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Kickstarter Katchup – 17th November 2012


Three winners this week: StarForge still has plenty of time to reach some of its incredibly tempting stretch goals, Super Comboman cruised through the whole process and Distance had a remarkable boost last week, demonstrating how much a single update can change a game's fortunes. Some projects, Ars Magica and Antharion in particular, are perilously close to failure, but, as ever, there are newcomers as well. A new game from the maker of Middens immediately assaulted my attention and the clever sorts behind Fallen London have a playable prototype of their latest. Onward.

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!
  • Before viewing the Kickstarter, please place all mobile phones on 'silent' and while the post is in progress, refrain from talking with friends or munching popcorn so noisily that you might as well just have an angry alarm clock instead of a face.

The Winners

StarForge - CodeHatch

Goal: $75,000
Now: $91,029

I wanted StarForge to succeed because I've already played around with its insanely ambitious world-building and baddy-blasting, and I had seen that it was full of promise. Now that the goal has been met, it is of course time for further goals and, damn these game-making tempters to the darkest reaches of the void, they have written some tantalising words. StarForge already lets players duel with chainsaws high above a planet's surface while leaping across the struts of a construct of their own creation. It's fair to say it has quite a bit of scope and ambition. But imagine it also experimented with procedural horror in the depths of each world, or custom-built spaceships, or "Infinite Procedural Voxel Planets"? This week, I think we're all winners.

Super Comboman - Super Comboman Team

Goal: $14,900
Now: $16,170

Super Comboman isn't the kind of game that makes me reach for my wallet, but I'm glad to see it succeed because, blimey, it's created a lot of goodwill. I received more emails asking me to include it in the Katchup than any other game a couple of weeks ago and none of them were from the developers, the developers' mums or people who sounded suspiciously like the developers without acknowledging that they were. Here's what they had to say about their success.

"We have much gratitude for your love of punching enemies in the face and slinging dudes into the air with a fanny pack and jiggling mullet nuggets on your head."

I understand about 42% of that.

Distance - Refract Studios

Goal: $125,000
Now: $161,981

Funding doubled in a single week for Distance and you know how they did it? They released a video of future-cars doing parkour. If a Kickstarter is ever struggling to find funders, that's the obvious route to follow. Making a touching text adventure based around the works of Gabriel García Márquez? Need to raise that last $180,000 for research trips and access to academic papers? Release a video of future-cars doing parkour. Can't find the last few thousand pounds to fund the creation of a boardgame about running a box factory in Hyde? Parkour with cars. Carkour. Canker. Ewwww.

The Losers

This is a week of winners. Hurrah.

The Players

Moments of Silence - myformerselves

Goal: $2,400
Now: $1,456
Days: 18

Middens is one of the most startling games I've played this year and you should go and try it now if you haven't already. Moments of Silence is a project from the same developer and while I'm not sure how far $2,400 (minus fees) will go, particularly in the creation of a game that isn't due to be completed until November 2013, I'm excited by the idea of anything new from this mind.

Perhaps Moments of Silence would best be described as a satire for futurists interested in string theory.

Go and read all the descriptions over on the page and revel in language and mystery.

Kaiju Combat - Sunstone Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $19,967
Days: 34

Games about giant monsters battling one another and smashing their environment should be everywhere. Why did Rampage not inspire an entire genre? Why has it not been remade in 3d, feebly or otherwise, or has that actually happened and I missed it? Kaiju Combat hopes to be the definitive giant monster battler and is from a team including one of the chaps who worked on Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters and, errrr, a 2006 version of Rampage. Kaiju looks great but despite being "very serious about making our entire process transparent", the page doesn't seem to mention that the game had a previous failed Kickstarter this summer. I don't think Sunstone are trying to hide the fact since they mentioned it straight away in an email to let us know that they're back, but I think it'd be sensible to acknowledge it and talk about what they've learned. With full disclosure, having previously tried and made progress in the meantime could be a strength. Maybe that's planned for an update.

Below - Failbetter Games

Goal: £15,000
Now: £3,064
Days: 26

I love Fallen London. It's a game of exquisite words and superbly imaginative stories, and I can find time for such delicacies even when they exist in a framework that at times resembles the sort of Facebook game that gives Facebook games a bad name. It's one of those games where you need energy to do things, and that energy builds up over time or through cash payments. The game is liberal with its offerings though and the world is so intriguing that I continue to visit. Below is a "story-fuelled, dungeon-delving digital card game" from the same developers and it already has a playable prototype that I'll be trying as soon as possible. I have thousands of words to write on a Saturday morning though, so I don't have time to play interesting things. SAD ADAM.

Spud's Quest - ChrisD

Goal: £5,000
Now: £1,491
Days: 12

Imagine if Dizzy had been a potato instead of an egg - Spud's Quest carries out just such a feat of the brainbox (I think that's a blue potato?) and conjures up a flip-screen adventure with distinctive retro-styling. This, the weekend that I am busier than is usual, is also the weekend that a few projects have taken the admirable step of including playable demos/prototypes and Spud's Quest is no different. You can grab the demo here.

Retro Skate - Fryza

Goal: $15,000
Now: $7,171
Days: 20

"What do you get when you mix Double Dragon, Extreme Skateboarding, and 8-Bit graphics?"

Retro Skate is the answer to that question, which was first posed by René Descartes in his Discourse on the Method. Descartes notoriously hated retro graphics, considering them lazy rather than a stylistic choice, but what did he know? His favourite game was the risible Zut! Les Hippopotames Ont Faim!

Elite: Dangerous - Frontier Developments

Goal: £1,250,000
Now: £487,450
Days: 48

I just started laughing uncontrollably at the utter bilge that I'd written about Elite: Dangeresque's 'slow-moving' week. Nearly a £100,000 pledged and I'm sitting here comparing the campaign to a glacier ploughing through some molasses while wearing clown shoes with the laces tied together. In the latest video, Mr Braben talks about procedural generation. I love procedural generation so much that I leave coffee mugs all over my flat so that finding them a few days later is like discovering an entire new world. Exploration-based gaming!

Watch on YouTube


Goal: $150,000
Now: $42,186
Days: 23

I was speaking to a group of people wot write about games yesterday and it turned out that the ones who have played the multiplayer treats included in SportsFriends are massively excited about this project. Those who haven't played any of them find the whole thing very confusing. Explaining JS Joust to people who have never heard of it before is a game in itself. A great deal of the pledges can probably be traced back to people who have played one or more of the games at a convention or expo of some sort, and perhaps the rest of humanity finds all the fuss very bewildering.

Pro Wrestling X - Wrestling Gamers United

Goal: $75,000
Now: $10,255
Days: 20

It wouldn't be professional wrestling without some behind the scenes drama and that is precisely what Pro Wrestling X is promising in a future update:

...a new video is coming and it wil touch on things that even our die hard fans don't know. How close we came to super success, how close we came to dying...literally.

While we wait for that, there is another video that shows some rendering options, allowing the game to be played in cartoon mode and others. I doubt it'll make anyone fire a money-cannon at their screen but, hey, it's a neat touch.

Pier Solar HD - WaterMelon Co

Goal: $139,000
Now: $102,752
Days: 18

WaterMelon have added loads of new rewards and tiers to the page for their enormous 16-bit RPG. It's a genuine 16-bit RPG as well, being the only game released on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis in recent years. I think they're going to make it. Has anyone around these parts actually played the original release?

Maia - Simon Roth

Goal: £100,042
Now: £48,586
Days: 11

Every week I expect a flurry of activity over at Maia's page and I'm never disappointed. It'd be reassuring if more of the activity was from pledgers rather than Simon, who has been working hard to answer questions about the ambitious, retro-technology colony-building god game. In the latest update he hands over to Nick Dymond who is working on the game's audio. This is how he signs off.

Right, I'm off now to contemplate the sound of a chicken burning-up in lava.

If Maia had just one of Elite's 'slow' weeks it'd be stretching toward some considerable goals right now. Instead, there's a week and a half left to reach the initial target, with just under half of the funding promised.

The Ship: Full Steam Ahead - Blazing Griffin

Goal: £128,000
Now: £8,883
Days: 43

I was expecting Full Steam Ahead to reach choppy waters at some point but last week, at such an early stage of the voyage, barely any movement was made toward the final destination. It's as if a dignitary were swinging a bottle against the bow but the blasted thing just keeps bouncing off the stalwart hull and refuses to shatter. Blazing Griffin have a new video to "explain why Full Steam Ahead will be an up-to-date, relevant sequel to the original hit."

Kung Fu Superstar - Kinesthetic Games

Goal: £200,000
Now: £21,467
Days: 17

Martial arts movie-man simulator, Kung Fu Superstar, is struggling. The Origin subtitle and prologue nature of the initial project may have put people off, but the developers have addressed the issue. It's also possible that many of the people who 'like' the project but haven't yet backed it are keen on the concept but unsure as to whether it'll be a lesser beast without a motion controller. Or a lesser beast with one. The 'Backer to Liker ratio' detailed in this post is an interesting read.

Sui Generis - Bare Mettle Entertainment

Goal: £150,000
Now: £57,087
Days: 12

Bare Mettle have a new team member - a writer - and even though the target is still gallivanting on a distant horizon, I wouldn't bet against Sui Generis. A new video explains combat...mostly.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption - Corey Cole

Goal: $400,000
Now: $306,804
Days: 3

Corey Cole either loves what he's trying to do with Hero-U or he does a brilliant impersonation of a man with a passion. It'd be easy to dismiss the world of Hero University as a silly - or heavens forfend, zany - take on fantasy adventure games, but the more serious thoughts scattered through the updates are one of the more refreshing aspects of the project. Given that almost a third of the current total arrived in the last few days, this could well be a photo finish.

Antharion - Orphic Software

Goal: $15,000
Now: $11,167
Days: < 1 Around fifteen hours to go and Antharion is in desperate need of a squadron of backers. Or just three or four who are willing to pledge massive amounts of cash. There's a new video of the turn-based RPG below.

Interstellar Marines: Prologue - Zero Point Software

Goal: $600,000
Now: $108,339
Days: 10

Kickstarter Krunch time is a serious time and Interstellar Marines is in that zone right now. There's a new video coming on Monday, which is part of a 'relaunch', hoping to explain the project more clearly. Apart from the 'Prologue' aspect, I think it's all fairly clear. Co-op tactical shooter with space-sharks. Simple. Even though these are serious times, Zero Point, commendably, find it hard to break their funny bones. Out-takes from their upcoming video rest below.

Shadowgate - Zojoi

Goal: $120,000
Now: $85,122
Days: 8

There's still time for Shadowgate to find the necessaries (I've already emailed them a doodle of a skeleton driving a car up a wall) but, whether the first-person adventure remake appeals to you or not, I'd like to draw your attention to what might seem like an insignificant update. Now, read the one that came before. That's a retraction, an admission that a mistake was made and an attempt to fix it as quickly as possible. Good work.

Songmasters "The Music Wars" - ARMOGASTE

Goal: $20,000
Now: $12,148
Days: 15

This week, Songmasters once again hopes to explain how its musical combat works, although with a tutorial demo rather than a video this time. If you do try it out, share thoughts in the comments. I would have a go myself but as mentioned earlier, I have a million other things to do, at least 984,677 of which are very important indeed.

Forced - BetaDwarf

Goal: $40,000
Now: $21,113
Days: 13

I've already written plenty about Forced this week, having finally played the demo that the developers sent to me. It's good!

Ars Magica Video Game - Black Chicken Studios

Goal: $290,000
Now: $90,535
Days: 1

I'm a great believer in the final push that can save a Kickstarter in its dying days. It happens with some regularity, although understanding why this is so would trouble even the greatest minds of our time. Unfortunately, Ars Magica needs more than a push, it needs to be chained to an army of monster trucks that can drag it through any obstacle and up the mountain called victory. Actually, no, don't go up the mountain, monster trucks, because your cumbersome tires will make you roll and bounce, toppling ever downwards to your doom.

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