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Kickstarter Katchup - 17th March 2013

Putting the 'ding' back into crowdfunding

The Katchup contains a delicious new entry this week that goes by the name, 'The Adventures of Dash'. It stars a narcoleptic boy. Then there's Back to Bed, a success story that contains a sleepwalking chap. Yet here I am, an insomniac man, writing on the internet at one o'clock in the morning. If computer games can teach people to fire guns and drive cars then why can they not teach me to sleep? But, hey, there are loads of successful projects again this week so that's good. I'm going to eat a block of cheese and hope for terrible but inspirational nightmares.

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!
  • Do not provoke the Katchup with cruel taunts. It has feelings, you know.

The Winners

Telepath Tactics - Sinister Design

Goal: $15,000
Now: $16,028

When I saw that Telepath Tactics had returned to Kickstarter, I rolled up my sleeves and prepared to rally the turn-based tactic-lovers of the internet to take a look at the promising pitch. When I saw that it had already hit its target with almost a month left on the clock, I gently slid the sleeves back down my arms and peered at the stretch goals instead. And, in a flash, the sleeves are above my elbows again because I'd very much like randomised battlefield generation and extra campaign branches, as detailed here.

Whispering Willows - Nightlife Interactive

Goal: $15,000
Now: $20,747

Even if you didn't back horror puzzler Whispering Willows, you can try the demo and and try to work out if you might be interested the full game when it's released this summer. You might even decide to contribute when the Paypal account goes live in the near future.

Ithaka Of The Clouds - Jonas and Verena Kyratzes

Goal: $12,000
Now: $12,509

The Land of Dreams games have been part of my indie gaming life for a long time and it's a strange thrill to realise that folk who (mostly) allowed people to play the games they had made for free are able to raise thousands of dollars from fans of their work. Kickstarter can bring out the cynic in me, as can almost any process involving money, but it's still capable of making me smile. Having said all of that, despite considering myself to be a non-materialistic sort, certain processes involving money banish my grump and make me smile as well. They mostly involve receiving large sums of it.

Back to Bed - Bedtime Gaming

Goal: $12,000
Now: $13,312

You can play the demo of the stylish somnambulist puzzler right now and the full version will be happening soon. It's heading to iPad first and Windows, Mac and Linux versions will follow. Would you like a fact? Almost half of the final total was raised in the final week.

Crayon Chronicles - Outer Grid Games

Goal: $5,000
Now: $6,299

There are still two weeks left on the clock for Crayon Chronicles, a simple and light-hearted roguelike, but it managed to raise all of the ready money before I even discovered it. Always embarrassing when that happens. Here are some words from the developers.

"You are encouraged to play through the game more than once thanks to the random nature of the environment layouts, but also because we keep track of the interesting facts about each play-through (in our newfangled "Heroic Hallitorium") so you can compare your adventures to each other as well as to the adventures of your friends."

Looking good and we should find out whether it plays good soon enough. It's due in June.

The Players

The Adventures Of Dash - Robotoki

Goal: $400,000
Now: $25,282
Days: 16

Robert Bowling, formerly of Infinity Ward, formed Robotoki following years of work on the little-known Call of Duty series. The Adventures of Dash isn't the studio's flagship project, that's Human Element, but Dash does have the advantage of being absolutely charming. It's a puzzler/adventure that exists to allow artists to express themselves. Really!

What always frustrated me working on Call of Duty or even our own Human Element, was that hiring any of these artists I loved meant one thing, forcing them into an art style to fit with the game universe we were working on. It resulted in stripping away everything I loved about them in the first place, their personality, and personal style was lost in the universe of the game. Why should we adapt an artist to the game, when the game can adapt to the artist?

Each artist has their own world, built in their own style, which the player visits on the many occasions that Dash's narcolepsy kicks in.

Small World 2 - Days Of Wonder

Goal: $150,000
Now: $147,011
Days: 23

My favourite thing about Small World is the ridiculous combinations that are thrown up when making races for each player. Flying skeletons trying to conquer a world controlled by commando ratmen is a recipe for success. The sequel to the boardgame will (again) receive an iOS port but will also come to PC if the Kickstarter succeeds. It almost has, with three weeks to go. A pledge of fifteen dollars or over will procure a copy when the release date arrives - you can pick your platform but be advised that the PC version will require Steam. Reading about this reminded me of a gorgeous game called Small Worlds and Kieron wrote about that back in the day.

Shackleton Crater - Joe Got Game

Goal: $700,000
Now: $22,946
Days: 23

Crikey, that's a lot of money. What will almost three quarters of a million go toward funding? Why, it's Shackleton Crater, a lunar colonisation game. Cara said 'hello' to the game earlier this week and wrote the following words, and many more:

Joe Ybarra is a lovely lovely man (his smile makes me want to go out and get Werther’s Originals from the shop) with 30 years of experience making games. He has decided to make a moonbase-building turn-based strategy game (apparently with quite a bit of replay value) to inspire the next generation of wee sciency scamps to use their Brain Powers to bugger off to the moon.

I can exclusively report that Cara is looking at a bag of Werther's Originals right now and regretting the purchase.

Neural Break - RIP Studios

Goal: $15,000
Now: $1,030
Days: 26

An open world first-person, multiplayer, co-operative survival horror game, eh? You don't see one of those every day, unless you play Day Z every day, I guess. The Kickstarter 'video' is really an audio file, although there's a small animated intro and a picture of a brain-lump to look at while the team describe their vision. It's a terrific vision, containing PvE, PvP, hunting, trading, vehicles and crafting. Oh, and horrible monsters of course. It's not yet clear how well any of this would work but the team reckon they could make it happen for the low price of fifteen thousand dollars, which would procure a Unigine license and allow them to create environments like this.

Watch on YouTube

That's a Unigine video, not a Neural Break video. You can listen to and read about the pitch on the Kickstarter page.

Humans Must Answer - Sumom Games

Goal: £5,000
Now: £690
Days: 25

Humans Must Answer is a horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up in which the player controls a ship that "is manned by a crew of intelligent and dangerous chickens". I'd say that's all you need to know but I should add that the game is heading for completion whether you fund it or not, but will receive an extra bout of polishing if the money arrives, as well as providing you with the opportunity of pre-purchasing for the cheaper-than-launch price of £5. There are many explosions in this game.

The Golem - Moonbot Studios

Goal: $750,000
Now: $85,096
Days: 8

I think I'm too late. In fact, I'm almost definitely too late but that's not going to stop me from finally drawing The Golem to the attention of anyone who hasn't already seen it. It's a game about controlling a giant construct-creature and doing things like this:

...the Golem may be entranced by a butterfly during his time in the city of Prague. You'll want to play and chase it, but you'll need to find a way to play and not crush the city of Prague.

That sounds incredible. I was concerned the golem itself would be a little bit like the creatures in Black and White, by which I mean it would do very little apart from the occasional poo, but apparently not.'ll learn to have full control over the Golem's body. You'll learn everything from basic motor skills to how to throw boulders at invading armies as you gain complete control of the Golem's body.

Super Ubi Land - Notion Games

Goal: $5,000
Now: $3,869
Days: 21

Super Ubi Land is coming to Wii U at some point in the future, although the port won't cause the PC version to be delayed, so it's absolutely nothing like the Ubi-published Rayman: Legends. In fact, the Ubi in this game isn't a previously DRM-happy, assassin-churning publisher at all. It's a small green thing that wants to platform its way into your heart. And, yes, 'platform' is a verb, as in 'Mario loves to platform' or 'Rayman loves to go multi-platform causing millions of people to gnash their teeth and throw their hands in the air like they really, really care'.

The Missing Ink - Red Bedlam

Goal: £25,000
Now: £2,820
Days: 31

I feel like I'm cheating a little bit here because the Kickstarter for this MMORPG, with its lovely graphics and player-generated content, is to fund an iPad port. However, the game is free to play on PC and technically still in open beta, so helping to fund development should improve the game for all. That's not to say you should send any money Red Bedlam's way unless you enjoy the game and the idea of cross-platform play, presumably because you own an apple-tablet. You can play the game now, for free, so why not take a look and see if it's your particular cup of brewed leaves?

Shroud Of The Avatar - Portalarium

Goal: $1,000,000
Now: $954,351
Days: 20

If you want to know what's happening in the world of Kickstarter this week, you're probably better off asking Hubert Pimpledink Throtsbury, the 17th century Earl of Nae Internet Manor. I've barely seen an internet since Tuesday so if there's been any huge controversies, they might have blown straight past me. Richard Garriott's not-an-Ultima game seems to be doing quite well, although I did expect it to have passed its target already. Still, close enough. There are loads of updates though and...oh, wait, there is controversy after all!

Shroud of the Avatar has an innovative Selective-Multi-player system, which allows players to select the play experience they want; from a completely offline solo player mode, through a solo player online mode where you can view and contribute to the persistent world

"The play experience they want"? Ridiculous!

Pulse - Team Pixel Pi

Goal: $75,000
Now: $19,854
Days: 25

Pulse uses sound and echolocation to create what a marketing sort might call 'An All New Sensory Experience', before trademarking the phrase 'sensory experience' and suing everybody else. The only update has this to say:

I’m working in some polish changes and getting rid of some irritating bugs, as well as DRASTICALLY reducing the size of the prototype. The length/levels/gameplay will be pretty much the same.

That's a handy reminder that there is a prototype, so go play it now.

Another Castle - Uncade

Goal: $12,000
Now: $10,067
Days: 12

Another Castle is a randomly generated platformer, which creates random goals, layouts and plots, and then sends the player hopping and jumping to the right. Whenever a level is completed, the item discovered is unlocked and may be found on the next level. It's close to victory and has a reward tier that recognises the ludicrous nature of reward tiers.

Just Who the Heck Pledges $10,000 for a Reward Tier, Anyways? - I will fly anywhere in the world (that’s safe), or buy you a plane ticket to here in Richmond. From there I will ask you why the heck you pledged for this reward...Sorry folks, limited to only 10,000 backers."

There's an early playable prototype.

Civitas - Brandon Smith

Goal: $250,000
Now: $110,759
Days: 15

I've collected my full thoughts on SimCity and will be presenting them very soon in the form of a 'Wot I Think'. As for Civitas, the proposed alternative city-building game that has all sorts of fancy features, like terraforming and a functional single player mode. It gathered a great deal of attention in its first week, riding the wave of hype that had bounced off Maxis' wonky toybox, but the pledges have slowed somewhat. There's an uncertainty about the team's ability to deliver on their claims and the lack of information about the members of that team doesn't help. It's entirely possible that this has been a botched Kickstarter launch, with very little useful information about game or team, and that a second, later attempt might be more revealing, but for now, I'm still as dubious as a Doubting Thomas at a homeopathy conference.

There Came An Echo - Iridium Studios

Goal: $90,000
Now: $83,703
Days: 3

There's something engagingly bonkers about the idea of an RTS controlled by the human voice. I can certainly talk faster than I can click a mouse, as anyone who has ever had to put up with my many drunken anecdotes will attest to, so I should be brilliant at commanding tiny men by shouting at them. The squads in There Came An Echo are small so perhaps I'll need to shout clearly rather than quickly, but the game does have alternate control schemes for the more conventionally minded. Hopefully the game is good no matter how it's controlled, because it looks like the funding drive is going to succeed.

Ultimate Disassembly - Noble Empire

Goal: $30,000
Now: $1,491
Days: 39

Following two of the smallest weekly gains I've ever seen (and I've seen your mum's weight gain*), Ultimate Disassembly is in disarray. The plan, in short, is to deliver an incredibly detailed 3d modelling kit with support for several vehicles, including a heliblopper and a Delorean time machine. I thought it looked quite neat but apparently only 47 people agree.

*I'm far too polite to make insulting jokes about anyone's mum, which is why I'm so bad at it

Empire Eden - New Horizon Games

Goal: $19,000
Now: $2,159
Days: 9

Empire Eden is a handsome game that involves both running and gunning, which means it must be 'GUN' times better than Daley Thompson's Decathlon, which is one of the greatest games ever made. The project is perilously close to failure though; even with nine days left, it's hard to have hope when the funding is so slow. There is a demo now though, so maybe playing will convince people to pledge:

"...we added some interesting elements like a kill counter, and waves of enemies.. But this is not how the game will be when it's finally released. -- It will be much more story driven, and the maps will be linear and ever changing.. Just like Metal Slug or Contra."

Rogue System - DCI

Goal: $300,000
Now: $44,058
Days: 4

Rogue System would need Father Kickstarter's Greatest Miracle to succeed at this point and that makes me a little sad because the campaign has been exemplary. The many updates contain lots of information, in both text and video form, and the concept itself is brilliant. Yes, it's trading/combat thing set in space and we've been there before, but it aims to model the crafts of space in true sim style. Even if the unimaginable doesn't happen, Rogue System won't vanish.

Finally, RogSys will NOT "die" without Kickstarter funding. I have a full milestone's worth of tasks to begin as soon as the KS is complete. All a lack of KS funding means is that I can't go to full time production yet, nor properly hire individuals to help me. Does Rogue System deserve full-time attention? I believe it does, yes. Will it die without it? Not if I have anything to say about it (and I DO).

Var and the Vikings - Brainworth

Goal: $31,000
Now: $12,280
Days: 6

It's still possible that this puzzle-platformer will raise the thirty one thousand dollars, but it's also mathematically possible for Manchester City to rise to the top of the table before the season's end. Both events seem unlikely, although if I had any money, I'd bet it on Brainsworth. The game involves teaching AI vikings to smash robots and that seems like a good thing to do. The latest video shows a player-controlled viking and his AI co-op buddy. The AI tree that controls the body was created by the player so, in a way, everything is player-controlled. Except the robots. They only exist to be broken.

Watch on YouTube

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