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Kickstarter Katchup - 24th March 2013

An Ice Kream Sunday

A few winners, a few losers and a heap of new entries. It's a busy week and there are quite a few projects that people have contacted me about that aren't included, even though I'm interested in them. I'll do some individual posts on those over the next couple of days but, for now, feast your eyes on the contents of the Katchup at the breadth of gaming delights that it contains. Then feel a bit morose that Rogue System probably isn't going to be on your computer for a long time.

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!
  • The Katchup should be consumed while listening to Jolly Music.

The Winners

Small World 2 - Days Of Wonder

Goal: $150,000
Now: $185,065

The Kickstarter for Small World 2 still has seventeen days to run. The boardgame sequel is already on its way to Steam and Android tablets, and the inevitable stretch goals are now open, made up of reprints and expansions. Who would have thought that a boardgame conversion's digital expansion/sequel would make almost two hundred thousand dollars in a couple of weeks? Me, that's who! I crave more boardgame conversions and I'm surely not the only person who notices that many people would love to play with card and counters more often but don't have the time to gather willing companions. I hope Fantasy Flight are paying attention. There's money in these here hills!

Shroud Of The Avatar - Portalarium

Goal: $1,000,000
Now: $1,130,440
Days: 14

The game is in development, pets are being added as a first stretch goal, seasonal weather enters the picture at 1.2 million and interactive instruments are in at 1.3 million. After that, it's anybody's guess. Richard Garriott has spent part of the week clarifying statements made in an interview with PC Gamer. You can read his full statement here, or hear him talking about moral dilemmas involving the cast of Popeye in the video below.

Watch on YouTube

Another Castle - Uncade

Goal: $12,000
Now: $13,270

There's an early playable prototype of Another Castle, which is a platformer that randomly generates level layouts, plots and items. I didn't expect this one to reach its goal with a week to spare but now that it has, I'm slightly frustrated by the tempting nature of the stretch goals. I want weather systems, giant owl mounts and customisable player characters. I want them now.

There Came An Echo - Iridium Studios

Goal: $90,000
Now: $115,569

Iridium's voice-controlled RTS had a cracker of a final week and the team celebrated their victory with a breakfast party. There will be alternate control schemes for those who don't like shouting at their computer and, pleasingly, the game actually looks like it might be more than a gimmick. The front page contains clarification regarding stretch goals - Mac and Linux releases are guaranteed, but may not be simultaneous with the Windows version if Paypal support doesn't garner an extra $25,000.

The Losers

Civitas - Brandon Smith

Goal: $250,000
Now: $110,832

Civitas' Kickstarter was cancelled before time ran out.

We just wanted to let everyone know that our studio has been able to secure private funding that will carry us through the development cycle of Civitas...this funding will in no way effect the final outcome of our game, except that it will allow us to focus our efforts completely on developing Civitas, better reach out to the community, and grow our team without having to manage the kickstarter and do everything else at the same time.

News about the beta is due on Monday but the website currently contains little more than an announcement message and a forum.

Empire Eden - New Horizon Games

Goal: $19,000
Now: $2,415

We won't be running and gunning through Empire Eden's handsome retro terrain anytime soon. The funding drive was cancelled with a few days left on the clock. However, as is increasingly common, failure does not mean failure.

We will still need to get funding for legal/business/music fees, but it looks like we'll have to wait a while for that. We have a lot of changes that are going to be made, and we are going to try and Kickstart again in a few months. So don't give up on us.

A few projects have fared much better during their second stab at Kickstarter. A little experience handling a campaign goes a long way.

Rogue System - DCI

Goal: $300,000
Now: $53,085

Rogue System's Kicksarter comedown had seemed sadly inevitable for the last couple of weeks and so it comes to pass. The flight-sim style space trading/combat game should see the light of day at some point, but I'd imagine it's a long way off given that another couple of years of development were planned even with the funding. Here's the funding plan:

As for funding, I've had a couple investment offers, but none are a certainty at this point so I can't offer any more info currently. I also can't rely on them panning out 100%--just like Kickstarter proved, nothing is a certainty until it happens. So, after thinking long and hard about it I'm going to move to a "Minecraft"-like donation model over at the RogSys website...I'm implementing this funding option as many people have asked for it. I do NOT expect everyone to be excited about this plan as it involves some risk. By all means, if you do not feel comfortable with it, do NOT donate! You will still be able to receive new information and screenshots via the website to keep track of development progress, and I'd love to continue to have your input at the public area of the forums.

I, for one, will be following development closely.

Var and the Vikings - Brainworth

Goal: $31,000
Now: $14,553

Var and the Vikings looked like one of the best educational games I've seen in a long time, and not only because it contained vikings and robots. I'm not that easy to seduce. The learning was all about artificial brains and "behaviour trees", and that sort of thing fascinates me. No word yet on whether development will continue.

The Players

Guns Of Icarus Online: Adventure Mode - Muse Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $16,814
Days: 58

Guns of Icarus Online is a Jim game, being that it involves multiplayer airship combat with a steampunk vibe. It's so clearly and definitively a Jim game, in fact, that the developers have already shared their thoughts with Mr Rossignol. This new Kickstarter is for an expansion to the base game, which was itself a Kickstarter success, adding a persistent world, towns that develop and change depending on player action, factions, trading, politics and an AI director. It sounds bloody brilliant and is exactly the sort of thing that will actually convince me to play a Jim game. Add an adventure mode and you're heading straight into Adam territory.

Consortium - Interdimensional Games

Goal: $50,000
Now: $23,385
Days: 25

I've played Consortium and the opening hours are excellent. It's a sci-fi adventure that clambers over the fourth wall and crams your brain full of mystery. It has some guns in it, but would rather you spent your time talking to its cast of well-written characters. A recent update goes into detail about some of those characters.

Battle Worlds: Kronos - KING Art Games

Goal: $120,000
Now: $102,704
Days: 34

That's a speedy campaign. It looks like I wasn't the only person excited by the idea of an honest-to-goodness old-fashioned turn-based strategy game, taking some of its cues from Battle Isle, some from Advance Wars and then adding a whole bunch of its own ideas. The slick video helps as well. I'll have an interview to share tomorrow, with plenty of detail about the choice to Kickstart Kronos and some details about the game itself.

Planet Explorers - Pathea Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $14,076
Days: 27

Planet Explorers is one of the crest-clinging attractions in the next wave of sandbox exploration/construction games. StarForge is the other that has really captured my attention, available in alpha on Steam right now and currently awaiting my attentions. Pathea's game has a brighter aesthetic but grimdark games don't have the monopoly on ambition and intrigue. There is a full story, on a pre-designed planet with NPCs, quests and the like, but there is also an adventure mode.

Currently, it comes in 256X256m and 512X512m sizes, and the plan is to make it infinite. Players will be able to complete random missions in the mode and eventually be able to setup conditions that they want to play (such as tower defense or attack an alien camp). This will eventually become the de facto survival mode as well, where the player can still perform the functions of the story mode (such as town building and NPC gathering) without the story.

LogicBots - Incandescent Games

Goal: £5,000
Now: £2,526
Days: 6

As the educational vikings leave, another game arrives as if to take their place. LogicBots looks like a fascinating puzzler. this game you don't complete the puzzles directly, instead you build a robot to complete the puzzle for you. The robot you build has to be able to make decisions and finish the puzzle completely on its own.

There is a demo.

The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death - Autoloot

Goal: £80,000
Now: £5,270
Days: 27

The Dark Triad is an isometric, turn-based RPG and Autoloot are a team of industry veterans who have worked at studios such as Ubisoft, Gameloft and Funcom. You can see the game in the video and here's a statement of indie intent:

Some of us of have been working for many years in the mainstream games industry, and, as gamers first and foremost, we don't like what we see and the direction the games industry is taking. It completely prevents developers from using any spark of creativity and numbs the passion that has always been the driving force that made us, in the first place, wish to become professional game makers. We don't like copycat social games aimed to steal money from the players, where gameplay is at a distant second or even third place, and we don't like the abusive practices of some big companies towards their employees. This (and many other reasons) is what made us decide to join efforts and go indie.

The Gallery: Six Elements - CloudHead Games

Goal: $65,000
Now: $17,466
Days: 23

This looks a little bit like the Drawn series of adventure games that John has enjoyed, except it's in full 3d and has been built from the ground up to support Oculus Rift. Oddly, after saying that it looks like something that John enjoyed, I realise that's a thematic link, as Drawn and The Gallery both contain painted worlds - this might turn out to be more like Myst. He likes that too though.

Something Fragile - Happy Badger Studio

Goal: $18,000
Now: $2,396
Days: 32

A side-scrolling puzzle game that has a close-up of 'ART' in the video, captured on camera, off-kilter and looking slightly bashful. That's going to make some people purse their lips and fear that their hobby of choice has been taken over by armies of hipsters. I think the team are actually in a coffee shop at one point during the video. Outrageous. I almost choked on my ironic cupcake. Side note: My Ironic Cupcake is the name of my new band. Anyone who hasn't already skipped to the next entry may well find Something Fragile's hand-crafted objects appealing, perhaps even comparing them to The Dream Machine, which still hasn't got a fourth chapter.

Strategizer: Art Of Defense - White Titan Games

Goal: £10,000
Now: £5,770
Days: 10

With the end of its campaign closing in, Strategizer's team contacted me to request a place in the Katchup. It's a base-building RTS, in which players are dropped into a hostile environment and instructed to survive. I don't actually need someone to instruct me to survive - I just instinctively try to.

For us, the biggest problem with most RTS games is that it's very easy to complete the game within a week, and then you run out of things to do, besides multiplayer. We are hoping to kick this issue into oblivion by providing a long campaign, setting 3 objectives per level (requiring different approaches for each one) adding new episodes to the campaign to keep the story growing over time, and by adding a daily & weekly tournament with a new level/challenge each week to compete for leaderboard supremecy!

The Adventures Of Dash - Robotoki

Goal: $400,000
Now: $26,318
Days: 10

Robert Bowling's artist-friendly project has barely moved since last week, which makes me a little sad. It's a platforming adventure in which each world has a distinct art and play style, and you can see some of the hand-drawn art in a recent update. A sample of the soundtrack, by Danny 'Super Meat Boy' Baranowsky is also available and anyone pledging enough to receive the game ($15 or more) will also receive a DRM-free copy of the album.

Shackleton Crater - Joe Got Game

Goal: $700,000
Now: $27,211
Days: 17

Last week's big-money entries aren't faring particularly well, with The Adventures of Dash and Shackleton Crater both stalling in their mid-twenties. I did very much the same thing and ended up trying to find myself in Southeast Asia, where I fell in a puddle full of leeches. I hope that doesn't happen to Shackleton Crater because it sounds like a Fun-Science Lunar Colony Construction Game and I'd quite like one of those. Updates provide detail about the stages of play:

Do you build one thousand acres of solar panels to fuel the construction of mass habitation or develop new drilling systems to send valuable resources back to Earth? Do you trade life support generated in your lunar greenhouses for scientific data discovered by a neighbor in a crater? In our next update, I'll talk more about how your decisions in stage two affect the lunar terrain, as well as how the stage one elements affect your progress.

Neural Break - RIP Studios

Goal: $15,000
Now: $1,668
Days: 19

Neural Break is a multiplayer survival horror game containing co-operative PvE, PvP, hunting, trading, vehicles and crafting. I should say 'will be' rather than 'is', because despite the small budget, RIP Studios aren't raising the money to polish a game near completion. Neural Break won't be finished, they estimate, until around this time next year. The money is to license Unigine rather than to pay wages, as everybody will be working "for the pure passion and excitement of creating a fun, terrifying, and exciting experience". The slow rate of pledges is most likely down to the concept being ambitious and, indeed, purely conceptual as far as can be seen right now.

Humans Must Answer - Sumom Games

Goal: £5,000
Now: £1,264
Days: 18

Humans Must Answer is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up starring space chickens. The recently released beta demo is jolly good and you should play it immediately. The game will be finished and released even if the Kickstarter falls short, but Sumon say, "the more funding we receive for the game, the more time and hands-on deck we'll have to make Humans Must Answer the best game we feel it can be."

The Golem - Moonbot Studios

Goal: $750,000
Now: $92,172
Days: 2

The Golem is crumbling and, without their protector, the people of Prague may be doomed. Moonbot's game is almost certainly not going to reach its goal. It's an impressive experiment, reminding somewhat of the creature ideas from Black and White, and also of the mad puppetry of QWOP and Toribash. It's not all bad news though:

We appreciate all of the support and feedback thus far during our Kickstarter funding period. We're identifying other ways to make this game and we're determined to bring it to you. Whether or not we reach our funding goal, we want to keep you involved in the project.

The game wasn't due until April 2015 so it may take a while for news to surface. In the meantime, here is the greatest surviving Golem film of the silent era. The series was the Dark Knight of its day.

Watch on YouTube

Super Ubi Land - Notion Games

Goal: $5,000
Now: $4,474
Days: 15

Super Ubi Land is going to make it, maybe even later today, which means the cute platformer should be with backers by August. The story revolves around collecting broken parts of a spaceship, a platforming staple, but Notion explain it in greater detail below, with reference to The Princess Bride and Community. Fun video.

Watch on YouTube

Pulse - Team Pixel Pi

Goal: $75,000
Now: $25,362
Days: 18

I think somebody must have spilled molasses into the workings of Kickstarter this week. Here's another project stuck around the twenty five thousand dollar mark. Pulse is a first-person adventure in which sound is used to 'reveal the world'. The prototype is interesting but more updates, with more details, could help to push the project through the mid-term slump. That said, the developers are heading to GDC, where they are finalists in the IGF. Hopefully that'll bring some attention to their work.

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