A Place For The Unwilling Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com A Place For The Unwilling RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network A Place for the Unwilling Review: Pushing Back the Shadows https://www.gameskinny.com/i4riq/a-place-for-the-unwilling-review-pushing-back-the-shadows https://www.gameskinny.com/i4riq/a-place-for-the-unwilling-review-pushing-back-the-shadows Thu, 25 Jul 2019 13:44:57 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Imagine you're going about daily life, minding your own business. Suddenly, you receive a letter from a friend named Henry Allen you knew long ago, back when you lived in an orphanage.

It's a strange letter, full of regret for something Henry is about to do. He's asking you to move to his city, take up his business, and keep watch over his wife, Juliet, and mother, Dana. The city is dangerous, he says, full of things you can't understand, but you must pay attention to the shadows because they're important.

It goes on like this, becoming more fevered and frantic, until it finally stops.

You then learn Henry committed suicide, though there's some doubt over whether he hung himself — or was murdered.

So, what do you do with this information? How do you live, and do you carry out Henry's last requests?

That's exactly what AI Pixel's A Place for the Unwilling tasks you with figuring out on a daily basis in the 21 days you have to live until the city is swallowed by darkness.

Endless Variety

Every choice you make counts in the game, from how you sign your letters to which shops you frequent and whether you take sides in the city's growing class war. You won't see everything there is to see in one playthrough, especially because the game uses a Harvest Moon-style clock, where one real-world second equals one in-game minute. Time flies.

The story starts with you establishing some basics about your character — name, gender, preferred pronouns — and choosing how you want to save the game. This is actually more important than it initially seems, depending on how you want to approach gameplay.

The first is saving at the beginning of each day, and the second is saving when you want to exit the game. If you want to play the game completely blind, the second option is best because it's not as easy to see how one option turns out, then reset to pursue another.

Those who prefer seeing all the various permutations might find it better to save at the beginning of a day, play through one way, then start that day again and do it differently. Prepare for a lot of restarting if you want to do this, though.

The Right Choice

The game's charm likes in making spur of the moment decisions and forging your path as you move, or sometimes blunder, along.

You're presented with a handful of bigger choices early on. The first is whether you want to take up Henry's buying and selling business or focus on uncovering the truth behind his death. Of course, you can do both, but your response when people asks what you're in the city for — business or the truth — affects how they view you.

Admittedly, the business side of things isn't too exciting. The city has a handful of shops, each offering the same items — toys, combustible goods (of course...?), food, drinks, and the like. Prices change daily, and the idea is to buy cheap from one shop, then sell at a profit to another.

Yeah, you probably spotted the logic gap there. Most good merchants don't saunter down the street to sell some books they bought five minutes ago from Ms. A to Mr. B and expect everyone to be happy about it.

You'll still need to do some trading from time to time if you want money, and you will want money. It's used for fast traveling and buying non-tradeable goods, not to mention some quests require a healthy sum of money to complete. It's just more of a necessity than an enjoyable feature.

Whatever you choose to do, you get some suggested tasks on most days to help guide you along. None of them are mandatory, and thanks to the city's size and your snail-like movement pace, it's impossible to do them all. However, the point is to get out and talk to people.

It's only a few people, at first. Those "shadows" Henry mentioned are all around in the city, people you don't know who don't know you. They're too busy to chat with a complete stranger the newspaper says has questionable acquaintances.

Depending on tasks you complete and choices you make, some of these figures shed their dark cloak, gaining faces and names — yet not necessarily becoming friends, again depending on your choices. You do get to learn more about them if you choose to, which can eventually unlock different tasks or story paths.

The Company You Keep

In fact, it's tough to say if you make any real friends during your time in the city.

Dana Allen, Henry's mother, throws a welcome-and-mourning party when you arrive and seems to be on your side, but she has a terrible reputation among people of her class. And that migraine medicine she gave you — why does your head start hurting worse when you take it?

Then there's Juliet, the grieving widow. She won't speak at first, then she tries ascertaining your motives, before getting you to join her side in the "war" against Dana, or you can choose to be neutral. Henry chimes in through dreams from time to time to clarify what's going on, but you always wonder whether you made the right choice.

Not every character forces huge choices on you, but it can't be emphasized enough. Every. Decision. Counts. Whether it's how you sign a letter, what tone you take during certain conversations, who you help out, or whether you interrupt someone or let them continue, everything matters.

Helping the poor improves your friendship with Ms. Peyton the shopkeeper and sets you apart from the callous wealthy citizens, but spending the mayor's surplus on charity doesn't sit well with him — especially if you listen in on his phone conversations before making your presence known.

Telling the posh newspaper hawker you feel sympathy for the poor runs the risk of giving you a bad reputation on the nicer side of the tracks, but repeatedly helping Myles forms a relationship with the city's revolutionary downtrodden. The opposite can be true as well.

All of this affects how the story progresses, which tasks are available, and how you can relate to other people. The endless variety and multiple opportunities keep the game engaging throughout, partly because you end up feeling so invested in this strange world with its kind but dangerous inhabitants.

Coming Alive

It's not all slice-of-life, though. A distinct plot begins to unfold after a few days, involving the supernatural and an odd cult, with Juliet and Dana taking opposing sides.

Because you don't get a whiff of this until you've established your bearings in a world that seems grounded in reality, the supernatural elements initially come off as out of place. However, that soon just becomes part of the city's dark quirkiness.

The attention to detail isn't limited to just character interactions and branching paths. The unnamed city (*cough cough* London *cough cough*) is rendered in a soft, hand-drawn style complementing the historical setting, and the character portraits, though exaggerated, convey tons of personality just with their few static images.

Dialogue isn't voiced, but there's a special touch added that arguably lends more character than even voice would. Dialogue is presented as if written in pen on parchment. The text scroll flow fits perfectly with spoken dialogue, and its cadence changes depending on the context.

Plus, each character has their own style and sound effect. It's a minor touch absolutely brimming with personality. There's the main character's measured, steady pace and the flighty Mrs. Clinton's scribbled-sounding scrawl. Juliet's is looping and complex, while the corrupt policeman August's written speech is clumsy and heavy-handed.

False Stepping

Unfortunately, this close attention doesn't extend to everything.

The bookshop owner, Lucas Weston, says he speaks in singsong, but his speech style doesn't change to match that. The music, rich and always area appropriate when it does play, cuts out seemingly at random.

One night, when you "accidentally" drink too much with the local seadog, you fall flat on your face (after some rather amusing dialogue changes). The sailor remarks about you being out for so long, but then you're on your feet again, with no time having passed.

These are little things to be sure, but they begin to add up and occur more frequently after the first few days.

There are a few other minor quibbles.

Yes, the game is about time management, but making character movement so slow where even casual passerby move faster seems like an artificial way to keep you from accomplishing multiple tasks. For instance, going to the lighthouse takes almost 3/4 of the day until you can fast travel there.

An almost completely blank map doesn't help matters. Naturally, a newcomer isn't going to know where things are, but you are given a map after all. Maps usually have places marked on them, and even strangers in the street can point you in the right direction. Not here.

Then there's the grammar. The worst thing about it isn't syntax or anything like that. It's the fact that the errors are completely avoidable. Missing words, repeated words, words you phrases you meant to delete because you thought of something better — all of these make an appearance, with increasing regularity as the game progresses.

This is something an editing pass would catch, and it's  surprising to find so many problems in a final build, especially in a game built around writing.

There is one specific issue: the F-bomb. A Place for the Unwilling hurls it at you pretty often, and it doesn't fit the context.

Now, your humble writer knows the Victorians weren't prim and proper, whatever the common belief might say to the contrary.  Underneath that polite veneer, the Victorian era was as raunchy as they come. That goes double for the Fin de Siecle (French for "end of the century," roughly the 1880s-1890s). This was a time of glorious debauchery, by 1800s' standards, full of experimentation, loose living — in other words, the Victorian equivalent of the 1960s.

And that's the point. The big F was primarily used in its more literal context, not as the descriptive stand-in so common in modern usage.

That's how it's used by folks in not-London, though. "Stop f***ing staring", says the policeman. Or from a member of the lower classes, you get the always popular "F***, stop f***ing staring ar*eh**e, jesus" (with a lower case "j").

Some well-chosen four-letter words are fine and can add to a given character or create a certain mood. Using them just to use them, especially when they don't even fit, takes you out of the game and lets the rest of the usually well-considered writing down, writing that actually conveys meaning.

---

The Verdict

Pros
  • Intriguing and compelling story and characters
  • Highly engaging branching choice system
  • Gorgeous aesthetic style
Cons
  • Needs a final polish
  • Some design issues and questionable writing
  • Lack of puzzles and other activities might turn some away

A Place for the Unwilling definitely needs some extra tune-ups, and the early days might prove frustrating for some, before a clear idea of the city's layout sets in. F*** being chucked at you left and right gets really old really fast, and the other slip-ups are disappointing in an otherwise carefully conceived game.

However, its stronger points help push past these issues. There's a mystery to solve and a world to save — or not. Here you find a large cast of bizarre and potentially sinister characters with dubious motives. Whether they're trustworthy, you never know, but you push on and make nice to hopefully uncover the truth before it's too late.

Whether you're the poor person's friend or a jerk in a stuffed shirt, A Place for the Unwilling offers a deep and compelling story that's never going to be completely the same, no matter how often you play it.

[Note: A Steam key of A Place for the Unwilling was provided by AIPixel for this review.]

]]>
ALpixel Games Discusses Open-World Narrative Game A Place For The Unwilling https://www.gameskinny.com/gw9m1/alpixel-games-discusses-open-world-narrative-game-a-place-for-the-unwilling https://www.gameskinny.com/gw9m1/alpixel-games-discusses-open-world-narrative-game-a-place-for-the-unwilling Mon, 29 Apr 2019 15:19:16 -0400 Ty Arthur

Since first hitting Kickstarter back in 2016, we've been carefully watching the development of the eye-catching title A Place For The Unwilling, both for its incredibly distinctive art style and the mashup of gameplay styles that presents an unexpected cosmic horror adventure. 

While it did get funded, ALpixel's original Kickstarter campaign (thankfully) didn't hit its final stretch goal, which was to actually summon Cthulhu and annihilate humanity. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as that inevitable messy end to humanity is delayed once more.

Edit: Be sure to read our review of the game here

Now that the game now is in private Beta, where the developers hope to get feedback from players, we had the opportunity to chat with members of the team during this stretch of the development process.

We sat down with game designer Luis Díaz, artist Rubén Calles, progammer Miguel López-Bachiller, narrative developer Ángel Luis Sucasas, and sound designer Celer Gutiérrez. 

Below, we get a ground-level view of the life of an indie games studio working on a unique title that is set to make waves when it finally launches on PC in the unspecified future. We even get a prediction on how Game Of Thrones ends!

Two characters talk in A Place for the Unwilling

Ty Arthur: Are you remote workers or do you go into the office together, and what's the typical workday like for ALpixel Games while you develop A Place For The Unwilling?

Luis: There are five people working on the project right now (that's for development; we also work with third parties for tasks like localization) and three of us meet in a coworking [office] every day. While we all live in Madrid, Ángel (writing) and Celer (audio) work from home because it's easier for them; we still meet face to face for most meetings that involve all disciplines.

As for our work day, it's probably way less glamorous than what people who aren't in the industry might think. We get to the office and start working on whatever there is in our task list. When you need to talk to anybody, you just wave your hand so they know they should remove their headset.

We do a lunch break, try to talk about anything not related to the game (with the upcoming elections there’s been a lot of discussion about politics), and then go back to our table. Sometimes we'll spend hours or days doing paperwork or taking care of "the things nobody wants to do." We do enjoy working on our games and sharing them with the community, but 99% of the time it looks like any other regular job.

TA: I remember following the project back in the 2016 Kickstarter, then it seemed like things went quiet for a while. How has the project changed since the Kickstarter and where are you guys in terms of overall completion at this point?

Luis: After the campaign, we realized we'd need some extra help for such an ambitious project. Ángel, the game writer, joined the team during the campaign and, about a month later, we started working with Martin to have the game running in Unity, which would allow us to target more platforms and use Ink (inkle's powerful narrative tool).

Needless to say, once we started showing the game at shows, we kept on making changes to things that weren't quite working. When you're not following a fully established template, there's a lot of trial and error involved. The core principles and aesthetics haven't changed since the day we started working on the project  we've just learned how to refine everything around that.

All the major content is already implemented in the game. We still need to tweak a thousand things, and those small details do make a huge difference. You know what they say, the last 10% of the project feels even bigger than the 90% that you already took care of.

TA: If there's one thing that really grabs attention with A Place For The Unwilling, it's the offbeat colored pencil art style. How did you land on that style for the game, and are there any particular challenges to implementing the sort of squiggly/jittery style in a game like this?

Rubén: Our main references to define the visual style of the game were classic cartoon shows and line engravings from the 19th Century. I like how those classic cartoon vibes make the whole world feel so alive; every part of the background is moving as if they were breathing in and out.

The cartoon style gives that feeling of movement and the engraving provides the perfect historical context. This combination worked great from the very beginning because my color skills were not that strong when we first started the development of the game. The engraving style made a lot of sense; it was the best-looking option for the visuals, and it also gave reminiscences of our main artistic references.

The main challenge was time. Every single asset in the game took a lot of time and patience to make. Each character, building, and little object in our city is composed of five different layers: line, flat colour, painting, and crosshatching. That amount of work multiplies when you realize all the animations in the game are drawn frame-by-frame. But I still think having those chalk (and charcoal) lines all over is a great decision. They almost seem like the footprints of the factory workers coming and going all around the city.

TA: One thing that has struck me playing the beta is the importance of the music and sound effects to set the mood. What is your team's philosophy toward putting music in the game are you going for “less is more,” and what role do you see the music playing in the overall game experience?

Celer: We think the music has to, just as you said, set the mood. From the interactions with the characters to the different parts of the city. We don’t want to overstimulate players since they should be focusing on the story, but we do want to help them with the tone.

In order to do so, we don’t have a continuous music layer playing  music comes and goes during your walks through the city and also tries to represent the different characters and places you stumble upon. Sound design is quite similar: it should help players get immersed in the city and support the story so it can shine.

TA: As a small development crew, what hurdles have you had to overcome working on this game?

Luis: It's a big project, and there's only one of us for each discipline. We need to find production hacks that allow us to do more in less time, and even then, it still is a huge challenge. And the team still has to do "the other tasks." Like most small studios, we don't have people dedicated to production, bizdev, office management or communication; we all need to chip in some time in order to get those done.

TA: There are quite a few Lovecraftian games that have either just launched (like Call Of Cthulhu) or are about to release (like Stygian: Reign Of The Old Ones and The Sinking City). A Place For The Unwilling seems to go a radically different direction with the material than those games. Where do you see A Place For The Unwilling sitting in the overall Cthulhu mythos and how strong a connection to Lovecraft will the final game have?

Ángel: It’s fully integrated. Our game exists within the universe of the Cthulhu mythos, but only those written by H.P. Lovecraft  not the tales published by August Derleth.

We’d rather not reveal the details of how our lore is connected to them. I’ll just say that it’s a sequel, a prequel, and a spin-off (all that at the same time) of one of his most relevant stories.

TA: A Place For The Unwilling is kind of a hard game to peg down into a specific genre. It's not quite an investigative adventure game or a business tycoon game or a traditional horror game but rather has elements of all three how would you classify this game to someone unfamiliar with the project?

Luis: We must have used a dozen different definitions during development. When you say it's an adventure, people think it's a point and click, but we don't even have that kind of puzzles or an old-fashioned linear progression. Business tycoon falls short as well; the trading options in the game are limited when you compare them to a managing game (and it's not even mandatory).

And yes, the game does have eldritch things going on, but you could complete a whole playthrough without scratching the surface of that. As Rubén said earlier, depending on your actions, your playthrough could end up being a sweet walk through the city or a messed up story that will haunt you for a while.

Lately, we just call it an open-world narrative game. The story is always the focus,  and you get pretty much complete freedom when it comes to choosing how to spend your time — even if you decide to stay in your room for days.

TA: Playing the beta, I've noticed there are very strong themes of rich vs poor, with noticeably different appearances in different portions of the city. Is that the central struggle of the game, and what sort of overall theme do you want a player to take away from the game?

Ángel: Well, we mostly want players to draw their own conclusions instead of telling them what’s right and what’s wrong. There are some strong social, economic, and political themes, but players should feel free to choose if they even want to explore those concepts.

If there’s any central theme in the game I believe that would be the breaking of the hero's journey. Neither the characters nor the story are marked by players. You take part in the events, and your input produces different outcomes, but you aren’t fully in control of what happens. If you get that feeling when playing the game, then I’ll be happy with the result.

TA: With the beta going on, how has the feedback been from players so far, and what has the team learned about what's working well and what needs to be changed?

Luis: The feedback from the beta has been pretty useful so far. It’s helping us spot a few areas that need to be improved and being able to talk with players allows us to get a better understanding of why certain things aren’t fully working.

The world we crafted works well: it’s interesting and deep. We still need to tweak how players are introduced to it. Thanks to player’s feedback, we’re thinking a lot about how you find your way across to the city and how to make it easier to navigate. These are tricky questions and some design solutions that seem natural would clash with other elements of the game, but we are working on it.

GS: What has been the most difficult bug to squash or problem to overcome so far, and are there any major elements to the game you see changing after the beta feedback?

Miguel: Most bugs are not "that difficult” to fix, as long as you are patient. We do have some complex systems that, even after months of work, aren’t still fully bulletproof. One example would be the pathfinding logic. We want the city in A Place for the Unwilling to feel truly alive, so we need people going around and carrying out their usual routines.

The hard part is doing all that in 2D while minding a player’s behavior. It’s easy to get stuck between two non playable characters and those characters can even get trapped on their own turning doors and halls into bottlenecks.

In the end, all we can do is keep polishing the code and test everything until it’s good enough. I think we’re at that point where everything looks solid, but you never know if somebody will find some weird situation that you completely missed.

We’re using player’s feedback to correct some of these odd small interactions, but it’s not like we’re doing huge changes. It’s mostly dozens of tiny things that need to be patched here and there.

TA: What's next for AlPixel Games after A Place For The Unwilling is finished and launched?

Luis: Haha, nowadays, work doesn’t end when the game is released. There’s bugs to fix, forums to read, and new languages/platforms to consider. Can we answer this once we have survived that process?

TA: On a more personal note, what upcoming games outside of your own projects are the AlPixel Games team looking forward to playing, and what sort of gameplay mechanics get you excited to try out new titles?

Rubén: I’ve always been a huge fan of the SteamWorld series. While the new one doesn’t fully click with my style, I’ve enjoyed all of them so much that I’ll probably end up loving this one as well.

Luis: Just give me Animal Crossing.

Miguel: Does the new Zelda count as upcoming? I mean the next installment, which will probably take a few years. If we’re talking about games that will get released soon, my list would Include Tactical Breach Wizards (huge fan of Tom Francis’ work), Industries of Titan (which looks pretty cool) and, last but not least, Spire of Sorcery (roguelike and wizards with some management elements sounds like my jam).

GS: One final question: Who do you think is going to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the final Game Of Thrones season?

Miguel: Full disclosure, and at the risk of sounding like a hipster, I started reading the books before they became popular. I have only watched the first season of the TV show, but my guess is that nobody will sit on the Iron Throne. It’ll be destroyed along with the rest of King’s Landing. So there’s that.

Want to follow the development of the game or apply to join the Beta? Be sure to wishlist A Place For The Unwilling over on Steam and join the discussion over on Discord here.

]]>
March Crowd Funding Report https://www.gameskinny.com/xe9qq/march-crowd-funding-report https://www.gameskinny.com/xe9qq/march-crowd-funding-report Wed, 30 Mar 2016 06:10:33 -0400 Ty Arthur

After a veritable flood of updates and interesting projects last month, we're currently in a much sparser time for crowd-funded video games.

Many of the more exciting or big-name projects have recently ended or are deep in development, although there's a few campaigns that you should definitely be taking note of before we move into the spring release cycle.

Perhaps of even more interest than what IS up for crowd funding this month is what noticeably ISN'T. After experiencing extreme success Kickstarting Pillars Of Eternity, for some reason Obsidian Entertainment hasn't gone that route with upcoming retro RPG, Tyranny.

On the one hand that's a good thing – if a company can make enough money with one campaign to not have to dip into the fan's money again, then clearly crowd funding isn't the handout system many claim it to be. On the other hand, some game fans want the ability to contribute at different tiers and get various perks not offered by just straight up buying a game on its release date. What do you think of the move, and would you contribute to a Tyranny campaign if one were started soon?

What Made The Cut And What Got The Boot

Unlike with our January roundup, where several promising projects were unable to secure funding, I'm pleased to report that all three campaigns we highlighted last month made their goals!

The adorable Knights And Bikes came in with 4,796 backers pledging £126,447, while Batallion 1944 made more than 300% of its goal, clocking in at 10,096 backers and £317,281 pledged. We'll be keeping a close eye on the development of those projects and will be updating you as noteworthy updates are released.

Meanwhile, the unique and intriguing A Place For The Unwilling only barely squeaked by with 918 backers pledging €22,329 – just enough to hit the original goal, but not enough to unlock any stretch goals (which may be good for the world, since the final stretch goal was to summon Cthulhu and annihilate humanity). We're still hoping for a good outcome on this one despite the smaller funding amount, as the concept looks like it could be a game changer.

Early Access Updates

Grim Dawn

Get It Here

Platform: PC

The big early access title to finally reach feature complete status is Grim Dawn, an action RPG with a huge world that meshes together a dark fantasy setting with a Lovecraftian apocalypse.

It's managed to overtake Darkest Dungeon as the black-hearted, unforgiving RPG I can't stop playing lately, and I highly recommend it if you still enjoy anything from Diablo 2 to Titan Quest. We've covered it extensively, so if you are thinking of jumping in, check out our Grim Dawn guides here.

After Reset

Get It Here

Platform: PC

I'll be honest – I thought this project had died, but apparently it's still going, as an update just went live on new features in the latest patch. I absolutely love the direction and art style, with the game taking a more serious approach to the post-apocalyptic formula, although frankly I'm hesitant to recommend anyone get on board at this point.

After Reset was originally Kickstarted way back in the summer of 2014, with the initial projected release date having passed by more than a year ago. It doesn't appear to be anywhere even close to release (based on the progress, I'd bet more than a year), but you can still get in on early access for the (rather absurd) full price of $49.99.

Reading through the latest negative reviews on Steam, this one is turning into a case study in how not to run a crowd funding and early access campaign, and I hope the developer can manage to turn that perception around and release a solid finished product.

New Crowd Funding Campaigns To Check Out

Inner Chains

Contribute to the campaign here

Platform: PC

A strong dichotomy is currently in effect in the horror genre: to make a game actually scary, you have to render the main character weaponless, otherwise you end up with what will essentially be an action FPS that just happens to have horror trappings. Enter Inner Chains, which might be the game to finally bridge the gap between those worlds.

That weapon the main character is shown wielding in the trailer clearly has a Geiger-esque combination of biological and mechanical, so the story could easily go either supernatural or simply science fiction. It looks like there will be a lot of details to learn about the game universe and what led to the current state of the world, and it's a good bet the full puzzle will be extremely dark and potentially sanity-blasting when it all comes together.

With eight days left, Inner Chains has already surpassed its funding goal, but there's stretch goals to unlock, like alternate endings and more creatures to interact with!

The only caveat I can find here is the overly ambitious release date schedule. The developer - Telapaths Tree - is projecting to have the game ready to deliver in June of 2016, a mere two months after the campaign ends. There's no way that's happening, so go into this one realizing there will be delays (of months or even possibly years) in that release date.

Tiny Graveyard

See the campaign here

Platform: PC, if released

This is a first for us, in that the campaign was unfortunately canceled before we got a chance to help promote it! This very-promising adventure/strategy game was set to strike a balance between dark themes that adults would be interested in and a kid-friendly approach. I like the combo on display, giving the feel of something cute like Costume Quest but in a fully 3D world.

Although 75 backers pledged more than $7,000, that sadly was far shy of the perhaps overly ambitious $80,000 goal. Developer 2ndSum Studios decided to cancel the campaign early rather than drag it out, but hopefully this one is able to secure funding some other way and continue on to see release some day.

Updates On Previously Funded Games

Battletech

Get Updates On The Project Here

Platform: PC

Funded back in September of 2015, work continues steadily on this project as the developer's other game Necropolis is being wrapped up for a summer release.

It's going to be a long wait for fans of this table war game, with this latest PC adaptation not expected out until at some point in 2017. Harebrained Schemes has a track record of putting out quality games though, so its a good bet this one will drop in a stable, playable state within a reasonable time frame.

The developer has been holding Q&A sessions directly with fans, so if you want more info, keep an eye on their social media for upcoming dates. The latest update at Kickstarter was quite extensive, going into great detail about the new Argo class drop ship and how it will be used in the game. Expect this one to be much more in-depth than the recent Shadowrun reboots, with a more open world aspect to the tactical mech battle mayhem.

That's it for this month's look at what's happening in crowd funding and early access games. Let us know what you think of the campaigns we covered, and be sure to fill us in on any exciting projects we missed!

]]>
February crowd funding report: successes, failures, frustrating delays, and long-awaited releases https://www.gameskinny.com/6dbip/february-crowd-funding-report-successes-failures-frustrating-delays-and-long-awaited-releases https://www.gameskinny.com/6dbip/february-crowd-funding-report-successes-failures-frustrating-delays-and-long-awaited-releases Tue, 16 Feb 2016 01:03:30 -0500 Ty Arthur

For studios big and small, turning to the fans directly is fast becoming one of the go-to methods for raising the capital necessary to fund a game's development cycle.

Cutting out the publishers and going straight to the people with a passion for any given genre, there have been some incredibly satisfying games arriving digitally thanks to the crowd-funding phenomena. Each month, we'll be looking at both the most promising new video game funding campaigns, as well as checking in on previously funded games to see how development is coming along.

We've got a lot to cover this month, both in devastating failures and incredibly exciting successes, along with some updates on long-awaited games finally arriving in either full or early access versions.

An Update From Last Month

If you missed it, you can check out our report on the best of crowd funding from January here. Some of those games reached or exceeded their desired goals (and we can't wait to play them down the line!), while unfortunately others fell short or cut their losses and canceled the campaigns.

One of those promising campaigns we covered last month was scrapped early, with Hero's Song being pulled when it was clear the 2D project wouldn't get anywhere near its high goal of $800,000.

That's always a chance when dealing with limited time frames where the right fans might not hear the word immediately or have money at that particular point to contribute. There's still hope for Hero's Song though, as the game is in the process of securing funding from more traditional means. We'll keep you updated on how this one goes in the coming months.

The VR-focused horror title Ghost Theory has only 4 days left and is almost certainly going to fail to reach its goal. While that's disappointing, as VR horror games need a strong boost to get going and pick up momentum, Ghost Theory has made it onto Steam Greenlight, so we might still see it one day anyway.

Also likely to come up shy of the sought-after dollar amount, Consortium: The Tower is only a third of the way to its $309,000 goal. That's a bit of a surprise, considering the previous title in the series was successfully funded on Kickstarter. It's always possible Interdimensional Games will re-launch a new campaign down the line at a smaller amount.

But enough of the failures. How about the titles that convinced gamers to fork over their hard earned cash?

I'm very pleased to report that both the old school RPG Project Resurgence and the chemistry-based education game ChemCaper were both successfully funded. The Final Fantasy Tactics inspired Children of Zodiarcs didn't just hit its goal, but zoomed way, way past it with a serious vote of confidence from the backers.

Fans of Arckanum and Pillars Of Eternity will want to try this one

New Video Game Crowd Funding Campaigns

Knights And Bikes

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC / PS4

Bringing to mind the adorable style of Costume Quest but with a more serious slant on the story front, this indie title from Foamsword Games caused some buzz recently when it hit the Facebook trending bar.

The team has been involved with titles like Little Big Planet and Ratchet And Clank, so there's talent there involved with this type of game already, lending some credibility to the request for $142,000 via Kickstarter.

References to Earthbound and Secret Of Mana in the campaign pitch definitely piqued my interest immediately, especially with the same screen co-op option, which took me back to many a late Saturday night going through Secret Of Mana with friends as a kid.

Battalion 1944

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, and PS4

With Call Of Duty heading into the future rather than the past in recent installments, it falls on other developers to give us more WWII shooters.

Focusing on the mode FPS fans tend stick to most frequently, Batallion 1944 is multiplayer-only and won't even bother with the single player campaign. While that's a definite entry in the “con” column for me, I know I'm in the minority there.

Visually, the style on display in the pre-alpha footage is very appealing, striking a nice balance between bright environments that catch the eye and more realistic elements that will appeal to fans of Squad. A serious eye to detail on real-world locations is also on display.

The focus here looks like it will land on close-quarters combat with a visceral feel, and clearly gamers want more WWII action in this vein, because Battalion 1944 is already over twice its funding goal.

A Place For The Unwilling

Contribute to the campaign here

Platforms: PC

Described as “Sunless Sea meets Majora's Mask in a living city,” this intriguing little title features a very interesting colored pencil art style that's well outside the norm. Between the concept and artistic flair, this is one we want to see funded -- but not overfunded, since the developers have promised to summon Cthulhu if they hit $150,000.

A constantly running time cycle that works against you brings to mind Don't Starve, and A Place For The Unwilling promises to bring out dark themes and a different approach than normal, turning an urban landscape into the basis of the gameplay.

This is a game set to be all about the immersion, throwing you into a fully fleshed out city and having you undertake seemingly mundane tasks while learning about your fellow citizens and uncovering the story. We have a feeling what's found beneath the surface will be worth the effort.

Newly Released Early Access Titles

Two highly-anticipated games  that spent extended periods of time in early access, are now landing.

Although early access is slightly different from straight crowd funding, the end result is similar, offering a trickle of money all the way through release rather than a bulk set amount at the beginning.

Darkest Dungeon

Get it here

Platforms: PC, with PS4 coming soon

Many of us at GameSkinny have been absolutely loving this infuriatingly hard 2D RPG masterpiece, and we've got a ton of guides up to help you navigate insanity, disease, and worse.

Focusing on one singular concept where style strongly meets substance, this Lovecraftian dark fantasy title shows how a strong idea and a supportive fanbase can overcome all odds and result in an excellent end product.

Feedback straight from the fans during the long early access process obviously paid off, as there's currently just under 11,000 positive reviews on Steam.

Layers of Fear

Get it here

Platforms: PC

After an extended time in early access, this horror offering officially drops tomorrow (February 16th), and you better believe we'll be covering this one extensively since Layers Of Fear was named one of our most anticipated horror games of the year.

While the reviews from major gaming publications have been mixed to middling, those involved with early access have clearly been pleased, with overwhelmingly positive reviews so far. If you've played, be sure to let us know how you think it stacks up against recent horror giants like Outlast or Soma!

Updates On Previously Funded Projects

Torment Tides Of Numenera

Get early access here

Platforms: PC

Combining both a traditional crowdfunding campaign and now an early access period for fans to beta test the game, Tides Of Numenera has a lot to prove as the successor to the mighty Planescape: Torment.

Some Kickstarter backers have been less than thrilled that people who are late to the party can now get in on the gameplay early through Steam, but as far as I'm concerned, the more testing that goes into this thing before the final release, the better.

What's most exciting here is the feedback that's been coming out. While obviously there's still much to be done in terms of optimization, most reports so far have spoken of excellent characters, story, and an iconic art style to match the original game. InXile might just pull this off and give us a worthy successor to Planescape: Torment after all.

While there's no official drop date yet (and we are way beyond the original estimated release period listed on Kickstarter), it's a foregone conclusion this crowd funded game will actually see release when its ready. Expect it to drop late 2016 / early 2017.

Mighty No. 9

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC / Xbox consoles / PS consoles / Wii U / Vita / 3DS

This MegaMan influenced title was recently delayed for a third time, and backers are starting to revolt. Unfortunately, that's a gamble you take with crowdfunding – you aren't guaranteed to get your game when promised, or even get it at all.

Crowdfunded games frequently don't arrive at their original estimated release (just see Torment above, which was projected for a December 2014 release in its Kickstarter campaign), and there's a clear lesson to be learned here by the developers.

When people are giving you money before your product is done, you need to properly manage expectations and provide realistic development times, two issues that are rapidly derailing Mighty No. 9. It's good that updates owning up to problems are coming, but it's entirely unclear when or if this game will finally see full release.

Shenmue 3

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC and PS4

This long-anticipated sequel in the Shenmue series is undoubtedly counted among the biggest crowd funding successes, making a jaw dropping $6 million from fans!

There haven't been a ton of updates, but the developer does usually drop at least one new post a month regarding new coverage and the progress of the game.

There's not much info to report at this point, as the game is expected to be in development all of both this and next year, slated for a release in December of 2017. Hopefully some more concrete info starts to leak soon, but at this point it seems the game is on track and has a realistic release date.

Perception

Get updates on the project here

Platforms: PC

Also named one of our most anticipated horror titles of the year, work continues on this game with some truly unique elements. The frequent developer updates are a very good sign of the project's health, and 11 minutes of new gameplay footage recently came online. There's no finalized release date, but all indicators are that the game should drop this year without any significant delays.

Check back next month for another look at the most promising crowd funding campaigns and updates on past successful campaigns!

]]>