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Kickstarter Katchup – 22nd November 2012

Yolked to the Soil

We are approaching the singularity. First there were bundles and then there was Kickstarter. That's pretty much how I'll remember the last couple of years. Exciting sci-fi god game Maia has done the unthinkable and combined the two. That's an update worth checking out. Currently performing victory dances in the endzone are Hero-U and Shadowgate, while two promising RPGs fall short - one promises to return soon, perhaps too soon, while the other may be gone for good. And if all that isn't enough for you, there's also a one-man space game that's quite a bit cheaper than Elite: Dangerous, an egg and Peter Molyneux. Let's take a look.

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!
  • When considering a pledge, remember that clicking the button defines your political stance and your views on the future of the industry. The Katchup takes no responsibility for your potentially accidental attempts to salvage/destroy everything that you hold dear.

The Winners

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption - Corey Cole

Goal: $400,000
Now: $409,150

Jubilation and a pint of ale for all. There shall be a new game from the creators of Quest for Glory. This was as close a finish as I've seen recently, bringing back memories of the early days of the gaming Kickstarter revolution, when every project was either an enormous runaway success or a desperate struggle for survival. Or at least that's how I remember it but who can expect my memories of 1964 to be all that clear?

Hero-U might be partly a case of industry legends trading on their past but with almost an update a day through the campaign and a genuine sense of community building, the project page has been a great example of how to engage with a potential audience. It's a little sappy but the final part of this update shows that managing a campaign properly makes a huge difference.

Shadowgate - Zojoi

Goal: $120,000
Now: $121,681

There are still around 40 hours left for the ultra-pretty remake of first-person adventure Shadowgate and it's already a winner. It's another project that looked close to missing the mark next week but, here we are, with a future of spikey, skeletal death ahead of us. Zojoi are going all out with the physical rewards but the only thing I'd be interested in, despite being generally allergic to geek/gaming t-shirts, is the reimagined MLB logo sported in the image below. Bring it to me and clothe me in it. I shall wait here, topless.

The Losers

Antharion - Orphic Software

Antharion was just over a thousand dollars shy of its $15,000 goal. Orphic are planning to launch a new campaign in a week's time, although if I were them I'd take the time out to refresh, rethink and enjoy some festivities. For many, pledges to Kickstarter, whether for turn-based RPGs or otherwise, will always come second to spending on friends, family and personal appreciation at this time of the year. Timing could be everything.

Ars MAgica - Black Chicken Studios

Bloody hell. Ars Magica didn't even come close and Black Chicken aren't planning to return to the project anytime soon.

There may come a time when we are able to create an Ars Magica game with your help, but we reluctantly believe it will not be soon. Which is a tremendous pity, because we believe gaming needs new, unique role-playing experiences, with original mechanics, stories and settings.

On one hand there's Sui Generis, struggling to be defined as an interesting RPG beyond its engine, and here there's a fascinating RPG concept that would probably have received more attention if it had spectacular tech behind it. I reckon there were two major problems here and I was guilty of the first. My initial understanding was that the Ars Magica game would be similar in style to the studio's Academagia - I don't think that would have been entirely true.

The second problem is that I don't think enough people grasped just how awesome a generational RPG could be. The more I read about the plans for Ars Magica, the more I was reminded of King of Dragon Pass and then, sadly, I realised how little that reference means to the majority of people. Go and play King of Dragon Pass now as penance.

The Players

Project GODUS - 22cans

Goal: £450,000
Now: £124,130
Days: 27

Is Peter Molyneux, referencing Cityville before Dwarf Fortress or From Dust, out of touch with modern gaming and its concept of god? Maybe he's far too in touch with the trends and the changing face of interactions and communication. I find that his conversations and talks in recent times show an interest in the social centre of gaming rather than the exciting wilds and badlands. Project GODUS has already been divisive as the ideology of Kickstarter comes under increasing scrutiny. And then we all realise that it's the ideology of individuals, creators and players alike, and it's a platform with the same potential and pitfalls as any other. Mr Grayson spoke to Mr Molyneux earlier this week. It was emotional.

Limit Theory - Josh Parnell

Goal: $50,000
Now: $32,302
Days: 28

"Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe." I'm sure I've heard this one before and I'm pretty certain it was going to cost over a million pounds. Limit Theory looks like a hugely impressive project and it's all the work of one man. There's also a full development blog that goes into detail about progress, ideas and mechanics. Almost as if there's already a good portion of the game in existence. That sort of thing won't catch on, surely. I'm going to try and talk to Josh next week to learn more, because this could be a cracker.

Tiny Barbarian DX - Michael Stearns

Goal: $12,000
Now: $5,687
Days: 25

Quinns played the original Tiny Barbarian back in January 2011 and we learned that a new version was planned earlier this year. Now you can pledge for the 2D action game. Here's some gameplay footage.

Predestination - Brain and Nerd

Goal: $25,000
Now: $5,671
Days: 34

A turn-based 4x strategy game set in space and hailing from the distant galaxy of Belfast. I forgot that Endless Space existed earlier this week, which was stupid because I think it's great, but there's always room on my hard drive for more star conquering. The video probably isn't the most thrilling you'll see today, but it's not about big budgets and gravelly voiceovers, it's about content. Although I do wish all the interesting content was frontloaded in the pitch. Could be one to keep an eye on this.

Dizzy Returns - The Oliver Twins

Goal: £350,000
Now: £7,433
Days: 27

Remember Dizzy? The Oliver Twins sure hope you do. That's one pricey egg. You could even go so far as to say it's eggspens...nope. Can't do it. The Olivers have this to say in a comment, when somebody queries the funding:

Thanks for the great questions...we'll look to address the questions on our goal in a project update, showing our backers where there money will be spent is very important to us.

Moments of Silence - myformerselves

Goal: $2,400
Now: $2,154
Days: 11

I'd love to know exactly what $2,400 (minus fees) can contribute to the creation of a game over a twelve month period, but I'd also love to experience just about anything that puts this forward as its story:

"The story begins in a stranded seven tiered city perched on the hump of a prehistoric turtle. Bungees and metal pulleys support the precarious tower structure that stratifies poor from rich. To maintain the health of their biological host the city employs its working class to nurture the turtle until one day a cancerous growth is discovered at the base of its neck. Thrown into panic at the news of its dying foundation the city leaders scheme at a solution, and the game's true story starts..."

Kaiju Combat - Sunstone Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $28,203
Days: 27

Giant monsters punch, claw and bite, a city ruined screams at their feet, shattered as if it were made of porcelain and peril. Monstrous beat 'em up Kaiju Combat has almost four weeks of its second Kickstarter attempt left and the future looks bright. Although the game won't include licensed monsters in its first release, Sunstone "are first in line to bid on acquiring" the Toho license, which would allow access to Godzilla and chums. They reckon the license will be tied up for at least a year. In the meantime, they have their own roster of beasties and are taking design submissions from prestigious pledgers. Here's what they have so far.

Below - Failbetter Games

Goal: £15,000
Now: £3,973
Days: 20

The Fallen London creators have only updated their digital card game once since the project launched, which usually makes me a teensy bit quizzical or critical. Engage with your backers, potential and otherwise, I mutter darkly and then translate my frown into words and throw them at the internet. I can't frown at Failbetter though because they have an actual prototype of the game available, linked directly from the front page of the Kickstarter project. Now, look at this wormy fellow.

Spud's Quest - ChrisD

Goal: £5,000
Now: £3,211
Days: 5

The new Dizzy game doesn't have a demo but Spud's Quest does. It's a self-proclaimed spiritual successor to the brain-scrambling flip-screen puzzle adventures and creator ChrisD might well have rolled his eyes when the Oliver Brothers asked the public to lay a golden egg or two to fund their game. Or maybe it will draw more attention to Spud's Quest? We'll know in five days. Chris' thoughts on how to make single screens stand out, even if they are just the places in between puzzles, made me smile. The smaller the canvas, the more likely that a single detail will become its master.

Elite: Dangerous - Frontier Developments

Goal: £1,250,000
Now: £558,349
Days: 41

If Dangeresque hadn't gone for the ultra-long Kryosleep Kickstarter there might actually be legitimate cause for concern. As it is, there's still well over a month to raise the final £700,000. Did you know that the original Elite utilised less processing power than in one of today's fizzy pop cans and cost sixteen digestive biscuit crumbs to create? I certainly didn't until I decided it was true about twenty seconds ago. The FAQ has been updated. Anyone claiming that Braben might be out of touch with modern gaming clearly hasn't studied his understanding of multiplayer bastardry:

Q: Can I destroy planets?
A: No. Think how quickly we’d be planet-less in the core systems in a multi-player game!

A spaceship, forever humping the drifting dust and debris that was once home to billions.


Goal: $150,000
Now: $51,687
Days: 16

Slow-moving multiplayer compendium, Sportsfriends, offers three previously unreleased games at its $60 tier. One is a version of QWOP and the second to be revealed is Miracle Adventures in 2113, in which "players use the keyboard (or an analog stick) to control their craft and the mouse (or a second analog stick!) to control a magnet". There's a video but I have to admit, I'd stopped paying attention to what was happening on the screen because my ears were having an orgasm. The music is the work of the great Terry Riley.

Pro Wrestling X - Wrestling Gamers United

Goal: $75,000
Now: $12,297
Days: 13

The wrestling renaissance is a more difficult birth than I anticipated. The latest push involves one of the great features of any man-grappler worth its spandex - details on the Create A Wrestler functionality and the opportunity to access the necessary tools early and have your own design in the game at launch. To do so will require a minimum pledge of $50 and the team optimistically hope that "if we reach our funding goal, there will be enough roster spots we will likely be breaking a record for the most playable characters in a wrestling game."

Pier Solar HD - WaterMelon Co

Goal: $139,000
Now: $124,114
Days: 11

WaterMelon's 16-bit RPG port has had a fairly smooth ride and should be a winner next week. A recent AMA on Reddit may answer your questions - maybe you even took part? I'm guessing that the original version, released on Mega Drive and Genesis a couple of years ago, was good enough to make people hungry for more, but I wouldn't know because I don't have any SEGA machines.

Maia - Simon Roth

Goal: £100,042
Now: £70,786
Days: 4

Maia might make it but it's gonna be close. Much as I'd like to see the project succeed, Roth's latest move is radical, kind of heartwarming and utterly terrifying. A new £56 tier provides pledgers with the Indie Hug Bundle, containing Death Ray Manta, VVVVVV, Project Zomboid, Revenge of the Titans and Battle Cave. All that and an extra copy of Maia on release. It's a fine incentive and also a striking demonstration that for all its wonderful diversity, the indie community really can be a community. Despite all that, I must say that combining bundles and Kickstarter is unnatural alchemy and I fully expect to spend my Saturday afternoons writing the KrowdBundle Katchup in the near future. Don't worry. I enjoy sacrificing my weekends to the eldritch machinations of the indie world.

The Ship: Full Steam Ahead - Blazing Griffin

Goal: £128,000
Now: £10,118
Days: 36

The subtitle seems less apt every week. No updates since last time and only a trickle of funding. I had a great time with the original game, although I didn't play for very long, so I was a bit surprised that this project doesn't seem to have attracted a great deal of interest. A lot of blame seems to be attached to a weak initial pitch video, which has now been replaced, but I wonder if there's more to it than that. I shall try to katch up with Blazing Griffin next week to learn more.

Sui Generis - Bare Mettle Entertainment

Goal: £150,000
Now: £80,737
Days: 5

When I see people talking about Sui Generis, it's almost always the engine that receives all the attention. "Ooooooo, them's pretty physics", a man wearing some trousers might say. "Indeed. But we have also built a world and a game!" is the invariable response from Bare Mettle. Britain's Own Stephen Fry even got in on the action this week: "Lawks! These @bare_mettle fellows have the most amazing physics I’ve ever seen in a game engine. Truly awe-inspiring!" But what about the game, Stephen, what about the game?

Interstellar Marines: Prologue - Zero Point Software

Goal: $600,000
Now: $135,450
Days: 3

Jim already mentioned the new video that explains the 'Prologue' part of Interstellar Marines' title. The Interstellar' is explained by all of the space and the 'Marines' is explained by guns. I've thought this looked hugely impressive from the first time I saw it but $600,000 was always going to be a stretch. I can't see the campaign succeeding in its current form but let's hope this isn't the last we hear from Zero Point. Here's the video again for those who missed it.

Songmasters "The Music Wars" - ARMOGASTE

Goal: $20,000
Now: $18,967
Days: 8

Maybe that tutorial demo thing worked after all. I still haven't tried it myself but pledges seem to have shot up and this multiplayer musical strategy game looks like it'll be crossing the line sometime next week. It's almost as if demonstrating that there's something behind the talking head videos actually helps to convince people to fund the game!

Forced - BetaDwarf

Goal: $40,000
Now: $25,906
Days: 6

Are you interested in arena-based tactical realtime combat for you and your chums? You can read my thoughts on why I believe Forced is worthwhile, having played an early demo.

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