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Kickstarter Katchup - 28th July 2013

Mars Reigns

Two big wins this week and both are projects that I've been intrigued by since I first saw them. Lacuna Passage is the game about mysteries on Mars, using real topography of the Red Planet, and Satellite Reign is the Syndicate successor that promises an emergent cyberpunk city. Excellent news. The two represent different points on the Kickstarter spectrum. One is a project with a (relatively) large goal, a veteran developer and a connection to a recognised franchise. The other is the creation of a team of industry newcomers with no heritage to draw on, a smaller financial goal, and a brilliant central idea backed up by impressive tech. A good week.

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!
  • This week's Katchup was composed while listening to The Herbaliser and Fuck Buttons.

The Winners

Satellite Reign - 5 Lives Studios

Goal: £350,000
Now: £445,835

Hang on. Last week I was berating everybody in the world because so many of the ingrates seemed determined not to fund a living cyberpunk city, the damnable fools. And now, here I am, forced to apologise to the inhabitants of this space-dwelling sphere - there are six hours left and Satellite Reign has almost raised £100,000 more than its target figure. That means the best of the stretch goals has already been met - environmental destruction. Yes.

Lacuna Passage - Random Seed Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $42,695
Days: 3

Hurrah! I've always wanted to go to Mars, even though exploding Arnie-face almost killed the dream. Here's a thankyou video from Tyler Owen of Random Seed Games.

The Losers

MotorGun - Pixelbionic

Goal: $650,000
Now: $63,120

The automobile battler has been cancelled.

“Kickstarter is a harsh mistress. Lots of projects are pitched to the community and sometimes they resonate and sometimes they don’t. In this case, what we were pitching wasn’t exactly what you guys wanted. So, as a result we’re making the tough decision to not drag it out, and we’re going to cancel the campaign and start working to reformulate it.”

I want a game in which cars fight one another but I'd like them to do that in an atmospheric world, detailed in a strong singleplayer campaign. Perhaps, upon its return, MotorGun will show evidence of such things. Here's hoping.

Dropsy - Jay Tholen

Goal: $25,000
Now: $12,460

A final surge wasn't enough to save Dropsy, although I strongly suspect we'll be seeing more of the clown and the surreal world he inhabits regardless of this particular campaign's success.

Insection - Glasswing

Goal: £280,000
Now: £71,658

Poor Insection. A prolonged look at the initial pitch trailer revealed an interesting take on co-op first-person shooting, but the rare updates on the campaign page didn't allow Glasswing to demonstrate why this sci-fi shooter should receive attention when it exists in such a crowded field. The campaign has now been cancelled, but all is not lost:

This doesn’t mean of course that Insection’s development is stopping as well. We will continue to develop Insection but the release date is nowhere near where it’d be if our Kickstarter was successful, so from April 2014 the release date is now falling in the category of “Coming when it’s ready” release date genre :)

Frozen State - Snow Arc

Goal: £60,000
Now: £19,078

Boo. I want a survival-based horror RPG. I may still be in luck.

The reality is I’m not a marketing guy, this activity has drained my brains out. Now, I want only one thing - dive deep into the development. For the last week I was busy scratching some money to continue the development...The alpha 0.0.1 is right on the schedule and should be completed by August. Basicly we revamped many of the things that were in prototyping stage, in addition, basing on your feedback and comments, we were constantly experimenting with camera and character controller, car controller and so on.

I shall continue to watch.

The Players

7 Days To Die - The Fun Pimps

Goal: $200,000
Now: $75,423
Days: 17

7 Days to Die is another in the list of ultimate zombie sandbox RPGs. I'm looking forward to State of Decay's PC release at the moment, even though the grumbling backlash has already begun among the XBLA adopters that I know. This one has everything:

7 Days to Die is an open world, voxel-based, sandbox game that is a unique mash up of First Person Shooter, Survival Horror, Tower Defense and Role Playing Games combining combat, crafting, looting, mining, exploration, and character growth.

Well, most things. What it doesn't have at the moment is any sort of demo, but with the game not due for release until next summer, that's understandable.

Kingcraft - Venture Co. Games

Goal: $8,000
Now: $1,482
Days: 24

Conor Peterson of Venture Co. Games (which is Conor Peterson plus one associate) contacted me with a simple message. 'I am making a game', he sort-of said, and then went on to describe that game.

Kingcraft is real-time fantasy chess plus Risk

My interest was piqued but had not yet peaked.

Battles are connected by a world-map territory-control type game. Almost like Risk, but with awesome battles instead of dice rolls.

Go on.

...when a wizard attacks, a tile is set on fire. You can push enemies onto that fire with the knight.

Sold. It does look interesting and the small budget is easily explained - the game should be out in September and the money would support Conor until that point.

Shadow of the Eternals - Precursor Games

Goal: $750,000
Now: $158,672
Days: 26

Yes, Shadow of the Eternals is back. Yes, it's still the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness. And, yes, there are still doubt aplenty surrounding the project. Craig has summarised.

Balrum - Balcony Team

Goal: $50,000
Now: $15,829
Days: 17

Play an ordinary character in an extraordinary world. Farm, and build, decorate and extend your home. It all looks a little bit Ultima Online, although without the Online part. Ultima then. That sounds good to me, although the comparison is unfair in a way because Balrum is strong enough to stand on its own and Balcony Team have been running an excellent campaign. Here's some recent words on the AI that drives the turn-based combat:

Our AI system is affected by light and sound. This means that your footsteps might be heard, so if you want to be sneaky you should wear footwear that does not make a lot of noise! (of course you might want to create noise on purpose..to distract NPCs..noisemaker arrow..) Also if you craft a weapon or create a camp..etc these activities make a lot of noise so be prepared to get unexpected visitors!

Chroma Squad - Saulo Camarotti

Goal: $55,000
Now: $43,786
Days: 23

A sterling start for Chroma Squad and why not? From the creators of Knights of Pen and Paper, it is "a game where you get to play as the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS in true Japanese arcade style. A game of “manager, tactical turn-based, meta-game, pixel art fun” they say?". So says Cara and I am inclined to agree with her verdict that it is 'adorable'.

Dungeonmans - Jim Shepard

Goal: $35,000
Now: $25,437
Days: 5

Dungeonmans has a solid playable build right now and that, together with the intelligence of its design, which ties permadeath to persistent improvement, should already have helped it over the line. Undaunted by the slow progress last week, Jim has been working to improve the freely available preview version:

There's a new build on the horizon, one more adventure to finish the campaign strong! Here's a sneak peek! New in 1.08 will be Overworld Camps, battles in the wild where the enemy has set up camp, ready to raid neighboring villages or just engages in general (and unacceptable) villainy! You know what must be done.

Tangiers - Alex Harvey

Goal: £35,000
Now: £20,062
Days: 16

Tangiers has finally come out of the shadows. You can find out much more about the inventive and attractive stealth game in this interview. The project raised almost £7,000 in one day last week and should reach its target now that word is spreading from mouths to ears, and from keyboards to screens. Read about the landscapes and then tell everyone who might be interested to do the same. Oh, and if you haven't already, read about the use of words as well.

Adventurezator: When Pigs Fly - Pigasus Games

Goal: $20,000
Now: $9,382
Days: 11

If you're at all interested in adventure games or systems that allow for emergent incidents, then Adventurezator is almost certainly of interest to you. If you're not interested in either of those things, it's rather surprising to find you here. Still, pull up a pew and join me in a hand of Gin Rummy. Perhaps Pigasus Games' creatively engineered "adventure sandbox" will manage to persuade you that this pointing and clicking lark can find new ways to engage an audience. Every update is worth reading, perhaps in reverse order, since the latest is the most intriguing.

Precinct - Jim Walls

Goal: $500,000
Now: $67,467
Days: 19

If I managed to raise almost $20,000 in a single week, I'd consider it to be one of the most successful weeks of my life, even if I'd earned the money by marketing a video compilation of my most notable failures and pratfalls. For Precinct, the Police Quest successor with a half million dollar crowd-funding target, the next three weeks need to bring about greater success. Take a look at our interview with Jim Walls and then watch the video below, which includes information about Police Quest the first, and where it was made.

Legend of Iya - darkfalzx

Goal: $75,000
Now: $29,303
Days: 14

The Metroidvania, which Nathan spotted last week, now has a demo.


I would try to have fun, but I don't have time for this particular brand of it. There is too much fun to be had. We are living in a Golden Age of Fun.

Project Ravensdale - Black Forest Games

Goal: $500,000
Now: $39,655
Days: 19

I'd have thought that a first Kickstarter success, delivered as promised, would inspire confidence in a second crowd-funding attempt. Following the success of their Giana Sisters reboot, Black Forest have struggled at the beginning of the campaign for their promising co-op run and gun platformer. I think it looks great and the studio's experience may help them to discover the avenues for success.

Tooth And Cog - Riveting Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $4,816
Days: 19

After last week's update, titled "reconciling turn-based play with multiplayer", Tooth and Cog officially became One To Keep An Eye On. Set in a world that has fallen into disrepair, yet still contains penny farthings and monocles aplenty, it's a multiplayer 4X game with some fascinating ideas fuelling its engine. I've been speaking to Riveting Games about their plans and will have more words from them soon.

Celestian Tales: Old North - Ekuator Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $16,206
Days: 12

Lots of additions to the 'test bed' for this generation-spanning RPG. For those who don't know, a 'test bed' is sort of like a demo, but in very early prototype form. Celstian Tales' prototype is basic, running in a browser, but it does show how some of the RPG's functions will work, such as patrolling NPCs, object interactions and character controls. There's also lots of detail about the characters and the wording shows the possible benefits of the long-term approach to storytelling.

Accepting changes, maturing as a person and knowing the price of letting pride blind you will be key components of his story. We want to show him as a brutish, violent young man who grows up into so much more.

Organic Panic - Last Limb LLC

Goal: $40,000
Now: $19,668
Days: 10

Organic Panic has had a good week and deservedly so. It's a charming project, combining one part Worms with one part The Incredible Machine, and stirring together with a selection of cartoon foods. What could come across as wacky actually seems endearing and cohesive. If you happen to be in NYC, here is my chance to point you in the direction of free pizza, something that is rarely within my power.

We are going to throw a Kickstarter Game Preview Party in a week - Thursday August 1st from 6-10 at Fontana's in NYC. We are inviting press, fellow developers and kickstarters, and of course our fans and anyone who wants to play the game. We'll have 2 boxes set up, they'll be free pizza and we'll be dishing out some free Coconut T-Shirts too.

The event will also be streamed.

Monochroma - Nowhere Studios

Goal: $80,000
Now: $25,742
Days: 26

A reminder of Craig's thoughts on the Monochroma demo, which you should be playing at this very moment:

It has an Ico-ish tone: you’re the big brother, carrying your little brother through the world. He’s scared of the dark, so when you have to put him down to attempt a puzzle, you’ll have to find a pool of light to do so.

Monchroma looks like the loveliest of lovely things and precisely the sort of project that I imagined Kickstarter supporting from day one.

Fran Bow - Killmonday

Goal: $20,000
Now: $5,500
Days: 34

I'm glad that Fran Bow's developers, Killmonday, set their campaign to run longer than thirty days, providing some breathing room should it be necessary. Every video makes the adventure seem more interesting and more troubling than the original pitch suggested, which is impressive considering this is how that pitch reads:

Fran Bow is a Horror Point and click game that tells the story of Fran, a young girl struggling with a mental disorder and an unfair destiny. It is a trip to the deepest and darkest side of human psychology, delivered through blood and tears.

An alpha demo is now available and it has its own teaser video. Eek.

Eterium - Andrew Luby

Goal: $25,000
Now: $16,497
Days: 3

A space shooter with a regularly updated demo - a campaign with plenty of information and flexible responses - interesting design choices and a developer who responds to feedback swiftly and intelligently. That's Eterium. Why the heck is it struggling to raise $25,000? Here's the contingency plan.

What we are thinking about doing as a contingency plan is alpha funding the game. That means you will be able to purchase an alpha of the game and play it immediately. Your feedback will help direct the game. But because alpha funding may not generate as much money as our goal on the kickstarter, our aspirations for Eterium will have to be cut back to something manageable.

And another thing...

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies - StudioBento

Goal: $50,000
Now: $22,167
Days: 16

You'd be wise to watch these videos, which contain words from David Helgason, founder and CEO of Unity Technologies. These are parts of a longer, thirty minute-plus interview, which will be part of the completed documentary.

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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.