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Kickstarter Katchup – June 9th 2013

All reality is a game.

I can't stop thinking about the Deus Ex Machina 2 trailer, which you can see below. Make sure to listen to it as well as looking at it, but also be sure to have some powerful mental mouthwash on hand/ It has taken up residence in my brain and I don't know how to get it out. Maybe I'll play a game. I've spent the weekend playing something that I first covered when it appeared as a Kickstarter campaign - Expeditions: Conquistador. It's packed with interesting words and systems, many of which deserve a round of applause. Like many crowd-funded projects, it's a game with obvious inspirations and heritage, but with a personality that is far removed from the fantasy worlds that are common in the genre. I'll have more to say about it in the next couple of days. Enjoy the music.

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 Hail Mary Mallon and remembering Iain Banks.

The Winners

Darkwood - Acid Wizard

Goal: $40,000
Now: $57,323

Several people pointed out that I was a meanie for not including Darkwood in last week's Katchup, even though it looked exactly like the sort of thing I should be including. Weird procedurally generated horror, barricading of doors and windows, lighting effects that make me shiver with delight. Of course, I was wrong to miss Darkwood off the winner's list because it looks fantastic, but I didn't neglect it because I'm a 'meanie'. I'm just forgetful. The game won't be out until mid-2014 but hopefully I won't forget about it between now and then.

Massive Chalice - Double Fine

Goal: $725,000
Now: $887,529

When a Kickstarter campaign passes the finish line with three weeks to go, it's usually time to bring out the rack and prepare for some stretch goals. Massive Chalice is remaining flexible though, ready and willing to stretch, but not in any specific direction.

"The exciting thing about taking the game to you guys at this early stage is that some of your ideas are even better than ours. As we go through pre-production into production, some of these ideas are going to trump ours, leading to a game that’s more in line with what our community wants. That’s amazing and we love having you involved in the process!”

No stretch goals then. Nathan has been learning more about the project and has already shared how one aspect of the game changed due to feedback.

Rehearsals and Returns - Peter Brinson

Goal: $3,300
Now: $2,450
Days: 26

Rehearsals and Returns is a game about 'imaginary conversations' with the likes of Ghandi, Thatcher and Tesla. It will involve walking, jumping and collecting, as games so often do, but instead of coins or crystals, the player is hunting for phrases and ideas. The current animations are rather plain but some of the Kickstarter cash will be going into the pocket of Jason Ronzani, an artist and animator whose most recent work you can see below. It's a three minute short about having a snack.

Watch on YouTube

The Players

Fleish & Cherry In Crazy Hotel - Red Little House Studios

Goal: €29.000
Now: €4.964
Days: 25

Jim wrote the words below when the trembling retro-cartoon imagery of Crazy Hotel appeared on his screen:

"Fleish & Cherry In Crazy Hotel remixes dodgy old 1930s cartoons to produce a game that looks quite unlike anything else I can recall. It’s basically a tribute to that early era of animation, and “will be full of details and tributes to the history of animation and to the great artists of the time like Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks, Max Fleischer or Friz Freleng”."

I say he 'wrote' those words but many of them were clearly copied from the developer's website. You won't catch me cutting corners by copying and pasting.

Watch on YouTube

Deus Ex Machina 2 - Mel Croucher

Goal: £64,000
Now: £12,817
Days: 28

I'm not sure if the title is supposed to be written in BLOCK CAPITALS, but even if it is, I'm not going to shout it at you, especially because at least 90% of people will immediately assume there's a Deus Ex: Not An iPad Game Kickstarter, which will cause them to grab JC Denton and cram him back onto their hard drive. The original Deus Ex Machina predates Denton's cyber-shenanigans though. It came out in 1984 and was an art-game before art-games existed. I never played it but if it's anything like the sequel, which is apparently almost finished, it was absolutely bonkers. A virtual journey through life, from conception to death and then a bit more. Is it a bit like Rez, but with more sperm-swimming and anti-establishment bashing of The Man? Possibly. The mad cherry on top of the deranged cake is the presence of Christopher Lee's voice. Actually, no, that's the icing. The cherry is Ian Dury's voice, remixed from his 1984 recording. Watch the trailer - it's like a concept album with an interactive music video about a naked bum having a nightmare.

Void Destroyer - Paul Zakrzewski

Goal: $20,000
Now: $12,538
Days: 22

There was a time when the Katchup was mostly full of space, with the occasional ship zipping about the place. The number of space sims and cosmic RTS games has declined, or perhaps it's just that I don't pay as much attention to all of the new ones that are seeking the power of the crowd. Void Destroyer stands out because it isn't a spaceship sim or a strategy game - it's both. In some Goldblum-like mishap, two genres have become fused, although hopefully their most intimate parts haven't fallen off. Imagine if the poor game's tacticles fell off and had to be stored in a jar! Check out the playable demo to see if the hybrid has survived the transition.

Watch on YouTube

Our Darker Purpose - Avidly Wild Games

Goal: $40,000
Now: $15,255
Days: 18

A quaint school with a Gorey past. A series of mysterious events. A vanishing of adults. The strange and dark world of Edgewood is a fantastic setting for a game and Avidly Wild are taking inspiration from some splendid quarters. Early Zelda and The Binding of Isaac are the main touchstones but it's the world-building and writing that could make Our Darker Purpose stand out from the crowd-funding crowd. Take the story of Frothy the Dragon:

There’s general disagreement about what exactly went wrong with Frothy the Cardboard Dragon during last year’s Winter Musical. Most believe that the dragon was intended to remain stationary, that it had a relatively minor role in the production, and that red cellophane would have been just as effective as actual fire. Sadly, the enterprising student who originally designed the beast was consumed by his own creation moments before the theater was evacuated.

No one knows where the dragon went after leaving the auditorium, or whether it is still somewhere on the grounds. The Administrators gleefully described the incident as a “remarkable occurrence that stood out in an otherwise unremarkable semester.”


Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! - Alasdair Beckett-King

Goal: £15,000
Now: £9,626
Days: 19

The Fowl Fleet had a strong opening week but has only raised two thousand pounds since last Sunday. It may be a sequel with a ready-made fanbase, but with the original game being a 2007 AGS release rather than an annual foot-to-ball or war-to-face extravaganza, the waiting masses probably number in the thousands rather than the billions. Even though I didn't play Spoonbeaks Ahoy, I'm clambering on board ship for Nelly's next adventure, mainly because I think this is the first campaign I've seen that uses the word 'poo':

Vogel Island is home to the world's largest collection of birds. Swans, pelicans, toucans, ducks and, of course, spoonbeaks are all nestled together in one place. It's an ornithological paradise, and cleaning up the poo is a blinking nightmare.

Armikrog - Pencil Test

Goal: $900,000
Now: $477,833
Days: 18

The spiritual successor to claymation caper Neverhood is creeping toward its goal and Pencil Test have been sharing some of their early work this week. The game's protagonists, Tommynaut and Beak-Beak, crash onto an alien planet, as shown in this comic strip. After the crash, they meet the Mongrel, a creature with a carnivore with a useful contraption where its tonsils should be. The animatic is below.

Watch on YouTube

Endica VII:The Dream King - Nick Ridgway

Goal: $1,400
Now: $1,290
Days: 21

The playable demo for Endica VII is now available. The game is inspired by Mega Man and Symphony of the Night, but has co-op leanings. Online functionality is not supported in the demo.

Here are the confirmed details: 2-Player Co-op and Versus same screen local multiplayer. There have been a few major changes to the project since the first kickstarter launched April 25th. The name has changed to Endica, the game has gone down to $9.99, and the confirmed maximum player amount is two for now. (This however is likely to change depending on each platform from 1 to 4 players maximum. I will keep you posted on the details concerning this.)

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