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Kickstarter Katchup – 20th January 2013

Katch You Later

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It’s taken me longer than I’d hoped, but I’ve finally managed to exorcise the last spirits of 2012 from the Kickstarter Katchup and the 2013 instalments can now begin. The extended break has left us with a lot to katch up on so there will be a lot of winners and losers this week, covering many of the games in the last Katchup. I’m not going to list every game that failed to reach its target but all the winners will be there, as well as any that are of particular interest or have detailed plans for the future. Then I’ll hunt down some ongoing projects and the whole cycle will begin again. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on submissions now that the Katchup is functional again, so do email me with anything that you’re working on, or that you find interesting. No promises, but it might just be here next Sunday.

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!
  • Never enter a restricted area in the Katchup. Don’t climb over fences or walk through employee-only gates. If you drop a hat, moustache, monocle or other item, consider it lost forever. The Katchup has it now.

The Winners

Meriwether: An American Epic – Sortasoft

Goal: $35,000
Now: $44,489

Meriwether, a game of historical role-play, discovery and exploration that follows the Lewis and Clark expedition, is one of the most exciting Kickstarter projects that I saw last year, so I’m thrilled that it reached its goal. The final hours of the campaign involved a Meri-Thon, involving interviews with historical experts and game designers:

You can catch any or all of the Meri-Thon, all nine hours of it if you so desire–some great interviews with game designers and Lewis and Clark experts are waiting for you here: part 1, part 2, and part 3. Thanks to all of our guests, our viewers, and to all our backers for the support you gave us throughout the campaign. Such a great way to bid bon voyage to our Kickstarter!

The plan is to hit beta by August and finish the game in November. Hurrah!

Forsaken Fortress – Photon Productions

Goal: $100,000
Now: $121,096

A triumph for the post-unpleasantness survival RPG that demands base and personnel management skills along with scavenging and combat know-how. My impression is of Dead State mixed with Fallout, although that may be wide of the mark. Here’s the schedule:

January- February: Pre-production
February – Jun: Production
Jun – July: Pre-beta test
July – October: Post-beta development
October: Release

Forsaken Fortress is one of several Unity-based projects that is updating to the Unity4 mecanim system in order to improve animation.

War for the Overworld – Subterranean Games

Goal: £150,000
Now: £211,371

Blimey – last time I checked in on this keeper of the Dungeon Keeper flame, it’s success wasn’t quite guaranteed, but that’s an impressive total and no mistake. The game has also mustered enough support to receive a Steam Greenlight pass. Updates to progress arrive on Wednesdays, going by the name WFTO Wednesdays. Every time I see that written down, I think Wednesdays have done something weird and terrible, like replacing someone’s Cheerios with Polo mints – what the fuck, Wednesdays?!

Project GODUS – 22cans

Goal: £450,000
Now: £526,563

I always expected GODUS to make it, even when Mr Molyneux expressed disappointment about the lack of fluid physics applied to individual drops of water. I still believed water, earth, fire and wind would bend to the will of the 22canstheon. I don’t know what the last few updates say since they’re only for backers and even though I was a believer, I didn’t put my money where my faith is.

Kaiju Combat – Sunstone Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $112,513

Kaiju Combat had a quiet couple of weeks to start its campaign but, like the giant monstrosities that inspired its not-Godzilla beat-downs, it eventually towered high, swatting at the city below. That image stopped working long before the sentence ended. Kaiju Combat reached its goal and will be released toward the end of the year, all being well. The latest news includes the announcement of the sponsored monsters that will be included in the game, chosen from a selection provided by the community. This is clearly the best.

Elite: Dangerous – Frontier Developments

Goal: £1,250,000
Now: £1,578,316

Elite requested all of the money and, by golly, people handed it over, plus change amounting to more than £300,000. That’s almost enough to pay a banker’s bonus or a hotshot lawyer’s hourly retainer. Everybody knows what Elite is, right? It’s the one with the spaceship, the pocketful of credits and a galaxy to explore. I’ve been caught up in the process rather than the product, so even though I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what Frontier are doing, I haven’t spent very much time thinking about what the game’s eventual existence will actually mean. I’m as cynical as the next man – used to live in a tub and everything – but all that space is exciting, I must admit.

The Losers

Consortium – Interdimensional Games

Goal: $200,000
Now: Cancelled

Consortium will be back. The initial Kickstarter launch was pulled long before it ran out of time when the team realised they were lacking the necessary momentum for success:

As a result, we are heading back to the trenches and are stopping this campaign, with plans to return in the New Year (possibly February)!

Believe it or not, we consider this campaign a success for us, on many levels. We’ve started the process of showing the world our project, and have begun to find the gamers that CONSORTIUM is designed for. It simply doesn’t matter to us that we didn’t reach our goal, we are just happy that a few hundred people are now excited about the possibilities that our game holds!

I’ll be following the future of this one closely. It’s a fascinating pitch, a sort of space opera RPG with a focus on personal interaction and mystery rather than combat and lasers. You can read more here.

Dream – HyperSloth

Goal: £20,000
Now: £3,079
Days: 18

Dream’s dreams of atmospheric exploration are not doomed, despite the failure of the Kickstarter.

We’re going to get part-time jobs which should help but ultimately won’t be enough to full continue development so following the advice and support of you guys we’re going to change our development style a little. We’re going to accept PayPal donations and give everyone who donates the pre-alpha to play (available at the start of February) and access to a developer forum that you can leave us feedback in. The deal is we’ll keep working at the game for as long as we can and following your input we’ll try and shape the game into something you’ll all enjoy.

The team plan to have an alpha ready in February, which they will make available to anyone who donates at least £5. The donation page is at the official page, where you can see the game in action.

Telepath Tactics – Sinister Design

Goal: $25,500
Now: $18,615

The teeming tactical mind behind Telepath Tactics has not abandoned hope and, indeed, takes encouragement from the campaign.

This campaign has also been extraordinarily successful for me, personally. I’ve gotten invaluable feedback about the sort of things you all care about in Telepath Tactics, and I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot about how to run a crowdfunding campaign. The next time I try this, we will make the goal! (Speaking of which: mark your calendars for March, folks!)

There are several ways to follow progress, including the forums at Sinister Design. A demo is also available. You can download it for Windows, Mac or Linux.

The Players

Artizens – Artizens, Inc.

Goal: $30,000
Now: $4,900
Days: 28

A month since I last wrote a Katchup, a month in which my weekends have been (mostly) my own, in which I’ve rediscovered the joy of leaving the computer to slumber for a couple of days at the end of each frantic week of activity. But, when I see a project like Artizens, I feel like I’ve been missing out. It’s exciting to be back in the Katchup because, while the Kickstarter craze isn’t in its prime anymore, it’s in the crowdfunding sphere that the shimmering edge of indie development often finds its expression. Or, at least, it’s where I find the results of that expression.

An online co-operative experience for four players, Artizens looks like a side-scrolling, miniature Shadow of the Colossus with crafting, loot and intelligent beasties. The monsters are actually quite small but there’s something about the way the players scramble across them, outwitting, trapping and destroying them that reminds me of Ueda’s giant-killer.

Terminus – Harbour Games

Goal: $25,000
Now: $405
Days: 31

Terminus is a game about the end of Earth and the beginnings of a new colony.

Starting from classic city builders of the genre, Terminus takes the terrifying leap into the frontier of space where every new game and new colonization effort bring a wildly different experience on a new, procedurally generated planet.

The plan is ambitious and hugely appealing – to create a game that harnesses the power of that most exciting of future technologies, procedural generation, along with more traditional management of building and social factors. Disasters will happen on this unstable new world, so all planning must take into account the eventual fires, storms and outbreaks of disease. It’d be good to see more of the actual game in future updates, but Terminus certainly seems like one to keep an eye on and the team seem to have their priorities and paperwork in order as far as spending is concerned.

Fortis Rex – Ancient Realms Studios

Goal: $7,000
Now: $2,198
Days: 19

Mount and Blade is a game that is excellent in many ways. In fact, it’s so packed with good ideas executed well that I often forget how good it is. Perhaps that’s because it isn’t flashy or shouty, just getting along with being the kind of game I used to dream about playing without blowing its trumpet as loud as it should. I mention it because I’m amazed more games haven’t followed in its hoofprints and then, lo, Fortis Rex appears on the horizon. It really does look a lot like Mount and Blade, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. I quite like the idea of more free-roaming medieval adventures in my life. In fact, I bloody love the idea. Seven thousand dollars is a tiny amount of money, a matter addressed in the FAQ at the bottom of the page:

The 7,000 dollars is the core amount for just the programs needed to complete the game, and a small amount of game art(buildings, characters, etc.). Our team decided to model most of the art ourselves(as we recently added a new modeller).

Wildman – Gas Powered Games

Goal: $1,100,000
Now: $249,016
Days: 26

We spoke to Chris Taylor about Wildman, then the Kickstarter launched and then there was news of troubling times for Gas Powered Games. Where that leaves the project is unclear – if it succeeds, it brings a cash injection of over a million dollars (minus fees), which could be enough to keep the remaining staff in employment for a while, but the timing is rotten. Not for the people who have already lost their jobs – there’s rarely a good time for that and our thoughts are with them – but for Gas Powered’s future outlook. If the Kickstarter money was intended as a salve, it may come too late, and if that wasn’t the case, it’s going to be hard to dissuade those people who are disillusioned by the appeal to crowd-funding during a crisis.

Unwritten: That Which Happened – Roxlou Games

Goal: $75,000
Now: $17,667
Days: 23

File this one under A in your filing cabinet. ‘A’ is for ‘Awesome’, or maybe ‘Adam’s Favourite Concepts’. Former Dishonored dev Joe Houston, who wrote these excellent and thought-provoking words for us, is now working on Unwritten:

Permanent decisions and infinite variety. Create a nomadic tribe and guide them across a randomly generated tundra to meet its God.

Marvellous. If I could convey that many exciting ideas in two short sentences, I’d be a happy man. I’m going to make the obligatory reference to King of Dragon Pass, which is one of the few games that is quite as determinedly about the act of making a story as Unwritten appears to be. Aside from the placeholder graphics currently atop the hexes, there’s not a lot about Unwritten that I don’t approve of.

Neocolonialism – Sub Altern Games

Goal: $10,000
Now: $6,015
Days: 13

Neocolonialism has already featured on this very site, after one Alec Meer spotted its alpha out in the wilds. It has an upside-down map and a gloriously horrible portrayal of corporate politics and bastardly big-wiggery. You can try the alpha now and the final version should be released in August. Everything seems to be in place for success and I’m going to try the alpha properly later today.

Skyjacker – DIGITILUS

Goal: $30,000
Now: $21,671
Days: 5

The Katchup is in its first week back after a prolonged hiatus and already it is witness to a nail-biting finish. With five days to go, Skyjacker’s third Kickstarter campaign is in jeopardy. This time, for a smaller amount, the pitch is for the starship constructor aspect of the game, which, if finished, would boost progress on the rest of the project. Jim has already written about it this week and there’s a video below.

Tower And Power – Daniel Rampulla

Goal: $38,000
Now: $1,429
Days: 34

I knew Tower and Power might only have niche appeal when I wrote about it and, regrettably, the niche may be smaller than I’d anticipated. It’s a 3D recreation of medieval Bologna, which is the sort of thing that immediately makes me reach for my wallet. I’m quite serious about that. I would love to play around with this and think it has easily applicable educational qualities as well. There will be playful elements, but it’s the act of recreation itself that fascinates me.

Dreadline – Eerie Canal

Goal: $167,000
Now: $17,738
Days: 11

Dreadline is this:

In 10 seconds, the RMS Titanic will hit an iceberg, killing over 2/3rds of the passengers… AND THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS!

Dreadline is a high intensity, single player*, action role playing/real time strategy mashup. You control an unlikely and eclectic group of monsters killing the doomed during historically-inspired catastrophes.

It should therefore be clear that we think it’s a brilliant idea, so why doesn’t everybody else? Read our interview and then watch the video.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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