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Kickstarter Katchup – April 21st 2013

Happiest mask and ukulele

Two $100,000 winners this week and a few other projects close to the finish line. While I was compiling the column this week, I realised I was keeping track of the number of projects that apparently 'contained roguelike elements'. It's about 90%, although to be fair I stopped keeping track almost as soon as I'd started so that figure is entirely made up. Perhaps my memory fails me, but I don't recall the term being anything like as popular 12 months ago. Of course, some would argue that the meaning has been lost and that anything with procedural generation or a modicum of difficulty is now wearing the roguelike hat, but that in itself surely tells us something. Games want to be like rogue, which is far more agreeable than the days when every other one wanted to be like a soldier or a space marine.

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 old Art Farmer records and eating Twiglets.

The Winners

Risk of Rain - hopoo

Goal: $7,000
Now: $11,780

Risk of Rain developers, hopoo, send word that a demo of their roguelike platformer is available. The game has already reached its target, with more than two weeks left on the clock, and it's easy to see why. Here's the blurb:

Risk of Rain is an action platformer with roguelike elements aimed to revitalize the genre with stylized graphics and an intuitive gameplay scheme that teaches itself, rather than having to be taught.

It is important to note that within a few seconds, the trailer shows the player collecting a ukulele. A minute later, the 'happiest mask' is discovered. These are good items to have in your game.

Watch on YouTube

Guns Of Icarus Online: Adventure Mode - Muse Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $108,385
Days: 29

A great victory for the super-long campaign that will help to fund a 'living, breathing persistent world' filled with airships, player-controlled factions and political intrigue. I haven't actually played the original Guns of Icarus but the fleshed out campaigning possibilities in this Adventure version sound like they might be right up my street air current. Given the length of the campaign and the established audience, this one was always going to be about the stretch goals, many of which sound like fundamental parts of the experience. To that end, if anything less than $500,000 is raised, leaving adventure mode 'feature incomplete', backers will receive the additions as part of a season pass.

Planet Explorers - Pathea Games

Goal: $100,000
Now: $137,765

Pathea became my favourites last week when they said this:

"I just want to say...what is up with stretch goals? We're doing them only because everyone else seems to be doing it and people expect this. But I don't believe in stretch goals, I believe in you do it or you don't, there is no try. :) Everything listed on our "stretch" goals, with the exception of the last 2 maybe, we plan to do anyway once we have the capacity, doesn't matter if we make the goals or not."

Of course, they immediately shot past their target by nearly $40,000 and are now probably cursing the fact that they didn't include a 'private beach holiday for the developers' stretch goal.

The Losers

Bik - Mike Pinto

Goal: $12,000
Now: $6,686

The fate of pixellated, jazzy space adventure Bik is unclear, although a couple of updates directed at backers may shed some light. I don't know because I can't see them and the game's website hasn't been updated since the Kickstarter failed. A comment from the developer does suggest work will continue - "Haha! I will find a way, I promise!"

The Players

Among the Sleep - Krillbite Studio

Goal: $200,000
Now: $69,777
Days: 26

I've wanted to see more of Among the Sleep since the first-person toddler was revealed to the world but I hadn't expected it to show up on Kickstarter. I can't imagine it'll have many problems reaching its goal, which will fund the final stretch of development. It's a survival horror game in which the player controls an infant, scurrying through a house (and some more surreal environments) while hiding from the things that go bump in the dark, and it captured the attention of more than the usual circle of fright fans when the superb trailer surfaced almost a year ago.

Chasm - Discord Games

Goal: $150,000
Now: $84,437
Days: 20

All of the terms used to describe Chasm feature quite frequently in this column and also in my personal wishlist:

"a 2D Fantasy ARPG Platformer featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons and authentic pixel art"

I need a new wishlist that's packed with obscure terms but it'd probably turn out that Ritual Dementia contained everything on it. Chasm looks neat though, even if it's treading an increasingly populated path. A demo is available.

The BitJackers - Zayne Black

Goal: $11,000
Now: $346
Days: 29

Zayne Black has made many a game but this is the first time he's recruited an artist and musician to add some extra sizzle to the design. Here's the pitch:

Move around a boxed-in level, known in-game as ‘Sectors’, based on one of 10,000 current possible combinations with an almost infinite number still to come. Collect shiny ‘bits’ and fend off increasingly hostile security protocols, personified as terrifying cyber-monsters, until the exit opens up and paves the way to the next sector.

That sounds a lot like a randomly generated Smash TV to me and Zayne seems to concur. It also sounds rather appealing. The arcade mode is already complete, albeit waiting for the music and art to be integrated, but more variety will be added, including a story. The art will be the work of James Biddulph, who worked on the attractive Tax Evaders. Those are four words I never thought I'd write in sequence.

Watch on YouTube

Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again - Defiant Mouse

Goal: $65,000
Now: $9,793
Days: 19

A collection of MIT Game Lab alums are working on this tactical puzzle RPG and it sounds rather spiffy:

The meat of Lex Laser‘s gameplay is fitting shapes together. You and your enemies make moves, like on a chess board. On your turn, you’ll think about the whole pattern of the game board. Each of your weapons will zap a particular shape on that board. Where are your enemies? Where can you target each weapon for maximum effect? If you do, what will your enemies do next?

The tactical combat assumes that the player is capable of pointing a weapon at a baddie, so insists on hurling a ridiculous number of enemies in his/her direction and requiring them to pick the right weapon for the task at hand. I figure it'll involve herding the critters and creating killzones. There's also weapon crafting and, my, it all looks rather clever.

The Enraged - Right Side Down Games

Goal: $12,000
Now: $5,374
Days: 12

The Enraged is an RPG with tactical combat, set in a modern city that is full of monsters. Not a world away from Manchester on a Saturday night then, I'd imagine, although some people might dispute Mancunian modernity. As the final countdown begins, perhaps you will care to look at the demo, the updated trailer or some interesting thoughts on difficulty levels?

Our goal is to have the difficulty wrap around the specific experience you want from the game. If you want to focus on the tactical combat, and less on the micromanagement system you will be able to select a mode that doesn’t necessarily get rid of the micromanagement, but doesn’t emphasize on it as much, making it easier for you to get straight to what you want to play. The same could be said with those who want more micromanaging, and less on the battlefield. You will still be able to get the full experience of the game, but it will be tailored to how you want to play it!

Mineral Cities - Gareth Jenkins

Goal: £6,000
Now: £4,300
Days: 4

Set in a "peaceful future space, where rules are simple and minerals are king", Mineral Cities is a minimalist city builder that appeals to my inner-tinkerer, which comprises at least half of my personality. There haven't been many updates on the campaign but a recent post does explain that while there will be objectives, they will be 'deliberately basic' and open play is possible on every level.

Something interesting happens along the way to those simple goals: you end up being more committed to your strategy and its efficiency and effectiveness than you do arbitrary goals. I don't want the game to limit that experience -- hence all levels being available for endless, open play. Just keep on playing, see how far your strategies will take you.

Road Redemption - DarkSeas Games

Goal: $160,000
Now: $54,831
Days: 20

Spiritual successor alert! Kickstarter is the opposite of a graveyard for games and genres gone by. A Lazarus Pit of sorts, stewing with memories of the past that bubble and boil, determined to live again. Road Redemption wants to be in Road Rash's gang, leather jackets, chains, hogs and all. After a storming start last week, the campaign has slowed down somewhat, as expected, but the team are communicating well and pick their words wisely.

We’re happy to say that Road Redemption offers a variety of selectable bikes. Currently the list includes sport bikes (crotch rockets), standard cruisers, and custom choppers.

How have I not encountered the phrase 'crotch rockets' before? I feel like I've been hanging around in all the wrong places.

PreApocalypse - Zachary Kingston

Goal: $8,000
Now: $2,399
Days: 19

The concept driving PreApocalypse is a good one and there's still plenty of time left to secure funding, but more updates and details may well be necessary. It's a very quiet PreApocalypse at the moment. Here's that concept:

Assume the throne of a doomed empire. Battle against time, politics, and uncertainty to prevent Armageddon.

Flowstorm - Neat Corporation

Goal: $50,000
Now: $3,684
Days: 10

Flowstorm is a thrust-based racing game, starring squadrons of the most fragile vessels that I've ever seen. They break faster than Ronnie O’Sullivan on a good day but are also capable of sliding around the edges of the track if they contact with their sturdy backsides. The web prototype is enjoyable but the lack of funding suggests that either people haven't discovered the game yet, or fail to recognise the possibilities for an expanded game. Below you will find footage of the level editor, which is a priority for the team.

Watch on YouTube

Worlds of Magic - Wastelands Interactive

Goal: £30,000
Now: £27,027
Days: 10

Spiritual successor alert the second! Worlds of Magic is Master of Magic except now. Wastelands have even brought one of the artists from the Microprose classic on board. You can find out plenty more in our extensive interview, or watch the video below, which shows the evolution of the tactical combat grid.

Watch on YouTube

Infinite Space 3: Sea of Stars - Digital Eel

Goal: $30,000
Now: $26,295
Days: 12

If I'd had to put money on one project reaching its target this week, Sea of Stars would certainly have been in the running, but it'll take another couple of days for the third Infinite Space game to confirm its success. Digital Eel's flagship series packs galactic exploration and adventure into a lunchbreak or a train journey, and both of the previous titles are pleasant diversions. I've seen them described as forefathers to FTL but they're much less tactical beasts, focused instead on random silliness and simple node-jumping excursions. I'd be happy with more in a similar vein.

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