Kickstarter Katchup 2nd June 2012

By John Walker on June 2nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

I'll figure out a better logo eventually.

The pace of change in Kickstarter is perhaps the most interesting thing. Just a weekly dip reveals enormous changes, successful and failed projects, and perhaps most revealing of all, those stuck and static. So once again, here’s a round-up of what’s going on in PC projects.

A quick note: saying, “But what about X?” in the comments won’t get anywhere. Email me via my name above to bring projects to my attention. And as ever, our including a project here is not an endorsement, and we are in no way saying that you should give it your money. You can make that decision for yourself.

First off, it seems relevant to mention that I was on NPR’s On The Media this week, briefly talking about Kickstarters. The edit is a bit odd, meaning we leap back and forth between talking about KS and the mainstream, but the gist is there. You can also hear Tim Schafer talking about his success with the project here.

Here are this week’s successful projects:

Malevolence – The INFINITE RPG! – Malevolence

With a week left on the excitedly named turn-based RPG, this has already blitzed its tiny $6k funding goal. Currently at $15,565, that could keep going up in the last push. I’m always wary when targets are so incredibly low – what can you really do with six thousand? But with so much more coming in, the single-player infinite game is actually mostly done. They’re looking for polish, on top of their current team of 39 people around the world. I’m not sure how much polish they thought they could buy for such a tiny amount, but it seems the community has decided to fund them more sensibly. It’s worth watching the film on this one to see their extraordinary claims.

Carmageddon: Reincarnation – Stainless Games

As we mentioned, this has swooped past its goal, now on $491,730 of their original $400,000 aim. And you’ll be able to hear Stainless talking about their success at Rezzed. Details here.

Kinetic Void – Badland Studio

As we said a couple of days ago, Kinetic Void’s space explorer just succeeded, with $66k raised at the very last moment. You can continue to fund it further, by pre-ordering via their Paypal.

Kitaru – Aoineko Studios

So we should definitely be seeing the iPhone and PC Japanese-styled RPG, hopefully by October. They made just shy of $30,000, while only asking for $25,000, so I imagine they’re chuffed.

Paper Knights Story – In-Qu Games

Despite only asking for a thousand bucks, this one looked wavering last week. But the Paper Mario-inspired 2D RPG is now clear of that on $1,167, and has eight days left.

Pathfinder Online Technology Demo – Goblinworks

This one’s remarkable. It’s not fundraising for a game, but just a tech demo to prove that an MMO based on the Pathfinder table-top RPG is feasible. And despite that, it’s raised $139,000 after asking only for $50k. There are six days left too. This is clearly an incredibly ambitious project, and the enthusiasm demonstrated is surely a good sign as they go on to seek much larger funding elsewhere.

Here are those still in progress:

Two Guys SpaceVenture – Two Guys From Andromeda

Despite a non-stop barrage of updates (a ridiculous 29 so far, so many of them not relevant to this project), this one has sat relatively still for a week. While the $50,000 they’ve raised in a week is a lot of cash, it still leaves them well over $200,000 from their half million goal, with only ten days to go. I’m not sure endlessly updating to those who’ve already donated is the route to success for this one, but we’ve seen plenty of projects reach their targets in a big push in the last week. Oh, and they’ve revealed a character. Cluck Y’egger Astro Cock.

Rob Swigart’s Portal (1986) Reborn v2.0 – Subliminal Games

Creeping incredibly slowly, this impressive-sounding project has only made about $3,000 in the last week, and when aiming for $530,000 that’s not a great sign. There are still four weeks to go, and this is already a revised attempt, after previously pitching for closer to a million. I’m fairly sure the name can’t be helping. While there will be those who are nostalgic for the original game, I’m pretty sure “Portal” is a name the vast majority associate elsewhere, and the mad muddle of the temporary title doesn’t clear much up. It’ll also be interesting to see if Valve ever reacts to this one. Clearly Swigart has the prior art, and Valve aren’t exactly in the best position with their nabbing “DOTA”, but I can imagine if this were to succeed there could still be a tussle.

Skyjacker – DIGITILUS

Last week’s relaunch of the Kickstarter has seen it pretty much gather back what it had last time, but this time with an enormous 50 days still to go. That’s $43k of their $200k target. They’re being pretty quiet in terms of updates for the space sim, which with so much time left is reasonable, but they don’t want to get caught sleeping.

Word Realms – Asymmetric

As ever, I am confused how the Kingdom Of Loathing community didn’t just fund this one day one. And yet it continues to crawl incredibly slowly. With just a few thousand raised in the last week, at $53,500 they are now at least over halfway to their total. And with 19 days to go, I’m fairly sure this will gradually get there. Again, slow to update, and not really responding helpfully to the main objection – OMG the graphics r sux – I think they could probably be doing more to win attention.

Always Outnumbered – SRRN Games/GO Gaming

I think it’s safe to say this one isn’t going to make it. With less than $10k raised – barely over $1,500 made this week – of a $175,000 goal, and only five days left, it doesn’t look likely that the multiplayer tower defence will be receiving anything. It’ll be interesting to see if they pull the plug before it’s over, and try a different approach.

Edge Of Space – HandyMan Studios

They’re going to need a big push if the space-based multiplayer platformer is going to make it. At $15,500 of $25,000, the Terraria-alike has only five days to go. But with only $10 netting you a copy of the game when it’s done, hopefully by this August, I wonder if a push to sell it that way might get them there. Touch and go on this one.

Tex Murphy: Project Fedora – Chris Jones & Aaron Conners

It’s a slow plod for these guys, but a convincing one. With just under two weeks left, they’re at $336k with $450,000 to reach. A rather strange tactic was to announce that Tex Murphy has been kidnapped, and will be murdered unless they get 4,500 backers by Wednesday. Currently on 3,900, they may have plotted themselves into a troubling hole there. This is made all the more confusing by its being Jones, who plays Tex, telling us that he’s kidnapped. Er, no, you’re sat right there silly. Anyway, it’s good to see them having fun with it all, and with just over $100k to go, there’s a lot of work yet to do. But I’ve a suspicion this one will get there.

Sam Suede – Wisecrack Games

What a confusing one this one’s been. With some saying Al Lowe endorsed it, and others who work with Lowe saying he did not, it’s been a mess. However, the result seems to be a redrafting of the main page to reduce the suggestion that Lowe is working on it – he’s not, but he has in the past – and there’s an update that tries to clarify the palava. There’s a lengthy 43 days to go, and the fuss certainly drew publicity to the project, but it hasn’t really brought in much accompanying cash. Of their enormous half million target, only $4,834 is in there so far, despite all the attention.

Townseed – Geremy Walker

Over on 8-Bit Funding, despite not being able to spell “Jeremy”, Walker does seem to have a nice idea for Townseed. Described as a “strategy sandbox simulation game”, you must build a thriving town in a world of monsters. Making the mistake of not cutting straight to the game in his video, once you’re there it does sound interesting. He’s only after $8,000, and is already over half way with 29 days left.

And here are those that unfortunately haven’t made it:

Realm Of The Explorer – Realmsource

The nice sounding sandbox RPG didn’t manage to hook us, and it looks like it didn’t manage to hook the community either. It’s now definitively unsuccessful, with just $13k of their large $250,000 target reached. Fortunately the team remains optimistic, and plans to continue trying to develop, with a public alpha planned for this year.

Storybricks – Storybricks

Jim is especially sad to see this one fail. It sounded fantastic, a tool for telling stories. But it failed to catch a wave, and ended yesterday on only $23,680 of a large $250,000 goal. They plan to “fight the odds” and continue with development. And they plan to return to Kickstarter when they’ve actually got a game to go with their toolkit, which sounds like a great plan.

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70 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    A little sad to see the Two Guys from Andromeda so far from their total.

    They’ve released a couple of “prototypes”, and there’s a play-through of those over here by a fan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9or5bKHW0Jw

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s saddening, but not unexpected.

      I want to see that they’re ready to make a good game, I really do, but everything so far has been awkward and directionless.

      • sirspate says:

        It sounds like Two Guys from Andromeda are having fun with this, but from playing the prototype it feels like it’s at my expense. I’m just not interested in playing the type of game they’re interested in designing. Deaths followed by long tongue-in-cheek narratives just aren’t my thing.

        They had me at space comedy adventure game. They lost me a minute into playing their prototype. (Well, 10s. I died on my first click..)

      • Armante says:

        I initially supported this one at a basic tier, of getting just the game.
        Then the endless updates came out, more and more of ‘the two guys’ was revealed and relived –
        and I just didn’t like it. I thought back on SQ games, and decided to leave it resting in Nostalgia.
        I pulled the support, spent it on Lilly Looking Back instead.

  2. Joshua Northey says:

    Love on the media, and enjoy this site, was shocked to hear you on there. Good job though, and great accent.

    I do wonder what will happen when we get the first string of failures (I wouldn’t expect a success rate much above 50%). Hopefully most of us will be bright enough to differentiate the wheat from the chaff.

    • Fuzzball says:

      I read somewhere that the success rate for Kickstarter projects is about 46%, so.

      • Veav says:

        I think he’s talking about a failure to deliver – the kickstarter succeeds, the end product never arrives. Which is going to be a scary time when it happens to a big-name project.

        • Salt says:

          Scarier still when it happens to a “small name” project that managed to get a lot of support. I have a nasty feeling that the message many people will take away is to only trust projects from Tim Schafer. Which will lead to crowd funding only being useful to those that are already “established industry veterans”.

  3. sparks50 says:

    I sent a mail about Ground Branch being on KS. Kind of excited about it, though 425k sounds a bit too optimistic to me.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/670743543/ground-branch

    • xGryfter says:

      Ground Branch sounds pretty amazing. I hope they reach their goal, it’ll be nice to have a shooter where you actually have to think about your actions before hand. I can’t remember the last time I played a shooter where you actually had to be awake to complete. I just hope it will have a single-player campaign.

    • Njordsk says:

      Nice project, I loved some good ol’ GR or R6.

      i’m not much into KS funding though.

      Seems a little too much enthousiast, like “hey we put everything that is cool in our game”. If they can make it i’ll be the first to buy a copy.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      They need to fix the name but fast. It’s not quite “Crowdsourced Hardcore Tactical Shooter”, but it’s pretty close. And at least that name was transparent; I clicked through, and I still have no idea what the hell that name means. “Ground Branch”? Those are two boring-ass words, and putting them together does not make them any less boring. It also doesn’t explain the game very well. My first thought was of a mascot platformer, then a Flash game where you have to grind up a branch. Neither encourages me to click through – and I like mascot platformers.

      That said, the guys trying to make these old-school tactical shooters really have their work cut out for them name-wise, because there aren’t a lot of exciting names I can think of that wouldn’t also remind people of stuff like Call of Duty. Shit, EA just called a game “Warfighter”. If they can’t think of a better name, I don’t know how the guys who came up with “Rogue Spear” are supposed to.

      Hmm, what about “Ingress”?

      Whatever. Point is, I’m not backing it until they change the name.

      Also, man, 425K is pushing it, particularly when the guy running the Kickstarter isn’t a “name” like Schafer or Fargo. Reminds me of when Tortured Hearts asked for 300K despite being a team of NWN modders.

      • Highstorm says:

        It is a fantastically terrible name, though I interpreted it as like the “ground branch” of the military as opposed to the air branch or sea branch.

        It is bad, though I don’t see why that alone should discourage you from funding if you support the actual concepts on display.

      • BOTA49 says:

        Ground Branch is actually a branch of the CIAs Special Activities Division. It’s not nearly as well known as the SEAL teams or the like, but the idea behind the game is to go for realism, and rather than create a fictitious unit, like the Ghosts or Rainbow, John wanted to use a real black ops unit.

    • Highstorm says:

      I love that they nicknamed their $10k tier “The Notch”.

    • Joseph says:

      Eugh. Ground branch was announced over five years ago and has made virtually no progress, it seems. Wouldnt throw my money at a project like that.

      • BOTA49 says:

        It was announced then, yes, but at that point it was hardly more than a thought. It was made known long before most games are announced in their development cycle. Plus there has been a TON of work done already behind the scenes, a lot of which the Donators (from several years ago) have been able to see first hand already. It may have looked like nothing much was going on, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

        • sparks50 says:

          It has also been on the backburner many years while the developer has been working on other projects including training software for the military.

          • BOTA49 says:

            True, but John had to take a paying job to feed his wife and 2 kids. The project was never deserted. To say that there was virtually no progress done though is completely wrong and couldn’t be further from the truth. Being one of the original donors has its benefits :)

  4. caddyB says:

    Well is it safe to say now the kickstarter craze is dying down? I mean, at least on the backer’s side, some backs must be hurting after all the gold rush.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Yeah, I’ve still been backing stuff, but I think most devs, indie and established, would do well to ball on Kickstarter for a couple of months while people’s bank accounts recover. Feels like a real feast-or-famine market to me.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think that the explosion shoved a lot of good games on Kickstarter, and now the pacing is returning to something more sustainable. Most games made are crap, but this list had a few promising candidates.

      I’d still jump on an Obsidian one. Even after the disappointment of Dungeon Siege.

  5. Moraven says:

    Do not see why a Kickstarter would be wasting money on going to places such as PAX Prime.

    My money is supposed to be used to help you make/finish the game. Not help you advertise so you can make more profits after the fact.

    • sparks50 says:

      I think a KS can have two different uses: helping a developer make a product, or giving you a product for a reduced price later on.

      It doesn’t have to be a charity case for it to be a good Kickstarter to take part in.

    • Lemming says:

      Maybe the KS is because they can’t afford to market their product. Makes perfect sense to me. Not everything is going to be about coding and artwork.

  6. Premium User Badge

    phlebas says:

    The Portal(1986) project seems to be doing a good job of making sure upfront that people are aware it’s not connected to the Valve game, and the FAQ says they’ll be renaming the game as soon as the project completes. Not that that looks likely at the moment, which is a shame.

  7. Torgen says:

    Well, that “Townseed” sounds like a a deliberate ripoff of “Towns” even down to the “get as close as possible to the existing competition in order to sow confusion” name.

    • Salt says:

      It seems Townseed has you controlling an individual who builds stuff and goes on to recruit labourers to help.
      Towns has no such direct control, instead the player controls the actions of their citizens primarily by issuing build orders and placing stockpiles. Which incidentally is how Dwarf Fortress works too.

      The names are a bit unfortunately similar, but if a game’s named so generically as “Towns” one can’t really complain when a similar name comes along. Unless you’re a multinational corporation of course.

  8. karthink says:

    I just listened to your NPR interview, and John Walker, you are an articulate man.

    How?! Teach us!

  9. Solidstate89 says:

    It’s sad to see that Portal most likely will not get made again. I never got a chance to play the original (never heard of it either – came out before I was born) but when I saw the artwork in the last Katchup article I just had to research more. The storyline, the world, the plot is all so incredibly fascinating. I couldn’t help but donate to it.

    It looks like it will be all for naught though.

  10. JackDandy says:

    Poor, poor Tex Murphy- I have no interest in the game, but it’s just so cheesy and hopeful, I’ll feel sad if they don’t make it.

  11. Paul says:

    Of all those, the only one I care about besides Carma is Tex Murphy. It needs to suceed.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I just completed Under A Killing Moon for the first time. I bought it in the recent GOG.com sale. Then I instantly bought the sequels and have just thrown money at the Kickstarter. Can’t believe I missed these for so long.

    • maladroid says:

      The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the Double Fine Adventure’s launch, was: “that’s what the Tex guys need to do to get ol’ Murphy out of limbo!”. I’m optimistic, things are looking good so far even though I would prefer for it to zoom past the minimum and go for stretch goals. But, who knows, we might get there eventually :)

      It’s also quite neat to see some of the old regulars helping out with the campaign (Archie Ellis being the most recent). Despite being so carefully designed and technically impressive for their time, I always got the feeling that the Tex Murphy games were more a labour of love than anything else and it clearly shows with the general vibe of their Fedora campaign.

    • Sic says:

      Indeed.

      Brilliant games.

  12. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Malevolence sounds brilliant!

  13. Salix says:

    Is it just me, or does the update to Sam Suede not actually clarify anything? The guy says he and Al came up with the original design but nowhere does he say that Al isn’t actually working on the game. Same with the redraft; all they did was remove the cartoon right at the beginning, Al is still included in the team section.

  14. Oneironaut says:

    Does anyone know anything about Kitaru? I’m always interested in seeing more JRPGs on the PC, and the video looks like they’ve already got a good portion of the game done, but my only worry is that it looks too good to be true.

  15. Kadayi says:

    Ooh didn’t know Aoineko Studios were making a game. They did a rather splendid animated film a few years ago about a robot girl (youtube below) and their music was pretty awesome. Not to sure what to make of the game, but glad to hear they got funding.

  16. Demiath says:

    Great to see Malevolance on Kickstarter; have been keeping an eye on that game for a while now and despite a very ambitious design it really does seem that they will be able to deliver on their gameplay promises. Portal is intriguing but not having heard of the C64 original – nor read any rose-tinted retrospective of it anywhere – makes me wonder if it was any good the first time around.

  17. Alexander Norris says:

    Why post about the Pathfinder tech demo, John? It’s an MMO that has no chance of seeing light of day (they don’t have a team, any licensing agreements or anything in place at all) and they are asking people to give them money to make a tech demo to get more money. It’s a borderline scam.

    • JFS says:

      They do in fact have a licensing agreement with Paizo (https://goblinworks.com/news/, second post) – what else do you think they need? Licenses for middleware, tools, engines and the like? Like every other project that is in pre-production. They also seem to have a team, at least a core team – would you hire people if you’re unsure whether you can secure the money? Also, they’re quite upfront about taking the Kickstarter money to show it off to investors to rope them in. They’re not the first to do this. Where exactly is the problem?

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      There’s quite a lot of CCP DNA in the team.

      Investing in a tech demo does seem rather pointless though, unless you’re a rabid fan of the source material, which seems to be factor in this bid’s success.

      • JFS says:

        I agree with you on that. One shouldn’t underestimate the rabidity of Pathfinder fans, though. They are quite a lot, vocal, and they seem to have money. That’s why I think the tech demo isn’t such a bad idea, because its crowdsourcing shows there is a market there.

  18. Tergiver says:

    I’m waiting to become a backer until Zork comes along.

    • Veav says:

      That would be absolutely incredible… I suspect whoever owns Zork is in fact retired by now. :|

  19. Solanaceae says:

    RPS you need to cover ground branch on KS!!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Ksempac says:

    I’ve been following Kickstarter’s trends before the Double Fine one (mostly because boardgamers have been using before video games), and though the rush of video games fans was noticeable after DF, it seems we’re currently having a slowdown…many projects, both big and small, barely make it at the last minute.

    It seems gamers need to hide behind a wall a bit and regenerate their wallet before rushing out again at new Kickstarters.

    So I would say this isn’t a good time to start a new video game Kickstarter (on the other hand, boardgames are doing great)

    • Veav says:

      I wish there were more boardgames with a single player campaign. My buddies all tend to move to other states. :|

      Boardgames on kickstarter have a significant advantage. The target audience is generally older, with mortgages and families. They have money. Videogames on the other hand target younger, trendier audiences – with less money to spend and less philanthropic tendencies. That’s my take on it, YMMV.

      • malkav11 says:

        I think there’s another important difference: the videogame projects have mostly been at a conceptual or at best early alpha stage, whereas the boardgames I’ve seen are mostly already designed and feature complete at at least the basic level – the funding is more for final production costs and preorders.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ksempac says:

          Yeah you’re absolutely right, the dynamics for boardgame Kickstarters is completely different. People do their prototype on their spare time and only go to Kickstarter to get published. This mean they have rules, artworks, etc. ready to show to everyone, so you know what you’re getting, and you usually get it in a few months.

          Others things that help is the lower funding goal and the easier way to promote it (basically, talk about it on BGG, and you’ve reached the majority of the English-speaking game community).

          That doesn’t mean video game Kickstarters won’t rise up again, but simply that people need to rest a bit before they open their wallet again.

      • thunderpunchstudios says:

        Hey Veav, it turns out the project my team and I are working on (the reason I was looking for feedback in last week’s Kickstarter article) is basically a virtual board game. It plays like a board game, complete with miniatures, with singleplayer and multiplayer modes. You can check out the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SODWA.Game. Thanks again for your wonderful feedback! Thanks to you and others on this site and the Penny Arcade Kickstarter forum, we’ve decided against the idea of a multi-phase kickstarter. Hopefully we’ll have our kickstarter launched no later than the first week of May.

  21. Stratovarius says:

    Really glad to see Malevolence mentioned!
    Been following the game for quite a long time, it’s good that it’s starting to get more recognition.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I really think Malevolence was the winner of this go around. The amount of polish they list seems slightly optimistic, but much closer to realization than some of the projects. I really hope it hits 20k, and at 17.4k and six days I think it will.

      I don’t have the money to pledge right now, but I’ll probably buy it when I can.

  22. TheWanderer says:

    What, no love for Xenonauts? Their entire income before Kickstarter was around $50k. After the Kickstarter, they’ve tripled their operating budget! Another $30 odd k and we get another tileset.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/69341191/xenonauts

    7 days left!!!

  23. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Still haven’t funded anything on KS.

    Probably never going to.

    Did fund the new Ben Folds 5 album on the music specialist KS-alike though, so I guess that’s where my priorities are.

  24. CKScientist says:

    Its weird how the NPR interviewer sounds like a real person, while John just sounds like some dude who has turned up.

  25. Cugel says:

    TorchShips is still running as well. It’s a realistic space combat sim with newtonian mechanics and all that jazz.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/product7/torchships-real-3-d-space-combat

  26. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    It’s a lot easier to get my money if you have something to show me. The Grim Dawn guys had a very nice demo to show which made me very interested in it and now they have my money.

    The guys from andromeda trailer just talk about their game with nothing to show.

  27. thejobloshow says:

    Hey RPS, I think you should mention Lilly Looking Through in these Katchups!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/516151670/lilly-looking-through-an-animated-adventure-game

    It’s a point and click adventure game with a whimsical world and Myst-like puzzles! They have a playable demo and are only asking for a modest 18,000. The demo sells this project, even you guys praised it!