We used to look at what projects went up on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding platforms on a monthly basis. Back then there was a ton of excitement. So many games that would not otherwise have been made were being pitched directly to gamers. Things changed, however, and all of a sudden there simply weren't enough interesting projects for us to continue. Some called it the death of Kickstarter, but maybe it was simply a natural dip after so many great projects launched during 2012, 2013 and early 2014.
Now it appears the hype has returned, the willingness to support large crowdfunding campaigns is there and big campaigns are back in style. And perhaps this has been helped by the fact that a number of campaigns have produced meaningful and entertaining games (Broken Age, Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Elite: Dangerous come to mind). And with that returning hype - our Crowdfund Watch also returns, albeit a little bit different. Enjoy!
Yooka-Laylee (PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One)
Platformers have historically had a more difficult time getting funded on Kickstarter, at least compared to say RPGs and adventure games. Though that's not always the case, as a group of former Rare developers (Playtonic Games) went on Kickstarter on May 1 and clearly the thirst for a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country was there.
Perhaps wary of the success of previous platform titles on Kickstarter, Playtonic presented a rather modest first target of £175,000 - but clearly with a whole range of stretch goals there from the start they were always hoping to be able to do a more ambitious game. The first goal was reached in 40 minutes, the first $1 million in just 5 hours and 41 minutes (the record for a video game Kickstarter), and £1 million GBP inside the first day.
While the campaign has naturally stalled a little at this point, Playtonic are in a position where they got more than enough funding to realise their goal with Yooka-Laylee. At least on paper. There's more than a year to go until October 2016 when they've promised a simultaneous release on PC, PS4, Wii U and Xbox One.
There is still plenty of time to back the game and help it achieve it's final (?) stretch goal - Payback Time - where all backers will receive free DLC (that will be developed after the main game has been completed). Essentially it's a fairly cheap way to pre-order the game well in advance (£10 for PC, £15 for console). Sadly many of the mid and upper tier rewards are all gone (like the 64-Bit version).
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
When Koji "IGA" Igarashi left Konami last year no-one knew what his next move would be. But if you were to have asked us we would have guessed he'd want to return to something reminiscent of the 2D Castlevanias. And that's exactly what Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is. In fact, it's being pitched as a spiritual successor to the most beloved Castlevania of all - Symphony of the Night.
Naturally, Bloodstained was an immediate success on Kickstarter and it's a bit different. IGA has funding for his game and he went on Kickstarter to fund the production of physical dics (for the first time on Kickstarter physical copies of PS4 and Xbox One versions are offered as rewards) and stretch goals to further the scope of the game.
Igarashi has tasked Inti Creates with the actual game development and composer Michiru Yamane will once again lend her talents to a Igavania title. Some of the same people involved with Keiji Inafune's Mighty No. 9 campaign are involved and it's clear that the campaign is very well thought out. This is likely to be the next $3+ million campaign, up there with the likes of Project Eternity, Double Fine Adventure, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and Mighty No. 9.
Formula Fusion (PC + other platforms as stretch goals)
R8 Games Ltd
Formula Fusion is something as admirable as an attempt to create a spiritual successor to Wipeout. In fact, The Designer Republic are involved and several team members have a background at the closed down Sony Liverpool Studios. We've written about it previously, but at this point in time R8 Games needed outside funds to continue without having to sign away the IP. Enter Kickstarter.
While the low target of £35,000 won't get you a larger than life experience (8 tracks promised), R8 Games have more ambitious goals and they are determined to achieve them regardless of whether they're unlocked by stretch goals or not. It may just take a little longer. We actually really appreciate how the team has formulated their pitch in this regard - it feels very honest where many campaigns (especially those asking for relatively low sums) come across as constructs far removed from the actual costs of game development with their tiers.
The campaign is funded, more than doubling its target sum. It's still a fairly modest amount of money though, but given the nature of the project and where it's at, hopefully it's enough to see the game realised and keep the team going. With just a day to go it's unlikely that Formula Fusion hits its console stretch goal. Nevertheless, this one begs to hit console at some point - particularly PS4 given its heritage.
Have you been missing the old style Tie Fighter and X-Wing games? Well, then you're in luck as that's what Impeller Studios are trying to bring back with Starfighter Inc. Described as "a hardcore team-based PvP multiplayer space shooter in the vein of X-Wing vs. Tie-Fighter" being developed by "the minds behind X-Wing, Crysis and Desert Combat". Sometimes these terms are thrown around willy nilly - but Jack Mamais (lead designer on Crysis and Far Cry) and David Wessman (X-Wing series - story and design, lead designer on Saints Row) certainly have the credentials.
It's a nice pitch. But another nice thing about Starfighter Inc. is that it is based on "hard science fiction" - something that's quite rare in video games. What this means to Zero G dogfighting in terms of movement and strafing is quite interesting, and perhaps this is the most interesting aspect about the project.
The campaign has gotten decent attention and half-way through it has managed about 60% of the target sum. It's going to come down to a strong finish if it's to make the $250,000 goal. And that goal is really only the bare-bones basic version of the game that Impeller wants to make. Looking at the stretch goals (and they stretch as far as $17,000,000) there are plenty of ideas to expand on the basic PvP concept.
Through the Woods (Linux, Mac, PC)
This certainly isn't another spiritual successor as Through the Woods is looking like an unique and different horror game set in mysterious Norwegian woods with dynamic storytelling where your actions and decisions dictate how a story is retold.
The Kickstarter pitch reads: "Through the Woods is a third-person psychological horror game set in a forest on the western shore of Norway about a mother and her missing son. Through dynamic narration, you play the mother's re-telling of the events surrounding her son's disappearance in a setting heavily influenced by Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales."
The campaign is off to a fairly slow start which is natural given that there is no established fanbase to benefit from. Still, it's not dead in the water as it has achieved just over a quarter of its asked for funds. It's currently projected to miss its target, but since they're not really asking for a tremendous amount of money things can turn around quickly.
Dimension Drive (Linux, Mac, PC)
We'll be perfectly honest. Had it not been for a previous campaign for Dimension Drive suffering a rather cynical troll attack, then it wouldn't have made the list, such is the competition currently on Kickstarter. But we love a good story and this has the makings of a true feel good story.
Of course, you should keep in mind that Dimension Drive isn't the only game to suffer from trolls making pledges just to pull them prior to the end of the campaign. There are other victims out there, but this case was particularly cruel as the pledge took them over their target after a long and grueling campaign that look like it would miss its target.
But if we forget about the trolling Dimension Drive has a rather unique mechanic that sees you teleport between two parallel dimensions (seen side-by-side on screen) as you play a bullet hell shooter.
The original campaign was struggling to reach its €30,000 target and it was the €7,000 troll pledge that took it over the top. The renewed campaign is doing much better (largely thanks to publicity gained as a result), it's almost three quarters there in its first four days back on Kickstarter.
Umbra (Linux, PC)
Umbra is a top-down action-RPG along the lines of Diablo. What differentiates this indie effort from many others is the fact that it uses Crytek's powerful CryEngine 3. It's not been an engine of choice for indies (who flock to Unity these days), and so when a group of modders and developers with experience in the engine took to Kickstarter with their project, it garnered some attention.
Apart from the visuals, the big selling point with Umbra is customisation: "The game features a unique mechanic called Apocalyptic Form that allows players to shape shift into a highly customized character! You're free to mold your character thanks to a deep and rich customization system. And thanks to our complex crafting mini-game and our housing module you will be able to make your adventure feel as YOUR adventure!"
It's off to a solid start achieving two thirds of its goal in just eight days. There's still some ways to the target sum, but things are looking up for SolarFall Games.
A somewhat new trend in crowdfunding (likely a method to ensure a strong start) is that campaigns are announced and given countdowns ahead of time. InXile Entertainment, who previously successfully kickstarted Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera, will launch their next campaign on June 2 (learn more about The Bard's Tale IV in our recent interview with Brian Fargo). Two days later on June 4, Compulsion Games will launch their campaign for We Happy Few (you can find out more about that in our preview). At an undisclosed date this summer (though around E3 it has been suggested) a retro console sporting a cartridge slot (yes, that's right) called Retro will also hit the crowdfunding site.
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