8th February 2015

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Draft targeted for 2015-02-08

Covers crowdfunding news from 2014-11-30 through 2015-02-08

Volunteers

Collect candidate projects: <NAME>

Nominate projects: Flesk, DrMcCoy (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>

Graphics: Speedster

Working space

Nominated projects

Biggies

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

STRAFE®

Starr Mazer

RetroBlazer

Hidden Gems

Moonman

Children of Morta

Faded

This Is the Police

Vidar - an RPG Puzzler where Everyone Dies

Orphan

Article content

Intro paragraph

Welcome again to The Funding Crowd! After our latest article in which we reviewed some of our favorite successful projects from last year, here comes a regular issue with our first selection of Biggies and Gems of 2015. As always we've tried to bring as varied a selection as possible to you, but this time around maybe we've leaned a little more toward pixel-art and retro-looking projects than usual. However, we can assure you that every single pick is worth at least of your interest. Whether it also deserves your money only you can decide, so let's get started with the Gems!

What Happened

Despite much water passing under the bridge since our last regular issue, let's take a quick look at the winners among our excellent pre-holiday selections. After all, these are projects that we can look forward to having on Linux in the future.

Winners

Per our traditional order, first the Gems:

Yes, Your Grace is probably the most "Hidden" of our Hidden Gems, being a small project without any buzz outside of hard-core crowdfunding articles such as TFC. Luckily their goal was appropriately modest for their limited media reach, so they were able to attain victory with £7,192 out of £6,000 goal.

Good news for intrepid flying explorers -- InnerSpace successully funded with a respectable $28k out of $25k.

Crossing Souls reached almost $52k by attracting over 1700 backers interested in their pixel-y portrayal of action and adventure with a crazy plot inspired by 80's cartoons.

Hollow Knight, the metroidvania with a beautiful and unique visual style, was a major success -- reaching $57kAUD out of a goal of $35kAUD.

The emotionally-charged adventure That Dragon, Cancer ended up another big success, well past the $85k goal with over $104k pledges.


Finally, the Biggies:

As could be predicted from the start, the Thimbleweed campaign by the crazy minds behind classic adventure Maniac Mansion (Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick) was a smash hit! The final pledge level of $626k covers not only the popular "Talkies" stretch goal (voice acting) but also the "Jab and Smoosh" stretch goal (Android/iOS ports).

In contrast, Prismata sci-fi strategy campaign ended up funded at exactly the base goal, after some backers lowered pledges at the last minute. Perhaps having put in a higher pledge than they were really comfortable with, and lowering after enough other people had pledged to ensure success without their initial high-level pledges. Or perhaps it was a group of trolls who wanted to pull their pledges, but got caught by the kickstarter rule forbidding pledge-lowering that moves a project back from success to failure during the final 24-hours... we'll probably never know.

Biggies

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

First off, a quick reminder that Herebrained Schemes' Shadowrun: Hong Kong campaign is still running for another week or so. As reported earlier by GOL it got funded -more than twice!- during its very first day, and it is currently trending towards breaking the $1M barrier with most certainty.

What can we say about the Shadowrun franchise that you don't already know? Little to nothing indeed, so if you enjoyed Returns and especially Dragonfall we can just recommend you back Hong Kong now so this new game can be still better. And if you've never played the previous installments of the saga, what are you waiting for? Go get them and with any luck you'll fall in love with them just in time to back this campaign before it ends.

STRAFE®

Here's a game that's being marketed as an FPS from 1996. And, judging by its website and by its trailer (for the love of all that is good and decent, make sure to watch its hilarious trailer!), you would certainly be excused for thinking STRAFE® was really released almost 20 years ago. But once you look into the details, its real age becomes apparent: high resolution, procedurally generated levels, Oculus Rift compatibility, weapon upgrades and power-ups... Most of the characteristics of modern games are present, but without giving up on what made those foundational FPSs from the 90's so appealing: ultra-fast-pace gameplay, a solid single-player experience, non-recharging health, and lots of persistent blood and gore that you leave behind in a true trail of death and destruction fashion, to mention only a few.

As was usually the case with the good old FPSs of the pre-Half-Life era, in STRAFE® the story is not exactly the game's strong suit: you're a space scrapper embarked on a dangerous but potentially highly lucrative mission to the confines of the galaxy. Obviously, something goes horribly wrong during the mission and you end up fighting horde after horde of blood-thirsty low-poly enemies for your life. To that end you'll have 3 different initial guns at your disposal, each one with a primary and a secondary firing methods which can be affected by power-ups you collect along the way, plus several additional secret weapons that are hidden throughout the levels. And here we can find yet another parallel between STRAFE® and the classics of the genre: thorough exploration will be rewarded with a wide variety of hidden secrets, ranging from the aforementioned secret weapons, to secret levels, new game modes, or even mini-games.

There's only one teenie catch with this project, albeit a potentially catastrophic one: Linux support is not 100% guaranteed and it will depend on the devs' ability to not produce a shitty port. Let's just hope they try really hard so they succeed in the end!

The campaign has already surpassed its midpoint and, although more than 2,000 backers have shown interest in the project, creators Pixel Titans need to do better than this in order to reach their ambitious $185k goal. The entry fee for those interested is set at $15 for a copy of the game, $25 for the game and the soundtrack, or $50 for Early Shareware access.


Starr Mazer

Another kickstarter campaign that calls back to the 90s is Starr Mazer. Starr Mazer is a hybrid of your common point-and-click adventure game and a classic shoot'em up (yes, you heard that correctly) in glorious 16-bit-era pixel design.

As weird as this combination sounds, the aim is to blend the parts together seamlessly, without feeling like merely two different games pasted together. You'll walk into the docking bay, board your ship and control the flight sequence, blasting off to space. You'll be bargaining deals at the bar in order to afford repairs and upgrades. And you'll freely pick and choose your destinations and routes in what they call "Open-Middled Gameplay": different parts of the game can be played in any order, but your actions in each part will modify outcomes and affect the future.

The plot is space opera-ish: it's 130 years after the Great War. The universe is splintered into a vast number of squabbling factions, without any hope for unity and peace. Enter Brick M. Stonewood, a space pilot who was found in stais in an escape pod. He needs to unravel the mysteries of his past, and will hopefully rise to the occasion of being the hero this universe so desperately needs.

As mentioned above, the art mirrors the pixel art of yore; the music is similarly inspired by the olden days: chiptunes! Two dozens accomplished chiptune composers are onboard, among them Alex Mauer (Vegavox), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), virt (Shovel Knight) and Phlogiston (Spelunky). For people into this genre of music, the soundtrack is bound to be a feast for the ears.

Funding success is still up in the air, with only 11 days left and just about $100,000 of the $160,000 funded. So, give them a hand, will ya? It's only $15 for the game, and $40 if you also want the chiptuney soundtrack (and who doesn't?).

Hidden Gems

Children of Morta

The campaign for the story-driven hack 'n' slash Children of Morta launched on Kickstarter last month. After barely three weeks, they've reached their ambitious $65K goal and are now chasing stretch goals. It's no wonder people are excited about it either, as the pitch video both looks and sounds great with its detailed pixel-art and epic orchestral music.

The story follows the Bergson family, who has been guarding Mount Morta for generations. Coming from a family of guardians, the children have been trained for combat from a young age and are all skilled warriors. And when a tragic event corrupts the roots of life under Mount Morta, turning animals into demonic creatures, they will have to put their skills to the test to try and purge the mountain of the evil. The father of the household, his four sons and daughters and his nephew are all competent fighters with their own unique combat skills. Those unable to fight aid the cause in other ways, like forging weapons or creating potions.

Despite its focus on narrative, the developers, Dead Mage, emphasize that the game is at heart a hack 'n' slash, and as such does not have the focus on stats and leveling up that is typical of action RPGs. Instead it introduces elements inspired by roguelikes, like permadeath and procedurally generated content. It will be especially interesting to see how procedural narrative events will be told in order to create a cohesive whole with the main story line.

Dead Mage is also the developer of ninja action platformer Shadow Blade: Reload, which is in Early Access on Steam. Shadow Blade: Reload currently only supports Windows and Mac, but a Linux version will soon be available. Children of Morta is already past the pre-production stage and is scheduled for a beta in October.

Moonman

Moonman is a procedurally generated adventure platformer with mining and crafting. You play as the titular character, summoned by an ancient mollusc to gather moon fragments to power a great star-machine. Each of these fragments will be hidden in pre-determined but procedurally generated regions. It's no surprise that games like Spelunky and Terraria are mentioned as inspirations. The blend sounds intriguing though, and with two years in full production, the game already appears to be chock full of content.

If you're curious about the project at its current state, the developer, Benjamin Porter, has uploaded a few alpha footage videos on his YouTube channel. Funding of this project will cover additional artwork, music and programming to ensure that it reaches the developer's full vision of the project. The campaign is fully funded at this point, but with only a couple of days left of the project, time is running out on the stretch goals.

This Is the Police

You click the Play button for the pitch video of This Is the Police and you are greeted by a familiar voice: none other than Jon St. John's. Renowned for incarnating Duke Nukem and, more recently, John Rochard in the eponymous games, here he plays as Jack Boyd, the soon-to-retire police chief of the fictional city of Freeburg. In a genuine film noir style he proceeds to explain us his life: how he became the youngest head of the department after being severely injured while on duty, how he's always abided by the law, and how he's now pissed off by everyone and everything and has decided to make a killing out of his last 6 months on the job.

This is the main premise of the game, a corrupt-policeman simulator rendered in an artsy graphic style with faceless people, slightly reminiscent of former TFC Hidden Gem The Sun Also Rises. But while there this artistic decision served the purpose of letting the player better empathize with the characters, we strongly suspect that here it is used to the exact contrary. However not everything will be crime and corruption in This Is the Police, as after all there's still a police department to run during these 180 days, and you as the player will need to decide how to play and how far you're prepared to go to accomplish Jack's plans. In doing so you'll make use of the game's mechanics: part narrative adventure, part pure strategy. At any given moment you'll have to handle an inquisitive press conference, or decide how to allocate your resources -both material and human- between the different missions requiring your actions throughout the city.

Belarusian Weappy Studio devs are regularly providing more information and backstory to the game in the campaign updates in the form of 10 issues of the Freeburg Tribune, one every 10% funding milestone is achieved. Currently standing a little above the 65% funding mark, this means that 6 issues of The Tribune have already been released. You can help them make it to the 10th release by backing this original and exciting project: $12 will secure you a DRM-free copy of the game plus a Steam key, and if you want beta access that will set you back $65. But beware: Linux (and Mac) support is conditioned to a stretch goal set at $5k over the base goal of $25k. Quite a reasonable stretch but a stretch nonetheless, so you'll better hold your horses until that $30k figure is reached -- something that, end-of-campaign rush aside, doesn't seem very likely right now, sadly.

Conclusion

And that was all for the moment. We expect to meet all of you again in our next issue of The Funding Crowd, in which we'll try to keep showing that videogames crowdfunding is not dead. So why are you still reading?! Get your wallets out and go get pledging... these games aren't going to make themselves!

Usual plea for help:

Please PM one of the team: (scaine, Speedster, and muntdefems and new recruit flesk) 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.

See you next time!

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