Like frenzied Renaissance-era patrons of the arts, videogame players (primarily of the PC and Mac variety) have spent the last few weeks descending on Kickstarter and shoving money into the hands, coat pockets and mouths of any game development teams they can find. Thanks to these modern-day Medici, a host of interesting, exciting and outright bizarre projects have already received the funding they need.
Now comes the hard part; waiting for all of these games to come to fruition. Here are just ten of the Kickstarter-backed projects that we feel will be well worth it.
Double Fine Adventure: While this title certainly wasn’t the first ever videogame to turn to Kickstarter for financial assistance, it was surely the one which popularised the concept in the minds of the general public. Tim Schafer’s Double Fine studio had the advantage of a distinguished development history (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Costume Quest and more) and access to guaranteed coverage from the videogame press. The result: $3.3 million USD in funding (rather more than the initial target of $400,000), and one point-and-click adventure title now in development. With Schafer and Ron Gilbert heading the Double Fine team, a new game on a par with classics like Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island or Grim Fandango doesn’t seem out of the question.
Wasteland 2: The original Wasteland was released in 1988, introducing players of that era to a post-apocalyptic RPG world where survival was paramount. Sounds kind of like Fallout, doesn’t it? In fact, the original Fallout started life as a Wasteland sequel, until Brian Fargo and Interplay realised they no longer owned the rights to that name. Now, after raising almost $3.0 million, Fargo (who’ll be joined on the project by former Interplay/Black Isle and current Obsidian employee Chris Avellone) will be returning to the 1980s pop-culture and Cold War fears of the Wasteland universe for a full sequel. For anyone who’s been missing the ‘old school’ RPG experience, Wasteland 2 should deliver just what you need.
Shadowrun Returns: While we’re on the subject of old school RPGs, how about a project that harks back to a pen & paper tabletop model? The Shadowrun RPG system and universe has been around for almost 25 years, squeezing together aspects of Cyberpunk and high fantasy in a way that somehow manages not to be ridiculous. Jordan Weisman, the creator of that universe, is leading this project, which (like Wasteland 2) should satisfy anyone craving a top-down RPG backed by a tried and tested system of pen & paper mechanics.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch: The Octodad series is so damn hip that it was matching its Kickstarter funding target long before every second post on videogame news sites was from a developer begging for public cash. Sure, the $24,000 it raised might seem modest in comparison with some of the higher profile games, but how many of those can claim that every single cent will be going towards a title where you control an Octopus disguised as a human father? Exactly. The original Octodad is available for free, and comes highly recommended. Assuming you enjoy pretending to be an Octopus who’s lying to his family, that is.
Grim Dawn: The action-RPG pickings are looking bountiful at the moment, with Diablo 3, Torchlight 2 and Path of Exile just around the corner. But what are all you loot-lovers going to do when you eventually tire of those titles in a few months or years time? You’ll need even more action-RPGs, of course; and Grim Dawn might just be the next dungeon-in-waiting for you. Based around a loose theme of Victoriana, this ‘spiritual successor’ to Titan Quest (development duo Crate Entertainment worked on that game) is promising randomised elements and significant quest choices to encourage repeat plays. $330,000 in funding means it’s going to happen.
The Banner Saga: Another project that smashed its funding aims (raising $620,000 more than the target of $100,000). The Banner Saga looks tremendous, but beyond its obvious visual appeal it’s also offering a narrative where dialogue choices matter and units clash in turn-based battles. Most promising of all, it’s based in a universe of low-fantasy Viking mythology. So prepare to do battle with a carefully animated giant wolf who wants to swallow the entire sun. Probably.
Republique: Republique only just made it, hitting its ambitious target of $500,000 with only a few hours to spare. Initially announced as an iOS only project, the funding really picked up when the developers confirmed that they’d be making a PC and Mac version too. The iOS-heavy focus of the project makes me a little nervous for the other platform releases, but with an idea as intriguing as this one it’s perhaps worth the risk. In Republique, players will guide protagonist Hope through the game by hijacking technological devices like cameras, doors, lights and elevators. It’s dubbed as “stealth survival”, where the ever-watchful ‘Big Brother’ technology is actually being helpful for a change.
Xenonauts: It’s not a bad time to be a fan of the original X-Com game (UFO: Enemy Unknown in Europe). Two sizeable developers (Firaxis and 2k Marin) are working on a strategy and FPS title respectively, while the independent studio Goldhawk Interactive seem closer than ever to getting their own take on the game ushered towards a full release. Xenonauts achieved its goal of $50,000 with a full month still to spare, showing just how keen people are to get a modern-day remake of X-Com on their hard drives. If you’ve ever enjoyed the work of Julian Gollop (though he’s not part of this project), this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Carmageddon Reincarnation: The only game in this list that hasn’t (at the time of writing) met its funding goal. That said, it’s practically halfway to the $400,000 target with 26 days to go. With that level of interest and the Carmageddon name to (ahem) drive it, only a fool would bet against this one going the distance. The team responsible for the original title are behind the wheel (… sorry), so it should be a body-bursting return for the pioneer of 3D pedestrianacide.
FTL: Faster Than Light: Part board game, part sci-fi inspired ship-to-ship combat management game, FTL is exactly the kind of thing the Kickstarter funding model was invented for. $200,000 raised from an initial target of $10,000 shows that it’s a title that grabbed the public interest, but one with a premise that would surely have passed the majority of traditional publishers by. Pitching this unusual project through traditional channels would probably have been futile, but going directly to the people has made it a reality. That’s the beauty of this new way of raising revenue, and the reason we’re probably going to see a whole lot more fascinating games seeking funding this way.