Crowd funding has rapidly gone from fringe oddity to accepted means of releasing games of all varieties, from table top board games to pen and paper RPGs and even PC and console titles.
This means of going straight to the fan base and cutting out the middle man has particularly been a boon for fans of old school games. From the Infinity Engine titles getting a modern day reboot with Pillars Of Eternity (consistently named the game of the year for 2015 by our editors) to Wasteland 2 arriving 25 years later, and even Yatagarasu’s take on Neo Geo style fighting games, platforms like Kickstarter offer a renaissance for fans of classic genres.
Big name publishers and developers aren’t always willing to risk going with anything that isn’t the newest Call Of Duty retread, but crowd funding removes that entire element from the equation. The project is already funded and the programmers already paid when it starts, so any sales after release are just icing on the cake and money to put towards the next project.
Below we’re taking a look at some of the most exciting games currently being funded, as well as checking in on some of the past funded titles that are still in development.
Video Games Currently Being Crowd Funded
There’s a clear nod to the classic sci-fi / fantasy mashup Arcanum here with Project Resurgence, and the stylistic touches on display make it look like this will be a winner for fans of anything from Baldur’s Gate to Shadowrun Returns.
The pre-alpha prototype footage that went online a few months before the Kickstarter already looked more playable and polished than a good deal of the RPGs available through Steam right now. For those who love the idea of Divinity: Original Sin but don’t care for turn-based games, the appeal here is that you can freely choose real time or turn-based and change your option for any combat encounter.
What’s got me most excited is the emphasis placed on choice and story with morally gray consequences throughout. Hopefully Nectar Games Studios delivers on that promise with the finished product. With 19 days to go, this one is already at $109,000 out of a $160,000 goal, so it’s certain to succeed, but this is a project that could really be taken into overdrive and even beat out the big developers if it gets some serious backing behind it.
Platforms: PC, with potential for consoles down the line through stretch goals
Mark my words: the upcoming Oculus Rift and its competing products from other companies are going to completely change the way horror games are played and become the new standard. Playing Outlast alone in the dark with headphones on was terrifying: now imagine that in a fully immersive VR world.
Ghost Theory is an upcoming game aiming to crack into that market early, providing a story-based, first person horror experience specifically designed with VR in mind. Many of the elements discussed at the crowd funding website seem to pull from the best parts of games like Clive Barker’s Undying or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but what really stands out is the focus on exploration.
If the new crop of top tier horror games have a major flaw, its in the way characters are forced into specific linear paths while running at full speed from the unkillable antagonist, and Ghost Theory aims to resolve that problem without resorting to gunfire and combat, which can kill the mood of a horror game.
Despite its age, the roguelike genre continues to get gamers excited, and simply adding that adjective on can ensure you’ll have a built-in audience of rabid fans. Hero’s Song seeks to capitalize on that nostalgia by going back to the 2D sprites, while adding in more modern action elements along the lines of the Diablo titles.
The pixel art style is absolutely gorgeous and will remind you of the absolute best of the SNES / Genesis days with some modern updates, and its clear a lot of work has gone into the world building and race design.
Children of Zodiarcs
Platforms: PC / PS4
Remember the glory days of playing Final Fantasy Tactics for untold hours on a Saturday night? Children Of Zodiarcs is going for that old school tactical feeling, but with a chibi 3D style and a few twists: most notably the inclusion of cards and craftable dice.
The combo is an interesting change, as from the footage available it looks like traditional grid-based combat, but with the addition of random card draws that add an unpredictable element. Further adding to the strategy / luck paradigm is the challenge of crafting the right kinds of dice for the appropriate situation. It’s tabletop-meets-digital, but with a story and art style that will please console or RPG fans.
If you went past Final Fantasy Tactics and gobbled up other titles like Vandal Hearts or Tactics Ogre, you will definitely want in on this one.
Children Of Zodiarcs
Consortium: The Tower
Platforms: PC / Xbox One / PS4
Back in 2014, Interdimensional Games released Consortium, and now a sequel is getting the crowd funding treatment, seeking $309,000 from fans to get the job done right. Providing an immersive first person sci-fi experience, the developers describe Consortium: The Tower as “the original Deus Ex combined with Die Hard.”
The big draw here is the total freedom expressed in every element: the game never takes control away from you, and you can choose how you make your way through the sandbox. Stealth, diplomacy, or combat: it’s your decision, and the game doesn’t prefer one over another.
Consortium: The Tower
Platforms: Mobile / PC
A while back I covered the best education apps for kids. That market is currently dominated by casual games, but what if education could be combined with a full RPG to keep youngsters fully engaged longer? That’s the thrust of ChemCaper, billed as the world’s first chemistry-based role playing game!
With another 19 days of the campaign to go, ChemCaper is already halfway to the goal of $50,000. The mobile version of Act I – Petticles in Peril is coming in March, with a PC edition to follow if the campaign is successful.
The world may be based on the periodic table and chemistry puns abound, but the gameplay footage looks like exactly the sort of RPG I would have wanted to play when I was 12, and the addition of active learning means parents will actually want kids to pick it up. The soundtrack is also shaping up to be something spectacular, and I recommend heading over to the Kickstarter page just to listen in.
Looking Back At Previously Funded Projects
Platforms: PC / PS4 / Xbox One
Funded through Kickstarter back in October of 2015, The Dwarves is exactly what it sounds like: an RPG / large scale strategy combat game focusing specifically on the shorter denizens of the fantasy universe.
The videos and still shots that have been released so far look very promising, and the Alpha 1 test version just went out to backers last month, so it looks like this one is on track to release by the end of the year. It’s also a good sign when the developer stays in regular contact via social media.
For you heavy metal fans, The Dwarves will both feature the music of Blind Guardian and in-game representations of the band members!
This return to the classic gameplay of Ultima Underworld was funded back in March of 2015, and is looking like it will greatly please fans of that hallowed, but short lived, first person series.
The Kickstarter page was pretty quiet from August through the start of the year, which had some skittish, but OtherSide Entertainment has been fairly active through both Facebook and a newsletter. Just earlier this month a large update finally came out revealing the addition of a new art director and providing an update on the progress of the combat system.
There haven’t been a ton of specifics released yet though, so I’d say it’s a good bet that original estimated release of November 2016 is going to get pushed back, but otherwise this looks like its on track to fully deliver on what was promised when it does arrive.
The Forecast For Upcoming Crowd Funded Games
The current pool of crowd funded video games is looking top-notch, and it’s a good bet many more projects will be launched in the coming months (don’t worry – we’ll be sure to highlight the standout games in future articles).
While major projects like Battletech aren’t slated to arrive until 2017, there’s plenty of finished already games on the horizon, like the impending expansions to the Kickstarter-backed Pillars Of Eternity and Shadowrun: Hong Kong.
Let us know – what crowd funded game are you most looking forward to, and what projects have you backed recently that you’d like to see more updates on as development continues?