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Kickstarter Katchup - April 28th 2013

World of Magic, Sea of Stars

Jagged Alliance: Flashback arrives in the Katchup this week. I've expected (and hoped for) a Jagged Alliance crowdfunding attempt for some time now. As soon as it became obvious that Kickstarter was a place where old franchises could revive themselves, every week that the mercenaries didn't appear was slightly more unsettling than the last. Would I rather have a direct sequel without a crowdfunding campaign? Perhaps. The transparency that Full Control promise, listening and learning as they go, is appealing and it's hard to imagine fans of the series pledging for a sequel, like Back in Action, without the core of the original games' features in place. Elsewhere, Worlds of Magic and Infinite Space: Sea of Stars are two major successes.

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 Sixtoo and EL-P.

The Winners

Mineral Cities - Gareth Jenkins

Goal: £6,000
Now: £6,348

Squeaking past the finish line, Mineral Cities has succeeded thanks, at least in part, to a small goal and a clear message. It's a minimalist RTS that utilises zoning policies, in the style of a city-builder, to permit the layering of simple systems to create more complex interlocking consequences. The alpha should be available soon. Or possibly now!

Worlds of Magic - Wastelands Interactive

Goal: £30,000
Now: £34,478

My gaming time last week was mostly spent with two fantasy strategy games - Eador and Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes - both of which are accomplished and full of surprises, despite being part of an old and well-populated genre. Worlds of Magic may not offer a great deal of surprises but it does look like a faithful update of Master of Magic, which is something I've waited most of my life for. Release is scheduled for January 2014 and it can't come soon enough.

Infinite Space 3: Sea of Stars - Digital Eel

Goal: $30,000
Now: $30,352

I'm still not convinced that the 3D maps will enhance my short-form space adventures but I am keen to explore the next sector of Infinite Space. The new combat engine looks decent.

The Losers

The Enraged - Right Side Down Games

Goal: $12,000
Now: $6,376

As with so many Kickstarters, both small and large, failure to reach the target does not mark the end of the project.

To get excitement going, we are working on having a sample micromanagement system created, a demo of survival mode, and more playable characters to be thrown in the demo. These are just three of our many ideas we will be working on in the next few months.

I haven't actually tried the demo but I reckon there's room in my life for a modern era RPG with tactical combat. I could probably do without the city full of infected monsters though, just this once.

The Players

Jagged Alliance: Flashback - Full Control

Goal: $350,000
Now: $94,589
Days: 25

While I remain slightly uncomfortable with the reliance on stretch goals for some desirable features, it would be foolish of me to pretend I'm not overjoyed that Full Control are making this Jagged Alliance prequel. Speaking to the team, their passion for the project is obvious and they have a strong understanding of what made the original and its never-bettered sequel tick.

We are going to get back to the great 2d icons for each NPC and mercenary. They simply allow for much more personality than a generic 3d head that will never have as much detail as a well drawn 2d image. Together with some cool facial animations a lot of personality and feelings can be displayed.

The second half of that interview will be up tomorrow - I'd planned to wait until the Kickstarter launched before running it and then missed the date. Oops!

Dog Sled Saga - Dan FitzGerald

Goal: $6,000
Now: $2,093
Days: 27

It's the kind of name that demands further investigation - in this case by clicking on a link in an email. Is this really a game about sled dog racing? Why, yes it is.

A photo finish. An empty food bag with the team beginning to tire. A lobbed treat caught mid leap. An empty bank account with league dues at the end of the week. A breathtaking mountain view behind the supermarket.

Random events and hazards during the races, and team management in between. And the team are dogs. I would definitely play this game.

Welcome To Boon Hill - Matthew Ritter

Goal: $5,000
Now: $687
Days: 28

Conceptually similar to Tale of Tales' The Graveyard, Welcome to Boon Hill is an interactive mourning experience. Sort of. It's also an exploration of words and memories, and while it may not have wide appeal, I reckon it's a fantastic way to discover stories. A thousand of them, written as epitaphs.

There might be a few other elements in the final product but the bulk of the game would be just walking through a graveyard, reading epitaphs and thinking about who these people were and never will be again.

There are NPCs and, as well as reading, you'll be able to sit, bow your head, leave flowers and 'look sad'.

The Dream King - Nick Ridgway

Goal: $14,000
Now: $880
Days: 26

A game inspired by Zelda, Castlevania and Mega Man doesn't instantly sound like something that would appeal to my pleasure glands. I don't have a great deal of nostalgia for the three series - I grew up with an Atari 2600, an Amiga and an Atari ST - but The Dream King's four-way co-op appeals. The chap who is running the Kickstarter previously created Mega Man Perfect Harmony, a four player experiment with a playable beta. The Dream King will play like Mega Man, moment to moment, but with the larger worlds of Symphony of Night and with an epic/meandering plot similar to a Final Fantasy game.

Rex Rocket - Rob Maher and Tyler Bud

Goal: $6,000
Now: $2,037
Days: 28

There's a retro theme in the Katchup this week. To an extent, I guess there always is, with nostalgia being such a powerful opener of wallets, but the pixel art and sub-17 bit influences are out in particularly strong force.

Rob and Tyler, two passionate indie game devs, have a mission to keep the world of retro games alive. Rex Rocket features one-of-a-kind handmade pixel art, over 100 handcrafted levels connected in an expansive starship filled with a wide variety of puzzles, enemies, hazards and bosses.

The low target reflects the developer-duo's desire to work on the game whether funded or not - the money would allow them to abandon freelance work and concentrate full time on the game.

Camelot Unchained - City State Entertainment

Goal: $2,000,000
Now: $1,552,462
Days: 3

Jim spied Camelot Unchained earlier in the week. There aren't many massively multiplayer games vying for the wealth of kash that Kickstarter can bring and I'm surprised that such a large project hadn't crossed my inbox before and also that it's managed to raise 1.5 million dollars. That, in case you did not know, is a lot of money. Jim's post contains more details.

The Realm - Atomhawk Design & Lantern Interactive

Goal: £195,000
Now: £31,040
Days: 23

This one is better seen than described but before you point your eyes at the video below and the images on the project site, allow me to say this: if Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were reimagined as point and click adventures, the result would probably look a lot like The Realm. A gorgeous, ruined future, a living construct as a companion, and more beauty than you can shake a click at.

A.N.N.E - Gamesbymo

Goal: $70,000
Now: $39,617
Days: 24

John spotted this one and it's fair to say he was instantly charmed.

Metroidvania meets Gradius sounds like the sort of thing you could only wish for, chin leant your your interlocked fingers, elbows on the windowsill looking out into a rainy day. But by crikey, that’s what Gamesbymo are up to with A.N.N.E. A 2D pixel art hybrid of ship-flying shoot-em-up and physics puzzles, and on-foot platforming that promises Metroid-like progression. Wants.

Among the Sleep - Krillbite Studio

Goal: $200,000
Now: $102,463
Days: 20

Toddling toward success, Krillbite's fearsome first-person infant simulation has raised half of its lofty total. Nathan has played it, so I'll hand over to him:

In spite of all my concerns, though, I’m pretty excited to see where Among The Sleep goes. It’s an original concept, and so far, it’s working pretty well for me. Also, the demo came to a close right as the game hit on a rather fascinating theme: imagination. Yes, things started getting crazy, but was any of it real, or is Among The Sleep only about the feeling of being a small, easily frightened child with an overactive imagination?

Chasm - Discord Games

Goal: $150,000
Now: $113,268
Days: 13

As the 2D ARPG with procedurally generated 'Metroid-like' levels closes in on its goal, a new version of the demo is available. It's well worth checking out, I say, having finally found the time for it. The changelog contains one very important piece of information:

Fixed blood particles spawning in walls


Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again - Defiant Mouse

Goal: $65,000
Now: $11,537
Days: 12

It's been an incredibly slow week for Lex Laser, which is a shame because it looks like a clever tactical puzzle RPG and there aren't many of those. Here's how it works:

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?

Kill hordes of enemies by targeting them with weapons, some of which are user-designed, to herd them, trap them and destroy them. There are a few prototypes available to play, showing different missions.

Road Redemption - DarkSeas Games

Goal: $160,000
Now: $81,814
Days: 13

Would you rather have redemption or a rash? This spiritual successor to Road Rash isn't the first incidence of motorbike combat to cross my path this week, but it's the only one that is staying true to the racing/fighting template set by the series of bike brawlers. After a strong start, funding has slowed and success isn't as sure a thing as it seemed at first. There isn't a great deal of new information this week but I found this snippet in the comments:

Certainly, you'll have the ability to steal [weapons] off of other racers. We're experimenting with other ways that you can acquire them mid-race. The between-mission shop sells various upgrades to your character, your bike(s), and your weapon(s).

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