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Kickstarter Katchup - 21st July 2013

Kicking The Habit

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There have been plenty of weeks with no losers and several winners, but I can’t remember compiling this column and finding losers without winners to sit above them. There are lots of projects that are readying themselves for a spot in the winners’ section though, propped on the podium, parading their plaudits. Dungeonmans and Tangiers are my current favourites, with Monochroma not far behind. It’s a busy week though and there should be something for everyone. Except sports fans. Nothing for sports fans. Probably the least Kickstarted genre actually. Licensing issues to blame?

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 Melt Yourself Down and Kirin J Callinan.

The Winners

NOTHING

The Losers

Centration – Angry Engineers

Goal: £50,000
Now: £6,422

Centration’s fundraising campaign has been cancelled. The developers refer to their lack of preparation, which seems about right. I found out about the campaign after it had launched and would certainly have been interested to know beforehand. Always send out heralds to prepare the way. Equip them with the biggest bugles that you can lay your hands on. Development on Centration will continue and preorders are now available, using the same tiers as the KS campaign, here. Obviously, there’s no guarantee of a refund if nothing comes of your payment through that channel.

Dark Matter – InterWave Studios

Goal: £50,000
Now: £6,227

Failure for Dark Matter, which, despite a strong demo and less obvious take on the Metroid template, never gained a great deal of momentum. Perhaps it’s simply hard to make your dark alien-strewn corridors in space look particularly different from other dark alien-strewn corridors in space?

The Players

Dungeonmans – Jim Shepard

Goal: $35,000
Now: $22,247
Days: 12

Oh, I’m a big idiot. I should have posted about Dungeonmans ages ago and then, last week, I fully intended to give it a post of its own rather than just wedging it into the Katchup. And then I ended up boiling to death on a six hour coach trip with no air conditioning, and apparently all of my memories and promises turned into sweat and dripped off the end of my nose. There’s a preview build of Dungeonmans available now and that, along with the concept and pedigree of the team, convince that this will most likely be triumphant. Marvellous. The Academy is the cleverest of the clever, similar to Rogue Legacy’s generation system, allowing for permadeath and persistence.

Tangiers – Alex Harvey

Goal: £35,000
Now: £7,673
Days: 23

Tangiers is about as good as it gets. I’m not going to say ‘art game’ but rather ‘stealth game with an awareness and appreciation of modern art’. It’s beautiful and dripping with intelligence. Jim spoke to designer Alex Harvey and the interview is worth your time.

MotorGun – Pixelbionic

Goal: $650,000
Now: $44,234
Days: 26

Chris Avellone shows up in the most unexpected places. That’s an inevitable side effect of being involved in almost everything ever, I suppose, but even so I was surprised to see his name listed as a stretch goal in MotorGun. “Interstate 76 meets World of Tanks and mix in some old Autoduel” reads the blurb, to which I respond, ‘yes please’. Where would Avellone fit in? Writing comics is where. As for the game, it’s mostly a multiplayer sort of thing but a short singleplayer campaign will be included, with the possibility of extension through stretch goals.

Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly – Pigasus Games

Goal: $20,000
Now: $5,912
Days: 19

I’d skimmed across Pigasus’ Kickstarter page before but hadn’t give it enough time to realise that it’s something worth sharing with everybody ever. Thankfully, Craig is more persistent than me and he wrote all of this as soon as he saw it.

Levels are built with systems rather than single-choice solutions. So a mug is a chalice is a cup, and all three will work if you need something to tote water about. Hooray!

It’s using the interplay of systems, which I love so much in strategy and sim games, and applying something similar to adventure games. Madness! Brilliant madness.

Precinct – Jim Walls

Goal: $500,000
Now: $49,783
Days: 26

Everything you want to know about the new police adventure game from Mr Jim ‘Police Quest’ Walls can be found in this interview, unless you want to know whether the “nutcase at the lake” in Police Quest 3 was based on a real story from Jim’s policing past. Oh no. Wait. That’s in there and, crikey, it’s a good story.

Legend of Iya – darkfalzx

Goal: $75,000
Now: $24,905
Days: 21

Nathan spotted this one and wrote this:

Legend of Iya is an absolute sight to be behold, with intricate art singing life into its boulder-strewn hills. And also castles, forests, giant rock monsters, and T-Rex robots. Pixel art maestro Andrew “darkfalzx” Bado has been developing the Metroidvania on-and-off for nearly two decades, but always in the background of other professional projects for companies like WayForward and Majesco

I’ve received stacks of emails about Iya this week. One of those games that people are very quick to form an attachment to. I reckon it’ll hit its target unless all of those excited people are also skint or miserly.

Project Ravensdale – Black Forest Games

Goal: $500,000
Now: $32,584
Days: 26

Nathan had things to say about Black Forest’s second slice of the KS gateau:

Excitingly, Ravensdale looks heavily co-op oriented in a way that hearkens back to Magicka – at least, if the above video is any indication. BFG’s description sounds a bit more traditional, but there’s still plenty of promise.

Looks gorgeous and appeals to me far more than Giana did. The price is higher though, even with Giana profits pumped into the budget.

Tooth And Cog – Riveting Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $1,460
Days: 26

Riveting Games are building a world with shades of Dunwall but instead of blinking and blading through it, players will be responsible for rebuilding and warring against one another. It’s a multiplayer RTS/turn-based strategy hybrid and contains all of these things:

Mechanical falcons, militarized penny-farthing gangs, fancy hats, balloon squads, zeppelin fleets, armored trains, walking weapons, rays of death, ancient mechanical megaliths, steam golems and clockwork guardians, unnatural experiments and preposterous inventions.

Sounds good to me. Interesting thoughts on designing a turn-based multiplayer game can be found here.

Celestian Tales: Old North – Ekuator Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $11,252
Days: 19

Celestian’s art style isn’t immediately appealing to a man of my tastes and persuasions, but the three decades through which the story takes place and the characters journey intrigue me. Change! Real life issues! Choice! And perhaps the combat will be of interest as well:

Dynamic encounters which turns combat encounters into a form of entertainment itself. Hide from enemies, learn the nature of their movements, avoid them or just bash them all — it depends on how you want to play the game.

Oh, and then look! The graphics are changing too.

Organic Panic – Last Limb LLC

Goal: $40,000
Now: $10,933
Days: 18

What happens when you mix advanced physics (reactive liquids, destructible levels) funny characters and mind bending puzzles?

That’s the question Organic Panic poses, before answering by showing a battle between fruits and vegetables, and meats and cheese. My money is on the cheese. Never back a cheese into a corner. A block of Wensleydale will give you a black eye even as it crumbles. The game looks great, in an Incredible Machine meets Worms sort of a way.

Monochroma – Nowhere Studios

Goal: $80,000
Now: $14,794
Days: 33

Monochroma is delightful. I was going to write about the demo but Craig has already taken a look. It’s a beautiful thing, affecting and effective.

It has an Ico-ish tone: you’re the big brother, carrying your little brother through the world. He’s scared of the dark, so when you have to put him down to attempt a puzzle, you’ll have to find a pool of light to do so.

Try it now. Go on!

Dropsy – Jay Tholen

Goal: $25,000
Now: $8,874
Days: 4

Poor Dropsy. The weird clown’s adventures in a weird world are unlikely to happen this time around, although a second Kickstarter has already been mentioned. This backup plan would involve a smaller goal, with music and extra animations moved to stretch goals, thereby keeping the same budget structure. That actually seems quite sensible, although providing details before this campaign has finished does suggest the waving of a white flag. Which is a shame. Here’s one reason why:

Though often bizarre and humorous, this game’s world takes itself more seriously than other graphic adventures. It’s organized by a few nuanced people groups who each control various portions of the map, and all of them relate to one another in some way. Players progress by learning. As you familiarize yourself with how the world’s history, locations, NPCs, and groups of NPCs relate to each other, solutions to puzzles become apparent.

Intriguing.

Fran Bow – Killmonday

Goal: $20,000
Now: $3,849
Days: 41

This is a point and click adventure about a young girl’s investigation into the brutal murder of her parents. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also locked up in an asylum and her cat has vanished. Terrible news for Fran Bow, all told. Any concerns that the development team aren’t fully committed to the creepy oddness of their project should be put to rest by the video diary below. It is unusual.

Insection – Glasswing

Goal: £280,000
Now: £71,577
Days: 12

Insection still has a chance but success is unlikely for the co-op sci-fi FPS. It’s impressive and shows how much appeal the original pitch had that a campaign with only a single update has managed to raise almost £75,000 in just over a couple of weeks. The artwork is enough to raise a smile. Guns, robots, aliens – but all plucked from some hyper-imaginative Saturday Morning Cartoon rather than the grimdark future of a possible reality. Tell us more, Glasswing!

Eterium – Andrew Luby

Goal: $25,000
Now: $13,228
Days: 10

In many ways, Eterium continues to be the high mark by which other campaigns should be judged. That makes the fact that it hasn’t achieved its goal several times over quite frustrating. Honest, articulate and with a solid core, Luby’s updates and general standard of communication put many others to shame. Shame, I tell you! Expect a new demo soon.

We’ll be releasing a new demo in a few days so stay tuned! The new demo is going to have some of the new music in it as well as a completely new 3rd mission. I was never happy with the 3rd mission in the demo, I felt it was a very weak mission. Our procedural mission generator is great at making large scale missions, but the smaller and easier missions found early in the game give it a bit of trouble. The reason is, early in the game we have not introduced the player to a wide variety of ships, so the mission generator only has a couple fighter types to choose from.

I learn more from this post, self-critical and thoughtful, than I do from some entire campaigns.

Lacuna Passage – Random Seed Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $29,431
Days: 10

Lacuna Passage is the Mars exploration game, with real topography and added mystery. It’s funding has been stable, although it hasn’t had the one big week that often pushes a project over the line. Perhaps this week can be the one? I certainly hope so. The latest update taught me something.

If you are unfamiliar with Penny4NASA, they are a campaign looking to double NASA’s federal funding to one penny out of every tax dollar. This is the level of funding that could get us to Mars in the next few decades. Make sure to check out their website and take action.

Start your engines. We set our sights for the Red Horizon (cue 4,212 emails informing me precisely why an Earth dusk is more likely to create a red horizon than any conditions on Mars).

Satellite Reign – 5 Lives Studios

Goal: £350,000
Now: £271,829
Days: 7

If Satellite Reign doesn’t reach its goal in the next seven days, I’m shutting Kickstarter down. Actually, no, it won’t be Kickstarter’s fault – I’m shutting the audience down. That’s right. War. Me against the lot of you. Here are some thoughts from 5 Lives about stretch goals.

There’s been a lot of reports lately from developers against even having stretch goals. We have no issue with them ourselves, the scope of our game is truly scalable. The nature of an emergent, simulated system is that new components of gameplay can be slotted into, or taken out of, the structure without compromising the core game systems. This allows us to adjust the game according to any budget, whether it’s our initial target or above.

Frozen State – Snow Arc

Goal: £60,000
Now: £18,691
Days: <1

Less than twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be created
Nothin’ to do no where to go-o-oh I wanna be created
Just put me on the Katchup, watch the funding grow
Hurry hurry hurry before I go loco
I can’t control my fingers I can’t control my toes
Oh no no no no no

Time is running out.

And another thing…

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies – StudioBento

Goal: $50,000
Now: $17,063
Days: 24

Here’s a new video from the campaign to fund StudioBento’s documentary of the ‘indie revolution. It was filmed at the 2013 GDC Play. Good stuff.

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Adam Smith

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