In the teeth: A February Kickstarter spotlight

After pledging to the now (ridiculously) successfully funded Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, a few nagging doubts crept into my head. What about all the little people? The people without the star power or the history of Tim Schafer and Double Fine? Isn’t Kickstarter for them? How were their projects faring without this viral wildfire of tweeting and facebooking and donating?

Investigating the Games category of Kickstarter, it seemed there were a lot of people who wouldn’t be telling success stories at the end of their campaigns. Ideas too ambitious, perhaps, or too much money requested. But there was some amazing stuff there, too. I couldn’t help but get excited, and so I’ve shared a few Projects below.

Monster Guru

Pledge here!

Featuring hand drawn art, an original soundtrack and geolocation gameplay, this iPhone game was the first to catch my eye. The team at Gimo Games is made up of college students scattered across Utah, and they’ve apparently been working on Monster Guru for two years.

Players’ real world movements are tracked and translated to movements around the map in game. As they traverse the world they capture and train monsters, and using them, will explore and unlock the secrets of the world and its story.

The project is asking for $4500, which they say will go towards supporting the developers, giving them more time to work on the game.

Rock Vibe

Pledge here!

Conceived and initially created in 2008 at a university in California, Rock Vibe is a gaming peripheral that allows blind gamers to enjoy a Rock Band-style game as easily as their sighted friends.

The Rock Vibe is worn by the player, and incorporates five motors – one for button a player can press. Each motor vibrates individually, and players must then press the corresponding button on their controller.

The Project is already over $12000 towards their $16000 goal, and the money is slated to be used to buy tools, finish prototypes. promote the Rock Vibe and give copies of the game and peripheral to a number of organisations who work with blind children.

Jammer Up

Jammer Up!

Pledge here!

I’ve never been to a roller derby match, but this game stood out amongst the mass of board game projects on Kickstarter. A strategy game built around roller derby, a player’s Jammer must maneuver around their opponent’s Blockers to score points, while trying to prevent the opposition Jammer from doing the same.

Jammer Up was spawned on a plane trip across the USA, and developed when a health setback stopped the developer, Niki Hammond, from competing and she needed a roller derby fix. The game is already in beta, and the Kickstarter Project is intended to move the game into a full production run. Best of all, if they significantly beat their target, Hammond says all extra funds will be invested in completing the iPhone app of the same game.

The Departure

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The Departure is an attempt from a seasoned illustrator, Jesse Kuhn of Raw Toast Design, to turn some of his creations into videogames. The first project sees him taking one of his most loved creations, and building a platformer / adventure game around it. Players jump between balloons, collecting gems and avoiding bad guys.

The game grabbed me because the art looks stunning, but at this point Kuhn doesn’t have any experience of making games. So much so that he’s offering people who pledge toward the $3000 he aims to raise the chance to contribute to the design of the game.

Steampunk Bullet Train

Pledge here!

Spawned by the Unity Flash in a Flash competition (ultimately won by Australian Cameron Owen), Steampunk Bullet Train is the most traditional video game in this list. It’s in development at SparkPlug Games, a company with a fairly solid history of small mobile and indie games (including a port of Australian game Puzzle Quest 2 to iOS).

Players control a smuggler trying to break through the “iron grip” of the “air shipping guard” – a side-scrolling shooter with a cool Steampunk twist. Best of all, because the game was originally created for the Unity competition, a playable demo is already online.

SparkPlug team members are currently developing the game in off hours, and they want to use the $25000 goal to move more team members onto the project. Funding the Kickstarter earns everyone a copy of the game, with higher contributors earning hand-painted 3D models of the game assets.


You know you want to...

There’s so much amazing stuff on Kickstarter, but I just had to pick a few that excited me, and that I could afford to pledge money towards. By all means, have a look at these, have a look at all the others, and help some little guys out! We will be checking back every month or so, finding more projects to fund and sharing them here. Any that are eventually funded and completed, we will review and maybe we will even get to talk to some of the developers. For now, go help Kickstart someone!

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