Kickstarter’s smaller successes
With so many big names turning to Kickstarter to fund their projects, it's little wonder that the majority of press attention has fallen on the high-profile sequels and reboots that have filled the site. Tim Schafer's Double Fine Adventure, former Halo developer Ryan Hayton's Republique, Al Lowe's remake of the first Leisure Suit Larry, Brian Fargo's Wasteland sequel and Stainless Games' Carmageddon: Reincarnation - the list continues to grow.
It's exciting to see so many cherished series (and even genres) getting a shot in the arm, but what of the smaller projects without big names attached to draw funding? Here we pick out ten games that have found success on Kickstarter which might have flown under your radar.
$10,395 pledged of $10,000 goal
Mars Frontier is a HTML5-based RTS that aims to bring Starcraft-style mouse and keyboard controls to Facebook. You can already play the Beta version here. The game cleared its $10,000 goal by just $395 with only 29 backers. Interestingly, just four of those backers, each pledging $2500, raised the target amount alone, all four getting to help design a boss as reward.
$43,196 pledged of $10,000 goal
An RPG that celebrates the genre’s roots, Echoes Of Eternia is a beautiful, hand-drawn adventure with an active turn-based battle system. The game’s developers aren’t afraid to build on their 16bit-style foundations, though, and have done away with random encounters and added full voice-acting for the game’s cutscenes. The developer’s nostalgia is clearly shared, as the project attracted more than four times its original funding goal.
$49,574 pledged of $8,000 goal
A Metroidvania side-scroller for the PC, Valdis Story casts the player as an explorer charting the ruins of an ancient holy city. Combat includes both one-on-one sword-play and long range sorcery, while a deep skill tree allows for character customisation. Like Echoes Of Eternia, Valdis Story attracted significantly more funding than originally requested – over six times that amount, in fact.
$8,628 pledged of $6,000 goal
Created by Leo Dasso, an illustration student currently studying for his BFA, College-Ruled Universe is an old-school side-scrolling shooter built from Dasso’s distinctive, animalistic illustrations. The game’s look has something of classic shooter Blood Money’s bio-horror about it, along with mid-90’s Psygnosis box art. It’s not just about shooting, though, as there’s also an exploration aspect allowing players to land on and search planets for parts to upgrade their ships.
$2,213 pledged of $500 goal
Trip is an abstract firstperson exploration game along the lines of Myst, though Axel Shokk’s game makes use of a far more lurid palette. In his video on the game’s Kickstarter page, Shokk describes Trip as an experimental experience focused on observation. He only asked for $500, but the project’s 109 backers delivered $2,213 instead, showing that Kickstarter can support more than just traditional game concepts.
$2,336 pledged of $1,500 goal
Talking of moving away from the traditional, Doodle Defence drags the oversubscribed tower defence genre out of the screen and onto a physical white board. With the game projected onto the board, players use different coloured markers to draw in their towers – each colour denoting a different ability – while invaders negotiate the ever-changing playing field and attempt to reach the other side. The game uses Microsoft’s Kinect sensor to recognise the board, so together with the cost of the projector, this might just be the most expensive to play tower defence game in history.
$170,954 pledged of $100,000 goal
$8,416 pledged of $6,500 goal
Against The Wall, the game’s designer Michael P. Consoli explains, takes its inspiration from Ico, Portal and Minecraft. Set in a surreal world that takes the shape of an infinite vertical surface, players must attempt to return to their village – located miles above their starting point. In order to do this, you need to make use of a special tool that allows you to pull bricks out of the wall to create ledges and stairways. Along the way, there are abandoned settlements and castles to explore, complex machines to negotiate and dangerous creatures that will attempt to bring your journey to an abrupt end.
$36,967 pledged of $20,000 goal
Headed to Android and iOS, Star Command takes Kairosoft's iOS delight Game Dev Story out into the vacuum of space, allowing you to build a ship, manage your crew and, ultimately, explore the universe. You can design your ships around your own particular playstyle, aggressive players building powerful warships and those of a more diplomatic bent winning over visiting emissaries with entertainment areas. And, of course, you can expand your crew as you progress, even engaging in exchanges with alien races – though whether they have to give consent isn’t specified.
$14,580 pledged of $10,000 goal
Born at last year’s Global Game Jam, Blink is a firstperson adventure with platforming and puzzle-solving elements. The game revolves around a mechanic which allows you to move between two different perceptions of the world by left or right-clicking the mouse, with staircases, doorways and even floors phasing in and out as you switch between the two. Built using UDK, the game was inspired by the medical phenomenon of visual extinction, where patients may choose to ignore one of two simultaneously presented objects even if they’re able to identify both individually.