Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kickstarter Round-Up: (Post) Christmas Edition

Right around Christmas Eve and even onto Christmas day, I've been bombarded by Kickstarter messages and announcements. A number of Kickstarter projects took the days of high Christmas to get some of their affairs in order. Mostly I received advanced-stage preview of their progress with some projects even choosing to time their full digital distribution of rewards to coincide with the holiday gifting tradition.

>> Some of the significant ones sending digital rewards include:

Ultimate Psionics
Dreamscarred Press sent the full 450 page PDF to their backers Christmas Eve. I've followed their updates with interest and they've each been comprehensive. Though a bit delayed from their original estimated delivery date, the project overshot their goal by a considerable amount and the project grew in scope. The wait was worth it as the final product is packed with psionic goodness for Pathfinder.

The book has professional quality layout (right up there with Paizo and WotC) and filled to the brim with full color images (again comparable with the M.O. of much larger companies). Another bonus is the PDF has been optimized to the point where a 450 page file loads and scrolls as smooth as books one-tenth its size without noticeable sacrifice in visual quality and clarity. Understandable as the file size is on-par with those much smaller yet unoptimized books. More companies should go the extra step to streamline their digital files. It makes the electronic file run better on tablets especially, which find their way to the game table (where a supplement wants to be).

Ballpoint Universe (originally College-Ruled Universe)
Not a tabletop game but a computer game in the "Schmup" genre using graphics derived entirely from drawings done in ballpoint pen on college-ruled paper (thus the name). I backed on a whim based on the art style in the second quarter of 2012. After a steady development phase, the game was sent in a thumb-drive months ago but the designers continually cleaned up the gameplay and added features. Once the game was up on Steam, the project created sent Steam Keys to the backers. I considered this complete with the delivery of the flash drive, but having a Steam key means I have an 'perpetually' updated version on my account, keeping the game relevant in my library. Ballpoint Universe receives a well-deserved "Got It" check mark.

Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether
The project creators (Greg Rucka, Rick Burchett, Eric Newsom) sent all the digital files to backers, including the graphic novel, the supplemental gazetteer, maps, desktop icons, wallpapers, and graphics. Physical rewards will go out around early Spring 2014 once they print and get prepped for shipping.

>> Other projects have technically shipped, but are using the holiday update to announce improved functionality or content.

Quantum Flux (formerly Spacial Flux)
This was a rogue-style wandering spaceship game. The project funded by a relatively low amount. Knew it was going to be a long shot even if it relied mostly on textual interactions with graphical enhancements. Project creator with the help of another party more established in game production managed to get this to a working Alpha/Beta stage. Then the project was handed over to the third party as a Beta and will continue development from there. This v1.0 (technically finished, but still Beta-y game) was the version uploaded to patrons this week. It's functional if not exactly as smooth as expected from a finished product. Not a bad effort for the funding level. I backed it at a low tier to throw some support for indie developers, and partly because FTL sparked my interest in rogue-like games. Hopefully as this gets onto steam and other platforms development will refine the game as its profile rises.

Sent out an update showing DLC in QA testing. This tactical shooter barely met its funding goal in early 2012. About 18 months later they launched their product and sent Steam keys to backers. The game was unfinished to say the least and its reputation took a hit. Rather than abandon ship after such an incident, the company has continually improved on the game, fixing bugs, cleaning up game play, and adding new areas. While I haven't kept up to date with the project, it is good to see the company owning up to their project and hammering away at the game. Maybe something decent will come of this someday, but for now, this remains an example of the difficulties of crowd-funded indie games (and I think developer Serellan even got help from publisher 505 Games).

>> Other projects don't have their primary reward ready for digital consumption, but they have offered a related gift to backers for their patience.

Shadows of Esteren - Book 2: Travels
After rapid fulfillment of the first two books of Esteren, a French medieval horror RPG translated to English, Agate Editions went for a Kickstarter for Book 2. The following for these lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced books has grown with each book and the scope of Book 2 grew. This was all accounted for in the Kickstarter with the fulfillment dates updated and split up before the project ended. Still the wait for the completion of Book 2 is longer than for the others and Agate Edition offered up downloads of Book 1 to backers who didn't already have it with the encouragement to share one copy if a backer already has it. This was a nice gesture to their fans, but also a good way to grow their audience. A game lives only if people play it.

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls
Deluxe T&T has been delayed for a bit and for the last few months, backers have been getting DTRPG coupons for free T&T modules. In May we received Buffalo Castle, in July City of Terrors, Saving Fang in August, and Dungeon of the Bear on Christmas. These are mostly older modules scanned into PDF or recently expanded upon. Nothing matches actually having the core rules in hand, especially since this is my first copy of T&T, but it is a nice gesture to keep the craven masses occupied and is a good use of their substantial back catalog.

>>And finally we get previews almost as good as the final product.

Guide to Glorantha
Moon Design Publications sent a 346 page backer preview for the holidays. If this is indication of the final product, as it looks like a partial layout and some completed graphics and images, this will be a tome to behold. Showing completed chapters is doing previews right no matter how much more work you have to complete.

Adventures in the East Mark - The Red Box
Sent out the text of the translated rulebook to backers. It's a good start for people curious about the game system sans any layout and art.

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