Do you wanna be (Kick)startin’ somethin’?
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Tuesday 08 May 2012
Gaming’s Kickstarter revolution has been a swift and dramatic one, with videogame developers taking to the alternative funding option like the proverbial fish to water, many even pledging to sink a percentage of their project’s profits back into the Kickstarter.com community.
By seeking their development budget via the donation service, companies become (theoretically at least) no longer tied to the time constraints imposed by the giants of the publishing world, which are so often pointed to as reasons why a game either didn’t live up to its billing or released with a list of glitches as long as your arm. It isn’t like those who donate lose out either, with most developers rewarding backers with either a copy of the game upon release or some other collectable such as a making-of book or soundtrack.
Whether or not the change we’ve seen in the past few months will hold remains to be seen and, frankly, will most likely depend on the quality of this first wave of games, but right now there are lots of exciting projects getting made that wouldn’t have seen the light of day less than a year ago and that can only be a good thing. With the rise in Kickstarter popularity coinciding with the announcement of some ambitious looking titles we thought it was about time we took a look at a selection of the videogame projects we’re excited about, and that you should be excited about too.
Double Fine Adventure
Format: PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Developer: Double Fine and 2 Player Productions
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure
A new adventure game from one of the legends of the genre, it’s no surprise that Tim Schafer’s (Full Throttle, Grim Fandango) Double Fine Adventure broke Kickstarter.com records left, right and centre. As the first project to top the three million dollar mark, the game and its accompanying documentary set the tone for the pitches that would follow, assuring other developers that Kickstarter was a viable option in their quest for funding. There’s not much information about the actual game yet, just that it’ll be an old school adventure with Double Fine’s trademark humour. Three million dollars for a game that barely even exists as an idea yet? That’s the power of Kickstarter.
Format: PC, Mac, Linux
Developer: inXile entertainment
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2?ref=live
A sequel to an almost forgotten late eighties post apocalyptic RPG that heavily influenced the original Fallout, as well as introducing plenty of mechanics and ideas that we take for granted in our modern games. Eschewing the current trend of turning retro classics into first person shooters, Wasteland 2 will stay loyal to its top down, turn based roots, and take on board suggestions from backers and fans about the direction the game should take. The desire for the game is clearly evident in the way it made more than two million dollars, more than double its original funding goal.
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/355932838/crowdsourced-hardcore-tactical-shooter
A hardcore, squad based first person shooter in the style of the original Rainbow Six games, built by a small indie studio made up of industry veterans who can include Ghost Recon, Halo: Reach and F.E.A.R on their cumulative CV. Expect single shot kills, plenty of mission planning, and the sort of tension that run-and-gun FPS games just can’t deliver under the microscope of publishers looking for supposed mass appeal. Takedown proves that, no matter how good your central idea, you need to be able to sell it to the fans to get your funding. After a slow start, a change of pitch video pushed the game over its funding goal well before its deadline.
Code Hero: A Game That Teaches You To Make Games
Format: PC, Mac
Developer: Alex Peake
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/primerist/code-hero-a-game-that-teaches-you-to-make-games-he?ref=card
Exactly the sort of game that Kickstarter is perfect for. A mix of FPS, puzzler and classroom lesson, Code Hero teaches you to program as you play. As you learn new scripts, you can fire them off with your code gun to manipulate the world around you. If you need a platform raising, a wall destroying, or a door opening, you’re going to have to learn the lines of code you need to do it. It’s a clever way of introducing people to the language and building blocks of interactive entertainment while ensuring they’re having fun at the same time.
Auditorium 2: Duet
Format: PC, Mac
Developer: Cipher Prime
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/761471459/auditorium-2-duet?ref=category
A mix of music and lights, the original Auditorium was a game about bending particle beams to fill up meters and release different parts of a symphony. Stark and gorgeous, with a wonderful soundtrack, it was experimental gaming at its best. This sequel offers more of the same, with added multiplayer elements and even more impressive sounds and images.
Guns of Icarus Online
Format: PC, Mac
Developer: Muse Games
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/musegames/guns-of-icarus-online
A mix of co-operative and competitive online multiplayer, Guns of Icarus casts you as part of the crew of a steampunk airship. Whether you’re the captain, engineer or gunner, it’s your job to keep the ship running, transporting cargo and taking down enemy ships in the process. Looking a bit like a cross between BioShock Infinite and Team Fortress 2, Guns of Icarus Online looks set to offer some exciting steam-powered action when it’s released later this year.
The Last Sleeper: Episode 1
Developer: Kendall Deacon Davis
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/78728598/the-last-sleeper-episode-1?ref=category
A strange blend of narrative elements and interaction, The Last Sleeper is less of a game and more of a new kind of digital book. It mixes together iPad gestures, gorgeous art and an intriguing story of rebirth to create something that’s unlike almost anything else out there. An impressive roster of talent and a passion to create something unique will hopefully create a videogaming experience that gamers and just good story enthusiasts can appreciate.
Saturday Morning RPG
Format: iPad, iPhone
Developer: Mighty Rabbit Studios
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyjosh/saturday-morning-rpg?ref=category
If you’ve got an iOS device, you can already experience this Kickstarter funded pastiche of RPG and classic eighties cartoons. Produced with great care and attention to detail Saturday Morning RPG uses classic RPG themes but applies its own modern elements and makes particularly good use of the touchscreen. With its story split across small episodes it’s pitched perfectly at gamers on-the-go as the continued exploits of high school student Martin “Marty” Hall are played out with lashings of nostalgia.
Machination: A Game Of Evil Genius
Format: iPad, iPhone
Developer: Signal Flare Games
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1704679348/machination-a-game-of-evil-genius?ref=live
A game about building evil robots to help with your evil scheme to become a world renowned evil genius. Machination looks like a clever, reaction-testing puzzler set in a vaguely steampunk-themed factory that’s constantly being invaded by the annoying forces of good. You have to work your way up from lever cranker to mad scientist, building yourself an army of evil automata as you do. Clever, quick, and a nice change from always playing the grizzled hero.
The Banner Saga
Format: PC, Mac
Kickstarter URL: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stoic/the-banner-saga?ref=category
A truly stunning mix of Norse mythology, hand drawn animation and deep, turn based strategy, The Banner Saga looks absolutely breathtaking. An RPG based on old Viking legends, with a visual style that’s equal parts Disney and Studio Ghibli, it promises to be an exciting adventure where interacting with characters is just as important as the chess-like battles that lie at its core. Thanks to a Kickstarter spree that saw Stoic rake in more than five times their goal, the game now boasts a score from the composer behind Journey’s evocative sounds, and animation from the team behind Epic Mickey and DC Universe Online. Add to that a trio of leads from Star Wars: The Old Republic, and you’re left with the sort of team that can make good on its promises.
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