Kickstarter Katchup – April 21st 2013

By Adam Smith on April 21st, 2013 at 10:57 pm.

Two $100,000 winners this week and a few other projects close to the finish line. While I was compiling the column this week, I realised I was keeping track of the number of projects that apparently ‘contained roguelike elements’. It’s about 90%, although to be fair I stopped keeping track almost as soon as I’d started so that figure is entirely made up. Perhaps my memory fails me, but I don’t recall the term being anything like as popular 12 months ago. Of course, some would argue that the meaning has been lost and that anything with procedural generation or a modicum of difficulty is now wearing the roguelike hat, but that in itself surely tells us something. Games want to be like rogue, which is far more agreeable than the days when every other one wanted to be like a soldier or a space marine.

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 several currencies in play. Always check!
  • This week’s Katchup was composed while listening to old Art Farmer records and eating Twiglets.

The Winners

Risk of Rain – hopoo

Goal: $7,000
Now: $11,780

Risk of Rain developers, hopoo, send word that a demo of their roguelike platformer is available. The game has already reached its target, with more than two weeks left on the clock, and it’s easy to see why. Here’s the blurb:

Risk of Rain is an action platformer with roguelike elements aimed to revitalize the genre with stylized graphics and an intuitive gameplay scheme that teaches itself, rather than having to be taught.

It is important to note that within a few seconds, the trailer shows the player collecting a ukulele. A minute later, the ‘happiest mask’ is discovered. These are good items to have in your game.

Guns Of Icarus Online: Adventure Mode – Muse Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $108,385
Days: 29

A great victory for the super-long campaign that will help to fund a ‘living, breathing persistent world’ filled with airships, player-controlled factions and political intrigue. I haven’t actually played the original Guns of Icarus but the fleshed out campaigning possibilities in this Adventure version sound like they might be right up my street air current. Given the length of the campaign and the established audience, this one was always going to be about the stretch goals, many of which sound like fundamental parts of the experience. To that end, if anything less than $500,000 is raised, leaving adventure mode ‘feature incomplete’, backers will receive the additions as part of a season pass.

Planet Explorers – Pathea Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $137,765

Pathea became my favourites last week when they said this:

“I just want to say…what is up with stretch goals? We’re doing them only because everyone else seems to be doing it and people expect this. But I don’t believe in stretch goals, I believe in you do it or you don’t, there is no try. :) Everything listed on our “stretch” goals, with the exception of the last 2 maybe, we plan to do anyway once we have the capacity, doesn’t matter if we make the goals or not.”

Of course, they immediately shot past their target by nearly $40,000 and are now probably cursing the fact that they didn’t include a ‘private beach holiday for the developers’ stretch goal.

The Losers

Bik – Mike Pinto

Goal: $12,000
Now: $6,686

The fate of pixellated, jazzy space adventure Bik is unclear, although a couple of updates directed at backers may shed some light. I don’t know because I can’t see them and the game’s website hasn’t been updated since the Kickstarter failed. A comment from the developer does suggest work will continue – “Haha! I will find a way, I promise!”

The Players

Among the Sleep – Krillbite Studio

Goal: $200,000
Now: $69,777
Days: 26

I’ve wanted to see more of Among the Sleep since the first-person toddler was revealed to the world but I hadn’t expected it to show up on Kickstarter. I can’t imagine it’ll have many problems reaching its goal, which will fund the final stretch of development. It’s a survival horror game in which the player controls an infant, scurrying through a house (and some more surreal environments) while hiding from the things that go bump in the dark, and it captured the attention of more than the usual circle of fright fans when the superb trailer surfaced almost a year ago.

Chasm – Discord Games

Goal: $150,000
Now: $84,437
Days: 20

All of the terms used to describe Chasm feature quite frequently in this column and also in my personal wishlist:

“a 2D Fantasy ARPG Platformer featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art”

I need a new wishlist that’s packed with obscure terms but it’d probably turn out that Ritual Dementia contained everything on it. Chasm looks neat though, even if it’s treading an increasingly populated path. A demo is available.

The BitJackers – Zayne Black

Goal: $11,000
Now: $346
Days: 29

Zayne Black has made many a game but this is the first time he’s recruited an artist and musician to add some extra sizzle to the design. Here’s the pitch:

Move around a boxed-in level, known in-game as ‘Sectors’, based on one of 10,000 current possible combinations with an almost infinite number still to come. Collect shiny ‘bits’ and fend off increasingly hostile security protocols, personified as terrifying cyber-monsters, until the exit opens up and paves the way to the next sector.

That sounds a lot like a randomly generated Smash TV to me and Zayne seems to concur. It also sounds rather appealing. The arcade mode is already complete, albeit waiting for the music and art to be integrated, but more variety will be added, including a story. The art will be the work of James Biddulph, who worked on the attractive Tax Evaders. Those are four words I never thought I’d write in sequence.

Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again – Defiant Mouse

Goal: $65,000
Now: $9,793
Days: 19

A collection of MIT Game Lab alums are working on this tactical puzzle RPG and it sounds rather spiffy:

The meat of Lex Laser‘s gameplay is fitting shapes together. You and your enemies make moves, like on a chess board. On your turn, you’ll think about the whole pattern of the game board. Each of your weapons will zap a particular shape on that board. Where are your enemies? Where can you target each weapon for maximum effect? If you do, what will your enemies do next?

The tactical combat assumes that the player is capable of pointing a weapon at a baddie, so insists on hurling a ridiculous number of enemies in his/her direction and requiring them to pick the right weapon for the task at hand. I figure it’ll involve herding the critters and creating killzones. There’s also weapon crafting and, my, it all looks rather clever.

The Enraged – Right Side Down Games

Goal: $12,000
Now: $5,374
Days: 12

The Enraged is an RPG with tactical combat, set in a modern city that is full of monsters. Not a world away from Manchester on a Saturday night then, I’d imagine, although some people might dispute Mancunian modernity. As the final countdown begins, perhaps you will care to look at the demo, the updated trailer or some interesting thoughts on difficulty levels?

Our goal is to have the difficulty wrap around the specific experience you want from the game. If you want to focus on the tactical combat, and less on the micromanagement system you will be able to select a mode that doesn’t necessarily get rid of the micromanagement, but doesn’t emphasize on it as much, making it easier for you to get straight to what you want to play. The same could be said with those who want more micromanaging, and less on the battlefield. You will still be able to get the full experience of the game, but it will be tailored to how you want to play it!

Mineral Cities – Gareth Jenkins

Goal: £6,000
Now: £4,300
Days: 4

Set in a “peaceful future space, where rules are simple and minerals are king”, Mineral Cities is a minimalist city builder that appeals to my inner-tinkerer, which comprises at least half of my personality. There haven’t been many updates on the campaign but a recent post does explain that while there will be objectives, they will be ‘deliberately basic’ and open play is possible on every level.

Something interesting happens along the way to those simple goals: you end up being more committed to your strategy and its efficiency and effectiveness than you do arbitrary goals. I don’t want the game to limit that experience — hence all levels being available for endless, open play. Just keep on playing, see how far your strategies will take you.

Road Redemption – DarkSeas Games

Goal: $160,000
Now: $54,831
Days: 20

Spiritual successor alert! Kickstarter is the opposite of a graveyard for games and genres gone by. A Lazarus Pit of sorts, stewing with memories of the past that bubble and boil, determined to live again. Road Redemption wants to be in Road Rash’s gang, leather jackets, chains, hogs and all. After a storming start last week, the campaign has slowed down somewhat, as expected, but the team are communicating well and pick their words wisely.

We’re happy to say that Road Redemption offers a variety of selectable bikes. Currently the list includes sport bikes (crotch rockets), standard cruisers, and custom choppers.

How have I not encountered the phrase ‘crotch rockets’ before? I feel like I’ve been hanging around in all the wrong places.

PreApocalypse – Zachary Kingston

Goal: $8,000
Now: $2,399
Days: 19

The concept driving PreApocalypse is a good one and there’s still plenty of time left to secure funding, but more updates and details may well be necessary. It’s a very quiet PreApocalypse at the moment. Here’s that concept:

Assume the throne of a doomed empire. Battle against time, politics, and uncertainty to prevent Armageddon.

Flowstorm – Neat Corporation

Goal: $50,000
Now: $3,684
Days: 10

Flowstorm is a thrust-based racing game, starring squadrons of the most fragile vessels that I’ve ever seen. They break faster than Ronnie O’Sullivan on a good day but are also capable of sliding around the edges of the track if they contact with their sturdy backsides. The web prototype is enjoyable but the lack of funding suggests that either people haven’t discovered the game yet, or fail to recognise the possibilities for an expanded game. Below you will find footage of the level editor, which is a priority for the team.

Worlds of Magic – Wastelands Interactive

Goal: £30,000
Now: £27,027
Days: 10

Spiritual successor alert the second! Worlds of Magic is Master of Magic except now. Wastelands have even brought one of the artists from the Microprose classic on board. You can find out plenty more in our extensive interview, or watch the video below, which shows the evolution of the tactical combat grid.

Infinite Space 3: Sea of Stars – Digital Eel

Goal: $30,000
Now: $26,295
Days: 12

If I’d had to put money on one project reaching its target this week, Sea of Stars would certainly have been in the running, but it’ll take another couple of days for the third Infinite Space game to confirm its success. Digital Eel’s flagship series packs galactic exploration and adventure into a lunchbreak or a train journey, and both of the previous titles are pleasant diversions. I’ve seen them described as forefathers to FTL but they’re much less tactical beasts, focused instead on random silliness and simple node-jumping excursions. I’d be happy with more in a similar vein.

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42 Comments »

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  1. pakoito says:

    I can’t stop recommending rooting for Original Sin.

    It’s the RPG you want, NOW. It’s something Obsidian inXile level, more centered in game/simulation than in story.

    We really really would like to reach at least the 800k mark. The game is there, the company has proven itself for 15 years, there’s material and no, this is not a preorder kickstarter for a game already finished.

    Your help is needed, the game can be an isometric turnbased elder scrolls if we push enough. 1M$ may be unfeasible at this point, but the step before that would be one of the best emergent roleplaying experiences you could ever have. Narrativist have Planescape and Numenera, gamists have Ultima VII and now Original Sin.

    If you can pay for a subscription-based MMO, or just a simple idea on a paper without a business model behind, why not something feasible with potential to be great. It’s coming out for Win/Lin/OSX with full game editor Q4 2013.

    And you don’t have to take my word for it, people all around the internet have been able to try it, from Totalbiscuit, Gamespot, Ohmwrecker, GamersDissent, even the RPGCodex and many more coming this week.

    Please kickstart. We need it.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/larianstudios/divinity-original-sin

    I can also root for Dragon Commander on the $65 tier, the RPGCodex writeup explains how it is not (NOT) an RTS game with dragons.

    http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/an-authentic-account-of-an-embassy-from-the-rpg-codex-to-larian-studios.82421/

    • 1Life0Continues says:

      Would that I could. I’ve already blown my minimal load into Battle Worlds:Kronos(still hoping for the $250k stretch) for whom Larian gave praise, and planning on pre-ordering/funding Starbound with my next tiny stipend. Sadly, I need to be quite choosy with my pledges, as it tends to bite me hard on the arse in the daily living department.

      Interesting to see how everything turns out though.

      [Edit: Nope, still haven’t figured out the html tagging here. Just too smart for me, I guess.

      • pakoito says:

        Starbound getting 800k for a Terraria rehash with 15 month development and collectable stretch goals. I don’t want to live in this planet anymore.

        Starbound will be the same from now ’til release, the stretchs are not gameplay related but cosmetics. D:OS needs help now.

        • gwathdring says:

          Original Sins passed their target already. I wouldn’t say it “needs help” just because the stretch goals are gameplay goals–they aren’t any more central to the design of the project, else they’d already be in the main pitch. That said, It’s really a remarkable project for many reasons. I have yet to see such involved developers. They respond incredibly well to their fan-based and are interested in improving their product at every possible turn.

          As for Starbound, a lot of people enjoyed Terraria but are done with it. Starbound is more of that with some appealing differences. I don’t see what’s to despise in that.

          • pakoito says:

            Base target, yeah, but the stretches here are not stuff on the board for a future. There is 6 months until release. If they get X money they can improve the game by Y amount by hiring people. No delays, no changes in planning.

            The stretches are things like traits or putting faces to the companions that would help the game a lot. The story, the world, the systems are all there. It’s just content added by people what’s needed. It’d help the main campaign and the editor.

            >As for Starbound, a lot of people enjoyed Terraria but are done with it. Starbound is more of that with some appealing differences. I don’t see what’s to despise in that.

            Nothing really, I’d buy it in the future. It’s just that they split the team and one of them remade the game with some touches here and there.

          • fozhubaodan says:

            I tried to play it on Steam, but my finger slipped.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xaolVjtprY&feature=youtu.be

        • KirbyEvan says:

          Considering Starbound is Metroid Borderlands in space with less emphasis on building and more emphasis on exploration and questing, yes, definitely a Terraria rehash.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I am not sure most people care if games are rehashes of other games as long as they are good. Planescape Torment was just a “rehash” of dozens of other games.

            I will wait until Starbound is out personally, but there was more than enough gameplay left undeveloped in Terraria for a “rehash” with a different theme to be wildly successful.

        • Foglet says:

          Promoting one game by insulting another, completely unrelated.
          …way to go, I guess?..

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Believe it or not, everyone may not share your exact preferences…

    • Phenomen says:

      I recommend D:OS to all my friends. Divine Divinity was one of those games you never forgot, like Arcanum or Fallout 2 – beautiful living world, great story and quests. I really want Larian Studios to success with their new project. They update Kickstarter on daily basis, answer to every question on forums and very community-centric overall. It would be shame to RPG community if we don’t help them get at least 800k.

    • Maniac says:

      am I the only one that remembers when Original Sin was originally announced, and shown, as a MOBA? Or am I losing my mind over here? ._.

      • pakoito says:

        Arkham Asylum.

      • Maniac says:

        Self-reply edit (since it wont let me edit my comment, for some reason..)
        I somehow managed to mistaken this for Sins of a Dark Age.
        They do share one word, though! So thats probably it!..
        Gods, I’m daft. Anyway, I’d have kicked this if I had any money.. But lets instead raise an empty glass to unemployment!
        Cheers!

    • Zorn says:

      The original Wasteland is close to my heart, as the original Bard’s Tale trilogy and
      Dragon Wars. I played Curse of the Azure Bonds, Pool of Radiance and Champions of
      Krynn on the C-64. I fell in love for Fallout 1 and 2. I enjoyed Baldur’s Gate and
      Baldur’s Gate 2. Planescape Torment and Arcanum have a special place with me.

      I played the games from Larian. And they just didn’t resonate with me. I can only guess
      that’s the reason with others too. Larian never could spin a story that got me invested.
      And behind the story, there wasn’t enough to hold me.

      That said, I’m looking forward to Age of Decadence, Wasteland 2 and Torment:Numenara.
      I guess I’ll have a look at Project Eternity, but it doesn’t interest me at this point.

  2. gwathdring says:

    That’s the attitude a lot of games take towards stretch goals. I’ve seen a lot of campaigns that said “We’re doing this … but we can’t guarantee it by release unless we get X amount of cash.” Heck, whole Kickstarters have been based on that premise. This game is getting made, but you can make it happen more quickly and with fewer risks of failure.

    I’m also a fan of stretch goals in this context. The more open ended the design philosophy of the game, the more easily the game expands to fit a larger budget. Stretch goals provide not only an incentive for additional donation beyond the initial target, but a reason to donate beyond the initial target. Stretch goals allow developers to keep in touch with their fan-base more explicitly when they inevitably say “Hey … we have all this extra money, maybe we could throw some of those ideas that were too ambitious back on the drawing board!”

    I’m not seeing a problem with this.

    • pakoito says:

      That happens in the early phases of development where everything is ahead of you. Once you have everything nailed and you want to add stuff already knowing monthly costs you can measure how much time/money features cost.

      Help Original Sin. The weresheep loves you.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      I do see a problem with that, sometimes, but I guess it really depends how you handle it.
      Good case (see Dreamfall Chapters): We’re going to give you the game anyway. If we make more money, we will make a Director’s Cut, better soundtrack, more voices, more translation, a few additional encounter, but they’re all extras, like, “more of the same”, the game itself won’t be affected.

      Bad case: Whenever a stretch goal concerns gameplay or the core storyline. You asked me the minimum amount of money to make the best game you could make, not to make a “minimally decent” game with optionals in case you get more.

      • Lanfranc says:

        Just once I’d like to see someone make a Kickstarter with the only stretch goal being “We get more money.” Just to see what would happen.

    • Caiman says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the complaints about stretch goals. Here’s the minimum amount of money we need to make a game, but if we really got more funding we can make it better by allocating more people to it, or more time, or both. It’s pretty self-explanatory. It works as a means to encourage people to up their pledges, and it’s often what people are demanding. Where are the stretch goals? I see this a lot. Of course, some KS campaign stretch goals are not well realised, making it easy to ask why you’d need an extra X amount to add some basic gameplay feature. But when done well, stretch goals are fine.

    • Choca says:

      Stretch goals on Kickstarter are at their best in the Tabletop section, especially in miniatures centric projects, where you can get a massive amount of extra stuff for no extra charge thanks to them. The Myth or Bones projects are perfect examples of this.

  3. Bhazor says:

    Christ how many spiritual successors does MoM have now?

    • pakoito says:

      Fall From Heaven 2 and Dominions 3. The rest are just broken promises.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Meh there have been some decent attempts, Fallen Enchantress is getting pretty close (on its third try).

    • malkav11 says:

      None, really. There are plenty of fantasy 4X games that would like you to believe they capture the magic of Master of Magic, but they all diverge in significant ways. Which isn’t to say they’re bad.

    • Premium User Badge

      strangeloup says:

      Your mom has so many spiritual successors, she…. uh…

      ….okay, I’ve got nothing.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I always reserve judgement till I’ve actually tried the games but to me a lot of the rogue/procedural like platformers seem to me to just be a bit busy. The thing is, the games I’ve found have been best have actually been a lot leaner. Particularly Spelunky, which to me is still best in category, there’s rarely a time where you are overwhelmed by enemies and because of the item limit you are rarely firing things all over the place willy nilly. The genius of Spelunky is that rather than fucking you over it gives you enough rope to hang yourself. Then next time you’ll be more careful but then end up sticking a fork in the plug socket or something like that instead. Even Binding of Isaac didn’t tend to brute force you, relying on getting you to learn to make best use of the hand you were dealt.

    Could just be a personal preference thing but a lot of the videos of procedural platformers recently seem to be generating open spaces with loads of things to kill and loads of things to kill em with and hoping it’ll be fun. But people may well like that sort of thing. Also I seem to remember videos is Spelunky looking impenetrable so I may be unfairly judging a lot of them.

    Also I liked the pitch for Lex Laser but the gameplay videos didn’t look fun. Hopefully there’ll be a demo at some stage as the principle of a dip in and out game like that appeals to me.

  5. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    You featured Something Fragile last week, and I’m sorry not to see it this time.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1824252807/something-fragile

    I’m in no way affiliated with the project, but it looks oh-so-lovely, and it’s struggling a lot, at 8k $ out of 18k $ needed and 4 days left.

  6. InternetBatman says:

    The character from the Bitjackers looks an awful lot like Zero.

  7. Tuhalu says:

    Seems to me ‘contains roguelike elements’ means “Your chances of success are largely determined by getting lucky enough to get everything you need at the right time. After that, you can be skilled and actually play the game right”. The only difference between a casino mini-game and a rogue-like is that you actually get to inject some skill into your completely random. But not too much or else it would be a real game of skill.

  8. calendar_man says:

    “Spiritual successor alert! Kickstarter is the opposite of a graveyard for games and genres gone by. A Lazarus Pit of sorts…”

    What do we need to do to get Kickstarter to change its name to The Lazarus Pit(s)? Transmedia campaign? Moneyhats? Lounge singers?

  9. DarkFarmer says:

    I just wanted to swoop in and say how great Guns of Icarus Online is. Remember when Counterstrike first came out? Well neither do I. I was too drunk off Skyy at my dot com. But I think I remember having alot of fun with my friends which is exactly what we have been doing with GOIO.

    Its basically like FTL, if you’ve played that, but in an online versus mode with other players as your crew: There is more to do than you have time to do it and you have to be clever in how you spend your time.

    The game design is extremely tight and technically the game performs marvelously. Muse is the real deal. Doing more with less is the thing here; taking a very small amount of very well-made assets and focusing it into a tight package.

    I haven’t backed it yet, but I definitely will be backing the adventure mode kickstarter. If they’ve made something this good out of 10 thousand bucks I am sure they can make something much better out of a hundred large.

    It is also on sale now for pay what you want, the minimum is 1 dollar but I bought it for 5.

    Sorry for shilling, but I want to battle more of you guys in the skies! Theres only about 50-100 players online at any given time and the game is alot better than that.

    • KirbyEvan says:

      I remember being excited for the game, but then I played the beta and lost all interest.

      It’s nothing like FTL, unless you consider hitting the engine with a wrench Far Cry 2 style every time you take damage a tactical pause roguelike.

      It generally plays like a discordant version of AirBuccaneers except with even less emphasis on individuality and more emphasis on who can get as many shots with latency filled side cannons (Don’t even get me started on the grappling hooks).

  10. Premium User Badge

    cog says:

    Yes, but what about the days when games want to be space marine roguelikes? Because honestly, a good one of those sounds fun to me.

  11. zeekthegeek says:

    Missing Winner (think you’ve covered it before): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/idgi/consortium-0?ref=live

  12. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    AGAIN NO C-WARS

    DOES NOT COMPUTE

  13. Vesuvan says:

    Why isn’t Camelot Unchained listed for the second week in a row? It’s a very notable Kickstarter….