Friday, June 7, 2013

Kickstart: Lost Moon Men and Marines in Training

Kickstart Your Weekend: A series in which I occasionally spotlight Kickstarter projects that are ending soon and deserve a little nerd love. Also, I'll highlight some past projects as well, as you never know when these enterprises are going to turn up again.

Tonight I'm plodding along, continuing the blog sprint and vaguely entertaining the idea of keeping it going until post number 150. That's not terribly likely, as my wife is going to evict her 9-month old parasite any day now, but there is a chance I'll be able to keep the momentum going even then.

Speaking of momentum, Deadzone ended up pulling in a grand total of $1,216,482 in pledges this past week. That's nearly 300 grand more than Mantic Games' previous best Kickstarter campaign, and a full 100 grand more than I was predicting they'd pull in. Their final hours pulled in several hard plastic sets for backers to add-on to their pledges, and that probably really helped boost the final results of the campaign. Most Mantic models are resin or a trending new resin-plastic mix. As a model material, resin holds small details sharply and cleanly, but resin can be more difficult to glue and harder to convert due to being a bit more brittle and prone to cleavage. (Not that kind, silly mammal.) By offering a few optional sets of plastic models for the game's core units, Mantic gives players a chance to have more ambitious control in constructing their models. And if there's one thing wargaming armchair generals love--it's ambitious control. That and smack-talking their opponents.

Ryan Sohmer's second children's book, The Bear--A First Time Parent's Continuing Journey finished at a healthy $54,381 out of an original goal of $40,000. It doesn't compare to the success of the first campaign, but I can't fault anything with the second book on that score. I think the more muted success of book two speaks to how cogent and complete the first book was--there's simply not as much demand for something more. Still, the art for these books is beautiful, and I received my book from the first campaign promptly and in great condition, and you can't beat the wry observations and tear-jerk imagery of each and every page. Total dad-bait.

Dino-hunting survival game The Stomping Land ended at $114,060 blowing their 20 grand goal out of the water and securing extra funds for hiring extra part-time designers to expand the game environment. I was on the fence on pledging to this one--the gameplay really excited me, but I was kind of hoping for them to show more interest in Mac support as well as PC. As it is, though, I'm sure I'll get it sometime next year to play on my Star Citizen gaming PC--sitting in my high-tech simpit while running a caveman avatar around in a loincloth. Anachronism, your name is me.

The superhero-vs-mastermind board game Guardians Chronicles is poised to break 60 grand tonight, with a little over a week to go in their campaign. They slowed down a lot in the middle of the campaign, perhaps more so than is usual, but with the fact that they're picking up steam and about to unlock a dice stretch goal, I still think their ultimate stretch goal of $100,000 is within reach. More importantly, until June 13 they have a trivia-based game giveaway contest in which the grand prize is a complimentary $160 pledge level for the Kickstarter campaign. Check that out here. They've also posted full rules for the game and enough art that you can play a small demo of the game with your own miniatures/markers/old Tic-Tac cases as proxies for their characters.

Okay, so that's it for Kickstarter updates. So what's new this week? Well, not a whole lot. So today I'll share another two promising-but-failed Kickstart projects.

Shackleton Crater

What it is: Shackleton Crater wanted to be a near-future strategy computer game where players struggled to manage and create the first colonies on the moon's surface. No cover system, no alien invaders, and no secret uprising. A strategy game without violence, where survival and thriving would be challenging enough to keep players entertained. Building pre-fab modules inspired by real NASA concepts and designs, players would scour the moon's rugged surface for materials, conduct research, and hide from cosmic storms and the like. The game environment was based on the actual surface of the moon, and one of their listed stretch goals proposed that the game feature the entire frakkin' surface of the moon. That's a lot of solitary playground, yo.

What happened: I enjoy a good dose of violence in my entertainment. Most zombie games make me giggle rather than cringe at face-smashing finishing moves and the obligatory chomp-chomp-chomp deaths of helpless characters. But I also enjoy a harmonious game, too, where excellence doesn't have to come at the end of a gun or at someone else's expense. Challenge can go hand in hand with a relaxing experience. And I think that's what appealed to me about Shackleton Crater--I envisioned a game that was smart and well-balanced enough to provide a challenging experience, but while also being totally wholesome. And I suppose it's that last part that made it a tough sell. The game community as a collective doesn't want another Oregon Trail--not unless you make the final stretch of the journey a cannibalism simulator or you give players the option to raid trading outposts instead of, y'know, trading. About halfway through their campaign and at less than ten percent of their base funding goal, creators Joe Got Game cancelled the project, promising that they'd keep moving forward with development. Unfortunately, no news has surfaced for the past two months.

Interstellar Marines

What it is: Interstellar Marines has been in indie development hell for years. A science-fiction first person shooter being developed by Zero Point Software, they apparently started out with a mainstream publisher and partners but got cut off as their realistic, visceral approach to their setting seemed not enough Halo or Call of Duty. Since then, however, they've ingeniously switched their game code over to the versatile and inexpensive Unity Engine, which has allowed them to do something really neat for their game by making portions of the game playable on their website through your browser. It's a fun teaser of what they have envisioned, and it also enables the developers to actively troubleshoot and play balance their game one feature at a time.

What happened: The project had a decent start but quickly slowed down. It crawled along, and I think a lot of potential backers (myself included) were a little gun-shy to jump into such an ambitious game being developed for so long. All gamers have been collectively Duke Nukem Forever'd, and we're all scared of it happening again. But the game itself looks great, and I love that the premise for the prologue to their series was going to put players in the middle of a series of harrowing wargames as futuristic soldiers prepare for first contact with alien species. Which is pretty much never good. Their Kickstarter video was great too--it started off with a droll speech about the first interstellar beacon test, and then cut to the developers talking about their game in a sort of 12 Monkeys stream of hallucinations. Doesn't make sense? Well, it was funny anyways.

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