Kickstarter Projects Reviews – Part 1

 

Projects I Have Funded

It definitely is not too hard to tell that I have a preferred type of game. If it involves Space, then chances are I have already funded it. Here’s a list of projects that met with my approval, their status and what I thought of their campaign.

 

FTL: Faster Than Light

Current Status: BETA

in-game screen showing the enemy ship on fire

Description

FTL is a roguelike PC game where the player manages a ship through various star systems to gain new crew members, weapons, and other add-ons to ultimately face the main boss at the end. A run through typically takes 1-1.5 hours, and new ships are unlocked in subsequent play-throughs that have very different play styles, for instance focusing on stealth or automated drones.

The game is still being developed and new features are being added, but the developers have not posted a roadmap, which means it is hard to tell how much they are adding. I think the game feels about 85% complete.

Playing FTL on “Easy” mode is more challenging than the name implies, and I have only managed to beat the final boss once out of about 15 attempts. Right now it feels like a run through is really dependent on luck. For instance, at the star systems the player visits, they may find new crew members, weapons, and other accessories, but I have had play-throughs where I found no new weapons but lots of crew members, or the reverse of too many weapons and not enough crew.

Without a balance of upgraded weapons, crew, and accessories, beating the final boss is near impossible. Playing on “Normal” mode is worse, with currency payouts and harder enemies; the luck factor is much more important and an early end is almost a certainty.

Overall I like the game, though I feel it could go two ways to make it better. The first is to expand it a bit and make it so a thorough player can generally put up a good fight against the final boss and increase the time to play through a round. Otherwise I think it would be a good game to cut-down to make a play through last half an hour and adapt it to iOS and Android.

Campaign Review

This was an interesting campaign as they had much more success than initially planned. FTL is being created by a 2 man studio and asked for $10,000; by the time the campaign ended they raised nearly $200,000.

Unfortunately to date they haven’t really announced any big stretch goals (see the first Kickstarter article for more info on stretch goals), but the game is playable in its current state even though it is a little shallow and repetitive. Hopefully as the Beta progresses we’ll see more depth added to the game

Overall the campaign was pretty bland. From the developer updates it looks like they focused on building the beta version of the game over adding Updates and promotional videos to the Kickstarter project. This project was successfully funded because of the concept of a space-based roguelike game and not the time they spent creating high production value youtube videos or other material to get people exciting about the game.

 

Sparxgear Fire Piston

Current Status: Not ready for shipping, production problems

All the colors available, Orange is the default

Description

This is one of the two non-video game Kickstarter projects I have taken part in. Sparxgear is producing fire pistons, which is a method of igniting a spark by compressing gas (read on the Ideal Gas Law if you really want to understand how this works). I’m going camping in a couple weeks and hoping to have it by then so I can light some fires.

Campaign Review

This was the first campaign I was involved in on Kickstarter and since it was for a physical product there weren’t any stretch goals involved. This had the potential to be a quick and easy project, which would not have been much different from ordering one elsewhere online if it had met it original delivery goals. The project has met with many manufacturing problems from overseas firms hired to actually build these. Since it is a piston and must be air tight, any sloppy tolerances will render it useless. I applaud the guy running this project and his commitment to quality, but the longer it takes the less likely it is that I’ll ever actually get the final product. Once it arrives I’ll attempt to light something on fire in video with it if there is any interest.

 

Tex Murphy – Project Fedora

Current Status: In Development – scheduled release Q3 2013

Tex is back!

Description

Tex Murphy is a film-noir detective in the veins of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe in a dystopian, late 21st century (and cheesy in a good way) San Francisco. Tex has the right mix of serious and silly that really set the tone for a great puzzle-solving mystery. This game is the sequel to Under a Killing Moon, The Pandora Directive, and Tex Murphy: Overseer, all being made in the 90’s and are very good adventure/detective games. In 90’s gaming tradition, the game will be FMV (full motion video) which means live actors are filmed and shown directly in the game for player interaction.

Campaign Review

Far and away the best campaign I have seen and been involved with on Kickstarter. The developers put out a youtube video at least once a day, and all of them had very high production values that actually play into the previous releases of the game with the same satirical tone.

The developers also ran multiple contests to get backers to increase their pledges and give the backers some additional rewards. They also ran some accelerators where if the community in general raised so much money by a certain date, then a mysterious backer would kick in a large amount of money. Also they set several stretch goals that were met by the backers, so it should have some additional gameplay and they are going to cast some bigger name actions than they would have other been able ( probably still firmly on the C-List)

The only bad part about this is the game won’t be released until late next year, but if the developers make the game as well as they have done on the Kickstarter campaign, then this could be my early nominee for 2013 Game of the Year.

 

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