Kickstarter Katchup – June 30th 2013

By Adam Smith on June 30th, 2013 at 6:30 pm.

Last week I was at Rezzed instead of looking at Kickstarter pages but I’ve made up for it by spending most of today browsing through projects. Thoughts of Kickstarter’s purpose have been hanging in the air (on twitter and in chatrooms that I frequent) and I have been pondering how I see the site. I have backed projects knowing that I’m essentially pre-ordering something that I assume will be released and will be as expected, based on the team’s previous work and a comfortable place in a familiar genre. But I mostly back smaller projects that I want to support and to play because they are different, risky and challenging. There’s a great deal of innovation among the nostalgia.

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 Digable PLanets.

The Winners

UnderTale – Toby Fox

Goal: $5,000
Now: $23,200

UnderTale’s demo immediately granted the game residence in both my heart and my mind. There’s a tiny penthouse on my left ventricle and a caravan parked on the meadow alongside my limbic system. While those dwellings may cause health problems later in life, I’m glad to lend the space to such an inventive RPG, which consistently surprised and delighted me. I’m also glad to see that it has found a rich vein of backers – the twenty thousand dollars were raised with more than three weeks left on the clock. Do try the demo. And stick with it even when you think you know what kind of narrative it is. It’s far more subtle than a twist but the game switches and swerves beautifully.

GhostControl Inc. – Application Systems/Bumblebee

Goal: £7,500
Now: £8,877

The success of GhostControl has made me think about genres, because that’s the kind of brain I have. In game genre terminology, it’s a turn-based tactical/strategy game with team management aspects – X-COM with ghosts. On another level, applying a more widely applied genre tag, GhostControl is a comedy, with gadgets such as the slippery ‘Butter Bastard’. That makes it a very different prospect to X-COM, which I’ve always thought of as sci-fi horror, even if the horror aspect has somewhat fallen by the wayside with age and the greater fidelity of the reboot. I’d like a horrific ghost hunting game, a strategic Project Zero, rather than a comedy one. But in terms of its gaming genre, GhostControl ticks all the right boxes.

Void Destroyer – Paul Zakrzewski

Goal: $20,000
Now: $32,100

Void Destroyer deserved to succeed, not only because it was a strong concept (hybrid space combat simulator and RTS) but because communication has been clear and frequent throughout the campaign, and that standard has continued now that the goal has been reached. As well as providing a playable alpha, Paul has elaborated on the changes, future plans and current state of the game from the very beginning. Good work. The page now contains a summary of the campaign, which is well worth a look.

Our Darker Purpose – Avidly Wild Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $42,256

Our Darker Purpose cut it close, raising around a third of its total funding in the final three days. I reckon the playable demo probably helped because while aspects of the game are clearly in their early stages, the quality of the world-building that has made the game’s page a highlight of my Kickstarter browsing for the last few weeks shines through. I predict good things.

Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! – Alasdair Beckett-King

Goal: £15,000
Now: £20,076

The Fowl Fleet will float again, hitting the high seas of Windows, Mac and Linux. A fine victory for a campaign that was tied to a past project but feels like something altogether new. Remember when people pretended traditional adventure games were dying? Next they’ll be writing an obituary for interactive fiction, shortly before being stomped into oblivion by Twine. They are so silly.

Armikrog – Pencil Test

Goal: $900,000
Now: $974,578

This is a surprise. In the entry above, I mock ‘them’ for writing premature epitaphs and yet I was ready to pen something of the sort for the claymation adventure Armikrog, which seemed doomed to fail. “The goal was too high, though understandably so considering the work that’s no doubt needed’, I would say, nodding sagely. A massive final week pushed the project over the finishing line though and the game should be finished next summer.

The Players

Taxi Journey – Lexis Numerique

Goal: $230,000
Now: $6,355
Days: 26

I haven’t read a great deal about Taxi Journey and I almost don’t want to. The visual design makes it look like a physics platform-puzzler/adventure from the artistic mindspace that created Zeno Clash. Warn your eyes that they are about to have a feast.

Tesla Breaks The World – M. Robert Hymer

Goal: $5,500
Now: $3,770
Days: 6

In the last week of its campaign but making its first appearance on these pages, Tesla Breaks the World is a 2d platformer in which the inventor and his moustache attempt to save the world, shortly after breaking it by raising a plague of zombies. Yes, there are even zombies here, although I think they’re the only ones in the Katchup and they’re of the comical shambling variety rather than the blood-vomiting, reminder of the inevitability of death sort. Tesla looks pleasant and charming. And so does the game.

Dark Matter – InterWave Studios

Goal: £50,000
Now: £2,683
Days: 17

I have a preview build of Dark Matter, which I spent some time with on Friday and will write about in more detail tomorrow or Tuesday. Superficially, it’s a Super Metroid sort of a game, but intelligent use of impressive lighting makes for interesting combat and heightened tension. The enemy behaviour and crafting push Dark Matter toward survival horror, which is something I tend to be appreciative of.

Liege – Coda Games

Goal: $15,000
Now: $10,512
Days: 28

Almost everything about Liege makes me want to throw money in its general direction and I’m pleased to see that it’s had a pleasant welcome to the world of Kickstarter. The game is a party-based RPG with tactical battles and it’s the depth of thought on display when John writes about combat systems that really endears me to Liege.

The game emphasizes spatial elements over leveling and equipment, so you won’t be able to grind until your party is effectively invincible. Your units will always be vulnerable; in fact, a single direct strike to an undefended unit will often prove fatal. Unused actions during your turn will determine your unit’s defensive ability during enemy turns. As a result, you will always need to balance evasion and defense, with well-timed, coordinated offense to survive.

Read more. Read everything, because this, on paper at least, will probably be of great interest to many of you.

Satellite Reign – 5 Lives Studios

Goal: £350,000
Now: £96,889
Days: 28

When Jim spotted Satellite Reign, absorbed the ‘successor to Syndicate’ idea but didn’t actually notice that the game is actually the brainchild of the creator of Syndicate Wars. Despite its 3d collapsing buildings, Wars never gripped me in the same way that the original Syndicate did, which is to say with all the power of a fully augmented set of cyber-limbs. Satellite Reign sounds truly special though – there is the promise of a living cyberpunk city in which things are happening at all times.

The St. Christopher’s School Lockdown – Laney Berry

Goal: £9,000
Now: £7,879
Days: 11

I suspect this would have been given a post of its own if any of the hivemind tendrils had happened across it while probing into the darker corners of the internet. Here’s the blurb:

A point-and-click adventure game set within a British private school. When a political protest turns violent, whose side will you take?

Unusual and immediately attractive, this is a far more exciting proposition, to my mind, than a £500,000 sequel to something that I liked when I was fourteen. Be aware that the final game will be episodic, seven in total, and the £30 pledge is the lowest that guarantees access to all episodes.

Frozen State – Snow Arc

Goal: £60,000
Now: £14,406
Days: 22

Plenty of updates, including information on the world and factions, but not a great deal of monetary progress for Frozen State, which is a survival-based horror RPG. There’s a new video below but remember, the game is still at a very early stage of development, with more than a year’s work planned.

…we have a bigger picture and more sophisticated gameplay in mind with stealth and tactical elements. They are just not fully implemented or very raw to show up. We are working hard right now on the core game logic and functionality, it’s like a foundation for a house, if you make it right it will stand long.

en>

A Vampyre Story: Year One – William Tiller

Goal: $200,000
Now: $75,464
Days: <1

If the Vampyre Story point and click prequel makes it, with over a hundred thousand dollars to earn and less than a day to go, it’ll be among Kickstarter’s most unlikely successes. The project had a strong opening week but hasn’t enjoyed the late-stage surge that often occurs. I think the episodic length and prequel plot may be at least partly the cause.

World of Diving – Vertigo Games

Goal: $75,000
Now: $16,085
Days: 2

Vertigo added some in-game footage to the Indiegogo page of their diving game just over two weeks ago but have been quiet since then, at least as far as updates are concerned. It’s hard to imagine the money arriving in time now, which is a shame as I can imagine this being an unusual and tranquil co-op experience. I love the hand signals and would probably find the inclusion of vulgar gestures far more amusing than I really should at my age. As my partner tried to take a picture of an ethereal manta ray, I’d drift past in the background, flicking the v’s.

Fleish & Cherry In Crazy Hotel – Red Little House Studios

Goal: €29.000
Now: €6,460
Days: 4

Red Little House released an alpha demo showing the adventure side of their old-timey cartoon game, which also has an isometric action component. The project joins the list of others that are close to failure this week but this does give me a chance to link to HOTEL, an interactive animation from what now feels like an earlier era of the internet. It’s by Han Hoogerbrugge and apart from the word ‘hotel’, it also has its isometric viewpoint and mostly monochrome graphics in common with Flesh & Cherry. It’s much more unsuitable for work environments though and decidedly creepy.

Deus Ex Machina 2 – Mel Croucher

Goal: £64,000
Now: £30,111
Days: 7

I’m happy to concede that Deus Ex Machina may have been influential and maybe even enjoyable when it was first released in 1984. Whether directly or not, it’s possible to draw a direct link between the experimental multimedia life journey and many of today’s ‘art games’. The recently released playable demo for the sequel has excellent music but that’s the only real point of interest. The player’s avatar, a sperm and then an about-to-be-born baby, floats into the screen, down a tunnel, avoiding obstacles and listening to music. The art is repetitive and the controls feel like they adjust the camera in swinging arcs rather than directly guiding the sperm/baby. There isn’t enough happening for the scene to even resemble a barely interactive music video. Try for yourself and perhaps you’ll disagree?

And another thing…

Coin Opera 2: Fulminare’s Revenge – Sidekick Books

Goal: £1,500
Now: £1,280
Days: 9

I wrote a few words about Coin Opera 2 earlier this week. It’s a compilation of poetry about games, written by proper wordsmiths and seeking money to cover printing costs. This post contains all of the information and insight you could wish for.

, .

50 Comments »

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Top comments

  1. Noviere says:

    I backed Satellite Reign and St. Christopher's School Lockdown.

    I've sort of accepted the fact that Kickstarter is just a new, weekly bill I have to deal with for the rest of my life.
  2. Premium User Badge

    Colonel J says:

    One for you Cardboard brethren, there's 4 days left to back the board game Cornish Smuggler. Already successful, and looks proper amazing.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1811420414/cornish-smuggler
  1. ventricule says:

    I didn’t see any mention of Cataclysm : Dark Days Ahead, so here is a tiny window of advertising. It really is an amazing roguelike, and when/if you manage to get past the initial distress caused by the ASCII graphics, the rewards are potent.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/568375735/cataclysm-dark-days-ahead-dedicated-developer

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I really wish the Cataclysm kickstarter well, but the idea of paying for roguelikes has always been a moderate hurdle to get over (though by no means an impossible one, q.v. Dredmor), and the idea of paying for something which I’d still otherwise legitimately get for free…

      I dunno, it might just be some hidden baggage from it being a KS rather than a donate button on their page

  2. InternetBatman says:

    It’s sad to see World of Diving and Fleisch and Cherry go unfunded. I suspect they might have benefited from kickstarter’s discoverability.

    • gschmidl says:

      Yeah, I’d have loved a new diving game after Endless Ocean 1 and 2. :(

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I’d love for World of diving to succeed. Only as a proof a game does not need to be about killing to benefit from eye watering realism and photographic scenery.

  3. megazver says:

    Didn’t see this here:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jaytholen/dropsy-a-surreal-exploration-based-adventure-game/

    The video is worth a look, at the very least. It’s… an experience.

    • mwoody says:

      It’s his sixth Kickstarter. Four unsuccessful, one successful in 2011… FOR THIS GAME. No thank you.

      • gaspyconana@gmail.com says:

        You’re absolutely wrong. I’m sure it was an accident, but pllleeeease don’t spread mistruths about my project. The unsuccessful ones were for music projects. NOT this game. The only successful one was for the game.

        I’ve kept my backers for the first (and only) Dropsy kickstarter completely in the loop and informed. Most of them backed again. If you’d look, you’ll see that I only asked for $225 in the first one. I created it to purchase a single piece of software. The new one will allow me to employ an artist, musician, and programmer to help wrap it up. Scroll to the bottom to see the budget. That said, I’d love it if you guys could add this to the lineup!

  4. Velko says:

    I think you want to close that italics type in the Ghost Control paragraph…

  5. jozeph says:

    I’m looking forward to Liege too. I love RPGs that are about story.

    I’m not sure about Taxi and Ozombie yet. Both campaigns are to vague about what the gamplay will be like.

    I’m also looking forward to exploring the world of Frontiers: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/railboy/frontiers-explore-discover-survive

    • iridescence says:

      The story looked cool but I don’t know how they’re going to make a “deep tactical combat system” without using stats. Stats are at the core of RPG combat for me.

      Also, the artstyle kind of turned me off. Too cartoony for a game that seems to want to be seen as serious and “adult”.

      I hope I’m wrong and I will buy it when it comes out if I am…

      • jozeph says:

        The graphics certainly are not state of the art. But from what i’ve seen in the vids its good enough for me. There are several other campaigns on-going that are way too old school for me. It’s a one man game, you can’t expect him to create graphics like Divinity: Original Sin.

        This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2oEAi_8ajE explains the basics of the combat system. There is some more detailed explication in the comments section here http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/codagames/liege/posts/526079 Combat is about strategy, not about leveling up stats. I hate it when i get stuck in rpgs because i need to level up first and then after i’ve leveled up enough the combat is boringly easy.

    • TheTingler says:

      Massively looking forward to American McGee’s OZombie, and I’m surprised to not see it on here. I think the title’s putting people off. They’re aiming to make this like Alice: Madness Returns (third-person platforming) in exploration with perhaps turn-based combat, which is fine by me since the combat of the Alice games were the weakest part.

  6. malkav11 says:

    The reason I’m a bit surprised Armikrog succeeded (and why I didn’t back it) is that the creator has had some remarkably bigoted and unpleasant things to say in various public venues.

  7. Noviere says:

    I backed Satellite Reign and St. Christopher’s School Lockdown.

    I’ve sort of accepted the fact that Kickstarter is just a new, weekly bill I have to deal with for the rest of my life.

    • jozeph says:

      Some of these campaigns are really addictive. I read all new user comments several times a day …

  8. iridescence says:

    Hope Frozen State will start updating more. The game looks good but they’ve done one update in the last week, which really seems to be killing their momentum. My experience is that near daily updates really help kickstarters even if you don’t have much to say. Saying nothing seems to hurt.

  9. kwyjibo says:

    Indiegogo is where games go to die, here’s the story behind Frontiers switch to kickstarter
    http://aadgames.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-story-of-guy-who-discovered-that.html

    Indiegogo just does not have the audience, so there are no network effects. If you want to use Indiegogo, you already need a big established audience, you will get no traffic from the cross-pollination between projects that you see on Kickstarter.

    • AlienMind says:

      Cross polination my ass. They ban your mouth if you post KS links in KS. Also: Darkwood was on Indiegogo and was very successful and I and most people did not know shit about it prior. Explain that.

    • InternetBatman says:

      While I think the Strike Suit Zero guy was kind of a jerk for the pricing debacle, this post lays it out quite clearly:
      http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ThomasBidaux/20130626/194622/Post_Mortem_of_a_Kickstarter_campaign_Strike_Suit_Zero.php

      Kickstarter provided 47% of their money. Think about all the successful kickstarter campaigns that did not double the amount they asked for. I’m not saying it will never work, but they had to push insanely hard and break a few rules to get projects like A Ghost of a Tale to succeed. That’s not great.

      Also, Darkwood made less than the Frontiers guy claimed he needed (he lowered his price $30k when he moved the campaign, which is sketch). Bear in mind that the top funded games are Skullgirls at $828k, Tobuscus at $500k, Starforge at $135k, and Darkwood at $57k.

      The first two didn’t depend on indiegogo for discoverability, both had long established fanbases. So that makes $135k at 180% funding the upper limit of success? Like it or hate it, Kickstarter just drives more traffic and you’re more likely to be successful on it (albeit at a higher price point, but 3% less fees do not make up for a 47% loss).

    • Wurstwaffel says:

      I wonder if this cross-pollination thing is the reason or if there are others. I mean, do people really browse these sites at all, or are they mostly referred there from blogs like this?
      Maybe people just happen to be registered to kickstarter and won’t bother with anything else. Maybe it’s because indiegogo projects in currencies other than USD don’t allow any payment method other than paypal. It may even be people just thinking that indiegogo-projects will never make it anyway, so why bother. Or maybe there simply aren’t many promising projects on there.

      • InternetBatman says:

        The stats showed that 24% were just browsing videogames, and 23% were referred to from other places on kickstarter. Cross pollination is a big deal, but people just looking to spend money on Kickstarter is a bigger one.

  10. kwyjibo says:

    The problem with Dark Matter is that there are plenty of Metroid clones, and they all look better than anything Interwave could achieve.

    Why is the camera so zoomed in? It doesn’t help that the space station horror setting has been done to death before, and the art style looks clinical and charmless.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think it looks like it could work, but it just seems kinda slow and stodgy.

    • Prime says:

      There are? Could you point me at a few, please? I’m a sucker for Metroid clones.

  11. Venkman says:

    Alan Moore (the comics writer) has a Kickstarter going along with Mitch Jenkins to finish up a short film series. They’ve made a few already. Moore is an amazing writer, and since this Kickstarter seems to be on the borderline of eventually making its goal, it may become the first one I ever actually contribute to.

    It’s worth watching the trailers – Moore is much funnier than you think he is.

    You’ll also want to keep an eye on it if you’re a David Lynch fan, as the shorts seem to have that patented Lynch surreal malevolence to them.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1288561702/alan-moore-and-mitch-jenkins-his-heavy-heart

  12. rustybroomhandle says:

    Oh yay, it’s Indiegogo HP Sauce day!

    Thanks to the people who have funded us thus far, we have just released a very rough demo/prototype of our point & click adventure, The Maker’s Eden. :)

    http://screwylightbulb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=35

    It’s about 90Mb, some known issues, knock yaselves out!

  13. PegasusOrgans says:

    I see no one mentioning Alum, a Sierra-style point and click graphic adventure. Has a weird steampunkish style to it, and some of it is up and running. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/11227813/alum-a-sierra-lucasarts-style-pointandclick-advent?ref=users

  14. abandonhope says:

    The Tesla Breaks the World dev should tweet Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. He and his followers have a thing for Tesla, and it wouldn’t take very many of them to push it past the goal.

    Satellite Reign should be a mega insta-back for me, but $25 is a silly amount to spend on a game that will ideally be released in a year and a half. Devs need to stop with that already.

  15. Rindan says:

    I had never seen your “we are down error page”. OMG, that is awesome. Every error page should be a text based game.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Colonel J says:

    One for you Cardboard brethren, there’s 4 days left to back the board game Cornish Smuggler. Already successful, and looks proper amazing.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1811420414/cornish-smuggler

  17. Wurstwaffel says:

    You guys, there’s an indigogo campaign for Death to Spies 3 http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/death-to-spies-3

    There’s no way it’s gonna make it though, which I think is a shame considering that, with the hitman series gone astray, this would have been our last hope for the genre.

  18. Dizzard says:

    From what I’ve seen with kickstarter campaigns like Armikrog that ask for around 900k. If you have at least over ten thousand backers when you’re near the end, it’s hard to fail. Even if you’re still out by 300k.

    There’s enough people who’ll dig deeper right at the last day.

  19. Kikimaru024 says:

    There’s a small Japanese fighting game who’ve put their funder up on Indiegogo:
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/yatagarasu-attack-on-cataclysm

    It’s a really fun little game, not too maniac or “overtly Japanese” – closer in spirit to SFIII: 3rd Strike.
    They’re looking for funding to help complete their update, but you can already buy the game to try it.

  20. cloudnein says:

    No mention of Centration ( http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angryengineers/centration ) which, while it has the right pedigree (a couple folks from Space Station 13) looks way too immature to make it anywhere. Plus, to me, what makes SS13 great is that it’s a comedy game. Making it a horror game is a mistake. And first-person? How about making a SS13 standalone with top-down retro graphics? The gameplay’s the thing, not the visuals. Ugh.

    In other words, the oversight may have been intentional, and wise.

  21. Cryptoshrimp says:

    I am super dissapointed Kickstarter still doesn’t accept paypal :|

  22. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    Undertale might have been good or something but then it wasted my time with death and rewinds.

  23. obd2 says:

    The problem with Dark Matter is that there are plenty of Metroid clones, and they all look better than anything Interwave could achieve.