It’s been a good 18 months now since I backed my first Kickstarter project, “Make Leisure Suit Larry come again!". That campaign was a raging success, raising a sweet $150,000 more than was actually needed to get Leisure Suit Larry to come again. After long months of waiting and a few delays, the Kickstarter backers were finally able to enjoy the reloaded version of the first Leisure Suit Larry games when Larry came again in June, and Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded was released.
Even though the Kickstarter campaign was a success, the game saw mixed reviews in the video game press. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d thought I would, either, as I pointed out in my review. Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded was unfinished, unpolished and perhaps a childhood memory that had been best left as just that; a memory. But even if the resurrection of Larry Laffer felt a bit like a dud, I continued to support Kickstarter campaigns.
As of right now I’ve supported no less than 9 additional campaigns, and some of the looks really promising! Here’s a quick look at the ones that has seen the most progress since they were funded.
Planetary Annihilation - A Next Generation RTS
Planetary Annihilation was the second Kickstarter campaign I supported and is without doubt the one that blew the largest hole in my wallet: 165 USD. But for this small pile of money I did get a lot of goodies: Alpha and beta access, a limited in-game unit, a commemorative limited edition full size game box, a backer T-shirt and a digital art book showcasing the units and concept art from the game. I also got put my own personal touch on the game, by naming a planet. I’m a sucker for limited edition game boxes - if there’s a limited edition of your game, I’ll buy it.
In terms of progress, the developer, Uber Entertainment, has done quite well. I’ve tried the alpha and the beta versions of the game, and seen everything progress nicely. I’ve not been able to use as much time as I wanted, but I’m still really looking forward the the finished game - it’s been described as the spiritual successor to the classic RTS title Total Annihilation, and as it looks now, that is exactly what the finished game will be.
Uber Entertainment has done a truly excellent job when it comes to keeping in touch with their backers, and much of this has been done through semi-regular live streams, which can all be viewed over at Uber’s YouTube channel.
Limit Theory: An Infinite, Procedural Space Game
Planetary Annihilation might have had impressive progress from concept to a playable product, but it’s nothing compared to the progress shown by Josh Parnell, creator of Limit Theory. He is a one-man team and in about one year, he has created what looks to be a truly beautiful game.
I wrote a post about Limit Theory back in February, where I was a bit concerned what the game would actually turn into and if Josh would every be able to finish it. This is still a concern, but he is clearly making progress and is releasing monthly video updates that is a joy to watch. I recommend that you have a look at the most recent update below.
Even if Josh might never manages to release is game, or if it turns out to be a disappointment, I still think my 20 USD pledge was worth it. Josh is a very talented guy who has been able to develop his talent even further during the development of Limit Theory, and I’m positive we’ll enjoy other titles he’ll create in the future, either still going solo, or as part of a bigger team. Just imagine what this guy could do with EVE Online.
Predestination - A turn-based space 4X strategy game
Predestination was an interesting Kickstarter campaign. While Planetary Annihilation was created by a fairly big and well known developer, Uber Entertainment, Predestination was the brain child of a small, totally unknown developer; Brain and Nerd. They are located in Belfast and while Northern Ireland isn’t exactly renowned for its game studios, Brain and Nerd’s campaign was interesting enough to attract 1,195 backers and almost 50K USD. It’s not a huge lump of money, at least not compared to the $2,229,344 raised for Planetary Annihilation, but its almost twice the amount they originally needed to get Predestination off the ground.
And it as certainly made it off the ground. The progress seems to be steady, and while there isn’t exactly loads of frequent updates on their Kickstarter page, a little bit of information is trickling out every now and then. Their most recent update is about how planetary colonization will work in the game, descried in detail in the video below.
It’s pretty hard to come up with new ideas in strategy gaming these days, but I still feel that Brain and Nerd has managed to make it interesting. I’m certainly looking forward to try the game myself,
when if it’s ever finished.
GODUS was a game I backed in a heartbeat when I first saw it on Kickstarter. The studio behind the game, 22Cans, is run by Peter Molyneux, who can be described as no less than a game design genius. With games like Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Black & White and Theme Park on his resume, he is responsible for me wasting countless hours playing computer games when I grew up.
When the Kickstarter campaign started, 22Cans had nothing except a concept video and some drawings to show for, and it’s no doubt the name “Peter Molyneux” enabled them to raise over half a million pounds to start working on GODUS. I pledged 15 GBP and thought I would only get a copy of the finished game. Instead, I got beta access, which was nice, but somewhat of a disappointment. Yes, I know I shouldn’t put too much into a beta version of a game, but at that stage, most of the basic game mechanics should be fleshed out. While playing GODUS, I didn’t really get a sense of a goal or anything, and without a real goal, what’s the point of playing the game? But there’s a lot of Populous in GODUS and there’s a very good chance the finished game will feel very different compared to the beta.
22Cans has done a great job staying in touch with their backers, with frequent (and long) updates on their Kickstarter page. Like Uber Entertainment, they’ve also release a lot of videos on their YouTube channel.
Jon Shafer’s At the Gates
Jon Shafer is another designer who is looking to make a name for himself in the games industry. That he uses his own name in the game title will of course help gamers remember him, but that he was the lead designer on Civilization V should also pique the interest of many strategy gamers. Some would argue that the original version of Civilization V wasn’t very good and that it has only really turned into a proper Civilization game with the two expansions - which Shafer was not involved with - but I beg to differ. I though Civilization V was a great game.
This, combined with the fact that I follow Shafer’s The Game Design Round Table podcast, made me throw a little money at Jon Shafer’s At the Gates. Not a whole lot of money, though, only enough to get a copy of the finished game. When it comes to keeping in touch with his backers, Shafer has a lot to learn from 22Cans, Uber Entertainment and even Josh Parnell. Unless you pledged a lot of money, not a lot of information has surfaced since the game was funded, and the podcast is where I’ve managed to learn the most. But Shafer’s company, Conifer Games only has three employees, so it’s understandable that they would focus on developing the game instead of writing blog posts. Still, what has actually been released about the game is quite interesting, and here’s a video with 15 minutes worth of game play:
There’s a lot of good stuff in there, I especially like the idea that you start out as an underdog, that the seasons are changing and the fact that resources are actually limited. Jon Shafer’s At the Gates won’t be available for at least a year, but when it is eventually released, I’m sure I’ll waste at least as many our with that game as I did with Civilization V.