Kickstarter Katchup – 6th October 2012

By Adam Smith on October 6th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

It’s glum in the Katchup this week and I’ve been spending most of this fine Saturday morning wiping the tears from my eyes with a twenty pound note. If only I’d pledged it to the promise of a game instead of using it as a handkerchief for all these long months. If only! Two of my personal favourites have fallen by the wayside and there’s only one winner, although it is an interesting one by virtue of not being an obvious success story, powered to victory by the presence of a celebrity developer. There are a few projects on the verge of success and if I were writing this on Monday, the ‘Winners’ column would probably be much more satisfactorily populated.

The Rules

  • Featuring a game in this list doesn’t mean we endorse it. We likely haven’t played, and as such can’t say whether it will be worth your cash. That’s your call.
  • Letting me know about a game (which you can do via my name at the top of this article) doesn’t mean it will definitely be included. Leaving links in the comments is a good way to let other readers know about projects, but please email me if you want them considered for the list.
  • We only include games where pledges reach developers only if the target is met.
  • Projects asking for fifty billion dollars, with 45c in pledges, fall off the list eventually. It gives more space for other games.
  • Projects that have reached their funding get included in the Winners list, and then aren’t featured in the weeks after that, to give more attention to those that are still needing the cash. Tough if you don’t like it.
  • If the Katchup kabin depressurises during flight, please cling to the person in the neighbouring seat and whimper like a dog in a war.

The Winners

Chris Taylor’s Arakion – Chris Taylor

$10,000 over its $25,000 target with a few hours to go, the first-person RPG is this week’s only winner. It’s been an impressive run and with no obvious springboard for success (name, history, massive coverage), Arakion seems to have succeeded simply by being a thing that people wanted, with a developer who has communicated well and often. It’s hard to pinpoint the outstanding feature that sparked peoples’ imaginations and peeled open their wallets, and maybe that’s the conclusion to take fro, Arakion. Be detailed, be modest, be a winner.

The Losers

Pro Pinball: Revived & Remastered – Silverball Studios

The age of pinball has come to an end. It’s disappointing that the beautifully rendered and constructed Pro Pinball tables won’t be receiving a jolly good remastering and a new companion, but the $400,000 target always seemed high and final pledges were less than half of that. There have been some successful pinball games in recent times, most notably perhaps Pinball FX 2 with its Marvel license and unreal but enjoyable tables. Then there’s Pinball Hall of Fame, which is apparently ready for a PC release under the title The Pinball Arcade. It’s currently on Steam Greenlight. Just sell it to us direct, Farsight, many of us clamour for its recreations of the tables of ancient times (the 20th century).

Pangenic – The Dada Factory

I guess nobody wants a turn-based tactical tale of conflict between unnatural horrors and Victorian scientists. Or maybe they want just that but from an established developer, or with better proof of concept videos, or a playable alpha…or something. As a concept, Pangenic was ticking so many of my boxes that I had to order a new set of boxes for it to tick. Ideas, so it goes, are the easy part and it’s the execution of those ideas that forms the real test. The Dada Factory plan to continue work, although progress will be slower, and you can follow them at their development blog. Best of luck to them and I’ll check in on Pangenic at a later date.

The Players

Monsters! – Zenas Bellace

Goal: $4,000
Now: $2,689
Days: 11

I’d probably follow a man called Zenas Bellace into war, but would I pledge money toward his dream to create a RoboTron style shooter about a wizard and some pesky MONSTERS! Ten dollars secures a copy of the game when it’s complete, which should be in a few months, and strong progress toward the $4,000 goal has already been made. The pixel art and chiptune soundtrack will probably make some people tip over their desks and froth at the mouth, but I think they’re utterly charming. The game apparently plays much like RoboTron 2084 but encourages even more killing by having the wizard’s attack drain his own life. The only way to get it back? Murder and devour the hearts of monsters. I don’t think you’re necessarily actually devouring them but, hey, I grew up playing Blood. I’m damaged.

Sword of Fargoal 2 – Fargoal, LLC

Goal: $50,000
Now: $24,272
Days: 7

The Fargoal team are running a fantastic Kickstarter, with frequent updates, intriguing rewards and a fine heritage. All those modern indie platformers with pixellated graphics? Pah! This is the most retro Kickstarter of all, as proved by the new Retro award tier. It’s achingly expensive at $1,000 but includes a Commodore 64 and a copy of the original Sword of Fargoal on floppy disk. No monitor, as not enough could be located, but a TV cable can be purchased to play C64 games on the biggest of screens. There are also plans for a Fargoal boardgame. Lovely.

Scrumbleship – dirkson

Goal: $8,000
Now: $6,767
Days: 11

Multiplayer space simultation Scrumbleship is another project that came close to meeting its target this week. It’s a voxel-based ship builder with an incredible degree of promised customisation:

Want to build a granite mothership with dozens of fighters? You can do that.
A spinning battleship with a three meter thick titanium hull? Sure, that too.
A butter asteroid-tug than melts whenever you turn on the engines? Of course!

Of course! The $12,000 stretch goal will see AI ships added, otherwise it’s a multiplayer affair.

Nexus 2: The Gods Awaken – HD Interactive/Most Wanted Ent

Goal: $650,000 goal
Now: $90,059
Days: 22

Nexus 2 will have to cross great space-leagues to reach its goal and while calling $70,000 in a week slow progress is madness, there’s going to have to be a big push at some point to reach the massive target. The Gods Awaken is the sequel to much-loved tactical space combat simulator The Jupiter Incident and it’s created a fair amount of excitement, but that doesn’t guarantee victory. A recent Q&A on Reddit might shed some more light on the development process and aims. There’s much more discussion of how to build a head of steam for the Kickstarter itself than of the actual game, but there’s some information on possible content and post-release support.

Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages – Ring Runner

Goal: $12,000
Now: $9,671
Days: 37

I thought Ring Runner might hit its target at some point in the last seven days and it came close but there’s still a little work to be done. With an alpha demo already available, it’s a Kickstarter that you can believe in. Whether you want to believe in a top-down space shooter RPG with more than 65 customisable ships, a 20-hour plus campaign and local coop is entirely up to you, but I reckon it’s a better thing to put your faith in than the existence of bum-probing aliens.

Blackspace – PixelFoundry

Goal: $350,000
Now: $111,826
Days: 12

Blackspace’s destructible asteroids, mining, strategising and defending haven’t been enough to provide the sort of surge that would propel it toward the $350,000 goal. Many people have voiced concern that the game might be naught more than a tower defense kind of thing, with interesting technology but no defining play mechanics. A recent update has this to say on the matter:

The story will be semi-linear with bonus/side missions provided along the way. There also may be a sandbox mode that allows you to choose to either follow the story missions or stray off the path and simply explore the asteroids. Additionally a skirmish mode will be available for honing skills and comparing stats. Much is yet to be determined and a lot will be guided by future play tests.

More details here.

MORE – IdeaLcenter

Goal: $50,000
Now: $44,416
Days: 22

There’s little new to report on the self-proclaimed “worthy successor to the classic space strategy turn games”. Still no sign of the video updates that have been talked about but it’d be a huge surprise if this doesn’t make it. I don’t really see much to make it stand out from any other attempt to revive the glory days of Master of Orion 2, which isn’t to say it doesn’t have those things, but I do want it to succeed just so that I can post it in the winners column and say: “Please, sir, can I have some MORE?” “Yes you can! In a few months time.”

Devil’s Cove Adventure Game – Anarchy Enterprises

Goal: $185,000
Now: $3,037
Days: 25

Anarchy Enterprises have made lots of games, and the majority would be labelled ‘casual games’ by many a man. Hidden object hunts, basic browser-based tycoon games and the like. Presumably, their attempt to Kickstart a more traditional point and click adventure speaks, at least a little, of an inability to gather the more extensive funding required to make a game of this type. Whatever the purse that funds the development of the rest, this dark mystery set in a cursed town requires the assistance of you, the public, and much of your money. $15 is the minimum pledge for a copy of the game and the video shows off a fair bit of the environmental and character design.

Papier Adventure – Spycraft Studios

Goal: $140,000
Now: $11,084
Days: 6

Papier has a complex 3D engine and support for all devices (Windows, Mac, iOS iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android mobile phones and tablets, and Linux), so it probably will cost quite a bit to complete. The paper aesthetic doesn’t come cheap, not like actual paper, and the target isn’t any steeper than I’d expect for a full-scale adventure in this style. With no famous name attached and updates that are more about the engine and camera as story or character, Papier is crumpling before our eyes. I’d need to see evidence of a world I can fall in love with to get on board with this.

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35 Comments »

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  1. Danda says:

    No Old-School RPG here?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It looks like they’re going to grind slowly to their goal, not sure if they’ll actually make it. Only $175,916 at this point, it’s probably not “taking off” like they wanted (i.e. like one of the other “big nostalgia” projects that hit $1 million within 2 days).

      I’d put it down to their bad initial pitch (though they have expanded the story a bit) and John Romero being near it. He’s got some good nostalgia value for a different genre, and even then Daikatana leaves a foul taste at the end of that era. The actual “frontmen” of the project aren’t as well known, though at least their work is from the correct genre.

      • InternetBatman says:

        If they make a huge effort than it might be successful, but right now its percentages look similar to Shadowrun Online, which only succeeded because the Shadowrun Returns team drummed up a lot of support for them (including an email to all the backers of Shadowrun Returns). So, if it is to be successful, it will be a long effort.

      • malkav11 says:

        John Romero’s presence in the background makes no difference to me, but a project trading on the good name of the people involved isn’t going to do nearly as well if I’ve never heard of them, as is the case here (for me, at least), and until quite recently they had not said anything of substance about the game they were proposing to make. Which I was prepared to accept from Double Fine (who’ve never yet let me down), and would have been willing to accept from Obsidian (except they actually provided and continue to provide details), on the strength of their respective track records. I don’t have that kind of history with either Tom Hall or Brenda Brathwaite. They also have some questionable stretch goals (splitting the project into two games at 1.9 million doesn’t seem enticing even now that they’ve come up with some details, much less to announce out of the gate when nothing else was known).

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          I feel pretty much the same.

        • Branthog says:

          Frankly, I’m baffled by the lack of inclusion of Old School RPG here.

          As for Romero – it was already stated in the Kickstarter (or at least in one of the comments for it) that Romero is not involved in development of the game (and I think it is classy of them not to capitalize on his name, which would be enough to make a kickstarter fund quickly, no matter what your opinion of him).

          As for the comment about trading on the names of people you’ve never heard of . . . that’s hardly *their* fault. They may not be known to every gamer on the planet, but Brenda and Tom are kind of established names in the world of gaming. I mean, maybe if RPGs aren’t your thing, I could kind of see how knowing Brenda. But everyone should at least know the co-founder of reaking iD.

          Anyway, I gladly backed the project and I hope it eventually gains more traction. I get the feeling that a lot of the details they’re slowly rolling out about the game are coming on-the-fly. That is, they did not have this stuff until all the people on kickstarter started saying “we want to back you, but we don’t have any clue what this is other than an RPG!” and they responded by sitting down and throwing out some ideas, drawing some stuff, etc. I really don’t think the artwork and story and concept existed before a few days ago. Then again, I could be totally wrong.

          PS: As for Romero (kind of unrelated to this conversation, but since his name was brought up).. I’ve dealt with him personally before and found him to be an incredibly kind, friendly, likable guy. The guy made a game that wasn’t well-received. So what? People need to lay off the dude (and the “gonna make you his bitch” thing is worn and tired, since we’ve all heard the story that it was not his doing and was a marketing thing done outside of his control that he KNEW was going to bite him in the ass). Hell, if Romero himself was going to make an old school RPG? Holy shit, I would back the hell out of that just on the guaranteed uniqueness of it.

      • stiffkittin says:

        I wouldn’t say it’s lack of recognition. Their work speaks volumes. For me at least it’s more a charisma issue. They have no charm or maybe it’s that they have too much of it. It all comes off a bit insincere and a little cynical on their part. In any case I wasn’t convinced.

    • BlaineTheMono says:

      “Projects asking for fifty billion dollars, with 45c in pledges, fall off the list eventually. It gives more space for other games.”

      • AngoraFish says:

        A rule that has been more or less completely ignored for the entire history of the Katchup blog series… see, for example, Blackspace and (especially) Papier Adventure above.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Yeah that is a rather odd omission it is new and has raised a considerable amount of money.

      Edit: Man though, why are they featuring John Romero so prominently, he isn’t exactly a draw.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I’m not sure it’s that prominent, there’s maybe 2 or 3 mentions of him on their project page, and a couple of pictures, and then he turns up in the higher reward tiers. The majority of the stuff focuses on Tom and Brenda (though there is some overlap in the game with ones John has also worked on).

        I get the feeling he’s just in because he’s at the same company, and he’s in a relationship with Brenda (and they like doing things together or something).

        They almost feature Notch, and the other quoted devs, as much as John.

        • ReV_VAdAUL says:

          Yeah, I guess I just have an aversion to John. Still though, the guy is famous for having a huge amount of hype and funding behind him at a new startup and running it totally into the ground. I’m not sure I’d want him to appear at all when trying to draw in funding for a new product.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I certainly agree that simply mentioning John is quite off-putting, and I certainly wouldn’t want him turning up at my house if I paid the higher tier. But the other option would be to not mention him…which would be weird when it’s his company.

  2. Premium User Badge

    blind_boy_grunt says:

    pangenic actually sounds kind of awesome.

    • luckydoky says:

      It really does, but they definitly didn’t have enough to show for it. I was follwing it very closely but didn’t pledge. Not enough updates, not enough infos… Too bad but I’ll keep following the game.

      Arakion on the other hand conducted a really great KS and I strongly encourage anyone who enjoys crpgs (and even more if you loved might & magic series) to check it out during the few remaining hours. Some great strech goals can still be reached.

      • AngoraFish says:

        The guy doing Arakion worked the community really well. My personal thank you email for backing it was the first I’ve had in 27 projects backed. It’s a real model for how others should think about doing things.

    • stiffkittin says:

      It looked wonderful. I backed and actually left one of the few comments, criticizing the lack of updates. They replied that they would then …didn’t. Pulled my pledge through lack of confidence a couple of days before the end. I’d absolutely love to see it appear under it’s own steam (so to speak) in a year two though.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Pandemic fails my main criteria for speculative kickstarting: either a) the developer needs an established track record and a large team, or b), the game needs sufficient game footage to demonstrate proof of concept.

      Not the main disincentives to me, but it’d also worth noting that the theme is pretty niche, and a lack of character animations doesn’t help either.

      • stiffkittin says:

        It was worse than that. Everything they showed was purely at the concept stage. Tokens with their handful of character portraits being pushed around in Adobe After Effects.

        I agree. Either a proven track record and reputation on the line or the sweat of their own brow (we wants it precioussss). Failing that, some seriously sincere genius or infectious enthusiasm could get me to part with a small sum to see if anything came of it but I actually haven’t seen that yet on Kickstarter.

  3. InternetBatman says:

    There’s a lot of really well produced kickstarter videos this week.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Oooo, Nexus 2! First I’ve heard of it. I think I just had a Jupiter Incident in my pants. ‘The God has Awakened’ as the ladies say. What I’m saying is I’m going to back that project.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Jackablade says:

    The Homestuck Adventure Kickstarter finished this week too, coming in at just a smidgen under 2.5 million, making it 3rd highest earning game, at least until Project Eternity finishes. Not bad for a bedroom operator with no real information on what he’s planning to do with his enormous pile of cash.

    • Dominic White says:

      He’s apparently got a veteran studio or two lined up for the project, but he’s keeping quiet on who they are, so they’re not spammed to death for the next six months. The game isn’t even starting development until the comic ends next year.

      Also, they had an external Paypal pledge page, so the final figure it somewhat above 2.5 million now.

      • Carbonated Dan says:

        not to mention that he’s got three years of involvement with the community

  6. mwoody says:

    Heh, mentioned the Pro Pinball Kickstarter and then another groups’ Greenlight, but not the Pro Pinball Greenlight. They’ve stated they’re not giving up, and that includes a potential Steam release and second Kickstarter.

    I can’t help but despair a bit, though, at comparing the sheer amount of fascinating stuff on Greenlight with the scant few actually given the green light.

  7. Lucretious says:

    Papier Adventure looks absolutely fantastic. I wish games like that were the ones garnering lots of money :/

  8. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Just seen this game:

    Timber and Stone: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1102507263/timber-and-stone

    “A voxel-based city building game with a heavy emphasis on combat, fortifications, and siege warfare.”

    Looks pretty good, but isn’t anywhere near getting it’s target.

    • Branthog says:

      I’m on my way to having backed 300 kickstarter projects and here is one thing I have learned:

      Minecraft-style kickstarter projects do not fare very well.

      There are exceptions. If you’ve already made a lot of progress before launching or you otherwise have a lot of publicity, you can do well. For example, Castle Story. Otherwise, it is very difficult to draw interest into them. At this moment, there are at least several Minecraft-style projects on kickstarter which are active, including one (I can’t recall the name) which is essentially a higher-resolution Minecraft.

      Facebook games also do poorly for, probably, obvious reasons. And free-to-play doesn’t do well (mostly because there’s not a lot to sell someone on, since they’ll just wait until the game exists and play it. . . unless it’s just like the greatest thing on earth). Surprisingly, more than one mere “demo” has done incredibly successful. That is, games that were not just being backed so that you could get a copy of it, but kickstarter projects with the intention of using the funds to develop a demo/vertical-slice/etc to then sell the idea to big backers for capital in the game industry.

      One example of this is Embers of Caerus MMO, which wanted $25k and got almost $50k: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/forsakenstudios/embers-of-caerus-investor-prototype

      Another is Pathfinder, which wanted $50k and got $307k: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1675907842/pathfinder-online-technology-demo

  9. Caiman says:

    Argh, enormously frustrating these Katchups. Consistently it’s the projects that I really want which fail to meet their goal, yet others which usually don’t appeal to me get massively overfunded. Having non-mainstream tastes really is annoying sometimes.

  10. XisLoose says:

    Not a game, but still might interest some people here.
    A friend of mine started a project on Indiegogo called Pride of Dogs . It’s an action webseries (a-la Freddie Wong style) revolving around 2 failing gamers.

    I may not be objective, but they’re pretty talented so it’s worth checking out :)

    Important note: it’s a flexible project, meaning they get the money even if they haven’t reached the goal.

  11. erlend_sh says:

    Would love to see phr00t’s 3089 get a mention in the next edition:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/134798252/3089-action-rpg

    I saw there were some “small budget” entries here so I figured his project would make another good example of the more humble funding requests.