24th May 2015

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Draft targeted for 2015-05-24

Covers crowdfunding news from 2015-05-04 through 2015-05-24

TFC#46

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: muntdefems

Nominate projects: muntdefems (others are welcome to chip in a suggestion or two)

Writing:

  • Intro: Scaine
  • What Happened: Muntdefems, Scaine
  • Still in the Running: Scaine, Speedster, DrMcCoy
  • New picks: Scaine, Flesk, DrMcCoy, Muntdefems
  • Conclusion: Scaine

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

Flesk

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Koji Igarashi's next work, enough said. Already covered in a GOL article. Goal: $500k, smashed in just a few hours. (Ending on 12 June)
Hero-U - Adventure RPG already funded back in November 2012, coming back to get more funds to finish the game with a bigger scope than initially expected. Goal: $100k, more than 50% raised in the first day. (Ending on 16 June)
scaine: I should add - I'm not actually all that interested in this one, but this quote is pretty awesome:
How passionate are we? We are literally betting our house on the success of this game. We are currently funding development with a home equity loan, and we are not taking any salary or other compensation until Hero-U launches and we repay the debts.

Scaine

Umbra - Open-world hack-n-slash made with CryEngine. Goal: $225k, almost 40% raised in the first two days. (Ending on 14 June)

muntdefems

Voxelnauts - Virtual-reality Sandbox MMO heavily inspired by the modern cult novel "Ready Player One" (before Spielberg ruins it). Goal: $200k; currently trending towards the 150% mark. (Ending on 20 June)

Hidden Gems

Dr McCoy?

a•part•ment - Narrative-driven adventure game. Demo included. Goal: $20k; 70% raised, 10 days to go. (Ends on 27 May)
The Mystery of Oak Island - Point-n-click adventure. Second attempt after their first failure. Goal: 15k€, almost funded. (Ends on 5 June)
Through the Woods - 3rd-person psychological horror inspired by Norwegian folk tales and Norse mythology. Goal: $40k; almost 20% raised, 28 days to go. (Ends on 14 June)

Scaine

Road Racer Hills - Light-hearted arcade Racer. Mobile port, but entertaining. Demo included. Goal: $35k; 14% funded, 35 days to go (flexible funding). (Ends on 20 June)

Flesk

Subterrestrial - RPG/2D platformer based on a comic strip. SNES-era pixely graphics. Goal: $20k; 8% raised, 28 days to go. (Ends on 14 June)
Winterflame: The Other Side - Puzzle adventure with beautiful graphics and certain similarities to Teslagrad. Day 1 Linux support not guaranteed. Goal: $68kCAD; more than 70% raised, 11 days to go. (Ends on 29 May)

muntdefems

Power Drive 2000 - Retro-inspired arcade racer with a soundtrack made by a plethora of synthwave artists. Goal: $45kCAD; less than 25% raised, 17 days to go. (Ends on 3 June)
Dimension Drive - Second attempt for this puzzler-SHMUP after being trolled by a fraudulent last-day 7,000€ pledge. Goal: 30k€; more than 70% raised, 26 days to go. (Ends on 17 June)

Undecided

Guardians of the Forest - Gory multiplayer brawler. Demo included. Goal: $3.5k; 25% funded, 21 days to go. (Ends on 7 June)

Other interesting projects, but with poor chances of getting funded:

Hipsters vs Zombies (Ends on 28 May)

Empyrean Rule - Rise of the Ancients - (Ends on (28 May)

Plugged (Ends on 30 May)

Voice of Steel (Ends on 4 June)

Station (Ends on 5 June)

Das Tal (Ends on 10 June)

Empires in Ruins (Ends on 11 June)

Louie Cooks (Ends on 11 June)

Nightfall: Escape (Ends on 21 June)

Article content

Intro paragraph

Welcome to the Palladium issue of the Funding Crowd! Yep, 46 appears to be a reasonably interesting number, apart from representing aforementioned element on the periodic table. It's a semiprime, for instance, which means that it's a natural number which is a product of two primes (2x23), it's the designation of Messier object in the Puppis Constellation, it's the number of human chromosomes and finally, it has nothing to do with Douglas Adams.

So, a lot to live up to, frankly. Read on to see how we do!

What Happened

Losers

Despite raising a third of their $150k CAD target, Outward developers Nine Dots Canada decided to cancel their campaign in order to focus on their first title, GoD Factory Wingmen. As you may recall, that title was promised Linux support that didn't materialise and we can only hope that their plans to port the title to Unity 5 will result in the promised Linux version.

Vincent the Vampire campaign was cancelled after the creator realized that this second attempt was going to fail at about the same point as the initial attempt. There has been some discussion with backers about how to get the game completed without having a PR budget to attract more attention; switching to an episodic format so the existing fanbase can fund episode 1 seems to be a popular option.

The Intergalactic Trashman seems to be out of a job -- this quirky 2D space exploration / platformer reached almost 200 backers, but that was not nearly enough for the $35k goal.

Winners

The beautiful Zelda-inspired action RPG Songbringer managed to hit the first stretch goal during the final homestretch, which includes addition of local co-op. The second player gets to play as Velle, a champion from an ancient war, who has different abilities from the main hero.

Brilliant Shadows campaign closed with a towering overfund rate of 890% of the base goal! Well, we have to admit... it was a rather low start goal at $400. Still, it represents hundreds of people were interested enough to pledge for additional features (such as voice acting) after the modest base goal was assured.

Still in the Running

It may already be too late to pledge to Elsinore, the GroundHog Day meets Hamlet time looping point and click adventure, but it's already doubled its modest $12k target and therefore nailed a few stretch goals along the way, including voice acting and additional animation. Shakespeare would be proud. Probably.

As for Yooka-Laylee, it seems that there's no end to the funds that crowd funders want to throw at the ex-Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country team members. They've destroyed their £175k target TEN TIMES OVER and still have another three weeks to both think up new stretch goals and then undoubtedly achieve them too. This one is trending towards over £3M but regardless of the final figure, it's another Kickstarter poster boy/girl in the making.

Biggies

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Yooka-Laylee is still going strong, and now we have another one that's pulling out all the stops in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It's already been covered in its own article and is Castlevania legend Koji Igarashi's already extremely successful attempt at funding a new game in the vein of his previous games.

Anyone familiar with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night will know what to expect from this game in the genre nicknamed igavania: An action platformer with focus on exploration, and elements of levelling and weapon crafting. There will naturally also be a large cast of villains in the form of demons and classic B-movie monsters.

It's not often we see Japanese games on Linux, so it's especially welcome that IGA and his team follows what has almost become a Kickstarter tradition and announce Linux support right off the bat. They also intend to do right by Linux backers and have confirmed that they plan a same-day release for Linux.

[quote]I checked with the team, and the Linux version will be released simultaneously with the Windows/Mac versions.[/quote]

There's still more than two weeks left to go of the campaign, and they've more than quintupled their original $500k goal, so they're not exactly lacking for funds. It's still hacking away at the 8-bit music stretch goals though, and if you want to get in on the action, you can do so by pledging $28 or more for a digital copy on release. Do note though that there has been no mention of DRM free versions as of yet.

Umbra

Watching the opening minute of Umbra's Kickstarter video, a question occurred. "Might it be, somehow, impossible to make an ugly CryEngine game?". Because make no mistake, if you'd read about "Umbra" and equated that to "Diablo", that would be like reading about lions, then imagining your pet cat. These are visuals that go beyond one thing done well. The smooth animation. The believable shadows. The subtle bloom as sunlight filters through the woods. The fully 3D environment. The wonderful lighting effects on spell casting. Taken as a whole, this game is visually stunning.

Cast as soldier in a slowly deteriorating world, you're suddenly an outcast from humanity when you inexplicably develop magical powers. Caught between humans and monsters, the story develops around a cult of Templars who approach your character and offer to reveal to him the mystery of the world's slow decline.

An open world 3D RPG then, but one filled with ideas and imagination. One such idea is that your character develops according to your play style. Now that's been done before, but in Umbra, you have access to a powerful transformation called Apocalyptic Form. If you use a lot of melee when you fight, your Form might give you a third hand to equip new weapons. If you use a lot of magic, your Form might develop around the magic you use most - perhaps fire will heal you, or you'll develop wings or other abilities. That interaction of elements extends to magic itself - freezing and lightning effects will be more effective over water, fire will evaporate liquids and so on.

Modern staples of the genre are all present and accounted for. We have destructible scenery, day/night cycles, a combination of dynamically generated and pre-generated dungeons, a huge loot system, crafting, character personalisation, housing and more. At the moment, multiplayer is touted as a stretch goal, as is the Dungeon editor which sees you create challenges (in the basement of your house!) for your online friends to attempt.

Around 5000 backers have made their mind up on Umbra, but developer SolarFall Games is aiming reasonably high with a target of $225k. Good news for us is that you can get on board for as little as $15! Bad news for the project is that this extremely low point of entry (and the two early bird tiers at $9 and $12) has somewhat undermined their crowd funding effort - while they've raised around three quarters of that target far, nearly half their backers have taken the $15. Luckily, they have some high-value pledges too and let's not forget that this project is still relatively young, less than a week into its four week span. Given the quality on show, it would be a miracle if Umbra doesn't destroy its target and stride through some stretch goals.

Hero-U

Two and a half years after raising $400k on Kickstarter, Corey and Lori Cole are back to try and raise another $100k for their adventure RPG Hero-U. It's not uncommon for a game to go over budget, and Hero-U has even grown quite a bit in scope since their last run on the crowdfunding platform. This scope increase was largely in the area of a graphics upgrade, after realizing the original plan for low-cost graphics was a turnoff for too many people -- even fans who ended up backing the original campaign made a point of noting that they had significant reservations about the graphics style.

After exhausting the original funds that were insufficient for the added scope, the creators made the tough choice of asking their fans for more funding. They are hell-bent on seeing the game to completion though, to the point that they've already sunk all their own money into the project:

"How passionate are we? We are literally betting our house on the success of this game. We are currently funding development with a home equity loan, and we are not taking any salary or other compensation until Hero-U launches and we repay the debts."

Though the new campaign has been met with skepticism by some backers of the previous campaign, many backers are still determined to see this one through, and have responded with more than $60k raised of a $100k a goal so far. The chance of a new game from the creators of the Quest for Glory series is a temptation too sweet to pass up. They also have something to show off of development so far, with both gameplay and combat demos that show a lot of promise.

The campaign has some unusual tiers, since many will already be eligible for a copy of the game. The $20 tier has a bunch of digital goodies and beta access, but if you're a new backer, you will have to pledge at least $25 for a copy of the game on completion. There's also a newly created Steam Greenlight page for the game, where you can vote if you want to help get Hero-U on Steam.

Voxelnauts

Take Minecraft. Enhance its resolution level from big blocks to small voxels. Increase its scope from a single map to a whole universe full of planets, each of them with the particular set of rules and characteristics decided by its creator. Then add VR support to the mix. What you have in your head right now is an approximation of what Voxelnauts is intended to be. With freedom as its flagship, it's being designed to appeal to both the most creative among the player base and those who only want to explore its vast universe.

In more traditional terms, Voxelnauts could be categorized as a sandbox MMORPG, but to make it justice one shouldn't forget its strong emphasis on the players' freedom to build their own adventures as well as the assets they need. To that end the game will provide its own tools, but it will also accept imports from Blender and other existing software.

Probably, the only thing that won't be left for the player to decide is the starting location, which is the same for everyone: planet Oasis. Does that name ring any bells? Exactly, the whole idea for this game stems from Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. But, in contrast to the novel-soon-to-be-converted-into-a-disappointing-full-motion-picture, here there isn't any Easter egg the discovery of which will bestow immense riches upon a fortunate player... or is it? We don't know and the devs don't say, but in any case if there is indeed any hidden prize we are pretty sure it must be something more leaning towards sentimental value rather than monetary value. Otherwise the asked-for 200 grand wouldn't be entirely allocated to compensate currently unpaid team members and to bring some interns onto the team.

The most likely second stop for any player will be Deep Space Station 1, orbiting around Oasis. Including a bazaar for commerce and some facilities for socializing and relaxing, it'll be everyone's meeting point before faring into distant worlds. And then, if the required stretch goal is met, there'll be Hyperion: a PvP-only planet designed to be the reference battleground in the whole Voxelnauts universe. But this will only become a reality if the yet distant 200% funding mark is reached. At the time of writing a mere 25% has been raised, so let's first focus on getting the remaining 75% before dreaming about further goals. The still available early bird entry fee is set at $20, to be delivered in late 2016. But if you don't want to wait for so long, doubling your pledge to $40 will grant you a spot in the beta-testing phase, expected to arrive in only a year's time.

Hidden Gems

a•part•ment

If you like experimental, narrative-driven adventure games, then a•part•ment is for you. It's the story of an all-too-familiar situation: a breakup, the end of a relationship. Enter the life of recently-dumped Nick, and examine his memories of happy times past, as well as the lives of his neighbours.

As a story-driven, text-focused game, reading will be a fundamental part of the game, not unlike visual novels. You're going to experience Nick's thoughts and memories during his grieving process. All the while, he'll create a comic detailing his with his ex-girlfriend. Other sections, telling the stories of his neighbours, will feature interactive vignettes from their point of view, with mechanics specifically tailored to the situation at hand. These tales all connect to explore the universal nature of our relationship troubles.

With 3 more days to go and 80% of their $20,000 funded, success seems likely. If you want to give them a hand, $15 will give you the game and a silly breakup tweet, and add another $15 for the soundtrack.

The Mystery of Oak Island

For a more standard mystery point-and-click adventure game in the vein of Broken Sword, you'll want to back Oak Island. Unravel the secret of a true mystery, and find the hidden treasure.

Wait, a true mystery? Yes, a true mystery. In 1795, a mysterious stone with hieroglyphs was discovered on Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the hunt for the treasure described on it never ended. Several people even died on that hunt, and their deaths were never fully explained! Sure, critics claim there's no actual treasure to be found, but, pah, what do they know?!?

Based on this legend, the people behind the fan project Zak McKracken: Between Time and Space created a gripping tale embedded in a classic point-and-click adventure. Control three characters, solve puzzles, manage your inventory, and find the ancient treasure... that probably belongs in a museum, come to think of it.

Given the developers' previous experience, the legend around Oak Island is definitely in good hands. Charles Cecil of Revolution Software (Broken Sword series) and Jan Theysen of King Art (The Book of Unwritten Tales) agree: they both endorsed the Kickstarter campaign. So, what are you waiting for? Oak Island is calling!

With currently 17,000€ raised, the first episode is already funded, and the next two at 25,000€ also seem likely. Do make this happen by giving them 15€ for the game or the soundtrack, or 25€ for both. Or, if you feel so inclined, there are several other perks at higher levels.

Through the Woods

This Gem is a dark Gem. A simple question, "Where is your son?". The answer to that question is an over-the-shoulder third person romp through a dark wood as "Karen", the missing boy's mother. Since you're re-telling the story of what happened, the narration during gameplay will dynamically change based on your actions. While there's no direct reference to the Supergiant game on the project page, the way it's described brings to mind Bastion's narrator.

The eerily calm narration also brings to mind Gone Home and certainly the Norwegian developer, Antagonist, admit that it was an inspiration, alongside others such as Alan Wake, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and The Last of Us. That last one stands out. Surely a mother rescuing her son from a wood doesn't involve a zombie invasion, right? Well, no, not quite. It does, however, involve a lot of Norse mythology and its associated woodland monsters. Some of these you'll have to run from, others you'll have to outwit.

If the sense of foreboding and slow build up of terror is familiar, perhaps it's because the Norwegian development community are a close-knit bunch and Antagonist have thanked Krillbite Studios, creators of previous crowdfund success, Among the Sleep, for their help.

There are still nearly 300 early bird options at $15 to get on board with Through the Woods, then it's $18, or $30 for two copies if you want maximum value after the early bird ends. It's about a quarter of the way to its $40k target with around 3 weeks to see out the rest, so it could certainly use a bump. It's due in February next year.

Road Racer Hills

Trials has a lot to answer for. What started out as a Java-based browser game featuring 3 bikes and 3 increasingly challenging tracks was later turned into a 3D extravaganza in Trials 2 for Xbox360 and just last year launched on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 under the banner Trials Fusion.

What it couldn't have forseen, however, was the sheer number of clones that popped up on the mobile store fronts. Indeed,the very game we're writing about is already available on Google Play and iOS stores and this IndieGoGo campaign is all about bringing the game to a wider audience.

Unlike many of its clone brothers, such as "Hill Climb Racing" or "Up Hill Racing", Road Racer Hills is commendably free of the concept of in-app purchases, at least for now. You earn upgrades for your vehicle by simple progression through the game and not by buying, say, 10,000 coins for $5.

The upgrades are extensive. The usual upgrades for your car are available, including suspension, engine, fuel tank, turbo and so on. You can also buy alternative vehicles from a reasonably sane number of options. Finally, there are pets that will grant certain abilities at key moments, such as a slow motion feature, or flipping the car if it's going to land upside down. Developer Blue River Arts are also adding a few ideas of their own to keep gameplay fresh. There is, for example, a day/night cycle which will require you to upgrade your headlights for better visibility and there's even a weather system which will affect game play - wind, rain and snow affecting your traction and air time.

This is an IndieGoGo Flexible Funding campaign, which means that your pledge will be taken immediately, regardless of whether the campaign reaches its intended target. On this occasion, we feel that this shouldn't bother you because you can already download a very engaging alpha version right now. There are a handful of early bird offers at $10, then your pledge of $20 will secure you a desktop licence.

Winterflame: The Other Side

Puzzle adventure with beautiful graphics and certain similarities to Teslagrad. Day 1 Linux support not guaranteed. Goal: $68kCAD; more than 70% raised, 11 days to go. (Ends on 29 May)

If you love adventure puzzle platformers like Rochard and Teslagrad, Winterflame: The Other Side is sure to pique your interest. It's a gorgeous looking fantasy game where you use different elemental powers to solve dozens of puzzles across five distinct areas. The creators also promise an epic story line based on an award winning Indonesian novel series.

Lev, the protagonist of the upcoming game, has a special gauntlet that enables him to wield powers based on the four elements of nature. One is a root that can be used both as a grappling hook to gain altitude and to pull objects. Another is a protective bubble, which also gives Lev the ability to levitate. The last two powers are projectiles, where the fire element heats and burns things, and the wind element creates a vortex that pulls on loose objects. It will also be possible to combine these elements for other effects.

The game has been a surprise hit on Kickstarter so far, enough that it is closing in on its $68k CAD goal, with a few days left of the campaign. You can help get it over the finish line by pledging at least $20 CAD for a digital copy of the game. Their primary focus seems to be on the Steam platform, where they were greenlit after just a week.

Power Drive 2000

The youngest among our readership may not be aware of it, but there was a time not so long ago (it's not that long ago, right? RIGHT???) when if you wanted something to succeed, you had to put 2000 somewhere in its name. Now, 15 years into the then mythical and fascinating 21st century, arrives Power Drive 2000. It's an arcade racer trapped in the 80's vision of what the year 2000 would look like: lots of neon lights and a mind-bogglingly technologically advanced car with turbo boosts and a talking on-board computer.

Gameplay-wise, it only offers two main mechanics: boosting and drifting. The main catch is that the former totally relies on the latter, i.e. in order to charge your boost you'll first have to drift along some curves. Easy concept to grasp, but quite difficult to master in an optimal form as to be the best driver of the year 2000. To kind of compensate for such a reduced set of game mechanics Power Drive 2000 offers up to 6 different race modes, including an outrun mode in which you'll have to escape from a police helicopter, or a vaporizer mode without checkpoints and with deadly fences all along the track.

Judging from the available videos the game looks pretty fast and fluid, but what promises to set it apart is its massive soundtrack, made by a looong list of synthwave artists. In order to get it -along with the game, of course- you'll need to fork out $37CAD, but for only $12CAD you can secure a copy of the game. A DRM copy of the game, mind you: in a certainly strange decision from the devs, if you want it DRM-free you'll have to up your pledge to $18CAD.

Dimension Drive

When we were preparing the previous issue of The Funding Crowd, we considered talking about an interesting mix of SHMUP and puzzler by the name of Dimension Drive, but in the end it didn't make it to the final article. Which was probably a good thing, as during the last few hours of the campaign the devs went from hell to heaven and back when a life-saving, last-minute €7k pledge was revealed as fraudulent and thus the game wasn't funded after all.

But the guys from 2Awesome Studio, far from accepting defeat, they immediately launched a new campaign and they are determined to get funded this time. And certainly the second time seems to be the carm for them as, with more than 3 weeks to go, they have already beaten their previous funding mark. So, with its success being almost a certainty, let's talk about what it is about. As we said earlier Dimension Drive is something of a puzzle-SHMUP, but to quote its devs we'll add that it's «a comic book-styled space adventure set in a multidimensional universe.» Since saving the Earth is so cliché here the player, taking up the role of Jackelyne Tywood in her ship The Manticore, will have to save the entire universe from being conquered by the nasty Ashajuls. This warrior race have been conquering the universe one dimension at a time with the help of the Dimension Drive. Luckily, Jackelyne's ship is also equipped with a Dimension Drive, so she's the only hope we have against them.

This backstory perfectly sets up the stage for the game's main mechanic: each level is split in two different halves, and the ship has the ability to warp/teleport between them at will. Moreover the ship's weapons consume energy, and this energy can only be regained by destroying enemies... in the other side. So there's an added strategical element to it, which forces the player to constantly shift between one half of the screen to another, be it to regain some energy to be able to keep fighting, or also to avoid unpassable obstacles.

Some might think that lack of multiplayer is a severe drawback, but we sincerely don't know how it could be successfully implemented given this game's foundational premises. And anyway, as we also mentioned, the Kickstarter campaign is well on its way towards being overfunded, so there certainly seems to be a numerous target public for the game as it is. If you feel you're part of this public, you only need to pledge €12 to secure a DRM-free copy plus a Steam key. Double it (€25) for beta access and your name in the credits.

Conclusion

So that was Issue 46, a Palladium paradise indeed. What will issue 47 bring? More Messier objects, almost certainly, but the number 47 is also notable for the designation of the most popular military rifle in the world, the international dialling code for Norway, and for being JJ Abraham's favourite number. Who knew?

More relevant, however, is that's it's the name of the Agent from the Hitman video series.

Issue 47 will be on Gaming On Linux's screens on or around June 15th. See you then!

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, or indeed, The Twilight Zone! 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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Bloodstained: banner, screen Winterflame: banner, screen Hero-U: banner, screen Road Racer Hills: banner, screen Umbra: banner, screen (resized) Through the Woods banner, screen (resized) Oak Island: banner, screen (resized) Apartment: banner, screen (resized) Power Drive 2000: banner, screen (resized) Dimension Drive: banner, screen (resized) Voxelnauts: banner, screen