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Kickstarter Katchup – 15th December 2012

Kicking back with friends

I've got a terrible headache this morning and I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet. The temptation is to throw copper coins out of my window at passing urchins, demanding that they purchase food and gifts on my behalf, but instead I decided to tuck into the selection box that is the Kickstarter Katchup to see what's happening in the world of crowdfunding and gaming. The SPORTSFRIENDS survived, Consortium's first-person role-playing adventure impressed and much else besides. I would say more but I really need to go and eat some painkillers though and then brave the crowds that are funding Father Christmas' Commercial Extravaganza.

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!
  • Do not turn over the Katchup until the invigilator tells you to begin and please do not copy from that one boy who sits next to you and always finishes filling in the answers before everyone else. He just makes them up anyway.

The Winners

Unforgotten Quest - Robert Moran

Goal: $100,000
Now: $100,679

Success for the comedic co-op RPG, which has presumably received plenty of support from fans of the web series created by the team. Despite having no knowledge of either the series of the proposed game before last week, I'm keen to see what comes of this. The entire game is built around software that will allow mods, total overhauls and even complete switching of genres. Or at least that's what it says here:

Create your OWN RPG. Create quests, build worlds, and make your own classes and bosses using the same awesome tools we'll be using to make UQ
Design Fighting Games. Schmoopy, Nailo, Roamin: Super Smash Bros style? We'll make it so you have the tools and UI customization to do it.
Tower Defenses, 2D Mobas, re-enact Hamlet. UQ may only be a 4 person game, but the level editor will be able to support 12 to 16 players.

Tiny Barbarian DX - Michael Stearns

Goal: $12,000
Now: $12,587

Victory for Conan-o, as only I refer to the miniature barbarian who will soon be hacking and slashing his way through side-scrolling retro-styled episodes chock full of rippling muscles and slaughter. Backers who pledged enough to receive the game will have the first episode as soon as Michael finishes it and others will follow.

Predestination - Brain and Nerd

Goal: $25,000
Now: $29,340

Predestination has docked into the successo-station and now begins the process of unloading its crew so that they can jump into action. And by action, I mean sitting at their computers for the next twelve months creating a 4X space strategy game. Brain and Nerd reckon this is the first successful Northern Irish gaming Kickstarter project and thereby I politely request that all space strategy fans raise a pint glass in the direction of Belfast if they find themselves in a pub tonight. Stretch goals include multiplayer and modding tools, and there are loads of videos to watch.


Goal: $150,000
Now: $152,451

I knew it! When things looked bleak for SPORTSFRIENDS I stubbornly refused to accept the possibility of failure. Probably because more people were tweeting about how much it had to succeed than hilariously sending messages to the Pope. If there's two things I know about the people I follow on Twitter, it's that they are capable of rallying the troops around a much-loved collection of multiplayer games and that they think saying 'bum' to the Pope's personal IT assistant is a victory of sorts. Anyone who pledged $30 or more should be receiving alpha versions of J.S. Joust, Hokra, and BaraBariBall soon. Or perhaps they've received them already? I did play Joust last weekend and I was terrible at it, as always, balancing a beer in one hand and the controller in the other. I don't know if I had an opponent other than myself.

The Losers


The Players

Consortium - Interdimensional Games

Goal: $200,000
Now: $7,422
Days: 16

Watch the video for Consortium, even if the first thirty seconds or so doesn't seem all that intriguing. I watch so many of these things a week that I'm practically numb to their charms and I was thinking, 'OK, sci-fi, space, something something' before I realised I was looking at something more interesting than another ship-zapping space game. There's a huge amount of backstory to the universe, much of it explored in the ARG that has been running since January 2010, and the game itself is not what I expected from the first moments of the pitch at all. Built in Source, Consortium is a "first-person narrative RPG", which looks for all the world like a fully fleshed out, complex and involved adventure that takes something akin to the crew interactions and relationships of Mass Effect and runs with them all the way to the next galaxy. There is tactical combat, but the details in the pitch remind me more of The Last Express than the pew-pew of space-lasers. An experienced team, a superb concept and a great deal of development progress - where have all the backers been?

Dream - HyperSloth

Goal: £20,000
Now: £3,079
Days: 18

Dream was one of the first games to bask in the glow of Steam's Greenlight and now an extra £20,000 is needed to complete it. Drawing inspiration from Yume Nikki, it's a first-person exploration game, which I need more of, and it looks mighty impressive. Here's the setup:

You take on the role of Howard Phillips, a young graduate with no direction in life who develops an obsession with his dreams. Discover dreams and nightmares filled with puzzles and secrets to help Howard find the meaning to his life.

Well, there's a referential name if ever I saw one. Personally, I'd have gone for Fearston McTerror but H.P. will do, I suppose. The game looks good and I've included some unedited footage below rather than the pitch video, although you can of course watch that over at the Kickstarter page.

Tainted Fate - Misfit Village

Goal: $3,000
Now: $134
Days: 40

With apologies, this belated entry (added at 13:45 for those wondering how belated) is a horror adventure with two protagonists, with each exploring the same island at a different time. Actions in the earlier decade, the 1940s, can alter events in the modern day storyline. The funding target is low but that's because the game is already a good way through development, as the video below and the playable tech prototype demonstrate. The island settings may bring Dear Esther to mind but Tainted Fate contains puzzles and monsters as well as a lighthouse. The video actually reminded me of Lovecraftian Crysis mod, The Worry of Newport.

Days of Dawn - Bumblebee

Goal: $95,000
Now: $19,396
Days: 17

"Hand-painted graphics...16-bit era...original roleplaying game...round-based combat...unique magic system...toddlers hovering in the air, a wife ignites her house in anger." That last part grabbed my attention firmly, although now that I think about it floating toddlers and pyromaniac spouses are almost certainly common occurrences in The Sims. This isn't The Sims though, it's a fantasy RPG, under development by a team of industry veterans based in Germany. The claim of a 'unique' magic system had me half-hoping that magic was uniquely absent, just for a change, but instead magic is new to the world and therefore hasn't been documented and researched. No tomes, no scrolls, just emotion and instinct. There's more about that here.

Aero - Bill Nye and GameDesk

Goal: $100,000
Now: $25,860
Days: 13

I almost didn't include Aero for two reasons. First of all, it doesn't have a great deal of time left to reach its goal and I've only just been told about it. And then there's the fact that it's an iPad game with PC only included as a $115,000 stretch goal. Despite all of that, here it is because the video, featuring Bill Nye, who American readers likely know as The Science Guy, is too cheerful to ignore. I'm not sure how the game actually works but the intention is to teach players about bird flight by modelling the aerodynamics and flight physics accurately. There is an 'air molecule viewer' mode. Far from being intimidating, the game looks jolly and educational, and the project is the work of a non-profit organisation who seem intent on the power of learning, which is almost as cool as the power of flight.

Meriwether: An American Epic - Sortasoft

Goal: $35,000
Now: $13,304
Days: 22

I'm not the only person impressed by the well-researched historical exploration setting of Meriwether, at least not judging by the healthy amount of backers who discovered it this week. And on top of that there's an endorsement Dr Gary E Moulton, a scholar and editor of The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition:

"Having worked with the core documents of the Lewis and Clark expedition for twenty years as editor of the explorers’ journals, I’m impressed with the dedication Josh has given to achieving historical accuracy. And as an experienced game designer, he also knows how to create elements of challenge and excitement in this endeavour."

Now, if only more scholars would take games seriously. Where is Professor Herbert Butterstink's dissertation upon Historiography, Connor and the American Myth?

Forsaken Fortress - Photon Productions

Goal: $100,000
Now: $65,005
Days: 6

Plenty of updates detailing how this survival RPG will work, including videos on combat and vehicles. Not long left, but momentum is building and the team have plenty to show.

Telepath Tactics - Sinister Design

Goal: $25,500
Now: $9,084
Days: 14

Craig Stern's SRPG, self-described as the offspring of Disgaea and Fire Emblem, has a demo. You can download it for Windows, Mac or Linux, and if you have an interest in turn-based tactical battling that would seem like a sensible thing to do. There's also new information on multiplayer, which was the original focus of the game, including details in local multiplayer support.

War for the Overworld - Subterranean Games

Goal: £150,000
Now: £66,631
Days: 19

Keeping the flame of Dungeon Keeper lit (or relighting it) is a noble ambition and War for the Overworld's team aren't the only developers piling up the kindling. The project is up there with Impire as one of the most promising tunnel-carving, minion-bossing game I've laid eyes on recently. The playable prototype has been updated and though it is very basic, it's still useful to see the tech in action. A recent update also informs us that the game will be DRM-free in all its incarnations.

Project GODUS - 22cans

Goal: £450,000
Now: £305,393
Days: 6

If there's a criticism of Project GODUS' Kickstarter that I haven't heard yet, I'd be amazed. Do feel free to amaze me in the comments. It would be churlish to complain about the updates on the project page though, whether they're indicative of a game you'd like to back or not. Molyneux and his team are documenting the process in such detail, not all of it flattering, that I'm not entirely sure that the footage itself doesn't represent 22cans' second experiment. Here's a video showing the prototype as it existed earlier this week, with more to come this weekend.

Dizzy Returns - The Oliver Twins

Goal: £350,000
Now: £25,280
Days: 6

The Oliver Twins have publicly stated that Dizzy's return is unlikely and the figures back them up. They have elaborated on the almost certain failure of the project and their reasoning might be useful to plenty of other people considering Kickstarter:

“When we started the Dizzy Returns campaign we were in the pre-development stage, concepting characters, locations and game mechanics. Many of you have asked to see a demo or some gameplay footage – unfortunately that doesn’t exist yet, because of the simple fact that we haven’t begun actually making the game.”

“The majority of video game Kickstarter projects have been in production for some time, with some having been literally years in the making, and of course this wasn’t the case with Dizzy Returns. As we have learnt all too well, starting the campaign this early in pre-development has made it much harder to communicate our vision of Dizzy Returns, and there’s no denying that we should and could have done this better.”

Kaiju Combat - Sunstone Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $83,740
Days: 6

Fans of giant monsters punching each other may be pleased to hear that Kaiju Combat has finally found the rich veins of Godzilla-lust that were concealed surprisingly well in Mount Internet. The project was shy of $50,000 last week and the last seven days have been far its biggest yet. Gargantuan days. The sort of days that would stamp on a city block and then poo flames on the commercial district. New videos are still in production but the team are updating the art style from their current 'cartoon style' and hope to have something to show before the end of the Kickstarter period.

Elite: Dangerous - Frontier Developments

Goal: £1,250,000
Now: £749,149
Days: 20

Everything is relative, especially in space where Einstein lives in a clock. That's why Elite: Dangerous raising its pledge total by just less than a £100,000 in a week doesn't look as hugely impressive as the figure suggests. Although that would be enough to fund plenty of games outright, for Elite it's a large drop in a larger bucket. I'd be shocked if the final days don't bear witness to a flurry of activity, so I reckon Braben's team will reach their target, but they've really needed the super-long pledging period they opted for. Or perhaps the final days would still have pushed them over the top. Here's a new video about the development plan, with info on exploring ships, stations and planets.

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