The year 2014 is here, and with it comes more indie game Kickstarter campaigns than you can shake a stick at. From educational code logic games, to fully fledged tactical RPGs, to the almost obligatory retro-inspired platformers, Kickstarter has it all. But which indie devs have what it takes to win over the PC gaming crowd and secure some much needed funding? To help answer that question, here's a selection of January's up-and-coming Kickstarters.
Pledged (as of writing): $3,378
End date: Feb 15, 2014
American indie dev team Paleozoic hope to throw their hat into the retro inspired, 2D platformer ring with their fast paced action title Olympia Rising. As the name suggests, Olympia Rising is a Greek mythology themed game which has players take control of Iola – the spirit of a dead heroine tasked to stop an oncoming wave of evil from the underworld of Hades.
Although a combat element is present, Olympia Rising's emphasis on vertical platforming requires a mastery of Iola's jump, double jump, wall jump and other specialised, magic fuelled jumps. Paleozoic's aim is to add various layers of challenge by requiring players obtain a certain amount of coins in one section before progressing to the next. If the requirement isn't met, the coin count is reset and players must try again, from scratch. It may seem harsh, but if the demo is anything to go by then Paleozoic clearly intend to fine tune every stage in order for a self-evident “flow” to emerge, making difficult, yet fair, challenge.
The browser based demo of Olympia Rising will definitely work in favour of Paleozoic's Kickstarter campaign. It contains a collection of stages of increasing difficulty, shows off the fluidity of the animation and the pixelated art style, and includes some enjoyably atmospheric 16-bit tunes.
The controls on the demo are somewhat imprecise and “slippy” at this point, and the general gameplay is extremely rough around the edges, however this is expected of a demo of an early alpha build. Even so, it's a great addition to the Olympia Rising Kickstarter, so go check it out and see what you think.
Developer: Fishing Cactus
Pledged (as of writing): $4,665
End date: Feb 14, 2014
We now travel over to Belgium where developer Fishing Cactus aim to make code logic fun with their videogame / learning aid Algo-Bot.
The goal in each stage of Algo-Bot to instruct the titular little robot to remove crates of nuclear waste and reach a predetermined location. This is carried out by creating a string of rudimentary commands which are sent to the robot a la “Turtle Logo” – thus conferring the basics of code logic to the player.
An alpha build of the game has already been developed by Fishing Catus in conjunction with the Belgian training centre Technobel, in which the alpha is currently used to teach coding. But to put Algo-Bot on the market requires to be polished, and polishing costs money.
Flying Cactus is asking for $60,000 in order to get Algo-Bot out the door and onto Windows, with additional support for Mac, Linux and mobile platforms being a stretch goal. Other stretch goals include a level editor, graphical overhauls, a more cohesive storyline, an improved soundtrack and – if the $300,000 stretch goal is reached – Flying Cactus' promise that Algo-Bot licenses will be freely distributed to every school, university and training centre across the globe.
Algo-Bot's Kickstarter trailer really does give the impression that the gamification of rudimentary coding education is something Fishing Cactus is genuinely passionate about. Whether or not there are potential Kickstarter backers out there who can share Fishing Cactus' passion and pledge money towards Algo-Bot is yet to be seen.
Developer: Playdek & Yasumi Matsuno
Pledged (as of writing): $434,904
End date: Feb 14, 2014
Next up we have the tactical RPG Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians, a collaborative effort between the American developer Playdek and Japanese videogame designer and producer Yasumi Matsuno. Although the works of Matsuno are confined to non-PC platforms, his role in creating the likes of Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story makes him one of the great TRPG masterminds of our time.
According to the game's Kickstarter page, Unsung Story will feature similar gameplay to Matsuno's previous TRPG's and will take place over large periods of time in a war-torn, medieval fantasy world. Players will have to make use of a range of customisable units, which have both a class type and a specialised profession, to win battles displayed with a fully controllable 3D camera. No gameplay has been shown due to the game's development being in pre-production – a fact that Playdek are open about.
Playdek have already confirmed that Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians will be released on mobile platforms – in keeping with their mobile-exclusive portfolio – regardless of the Kickstarter campaign's performance. The money raised from crowd-sourcing, however, will go towards the development of a PC, Mac and Linux version, with the promise of additional creative team members and a console encompassing multiplatform release being stretch goals.
The various members of Playdek shown in the Kickstarter trailer show a genuine passion for making games, for Unsung Story itself and are all self-proclaimed fans of Yasumi Matsuno's aforementioned works. Matsuno's name alone is likely to draw significant attention to Playdek's Kickstarter, which has already received a hearty level of funding. Tactical RPG fans would do well to keep an eye on Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians.
Developer: Joar Jakobsson
Pledged (as of writing): $42,103
End date: Feb 13, 2014
A cold, harsh future where a deadly rain plummets from the sky and pelts the land. Humans are long gone and the only life that persists within the remaining industrial complexes are ruthless, resilient predators and a solitary Slugcat. This is the premise of Rain World.
From the collective mind of developer Joar Jakobsson and sound engineer James Primate, Rain World asks players to sneak the game's Slugcat protagonist past ravenous predators in order to scavenge food of its own.
After seeing the game in action, older readers will likely be reminded of the eerie otherworldliness of Flashback, Another World, Metroid, and the original two Oddworld games. If the Kickstarter trailer is anything to go by, then Rain World's moody, 16-bit colour palettes and chip tunes has achieved the atmosphere of overwhelming isolation that the aforementioned titles are known for. But unlike those older, slightly clunky games, Rain World boasts some amazingly fluid animation as Slugcat runs, jumps, sneaks and climbs his way to his prey.
With its well made trailer, large GIFs, soundtrack preview and a detailed devlog beginning in March 2012, it's no wonder that the Rain World Kickstarter has already received a fair deal of attention from gamers and the gaming press, and that it has already obliterated its funding goal with weeks to spare.
Grow – Goal: $33,000 AUD – Pledged: $6,877 – Project Cancelled: Dec 31, 2013 Pixelsphere – Goal: $5,000 – Pledged: $10,475 – Project Funded! Stalin vs. Martians 3 – Goal: $125,000 – Pledged: $2,270 – Project Unsuccessful Sunrider – Goal: $3,00 – Pledged: $44,039 – Project Funded!
Pixelsphere – Goal: $5,000 – Pledged: $10,475 – Project Funded!
Stalin vs. Martians 3 – Goal: $125,000 – Pledged: $2,270 – Project Unsuccessful
Sunrider – Goal: $3,00 – Pledged: $44,039 – Project Funded!