewards and help make another little step towards its completion.

3. Legends of Persia:

It's impossible to look at the gameplay videos for Legends of Persia without drawing a parallel to the likes of Diablo, DOTA2 or World of Warcraft. And of course, that's no bad thing! The animations are sumptuous, the action is intense and there's a pleasing variety of enemies and combat mechanics throughout. This action RPG will see you take one of three characters through at least 8 hours of the single-player campaign, levelling up and crafting new equipment on your journey to confront your father's killer.

It's clear from the amount of footage on show that this is a game quite far into its development cycle - indeed new studio Sourena claims that's it's two thirds complete and they expect to release the game (for Windows initially) as early as June this year. That may go some way to explaining why they're only looking for $3000 to kick start their project! Linux backers have a pledge from studio boss Ali Aredenstani that Linux is on the radar, but sadly no roadmap or time scales are apparent at this stage. The game is already Greenlit, so your pledge will secure you a key if you desire it.

2. Serpent in the Staglands:

Given the circumstances -when this gets published, the campaign will have just a few hours left- we'll keep this one brief: Serpent in the Staglands is a party-based RPG, rendered in a glorious isometric pixel art strongly reminiscent of classics like Baldur's Gate or Darklands. But it isn't just the looks of it that take us back to those great games of yore, but also its customization possibilities and party control. The combat is in real time, though it can be paused to better assess the situation and accurately give the necessary orders to your party members. Magic, abilities and aptitudes are also here in good measure, but with certain peculiarities in their application that contribute to make this game more fresh and different.

As we said the crowdfunding campaign is about to end and chances are it'll be over by the time you're reading this, but never mind! Even though it's raised almost 3 times its original $10k goal they are still accepting PayPal pledges at their website with the same rewards, so you can show your support for the project even if the Kickstarter is over. Oh, they are also on Greenlight, in case you'd like to see the game available on Steam in the -probably near- future.

1. HABITAT: A Thousand Generations in Orbit

Finally, our #1 Hidden Gem will specially delight the space nerds among you. Habitat: A Thousand Generations in Orbit describes itself as a real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game. And that's what it is: gather resources to build space stations -or Habitats- for your people or ships to attack and destroy those of your enemies. Put together any space junk, attach rockets to it, and to fight you go! The game's Sandbox mode is entirely based on this Build-Fly-Fight principle, while the Campaign mode is a narratively-driven succession of missions in which you'll have to save humankind from a nano-machine enemy army.

Actually the game is more complex than may seem at first glance, with a vast amount of different pieces to assemble and emergent abilities and powers to discover when combining and upgrading them. And since this is all about saving the human race, you'll have to take care about your habitats as in any city builder: oxigen, electricity, and food are all required to keep your citizens happy and more importantly, alive.

The campaign has entered its last week and it has recently attained the $50k funding goal, so it's now Stretch Goal time! The only goal that looks feasible though is the first one set at $70k, which will enable a genetic tech tree for the citizens and engineers in addition to the existing one for the habitats. $20 is all you need to secure a copy of the game, which comes with a digital art booklet and some wallpapers. And for only $5 more, at the unusually low $25 level, you can become an alpha/beta tester as well.

Conclusion

And we're done! As usual we hope you enjoyed this issue of The Funding Crowd and we equally hope to see you again next time!

Finally, it wouldn't be a Funding Crowd article if we didn't remind you that you can join the team by sending a private message to one of the contributors who brought you this issue, Speedster, muntdefems, and scaine or simply by replying down below about joining up. Alternatively, you can also send your suggestions our way by posting on this column's thread in the forums. Many thanks to BillNyeTheBlackGuy for suggesting that we covered "Serpent in the Staglands" this issue!

See you!

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Biggies

http://imgur.com/NWvTSu0,dg4W7VP


Hidden gems

http://imgur.com/i7z45qX,GvCUZNh,gyevJPP,UC6HDEu,cyWrPeF,GxLqzer