Kickstarter Katchup – 17th November 2012

By Adam Smith on November 17th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Three winners this week: StarForge still has plenty of time to reach some of its incredibly tempting stretch goals, Super Comboman cruised through the whole process and Distance had a remarkable boost last week, demonstrating how much a single update can change a game’s fortunes. Some projects, Ars Magica and Antharion in particular, are perilously close to failure, but, as ever, there are newcomers as well. A new game from the maker of Middens immediately assaulted my attention and the clever sorts behind Fallen London have a playable prototype of their latest. Onward.

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. Include the word Kickstarter in the subject line too if you care about making my life even slightly easier.
  • 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.
  • Be aware that there are two currencies in play. Always check!
  • Before viewing the Kickstarter, please place all mobile phones on ‘silent’ and while the post is in progress, refrain from talking with friends or munching popcorn so noisily that you might as well just have an angry alarm clock instead of a face.

The Winners

StarForge – CodeHatch

Goal: $75,000
Now: $91,029

I wanted StarForge to succeed because I’ve already played around with its insanely ambitious world-building and baddy-blasting, and I had seen that it was full of promise. Now that the goal has been met, it is of course time for further goals and, damn these game-making tempters to the darkest reaches of the void, they have written some tantalising words. StarForge already lets players duel with chainsaws high above a planet’s surface while leaping across the struts of a construct of their own creation. It’s fair to say it has quite a bit of scope and ambition. But imagine it also experimented with procedural horror in the depths of each world, or custom-built spaceships, or “Infinite Procedural Voxel Planets”? This week, I think we’re all winners.

Super Comboman – Super Comboman Team

Goal: $14,900
Now: $16,170

Super Comboman isn’t the kind of game that makes me reach for my wallet, but I’m glad to see it succeed because, blimey, it’s created a lot of goodwill. I received more emails asking me to include it in the Katchup than any other game a couple of weeks ago and none of them were from the developers, the developers’ mums or people who sounded suspiciously like the developers without acknowledging that they were. Here’s what they had to say about their success.

“We have much gratitude for your love of punching enemies in the face and slinging dudes into the air with a fanny pack and jiggling mullet nuggets on your head.”

I understand about 42% of that.

Distance – Refract Studios

Goal: $125,000
Now: $161,981

Funding doubled in a single week for Distance and you know how they did it? They released a video of future-cars doing parkour. If a Kickstarter is ever struggling to find funders, that’s the obvious route to follow. Making a touching text adventure based around the works of Gabriel García Márquez? Need to raise that last $180,000 for research trips and access to academic papers? Release a video of future-cars doing parkour. Can’t find the last few thousand pounds to fund the creation of a boardgame about running a box factory in Hyde? Parkour with cars. Carkour. Canker. Ewwww.

The Losers

This is a week of winners. Hurrah.

The Players

Moments of Silence – myformerselves

Goal: $2,400
Now: $1,456
Days: 18

Middens is one of the most startling games I’ve played this year and you should go and try it now if you haven’t already. Moments of Silence is a project from the same developer and while I’m not sure how far $2,400 (minus fees) will go, particularly in the creation of a game that isn’t due to be completed until November 2013, I’m excited by the idea of anything new from this mind.

Perhaps Moments of Silence would best be described as a satire for futurists interested in string theory.

Go and read all the descriptions over on the page and revel in language and mystery.

Kaiju Combat – Sunstone Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $19,967
Days: 34

Games about giant monsters battling one another and smashing their environment should be everywhere. Why did Rampage not inspire an entire genre? Why has it not been remade in 3d, feebly or otherwise, or has that actually happened and I missed it? Kaiju Combat hopes to be the definitive giant monster battler and is from a team including one of the chaps who worked on Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters and, errrr, a 2006 version of Rampage. Kaiju looks great but despite being “very serious about making our entire process transparent”, the page doesn’t seem to mention that the game had a previous failed Kickstarter this summer. I don’t think Sunstone are trying to hide the fact since they mentioned it straight away in an email to let us know that they’re back, but I think it’d be sensible to acknowledge it and talk about what they’ve learned. With full disclosure, having previously tried and made progress in the meantime could be a strength. Maybe that’s planned for an update.

Below – Failbetter Games

Goal: £15,000
Now: £3,064
Days: 26

I love Fallen London. It’s a game of exquisite words and superbly imaginative stories, and I can find time for such delicacies even when they exist in a framework that at times resembles the sort of Facebook game that gives Facebook games a bad name. It’s one of those games where you need energy to do things, and that energy builds up over time or through cash payments. The game is liberal with its offerings though and the world is so intriguing that I continue to visit. Below is a “story-fuelled, dungeon-delving digital card game” from the same developers and it already has a playable prototype that I’ll be trying as soon as possible. I have thousands of words to write on a Saturday morning though, so I don’t have time to play interesting things. SAD ADAM.

Spud’s Quest – ChrisD

Goal: £5,000
Now: £1,491
Days: 12

Imagine if Dizzy had been a potato instead of an egg – Spud’s Quest carries out just such a feat of the brainbox (I think that’s a blue potato?) and conjures up a flip-screen adventure with distinctive retro-styling. This, the weekend that I am busier than is usual, is also the weekend that a few projects have taken the admirable step of including playable demos/prototypes and Spud’s Quest is no different. You can grab the demo here.

Retro Skate – Fryza

Goal: $15,000
Now: $7,171
Days: 20

“What do you get when you mix Double Dragon, Extreme Skateboarding, and 8-Bit graphics?”

Retro Skate is the answer to that question, which was first posed by René Descartes in his Discourse on the Method. Descartes notoriously hated retro graphics, considering them lazy rather than a stylistic choice, but what did he know? His favourite game was the risible Zut! Les Hippopotames Ont Faim!

Elite: Dangerous – Frontier Developments

Goal: £1,250,000
Now: £487,450
Days: 48

I just started laughing uncontrollably at the utter bilge that I’d written about Elite: Dangeresque’s ‘slow-moving’ week. Nearly a £100,000 pledged and I’m sitting here comparing the campaign to a glacier ploughing through some molasses while wearing clown shoes with the laces tied together. In the latest video, Mr Braben talks about procedural generation. I love procedural generation so much that I leave coffee mugs all over my flat so that finding them a few days later is like discovering an entire new world. Exploration-based gaming!

SPORTSFRIENDS – Die Gute Fabrik

Goal: $150,000
Now: $42,186
Days: 23

I was speaking to a group of people wot write about games yesterday and it turned out that the ones who have played the multiplayer treats included in SportsFriends are massively excited about this project. Those who haven’t played any of them find the whole thing very confusing. Explaining JS Joust to people who have never heard of it before is a game in itself. A great deal of the pledges can probably be traced back to people who have played one or more of the games at a convention or expo of some sort, and perhaps the rest of humanity finds all the fuss very bewildering.

Pro Wrestling X – Wrestling Gamers United

Goal: $75,000
Now: $10,255
Days: 20

It wouldn’t be professional wrestling without some behind the scenes drama and that is precisely what Pro Wrestling X is promising in a future update:

…a new video is coming and it wil touch on things that even our die hard fans don’t know. How close we came to super success, how close we came to dying…literally.

While we wait for that, there is another video that shows some rendering options, allowing the game to be played in cartoon mode and others. I doubt it’ll make anyone fire a money-cannon at their screen but, hey, it’s a neat touch.

Pier Solar HD – WaterMelon Co

Goal: $139,000
Now: $102,752
Days: 18

WaterMelon have added loads of new rewards and tiers to the page for their enormous 16-bit RPG. It’s a genuine 16-bit RPG as well, being the only game released on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis in recent years. I think they’re going to make it. Has anyone around these parts actually played the original release?

Maia – Simon Roth

Goal: £100,042
Now: £48,586
Days: 11

Every week I expect a flurry of activity over at Maia’s page and I’m never disappointed. It’d be reassuring if more of the activity was from pledgers rather than Simon, who has been working hard to answer questions about the ambitious, retro-technology colony-building god game. In the latest update he hands over to Nick Dymond who is working on the game’s audio. This is how he signs off.

Right, I’m off now to contemplate the sound of a chicken burning-up in lava.

If Maia had just one of Elite’s ‘slow’ weeks it’d be stretching toward some considerable goals right now. Instead, there’s a week and a half left to reach the initial target, with just under half of the funding promised.

The Ship: Full Steam Ahead – Blazing Griffin

Goal: £128,000
Now: £8,883
Days: 43

I was expecting Full Steam Ahead to reach choppy waters at some point but last week, at such an early stage of the voyage, barely any movement was made toward the final destination. It’s as if a dignitary were swinging a bottle against the bow but the blasted thing just keeps bouncing off the stalwart hull and refuses to shatter. Blazing Griffin have a new video to “explain why Full Steam Ahead will be an up-to-date, relevant sequel to the original hit.”

Kung Fu Superstar – Kinesthetic Games

Goal: £200,000
Now: £21,467
Days: 17

Martial arts movie-man simulator, Kung Fu Superstar, is struggling. The Origin subtitle and prologue nature of the initial project may have put people off, but the developers have addressed the issue. It’s also possible that many of the people who ‘like’ the project but haven’t yet backed it are keen on the concept but unsure as to whether it’ll be a lesser beast without a motion controller. Or a lesser beast with one. The ‘Backer to Liker ratio’ detailed in this post is an interesting read.

Sui Generis – Bare Mettle Entertainment

Goal: £150,000
Now: £57,087
Days: 12

Bare Mettle have a new team member – a writer – and even though the target is still gallivanting on a distant horizon, I wouldn’t bet against Sui Generis. A new video explains combat…mostly.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption – Corey Cole

Goal: $400,000
Now: $306,804
Days: 3

Corey Cole either loves what he’s trying to do with Hero-U or he does a brilliant impersonation of a man with a passion. It’d be easy to dismiss the world of Hero University as a silly – or heavens forfend, zany – take on fantasy adventure games, but the more serious thoughts scattered through the updates are one of the more refreshing aspects of the project. Given that almost a third of the current total arrived in the last few days, this could well be a photo finish.

Antharion – Orphic Software

Goal: $15,000
Now: $11,167
Days: < 1

Around fifteen hours to go and Antharion is in desperate need of a squadron of backers. Or just three or four who are willing to pledge massive amounts of cash. There’s a new video of the turn-based RPG below.

Shadowgate – Zojoi

Goal: $120,000
Now: $85,122
Days: 8

There’s still time for Shadowgate to find the necessaries (I’ve already emailed them a doodle of a skeleton driving a car up a wall) but, whether the first-person adventure remake appeals to you or not, I’d like to draw your attention to what might seem like an insignificant update. Now, read the one that came before. That’s a retraction, an admission that a mistake was made and an attempt to fix it as quickly as possible. Good work.

Songmasters “The Music Wars” – ARMOGASTE

Goal: $20,000
Now: $12,148
Days: 15

This week, Songmasters once again hopes to explain how its musical combat works, although with a tutorial demo rather than a video this time. If you do try it out, share thoughts in the comments. I would have a go myself but as mentioned earlier, I have a million other things to do, at least 984,677 of which are very important indeed.

Forced – BetaDwarf

Goal: $40,000
Now: $21,113
Days: 13

I’ve already written plenty about Forced this week, having finally played the demo that the developers sent to me. It’s good!

Ars Magica Video Game – Black Chicken Studios

Goal: $290,000
Now: $90,535
Days: 1

I’m a great believer in the final push that can save a Kickstarter in its dying days. It happens with some regularity, although understanding why this is so would trouble even the greatest minds of our time. Unfortunately, Ars Magica needs more than a push, it needs to be chained to an army of monster trucks that can drag it through any obstacle and up the mountain called victory. Actually, no, don’t go up the mountain, monster trucks, because your cumbersome tires will make you roll and bounce, toppling ever downwards to your doom.

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47 Comments »

  1. golem09 says:

    Sui Generis needs to exist.

    • 28843253 says:

      Will the devs be releasing modding tools?

      • Orija says:

        From the kickstarter: “We will do whatever we can to make this possible but we’re not yet comfortable with promising a complete modding solution. Some of the more advanced features currently require significant technical knowledge and providing a broad user friendly experience could prove challenging. Please consider that our resources are limited. ”

        This game needs to exist if not for the high potential it has then for the amount of blood and sweat the devs have put into this.

        • 28843253 says:

          modding and a large creative community can really make this game work, its got a ridiculously pretty engine as it is
          reminds me of minecraft for some reason :\

    • Giuseppe says:

      Don’t know about the game itself, but the Sui Generis game engine needs to exist.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      The tech – yeah, the game? What game?

    • Superpat says:

      Is it just me, but the warrior felt like some kind of medieval jedi.

    • The Random One says:

      I just want to play a zombie game in that engine. I keep imagining walking into a supermarket and zombies crawling realisticly through piles of canned tomato sauce.

      I’m a man with complex needs.

    • kristian says:

      “Grand Theft Auto meets Morrowind in an original open world RPG.”.

      There’s no explanation on why these 2 games are similar to Sui Generis, other than the game is open world. For me it seems that they just picked 2 popular games and put it there to gain interest.

      Yeah.

      When they explain (in a convincing manner) why they call the game “GTA meets Morrowind” I might actually pledge.

  2. GameCat says:

    “Moments of Silence is a game for Windows stylized in free experimentation that colludes multiple mediums to achieve its aesthetic purpose. Among its inspirational parents are Le Planete Sauvage, the works of Jan Svankmajer”

    THE WORKS OF JAN SVANKMAJER

    Damn, if this game will capture Svankmajer’s awsomeness in even only 10% it will be very good game.

    • Jackablade says:

      You what?

      Oh my. Any game that references Fantastic Planet, the animation of Jan Svankmajer and Terry Gilliam, Gumby, Oddworld, Amanita Design and The Neverhood as inspirations has my full, unbridled attention. And some money.

  3. Mr. Mister says:

    LONG WAY THE DISTANCE!

  4. Saul says:

    If you have any love of story-based games with choice and consequence, please jump on board with Hero-U! The Quest for Glory games were adventure/RPG hybrids unlike anything you’ve played, and I consider them classics in the league of Planescape: Torment and Day of the Tentacle. It would be tragic if the Coles’ Kickstarter to build a spiritual successor was to fall just that tiny bit short!

    Seriously, I really think this one is going to be special: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1878147873/hero-u-rogue-to-redemption

  5. Persus-9 says:

    I think the number of “likers” for Kung Fu Superstar just represents how interesting it is. “Liking” really just means “keep me informed about” and I think there are plenty of people who are interested in hearing about the game who don’t want to put money towards it. Like all the people who find it interesting but don’t own a Kinect. I would expect that number of “likers” is also quite strongly linked to the amount of press a title gets where as number of backers depends on that plus the appeal of the product being pitched and the faith people have in them actually being able to produce it.

  6. Belsameth says:

    Maia needs to be made! Not only has it Magma to burn everything with, you can possess a door!
    Is there anything cooler than that? :D

  7. Xardas Kane says:

    Sui Generis still needs to prove it’s actually anything more than cool tech. The dialogue thing they posted was absolutely terrible in the worst “look at how funny and original I can be” way and the combat, at least according to what I saw in the video, is very simplistic and uninspiring. I really want to like it, but at this point I simply can’t.

    On a side note, Maia NEEDS to happen.

    • barnthebear says:

      I actually really like the ideas behind Sui Generis, and I have backed it… But I reduced my pledge from 20 euros to just 10 after I saw the example dialogue from the new writer. It wasn’t cute or funny or interesting; it was, as you said, painful to read. A real shame.

      Depending on how development goes, I could go back to 20 euros or possibly withdraw my pledge altogether.

  8. Azhrarn says:

    You forgot to add Strike Suit Zero, they got funded this morning, just shy of $180k. :)
    They’re winners too.

    They still have their paypal donation system open though, so it looks like they’ll hit the $180k target to port the game to mac and linux.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/43153532/strike-suit-zero

  9. Yglorba says:

    So sad that Ars Magica looks like it isn’t going to make it.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’d say it’s pretty definitively doomed at this point. They simply have way too far to go in way too little time. Which is depressing.

  10. ThTa says:

    Also, Star Citizen has made All The Money. Its total funding currently exceeds Project Eternity’s by a few thousand, making it the most succesfully crowndfunded game ever, and it’s still got two days left in its campaign.

    And for what it’s worth, the insane amount of updates they’ve been sharing at every $100k milestone (and occasionally at random) are really admirable – pretty much the anithesis to Elite’s “there’s a game maybe, give us money”.

  11. jamal says:

    fk yeh bring on spuds quest!

  12. Artesia says:

    Example dialog in the last Sui Generis update is just painful to read.

    I really hope that Hero-U would succeed. Coles are great, always talking to bakers, wanting feedback, answering questions and generally maintaining a contact with the audience. They’ve posted a great deal of insightful updates, concerning choices and consequences in RPG’s, problems of a “role” in role-playing games, their take on puzzles, etc. If the game would be a half as good as their updates, it would be a little gem, indeed.

  13. malkav11 says:

    I really recommend supporting Below. Failbetter make great worlds to be explored in intricate, lovely prose. The energy mechanic that keeps one from playing as much as one might like at a single session can occasionally be a bit frustrating, but they’re very gentle about the incentives to pay and I’ve mostly done so out of a genuine desire to support the company itself, rather than feeling coerced into doing so at any point. (I would not recommend buying actions with the game currency – it’s not cost efficient – but the side content and occasional conveniences that can also be purchased are well worth it).

    Fallen London, Tales of Fallen London: The Silver Tree, and to a slightly lesser extent Cabinet Noir are all very enjoyable, innovative and interesting experiences and I have no doubt that Below will be likewise. I’m also very impressed with what Failbetter are doing with the StoryNexus platform that supports the latter three games of theirs. They’ve made it freely available to people wanting to make similar games, with a universal RMT currency and a profit-sharing arrangement with any third-party games that attract spending. And they’re doing an excellent job of celebrating and promoting those games along with their own.

    PS: Below’s lead designer Chris Gardiner is a Quarter to Three forum regular and posted a thread about it on QT3 where he is willing to answer any questions you may have: http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=71184

    (I’m not sure if Tom Chick, who runs the forums, is current on vetting new posters or not, admittedly.)

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      I finished (the current version of) Below, and it’s certainly a lot better designed than Fallen London. I hope they keep the 100 action point limit though, 10 like in Fallen London is just too little and ends up being incredibly annoying and makes me feel like they’re trying to gouge me (I suppose they do have to eat though).
      As for their Kickstarter, I do wish they would allow us to pick the extra dungeon/character we want. I have no interest in Sea-King’s Grave or the Landless Lady but would love the Sunken Tower and Masterless Apprentice.

      • malkav11 says:

        It would be hideously expensive to pay-refresh your way through Fallen London. My feeling is that the way action points work in that game (and StoryNexus titles in general) is intended to make them something you consume gradually over the course of a significant period of time, both for stylistic reasons and because they need to pace your rate of content burn. Being able to pay to refresh them doesn’t seem to be intended as the primary income source of the game so much as an option for a fast reup if you run out of actions -just- short of some exciting climactic moment in the story. That said, I do feel like the balance is a little off on that for Fallen London and the action bank a little too small – rectifiable by paying month by month for Exceptional Friend status (non-renewing and only like $5 worth of Fate at a time), but I feel reluctant to do that when I’m in grindy stretches like I am now.

        I doubt Below will keep the demo action limit – I’m sure that’s more of a “show things off to lure backers” sort of thing. Other StoryNexus games at present range from 10 (Failbetter’s own Cabinet Noir and Silver Tree – again, a little too low for my tastes, except here there’s no way to raise it even for money) to 30 (Winterstrike, Zero Summer – possibly a little overgenerous, but works well for once a day play like I tend towards).

        PS: It’s not Failbetter and it’s not being Kickstarted, but Zero Summer is -fantastic-, if unfinished.

  14. His Dudeness says:

    Ohh c’mon RPS, still no mention of the fabulous grindfest that Lore promises http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1376466869/lore?ref=live

    You cannot be serious….or can you?!
    Just look at the glorious ‘manandtaur’…that sure does look $1.5 Mill. worth, does it not?

    • Branthog says:

      That guy needs to do a Kickstarter to buy himself a dictionary.

    • stiffkittin says:

      A Kickstarter troll? Winning comment by Benjamin Penny “I don’t think the quality of the game is the issue. I just think we need to get the word out to potential backers. We have 8 committed fans here. If we each told just ~3300 of our friends, we would have this thing funded. I have done my bit and liked this on Facebook. I’m just saying.”

  15. Branthog says:

    I don’t fucking understand pro(fake)-wrestling games. I mean, playing a game about fake wrestling is about as interesting as playing a game about fake shooting (paint-ball videogames, anyone?).

    • The Random One says:

      But fake wrestling, unlike fake shooting, is difficult to master. You could seriously hurt yourself by fake wrestling, and you would not fake wrestle as well as professional fake wrestlers anyway! Plus, since two people who are fake fake wrestling are trying to win, fake fake wrestling is actually less fake than fake wrestling.

    • Baines says:

      What’s the point of fighting games with all those fake moves like fireballs and teleports? Sure, you might see something like that in a movie or in a book, but those are fake. Even the “realistic” ones are fake. Who gets air like a Virtua Fighter character, and is immediately ready for a round 2 after being knocked off the Great Wall of China or having their neck broken? Why would anyone want to play Street Fighter instead of UFC?

  16. elderman says:

    Haven’t yet had a chance to play any of the Sportsfriends games, but I’ve wanted to play and own JS Joust, since hearing about it. This might be the only opportunity.

    Seems to me Sportsfriends is exactly the kind of project that’s best suited for kickstarting. The games are already playable; the designers have each already made a bit of a reputation for themselves; they have an unusual product; and they’ve struggled to release them commercially through normal channels. I hope the games aren’t so unusual that they fail to find their playerbase even on Kickstarter.

  17. The Random One says:

    I was under the impression that the Songmasters battles were going to be drab, and the demo just proved I was right. You are essentially trying to match what other people think of the song. What happens if I’m some sort of über-hipster and no one has played my song on the game before?

  18. Lemming says:

    That Elite video has finally made me cave and pledge. Bloody fascinating, tbh.

    EDIT: And cancel my Star Citizen pledge. They don’t need my money, and I’ll buy the game on release instead.

  19. particlese says:

    Speaking of coffee mug-based gaming, I once had professors who left coffee mugs all over the place, with just enough dregs left to procedurally generate mold colonies over the course of a week or so. Gross, yet fascinating. Pens were similarly abandoned, minus the mold, so one day I bought a pack of pens different from the others and left them on a common-area desk. A month or so later, I went exploring to see where the totally arbirary collectable objects had wandered off to. They mostly wound up in expected places, but I never did find them all.

  20. Hypocee says:

    Why did Rampage not inspire an entire genre? Why has it not been remade in 3d, feebly or otherwise, or has that actually happened and I missed it? Kaiju Combat hopes to be the definitive giant monster battler[...]

    War of the Monsters is what you want, and what they have to beat:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW1DAZbOuTk

  21. malkav11 says:

    Antharion just failed to fund. They came fairly close, so maybe they can regroup and/or use some other alphafunding mechanism to source the money they need.

    Edit: Yup, looks like they’re planning to take a breather and then try again with a lower goal, more/better updates and stronger public outreach.

  22. Baines says:

    Distance was funded, but fell $3019 short of hitting the random track generation mode stretch goal. :(

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