Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Greetings, indie RPG enthusiasts, and welcome to another wonderful week of supporting RPGs developed by big-hearted, small-staffed teams! I’ve done a bit of peeking around on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and it looks like there are some new, interesting projects on the horizon. For your edification:

  • Chasm — this is “a 2D Fantasy ARPG Platformer featuring procedurally generated Metroid-like dungeons.” The word for this, ladies and gents, is “Metroidvania.” But the procedural generation bit is certainly new. As it happens, this particular Metroidvania looks rather spiffy, and it has demos for Windows/Mac/Linux. It’s raised a big old chunk of money so far, though it remains about $27,000 short of its goal. Kicktraq is optimistic.
  • Ghost of a Tale — a 3D action RPG with anthropomorphic animals, inspired by Zelda, Ico, Gothic, “Disney’s ‘Robin Hood‘, the fables of La Fontaine, ‘Redwall‘, ‘Winnie the Pooh‘, ‘The Secret of Nimh‘, ‘The Dark Crystal‘, the paintings of Alan Lee, John Howe, Paul Bonner, John Bauer, and many, many others…” It looks lovely, but it’s less than halfway funded with 13 days left on the clock.
  • King Voxel — a 3D voxel-based Zelda-alike (previously covered here) with a new procedurally generated world / quest each time you start a new game. I actually think this game looks quite promising, but it has somehow attracted $0 in funding over the past 16 days. Someone needs to get on the proverbial ball with marketing this thing. 68 days remain.
  • Lex Laser Saves The Galaxy, Again — a 2D “tactical puzzle RPG designed for busy people.” Lex Laser may save the galaxy, but who will save Lex Laser? This game has upwards of $52,000 left to raise out of its $65,000 funding goal, and 9 days to do it.
  • Old Legend — a 3D first-person dungeon delver. If there’s anything else to this game, the campaign page doesn’t mention it. 57 days left on this one.
  • Paradigm Shift — a 2D jRPG. On the plus side, it has only $954 to go in the next 2 days! On the minus side, its base funding goal is $1,000.
  • Remnants of Twilight — a jRPG that wants to transition from being 2D in RPG Maker to 2.5D in a nicer engine. There’s no pitch video, only a profoundly hideous title screen, but the game’s concept art and sprite work look really nice.
  • Wranglers — a sci-fi / Wild West Pokemon clone. No, really. It’s currently struggling a bit, which I chalk up to the fact that it has no pitch video or gameplay footage. “Conceptually complete” is not synonymous with “ready for Kickstarter,” unfortunately.

As for those other games mentioned in our last round-up…

Telepath Tactics and Caravaneer 2 alone made their funding goals. Pixelry Champions, Lords of New York, The Enraged and Bloom: Memories all fell in fundraising battle. (I’m a little disappointed that Bloom: Memories didn’t make it, frankly–momentum seemed to be on their side heading into the campaign’s final days.)

I hinted in our last Back to Back that I would have some thoughts about what caused these campaigns to fail. Most of these fell afoul of one or more of my “12 easy steps”:

  • Bloom: Memories had nice artwork and some cool ideas, but the gameplay footage showcased some truly sluggish character movement and a single, slow-firing ability: not the sort of thing that will convince people your game feels good to play (step 1). I suspect that they also asked for a bit too much money, given that only one person on their team had any prior development experience (step 7).
  • Lords of New York didn’t have core systems coded: specifically, the poker-based combat and point-and-click adventuring that were to make up the core of the game (step 1). Because of this, they didn’t have adequate gameplay footage (step 2). Beyond all of this, they simply asked for too much money (step 7).
  • The Enraged had a demo, which was good, except that the demo lacked core features such as combat cut scenes and multiple characters under the player’s control (step 1). The developers learned as they went on this one, massively improving their (initially disastrous) pitch video and eventually offering an expense breakdown, but the first few days of fundraising are crucial; it hurt them that they had this only midway through. Even with the improvements, their demo was made in RPG Maker, and they buried the fact that they wanted the finished game to run in Unity in the FAQ at the bottom of the page.
  • Pixelry Champions spent a minute and a half in its pitch video before it showed any gameplay whatsoever (step 2). Additionally, this campaign suffered from poor messaging and page organization. Up at the top of its campaign page, the developer included a screencap of another page which announced (and I quote) “development of this game has ceased.” Once you scrolled 4 page lengths down, there was another section which indicated that a game called Pixelry was already released and on sale, then pulled from sale so the developer could run a Kickstarter and release it again with extra stuff under the name Pixelry Champions. Except that the Kickstarter page name says Pixelry, not Pixelry Champions. Then, on top of all this, the game’s actual description is scattered without rhyme or reason amidst a jumble of promotional quotes and screenshots, making it a challenge just to find out what the game is about. Not good.

Here’s hoping that the developers can learn from their mistakes and try again. As I mentioned Monday, screwing up a Kickstarter campaign can actually be a great way to set yourself up for a successful Kickstarter campaign.

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