Welcome back to the seventh installment of Kickstart My Heart, Diehard GameFAN’s look at the world of crowdfunding. This week is a bit short, due to the massive storm that rocked the DC Metro area. I was left with spotty power and internet over the weekend, so this week’s column is a bit truncated. We’ll be looking at a whopping FIVE projects I’ve backed personally since last week, and then another ten that I feel deserve to be seen by you, our readers. Who knows? By the end of this column you might be personally backing one yourself!
What I’ve Backed Since Last Week
The Mask of Death. I am a huge fan of both Zombie Orpheus Productions and Dead Gentlemen. I love both The Gamers and Dorkness Rising and I adore Journeyquest to the point where I backed Season Two of that webseries. Dorkness Rising is one of my wife’s favorite movies, and she’s never played a RPG in her life. That’s how awesome this film is. I’ve tried to hunt down a copy of the third edition adventure The Mask of Death, which is based on the movie – but to no avail. So that’s why I’m so excited about this Kickstarter. The Mask of Death is being remade into a Pathfinder adventure! I’m not even a big fan of Pathfinder and I’m down for this because I love the products these guys make. I also know I’ll be a backer for The Gamers 3, once they do a Kickstarter for that as well. If you’re one of the sorry lot that hasn’t seen Dorkness Rising or Journeyquest, you can remedy that by backing this campaign, because at certain levels, you can get one (or both) of the DVDs autographed and shipped out with your adventure. Awesome!
Shadows of Esteren. If you’ve read me for any amount of time, then you know my big three tabletop RPGS are Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade and Shadowrun. However my fourth was easily Second Edition AD&D’s Ravenloft setting. That’s why I’m so excited about an English language version of Shadows of Esteren, which is basically a low fantasy cross of Ravenloft, V:TM, and Call of Cthulhu. I have a PDF of the French version of the game and was thoroughly impressed by what I read. Unfortunately, I’m the only one of my friends that speaks/reads/writes French, save for Guy up in Canada, so I could never actually run a game without devoting way too much time to translating the game for people I would play with. Thankfully Studio 2 Publishing has done all that work, so the rest of us can now enjoy an English version of the game. Just click on through to the campaign and look at the gorgeous artwork awaiting you. The visuals alone have me wanting to pick up a physical copy of the book, something I haven’t done in almost a decade (unless physical was the only option). You can get the full game and its first adventure (in PDF format) for as low as $15, but the higher end options give you a limited edition hardcover, and even artwork made especially for you. Shadows of Esteren deserves to be huge. Get in on the ground floor while you can.
Memphis Wrestling History Presents: 1977. Unlike most wrestling fans, I didn’t grow up with the WWF. My father lived in Minneapolis, and his family was friends with the Gagnes, while my Mother lived in Philly, and so I grew up with a mix of pre-Extreme ECW, the NWA and the AWA. However, Minneapolis and Philly were hotbeds for wrestling, and they beamed in all sorts of local shows for a young single-digit aged lad such as myself to watch. I got to see the CWA, WCCW (later USWA), the UWF and even Portland’s PWF. It was great. Even though I don’t watch wrestling anymore unless it’s NJPW, AJPW, DragonGate or something else Puroresu, I still love wrestling history books (I’m a non-fiction reader). So that’s why I’m especially interested in this book by Mark James. 1977 was a pretty turbulent year for Memphis wrestling, as well as the year I was born. So the offer of a 440 page book complete with results and programs? That just sounded pretty cool to me, and if you’re a wrestling fan who has come to Diehard GameFAN via our sister site Inside Pulse, then this will probably be up your alley too. Check out the campaign and look at some of those amazing awards awaiting you.
Goalsystem Delves. I covered this last week as one of the ten campaigns I thought readers should consider backing. I decided to eventually back it myself. What can I say? I have a lot of minis sitting around from my days as a major D&D Minis player, and for only $15, I can get a set of electronic rules to give them new life. Higher levels net you a physical copy of the book, a t-shirt, five minis, dice and more. If you have figures from games like Mage Knight, Warhammer, D&D Minis and the like just sitting around from a bygone era, this is a great way to make use of them.
The Best Hike in America: The Appalachian Trail. What can I say? If you check out my backer history on Kickstarter, you see I’ve backed several documentaries. I love the Appalachian Trail, and Frank McCaffery, the guy behind this project, is a DC Metro local, so I get to support a hometown project based on something that is already dear to my heart. Double win! The documentary has a long way to go to get funding though, but you can get a DVD of the project for only ten dollars, which seems like a nice price point to me. If you’re a fan of the Trail, this is a worthy project to back. Now I have the urge to re-read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson…
Ten Projects You Should Consider Backing
By now you should know the deal, but if this is your first time reading this column here’s what I do: I present to you ten gaming projects – five tabletop and five electronic, that I think you, the Diehard GameFAN reader, will be interested in. Some I may go on to back myself, while others I think just deserve some attention. Either way, read on and then click through to each of the projects, and perhaps you’ll encounter something you want to be a part of. First up: Tabletop Games.
Dwarven Adventurers Box Set. This is a set of awesome tabletop miniatures for any fantasy roleplaying or board game. I’ve always been partial to dwarves, and when I first saw this campaign, I was blown away by the designs for each character. I was really excited by the idea of a Necromancer dwarf, as that is what I played in Neverwinter Nights. Unfortunately, the Necromancer in this set is a girl and I played a male, but seven figures for $25 or ten for $34 is an amazing deal. This thing is obviously going to complete all its EPIC GOALS. I can’t wait to see what is after the undead Dwarf at 20K. Perhaps a Mul (half-dwarf) Gladiator or a Psion? Ooh, maybe even a Vampire Hunter! That would be pretty sweet. Either way, these are going to be some kick-ass minis, and the end product will no doubt make an amazing addition to any gaming table.
Wooden Promises. This is very nice little adventure for both Pathfinder and Champions of Zed, the latter being a system I’ve never even heard of before. For first time adventure designers, the gang at TaskMaster Studios have put together a very nice campaign with frequest updates, a low goal and some great price points for backers. You can get a PDF of the adventure for as low as five dollars, and you’ll be supporting a new entry into the world of independent gaming design. Wooden Promises is almost to its funding goal with a month to go, so consider giving up a bit of cash to help TMS get its first product out the door.
Tales From the Fallen Empire. I’m a big fan of the Dungeon Crawl Classics system and Tales From the Fallen Empire sounds like a pretty awesome setting. It sounds like one-third Dark Sun, one-third Conan and one-third Elric. TFtFE has some pretty nice names attached to the product, and at the thirty dollar mark, you’ll be able to get a printed copy of the setting, a PDF of the setting and a GM Screen. That’s a pretty good deal, especially when you realize that not only are you getting the campaign setting, but two adventures to boot. Whether you’re new to Dungeon Crawl Classics or a fan of it since day one, Tales From the Fallen Empire looks to be a great new setting that you can have fun with.
The Bestiary of the Curiously Odd. This Pathfinder supplement is a really neat idea. The entire book will be comprised of low level encounters. Actually, this will consist of two books – one for players and DMs alike and one with all the stats just for DM eyes. That’s a cool concept in and of itself, but combined with a plethora of brand new low level monsters, you have a truly winning combination here. What really puts the icing on this cake is that as a backer, you have the opportunity to design a creature for the book itself. That’s right! You’ll officially be a creator in the RPG world, and somewhere, a group of PCs will be murdering your creation. So if you ever wanted to create a weregroundhog or vegetarian rust monster, here’s your chance! There are some pretty big names taking part, like Monte Cook and Ed Greenwood, so having your name alongside theirs might be a pretty cool thing indeed.
Bootleggers. A board game based around the Prohibition Era sounds like a really fun idea. You’ll be running hooch, avoiding the coppers and trying to corner the market on illegal hops. I love the miniatures that come with this game, and those alone make me want to play this. This rules are pretty straightforward and the whole concept of the game looks to be a blast. The rewards are pretty cool too, ranging from an expansion pack or a signed and numbered version of the game up to art prints and even copies of Mayday Games’ other releases. This is a nice change from all the high fantasy and zombie based board games that have dominated Kickstarter as of late. This little euro-style game should really stand out amongst all the other board game campaigns currently going on.
…and that’s tabletopping for this week. Now let’s move on to video games.
Defender of the Realm. Defender of the Realm is an interesting idea for a video game/interactive novel. Do you remember those personalized letters or comic books that were hawked to parents back in the 80s? The ones where they’d insert the name of a child (and sometimes a picture) for a unique present of sorts? Well Defender of the Realm fits into that category, as it is a personalized fantasy story with multiple branching paths. It’s being released for the iPad, and with time and funding, for Android systems as well. I think the idea of Facebook integration is an intriguing one, but I’m unsure how that will actually play out in the book/game. I think this is a great idea for little kids that might love video games, but aren’t the biggest readers. After all, look how popular Zork and other text based games were back in the day. This feels like a modern evolution of that sadly nigh-extinct genre. I see a lot of potential here, and here’s hoping it finds an audience.
Jack Houston and the Necronauts. This sci-fi pulp horror point and click adventure game just seems right up my alley. I love the stop motion animation style the game is going for, and it has a nice goal of only 56K, compared to all the other games trying for several hundred thousand dollars thanks to successes like Double Fine. The visuals and promo video are fantastic. EVERYTHING about this game oozes style. Although you can get the game for as little as fifteen dollars, the hundred dollar level nets you a boxed version, a radio drama, some special featurettes, a poster and four digital copies of the game. That’s a pretty fantastic deal. Of course, the game isn’t a real production yet, so who knows what the end product will be like. Still, if there was ever a video game campaign to go on by pure faith alone, it would be this one. I just can’t believe it’ll be a year and a half before people get to actually play it. That’s going to be a loooong wait.
Trial of the Clone. It seems to be a good time for “Choose Your Own Adventure” style games on Kickstarter. Trial of the Clone is doing amazingly well over there, with roughly 2,000 backers. From the description, it reminds me more of the Lone Wolf or Dungeons & Dragons books, where you had a character sheet and used dice in addition to picking where in the book to turn. Much like the Fighting Fantasy books that were ported to the PSP a while back. This is the creation of Zach Weiner, best known for his Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, and it will be released in both electronic and paper form. You can get the electronic one for as low as ten dollars, but twenty bucks nabs you both versions. At higher pledge levels, you can get a lot of other weird stuff… such as paying Zack to go do a book reading/signing at a local establishment. That’s one way to fund a book tour. The backers have just past a stretch goal that will net an audiobook version of Trial of the Clone, but it’s yet to be established what quasi-celebrity will be reading it. Best of all might be that a good deal of the money from the project will be going to Fight For the Future, a non-profit dedicated to protecting our collective digital rights against things like SOPA. That’s an admirable way to spend some of the money raised on this very popular project.
SanJiten. One of the things that I’ve never understood about the bulk of gamers is how they don’t speak/read/write multiple languages. There are so many awesome games that will never be in English and still others that are so much better (or make more sense) in their native language. I myself am decent at French and Japanese in addition to my Native English, and I can fumble my way through Mandarin Chinese. I also love the “My Language Coach” games that Ubisoft put out for the Nintendo DS several years ago, and will fiddle with the three that I own to touch up my respective non-native languages. Through all these languages I’ve been able to import a ton of great games (and understand them), like Innocent Sin, the Sakura Wars series, and a bunch of point and click adventure games for the PC. It also meant I could enjoy Heavy Rain without some of the localization (and thus large plot hole issues) errors that were in the English version. That’s why I’m so pumped for something like SanJiten. This video games for your PC promises to be an intro to four different languages for non-native speakers. You get Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and English. I’m surprised French isn’t on there instead of Spanish, as then you’d have the four big languages in video gaming. The intro video is one of the best I’ve seen on Kickstarter. While the game looks like something from the mid 90s, it’s about learning and having fun at the same time, so I’m perfectly fine with graphics taking a back seat. I played through the demo and had a blast with it. This is exactly the type of game I like to see on Kickstarter, because as awesome as it is, it’s not something that will readily find a home with a publisher. Here’s hoping Rob and Emily get the funding they need, as twelve grand is not that hard to raise. I just hope there are a lot more people as excited about this project as I am.
DiveKick. Okay, I’ll admit that I laughed my ass off when I first saw that Adam Heart had brought Divekick to Kickstarter. I mean, the game was meant to be one fun joke and not actually played by the public at large. But here it is, so how can I not take the chance to pimp the game? Divekick is a very weird fighting game. There is no d-pad or analog stick for movement, and there are only two buttons. One button lets you jump in the air, while another lets you kick either in the air or on the ground, depending on where you are when you press it. That’s the whole game. Now in terms of fighting games it seems pretty light, doesn’t it? I mean we’re not talking some crazy inputs ala certain SNK moves. However, when you reduce options down in a PvP game, strategy and split second timing becomes all the more important. I can think of several games for the Atari 2600 that make great examples of this, like Combat and Outlaw, so don’t sell Divekick short. I wish Adam and his team would make a demo available for people to experience it but, well… that would basically be the whole game now, wouldn’t it? I’ll definitely be watching this with morbid fascination to see how well Divekick fares on Kickstarter.
So there you have it. We looked at a whopping fifteen Kickstarter campaigns this week. Next week we’ll be looking at some more campaigns, along with what might be the two biggest train wrecks on the gaming side of Kickstarter ever… and that’s NOT including what happened with Sam Suede. See you then!
Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and was also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.