Top Video Game Kickstarter Projects to Check Out As of 2/25/16

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Yup, we are back again with another Top Kickstarters to Check out! I had a lot of fun writing about video game Kickstarters again, and a crop of new ones popped up. I decided to do what I did with the last article and talk about multiple Kickstarters that are worth your time as of when this article goes out. However, I will be putting a few honorable mentions first since they just got fully funded, but should still be mentioned. Let’s get started with the Honorable Mentions!

Pinstripe: Pinstripe is a 2D atmospheric exploration game with a heavy emphasis on horror as you play a dad trying to find his daughter who was kidnapped. You probably saw this game on the Game Grumps series, Steam Train, where they played what was essentially a demo. It has a charming artstyle, a really creepy atmosphere, and simple platforming and puzzles. The running animation could look a little better in my opinion, but overall, I can see why this project got funded so quickly. It quite frankly looks good! The developer will also be at the SXSW gaming event, and I’ll be able to play it there and give you all my impression.

Let’s get started!

 

Lancelot’s Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze

Up first is the rather silly Lancelot’s Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze by Jean-Baptiste de Clerfayt. This is an adventure game where you play as Lancelot who must obtain the Holy Grail and fill it with booze. Unfortunately for him, it’s stuck in the worst place ever, France! It’s a point-and-click adventure game in the vein of Monkey Island with the lovely art style of the Monty Python franchise. Along your drunk quest you will meet many characters, solve puzzles, and play mini-games. Sounds like nothing different from a frat party. I found the art style to be endearing and charming. If you love adventures with a goofy and silly sense of humor, you should check this one out. The game does have a demo to see if it’s your cup of boozy tea.

 

A Place for the Unwilling

From a 2D adventure game that is rather silly, we move onto A Place for the Unwilling, an ominously dark 2D isometric adventure game by AlPixel Games. You play as a civilian in a city going about your days meeting individuals, making deals, and paying the bills as you traverse the eerie town that is filled with people covered in shadows. It’s a beautiful looking game, but I do hope there is enough help to travel across said town without the player feeling like they have no idea where they are going. Still, if you like looking at an adventure game that shakes things up, then you should help this project out!

 

Overload

Some of my earliest gaming memories consist of glimpses of me and a childhood friend playing the original Descent on his family’s PC. While we are getting the highly anticipated Descent Underground, which is on Early Access on Steam, we are also getting a spiritual successor from some of the original individuals that made Descent with Overload by Revival Productions. The biggest deal about the original Descent was the fact you could fly in six degrees of freedom. It was like a dungeon crawler, but with an aircraft.  Overload seems to want to not fix what isn’t broken. I mean, why would you? Sure, it might not let you terraform the area around you, but since there aren’t a lot of games like Descent, I am fine with this. If you are curious as to what kind of experience the entire team has had with the game industry, the titles they have all worked on include Descent, Descent 2, Ultima Underworld, Freespace, Red Faction II, Summoner 2, The Punisher, Alter Echo, and Saints Rows the Third. If you love classic PC shooters, then you should go support this upcoming PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One project!

 

MachiaVillain

Want to run your own mansion filled with the spooks and creeps of the night? Want to have Frankenstein’s Monster and mummies wandering the hallways? Well, MachiaVillain by Wild Factor is the game for you! It’s basically a different take on the Dungeon Keeper-style game, where you build and raise monsters, and slaughter victims and suspicious individuals. It has a quirky art style, and it’s a type of game we don’t often see. If you love Dungeon Keeper, Dungeons II, or War for the Overworld, then you might like MachiaVillain.

 

Mediocre Monster

I have personally been waiting for this project to go up on Kickstarter for a long time. This is Mediocre Monster by Opal Squad. The main experience of Mediocre Monster puts you into the shoes of Gob, a, well, mediocre monster whose job is to be beaten and basically be the monster the main heroes have to fight. You go through multiple battles, making sure to follow certain calling cards like attacking the hero that taunts, and dropping off potions after your body hits the ground like a bag of sausages. As you level up, you will be able to swap your palette and be a stronger monster, and be able to attract other monsters to your village to make sure you gain the income to save your town. It’s a super appealing and original RPG that isn’t trying to be like another Final Fantasy of old, or trying to capture the 16-bit RPG era. It’s an RPG that does its own thing, and I am glad to see Mediocre Monster on Kickstarter!

The Top 3 Video Game Kickstarter Projects to Check Out As of 2/8/16

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Well, it’s been an entire month into 2016, and I haven’t talked about Kickstarters that are worth your time. I guess I was still on the high of the Psychonauts 2 Fig campaign, but most of the time, I don’t talk about Kickstarters that I don’t have a lot of faith in. I cherry-pick them since I feel like some of them stand out more than the others in terms of how much effort was put into the individual projects. So, since there are so many projects right now that are worth your time, here is a list of the Kickstarters/Indiegogo projects that you should consider backing. This will also not be in any kind of order since they all are pretty good-looking and are worth your time.

Knights and Bikes

To be quite frank, Knights and Bikes is a super sexy game to me. Not in a sexual way, but it’s everything I love and look for in a good Kickstarter. The page is very detailed, the game is in a good playable state to show off footage of it, the game itself has loads of charm and personality that got the child-like wonder side of me excited. Knights and Bikes is an isometric action RPG that reminds me of Don’t Starve, in how the game is viewed by the player, and the art style from Tearaway. Actually, that Tearaway comparison shouldn’t be a surprise, since the developers behind the game worked on Tearaway, Ratchet & Clank, Little Big Planet, and the composer worked on films like Steve Jobs and The Man from UNCLE. I started off the list with this one, since this is a prime example of what I look for in terms of good crowdfunding projects. My only disappointment is that as of 2/3/16, they do not have console add-ons or stretch goals. I would love to play this on my PlayStation 4 or Nintendo’s upcoming NX console.  However, once console additions have been added, I will definitely back this game! I think this is the first Kickstarter you should all check out!

Wandersong

Wandersong is an interesting 2D platformer/rhythm game that reminds me of games that try to do the paper-craft look. The main gameplay aspect of Wandersong is to, well, use music to make your way across this fantasy world. You can change the wind, purify ghosts, alter time, and be able to lift platforms up into the air. The graphics are charming, and it’s another title that I’m glad to see will hopefully get made.

Dual Gear

The first major Indiegogo campaign worth giving a hoot about is Dual Gear, a mech game that reminds me of both Armored Core and Front Mission. It has a combination of turn-based combat, but when it’s a mech’s turn, you get to move the mech in real time. It reminds me with how Valkyria Chronicles’ combat system works. It looks fun, and for anyone that loves heavy customization, the game has heavy mech customization that you would see in the Armored Core franchise. It looks good for a futuristic sci-fi game, but I do wish the mech designs didn’t remind me of Armored Core. I would love for Japanese-style mech designs to look unique, or at least like the Techromancer or Super Robot variety. I prefer seeing robots like Patlabor or Daiguard. However, that is just personal taste. Still, the game is going to have a lengthy campaign, and from what I have seen, it’s all very impressive. Oh, and if you are still unsure, there is a demo if you want to try it out.

 

Kickstarter Flops #3: The Things to Avoid Doing!

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If this was a perfect world, Kickstarters would go off without a hitch. They would launch on time, and they would all be good games. Unfortunately, nothing is ever perfect. Kickstarter projects will always have problems, and sometimes, the product in question won’t even come out. There are always a couple of reasons why Kickstarters fail, and I am going to talk about a few that come to mind. If any other good examples of what to avoid come to me in the future, I’ll write another article.

Rule 1: Make sure, and I mean, make sure you have the entire budget down!

Why?: This should be pretty obvious. We have seen so many Kickstarters tank because the budget was not properly calculated and the Kickstarter ends up running out of money. You need to take into consideration how big your team is or how big you want it to be, office space, dev kits, and how much it will cost to make physical rewards on top of the actual game. Sadly, it is all too common to see Kickstarters go down the drain because someone on the team didn’t manage the money or know how much they actually needed. What’s even worse is that even if the game fails, there is no way to get refunds for some of the backers who put in more than the needed amount.

Example: You can go through a couple of different examples of how certain games ran out of money and couldn’t continue on. I mean, granted, I always think, “why not put it on Early Access so you can get more money”, but that’s another point for another time. If you want more recent examples of Kickstarters running out of money because the developer didn’t think the budget through, or worse, they took the money and ran, there are Kickstarter projects like Mansion Lord, Yogventures, The Stomping Ground, or Midora. So, if I haven’t said it enough, make sure you know your budget inside and out!

Rule 2: Don’t go up during a major media event or certain times of the year!

Why?: You want to make sure you have the greatest amount of attention for your Kickstarter campaign for the 30 or more days it will be up on the site. You want to get the game funded in the shortest amount of time possible, and be able to do some additional stretch goal funding as well. That is why you should avoid putting your Kickstarter up during certain parts of the year, or when huge media events like a comic con or E3 is happening. No one is going to be focusing or talking about your Kickstarter. Heck, it took at least four days before the failed Red Ash Kickstarter was finally talked about by the mass public, due to it being released during, I think, San Diego Comic Con, and how it was also launched on the 4th of July. Like I said, just avoid certain periods of time of the year and big media events unless your Kickstarter is just perfect.

Rule 3: Don’t post your Kickstarter if you have nothing to show

 

Why?: Maybe if this was 2012, you could get away with not showing off gameplay if you were a big enough designer who has worked on many classics. You know why Kickstarters like Yooka-Laylee worked? What about Battlechasers? How about Pixel Noir? Want to know what all of these have in common? They had gameplay to show off! They didn’t just have a mediocre webcam quality video and some mediocre concept art to show off. You can’t do that anymore. I can’t even show you an example of how many Kickstarters fail at this because there are so many!

Rule 4: Avoid being a feature creep

Why?: So, what is a feature creep you may ask? It means that you keep adding features on top of features to make your game sound appealing to everyone. Just make a base game with elements that will complement each other. Don’t try to be everything, or else your entire game will be a jack-of-no-trades and a master of none. If you must have certain features, then maybe make them stretch goals. If you have an action game, you probably don’t need survival elements and a collectible card game element. It’s like watching a chef on Chopped put truffle oil on their dish, you already did enough! Don’t put on anything that will ruin the overall experience.

Rule 5: If the Kickstarter page is flooded with a lot of similar games, don’t contribute to the flood!

Why?: I am so tired of having to swim through the newest video game Kickstarter page and see five different MMOs, open-world survival games, and other mediocre-looking Kickstarters because everyone thinks they can do the same thing everyone else is doing. It doesn’t help that the indie/big budget scene is already flooded with the same types of games. Why not stick out? Why not be original? We don’t need to another open-world survival game.

Rule 6: Please, and I mean please, be honest!

Why?: Do I really need to explain this? Be honest with where your money is going, how much you actually need, why you went to Kickstarter, and so on. Just be upfront with everyone! This is why people loved the Indivisible Indiegogo because the developer broke down why they needed over a million dollars. Don’t lie to us. Don’t be the Red Ash Kickstarter.

Well, this was a fairly negative article, so how about I put some links down for some Kickstarters you should definitely check out, even though I think they should have waited until the holidays were over.

The Last Shore: This is a sprite-based isometric action game with some exploration elements, like traveling to different islands and finding artifacts to confront the Gods of the main character’s world. The sprites look great, and I hope the exploration is worthwhile instead of dropping us into a huge world with nothing to do, or dropping us into a huge world with nothing but one objective to do. Anyway, I think this game looks really promising, so if you like Legend of Zelda-style games, then you should definitely think about backing this game. It only has two weeks left on Kickstarter to get funded.

Night Cry Assault: This Kickstarter is a little more self-explanatory. It’s a 2D beat em’ up that is very much like the old Streets of Rage and Final Fight. That’s pretty much it. I hope the graphics improve a little since they aren’t the best looking as of right now or whatever build they used for the trailer, but I digress. If you love beat em’ups, and want something different than Castle Crashers, then maybe think of giving the developer, Xtra Mile Games, some of your cash.

Deserted: Deserted is an isometric exploration action game with a combat system that should be familiar to anyone who has played Dark Souls or Bloodborne. It has an eerie minimalistic sci-fi look that really does drench you into the atmosphere of this savage planet you are on. I just hope the graphics don’t confuse the player about where they can and can’t go, not bank on having a familiar Dark Souls-style combat system, and hope the overall journey is worthwhile and not an underwhelming experience. Still, I wouldn’t be giving it a shout-out if I didn’t think it was a promising-looking game. If you like what you see, consider backing the developer, Zebik Media’s, new game.

Psychonauts 2: Come on, it’s a sequel to one of the best games of all time. Go back it!

Kickstarter Shout-out: Indivisible

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With the Indiegogo campaign Them’s Fightin Herds getting funded, it made me realize that, like I said in my last Kickstarter Shout-out, that Indiegogo is not really that good with having quality video game projects. Not only do they clump in board games, but many of the projects are just mediocre. There is an obvious issue with quality control, and I feel like a lot of indie developers would do better by going to Kickstarter instead, or try out that new crowd-funding platform, Fig. The reason I say this is because of one of the best Indiegogo campaigns going on right now, Indivisible. It’s being developed by the same team that made the indie fighter hit, Skullgirls. Unfortunately, either due to bad timing or a combination of things, the slow pace that it’s getting funded is raising some concerns. Then again, this is Kickstarter Shout-out, so I must be talking about this game for a reason. Let’s dive in.

You play as Anja, a tomboy who was trained in the way of martial arts by her father in a small rural town. Unfortunately, a group of warlords attack her town, since warlords are jerks. During that attack, Anja finds out that she can absorb individuals known as Incarnations that can help her in battle. She then sets off to get revenge on her town, and take down the evil villains that wronged her.

Indivisible is an action RPG with a splash of Valkyrie Profile and a little Metroidvania with the ability system. As you traverse these levels, you will gain items that you can use in combat or exploration, like the axe can help you cling to walls, and arrows can be used to hit far off levers. So, how does the combat work? If you have played Valkyrie Profile, then it’s basically that. You will run around the 2D levels and run into visible enemies.  Each of the face buttons on your controller will represent a different character, and each character has his or her own abilities, and pressing the face buttons will have them attack enemies. Each character is limited by the number of attacks by a meter that will refill. Beating a certain number of enemies will upgrade that bar so you can unleash even more devastating attacks. There will be another bar at the top of the screen that will fill up the more you attack or take damage. You can either use that specific bar to defend yourself, or use your character’s super moves, like the woman with the tiger pelt can heal everyone, and Anja can unleash a huge amount of melee damage. Each character also has a lower, mid, and upper attack depending on where you tilt the analog stick. The developers have kindly put a really good playable demo that gives you a huge amount of feeling about how the game will work. You get a good-sized level and a big boss at the end. The gameplay is satisfying, but challenging. You need to learn how to attack each enemy the best way possible.

Since this is made by the people who made Skullgirls, the 2D-animated graphics are pretty freaking good. Fluent animation, great character design, and a lot of personality and passion were put into how everything looks and moves. Granted, the 2.5D levels don’t look as good, but then again, that was the case with the original Valkyrie Profile. The music is also pretty fun to listen to. It’s well composed by famed composer Hiroki Kikuta, who worked on the Secret of Mana series and Koudelka.

Now then, it’s time to talk about my concerns. For one, I think the price point for entry for a free copy is rather high. I feel like an early bird special would have worked, since this part of the year, people are saving up for holiday gifts for the family/friends. $30 is a pretty steep entry point. Since I just mentioned this time of the year, that is also a problem. It’s usually not a good idea to release Kickstarters during certain times of the year. Sure, you can say those charts that show when it’s the best and worst time to put up crowd-funding projects are not true at all, except that they are. This is why last year, I stopped covering Kickstarters around November, since a lot of Kickstarters I talked about and looked up didn’t do well, but then did better at a later date. Indivisible should have also waited to either be on Kickstarter or Fig. Again, this is just from a personal point of view, and while I only pay attention to the gaming section, there is a reason why a lot of the big and well-known developers go to Kickstarter or sign up to Fig rather than Indiegogo.

However, I do have faith in this project. It has a lot of what makes a good crowd-funding campaign by being detailed on their page, actual game footage, and having downloadable demo/prototype of the game. I just think due to a combination of bad timing, maybe being on the wrong site, and a few other elements, that it might fail due to how slow the funding is going. Maybe it’s also because they made a fighting game, but who knows. I do think they will make it, and I hope more people find out about this project. Congratulations, Lab Zero, Indivisible gets my Kickstarter Shout-out!

(if you want to support this project, go to this link!)

Multi Kickstarter Special Part 2

(For part 1, go to this link!) Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

This Kickstarter comes from a developer all the way from Cameroon, Africa. This is a beat ‘em up that has heavy influences from African folklore and mythology. You are put in the shoes of either Enzo Kori-Odan or his wife Erine Evou as they fight to reclaim their throne of Planet Auriona from the hands of Erine’s brother.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a beat ‘em up with fast-paced combat, lovely 2D animation, and proclaims to have an immersive story.  The main gimmick of the beat ‘em up action is, like I mentioned, for it to be fast-paced, and for the player to be able to combine these elements known as Aurions to unlock more devastating combos.

One of the best elements that this Kickstarter has is the hand-drawn graphics. They are beautiful and fluid. I like that this developer is taking a risk on a graphical style that requires a lot of hard work to make it look good. I’m glad they didn’t go the route of pixels or 3D graphics. The music is also very catchy, with mixes of techno and tribal beats, and some quirky tunes mixed in for good measure.

 

Overall, I like this Kickstarter. I wouldn’t have talked about it if I didn’t. Its funding goal is at over $45K in American dollars, and is currently at over $17K. If you love beat ‘em ups that do something different with their setting, then you should definitely back this Kickstarter. Congrats, Plug In Digital Label, Aurion gets my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!

Megamagic

Up next is an ambitious isometric game that drenches itself in the 80s like butter on movie theater popcorn. Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age is developed by BeautiFun Games, and is about two siblings named Phoban and Deimon, who must traverse a massive world with a little poof of blue smoke that is a key to some really powerful spells. Of course, everyone wants this power, and will try to take it by force. Can Phoban and Deimon save a magic riddled world?

Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age is being billed as an action-focused RPG with real-time-strategy elements. You can, of course, use spells to attack and hinder your enemies, but you also have the added ability to summon creatures to attack other enemies. It’s rather ambitious to see a developer try to combine real-time-strategy elements due to how, most of the time, the RTS genre works better on PCs, with a few exceptions to the norm. Oh, and you also have puzzles to break away from the usual exploring and fighting.

Graphically, I really love the look of the game. Any time I can see pixel-based games do something different instead of looking like every other game, I am all for it. I know the 80s theme is kind of overplayed now by just about every developer, but I’m not sick of it yet. I just think developers need to know that the 80s-style vibe is not as huge of a selling point anymore as it once was. The music is all kinds of 80s-flair, and while I can understand why it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s well composed by Mitch Murder, who has worked on games like Hotline Miami 2.

My only real concerns are how the mixing of action-RPG and RTS will pan out. I hope it’s easy to get into and won’t have too steep of a learning curve. Like I said above as well, the 80s theme is no longer unique since so many indie developers have taken to that route like Crossing Souls and Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

While the Kickstarter is having a bit of a slow time getting funded since it’s only at over $13K of its $20K funding goal, I still think this is a great Kickstarter. I love the idea, and it does have console stretch goals for Wii U and the PlayStation Vita. I think a demo probably would have been a good idea so people can get a feel of how the game will play, but if you love the 80s and action RPGs that do something differently, then give some cash to these radical individuals. Congrats, BeautiFun Games. You get my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!

Them’s Fightin Herds

Boy, it’s been a while since I have actually talked about an Indiegogo campaign since Cross Code, and that was all the way back in March! Well, why not talk about a fighting game with character designs by My Little Pony: Friendship creator and overall cool individual Lauren Faust, whose work includes Power Puff Girls and The Iron Giant? That is what you get with Them’s Fightin Herds, a fighting game that was originally a fan-made game based on the current My Little Pony show that is on TV right now. If you loved Skullgirls, then this game will be a crowdfunding game you want to check out. There is a plot about this world called Foenum, where all living beings are four-legged animals of the hoofed variety. Unfortunately, large groups of predators that were locked away long ago are breaking out of their prison, and all of Foenum’s kingdoms send their strongest fighters to try and take on the leader, and seal the baddies once more in their prison.

Them’s Fightin Herds is basically Skullgirls, but with hooved animals. I’m not much of a fighting game person, but I have played enough to know a little bit about the mechanics. You’ve got your close-range, mid-range, and zone fighters that each has their pros and cons when fighting against other characters. The big selling point for the game, besides Lauren Faust, the 2D art, and the interesting history behind the game, is its interactive online lobby where you can walk around and talk to the other players, and challenge them to fights. You can also go to a spectator mode-style area, and watch others fight, like in the recent Mortal Kombat games. Another element added to the combat is a meter called the juggling decay meter. Juggling is where you keep the opponent up in the air, and continue to, well, juggle them with hits. The bar will fill up and once it does, it makes opponents heavier so you can’t get them stuck in the air and exploit the fighting engine.

I have probably given this part away, but I think this is a great looking game. Having characters designed by the very talented Lauren Faust makes this game stand out. She has an art style that can’t be replicated. It can try to be copied, but like a famous comedian in a Disney film said, “Often imitated, but never duplicated”.

I do have some concerns with the game like how much content will be at launch, since Skullgirls, while being a solid fighting game, does suffer from a lack of content. I also hope that while this is a fighting game made for that audience, it can ease in newcomers or people who are not very good at these games. Fighting games are infamous for having poor tutorials, and it seems like no one EVER thinks of how to make a good one. Everyone wants to pull off those amazing moves, but when the game doesn’t tell you how, or tells you in a bad way, it turns off the gamer since they can’t get into it.

Outside of that, I like this crowd funding project. It has a lot of talent behind it and some major personality. If you like fighting games, and want to help back a game until the Skullgirl’s creators’ new Indiegogo game goes up (it’s up right now!), then you should check this one out. Congrats, Them’s Fightin Herds, you all get my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!

Multiple Kickstarter Special Part 1

Well, Kickstarter put up a slew of great Kickstarters, including the fully funded and promising Battle Chasers: Nightwar game. I decided to do a special two-part Kickstarter Shout-out covering the newest and most promising projects up on the site. Let’s get started because this two-part article is huge! Oh, and Allison Road will not be on this list. Not because it isn’t a great Kickstarter or a promising game, but I want to get an interview with the developers about the game. Plus, you should already back it if you love horror games!

For the King

Developed by Iron Oak Games, this game is gameplay oriented. you have a group of three heroes as you send them on a quest on a hex-based world to destroy the evil that has taken over the land after the king has died. Yeah, not a whole lot of plot there.

For the King is an interesting, turn-based RPG with some roguelike elements thrown in for good measure. You can control each of your three characters, a wizard, archer, and blacksmith individually, and have them go at quests and missions alone or as one big group. Unique dangers will appear at different parts of the day, and if you explore enough, you can probably find some rather helpful areas that could get rid of the baddies for you.  The combat is your familiar turn-based affairs, but with the added risk of permadeath. You can either find herbs to cure your wounds, and make bases to brave the night, or face what the night will bring upon your very souls. Another element that I really like is how you can go at this alone, or play with co-op. It’s a game that will make sure you get a challenge and a lot of content as you find loot and lore to help you on your quest.

Graphically, I like this low-polygonal look. For the King is supposed to be a homage/tribute to the PlayStation 1 era of RPGs. Much of the color palette reminds me of the colors you would see during sunsets with purples, oranges, and light violet hues. The music is being composed by John Matz, who worked on games like Gunpoint and Rodina.

Of course, my usual concerns come with the roguelike elements that will hopefully not rely too much on the RNG, and not become too hard. We like making progress and have a satisfying challenge. I’d rather not feel like the game is wasting my time with cheap tricks.

To no surprise, I liked this Kickstarter. It has obviously been funded, and has been slowly but surely progressing through its stretch goals. If you love turn-based RPGs and roguelikes, then you should definitely help support For the King. Congrats, Iron Oak Games, For the King gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out.

 

Pixel Noir

Developed by SWD Tech Games, Pixel Noir sets you in this grungy city called Pinnacle City, a city that isn’t as safe as you would hope. You play as The Detective, an individual who is haunted by visions of the past, and goes through the city with a few fellow allies in battle to take down thugs and maybe something else that may be walking along the city streets. If you love films like “Bladerunner,” “They Live,” or any gritty crime drama, then you might find yourself loving this game’s world.

Gameplay and combat reminds me of a mixture of the SNES version of Shadowrun and Chrono Trigger. You will traverse this grimy town, exploring multiple buildings, talking to people, and, if push comes to shove, you shove back in turn-based combat. You can even customize your weapons that will make them stronger or take advantage of the situation at hand. Sure, you could go into this game guns blazing and ready to turn anyone into red-colored paste on the ground, but sometimes, a more delicate investigative hand to solve some of the problems in your way is the better route. If you feel like there isn’t enough content already in this game, the stretch goals include expanded story elements. If you are on the fence about the gameplay, the developers put up a nice little demo that you can check out!

Graphically, Pixel Noir once again reminds me of the SNES Shadowrun game that was released during the mid-90s. It doesn’t look like what a lot of pixel-based games are looking like at this point in the indie scene. It’s like how Shovel Knight went full force on its 8-bit ascetics, and Pixel Noir is doing that, but with 16-bit graphics. I also like the atmosphere of this disgusting and unsafe city that you must traverse.

If I had one concern, it would be that I hope the story is good. I am fine with this being a mystery, but if you focus too much on it, the ending could be underwhelming. I know this seems like not a big deal, but think about how many games or anything that built up such a big mystery and then fizzled out near the end. Wouldn’t you rather them focus on making a good overall story instead of dragging you along for the ride?

Overall, I really like Pixel Noir. This is SWD Tech Games’ second time attempting to get this game made, and they have already been funded, but that doesn’t mean you should stop supporting it. The game will be coming to PS4, Vita, and PC. Like I mentioned above, there is a playable demo, and stretch goals to reach the Xbox One and Nintendo 3DS. If you love RPGs, then I would highly recommend backing Pixel Noir. Congratulations, SWD Tech Games, Pixel Noir gets my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!

Kickstarter Flops #2: The Golden Rules To A Good Kickstarter!

Welcome back to Kickstarter Flops Volume 2! I am going to be frank with you all, and if you want, you can still be Garth. I had trouble writing up Kickstarter Flops Volume 2. I did find Kickstarters that were horribly made, and Kickstarters that were more worthwhile to back, but I felt like I should do something different for this one. Plus, it did help that most of the Kickstarters were released in July, a month that is notoriously known to be a bad month for Kickstarters. Instead, due to the recent trainwreck of Red Ash, the cancellation of Mooncrest, and the successful release of the Divinity: Original Sin II Kickstarter, I wanted to finally come up with a list of rules that you should follow and execute if you plan on making a Kickstarter. This will be focused on video game Kickstarters, but you can pretty much take these rules and put them into any kind of Kickstarter. Now then, let’s begin with the golden rules everyone should follow!

Rule #1: Have actual gameplay to show off to the player!

Why?: These days, with well-known Kickstarter flops like Godus, Clang, and Yogventures, potential backers don’t really want to see a bunch of people in their mid-20s, early 30s, or older talk about how their game was the one project that they always had wanted to make, or see a bunch of concept art. It’s cool that you have the passion and drive to want to branch out on your own with your studio to make a game, but due to how many new and old developers are going to Kickstarter for their games, asking for money, people want to see gameplay. Sure, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, people want gameplay!

You can say some Kickstarters didn’t need gameplay to be funded, like Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained, and Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue III, but Koji had a week’s worth of immense cryptic hype behind the Kickstarter, which was coming out during Konami’s implosion of negative public press. On top of that, everyone was caught off-guard at E3 2015, when Yu Suzuki came up onto Sony’s stage to announce the Kickstarter for Shenmue III.

A good example of a Kickstarter flopping because of no gameplay was Mooncrest, by KnightMayor. After a week of exposure with very little funding going into the project, they decided to pull out, and relaunch the Kickstarter at a later date with gameplay and more details.

Prime Example: A good example of having gameplay in your Kickstarter is Poi by PolyKid, a 3D platformer. Poi looks to be in great shape, and it looks like something in the beta stages of being finished. Sure, some animation in the game looks clunky, and some of the graphics could use a little tweaking, but I have already seen positive reception for the pre-alpha build of the game on sites like Polygon. Showing off your game in this state is much more appealing to back, since it looks like an almost finished product. It is unfortunately probably not going to make it, due to it being caught in the negative reception of Red Ash, but it’s not because it didn’t have gameplay in the trailer.

Rule #2: If you want to get more backers, have a playable demo!

Why?: If you already have gameplay to show, this means that the game is in a pretty playable state. Why not give the public a demo to play? Potential backers might get a good idea of how the game will play with the gameplay, but having a playable demo would be like having the icing on the cake.

Prime Example: There is a new Kickstarter that is out right now called OmniBus, by Buddy Cops. It’s a “wacky”-style game that has you driving a multitude of different buses through different challenges with PS1-style graphics. There is a playable demo for the game, showing off the variety of levels and even a four-player versus mode. The controls felt great, and all the buses actually play differently. It made each challenge unique. It’s a prime example of a demo done right.

Rule #3: Have consoles already in the Kickstarter, or as a stretch goal.

Why?: Whether you like to admit it or not, some gamers don’t actually like playing games on just a PC. I have nothing against PC gaming, but if I can play it on a console, not counting if the game is good or bad, I want to play it on a console. I don’t like having to worry about specs on my PC, and if they are good enough to run the game. Give the potential backers some options in terms of their personal console of choice.

Prime Example: There is an isometric shooter game with 16-bit-style graphics on Kickstarter called Tower 57. I can’t tell if it will make it or not, but the game does have stretch goals to reach consoles if they reach their funding goal. While the fate of this Kickstarter is unknown (I hope it makes it), at least it is giving potential backers the choice to choose either a PC or console version.

Rule #4: Try making a game that is actually unique.

Why?: How many times have you groaned when an indie developer is making something that we have all seen before, a genre that has been overused by the indie community? You know what I mean, right? That groan you hear when someone is making something like a first-person horror game, a roguelike, an RPG paying tribute to the old PC RPGs of the 90s, a LucasArts-inspired adventure game, an 8-bit NES-style platformer, a 16-bit RPG homage to Final Fantasy 6. It’s something you see quite a lot, and is, quite honestly, getting boring. Not that any of those examples mentioned can’t result in a great game, because we have seen it work, but after a while of seeing just those types of games, it makes the indie scene look like it’s running out of ideas. The game industry does need gaming that is familiar, but we also need new ideas, or at least new ways to tackle over-populated genres. I am not saying you can’t make a Kickstarter game of any of the overdone genres, but standing out will help out more. It doesn’t even have to stop at the genre. Try different art styles and graphics, like hand-drawn and 3D graphics.

Prime Example: When I was in Seattle last year, I read about a Kickstarter game called Hex Heroes by Prismatic Games. It wasn’t just a real-time-strategy game, but something called a party-real-time-strategy. It was an RTS that you could play with friends on the Wii U. It made unique use of the Wii U’s GamePad, and it also didn’t hurt that it had cameos from other indie games and a couple of YouTube personalities. I wish I could have used a more recent example, but Kickstarter is kind of dry right now.

Rule #5: Have a very detailed Kickstarter page!

Why?: This is important to have, because instead of being lazy and doing a generic, boring, soulless, robotic, and terrible single paragraph description of your game, you should break everything down piece by piece. Talk about the features, setting, story, characters, graphics, music, budgeting, the team behind the game, stretch goals, rewards, and if you are a veteran of the industry, talk about some of the games you made in the past! Don’t even think about going the lazy route in this rule, because if people read it and think you don’t give a rat’s behind about your project, then why should we? You obviously didn’t put a lot of effort into this page, your video (if you even have one), and your overall project. I don’t have any prime examples for this one, since it seems so self-explanatory, but if you need some, check out Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Yooka-Laylee, Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse, Shiness, Popup Kingdom, and you get the idea. Look at super successful Kickstarters.

Rule #5: Make sure you keep in clear, honest, and constant contact with the backers!

Why?: This is also very important. Because of the recent controversy of the Red Ash Kickstarter, and how not in contact the team was about the overall Kickstarter, they didn’t seem to put a lot of trust into the backers. Not only was the page not clear about what the funding was going toward, but backers found out that the Kickstarter was only going to fund a slice of the game, and not the whole experience. The nail in the coffin occurred a week or so before the Kickstarter ended, when it was announced that a publisher has stepped in to fund the first part of the game. This left backers annoyed and upset that there was apparently a negotiation going on to fund the game before the Kickstarter went up. That they found a publisher was great and all, but how he handled it was disappointing. That was just one of the many troubles the Kickstarter had, but in the end, backers want clear, honest contact with the developers. You should also be honest with particular elements of the Kickstarter, like the funding and how much you actually need.

Prime Example: When Koji Igarashi put up his Kickstarter for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, he mentioned that he already had investors interested in his game, but they wanted to see how much demand there was for it. Sure, it seems crummy that he needed to use Kickstarter, but he was upfront and honest about it. Plus, he had a lot of built-up hype behind his Kickstarter, so no matter what he was doing, he was going to get Bloodstained funded. They also did a lot of social aspects like using Twitter and Facebook to help advertise the game, even if they didn’t need to since the game got funded in what seems like four minutes.

There you have it. These are my golden rules to making a good Kickstarter. They should be simple, but not everyone follows them. You don’t need to follow them, but if you want to see your Kickstarter game get past the funding goal, you should follow at least some of these rules. I will make sure to make a Kickstarter Flops covering the blunders that you should avoid, but at a later date. Thanks for reading!

Kickstarter Shout-out: Two Adventure Games Worth Your Time

I am honestly very excited for Armikrog. This awesome 2D Claymation adventure game got me so excited, that I decided to see if there were any Kickstarters for adventure games. To nobody’s surprise, I found two that are worth your time. Let’s get started!

SnarfQuest Tales

SnarfQuest Tales, developed by Cellbloc Studios, is a 3D fantasy-oriented adventure game where you play as a long-snouted character named Snarf, a comic book character made by famous “Dungeons & Dragons” illustrator, Larry Elmore. Your main goal of this grand adventure is to team up with an armored warrior wizard and a gorgeous female barbarian to stop an evil wizard and his pet dragon. Actually, scratch that, it’s a dragon that thinks it’s a duck. Yeah, you are bound to be on an adventure that is rather silly with a plot like that.

SnarfQuest Tales is, like I just said, an adventure game. You will be going around a fantasy world, solving puzzles, finding items to solve said puzzles, and listening to quirky lines and snark from the cast of characters that you encounter throughout your journey. This game is episodic, and if you are curious with how the game will play, they do have a free demo of their game up on their website.

Graphically, I like the look of the game. The main character, Snarf, actually reminds me of something from Jim Henson, and you know you are in for some good character designs by the guy who illustrated all of your old “Dungeons & Dragons” books. The humor, from what I have seen, is very LucasArts-inspired as everything is a tad goofy and self-aware at points. I also give kudos to the developers for making a 3D game. Of course, everything being in 3D doesn’t make every game better, but a 3D adventure game in the indie scene is rather rare.

If I had to pin down any concerns, it would be some issues that they have already addressed on their Kickstarter, like better animations and voicework. The footage shown has its charm, but I can understand if some people get turned off by the stilted voicework and animation. I am also concerned about how this game is going episodic. I have mentioned before the concern of if one episode gets funded, and then you never see the rest of them due to low sales not being able to fund the other episodes. It is problematic. I am sure they have everything worked out, but still. It could happen.

Even then, I like this Kickstarter. If you love 3D adventure games like Grim Fandango, silly humor, and the art work of the famous Larry Elmore, then this is your Kickstarter. Like I mentioned above, there is a playable demo that you can try out and see if you are into it. Congrats, Cellbloc Studios, you guys get my Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)

 

Tsioque

However, if you are into more traditionally animated adventure games, you should check out Tsioque, by OhNoo Studios. Tsioque puts you in the shoes of a young princess named Tsioque. While her mother is away, the castle gets taken over by an evil being. Now our brave princess must escape the castle and destroy the evil king.

Tsioque is a typical point-and-click adventure where you use items to solve puzzles and use the environment to your advantage. For example, in the gameplay shown on the Kickstarter page, you use your necklace to keep spooking a guard until you get the attention of the villain who ends up killing the guard due to being annoyed by all the noise. If you have played any adventure game from old school series like King’s Quest, to newer games like Kaptain Brawe, then you should have no trouble learning the ins and outs of this game.

I love that this developer is making everything hand-drawn. It sticks out, and the art style is fairly whimsical. Sure, the little princess’ head looks like a round lollipop, but the rest of the art direction reminds me of something from the 80s dark fantasy children’s film era. It’s just cool to see a developer do something that is probably much more challenging and will take many man hours, but from what I have seen, it’s all very impressive.

My only real concern is that since it’s an adventure game that it doesn’t pull any shenanigans like what a lot of Sierra adventure games did during the 80s and 90s. Sure, I know hardcore fans of the series won’t mind a bit of bullocks in terms of adventure games, but let’s be frank. The difficult and obtuse puzzles of the old Sierra adventure games lost their pace and fun when the solution to a puzzle was not clear or you already used an item on an earlier event and was in no way, shape, or form, told to you.

Outside of that concern, I think Tsioque is a promising Kickstarter. It’s about halfway to its funding goal, and I think it deserves to get made. If you love adventure games, hand-drawn animation, and personality in your games, then this is the right project for you! Tsioque gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

Kickstarter Shout-out: RED ASH and my Concerns

To begin with, I want to say that this Kickstarter will not be set up like most Kickstarter Shout-outs that I write. Due to some controversy and confusion by some of the gaming community, I think it will be smarter to set this article up a little differently. I have honestly had to rewrite this article twice because I didn’t like the overall tone of the piece. It began to go in a negative direction, and I didn’t feel comfortable with that, because I really am optimistic about this new Kickstarter. It’s by Keiji Inafune and a very talented team, but I do have my concerns that you will to see later in the article.

So then, what is this Kickstarter about? Well, to sum up the project in a paragraph, RED ASH is an anime-inspired open-world third-person action game, taking place in a world where war has almost ruined the human race. You play as a character named Beck, who lives in a city called Great Slope. Unfortunately, the city is in major danger of a giant floating citadel that is on a collision course with it. Not only that, but the giant floating citadel, which is known as KalKanon is apparently home to a legendary artifact called the Legendary Legacy. Can Beck and his partners in crime, Call and Tyger, get onto KalKanon and find this artifact before the Gecko Company destroys the citadel? Can they find the Legendary Legend? What lurks inside KalKanon? Well, you will have to get the game funded to see. Of course, there are problems/concerns/criticisms holding a group of people back. We will, once again, get to that later on in the article.

So, why would you want to back RED ASH? Well, since this is the spiritual successor of the Mega Man Legends series, you will get a game with a charm that is very hard to find in gaming these days. For an example or examples, since I am like that, have you ever played a game like Grandia or Skies of Arcadia? What about watching a movie like “Castle in the Sky” or “Beauty and the Beast?” You know when you watch or play something that has its own plan and feels timeless? Like, nothing will feel dated, no matter how much better the graphics or the look of film-making will get? That is the feeling I got from the Mega Man Legends games. Sure, the graphics may not age well, but the charm, personality, interaction between characters, and the overall experience is like nothing else. It might be inspired by anime, but it takes inspiration from anime that anyone can watch, and not the elements of current anime today. It’s something that is sorely missing from gaming these days, and that’s my personal reason for putting some backing towards RED ASH. Plus, the team behind the game is made up of people who made the Mega Man Legends games.

Now then, I have to unfortunately go into the reasons why the Kickstarter might not succeed, and judging by some of the actions the Kickstarter decided to take, well, I don’t honestly know if it will make it. The first problem was the timing of the release of the Kickstarter. This year has been gigantic, with Kickstarter successes like Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Yuka Laylee, Bloodstained, and Shenmue III. That isn’t even counting some of the smaller, but strong Kickstarters, like Crowfall, Children of Morta, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs, Diluvion, Edge of Eternity, We Happy Few, Perception, Unraveled, Deadwood, Project Scissors: Nightcry, Underworld Ascendant, Little Devil Inside, Cross Code, Drift Stage, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire, and you get my point. RED ASH came out on July 4th, a day where no one is really paying attention to gaming news, on the last week of the Shenmue III Kickstarter’s funding, and during some big conventions like the San Diego Comic Con. Timing is everything, and to post your Kickstarter during one of the slowest/worst months for Kickstarters probably didn’t help either. This is why a lot of the big or more interesting Kickstarters come out before July and early to mid-August. It would make sense to me as a writer of Kickstarters, since the only worthwhile summer Kickstarter I talked about last year was Bacon Man, a 2.5D platformer that will now appear on the Xbox One.

The next problem/concern is with how the overall Kickstarter is set up. First off, why wasn’t there any gameplay? Kickstarters these days need to have footage of some sort to show potential backers that they aren’t just funding a pipe dream with nothing to show for it. Of course, the very first Kickstarter I ever backed, Armikrog, had very little gameplay, but they had an entire opening cut scene and bits and pieces of gameplay shown throughout the video. As of July 16th, the RED ASH Kickstarter has posted an update and we will see gameplay soon. I wish we could have seen it sooner than later. Another sore spot is how the overall game and its stretch goals were handed to us as potential investors. The sad truth is that we won’t be getting the full game. If we just get to the funding of $800K, we will get three chapters. If we get to the $1 million stretch goal, we will get console versions depending on what consoles everyone votes for. For safe bets, I think people will vote for the PlayStation 4, Wii U, 3DS, and PC version. If they are only going to do one console, then I money is on the PlayStation 4. At the next stretch goal of $1,500,000, we will get the next three chapters. That pretty much means that we will not be getting the entire story. Why split it up like this? Especially since this is an open-ended action game that will have exploration? I have covered many Kickstarters with expansive worlds within the main funding goal. Why split it up here? In the past, I have talked about the risks doing episodic gaming on Kickstarter. Telltale and The Odd Gentleman do it, but they have full funding. They don’t have to worry about funding if the first episode doesn’t sell well. If Keiji Inafune wants to make this some kind of small mini-series like Mega Man Legends, then I totally understand, but at the same time, how they approached it with Kickstarter rubbed me and many others the wrong way.

I think another concern/problem is that this Kickstarter came up during the same day that a companion Kickstarter for an animated special based off RED ASH was announced. It’s being made by famous animation studio, Studio 4°C, the animation company behind “Memories,” “Spriggan,” “Steamboy,” certain sections of “Halo Legends,” and “Batman: Gotham Knight,” and sequences for games like Asura’s Wrath, and Catherine. On top of this companion Kickstarter, Inafune added news that a live-action film and anime series based off Mighty No. 9 was being made. It was a lot of news all at once. It was a bit much to see the Mighty No. 9 news on top of two different Kickstarters for a new gaming IP. The Studio 4°C Kickstarter is also a little weird, since the main funding goal will just get a five minute OVA, while stretch goals will give them the ability to do a full length feature. Again, people would rather back something that will be complete.

Speaking of Mighty No. 9, I think the biggest problem, which is totally understandable, is the fact that there is no free demo or public beta for Mighty No. 9. Not everyone has yet to play it, and they want to play the finished game before backing another Kickstarter. I think it is also confusing to people with how well Comcept is doing, since they are not only working on this Kickstarter, but are also making an Xbox One exclusive called Recore with Austin, Texas-based Armature Studios. Another bit of confusion that I had to find out through some of the backers of the RED ASH Kickstarter, was the developer that Comcept is co-making RED ASH with. The developer is called Hyde Inc. Many gamers, including myself, have never heard of this company, and I had to learn that the company has worked on a lot of projects from Atlus, NIS, Square Enix, and Compile Hearts. Well, that’s good, but I wish we could have known that at the beginning. Another thing to be aware of is that the team that made Mighty No. 9, is an entirely different team from the RED ASH team. It just makes you wonder why no publisher would have been like “Oh, hey, you are co-creating an Xbox One exclusive? Well, how about we help fund, market, and make sure you can create the full game that you want to make? No strings attached. You get total creative freedom.”

My final concern is if this game doesn’t get funded, will Inafune feel discouraged? Did Capcom, in their questionable way, do the right thing by canceling Mega Man Legends 3? I mean, of course it was dumb to cancel it, but still. Is the 100K Strong Mega Man Legend fan-base all talk and no bite? I really don’t want Inafune to feel discouraged if this Kickstarter doesn’t make it. I don’t want him to think we don’t want this game. You can tell on the Kickstarter comment section that everyone including myself is concerned, but very dedicated and loud in wanting this game to succeed.

In the end, this was the hardest Kickstarter to write about. I am both very optimistic that Keiji Inafune knows what he is doing, but there were some concerns that are understandable, and contribute to why the Kickstarter isn’t funding as wildly as it should be. I think it will either reach its funding goal in the last week or not. I get that he doesn’t want to lay off anyone since his team has so much talent, but I think Keiji put this Kickstarter up during an unfortunate timeframe, and gave us too much news about multimedia projects at once. If this Kickstarter doesn’t go through, I think next time, he should just focus on the video game Kickstarter, be there to post weekly updates, put it up after Mighty No. 9 is released, and to make sure to get more positive mindsets for RED ASH, release a free demo of Mighty No. 9 to the public. There is no shame in launching a second Kickstarter. In fact, I have covered many Kickstarters that have had to relaunch due to a bad first attempt. Deadwood, Unraveled, and Hero-U are three games that I have covered or know about that had to relaunch a Kickstarter, or in Hero-U’s case, launched a second Kickstarter for funding. Keiji Inafune, if you are reading this, please don’t feel discouraged if the Kickstarter doesn’t make it. I have faith you will make sure this game will be good. So, Keiji Inafune, Comcept, RED ASH gets my optimistic/concerned Kickstarter Shout-out.

(If you want to support this project, go to this link)

Kickstarter Flops #1: Nothing to Show Here Folks!

I was trying to hold off on this as long as I could, but I can’t hold off anymore! I decided to do a sub-series of articles on Kickstarter Shout-out. These will cover a list of mediocre Kickstarters, explaining why they won’t get funded, and so this won’t be a totally negative experience, I will recommend some alternative Kickstarters that you should go fund. Fun fact, I actually wrote two articles for this idea, but scrapped them. I originally wanted to be critical, cynical, and throw in a humorous twist, but found the two articles not up to the quality I wanted them to be. Now then, let’s get started!

Bello Magorum

Why it won’t get funded: At first, the description is enticing, a game that will be similar to the tactical RPG classics of the past, like Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics. Then you realize that the page itself, while having a solid funding goal of $40K, has everything that bad Kickstarters have. First off, there is no trailer, concept art, no 3D models, or even alpha-stage gameplay. All you get with this Kickstarter is a paragraph saying how the person wants to make a game like this. No breakdown on how he/she is making this game unique or similar to the classic tactical RPGs of yesteryear, no who’s who on the team making the game, no budget breakdown, and no stretch goals. This is quite possible one of the worst Kickstarters I have ever seen. Then again, it has to be a terrible Kickstarter to be on this list, so I shouldn’t be surprised. The cherry on top of this cake of terrible execution is the fact that the image used on the Kickstarter is not unique. I found the same image online. As of June 6th, they have taken that photo down and replaced it with quite honestly, some really bad artwork that doesn’t really do anything to help make the Kickstarter look better. (As of June 11, this Kickstarter has been taken down due to reasons other than having to do with the game.)

A Kickstarter you should help fund Instead:

You should check out the tactical RPG Kickstarter called Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs by Pixel Milk. Not only does this tactical RPG include beautiful, colorful, and well-done graphics, but they break down the different game mechanics, from the tile-based tactical combat, to the 4X elements, like building your own village, conducting diplomacy, and going on expeditions for resources and loot. They also do everything that a good Kickstarter should do by being detailed and descriptive on every element of the game. I will be talking about this game in the future so be prepared to hear more about it.

World War WarPzone

Why it won’t get funded: You know how Steam is infamous for lazy “developers”  buying a bunch of prepaid unity assets and tossing them onto Steam thinking they made a game and trying to rip off consumers? Yeah, this is one of those “games” made by so called “developers”. Heck, calling them “developers” is awfully generous. I mean, I had to put down quotation marks. That is just being extremely generous right there. These types of developers are more like mediocre talentless individuals who can’t take the time to make their own assets or make an actual game, but instead, spend a pretty penny on premade assets, thinking they are going to get their money back. Well, they won’t. Oh, and this Kickstarter basically does everything wrong. Just like Bello Magorum. Oh, and it wants to be a MOBA, a market that is nigh impossible to make a hit in, since no one gives a hoot unless you are Dota 2, League of Legends, or Smite.

A Kickstarter you help fund instead:

Instead of funding World War WarPzone, you should go back an actually fun-looking multiplayer-focused first-person shooter called Galaxy Heist by Space Bear Development. I know I have already talked about this in a Kickstarter Shout-out, but it’s basically Pay Day 2, except you are space pirates, you can pilot drone fighters, hijack other ships, and have some actual fun! Much more effort was put into Galaxy Heist than World War WarPzone. Don’t support people that make “games” like World War WarPzone.

Wanted: American Outlaws

Why it won’t get funded: Let’s have a checklist at the ready for this one. No gameplay? Check! Does the page have early-looking CG models? Check! No trailer? Check! Is it yet another open-world game that, let’s be frank about this, is incredibly empty? Check! Should this developer have made some actual gameplay footage in a beta state instead of posting the project in such an early state? Yes! I am seriously wondering if anyone that goes on Kickstarter looks up the successful Kickstarters, seeing what worked for them, and actually, you know, puts some effort into their game before showing it to the public. The public want to see something that looks like it could be finished with a reasonable budget and in a reasonable time. They don’t want to see your first 3D models and “promises”.

A Kickstarter you help fund instead:

Instead of helping out Wanted: American Outlaws, you should go help fund Diluvion, by Leo Dasso. This is a 3D exploratory action game where you recruit a, well, crew, get a submarine, and explore the unknown depths of this underwater world. You will fight other submarines, sea-like enemies, and manage your team to survive in this dangerous world. It not only has a great art-style, and beautiful hand-drawn elements, but this developer has actually made another game called Ballpoint Universe Infinite. I honestly think you should check out Diluvion and their previous game to support a developer that did something unique and put actual effort into their Kickstarter page.

Eradication: The Game

Why it won’t get funded: The concept for this Kickstarter sounds cool. You are a bunch of soldiers wearing suits like in Call of Duty: Advance Warfare, and you fight monsters. Doesn’t that sound sweet? Too bad they show none of that due to the footage of the game being in such an early pre-alpha state. The footage basically looks like you are shooting a bunch of pink-colored D batteries. Sure, this page has a little more going for it than most, but that doesn’t excuse it for being a terrible Kickstarter. They have nothing to show of the main game, besides said pre-alpha footage. It also seems implausible that he can get all of this done on a budget of $8K. It also seems like this developer is riding on this one gimmick to sell his game. Yeah, last time we saw that happen was with this year’s Evolve, and even though they said 2.5 million copies of the game were shipped, Evolve’s one-trick-pony-style game is failing pretty hard, even if 2K Games doesn’t want to admit it.

Kickstarters you help fund instead:

Instead of investing into Eradication: The Game, I will give you two that are much more worthwhile. The first one is a Tony Hawk Pro Skater-style game called On a Roll, by Creative Concepts. This is basically Pro Skater, but it replaced skateboards with roller blades. It honestly looks fun, and it reminds me of the original Pro Skater games before Tony Hawk thought Tony Hawk Ride was the best idea ever. The second Kickstarter is a third-person horror game called Song of Horror, by Protocol Games. If you love games like the original Alone in the Dark games, or any good third-person horror games, then you should definitely check this game out. They know the animations are a little clunky, and hopefully that doesn’t hurt the Kickstarter, but I think it’s pretty cool to see a third-person horror game instead of yet another first-person horror game that tries to be like Amnesia.

There you have it, folks. I have given you all a handful of terrible Kickstarters to avoid, what those Kickstarters do wrong, and Kickstarters that you should definitely check out instead. Now, no matter what, if you have an idea, and you think you have it all figured out, and you think Kickstarter is the way to go, then by all means, you should try it out. However, you are going to have to put in a lot of effort to make your Kickstarter stand out and impress potential backers. It’s becoming harder to get a project on Kickstarter fully funded, unless you are a veteran of the industry, made games before, or have a really impressive product. I think you should try and avoid getting on articles like this.

Kickstarter Shout-out: We Happy Few

Are you feeling down? Did you do something incredibly horrible that you wish to forget? Want to be eerily chipper while wearing a painted-on mask? I mean, you don’t want to be a downer, do you? Well, why not help back today’s Kickstarter Shout-out, We Happy Few, a first-person narrative survival game made by  Compulsion Games, the creators of Contrast. Now then, shall we take a trip and be happy?

The game is set in a dystopian city in England in an alternate history of 1964 called Wellington Wells. Basically, something happened after the Germans took over a majority of England, and a lot of the city around you is in ruins. Everyone in the town was a part of this really bad event. However, you wouldn’t get that feeling since everyone in Wellington Wells, is, well, well. This is due to a miracle drug called Joy. The residents take it, and act like everything is Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. Unfortunately, you are not like them. You play as a downer, an individual that isn’t taking the Joy drug. It is your job to find out what happened many years ago without getting spotted or killed. I really like the set-up for this game. In a flooded vile sea of first-person games with zombies and prepaid Unity assets, it’s refreshing to see something more unique in terms of first-person survival games.

We Happy Few is a first-person narrative survival game with a few twists. Each time you die or beat the game, the world will randomize itself so each experience will be different from the last. Instead of avoiding zombies or other unoriginal creatures that are in so many first-person survival games, you will need to avoid the townsfolk. No one likes a downer, and if you happen to be one, well, they are going to bring a beating with them. Instead of sneaking around the whole city like Solid Snake, you will need to blend in. Don’t do anything to stand out, and make sure you interact with everyone. However, be careful of certain civilians in the town because they might put you in quite a pickle. You can play this game by either blending in without raising suspicion, fight, or take the Joy pill. Just don’t overdose on Joy.

I love the graphics and art style in this game. It has personality, and the character designs remind me of something from Dishonored and Bioshock Infinite. It’s realistic, but has a cartoony stylized edge to it. The music is being composed by a company called Signal Space, who have worked on music and sounds for games like Civilization V and Deus Ex. The music is a mixture of perky 60s pop, and lounge. It helps bring this fully realized world together. It’s nice to see this developer go the extra mile with the presentation, so you can feel as immersed as possible in the game’s quirky world.

I will be interviewing the developer in the future. As always, be on the lookout for the interview. I really love this Kickstarter. The team behind it already has experience with making a game, and the overall look and feel of the game is unique. If you love surreal worlds, and want something different with your first-person survival games, then you should take some of that Joy, be happy, and feel like a room without a roof. The game’s funding goal in US currency is over $200K. Currently, they are over $107K as of June 2015. Congrats, Compulsion Games, We Happy Few gets my Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

 

Kickstarter Shout-out: Three More First Person Kickstarters Worth Your Time!

I have said in the past that first-person games are not my favorite. Maybe it’s because I have played a majority of games that take place in the third-person, but I never found the controls, combat, and overall experience of a first-person game to be that spectacular. Even games that try and show off that you can play in third-person like Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, they basically say, “this is what you get for wanting a third-person game. Now get back into that first-person view!” I mean, they probably don’t say that, but still. I don’t hate first-person games since I love Portal 2, and Wolfenstein: The New Order, but it seems like not a whole lot of developers want to do something new with the games in the first-person. Luckily, Kickstarter has recently been kind to me, have given me three different Kickstarter projects that are games taking place in the first-person. We will start with the Kickstarter getting the most attention, since it has been all over the news. I would feel silly if I didn’t talk about it first. Let’s get started!

 

Perception

Like I said, Perception, the story of a blind girl traversing a house to solve a mystery with unknown horrors inside, has been in the news because it had a similar setup to another game called Blind. Luckily, everything has been sorted out, and both games are going to be different enough so you won’t be making comparisons. Anyway, Perception is a first-person horror survival game with a heavy focus on narrative. You will be using echolocation to get a sense of your surroundings, and to find some helpful clues to solve a mystery. Since this is a first-person horror game, of course you know that there will be someone or something that will want to make you stop living.  You will have to balance out the risk of making noise to find clues, but at the same time, making a lot of noise will attract the evil presence in the estate. The story will actually take you through different periods of time, so get ready to have some time traveling inserted into your spooky gaming experience!

Graphically, I like the look of the game. I love the idea of only being able to see the world through echolocation, the sound around you shaping what is inside the room. Though how it shows what items are important, I have no idea. While watching the trailer, I think the game’s atmosphere was rather intense, since the main hero only has her other senses to rely on, and not being able to see or know what might come after you is rather frightening.

I have a lot of faith that Perception will get funded. It has a load of people who worked on the Bioshock and Dead Space franchise, which shows how well the atmosphere pulled me into the trailer. I do have a few concerns, like how are they going to make sure that the game won’t get repetitive, frustrating, and the story won’t go into pretentious territory, making your eyes roll. As of right now, the game’s funding goal is $150K, and as of June 4th, 2015, it is at over $80K. If you love horror games or narrative experiences like Gone Home, then you will probably want to back this game. Congrats, The Deep End Games, Perception gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

Galaxy Heist

If you are waiting for Star Citizen to actually come out, and are taking a break from Elite: Dangerous, then you should go back Galaxy Heist. This is a multiplayer-focused fps game where you team up with a group of four to five players and get into a spacecraft to fight other teams. Not only can you go into space and go into space combat encounters, but you can also become space pirates! Why do I say that? Well, besides being able to pilot some small drone fighters or take control of turrets, you can board enemy ships and enter some first-person shooter elements!  When you get inside enemy ships, you must take care of the enemies still on board. If you do, you can either destroy the ship, or take it over. Oh, and you can basically shoot the windows to suck the enemies into the vacuum of space. There are also the common elements of character and ship customization.

 

Graphically, I like the look of the game. Sure, there are a lot of dark colors, and some of the early death animations look a little silly, but I think it looks good. If they can capture the grand feeling of space with the intense combat of a shooter like Pay Day 2, then they might have something that is hopefully very satisfying. From the short samples of music I heard, the intense vibe I got from the samples fit the overall experience. I mean, you don’t want something cheerful playing through your ears while your body hurls out into space.

In the end, I really like this project. I don’t normally play or want to check out multiplayer-only games, and I do have some concerns, but I am planning on getting in contact with the developer in the future. If you love space combat games and first-person shooters, but hate a lot of the shenanigans that are in both styles of games, then you should check out Galaxy Heist. Their funding goal is almost $100K, and as of June 4th, 2015, they have over $6K. Congrats to Space Bear Development, Galaxy Heist gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

 

Shape of the World

Hollow Tree Games’ Shape of the World is a first-person exploratory adventure game that is described to be in the same vein as the experimental games like Flower, Journey, and Proteus. For those that may not be familiar with those three games above, it’s a gaming experience that solely relies on beautiful scenery, gorgeous music, and more about a calming exploratory journey through a world that grows, due to your actions. No fighting, no puzzles, and basically no story. The world grows and changes depending on where you go.

Graphically, this is a very gorgeous game. There are many bright colors, and the minimalist art style really helps make a downright amazing looking package. I also enjoy the fact that it’s a relaxing-looking game. Sometimes, I don’t want to sit down and play a majorly violent game. Sometimes, I just want to sit down and enjoy something calming, with an atmospheric soundtrack, and sink into my chair for a few minutes or hours.

I do have some concerns. While I think the developers know to make this game as stress-free as possible, I hope they don’t try to add in elements to make it livelier than it needs to be. I think that is what hurt games like Entwined, where the fast-paced nature hampered the quiet nature of the game.  If you love games like Flower or Proteus, then you should definitely back this game. For now, it will be on PC and Xbox One. The funding goal is over $60K, and it is currently at over $10K. Congrats, Hollow Tree Games! Shape of the World gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

There you have it. Here are three different first-person video game Kickstarters that do something different. I was going to talk about a fourth Kickstarter, but I wanted to save it for another article.  Hope you enjoyed reading about these Kickstarters, and maybe you will want to be a potential backer for them!

Interview with Playtonic Games, the creators behind Yooka-Laylee

I have been really excited about this interview with the developers of Yooka-Laylee, the Kickstarter success story from Playtonic Games. Hope you all enjoy reading it!

Cam’s Eye View: First off, congratulations on reaching funding in an extremely short amount of time! How did it feel to basically get up, make a sandwich, and to come back to be fully funded?

[Gavin Price – Creative director] It was a great moment! I nearly spat the sandwich back out all over the monitor ;) !  We went from being incredibly nervous to ecstatic and humbled by the support the fans have shown us!  It’s a scary feeling putting your hearts and dreams on the line and in to the hands of others, but knowing people want to support us like they have is so uplifting…it’s more than just a game being funded, the success of Yooka-Laylee gives us a great foundation to build upon and create a studio that we want people to cherish for many years to come.  So we have to make Yooka-Laylee incredible, and we have the resources to do that now beyond our initial plans – exciting times!

Cam’s Eye View: Are there going to be themed worlds with their own exclusive enemies? Will there be a common enemy seen throughout the levels?

[Gav] So, the worlds will have themes, we want them to be beautiful to encourage exploration, themed with just the right balance of nostalgia but forward thinking gameplay too full of life, not restricted by hardware like they were in the past.  The enemies will play a big part of this, and there will be both exclusive enemies as well as common ones seen throughout the levels.  The enemies have the chance to play a large role in the wider Playtonic universe in the future, so it’s exciting to be working on them with so much future scope in mind.  It makes the team’s work a bit trickier, but what it could mean for the fans and future games will make this all the more worthwhile!

Cam’s Eye View: What went into designing the characters? What references or points of inspiration did your character designer use to create the characters?

[Steve Mayles, Character art director]:  When considering an animal for a character, I first do some sketches based around what I think the animal looks like, with whatever modifications needed for the type of game the character is in. Then I’ll look at Chameleon photos, (probably realizing my effort looks nothing like the real thing!), and also I’ll have a good look at other interpretations of Chameleons (or similar creatures) to make sure what I am doing isn’t too close to anything else currently out there. The Internet is a really great tool for this; in the old days I’d have to look in animal books. Books, I ask you? Can you believe that? I think it’s important to do it in this order though. Maybe I can do some sort of character building equation! My ideas + real animal + other interpretations ( – any features that already exist on other characters).

Specific influences would probably be Pokemon, Disney and er, Banjo-Kazooie!!

Cam’s Eye View: What was the decision behind making the two main heroes a chameleon and a bat? Were there were other animals in consideration? If so, what were they?

[Steve Mayles, Character art director]: We tried to approach it differently from previous games, this time we were really thinking ‘we have a load of cool moves planned, which animal would best be able to perform them?’ So instead of coming up with a character and fitting moves around that character, we almost did the opposite.

Gavin Price wanted the characters to have something of an underdog feel, and they needed to be something that hadn’t been done too much before, hence a chameleon and bat.

We hit on the Chameleon pretty early; the only other idea was a Tiger, but he never got past the initial concept stage. Maybe he’ll appear as an npc character in Yooka-Laylee though..?

 Cam’s Eye View: One element I was looking forward to hearing about was the story and villain, but neither showed up on the Kickstarter page. Who/what is the villain, and what will be the reason for our two main heroes to go on this epic adventure?

[Gav] These are secrets yet to be revealed…we kind of want to bring back some of that old-style mystery and secrecy to game development that seems to have disappeared from the dev scene.  We notice many of the games we love actually feel like you already know too much about them before they come out.

Cam’s Eye View: Are there any inspirations from finished/unfinished/canceled games from your time at Rare that might be implemented into Yooka-Laylee?

[Gav] No, none spring to mind other than the burning desire to make this type of game in the way that best suits us (similar to how things were early on in our careers)

Cam’s Eye View: I take it that it wasn’t super hard to get Grant Kirkhope and David Wise to sign up to do music for Yooka-Laylee?

[Gav] They were both as excited to be a part of the project as we were to have them on board.  It’s a real dream team, and I’m excited for the fans to learn more about the roles they will play with their compositions later on in development!

Cam’s Eye View: Since personality is a huge thing in platformers and games from your past, what goes into animating the individual characters in how they move and talk?

[Steve Mayles, Character art director]: It’s great being able to design, model and animate a character, rather than split this into the 3 disciplines (actually 4 if you include rigging!) you’d have in an AAA studio. It means I can plan how the character will animate from an early stage. And if something doesn’t work correctly, I only have myself to blame!

Having the two characters together makes for some unique animations, but unfortunately it takes double the time! For gameplay specific animations, I’ll first put in a basic animation so we can check how it works in-game; then when it is looking right, I can take the time to do all the fine-tuning to make the animation look great.

 Cam’s Eye View: Was it tempting to do a 2D platformer since so many indie developers are doing it?

[Gav] We knew from the start we wanted to do a 3D platformer.  We’re glad platforming games, both 2D and 3D are being enjoyed more and more…

Cam’s Eye View: I was a little confused that the reward tier for a Steam and home console copy of the game were separate rewards. Why weren’t all consoles put into one reward tier? Was it a financial decision or something else entirely?

[Gav] It’s the fairest way for our backers.  Steam give you free keys to distribute, however console manufacturers make you pay for the codes to hand out, hence the separate tiers.

Cam’s Eye View: In your personal opinion (or opinions if more than one person wants to answer this), what would you say caused the downfall of 3D platformers not being around as much anymore? Was it the quality of the ones released that weren’t attached to Nintendo or old Rare, or more than one problem?

[Gav] I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s probably to do with the industry at large and the publishers not wanting to take risks.  Every time a single genre seems to take a dominant foothold, publishers see making games within it as less risky, and with the amount of money that they want to invest and seek a return on, platformers (and other genres) seemed to fall under their radar, meaning gamers don’t get to play them.  Kickstarter helps devs like us empower fans to have a say in exactly what games they do want to see made and enjoy in the future, regardless of what goes on in publisher meetings all around the world.  Yay for all of us!

Cam’s Eye View: With the success of A Hat in Time, and the pop-up of multiple 3D platformers on Kickstarter likeSpooky Poo’s Happy HellClive ‘n’ WrenchFreezeME, and LoboDestroyo, do you think the sudden appearance of so many means that there is a demand for these types of games whether they make their funding goal or not?

 [Gav] I guess it means there is a demand for them to some extent.  It’s the little details and differences within the 3D platforming genre too that show that, like with other genres, 3D platforming can mean different things to different audiences and give devs lots of freedom to create games that stand out from one another in mechanics, and all offer a fun take on 3D platforming.

Cam’s Eye View: Microsoft, during the Xbox 360 and currently through the Xbox One, does not seem to have a lot of variety in their big budget titles since a lot of commercials show off shooters. Was it really hard to get any pitch of a colorful creative Rare title greenlit, or was it something within Rare that caused a roadblock?

[Gav] We were never exposed to those kinds of decision making, so we couldn’t really comment accurately.  Kameo was colourful, and lots of people within MS love that game, as was Viva Pinata, and again MS backed Rare a lot with those games, so I guess each game pitched was judged on its own merits within the 1st party landscape.

Cam’s Eye View: Since a lot of people that made the original Rare are now at different companies, and Phil Spencer is being a really good guy at Microsoft and has said to be really involved with titles being made by Rare, do you think Rare has a solid future as a company, or do you think that one or two more underperforming titles will result in Rare getting absorbed by Microsoft?

[Gav] I honestly couldn’t guess.  As a lifelong Rare fan and now former-employee with lots of friends still at Rare and Microsoft, I’d wish them all the best of luck and hope them all to do well, and I know Phil loves the studio and has been a long-term champion of whatever Rare tries to do.

Cam’s Eye View: 2014 and so far, parts of 2015 have shown that the big budget industry has created several disappointing titles and seems to be unclear as to how to deliver quality titles, what would you think could potentially get the big budget publishers/developers back in the good graces of the consumer and gamers?

[Gav] I don’t see them doing this, but for me it’s make games to a quality bar, not a timeline.  Games seem to have to hit dates these days, and it’s a shame as back in the day at Rare, Tim and Chris Stamper valued delivering a great game over hitting an exact date…great if you can do both, but I’d personally rather play a great game when it’s ready than one that was rushed to hit a date to please shareholders…

Cam’s Eye View: If you could go back in time and change one major turning point in time or game/games that you all have worked on, what would you change and why?

[Gav] I’d go back and change a point in time…I’d have tried to have started Playtonic earlier than now…

Cam’s Eye View: Due to this recent and in my opinion, over-exaggerated negative reception Kickstarter has gotten due to recent flops and some Kickstarters like Broken Age going through some development hell, was there some concern about putting the Kickstarter up?

[Gav] Not for us, we chose to do Kickstarter because fans asked us to.  We think each company should be judged on its own merits not Kickstarter itself.  There’s lots of good examples of projects done well, and we hope that Playtonic is remembered for being one of them.

Cam’s Eye View: Some people have recently brought up the criticism that Kickstarters like Yooka-Laylee,BloodstainedBroken AgeUnsung StoryWasteland 2Divinity: Original SinPillars of Eternity, and many other Kickstarters are using nostalgia to fuel their Kickstarters. Do you think that is an understandable criticism? Is it rather cynical? Or does it really depend on the end product?

[Gav] I saw this discussed on our social media, and for some people, the nostalgia is key…it’s exactly what some backers want.  We’re trying to provide a game that gets the right mix of nostalgia but also deliver a modern, forward-looking game experience too.

Cam’s Eye View: Another concern I have seen some people talk about is the fact that the large levels might not have a lot to do in them. Personally, I disagree with that since the charm and appeal of the 3D platformers was the adventure and exploration of the well-designed levels. However, if you are going to build and improve upon the 3D platforming design, how and what will you do?

[Gav] I don’t think it’s all about size, I think so long as the player has a good deal of things to do in them, and exploration is rewarding, size doesn’t matter so much.  In Yooka-Laylee, the player can expand the levels too, so each level can be further explored with new things to discover not previously accessible, and so the size of levels will be under the players control somewhat – do you choose to enter a world and expand it before moving on or enter a world, leave it and then return later to expand it in a more manageable session? 

Cam’s Eye View: Since Playtonic is an independent developer, are there any kinds of games that you would like to see less of? Are there any elements of indie developers/games you would like to see change, whether it be a business style or something like a developer going on a bad press rampage, which has sadly happened quite often? For example, I personally wish there were less open-world crafting survival games, first-person games, and local four-player-only titles.

[Gav] Not really, being independent is about making what you want to make regardless of what’s already out there or popular.  The more devs seem to gravitate towards one type of game, the more creative gaps it leaves for other devs to try and fill.  In the end, gamers decide with their wallets.

Cam’s Eye View: Are there any kinds of games you would like to see more of from Kickstarter/non-Kickstarter indie developers?

[Gav] I’m not going to say, we may want to make them ourselves in future… ;p

Cam’s Eye View: With recent successes of Kickstarter games like Shovel KnightThe Banner SagaDivinity: Original SinHand of FateBroken AgeChroma SquadPillars of Eternity, and so on, do you think big publishers should/will start copying what the indie developers/crowd-funded are doing by making more games with gameplay variety and not just a load of shooters? Maybe go to Kickstarter to see if people would be interested in using their IPs that they don’t use anymore? Or is all that that too “ruby slippers” wishful?

[Gav] No idea, definitely couldn’t guess at this!

Cam’s Eye View: Are there any Kickstarter-funded games that have been released that you love? What Kickstarter-funded games are you looking forward to?

[Gav] I’m a massive Shadowrun fan so I loved the fact it was brought back in to relevancy.  I’m looking forward to Hyper Light Drifter a lot!

Cam’s Eye View: Hypothetically speaking, since Yooka-Laylee is a Kickstarter funding success, and the game will definitely be a success once released, can we see some kind of spiritual successor to the original plan for Project Dream? I mean, I’m not implying I would totally back money for that idea, but I would back it :). 

 [Gav] Lots of people have asked us that…who knows what games we’ll release in future (well apart from us…) but we’re looking forward to working in many different genres and styles.

Interview with Rose Portal Games, the creators behind Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker's Daughter

One of my favorite Kickstarters to learn about was Rose Portal Games’ Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker’s Daughter. While it looks like an RPG during the Super Nintendo and early PlayStation 1 era, its story and setting are honestly much more interesting than most RPG settings. Instead of some generic fantasy land, the game takes place in a little girl’s imagination in Mumbai’s shipbreaking yards. Rusted ships, an unsettling atmosphere, and a touching story of the girl finding her family makes it unique. I decided to get in contact with the developer and talk to them about the game, Kickstarter, and RPGs.

Cam’s Eye View: On the Kickstarter page, you have said that the game is inspired by a documentary about Mumbai’s shipbreaking yards. What exactly about that setting screamed a roleplaying game?

Rose Portal Games: We don't really write with having a videogame in mind. Rather, we come up with a story that we believe in and adapt it to the genre. In the case of Unraveled, what spoke to us the most about shipbreaking yards is the feeling of nostalgic beauty. These ships that hold years of memories -- where people have worked and lived -- are finally taken apart. This concept of memories coming to rest -- a sort of graveyard, a ship graveyard -- really appealed to us. Then we found out about the social issues behind shipbreaking (the horrible work circumstances, etc.) and we decided it would make the perfect story! Romantic and with a meaning behind it.

Cam’s Eye View: One of the more gutsy elements of the game is the fact that outside of one or two lines, there will be no dialogue. I take it that you want to go with a more emotional “show don’t tell”-style story. How do you plan on making sure the emotions and the story aren’t lost on the player?

Rose Portal Games: It's definitely a risky approach we're taking. Some people simply prefer chunks of dialogue. They prefer a clear "this is how it's happening" story. But for a lot of people, the lack of dialogue allows them to fill in the gaps themselves. They can form a bond with the story that is personal to them. We've watched a lot of Let's Play videos and live streams, and the theories people come up with are amazing!

Of course, we take great care in working out the many little cutscenes in the game. It involves a lot of detail work. There's this one flashback in which hardly anything happens, but it took a week of 24/7 work to make. Because when you work with these tiny sprites and you need to show tiny movement, everything has to be perfect. It's a lot more work than action scenes.

Cam’s Eye View: Was there a reason why you took the game in a sprite/SNES/Early PlayStation 1 era-style RPG instead of something 3D-oriented? Are all the sprites handmade?

Rose Portal Games: Definitely! 95% of the art is hand-drawn by me personally. I use a not-exactly-pixel-art-but-similar-to-it style, where I draw with the brush tool instead of the pencil tool. It gives everything a slightly more blurry but realistic look. I really love it. 2D has always been my specialty. I really don't like 3D, because it's so difficult to make it look charming. It looks too technical. Too polished. With 2D you can go in any direction. If I ever make a 3D game, it will involve 2D sprites, for sure!

As for why we decided to go for PS1-era style, it's because this whole game revolves around nostalgia, and it really adds to that feeling.

Cam’s Eye View: Where did the idea of the emotion-oriented combat come from?

Rose Portal Games: Originally it was called Focus and Rage, but we changed it into Calm and Anger respectively to be more appropriate. My partner, Chancler, renamed a lot of my "typical fantasy RPG" stuff to be more unique. "Lightning" became "Pew Pew!", "Fireball" became "Whoosh", etc. He's really good at that!

The combat system was actually developed prior to the game. It's something I've been working on for a while and we decided to finally use it. So far it's gotten amazing feedback! I am extremely picky when it comes to videogames, and this battle system can have me hooked for hours on end!

Cam’s Eye View: Where did the inspiration for the stuffed animal guardian come from?

Rose Portal Games: When people ask what inspired us with the game, it's a bit like asking "what did you copy?". But really, we didn't copy anything. There's no direct inspiration. We just took our basic story concept and worked that out to make the player feel what we want them to feel. The little girl has a great imagination, which is the focus of the story, so naturally she would imagine her stuffed animal to come alive. In fact, she gives the stuffed animal the personality of a person close to her who has passed away recently.

It might be similar to Where The Wild Things Are and Labyrinth (1986), but I didn't even think of those two movies until someone else pointed it out.

However, in terms of design, he was inspired by My Pet Monster, a stuffed animal published in 1986. Purely because we wanted her toy to be based on something realistic and really play with that feeling of nostalgia.

Cam’s Eye View: Since this is a sprite-based RPG, do you have an opinion on developers using RPG Maker?

Rose Portal Games: I do, indeed! RPG Maker is a great engine. It's easy to use but difficult to master (I've been working with it for over 7 years). The downside to this is that everyone and their mother can release an RPG Maker game, and the market gets saturated with "low quality" hobby games. This creates a prejudice against anything made with RPG Maker. It's a shame, because there are plenty of amazing games made with it. It's the developer who determines the quality, not the engine. Although I have to add, the current versions of RPG Maker are rather limiting, and it's the reason why for our next project we're switching to Unity.

Cam’s Eye View: Since this is the second time you have launched this Kickstarter, what would you say didn’t work the first time?

Rose Portal Games: Our first Kickstarter got delayed and delayed until the launch date was a week before my 1-month trip to China. So basically, I could do nothing during this campaign. My partner had to do all the work. Also, the campaign lacked complete focus. We had stretch goals all over the place, a Unity video, a "maybe this", a "maybe that", a billion physical rewards.

This time we really just cut down and focused on the main goal, and it's worked! We're already doing much better than last time, though we only have 5 days left.

Cam’s Eye View: We have seen a lot of RPGs on Kickstarter, from the PC-inspired RPGs like Divinity: Original Sin, to the JRPG-inspired RPGs like Edge of Eternity. Why do you think there is this sudden surge of more traditional RPGs?

Rose Portal Games: I personally haven't followed Kickstarter before March this year, so I can't speak of that specifically, but I think people are craving more traditional quality RPGs because the big companies are no longer making them. Take Final Fantasy, for example. Their games used to be fantastic, perfect JRPGs with large worlds, lots of side-quests, a beautiful story. The last few years Square Enix has just been releasing mediocre sequels and boring straightforward RPGs like FFXIII where basically the entire game is running down a hallway.

Cam’s Eye View: Was there any concern about getting funded due to the recent controversies/Kickstarter development issues like Godus, CLANG, and Hero U?

Rose Portal Games: Kickstarter controversies go all the way back to Echoes of Eternea. We've released 4 commercial games already; we have a clean track record. My main concern is direct competition... A certain Kickstarter that is also running at the moment but doesn't even really need funding; they just want to "test the waters for interest".

Cam’s Eye View: Due to Kickstarter-funding/indie games becoming a much bigger force, what do you think needs to change about how indie developers and Kickstarter are run?

Rose Portal Games: I honestly can't give you a proper answer on this, because I'm still fairly new to the whole Kickstarter system. One thing that really needs to change about Kickstarter is the way they allow large companies to use Kickstarter for funding a "concept". I'd say there should at least be a playable demo or beta available and an actual need for funding. It's not fair that Kickstarter is being used as a platform for mere income when it's not really required.

Cam’s Eye View: In your opinion, what do you think needs to change about RPGs?

Rose Portal Games: RPGs vary wildly, so I can't specify what I would like to change about the genre entirely. Just recently, RPGs have not been very appealing to me. The stories are a bit cliched, freedom is limited and RPGs are turning more and more into action-hybrids. I still prefer a nice classic turn-based system like Chrono Trigger.

Cam’s Eye View: Are there any RPGs that you love from the last generation of consoles that you wish were more successful?

Rose Portal Games: Can I say Final Fantasy XI? Best game I ever played, but I don't think it can be considered successful. No one I personally know has ever played it.

Cam’s Eye View: If you could change one negative aspect of an RPG that was released during the last generation of consoles, which RPG would it be, and how would you change it?

Rose Portal Games: Final Fantasy XIII and its terrible hallway-storytelling where you can just travel in one direction and the gameplay is fight-fight-fight-cutscene-boss-repeat.

Cam’s Eye View: Any Kickstarter-funded games you are looking forward to?

Rose Portal Games: I'm actually really looking forward to Power Drive 2000, a futuristic racing game. I normally don't enjoy racing games, but this one looks really awesome. It hasn't been funded yet, though... As for already funded games, I'd like to see Echoes of Eternea completed. One day, haha.

Kickstarter Shout-out: Little Devil Inside

(Update: As of 5/21/15, the Kickstarter has been fully funded!)

As 2015 marches forward, I am starting to be a little pickier with what I talk about. Maybe I will make a list of Kickstarters to be on the look for, while having some concerns about them getting funded or not. The concern might be the pace that they’re getting funded, they do not show off enough of a product, maybe people are intimidated by their funding price, or maybe they were launched during a week that a big budget game or a huge Kickstarter project was coming out. Either way, indie developers need to be very prepared for any of these situations to happen or else they are going to have a bad time. Why bring up these concerns? Well, a lot of these concerns are the ones I have for today’s Kickstarter Shout-out, Little Devil Inside. Let’s dive in so you all can learn about this cool Kickstarter.

Little Devil Inside puts you in the shoes of an explorer who is hired by a university professor to traverse the land searching for supernatural activities. The game already has an appealing set-up, and it definitely helps with the world we see in the trailer. It’s a mix of old-timey elements, but with a touch of the fantastic. It reminds me of something that would belong right in the universe of “Hellboy” or “The Grunt.” However, the developer has mentioned that the game, while having an overall narrative, is more open-ended in how you tackle the story, and will have an extensive lore.

Little Devil Inside is a 3D open-ended action adventure game with a huge emphasis on exploration. From what the footage has shown us, you will be traveling through dark forests, grassy open fields, snowy mountains, the high seas, and miles of sandy desert. I have heard a lot of people describe the trailer as a mixture of Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and I have to say, I totally agree. The combat looks simple, but you can’t just go in guns blazing like you are Conan the Barbarian and Kratos from God of War combined. This is especially true when you see the main character take on a knight in the snowy mountains. It also looks like you will have to deal with enemy encounters while you are on your travels, with scenes showing the main hero dealing with bandits, a dragon, and a giant tentacle monster.

I think the best element this game has going for it is the art style. It’s minimal, but it works due to how beautiful the game looks. It’s amazing that the game footage we see is in pre-alpha. It’s also very colorful. You have to respect a developer that wants to use more than the colors of gray and brown. Once again, it’s fantastic that they want to make a 3D game. I am all for 2D games, but I like seeing indie developers challenge themselves.

So, what are my concerns for the project? Well, I think it’s having some trouble with the pace of the incoming funding. When they first launched, their Kickstarter page was terrible. It was barebones and while they have updated it immensely, I am concerned that it turned off some people due to how tough it is to get on Kickstarter and be successful. I also think the element that is going to hurt the Kickstarter the most, even though it’s about halfway in it’s funding, are the two Kickstarters, Yooka-Laylee and the recently released Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. I mean, the first game is made by the core team of Banjo Kazooie and the second one is made by Koji Igarashi. I feel badly for any Kickstarter that gets launched during the time those two projects are up.

Well, whether they make it or decide to go up again in the future, I like what Little Devil Inside offers. The minimal art style, the smooth animation, and many other elements give this game the potential to be rather amazing. They also put up that they are going to make it for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The funding goal is over $191K in US currency, and as of May 11th 2015, it has reached over half of its goal. I think the team at Neostream has something great on their hands. Let’s hope they fulfill on making a terrific game for the mass to play. I will see if I can get an interview with the developer in the future as well. Congrats, Neostream, Little Devil Inside gets my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this game, go to this link!)

Kickstarter Shout-out: Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker's Daughter

It’s always interesting to see where the inspiration for a game will come from. For example, today’s Kickstarter Shout-out is called Unraveled: Tales of the Shipbreaker’s Daughter. This RPG that the developers call a “Show-Don’t-Tell” story is inspired by the documentary “The Wire Nest.” This film is about people who live in the areas where ships are broken down piece by piece. It’s a harsh living environment, since where they live is not exactly safe, and they don’t get paid well. It feels more unique as a setting than just a typical fantasy setting. Now then, let us dive into this tale of heartbreak, family, and imagination; this is my Kickstarter Shout-out to Unraveled: Tales of the Shipbreaker’s Daughter.

The story is about a little girl whose family grew up in Mumbai’s Shipbreaking yard. This is where large rusting ships are broken down and salvaged for potentially good parts. It’s very unsafe, due to the risk of death and major injuries, and the air is toxic. The little girl goes on an adventure/quest to find her missing family. With her brother’s stuffed animal by her side, she journeys across the shipyard with hopes that her parents and brother are okay. First off, kudos to the developer for picking inspiration from a place like the ship breaker yards of Mumbai. It makes for a dangerous and atmospheric setting since the entire world around the little girl and her stuffed animal buddy is dangerous. Parts could break apart from rust and decay. Large metal pieces could fall on top of you, and hurt/kill you, which we see with an NPC in one part of the game. The little girl’s imagination also shifts the world around her to make things more whimsical and comforting. It’s a very good set-up, and the playable demo made me feel immersed in this depressing/dangerous world. Another note that is worth mentioning is that the game is completely silent and void of dialogue. I mean, there are one or two lines of spoken dialogue, but a lot of the game is going to be showing you what is going on with the story and characters with no dialogue. That is gutsy.

Unraveled is an RPG in the same vein of the classics that came out during the Super Nintendo and early PlayStation 1 era of gaming. It’s all sprite-based, and battles are turn-based. The big gimmick about the battle system is the calm and anger meter. Depending on what attacks you use, you will only be able to use moves from the anger side or the calm side of the meter. For example, you can use a calm move, like healing or magic, but each time you do, the marker on the meter will go down, and once you get into the anger part of the meter, you will need to use anger moves to move it back up to the calm part of the meter. You will also have side-objectives in terms of the stars at the top left of the screen. You will get these stars if you finish a battle with a certain amount of health, do it in a number of turns, and so on. A funny thing I noticed in the game was that there was very little grinding. It was basically fighting little mini-bosses and main bosses. You do level up, but it’s not major. Outside of battle, you will be traversing the area around you with some minor set-platforming, pole-climbing, and puzzle-solving. There is also this dollhouse section where you turn into these little people-inspired toys, and in a house-making simulator-style game, build up this little doll house. This will give you special perks that will help you become stronger in the main game.

Graphically, I like it. Sure, it looks like an RPG-Maker-style game, but I think it looks a lot better than most of those games that use RPG-Maker for the base game. Another high point of the game is the composer of the main theme. One of the composers is Dale North, who worked on Silent Horror and Dragon Fantasy Book II. However, the one composer that wrote the main theme and some of the other music is Hiroki Kikuta. If he doesn’t sound familiar, he has been a composer for games like Secret of Mana, Soul Calibur V, and Shining Hearts. You definitely have some very talented people behind the game.

I am going to get an interview with these developers, so be on the lookout for it. I think this is one of the most promising RPG Kickstarters around. As of right now, people are focusing on the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter, and the recently put up Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night kickstarter by famous designer, Koji Igarashi, but this is also a Kickstarter that deserves your time. Its funding goal is $15K, and as of May 14th, it’s at over $5K. If you want to check the game out in more detail, they have a rather lengthy 45 minute demo that covers the basics of the game. If you love RPGs, then this will be the game for you. Congrats Rose Portal Games! Unraveled gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

Kickstarter Shout-out: Yooka-Laylee

2015 has been an interesting year for Kickstarter. For example, we have had quite a few 3D platformers arrive on Kickstarter with an unfortunately inconsistent amount of success. These were Spooky Poo’s Happy Hell, Clive ‘n’ Wrench, and FreezeME. Sadly, Spooky Poo’s Happy Hell is the only one that has been successfully funded. It’s a bummer, but I have my guess to why some of them didn’t get funded. It was probably because of either bad first impressions, or there wasn’t enough shown to make the game look worthwhile to potential backers. However, I think one reason was because every single potential backer was waiting for the instant Kickstarter hit Yooka-Laylee. This isn’t just another 3D platformer inspired by the great classics of the 90s. This is made by those people who made those classic platformers. I am being serious. Playtonic Games, the developers behind Yooka-Laylee, are all from Rare. Not only that, but you also have the musical talents of the always fantastic David Wise and Grant Kirkhope. I know this game doesn’t technically need a shout-out since it was funded in 30 minutes, reached all of its stretch goals 8 hours later, and will probably go through more stretch goals as time goes on in its over-a-month-long funding date. However, I want to talk about it!

Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where you play as Yooka, a chameleon, and Laylee, a bat. If you have played games like Banjo Kazooie or, well, any platformers Rare made back in the Nintendo 64 era, then you should know what to expect. There are huge open levels, collectables to, um, collect, evil baddies to beat down, a huge boss, and challenges to get the best goodies in the level. Due to our main heroes being a chameleon and a bat, the developers plan on using certain unique moves due to what animal they are. For example, Yooka will be able to use his tongue like a grappling hook, and Laylee will be able to use her sonar. They didn’t really show any of these elements off besides a rolling move where Laylee uses Yooka like a rolling barrel to get through areas faster and to probably run over enemies. Apparently, the collectables you get will expand the world around you with even more challenges. Since it has crossed every stretch goal ever, there will be local co-op, a pre-final boss quiz show, 2-4 local multiplayer versus mode with unique game modes, and unexpected transformations. Boy, reading about this game having all of this on day one is rather exciting. It’s a lot of content for a platformer, and no sign of a season pass or DLC. Something some recent developers should learn from *coughs* Warner Bros. Interactive *coughs* Mortal Kombat X *coughs* Batman: Arkham Knight *coughs* Sorry, I had a rather nasty cough while writing this article.

Graphically, for game footage that was 3 months in development, it is really impressive. This is what every future Kickstarter game should look like in their pitch video; super polished, but with signs of a game being in development. Don’t just show everyone something that is in pre-alpha or nothing at all. That is a one-way ticket to not getting funded. The two music tracks they have on the Kickstarter page are excellent. The first one has all the quirky cartoony charm that Grant Kirkhope brings to his best music, and the challenge music from David Wise brings that whimsical fantasy feel you get from his compositions from games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. You also get the help from Steve Burke who has worked on a lot of Rare titles like Viva Piñata and Kameo: Elements of Power. Their musical contributions definitely make the soundtrack one of the most hyped elements of the game.

You know I am definitely going to have an interview with these incredibly amazing people! Be on the lookout for it. Of course I am super excited for this game! It has already reached its funding goal and stretch goals with no sweat. It has one more as of May 6th, 2015, but I know it will reach that goal as well. If you love 3D platformers, and miss the glory days of platformers, then you should definitely put down some money for the game! Congrats, Playtonic Games! Yooka-Laylee gets my official Kickstarter Shout-out!

(To support this Kickstarter, go to this link!)

Kickstarter Shout-out: Outland 17

In my many years of playing video games, the genres I seem to tackle the least, in terms of the games I own/play, are the tactical RPG games. If you need some examples of these types of games, you have Final Fantasy Tactics, XCOM, Valkyria Chronicles, and so on. These are turn-based strategy-style games where you control individual units to place them around the battlefield, and take out the other opposing force. In a majority of these types of games, you can also customize your soldiers to your play style. As is the usual challenge in making a game, making something that will stand out among the rest is a hefty feat. Whether it is more focus on story, more action-oriented combat, complex customization, or something new altogether, having a tactical RPG stand out will be a tough hurdle. This Kickstarter Shout-out will be for Grenade Tree Games’ Outland 17. Let’s jump into our revolutionary war uniforms and tackle this Kickstarter game!

The setting is basically the Revolutionary War combined with sci-fi elements. The world has become overpopulated, and space stations have been made to accommodate this problem. However, due to poor working conditions and what is basically a tyrannical rule over space and earth, it is up to you and a group of rebels to take down the oppressive rule and save the galaxy. I really love the whole sci-fi meets the Revolutionary War set-up. It isn’t just humans vs. aliens or cowboys vs. aliens. To me, this feels brand new and inviting.

If you have played games like XCOM, then you should be right at home with the gameplay of Outland 17. It is a turn-based tactical RPG where you control a group of five or so soldiers with different guns, weapons, and items as you march your way through the battlefield, taking down the evil redcoats. On the battlefield, you can move forward, backward, or hide behind cover. Each soldier has 10 move points that they can use to either move across the field, use a special ability, or attack. From what I could tell, there are no signs of permadeath. This means that if one of your characters falls in battle, he stays dead. I like that, since with the battle points and customization of the characters, I will already have enough to manage. Plus, the demo I played was challenging, but I only had one incident where I lost a teammate. That was mostly because I was stupid, but still.

Graphically, I like the art style. Once again, more developers need to start using more unique and varied art styles. Even other developers that I have talked to agreed that more varied art styles need to be implemented. Sure, the art style looks like something from Team Fortress 2, but that’s part of the charm. Once more, style over realism. The game’s soundtrack is a mixture of electronic and old American folk tunes. DS Wallace, the composer for the game, has some rather memorable tunes. Oh, and DS Wallace has worked on a lot of big movies including “Gravity” and “The Expendables 2.” You can go to ds-wallace.com to listen to some of his fantastic music.

For a first project on Kickstarter, Outland 17 is rather ambitious. Most devs would start with a simple platforming or puzzle game, but not these guys! They might have had experience in the past with working in the game industry, but for your first game to be a tactical RPG, it’s a rather bold first project. The game’s funding goal is $15K and they are currently over $2K. If you love tactical RPGs like XCOM or Final Fantasy Tactics, then this will be the project for you. Congrats Grenade Tree! Outland 17 gets my official Kickstarter shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)

Interview with Steamroller Studios, the people behind Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse

Like I promised, I got to talk to Steamroller Studios about their popular Kickstarter game, Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse. If you haven’t heard about this game, or haven’t seen my Kickstarter Shout-out article about it, go to deadwoodgame.com. It is basically a combination of Don’t Starve and The Legend of Zelda. As of writing this article and interview, the game is extremely close to reaching its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One stretch goals. Hopefully, they put a Wii U stretch goal in there as well. The answers were given by Adam Meyer, the lead game designer, and one question was answered by their animator, Jalil Sadool. Now then, let’s get started!

Cam’s Eye View: Where did the inspiration come from for Deadwood?

Adam Meyer: The whole idea of making a game about wooden zombies was actually a complete accident. When we started, we were simply developing a zombie game for mobile. Now keep in mind this was about 5 years ago, so the tech of the mobile market meant that we had to do fairly simple models. So, while drawing very squarish-looking zombies, Keith our technical supervisor pointed out to me that he thought one of my drawings looked like a wooden zombie. I of course took all the credit and told him that was on purpose and we haven’t looked back.

Cam’s Eye View: For me, Deadwood reminds me of something that Jim Henson would do/make during his big fantasy film phase because of the wooden characters and the art direction of game. Where did the art direction for the game come from?

Adam Meyer: Thanks, I take that as a huge compliment. 80’s animation and movies were big influences on us, including Henson’s Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. They were movies aimed at kids, but still had a darker tone to them. This is something we are aiming for as well. But inspiration comes from everywhere. We were also influenced by Iron Giant, Studio Ghibli, Zelda, Tim Burton, and the list goes on and on. I’d like to think that we have developed something that is more than the sum of its parts.

Cam’s Eye View: Was Deadwood originally meant to be this combination of Don’t Starve and The Legend of Zelda, or did this game start out as something entirely different altogether?

Adam Meyer: We didn’t set out for that. We simply started making the game we wanted to make. It was only recently that we had to start thinking about how we could explain the game to people in just one sentence. “Zelda meets Don’t Starve” is just the quickest way to get some to understand the gist of the game.

Cam’s Eye View: One element I found interesting was the fact that the main character holds a gun. What went into choosing what weapon the main character used? Were there other weapons before the gun was chosen?

Adam Meyer: We’re very early in development, and so the “Pea Shooter” gun you’re referencing is just the first of many types of weapons. Lathe will also wield other popular gun types such as a shotgun, but also other more original types such as the “Crank Saw” a hand-powered chainsaw. Or something like a “Termite Gun”. Our goal is to come up with a good amount of original weapon types that are fun to use.

Cam’s Eye View: Since this game leans heavily on making sure you choose the right items to use during the night sequences, what was the process of making sure the game was difficult in the right way, and not the way where players want to be like Roguard and smash their controllers in frustration?

Adam Meyer: Well, balancing the game is a big deal for us, and it’s something we’ll continue to tweak all the way to the end. Our goal is to make a game that has a difficulty that constantly scales up as you advance, but never feels like you’ve been cheated.

Cam’s Eye View: How much focus will be put on the story of Deadwood? Will it be a mix of focusing on the development between characters, and the lore of the world?

Adam Meyer: Story is HUGE for us, especially coming from our movie backgrounds. Our focus is on the main story which revolves around our two lead characters. There is an overarching plot to this “Forgotten Curse” mystery, but more importantly, it’s about the friendship that develops between these two unlikely companions. Having said that, the world we have developed is very rich with history and lore, and we hope people will be excited about exploring all the nooks and crannies.

Cam’s Eye View: How many other characters will the player be able to interact with, and will there be voice work in the game?

Adam Meyer: We’ll have a good amount of NPC’s in the game, with a few very special ones that have a big impact on the story. As far as voice work is concerned, we want our two leads’ friendship to develop passively as you play, and not just during the big story sequences. That means banter. Kind of like Left 4 Dead, you’ll get to know them as they talk through your adventures. Gameplay and story all at once! But the main story is advanced similar to classic RPG’s with text boxes. We’d love to have the whole thing voice acted but it’s not possible with such a small team.

Cam’s Eye View: Since you all have worked on some quite awesome animated movies (loved How to Train your Dragon 2), what goes into how the animation of each character will look like?

Adam Meyer: I’ll let our Creative Director and Animator Extraordinaire Jalil answer that one…

Jalil Sadool: A lot!!! The first thing we do is get to know and understand that character. We need to know how that character will react in as many situations as possible. We need to know how that character will react to other characters around him/her. That character development phase of animation can take months, and sometimes a character is only figured out after sequences have already been done - We would then only go back to the early sequences if we have time or if the budget allows for it. For a character like Toothless for example, we referenced a lot of cats and dogs ... We used the "best Friend" side of dogs for the interaction with Hiccup but then used cats as the main reference for battle sequences. On Deadwood, we really wanted Roguard to move almost like a child, like a jolly character that doesn't even know its own strength and powers. We really wanted to make sure he was lovable. For the 'Sprouts' we made sure to push more towards fun than vicious. We wanted the players to have a good laugh while trying to survive the nights - a philosophy we want to maintain while moving forward. Since we've already established an animation style, we can now "easily" fit in all the other characters' motions into our world.

Cam’s Eye View: Were there any mechanics that were going to be in the main game, but were cut because they didn’t fit?

Adam Meyer: There’re always things that end up on the cutting room floor. Originally we were planning on having different types of resources. So instead of one type of “rock” there would be 4 or 5 types that all had different strengths. But it was getting too complicated and so we opted for a more streamlined approach. But I’d never say these ideas get thrown away, just put away for a rainy day.

Cam’s Eye View: Besides finding newer crafting items/upgrades, what will help give Deadwood variety so that it won’t get/feel repetitive among gamers? Are there going to be puzzles or boss fights?

Adam Meyer: There will be a steady stream of new things we throw at you, including side quests with some very outside-the- box type puzzles, as well as a few boss battles. As we ramp up the difficulty, we’ll make sure you have the tools to handle it.

Cam’s Eye View: Will your giant pet rock Roguard gain any abilities as you traverse through the land? How are you going to make sure no one cynically labels him as one huge escort mission?

Adam Meyer: He does have a few special abilities that he gains throughout the game that will make him even more powerful. But as far as avoiding the escort thing, that’s something we’re making a very big priority. We’re constantly looking for new ways to have him help you during the day and not hinder. To start with, he’s invulnerable during the day so you don’t have to babysit him. So unlike the usual escort missions, you don’t need to protect him. He actually protects you.

Cam’s Eye View: One thing I really love about this game is the fact you all went for a 3D gaming experience. What went into the decision to make this a 3D game instead of going the route of 2D and pixel art?

Adam Meyer: We love 2D games, and honestly, it would have been easier to pull off the cartoony look we’re going for in 2D. But the scope of this world demanded a 3D game. Exploration is a big part of Deadwood, and that typically works much better in 3D.

Cam’s Eye View: Was there some concern about making a crafting/survival game when we are in a market of games where crafting/survival games are all over the place and are mostly of not-so-high quality (Early Access or not)?

Adam Meyer: I think what we’re doing is quite different than these other games. Most survival-type games put you all alone in the same area night after night. Death is inevitable. For us it’s all about advancing the story. Which means, every night is different because you’ll be in a new spot, and ultimately there is an end game. You can actually “win” which is something other survival games don’t usually allow. Plus, we hope that the quality of the game will help us stand out from the pack as well.

Cam’s Eye View: Since this is the second time you have launched the Kickstarter for Deadwood, what would you say didn’t work out the first time? Was it that when you released it, there was a big game release that happened? Was it because of another Kickstarter like Crowfall? Or was it something more political from the gaming/Kickstarter scene?

Adam Meyer: I can’t say for sure, but I think it was a collection of a few things. The biggest misstep we took the first time was launching the campaign and that same day driving up to Boston for Pax East. Which means, the first week we weren’t around to really push the campaign, and the first week is everything on Kickstarter. We also polished a few other things the second time around, such as making our pitch video more punchy, making rewards clearer and more enticing, as well as overhauling all our graphics on the main campaign page.

Cam’s Eye View: Was there any fear about launching the Kickstarter due to recent controversy of The Stomping Land, Godus, and CLANG?

Adam Meyer: Of course, I think that’s another thing that hurt us. Kickstarter has become a bit of a dirty word lately, and we found it very difficult to get any press because people don’t want to write about Kickstarter campaigns anymore. That’s why we worked hard towards making a good portion of the game first. It’s not just a concept, but a fully-fledged, in-production game with all the necessary staff in place to make it.

Cam’s Eye View: In the infamous Rock Paper Shotgun interview with Peter Molyneux, Molyneux said that he was told to always ask for less funding than what you actually need when you go on Kickstarter. I don’t really understand that, but what is your opinion of what to ask for in terms of funding for a Kickstarter project?

Adam Meyer: I can see both points of view. It definitely isn’t a good idea to promise a game to people without having a firm plan in place for full funding. But I don’t think it’s right to ask for the backers to take on all the risk of a project by asking them to fully fund it. For example, our campaign has a goal of 65k for which we’re thrilled to have passed already. But that is not the full amount needed to fund the production. The full amount is honestly not attainable by a smallish studio like ours without name recognition. So we’re using it as a way to get as much backing as we can, and then supplement the rest of the budget through a variety of other ways, including self-financing, investors, pre sales, merchandise, etc. The goal is to retain as much control on a game as possible, and that’s what’s great about Kickstarter. The less money we have to take from a publisher or investor, the more freedom we have. But as a studio, you have a responsibility to have a solid plan in place to get the game done with the resources you have, whether the funds come from Kickstarter or some other avenue. We have that plan.

Cam’s Eye View: With this looming opinion that there are more Kickstarter horror stories than successes (which I disagree with whole-heartedly), what would you personally think is the solution to make sure that the reputation becomes more positive in the future? What do you think caused this negative image for crowd-funding?

Adam Meyer: There’s no easy answer, but I think studios need to be more transparent about their needs and what they can actually deliver, and I think Kickstarter needs to make it more clear that there is always a certain risk involved, and that your money doesn’t guarantee everything runs like it should. Which stinks, but I think it’s mostly about having better communication. That would go a long way towards making expectations and reality meet up.

Cam’s Eye View: In terms of indie gaming and Kickstarter-funded indie games, are there any kinds of indie games you would like to see less of/more of?

Adam Meyer: I’m pretty happy with the diversity of indie games out there. As an artist I would personally like to see more stylized games that aren’t made with generic 3D graphics. I’m also a bit tired of the pixel style you see everywhere, but I certainly see its appeal.

Cam’s Eye View: If Deadwood becomes successful, are there plans on expanding the universe, in a style of Oddworld, where there are many stories within this world? Or would you rather work on something else, and then make a new game in the Deadwood universe?

Adam Meyer: Hopefully both, we certainly have plans in place to expand the world of Deadwood into future games. But we also have ideas for new IP’s that we’d like to work on. I like how Pixar does it, they have their franchises but that doesn’t stop them from creating new properties as well. It’s a very healthy way to run a business from both the financial side and the creative side.

Cam’s Eye View: In your personal opinion(s), what makes a video game Kickstarter appealing to you and the individual team members? What elements do you look for when you may be interested in donating some cash to a Kickstarter?

Adam Meyer: Just two things. A cool game idea, and the firepower to actually make it, Cam’s Eye View: Do you have any favorite Kickstarter-funded games that have been released that you love? What Kickstarter-funded games are you excited about that are coming out in the future?

Adam Meyer: One we’re really excited about is Obduction by Cyan. Myst was such a big influence on us and one of the games that inspired us to be game creators. One I personally am excited about is episode 2 of Broken Age. I know things have been a bit rocky with Kickstarter and Double Fine. But I love story-driven games like that with an awesome art style. Another big one is Jenny LeClue from fellow Florida developer Mografi.

Kickstarter Shout-out: Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse

In this day and age in gaming, everyone from big developers to the small indie developers is combining different genres to give you something interesting. It might not always work, but you often remember these titles a lot more than games that are painfully generic. For example, today’s Kickstarter combines the survival/crafting elements from games like Minecraft and the action adventure elements of The Legend of Zelda. So, if you love games like Don’t Starve, then you would be in love with this Kickstarter called Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse. This Kickstarter game is being developed by Steamroller Studios, a group of talented individuals that have experience working on both games and movies, like “How to Train Your Dragon 2,””The Hobbit,” Bioshock Infinite, “Avatar,” Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” in addition to working for companies like EA and Disney. Now then, how about we get started on this super charming-looking game?

The story of Deadwood is about a wooden being called Lathe, an avid inventor who lives in a town called Deadwood Pass. Lathe apparently finds out about some kind of apocalypse that will ruin Deadwood and the almighty tree of Deadwood Forest. Accompanied by his giant stone guardian named Roguard, Lathe goes off on an adventure to gather materials, and complete quests to save his town and the land. Lathe better beware though, once night comes, the curse of Deadwood comes to life, and you must survive the night with your giant pet rock. First off, I really like this setting. I think what I enjoy the most about it are the characters and location. The wood-looking puppet people really remind me of something made by Jim Henson during the 80s when they were on a huge fantasy fix with films like “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal.” It’s charming, but has a darker element underneath the bright colors and whimsical setting.

Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse is an isometric action-adventure game with survival/crafting elements. I mean, I said that two paragraphs ago. You will be in control of our wooden friend Lathe as he traverses the landscape looking for materials to craft items, like barricades, upgrade to your weapons, mines, turrets, and so on. You know how I said that Lathe and his pet rock need to be careful during the night-time? Well, while Roguard will help you out during the day, he falls asleep at night. During the night-time, the wooden zombies that you will encounter during the day will attack in hordes. Another element to keep track of is the strength of the items you craft. Stronger materials will, of course, make stronger items, but said materials are harder to find and will be consumed faster. You will need to be strategic in where you place your defenses, and what items you craft.

Like I said earlier in this article, I love the art style in this very Jim Henson-inspired art direction. It’s appealing to all ages, and that is something we should be looking to do more with graphics and art direction. Use different art styles. Don’t just try to make every game have super realistic graphics. Put some visual flair and personality into your game. The music is fantastic. It’s being composed by Luke Thomas. He gives the game’s soundtrack a mixture of, like I said before, a bit of Jim Henson-made fantasy film, a little Grant Kirkope, and a dash of ominous and imposing vibes. The sound design should also be rather excellent, since they have the talent of Andy Lackey. Andy has worked on games new and old like Left 4 Dead 2, Ori and the Blind Forest, Team Fortress 2, and the upcoming The Witness.

I have my concerns, but I will hopefully get them answered in an interview I will be having with the developers at Steamroller Studios. On a whole, I really like this game. It does a few things differently than what a majority of survival/crafting games are not doing. They have a more creative take on the genre, and actually have a story! The main funding goal is $65K, and they have stretch goals for a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version. They did get fully funded, but then ran into some technical issues and had to go back down to over $39K. However, by the time this article is up, you will probably see the game fully funded once more. If you love games like Don’t Starve, then Deadwood: The forgotten Curse is the one for you. Congrats to Steamroller Studios, Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse gets my Kickstarter Shout-out!

(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)