October, the month where towns and shops put up Christmas decorations before people have even celebrated Halloween, when you remember that you have a heating system that has lain dormant all summer. And also the celebration of when I crawled out of the womb, a video game controller already in my hand (all birthday presents are welcome). But rather than spend your money on me, or hoarding it for a last minute Christmas Eve rush, instead why not channel the spirit of Tam o’ Shanter and dance with a strange devil in the midnight oil. And by this I mean give a nice game developer a Kickstarter donation.
There are five projects shaking their Starbuck-emblazoned begging cup at you, starting with the video game version of an old homeless man, ColecoVision. There is also Japanese Action RPG Reborn, Zombie RTS Undead Overload, the Lovecraftian 2D adventure game Mark of the Old Ones, and last but not least, the beautiful and unique Knite and the Ghost Lights.
For those of you born after 1985, ColecoVision is not a freaky disease of the cornea, but an old video game console manufactured by Coleco Industries, back in the day when console names were cool (I’m looking at you, Xbox One). It competed with the likes of the Atari 5200, another long-forgotten console that haunted store shelves in the mid 80s. While it sold well, its success burnt out fast, and three years after its release in 1982 it was discontinued.
Now, Chicago-based Rantmedia Games wants to start a resurgence of the retro kind. The company firmly believes the games of this era defined what video gaming would become, and want to re-introduce them to the current generation of players. Last year, Rantmedia developed Vectrex Regenration, a remake of the classic Vectrex console game for iPhone and iPad. With that project successfully completed, Rantmedia’s team of developers has expanded their scope to bring many of the ColectoVision’s games not only to the App Store, but to a number of platforms if fans demand it.
It is a big ask, and the company is seeking $250,000 to do it properly. Rantmedia is the first to point out that emulators for ColectoVision do exist, but these games would be the polished, definitive, fully licensed versions. At the moment there are 20 games on the list, including Jumpman, Space Fury, and Zaxxon, with many more soon to be added. In order to receive a copy of the app when it is finished, the company is asking for a minimum $10 donation, or $20 for two copies – that’s Christmas 2014 sorted for the gamer in your life. Backers at these tiers also receive a digital making of booklet, a newsletter on the project’s progress, and a web credit. The Platinum tier level for donations of $750 has only 25 places, and contains an in-game credit, an invite to the Chicago launch party (not including accommodation or travel), two posters autographed by the entire team, two T-shirts and beta access to the ColectoVision app. The top tier of $5000, limited to five lucky players, adds a nice hoodie to the Platinum tier, and also invites guests to Rantmedia Games’ UK base where donors can meet the team, have dinner, chill out and play games.
First off, credit is due to developer Elemental Labs, a company that has shown the utmost respect to the Japanese culture, which serves as the bases of Reborn, by providing full Japanese subtitles to the 10 minute Kickstarter pitch video. TThis action RPG mixes traditional Japanese stories and a western-style futuristic cyberpunk neo-Japan with a tale of a samurai searching for five lost elemental crystals. From the way the various department heads of Elemental speak, it is immediately apparent that a lot of work has gone into not only the script and the artwork, but the overall design and development plan, in order to provide gamers with the best game possible on a small budget.
The game is already heavily in development, however Elemental Labs is seeking $200,000 to keep the momentum and make sure the game is released on schedule in Fall 2014 for North America. It is originally slated for the PS3/PS4 PlayStation Store as well as a Steam launch, however, stretch goals include PS Vita, Xbox One and Wii U.
In order to receive a copy of the game, players will need to donate $30 or more, while the next tier of $40, labelled Early Bird Technician, is limited to 5000 people and packages the game together with the previous rewards of website credit and digital concept artwork. The $50 Engineer level, limited to 20,000, is worth the upgrade as it includes a T-shirt, in-game credit, a physical Collector’s edition of the game signed by the development team, and also a making-of DVD. Meanwhile, the top two tiers of $10,000, dubbed Demi-God and God, are both limited to just three people each. Demi-God offers you the chance to design a major NPC which will appear in the game, while God varies this slightly by allowing you the opportunity to design a hidden boss. Both come with a 3D model of the character, various artwork, a treasure trove of goodies, as well as dinner with Elemental games, and invite to any parties and conventions they throw or attend.
“Not another bloody Zombie game!” I hear you cry.Have no fear, as this one takes conventional zombie games and flips them on their head. Rather than survive a zombie apocalypse, players take command of their own zombie horde in a Dungeon Keeper fashion, attacking non-infected and expanding their army to try and take over an entire town. The setting is very specific; JumpCore did not wish to use stereotypical levels such as experimental labs or derelict factories. Instead it channels The Walking Dead by using a quaint American town as the initial outbreak area. The environment is fully destructible, while all buildings appear without roofs like The Sims, so zombie minions can break in and find any surviving “tasty human meatsacks.”
Extra kudos to JumpCore Productions for managing to use the phrase “tasty human meatsacks” in its pitch video.
The initial goal of $60,000 will see the game released for iPad, as well as Windows, Mac and Linux desktop platforms. Further stretch goals will allow for voice acting, extra weapons and characters, while the company will make an online version if it reaches $320,000. So what are the rewards for helping to unleash an army of the undead? In order to nab a copy of the game, players will need to donate the humble sum of $15, while $25 will allow beta access. The top donor level of $2,500, called Viral Immortality and limited to five zombie-loving souls, will not only see your name appear in the special in-game credits, but you can send the team pictures of yourself and they will work them into the game. It also includes the game itself, t-shirts, posters and a 3D model print of the hideous looking but gloriously named Tank Zombie.
Mark of the Old Ones
Inspired by HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu stories, this dark tale sees the game’s hero, Thomas Lyle, crawling out of a plane crash, his legs mangled, unable to walk. Trapped in the Alaskan mountains, Thomas seeks shelter in a cave, certain he will die there. However, he is disturbed by an arachnid parasite, which attaches itself to Thomas’ back. He discovers he can use the powerful legs of the creature to walk and swing from the ceiling. This sets him on his journey through the mountains, uncovering the remains of a civilisation, Nameset, whose inhabitants worshipped the demon Kraal. Thomas is forced to venture deeper into the mountain of madness, filled with strange technology and alien horrors.
Although Mark of the Old Ones currently exists as a mechanical demonstration of the physical environments using debug lines, the game’s potential is obvious. The company behind it, Hit the Sticks, promises HD graphics with a rich noir style to go along with the unique character movements. Hit the Sticks is seeking a cash pot of $225,000 in order to bring the game’s first chapter, Overseer, to life. Future chapters are included in the stretch goals, with a total of $1.2 million needed for all four chapters, as well as a PlayStation 4 release. The game is currently targeting Windows, OSX, and Ubuntu Linux. In order to receive the game, players will have to pledge a minimum of $15. However, if the stretch goals are met, this level will also receive the future chapters as well. $25 allows players beta access to the game, which Hit the Sticks believe will be ready in November 2014. As the goal is quite high, so is the final level. Donating $10,000 or more (limited to eight people) will give you a 12 week entry to Hit the Stick offices, where the team will teach you a variety of game-making skills including 2D and 3D drawing, modelling, animation with Maya, and various other useful tutorials. This is one of the best goals I have ever seen on Kickstarter, especially for potential game designers. If anything you make or design ends up in the game, you will receive full credit, but it is viewed as a 12 week intensive learning experience, and not a paid-for internship.
Knite and the Ghost Lights
Possibly one of the most uniquely visual Kickstarter projects ever to be launched, Mobot Studios’ game conjures together adventure, storytelling and action with beautiful hand-crafted models brought to life using a mix of stop-motion and CG animation. This approach, coupled with the character design, gives it a Tim Burton/Corpse Bride feel. The game follows the titular hero Knite, a ghost piper like his ancestors before him, who can help the Ghost Lights, lost spirits in Mistland, escape from their eternal fate and be reborn as innocent new souls using his pipe. Like various Legend of Zelda titles, Knite’s instrument will see wistful, haunting music woven into the gameplay itself.
The game will be launched on PC, Mac, Linux and also Wii U. The project has a very modest target of $35,000, with stretch goals of $55,000 for animated cutscenes, $75,000 for voice acting, and $85,000 to port to one console, either the PS4 or Xbox One. In order to receive a copy of the game, players can donate $10, and this also comes with a copy of the game’s soundtrack. $20 will add a digital book that details the creation of the game and the characters therein, while $25 will add a book of poetry written in the guise of one of the game’s characters, Wilhelm the old oak stump. The top levels of $1,000 (limited to 10) and $2,500 (limited to five) will see Mobot Studios create an official Mistland-style character based on a photo you provide of yourself or someone you love. The latter tier will see this character placed within the game itself, potentially as an enemy. Both of these tiers also receive a 3D model of Knite, prop models from the game, a digital map of Mistland, a T-shirt and your name on an in-game tombstone.
So as we go and make last minute adjustments to our Halloween costumes, think of the games highlighted above, and donate some coins instead of candy this year. For those donors out there who are thinking of a career in game development and have thought about launching a crowd funding campaign, then you may want to check out The Collective, Square Enix’s new online program (in association with Indiegogo) to help cultivate and fund new games. And if you want to launch your own campaign using Kickstarter, or any other crowdfunding site, why not have a look at our Kickstart This! How To Get More Coin For Your Game Project.