Christmas is nearly here, which means most people are strapped for cash. But it's business as usual over at Kickstarter with many, many videogame developers looking to fund their projects with the help of our cold, hard cash. Here's an interesting selection of PC game Kickstarter projects to warm the cockles of your wallet before merry ol' Saint Nick breaks into your house and pinches it.
Developer: Studio Grow
Goal: $33,000 AUD
Pledged (as of writing): $6,013 AUD
End date: Jan 2, 2013
Featuring cute, colourful critters running around vibrant arenas, eating fruit and mauling each other to death – Grow sounds like the secret love child of Pokémon and Team Fortress 2. In fact, this is the very same description used by Australian developer, Studio Grow, in the Kickstarter trailer for its class-based multiplayer game. But looks can be deceiving, and beneath Grow's cuddly exterior is a far more engaging multiplayer experience.
As mentioned above, Grow is strictly a multiplayer game with three game modes – Capture the Egg, Brawl and Golden Idol – designed to work online or via LAN. Each player starts as the lowly, defenceless lifeform “Nom” and must eat one of three different types of food items in order to “evolve” into one of three different classes. There's two levels of evolution, three of which are class hybrids, for a total of ten creatures and players can “devolve” at any time by vomiting.
Of course, Studio Grow hope to add new maps, modes, platform support and characters to Grow if Kickstarter stretch goals are met. Studio Grow are calling on fans of Pokémon, Super Smash Bros., and modern The Legend of Zelda titles for funding, but with 20% of its $33,000 AUD goal obtained, Grow still has some way to go before it even sees a release at all.
Developer: Alex Smith
Pledged (as of writing): $2,062
End date: Jan 5, 2013
Alex Smith is an electronic musician turned game developer who hopes to combine his passion for ambient music and 2D platforming in his videogame project Pixelsphere. Unlike many Kickstarter projects, Smith has already developed more than half of Pixelsphere over a two year period and now requires funding to hire additional artists, level designers and programmers to see the game through its post-production phase.
The initial premise of Pixelsphere is a seemingly simple one – a 2D platformer whereby players explore large levels to collect items and points – but Smith's vision of incorporating the science of music theory and music cognition into the game place Pixelsphere into the realm of the abstract.
Pixelsphere takes place within the mysterious land of Hexatonia in which the native fauna reveal the game's narrative via a strictly musical language. As described by Smith himself on the game's Kickstarter page:
“Their language consists of musical tones, and is expressed by the tension and resolution of phrases, intervals and chords. Musical markers placed throughout their world are equivalent to our “letters”, but only amount to gibberish until played in a precise order.”
This may seem beyond the comprehension of non-musical players, but Smith is confident that Pixelsphere will help teach the uneducated, reward the musically minded and will be enjoyed by all.
The abundance of retro-inspired, 2D platformers on PC platforms is greater than ever, so their prevalence on Kickstarter is hardly surprising – we even featured two pixelated 2D adventures in last month's Kickstarter roundup. However, if I understand Smith's Kickstarter page correctly, Pixelsphere is a musical game unlike anything I've personally heard of before.
With a modest $5,000 goal to reach by Jan 5th of next year, it seems that the Pixelsphere Kickstarter campaign need only to reach the eyes and ears of the musically minded gamers out there to secure it's funding. Watch this space.
Pledged (as of writing): $1,934
End date: Jan 10, 2013
Not many developers would turn to Kickstarter to fund a sequel to a critically panned videogame, yet that's exactly what Dreamlore are doing with Stalin vs. Martians 3. Those who spent money on the original Stalin vs. Martians are unlikely to have forgotten the peculiar parody game that compromised its own gameplay in order to increase its comedic value, as described in our original review.
So what exactly is Dreamlore offering with Stalin vs. Martians 3? Well, aside from the game's Kickstarter trailer – an amusing parody's of modern videogame development – not all that much. There's a short gameplay trailer that shows off a rudimentary, third person action scene featuring Stalin in a giant robot. There's also scant details on parody mini-games including Angry Stalin, Candy Crush Stalin, Super Stalin Bros. And Stalin Dance Revolution. Lastly, there's some cute drawings of Stalin riding things like a giant pig, a Chocobo and Vladimir Putin.
But in all honesty, there's nothing on Dreamlore's Kickstarter page to suggest that Stalin vs. Martians 3 will be any better than the abysmal Stalin vs. Martians. With over $122,000 of funding left to acquire, it looks like Stalin vs. Martians 3 won't be seeing the light of day, which might just be for the best.
Developer: Love in Space
Pledged (as of writing): $8,610
End date: Jan 5, 2013
Although the fate of the three Kickstarter videogame projects above is still undecided, one game managed to reach its funding goal in a mere three days: Sunrider.
There's been growing debate as to whether a “visual novel” – i.e. an interactive novel with branching narrative, yet minimal gameplay – really constitutes a videogame at all. Regardless, Sunrider developer Love in Space hopes to break the mould by creating the largest, most “epic” space opera visual novel ever to grace the genre.
Taking place in the distant future following humanity's conquest of the universe, Sunrider has players command the eponymous space ship and its all female, anime crew as they attempt to quench an intergalactic, revolutionary uprising. While the majority of the game involves conversing with characters, players are able to chose which celestial locations to visit, which characters to recruit and can engage in turn based battles against giant space robots.
The Sunrider Kickstarter may not appeal to everyone, but it has caught the attention of enough gamers to warrant contributions that triple its original goal of $3,000. Needless to say, Sunrider is on its way.