23rd March 2014

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Draft targeted for 2014-03-23

Covers crowdfunding news from 2013-03-09 through 2014-03-23

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: Muntdefems

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

Order nominated projects: s_d

Writing:

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

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

A fantastic looking Strategy/RPG game from the creator of the original X-COM game Julian Gollop, it has good-looking graphics and some fantastic looking game-play with a full single-player mode and plenty of online multiplayer options. Article on it to link http://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/chaos-reborn-from-the-creator-of-the-original-xcom-with-linux-support.3281

  • Proven Lands Nom'd by Q4a in the issue #29 comments (unlikely to succeed on current momentum, but stylish and impressiveley ambitious)

Hidden Gems

  • DUELYST (Linux support has been added to their first stretch goal due to "overwhelming demand", obviously not overwhelming enough to warrant looking into it before they get the extra cash though)
  • Frog Fractions 2 - been a while since we covered an educational game, hoping S.D. might be inspired to write it up [NOTE: FF2 is NOT an edutainment title!!! It's bizarre, irreverent, and completely ridiculous. I will cover it nonetheless, because FF1 is completely insane.]

Article content

Intro paragraph

Well this is a first! A Funding Crowd without a single Loser? No, we're not sure what happened in the last fortnight either. Perhaps the stars aligned, perhaps there was a strong easterly wind and a waning moon, but we like to think that it was, in fact, you that made the difference. We only cover games we'd like to see made and we like to think that you'll feel the same way. So that's our theory, and we're sticking to it.

So what does The Funding Crowd #30 hold in store this time around? Read on!

What Happened

Losers

Zero, zilch, zip, nada! Not a single loser among the featured game projects that recently ended, hurrah!

Winners

Shrug Island had a suspenseful finish, with the team live-streaming a final-push party that turned into a victory celebration when the goal was reached only a few hours before the deadline! Those music- and nature-loving little Shrugs can now be assured their mainland buddies at Amazu Media will be able to continue working on their unique adventure.

Dysfunctional Systems handily surpassed the minimum goal for completing the series with 2 more episodes. The sequels are planned to be much longer than the initial (non-crowdfunded) episode, which is great for those who enjoyed the initial episode but thought it too short.

Nothing To Hide managed to drum up over $43k in pledges for an unusual project. Not only is it a fully open source game (including public domain assets) on the theme of privacy erosion, it used a custom funding platform in which pledges will be cashed in incrementally, as major milestones are hit.

Heart & Slash slammed past the base goal of $20k on the way to hit the final $30k stretch goal, with the help of a shoutout from mega-project Mighty No. 9. Stretch goals included additional language support (meaning 2 languages beyond FIGS, to be chosen by backers) and the creation of an extra boss for each of the 3 levels, which would be put into random selection so that you won't know which boss will be faced on a particular playthrough.

Star Crawlers, the aptly-named space-based dungeon crawler, had a really good run, pushing way past the minumum $65k goal to $100k. This extra level of funding success funds a variety of additional content, including 3 new sci-fi-flavored character classes to be selected based on backer votes. Backers at $40 and up levels will get their hands on early alpha versions soon! Other space RPG fans are advised to keep an eye out for the eventual Star Crawlers release, which promises a nice blend of story with branching decisions and procedurally-generated dungeons that fit the current story context. Technically, this puts Star Crawlers more in the classic RPG genre than dungeon crawler hack-n-slash, but we still like the name :)

Galactic Princess is another promising space adventure that exceeded its goal by a good margin, £34 vs £20k. The flavor is very different than the preceding project however, with a strong parody influence in the story evident immediately from the main promo image, and a gamepley focus on ship customization with real-time ship battles rather than turn-based clashes between characters. This looks like a good space action adventure game to keep an eye on, but the wait will be longer as the project is still at an early development stage.

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 should be a worthy sequel to the popular first adventure game in the series! The original team (King ART Games, also of Battle Worlds Kronos fame) is again hard at work to bring back the memorable characters while adding many more and cooking up a new story, no doubt again full of parodies and weird twists upon themes from fantasy RPG culture, but this time with sufficient funding to take the game to a new level. Unusual for an adventure, though common for an RPG, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 will feature "side quests", optional quests for those who want the additional challenge but not necessary for those who want to just move on with the main storyline. Art and music also receive additional investments from stretch goals, making possible Projection Mapping for the graphics and live orchestral recordings for the music.

Still in the Running

Saga Heroes campaign has less than $6k to go in its quest for funding; however, the bad news is that momentum needs to increase considerably in order to achieve that goal. Wasatch Games has posted a recent update trying explain what they mean by "RPG adventure", and how it helps distinguish Saga Heroes from a typical ARPG. The modest goal for Saga Heros is still within reach, if only they succeed in convincing a few hundred more backers that it is not just-another-ARPG.

EarthLock: Festival of Magic has had a good campaign so far, with community and experience carried over from a previous attempt. Earthlock has a good chance of becoming one of those rare biggies that succeeds -- it exceeded 50% funding jut one day into the second half of the campaign. If this momentum can be sustained in the second half of the campaign, we can look forward to someday discovering why the world of Earthlock mysteriously stopped spinning, leaving a world divided between dark and light, technology and magic.

Biggies

UnEarth Initiative

(very slim chances of success, but highly interesting project nonetheless)

Chaos Reborn

Julian Gollop is a bit of an 8-bit celebrity. Most famous for creating the wildly popular X-COM series, this author remembers him for a different series of other games: Rebelstar Raiders on the Spectrum, and its incredible sequel, Laser Squad. However, it's a third series of games which form the basis of this Biggie. As if the title didn't give the game away, we're talking about Chaos, its sequel Lords of Chaos and the spiritual follow up, Magic & Mayhem.

This campaign is a remake of the original game, Chaos. In that game, you control a wizard in turn-based combat against one to seven human or AI opponents, casting summoning spells to defeat the enemy wizards with monsters, fire, dark forests or goo. The underlying mechanic of the game was that the arena starts "neutral" and swings between "chaos" and "law" depending on the spells cast. Each spell will influence the arena when it's successfully cast, but the chance of that success is a balance of both the spell's nature (chaos/law) and how powerful it is. So it's important to use low-level spells first to swing the arena to the nature you desire, then cast your big guns towards the end.

Gollop is recreating the multiplayer nature of the game, but refining it for the internet and giving it a slight (and optional) MOBA spin. You can still play against up to 7 human or AI opponents, but now there are 2v2 options, tournaments, online rankings and guild systems. The multiplayer can also be live, or asynchronous. He's even ensuring that you can relive the 80's and play "hotseat" at a single computer!

In addition to the huge multiplayer aspects, Gollop and his small but experienced team of 5 are focussed on bringing an extensive single-player campaign to the table, called "Realms of Chaos". This is an RPG element, building your character up through multiple battles with opposing Wizards, procedurally generated each day. You can also play this mode co-op with a friend or guild-member.

Finally, it's worth mentioning the tier system here. While this author pledged at the $35 level, the tiers above that have some interesting, long-lasting effects of how you will play Chaos Reborn online. Gollop is effectively promising backers at the $50 "Wizard Lord" tier that those backers, in game, can never fall below the level of "Wizard Lord". Similarly, the Wizard King ($100), Demigod ($250) and God ($1000) tiers guarantee a minimum level, in-game.

It says it all about Gollops games and his fanbase that, at the time of writing, there are 375 Wizard Lords, 120 Wizard Kings, 25 Demigods and a frankly incredible 8 Gods.

What's great about these tiers is that they form a new game mode. Essentially, you configure your Wizard by choosing equipment, bio and play style and then when you're offline, your wizard will appear as an NPC to other players. This allows your wizard to accrue experience and equipment depending on the outcome of those battles. As far as I know, this is an absolutely unique feature, a real innovation in multiplayer.

Regardless, you can get involved with this campaign for only $20. At this point, the only thing to consider would be DRM. Gollop hasn't made an announcement on this yet (even on the forums where it was asked directly), and there's been no mention of how the final digital edition will be presented. If we hear more, we'll update in the comments! After a year's worth of development, you can expect to see Chaos Reborn around May next year.

Proven Lands

Nom'd by Q4a in the issue #29 comments (unlikely to succeed on current momentum, but stylish and impressiveley ambitious)



Gems

Two cut-off lines here.

First one leaves off Duelyst, since it's just about to hit Linux despite the stretch goal, and Kodama since we are quite saturated with 2D puzzle-platformers. Both look gorgeous, albeit for different reasons, and are worth coverage if we are able. Duelyst could be material for it's own article, while Kodama doesn't appear to be building enough momentum to succeed.

Second cut-off line is merely practicality. Dungeon Rushers looks *very* mobile F2P, which is not my priority, guaranteed Linux support notwithstanding. Frog Fractions is completely mental and I can't imagine anyone else on the team wanting to write it up, haha.

Please do write up FF2; note that Celestian Tales is a relaunch and we don't need a big new blurb for that one --Speedster

Relaunch Celestian Tales: Old North

Celestian Tales: Old North should look familiar to long-time readers of the Funding Crowd, having been featured as a gem in issue #10. Celestian Tales holds the same appeal as last time around, with a strong focus on storyline, inspired by JRPG classics, combined with attractive modern graphics. Rather than covering a particular epic time in history, this game follows 6 different main characters over three decades of their lives. The choices you make as a player will carry their consequences, including deciding which of many different possible endings comes to pass.

7. Dungeon Rushers

Looks F2P. Heavy slant on mobile design (including clicking the on-screen D-pad for movement) sets the project dead last, despite reaching 25% funding via Indiegogo, and electing to use a Fixed Funding campaign, which is good.


6. Kodama

Painterly-looking 2D puzzle-platformer; the mechanic here is that the Kodama (player character) is a sentient plant with the ability to grow and shrink in size. Seems that shifting it's mass is the key to the puzzle mechanic. Looks beautiful and serene, but is still a puzzle-platformer.

5. DUELYST

This author isn't a particular fan of "Linux as a stretch" goal and neither is Liam. However, when you take developers from Diablo 3, Ratchett & Clank and the insanely addictive Rogue Legacy, put them together and ask them to create a turn-based strategy RPG in the style of Final Fantasy Tactics... well, it's worth writing about. It also helps that the aforementioned stretch goal has already been met, so your $20 pledge will secure a Linux copy of the game when it launches around Christmas this year.

New studio, Counterplay Games, has taken an unusual approach to developing the game mechanic - they;ve created the game initially as a tabletop experience, allowing them free experimentation and iteration without having to constantly recode. This actually led to a FAQ entry wondering if they would consider launching the tabletop version of the game at a later date. Apparently it's something they'll consider once the digital version of the game is on the shelves and indeed one of the tiers includes acrylic paintable miniatures of the in-game figures.

The game is based around four (possibly more) factions, each of which consists of three classes of character, including assassins, guardians and generals. Around these classes and factions, over a hundred units are promised with various spells and abilities to aid your squad in their 1v1 and eventually 2v2 battles.

The developers make it clear that this is a pay-once game and there will be no in-app purchases for pay-to-win. Counterplay Games are aiming for an aggressive release date of Christmas 2014 and believe that their prior tabletop experiments, early prototype and strong, experience team can achieve this. Sadly, as a new developer, they need help to Greenlight their game on Steam. And there is still a question mark over whether Linux will be a simultaneous release, or a later development. Still, at only $20 for such a wonderful looking game, it may well be worth the risk!

4. Frog Fractions 2

This weirdness is thoroughly a product of the internet itself, and a

campaign to produce a sequel of sorts to the original Flash game

is well under way. Frog Fractions, a free edutainment parody,

completely subverts the player’s expectations, leading them through a

bonkers set of gaming vignettes, each more bizarre than the last,

so the player has no idea what’s next. Such a strange beast must

either fade into obscurity, or be celebrated by fans and

enjoy some sort of over-the-top treatment.


Twinbeard's going to build the game secretly, trickling info via

shenanigans such as the oddest ARG that The Funding Crowd have seen,

thoroughly capturing the attention of hacker-minded conspiracy nuts

or fans of the original game. A caveat here is that the team plans to

keep development quiet, so risk should be considered carefully, but

your entrance to the amphibious rabbit hole requires only a $15USD

pledge.


Butts.

3. Dragon Fin Soup

It's not everyday that one stumbles upon a crowdfunding campaign for a tactical action RPG with roguelike elements that is faithful to the spirit of classics from the SNES era while at the same looking so gorgeously detailed and colourful. Well then, today is one of those days as Dragon Fin Soup is exactly that and much more.

It's set in a dark and twisted fairytale-ish world, and the first playable character being a sort of raging alcoholic Red Riding Hood who makes her living as a bounty hunter constitutes a true statement of intent by its creators, the aptly named Grimm Bros. In brief, what we can expect from it is a kind of darker, HD-enhanced Dungeons of Dredmor: featuring a 2D top-down view and turn-based movement, which will allegedly suit both mindless carnage and carefully planned combat strategies. Expect no pixelated assets here, as Duelyst has that for us in spades, but be prepared for many humourous passages and some not-so-subtle parodies/homages to fantasy classics.

Gameplay-wise, the player will have to fulfill carefully written quests by travelling around a dynamically generated and highly interactive world, and facing unpredictable and changing weather conditions. Two main modes -Story and Survival- are confirmed, with a third one on the verge of being achieved as part of the first $50k stretch goal. The second one, set at $100k and including a second playable character and some new weapons and abilities, looks quite feasible considering the campaign is about to reach its middle point and the usual final rush many campaigns experiment. We wouldn't recommend you to wait until so late though, so if you've got $15 to spare be sure to invest them in this true Gem.

2. JetGetters

From the developers of the equally insane "No Time to Explain" comes JetGetters, a game about joyriding fighter jets. Yes, you read that right, a game described (perhaps optimistically) as "Just Cause 2 meets Battlefield 4". Literally leaping out of your existing jet, you grapple with a simple right-click and zipline to the nearest passing fighter and slug it out for ownership, with victory resulting in throwing the previous pilot over the side and the jet changing colour to reflect its new team.

So a team-based multiplayer arcade flight sim then... is that a new genre? The developers are hoping that the addition of classes will enhance the game tactically and add depth to the battles. They're pitching Scouts, Heavies, Support and Daredevil, each with their own tricks and nuances. The game modes are also familiar, with Team Deathmatch, CTF and Base Assault. The developers are adding scripted levels too, which will add some variety, basically offering mission-based objectives for each team to achieve.

TinyBuildGames are aiming for a 6 month development cycle on this title, so the ship date is September time. However, they warn that since this is their first big network game (aiming for 20 player battles), the netcode must be spot on, so that date might slip to nearer Christmas. However, since "No Time to Explain" is already on Steam (and the same house published "Not the Robots"), they won't have to endure a Greenlight campaign for JetGetters - your $10 will secure a copy via Steam the moment its ready to ship.

1. The Hero Trap

Rogue-like dungeon crawlers seem to be in fashion at the moment, much to the pleasure this member of The Funding Crowd, and perhaps they will eventually supplant the venerable indie puzzle-platformer. The latest champion to enter the dungeon, and the one we’re most excited about, is The Hero Trap! Eschewing pixel-art for a stylish cel-animated look, the team at SMASHWORX plans to build a deep, dynamic, procedural Labyrinth, complete with multiple heroes, loads of enemies, and unique upgradeable items.

The game promises a fast, top-down arcade combat experience, with blades, flames, and spells flying in all directions. Hordes of unique enemies clash with the player, who fights back with upgradeable items and effects, harkening both to the Gauntlet era as well as the hack/slash/loot cycle of Diablo-style isometric ARPG’s. Parallels can be drawn to The Binding of Isaac, though perhaps less... gross?

The Hero Trap concept comes from one half of the creative team responsible for the Killer Queen arcade cabinet, known for making the rounds through indie game festivals and such, and his creativity is brought to bear here with an unusual mechanic for a rogue-like crawler. The player actually directs a party of three heroes, and in Trine-esque fashion, controls one at a time, while the other two heroes float along ethereally. In game lore, these party members are legendary heroes of the past, called forth from the spirit realm and brought into the Labyrinth to seek riches. Each champion has a set of skills and weaknesses, so party balance will be a strategic consideration for the player.

Readers of the non-DRM persuasion will be happy to know that, despite the lack of specificity in the campaign FAQ, project creator has confirmed to us that they will seek distribution on as many stores as they can; we asked specifically about Humble, Desura, Fireflower and Shinyloot. Let’s hope that this will result in a wide variety of choices for our readers!

Your ticket to the Labyrinth starts at $12USD, and will include a Steam key if their Greenlight campaign succeeds.

Conclusion

New-pick banners

Banner Height = 125px

Banner Width = 300px ± ~25px

Placement number

  • font
    • 30pt
    • Nimbus Sans L Bold Italic
  • shadow
    • gaussian blur radius 10
    • move 2,4
    • dark text only: 60% layer opacity

Biggies:

http://imgur.com/XpcvEAv,LYW6ZrH,s2pEMJv

Gems:

http://imgur.com/sXsanNY,6U7QvZJ,En8A0gP,1uKEYqL,j6ErHgB