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Kickstarter Katchup - 2nd November 2012

The British Invasion

The British are coming! Lock up your tea, crumpets, biscuits, mild sexual innuendo and depressing postcards of empty beaches, because the toodle-pipping rotters need all that and more to fuel their infernal game-machines. The beginning of the Britstarter era brings a great deal of tempting prospects for your perusal - for starters, we've got the spirit of Bullfrog, the sequel to The Ship, a martial arts masterclass, dark fantasies and a dash of tweedpunk robo-horror. Never change, fair isles of wonder, never change.

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.
  • I'm not doing currency conversion on all of these, so do pay attention to prices since they now come in either US dollars or GBP. I've lumped all the British newcomers at the top this week.
  • If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae in our Katchup.

The Winners

Strike Suit Zero - Born Ready Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $104,730

The 'is it a mech, is it a spaceship'* game has blasted over the finish line and into the successosphere with two weeks to go, but don't stop paying attention now because apparently there's an exciting announcement due next week. The game does look splendid and plays well. With more than 2,700 backers, what are the chances of this though?

...the person who pushed us over the line was in fact Steven Masters, Lead Designer on Assassin's Creed 3.

Over the line and into a haystack full of money. Hurrah!

*it's both, thanks to the powers of transformation

The Losers

Nexus 2: The Gods Awaken - HD Interactive/Most Wanted Ent

The sequel to The Jupiter Incident fell far short of its $650,000 goal, with just over $150,000 in pledges. It's hard to see what went wrong, with an eager fanbase, decent videos and updates, and a proven team. Perhaps the goal seemed too high and people didn't care to back an unlikely project? I still think we'll hear from the team again soon, with a new approach.

Unfortunately we have not met our target but we have learnt a lot from doing our first Kickstarter campaign and we will use this exerience to evaluate the situation and decide what could be the best way forward for Nexus 2.

Here's hoping the future's bright.

The Players

Maia - Simon Roth

Goal: £100,042
Now: £23,914
Days: 25

Maia looks absolutely extraordinary and when a game can cite Aliens and Theme Hospital as influences then it certainly has the 'talk' part of any vocalisation/ambulation setup well in place. I've actually seen the engine being operated by an excitable Roth in the flesh, earlier this year at Rezzed. At the time, I formed the impression that he was a programming genius with excellent hair. I appreciated the former but just felt a sort of envy at the latter. I felt old. What I didn't know at the time was that the actual ideas that all that mathematical wizardry was powering were quite so exciting. Watch the video and see if it's not one of the most exciting things you've seen in a while. And I don't mean the hair.

The Ship: Full Steam Ahead - Blazing Griffin

Goal: £128,000
Now: £5,605
Days: 57

Here come the British, riding in on a murder-ship of elegant design. The sequel to The Ship is allowing itself a stately two month period to sail into port. Nathan already wrote about it this week and deviously suggested that he was plotting to strike me down as I watched the video, which you can see below. Fear not for my safety though, because he doesn't know about my hiding place, 'neath decks and four leagues from the mizzen mast as the crow flies (I do not know anything about ships).

Kung Fu Superstar - Kinesthetic Games

Goal: £200,000
Now: £12,220
Days: 32

Out with the old, in with the new. Or maybe we can keep the old and have something new as well - let's see how it goes. Kung Fu Superstar is a fighting game that aims to teach actual kung fu moves, along with other fighting techniques, while telling the story of an enthusiast who becomes an international movie star. It's certainly ambitious, hoping to release on console as well as PC, with Kinect support where available, which may could mean on PC as well. Other control options will be available. The team have plenty of experience, counting Black, Dirt, GRID and Fables II and III among their experience, and the pitch is strong. I like the idea of using martial arts movies as a backdrop for the game, making it a sort of beat 'em up Stuntman, but will the idea work? This is the problem with new things. It's so much harder to imagine what it'll be like to play them. A swordless Samurai Shodown maybe?

Sui Generis - Bare Mettle Entertainment

Goal: £150,000
Now: £6,070
Days: 27

The English clergyman Frederick William Robertson is said to have learned Italian so that he could Dante without losing so much of the poetry in translation and that's the sort of thing that makes me feel lazy for having a pop-up Inferno picture book on my shelf. I was reminded of Robertson when I read that project lead Madoc Evans learned programming purely because he wanted to make this open world RPG. That's the sort of dedication to an idea that makes me smile and I also have a great amount of respect for people who realise that the idea isn't enough on its own. Hard graft, that's so often the key. Sui Generis looks to be a technically accomplished dark fantasy sort of a thing, with no elves or dwarves but plenty of freedom. Well worth a look.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted - Big Robot

Goal: £40,000
Now: £23,504
Days: 29

Parish notice: Jim Rossignol of Big Robot and Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun are one and the same. You are reading words on Rock, Paper, Shotgun about a Big Robot project.

Aristocratic robots hunt players across the procedurally generated British countryside in this survival horror game. The team have designed a world based around their own lives and it is therefore no surprise that it features acute awareness of class divisions, "a disembodied sinister butler", moustaches and tea. Jim doesn't have a moustache but he has enough tea to make up for that.

MaK - VergeGameStudio

Goal: $230,000
Now: $22,895
Days: 16

MaK is, as Nathan so correctly stated, a lot like Mario Galaxy and Minecraft smashed together in a Hadron Collider. That's if, as I understand it, Hadron Colliders are a sort of meta-device whereby genres and creative works are thrown at each other until something new pops out at the other end. I'm almost certain that's something Professor Timothy Science has said about them in the past. The resulting product is a gorgeous game of gravity and comedy. You really should watch the video.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redeption - Corey Cole

Goal: $400,000
Now: $166,620
Days: 17

Grarrghh. That's the sound I make when I realise I've been a massive idiot, or when I've eaten one too many bags of crisps. Grarrghh. That time I stubbed my toe. The first time was due to idiocy though and it's because I missed this off the list last week and that's one of the most massively idiotic things I could have done. From the makers of one of my favourite series of games, Quest For Glory, Hero-U has one of the most delightful puns I've seen in ages as a subtitle. Much better than the sort of rubbish I churn out of the cheese-encrusted pun-barrel every day. We have an interview about the game and there's a video below. Grarrghh. That was crisps.

StarForge - CodeHatch

Goal: $75,000
Now: $43,711
Days: 27

Jim baked a wisdom pie when he wrote these words about StarForge: "Any development team that tries to sell its crowd-sourcing efforts with a video of a multi-blade chainsaw fight on a spacecraft floating above a planet, ending with one of the characters plunging into the clouds below, gets my vote." Pledgers receive a work in progress alpha and the huge scale of the sci-fi combat and construction is bewildering. Plenty of time to raise the rest of the cash and updates are coming thick and fast. This is a very open campaign with lots of communication and the alpha to boot.

Antharion - Orphic Software

Goal: $15,000
Now: $8,780
Days: 15

Antharion continues to remind me of a Spiderweb game and has added details of stretch goals that include crafting and cooking now, which means I'm duty-bound to be reminded of all the loaves I baked in Ultima VII as well. I've never made bread in real life so, to me, that kind of experience is a lot like raining nuclear fire on an alien planet from above or feeling bad about killing an ogre. It's an old-school RPG that seems to have a definite idea of what it wants to be - exploration- and party-based, with simulated NPCs rather than talking signposts and tactical turn-based combat. Sounds good to me.

Interstellar Marines: Prologue - Zero Point Software

Goal: $600,000
Now: $69,883
Days: 25

This sci-fi co-op tactical FPS with nonlinear gameplay (one day I'll take six lines to breezily summarise a game) looks good to me, with space-sharks that may actually be normal sharks that happen to be in space, and an extensive explanatory video. The 'Prologue' tacked after the title's colon is a little worrying and even though they are currently kickstarting their game, the developers are already planning a trilogy, which seems to be jumping the gun a little. The big change since last week is an update of the tier system, providing four copies of the game for co-op play to anyone pledging $45 or above, as opposed to the $200 they cost previously.

Super Comboman - Super Comboman Team

Goal: $14,900
Now: $10,523
Days: 11

Physics-based beat 'em up puzzler Super Comboman is more like a beat 'em up with physics-based puzzles by the look of things. These descriptions really are quite cumbersome aren't they? It's the one with the talking fannypack. Lots of video updates, with another due sometime today, and strong progress since last week.

Distance - Refract Studios

Goal: $125,000
Now: $57,261
Days: 14

The follow-up to Nitronic Rush hasn't found the fast lane yet, although there's still time. It's like Wipeout only the vehicles look a bit like Smartphones, until you realise they're proper cars that grow wings when wings are needed. You can play Nitronic Rush for free right now to get an idea as to whether Distance might be your carburettor of fish and there's a new gameplay trailer below as well.

Shadowgate - Zojoi

Goal: $120,000
Now: $63,045
Days: 23

The Shadowgate remake has a spring in its sagelike step, halfway to its target with more than three weeks to go. There's lots of new artwork over at the project page, some of which is being added as downloadable calendars for the $30 pledgers. They'll also receive digital versions of the cloth map. Even though it depicts very traditional fantasy scenes, I find all of the art appealing and that's one way to make an older game attractive to a new audience without compromising its roots. Roots hate to be compromised.

Songmasters "The Music Wars" - ARMOGASTE

Goal: $20,000
Now: $11,220
Days: 29

I always thought that combining space and music instantly caused David Bowie to appear, or a vinyl recording of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. Apparently it can also create a musical RPG that my brain still fails to understand. There's a video that's probably intended to help but doesn't. Not really. A demo/tutorial is promised soon and maybe that will shed some light on the matter.

Forced - BetaDwarf

Goal: $40,000
Now: $14,217
Days: 28

The tactical person's RPG, which emphasises teamwork rather than selfish loot-snaffling, has had a solid if unspectacular week on the funding front, but updates have continued steadily. I get the impression that a lot of developers have become more accustomed to the importance of the interaction that updates allow, or maybe that's just because I tend to follow projects that are well-managed. I have a demo of Forced and said I'd try it out last week and then I did lots of other things instead. My head hangs in shame and I'll be sure to take a look this week because, even if I'm sometimes too busy to do them justice as soon as I should, I really do appreciate Kickstarter projects that have something as advanced as a playable demo to show.

Divine Space - Dodo Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $20,537
Days: 20

As I suspected, this space RPG/adventure project has seen the initial speed of funding reduced significantly as it comes into the middle period of its life. Based around real astronomical data, Divine Space is aiming to present a hard sci-fi core based around "a probable future" rather than a galactic fantasy world. There have been loads of updates, mostly with links to the development blog, going deeper into the science side of the fiction.

Ars Magica Video Game - Black Chicken Studios

Goal: $290,000
Now: $52,735
Days: 15

Ars Magica needs a kick up the arse and I mean that in the politest possible way. A kick delivered by a slipper made out of money. It's the only way this RPG from the Academagia team is going to reach its target. There are extensive details about the combat system in the latest update.

Combat in Years of Conquest uses the tabletop system in full and adds in an extra dimension of environmental effects. On the tabletop, you have a GM to tell you what your surroundings are, and in the video game you have the Environment. This is an abstract set of features and conditions which are reachable by any party (with some restrictions on positionality) within the bounds of the combat. It’s very diverse, and can range from a tree, your wagon, a muddy pool and a boulder, all in one encounter.

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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.