Kickstarter has become an extremely prevalent way for many people, including video game developers, to allow their core fan base to fund their interests. Since its launch in mid-2009, more than 3000 video games have attempted funding through the crowdsourcing model. This past year we have seen rise to many innovative and intriguing projects, from indie and AAA-offshoot developers alike. Take a look at a few of the highest-grossing projects of 2013:
1. Torment: Tides of Numenera – $4,188,927 ($900,000 goal)
Funded: April 5
Developer inXile (of The Bard’s Tale fame) has been funded to create a single-player, story-driven RPG set in the world of the science fantasy tabletop game, Numenera. Torment takes place approximately 1 billion years in Earth’s future, in the ninth age of civilization (8 civilizations have risen and fallen prior to the game). This “Ninth World” has a pervasive medieval feel to it, and artifacts from the previous ages, known as numenera, represent the remains of science and technology. As the former vessel (or Castoff) of an ancient consciousness, you must explore the Ninth World and find the consciousness’ new vessel to avoid destruction by the game’s antagonist, the Angel of Entropy. The developers intend to bring a rich story through Torment’s “Four Pillars:”
- Deep, Thematically Satisfying Story
- A World Unlike Any Other
- A Rich, Personal Narrative
- Reactivity, Choice, and Real Consequences
Torment is currently the highest-funded video game on Kickstarter, beating out 2012’s Pillars of Eternity. It will be distributed DRM-free for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and is targeted for release in 2015.
2. Mighty No. 9 – $3,845,170 ($900,000 goal)
Funded: October 1
Combining classic 8-bit and 16-bit classic style side-scrollers and adding new mechanics brings us Mighty No. 9 from Japanese developer Inti Creates, Co. The ex-Capcom group has been around since the mid-90s and gave us the Mega Man Zero series, so they probably know what they’re doing here. In the game, you play as the 9th and last robot – named Beck – produced in a line of very powerful robots. Unfortunately, a computer virus has caused your predecessors to go berserk, and so you’ll have to make your way through obstacles and take them each down. Like previous Mega Man games, you will be able to run, jump, and blast your way through enemies using the abilities you steal from your enemies. Rather than powering up a blaster, these weapons allow you to transform Beck into new shapes, giving you all kinds of new skills and abilities.
Mighty No. 9 was initially intended for release only on Windows through Steam, but through stretch goals it’s now planned to be released on Mac and Linux, as well as all current- and last-gen systems (with the exception of the Wii), and even the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS! The game is planned for release in 2015.
3. HEX: Shards of Fate – $2,278,255 ($300,000 goal)
Funded: June 7
Genre: MMOTCG (Free-to-Play)
Cryptozoic Entertainment’s HEX is the very first attempt at merging a TCG together with themes from MMORPGs. Cryptozoic is best known for their board games such as The Walking Dead and Big Bang Theory, and they even have worked with Jerry Holkins from Penny Arcade to produce a comic titled The Lookouts. This is, however, their first foray into video game development. With that being said though, the developer clearly has a passion for making this the best possible game they can as the prime game for this genre, as you can see in the video below. The animations for the TCG look slick and intuitive, and with more than 350 cards in the first set alone, you will have plenty of opportunities to build and customize a deck that fits you.
In terms of RPG, Cryptozoic wants to give that sense of community that you see in MMO games like WoW, such as quests, guilds, as well as PvE and PvP games. The most intriguing combination of these two genres comes from the ability to upgrade your cards with “equipment.” Each card comes with sockets to give them abilities and equipment so you can supercharge your cards during play. It will definitely be interesting to see the different combinations you can come up with to min/max the decks. HEX already started testing its first alpha build earlier in October, so here’s to hoping we will see it out soon next year! The game will be available for both Windows and Mac users.
4. Camelot Unchained – $2,232,933 ($2,000,000 goal)
Funded: May 2
Planned for: Windows
Target Release Date: December 2015
Camelot Unchained is City State Entertainment’s freshman entry into video games. The developers have taken inspiration from the worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, and H. R. Giger to bring us this realm vs. realm (RvR)-focused MMORPG. The game sets players in a futuristic Earth, where fantasy mixes with horror thanks to the terrifying changes brought on by the VeilStorms. This particular MMO requires players of different skills to work together in order to survive the nightmarish monsters roaming the land, lest you fall prey to them and become one of these monsters yourself!
The game will take place over three realms: Camelot, the Vikings, and the Tuatha de Danann realms, with each server you join being one of these realms. In each realm you will gain experience through fighting other players, completing quests, and crafting objects. You will have the opportunity to extensively customize not only your player, but the structures you build too, and you can even keep blueprints to rent or sell so that others can make buildings that you have created. One of the really cool things about this game is that the developers have produced an engine that they claim will allow for battles of up to 500 players without sacrificing frame rate or effect quality. If they can achieve that without everything being a chaotic trainwreck of bodies, then that will really be an incredible feat. Camelot Unchained will be subscription-based, and is slated for a Windows release sometime around December 2015, but if you’re interested definitely keep an eye on their website for more information as it comes out!
5. Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues – $1,919,275 ($1,000,000 goal)
Funded: April 7
Genre: Fantasy RPG
Planned for: Windows, Mac, Linux
Target Release Date: October 2014 (1st Episode)
Developer Portalarium, Inc. brings us this spiritual successor to the Ultima Franchise. Although SotA is their first major release (only being preceded by an online poker game), the developer has game designer and programmer Richard Garriott (aka Lord British) of Ultima fame at the helm. As yet another RPG to be funded, SotA will have all of the elements we have come to expect and love in the genre, including rich, integrated storylines where choices have consequences, combat and non-combat skills, and even housing and crafting mechanics. The game has no classes, rather the skill trees will be built around a classless system so that you can shape your character into exactly what you want him or her to be, further immersing you into the role playing aspects of the RPG. You will have the chance to play a 40+-hour solo, story-driven campaign alongside three different types of multiplayer action, giving player much to choose from. As your character, you will have many different choices of gameplay, including exploration, adventuring, or you can even play as a settler and protector of a homestead. The game lets you choose your actions, face the consequences, and take on the many opportunities and challenges posed, allowing for what appears to be nearly-unlimited replay value. Forsaken Virtues will be the first of five stand-alone, full-length episodes, and is slated for release in October 2014 for Windows, Mac and Linux users.
While not the highest grossing, these are some games that are extremely appealing, and I personally think have the potential to make big waves in the gaming community once they come out:
Obduction – The creators of Myst and Riven are back with an exciting new first-person puzzle adventure game. After 20 years since the launch of Myst, take a brand new journey in a beautiful brand new world and challenge yourself to fresh and exciting puzzles.
The Mandate – As the leader of a starship crew, you must traverse the galaxy to quell rebel uprisings against the Tsars and their Mandate. Adapt to challenges and battles alongside with your crew. Suffer with them as you lose comrades and peers. As their leader you must interact with your crew: celebrate their victories, punish their insubordinations, all while utilizing them to restore the Mandate to the galaxy.
Redwall: The Warrior Reborn – Taking place in the universe set in the best-selling fantasy books by Brian Jacques, you can now take an interactive journey through the halls of Redwall in this adventure game. Play as mice, squirrels, or even badgers to explore the abbey, solve its puzzles, and defend your home from those wanting to invade it.
Altogether, this has really been a good year for video game projects on Kickstarter. Hopefully this is a good trend, and we will see really good, unique games coming out that will take fan input into account to make the best game they can. They don’t necessarily have to be huge and over-the-top in production values, either, as many of the funded games got away with much less than these guys. Here’s looking to 2014 for even more games to gawk over!