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Matt Barton's picture

The Kickstarters I'm Backing and Why

For the future!For the future!There are so many great Kickstarters going on right now that I'm GRAVELY concerned some of these will get lost in the shuffle. So to that end, I'm going to post some notes about each of the projects I'm backing, and I encourage you to do the same! I'll order these by the time they have left to go: Salem, Star Citizen, Hero-U, Shadowgate, and Cthulhu World Combat.

First up is a strategy board game called Salem by Joshua Balvin:

Salem: An Innovative New Strategy Board Game -- Kicktraq Mini
As you can see, this one has already surpassed its goal and is now entering stretch goal territory (congratulations!). What's cool about his setup is that these will be included with each copy, so everyone benefits. I became interested in this project after hearing about it during Jeff McCord's famous Kick-A-Thon; I was introduced to Joshua and got to chat with him a bit about the game. I know next to nothing about the boardgame world, so it was very enlightening to learn about just how much creativity exists in this sector. Salem sounds like a great party game, but I plan to try it out in a rhetoric class since it involves so much persuasion.

Next up is Star Citizen by Chris Roberts:

Star Citizen -- Kicktraq Mini
I have a hard time believing anyone here wouldn't be jumping on board this one. It's also passed its funding goal, reaching $500,000 and now getting closer to a million. It appears Chris is using stretch goals for in-game treats like a free repair bot and credits, but also some new ship types and bases. I'm personally THRILLED about this one; I've always loved this genre and haven't been really satisfied with anything in recent memory. This looks like it could very well scratch the itch. Indeed, if you gave me unlimited money and asked me to design the sci-fi game of my dreams, this is what it would look like.

Third up is Hero-U by Lori and Corey Cole. I recently did a Matt Chat with them about their game, so go check it out if you haven't already.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption -- Kicktraq Mini
Quest for Glory is probably the only game to successfully combine the adventure and RPG genres--you might remember my Matt Chat Retrospective of it. They're billing it as a hybrid of Persona and Quest for Glory. I've never heard of Persona, personally, but it's a very intriguing-looking 1997 Japanese game for the PlayStation about a group of high school kids, a demon, a corporation, and probably a tentacle or two.

If you take a moment to look at their Kickstarter page, you'll notice it's quite a bit different than the rest. Although all the game designers I've chatted with over the years are very bright people who are great at making games, few of them seem as generally creative as these two. There's a disarming charm about a Kickstarter page with cute sheep and a cat photo. They also hit all the right bullet points on their list, such as "tactical combat that is much more than hack and slash" and "adventure-style puzzles that are an integral part of the story." If you think either of these two goals are easy--think again! But if anybody can pull it off, it's these two.

I think part of supporting this project for most people will be getting to know Lori and Corey Cole, which they're encouraging through a variety of creative themed events (including one for Halloween). I'd actually like to have them in the game itself, perhaps as professors at the U!

Fourth up is Dave Marsh's Shadowgate kickstarter. You can click here to watch my interview with Dave concerning it.

Shadowgate -- Kicktraq Mini
I can sum this one up nicely. If you played Shadowgate back in the day, whether on a Mac, PC, Amiga, or NES (or any of other million platforms it's been on), this one is a no-brainer. Dave has learned a lot from his earlier failed Kickstarter for Sherlock Holmes, and this time he's really focused on appealing to his audience by giving us an insider's look at the game's development process and interacting with fans. He's also making it clear that this isn't just a port, but a "re-imagining." Basically what means is that you'll enjoy this whether you've played the original or not. The extras are really great, too, like an 8-bit score, collector's box, cloth map (yeah, I know), and a poster. Come on, Dave, we want gems!!! He's also doing a card game called The Quest of Shadowgate that looks pretty damn awesome--but you'll need $150 to play.

The final entry is Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Word Combat Game.

Cthulhu World Combat -- Kicktraq Mini
This one is a casual game for iOS and Android based on the (you guessed it) Cthulhu universe of HP Lovecraft. Sandy's the man to do it, no question about that--he did the famous pen & paper roleplaying game for Chaosium after all. I do have some concerns about this one--it isn't as scary looking as I would've thought, but perhaps that will be dispelled by the great Heroes of Might & Magic-style gameplay. He's asking for $300K, which shows some balls for a casual iPhone/Android game, but perhaps the appeal of the franchise and Sandy's stellar reputation will be enough to get him there.

So there you have it, folks. I know nobody has money to burn out there, but this is really the "gamer's moment" in my opinion. We can either support these projects ourselves, investing in stuff that we'd like to see, or we blow our wads on Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 and, who'd have thunk it, we'll be blowing our ward on Halo 5 and Black Ops 3 a year or two later (yawn). If you spend your money investing in Kickstarters instead, if nothing else, we'll get some serious variety and be giving proven designers a chance to shine--with games from their heart and soul. So, even if you don't intend to play one or more of the games on this list, at least pop over and pledge five bucks. It might literally make the difference between their getting or not, and you WILL be sending a message to the powers-that-be that we're tired of the sameness and ready to start making game development a labor of LOVE again.

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