Kickstart This! The Guinness Aftermath Edition

While most of Ireland went about their business as usual on March 17th, many parts of the world decided to paint themselves green and drink several pints of the black stuff to commemorate the man who drove the snakes from the Emerald Isle. It doesn’t matter that these people are not really Irish, that St. Patrick probably didn’t drive out the snakes (as there were no snakes to begin with), or that the saint’s real colour is blue. The true meaning of St. Paddy’s Day is less about the man and his legend, and more about the celebration and enjoyment of life.

So, with our Guinness hangovers having well and truly dissipated for another year, let us turn our attentions to the viper pit that is Kickstarter, plucking some worthy cobras and prize-winning pythons from the wriggling mess. Hot on the heels of Goat Simulator‘s launch comes a campaign for Bear Simulator. Next is pixel exploration adventure Spirit, followed by 2D point-and-click game Dead Synchronicity. Things get very serious in 2D interactive novel The Seed, before we enter the fantasy realm of Chaos Reborn. Last, but not least, is the beautiful and ambitious turn-based RPG Earthlock: Festival of Magic.

Remember, a snake is for life, not just for St. Paddy’s Day.

Project: Bear Simulator
Genre: Animal Sim
Platforms: PC, Mac
Funding Target: $29,500

In a nutshell…
You control a bear. That’s pretty much the gist of this game, but as Farjay Studios points out, when was the last time you played as a bear? Well, Naughty Bear, but let’s forget that, because it was terrible.

Why flash your cash?
The main aim of Bear Simulator is to provide players with a unique experience controlling a non-humanoid character. This was also the driving force behind the THQ’s snake and spider simulator for the Wii, Deadly Creatures. Rather than plumb the humour angle like Goat Simulator, Bear Simulator looks to use its first person perspective to make the game as authentic as possible. Players will crawl through forests, catch fish in streams, and avoid human hunters. Farjay Studios has also expressed a strong desire to bring the game to Oculus Rift, which is exactly what the device was designed for: to offer unique perspectives on video games.

In order to receive a copy of the game, backers will have to pledge at least $15. Add an extra $5 if you want your bear to sport some cool sunglasses. There are numerous tiers of $125 or more, limited to 50 people, which offer the chance for in-game objects to be named after you, including trees, rocks, and wildlife. You can even have your likeness appear in the game. Meanwhile, the top tier of $2,000 or more, limited to just five donors, brings the bear necessities to life, allowing you to design a food the bear can find and eat. This also includes various other goodies including t-shirt, poster, some stickers, and a personalised print of your creation.

Project: Spirit
Genre: 2D Pixel Adventure
Platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iOS
Funding Target: $4,000

In A Nutshell…
From the moustachioed mind of Holden Boyles comes a trek through a mystical landscape, rendered in a beautiful 8-bit style. Explore ancient ruins and sacred temples while trying to solve the mysteries of the long forgotten past.

Why Flash Your Cash?
Denver resident Boyles has managed to create a game which, despite its art style, brings with it an epic sense of adventure. This is due in large part to the scale of the sprite that players control, who is tiny compared to the gargantuan, crumbling ruins that await discovery. If that was not enough to tease you, players can try the Spirit demo for Windows or Mac to fully appreciate why this game is so special.

Thanks to its simple. yet engaging graphics, Spirit has a relatively modest goal of only $4,000. Donors can claim a copy of the game for only $10, while doubling this will include the chiptune soundtrack as well. Pledges of $250 or over may appeal to budding developers and game designers, as it will include a mod kit allowing the game to be altered at will. Lastly, if you wish to star in a pivotal role within Spirit’s storyline, a pledge of $500 will seal your stardom.

Project: Dead Synchronicity
Genre: Dystopian 2D Point-and-Click Adventure
Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS
Funding Target: $45,000

In A Nutshell…
Hot on the heels of Broken Age, one of Kickstarter’s most famous projects, comes another 2D old-school point-and-click adventure. However, while Tim Schafer’s return to the genre was sprinkled with his trademark sense of humour, Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today sees players exploring a dark, dystopian, nightmarish world in which time itself has melted away.

Why Flash Your Cash?
If you are hankering to play a more mature point-and-click game, then you have come to the right place, although perhaps at the wrong time (time-travel joke). The storyline is soaked in blood, as players navigate protagonist Michael through the world, trying to discover his identity. As well as a clear, crisp art style from Spanish artist Alfonso Azpiri, the game also features an atmospheric soundtrack composed by indie rock band Kovalski.

While all the early-bird game tiers for a copy of the game are gone, donors can still claim a DRM-free copy for the standard pledge of $15 or more. $35 adds an art book and the Kovalski soundtrack into the haul. $50 throws in a printed Azpiri poster, although if you want it signed, you should up your pledge to $65.

At the top of the timeline, a pledge of $5,000 or more, limited to two lucky souls, will see an invitation winging its way into your mailbox to be an intern, spending an entire week in Madrid with Fictiorama Studios learning how to design games (there is also a TARDIS-load of goodies). The top tier of $10,000, dubbed “Spain is Different Time,” will see you treated as a VIP. For once, the creators will pay for you to visit them, put you up for three nights in a luxury hotel, and take you to see the famous Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium. If football (or soccer for you Americans) is not your cup of tea, you can choose to visit the Expocomic Comic Expo or Madrid Games Week instead.

Project: The Seed
Genre: 2D Interactive Novel
Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS
Funding Target: £15,000 ($24,880)

In A Nutshell…
Set in the year 2026, The Seed paints a dismal picture: humanity has begun to return to the surface of the Earth almost a decade after a cataclysmic event changed the face of the planet forever. Readers will navigate through Eastern Europe, searching for survivors and tackling moral dilemmas on a journey that will change their lives forever.

Why Flash Your Cash?
Coming from London-based Misery Development, the creative minds behind the award-winning S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Misery mod, this hybridized game/interactive novel boasts over 50 possible endings based on decisions the player makes. Take that, Mass Effect.

The game has more than an engaging plot and realistic graphics, though. The Construct 2 engine will track and analyse decisions made, lending credibility that the game’s outcome will be entirely in your hands. The Seed is more than just a book, offering game elements like collecting items and forging weapons. As well as adding a high replayability factor with the various story branches, it also comes with touchscreen capabilities for iPad.

For a mere pledge of £5, players will be able to enjoy the first act of The Seed as well as receiving ten exclusive wallpapers. Increasing this to £8 adds a digital development booklet, while upping the ante to £12 will see readers reach the Looter tier. As well as the development booklet, this also includes the full musical score.

The second top donor level of £600 or more will see four generous donations rewarded with a co-writer credit, as you work with one of the game’s key authors to pen an entire chapter. Meanwhile, the top tier of £1,000, limited to three gaming saviors, offers invitations for you and two friends to a development meeting in Krakow, Poland. The Misery Team will take you on a tour of the real-life locations, as well as interview you so they can include you in the story as a non-playable character.

Project: Chaos Reborn
Genre: Tactical Battle RPG
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Funding Target: $180,000

In A Nutshell…
This strategy battle RPG sees you take the role of a wizard who must fight to be the last one standing. At hand are a number of spells, including creature summoning spells, that give the game a more mature Pokemon feel. However, players are not limited to the arena, and can traverse the various chaos realms, defeating enemies and learning new magic tricks to tackle more dangerous foes.

Why Flash Your Cash?
Consider it because developer Julian Gollop created the original X-COM, and it is good enough to have Ken Levine (yes, THAT Ken Levine) in the pitch video telling you how awesome this game is. Gollop is revisiting his little-known 1985 game Chaos and dragging it into the 21st Century with help from the 3D Unity Engine. Not only that, but the game will allow co-op mode and trading items, as well as feature a number of groups and guilds to join. Gollop has been tinkering with the game for over a year, but is now seeking the funds to employ his small team in a full-time capacity in order to bring the game to life.

A donation of $20 will see you bestowed the title of Apprentice, which comes with a DRM-free copy of the game. This tier also includes a downloadable digital art book, game guide, and exclusive access to music from the game. Adding $15 will see you named Forgemaster, allowing players to create a rare magical item.

If you fancy being a God, a pledge of $1,000 will see you named just so, limited to 33 mortals. This donation level means that the game’s artists will render a God within the game in your likeness, while you write the biography of the deity. Being a God means you can name your wizard a Divine Wizard King, and even bless an entire guild, allowing players to passively earn in-game XP and gold. The top tier of Supreme Benefactor is for those pledging $5,000 or more and is limited to only 10 worthy souls. As well as a whole heap of goodies and in-game benefits, this also adds an exclusive invitation to the London launch party, although travel and accommodation are not included.

Project: Earthlock: Festival of Magic
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
Funding Target: $150,000

In A Nutshell…
This turn-based RPG takes place in the fictional world of Umbra, a planet that thrived until something caused it to stop spinning. This sudden halt caused a cataclysmic chain of events, that buried, burned, or drowned many of the magical cities. Although the creatures of Umbra rebuilt, they have never reclaimed the glory days of the past. Remnants of the past are evident, as architects and scavengers alike hunt for technology belonging to the ancient civilisations, and clues as to what magical force caused the catastrophic event in the first place.

Why Flash Your Cash?
It’s like Xenoblade Chronicles with a strong dash of Disney and a side salad of Studio Ghibli. As witnessed by the concept art, alpha gameplay, and demo, Snowcastle Games has clearly put a lot of time and effort into not only building the game, but constructing a rich backstory and history to act as the foundation for the game’s plot. Players will be able to explore Umbra, building up their home base while growing their own organic ammunition and all the while being able to switch between male and female protagonists.

The project has proven so popular that the 1,500 early bird donations to secure a copy of the game are all gone. However, players can still collect a copy on the platform of their choice for a donation of just $20. This also includes an invite to test the beta version of the game, as well as supporter credit. Adding $5 to this will unlock digital downloads of the game’s soundtrack, a world map, and wallpaper.

As Earthlock is the first in a planned series, pledging $100 or more will grant the first 500 backers a copy of volume two and three, as well as an extra copy of the first volume to give away as a gift. If you are not one of the first 500, add $10 for the same rewards. The top tier of Co-Producer, limited to five generous players, can be reached by pledging $8,000 or more. This includes three 3D statues of the main characters, an invite to the launch party in Oslo, Norway, and ten copies of the game.

Once again we have been spoiled rotten with a plethora of amazing video game projects to rally behind. If we could fund them all, we would, but not all of us have the luck of the Irish. If you have the money to spare and love games, why not get involved in this crowdfunding lark?

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In addition to being Warp Zoned's UK Correspondent, Andrew Rainnie is a screenwriter and filmmaker. You can email him at andrew AT warpzoned DOT com or you can, if you're inclined, visit his personal website.

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