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The Kickstarter Compendium

Our regularly revised feature keeps you up to date on the Kickstarter games worth watching, and helps you track projects both before and after they’re funded.

Welcome to the Kickstarter Compendium, a gathering of games and game-related projects that we’ve come across that deserve your attention. The crowd-funding model for video games has resulted in some fascinating new game ideas, and new projects are going up on a weekly basis that deserve your attention. 

The only problem is keeping track of it all – what’s worth watching, and what are these different projects about? As an ongoing feature, our Kickstarter Compendium is your guide to games seeking funding through Kickstarter. After funding projects are complete, this feature will also track what games (and game-related projects) got funded and which ones didn’t – and, where possible, offer links to the projects as they are developed. 

[Editor's Note: This feature was co-written by Jon Gregory, Elise Favis, Matthew Stolpe, Jason Dafnis, Wayne Stainrook, Cameron Koch, Isaac Federspiel, Katie Seville, Liz Lanier, Kayla Herrera, Ali Rapp, Mike Mahardy, and Matt Miller.]

Projects Seeking Funding

Albert & Otto
Developer: Nikola Kostic
Fundraising Goal: $15,000
Funds Due By: March 25, 2015

At first glance, Albert & Otto looks like another 2D puzzle platformer in the vein of Limbo, but a little time watching the game in action reveals that it’s something a bit different at its core. The most obvious shakeup is the visual style, which while appearing to be 2D subtly shows to be 3D through animated sequences. Main character Otto is also not alone or defenseless. At his side is a gun that allows him to fight back, and an unassuming little stuffed rabbit that he uses to help solve puzzles. Otto also has some magical capabilities at his disposal, allowing him to levitate objects in a manner similar to the wizard from Trine. Following the kidnapping of his friend, Otto must set out on a dangerous adventure to find her and bring her back.

Developer: Made With Monster Love
Fundraising Goal: £25,000
Funds Due By: March 26, 2015

Cadence is a rhythm game with ambitions of being more than just a challenge. Like Fract OSC, Cadence aims to let players create as well as solve puzzles, but with the added benefit of being less overwhelming than Phosfiend Systems’ first-person music game. In Cadence, players arrange notes in a field, with the distance between the notes as they chose to connect them determining the frequency at which they are played. The ultimate goal in the puzzle side of the game is to create loops that run endlessly. Creating a loop isn’t as simple as just making a big closed circuit. Different notes react differently when the beat reaches them; some send out pulses in all directions, one direction, only if struck by two sources at once, and so forth. Beats that meet in the middle of a connection fail, and force players to fix their mistake to keep the loop flowing. Getting everything working right can be quite complex, and the game eventually expands into managing multiple instrument loops at once.

Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse
Developer: Steamroller Studios
Fundraising Goal: $65,000
Funds Due By: April 7, 2015

Deadwood: The Forgotten Curse is one of those games that pulls from enough disparate ideas that you wonder how no one seemed to fit any of them together before. Equal parts twin-stick shooter, wave-based survival, and tower defense, Deadwood adds some much needed charm to each genre along with an interesting central hook. During the daytime in Deadwood, players are protected by their magical stone golem Roguard. The towering rock monster lumbers along behind main character Lathe, allowing him to safely explore the world for resources. When night falls, however, Roguard settles down to sleep and Lathe must keep him safe from the Deadwood, a horde of wooden zombies. Backing up Deadwood is a team with impressive backgrounds, including time at animation studios Weta and Dreamworks, and game projects like BioShock. 

Descent: Underground
Developer: Descendent Studios
Fundraising Goal: $600,000
Funds Due By: April 10, 2015

Kickstarter is a haven for revamping long-abandoned franchises, and Descent: Underground is just one of the latest cult classics to look for a new lease on life via crowdfunding. The original Descent released on PC in 1995, arguably too early for its “six degrees of freedom” space flight – and right in the middle of the console market’s rise to power. Inputs weren’t as accurate as they are now, and the flashy console wars stole the PC platform’s thunder. However, recent years have seen a big resurgence in spacefaring games like Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. Enter Descent: Underground, a multiplayer focused ship game with a voxel environment that can be destroyed over the course of a game. If funded, Descent: Underground will also be one of the few games using Unreal Engine 4, and the engine shines in the enclosed spaces of the map Descendent Studios has shown off. Keep a doggy bag handy if you’re thinking about backing Descent, though, you might need it when the release date rolls around.

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander
Developer: Massive Damage, Inc.
Fundraising Goal: $40,000
Funds Due By: April 9, 2015

Halcyon 6 may have a rather modest Kickstarter goal attached to it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an ambitious game. The strategy roguelike puts players in control of a massive space station that is also the last hope for humanity. It combines a bunch of elements from some of the video game world’s most challenging games into a world inspired by classic science fiction universes like Star Trek and Star Wars.

Players’ biggest hurdle will be the brutal turn-based combat, both in space and on the ground. Backing up the fight against an overwhelming alien force, is the need to manage the Halcyon 6 space station in a manner similar to XCOM’s home base. Developer Massive Damage, Inc. has also promised a crew of characters full of personality, and that their personality will impact how the characters perform in certain situations. Topping off everything are gorgeous pixel art aliens and outer space vistas.

Developer: Jackbox Games
Fundraising Goal: $15,000
Funds Due By: April 13, 2015

The team at Jackbox Games has been making the wildly popular You Don’t Know Jack series of trivia games for years, but they hit a massive homerun last year with the release of the Jackbox Party Pack. The quirky collection of games, particularly new creations Fibbage and Drawful, were an instant hit. The games also became a go-to option for streamers on Twitch who were searching for a way to get their audiences involved in the show. Quiplash is partially a response to the Twitch community, while also being a simple and brilliant idea for a party game. Two players are given a prompt to submit answers on their phones, and those answers are then judged by as many people as the players can coordinate – whether that’s a stream full of fans or a room full of friends. 

Seven Dragon Saga
Developer: Tactical Simulations Interactive
Fundraising Goal: $450,000
Funds Due By: April 13, 2015

It’s been a long time since a game was released under the Strategic Simulations, Inc. name. Purchased by Ubisoft in 2001 after more than two decades and 100 games, the brand was ultimately retired as Ubisoft expanded. There was a time when SSI and its Gold Box engine RPGs were a force to be reckoned with, and that’s exactly the time a group of veterans from the studio are hoping to recapture. Seven Dragon Saga is the first game from Tactical Simulations Interactive and, though it shares more in common with Baldur’s Gate than its Gold Box precursors, it’s an old school tactical RPG through and through. Players build a six character party and guide them through turn-based battles in classic fantasy settings. TSI promises a massive world and interesting conflict to pair with battling skeletons and dragons.

Developer: Wolf Brew Games
Fundraising Goal: $12,000
Funds Due By: March 27, 2015

Slain is a tribute to the brutally difficult, and just plain brutal [link back to Fava versus Ninja Gaiden], side-scrolling action games of yesteryear. The game wears its Castlevania [Symphony of the night replay link back] inspirations most obviously, as players dodge bats and battle massive skeletons in the ominous castle setting. If you enjoyed Volgaar The Viking, then Slain’s gameplay is right up your alley. Fans of retro aesthetics are also likely to be drawn in by the game’s gorgeous pixelart graphics. The pixel aesthetic is often overdone or poorly executed in other projects, but Slain’s world is so well animated and richly detailed that it doesn’t seem like an excuse for the developer to skimp on presentation costs.

Spectrum: An Elegy for Piano
Developer: Rienzi Gokea
Fundraising Goal: $30,000
Funds Due By: April 12, 2015

Few games play around with real-world conditions in interesting ways, especially when they aren’t associated with something physically or mentally dramatic. Spectrum, however, tackles a very real condition called synesthesia. While synesthesia can manifest in many different forms, Spectrum’s main character Timothy hears music as color. The resulting game is a mix of puzzle and adventure mechanics, based around colors and sounds. When Timothy’s mother, a talented pianist, passes away, his father begins neglecting the family-run concert hall. After a time, the music Timothy loved fades, as does the color of the world around him; and players must guide the young boy on a journey to restore them. As players return colors to the world, the game’s music becomes more complex, as opposed to the simple scales and chords of the previously dull environments.

Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove
Developer: Humanature Studios
Fundraising Goal: $400,000
Funds Due By: March 27, 2015

Toejam and Earl has always been a weird series (weird enough that we paired the second game with eccentric rapper Riff Raff for an episode of Replay). A handful of the team behind the original game have taken to Kickstarter to fund another entry in the cult classic series. The new game promises a big overhaul to the world of Toejam and Earl. Four player co-op, persistent elements between playthroughs, new music, a combination of both games’ gameplay, 3D terrain, and a new art style are all slated as additions for Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove. To top it all off, the team has already recorded a pretty amazing track as a demo of what to expect for the final release.

[NEXT UP: Peruse the numerous games that have been successfully funded through Kickstarter, and track their progress after funding is complete]

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