Indie Game Kickstarter Highlights August 2018

By Tim Youngblood

August had some interesting Kickstarter campaigns that have a few weeks left to meet their funding goals. Let’s check out some games!

Titan Arena: A Virtual Reality Shooter

Titan Arena is a VR battle arena where players have to jump and fly around using futuristic weapons to fight giant robots. The game was developed by Lightbound Studios, whose members have worked on AAA series like God of War, Medal of Honor, and Lord of the Rings: Conquest.

Titan Arena is set to release in late 2019 for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality if it can get funding. This game stood out to me because the gameplay looked more fast-paced than most VR games being developed currently. In future updates, this is a game I would love to see with some kind of multiplayer or high score ladder system. I think this would be an awesome game to see at an arcade.

 

 

Learn More About Titan Arena

 

Squarewave Maker: A Rhythm Game With a Sandbox Level Creation System

Rhythm games aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but Squarewave Maker might change some minds about the genre. Besides having pretty graphics and smooth gameplay, it has a sandbox style level creation system that allows players to make their own levels and share them with others.

Squarewave Maker was developed by Moshing Cat Studio with a goal of releasing on Steam in October 2019. Moshing Cat Studio had to make their own game engine in order to create their sandbox system, which they say was “inspired by Mario Maker and Ableton Live.” The editor looks actually does look a lot like Ableton and I’m especially interested to see if Squarewave Maker can help people learn about audio production.

 

 

Learn More About Squarewave Maker

 

Meeple Station: A Cooperative Space Station Simulator

In Meeple Station, players (up to 12 of them!) build and maintain a space station for their meeple, which are little cartoony people. While the game features some low pixel count retro graphics, the game itself is quite complex. Players have to mine resources in space, trade with other stations, manage crew morale and much more!

Meeple Station was developed by Vox Games, who also developed Regions of Ruin. Meeple Station is set to release in December 2018 on Steam if it can get funding! Also, Meeple Station has a demo!

 

 

Learn More About Meeple Station

What Were Your Favorite Kickstarter Campaigns This Summer?

There were a lot of awesome-looking campaigns this summer that I didn’t get to write about so I tried to focus on games that could use some help to meet their funding goals. Were there any Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns that caught your eye? Please share them in the comments!

Indie Game Kickstarter Highlights: May 2018

By Tim Youngblood

 

Editor’s Note: This month’s Kickstarter highlights are technically last month’s highlights, so,  unfortunately, some of their campaigns have already finished.

May’s indie game Kickstarter campaigns gave us some new genres and revamped some classics.

Hide Or Die – Large Scale Asymmetrical Horror

 

Hide or Die was developed in Unreal Engine 4 by VecFour Digital, a 3 person dev team based out of Singapore. The game’s genre was coined as a “horror royale,” a combination of an asymmetrical horror and a battle royale. The game has a minimal interface and an immersive feel. Even player’s chat windows are contained on the screen of an in-game smartphone.

In Hide Or Die, 16 players (designated as survivors in the game) start in an underground bunker and have to solve an array of puzzles in procedurally generated levels while avoiding “the darkness”. Once a survivor is consumed by the darkness, that player will transform into a crazed “hunter”, who tries to stop the other players from completing their objectives. If the “hunter” fails to stop a “survivor” from completing their objective, the “hunter” is eliminated. There are some more steps in between, but the game ends with a duel between the last “survivor” and the last “hunter”.

VecFour Digital raised $153,000 for Hide Or Die, and the game is set to release in October. Despite being a super immersive game, virtual reality was not one of their stretch goals… which I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing…

 

 

Learn More About Hide Or Die

 

Chiaro and the Elixir of Life: A Virtual Reality Adventure

Chiaro and the Elixir of Life is a story-driven, VR, puzzle adventure developed in Unreal Engine 4 by Martov Co, a dev team based out of Montreal, Canada. In the game, players are immersed into the magical VR realm of Neverrain, where they unlock the secrets of alchemists, by doing lots of puzzles, and they get a steampunk penguin for a companion. I’m probably biased here, but all of those things in list form sound awesome.

The developers have been working on the game for over two years, and it shows in the production value. The game is fully voiced and features an original soundtrack. Chiaro and the Elixir of Life has only 12 days left on their campaign and are about halfway to their $7,500 goal.

 

Learn More About Chiaro and the Elixir of Life

 

Stoneshard: Open-world Roguelike RPG with Tactical Freedom

 

Stoneshard is a procedurally generated, open-world, roguelike RPG developed by Ink Stains Games. Back in 2015, Ink Stains Games successfully funded 12 is Better Than 6, a top-down shooter.

Stoneshard doesn’t have the high contrast art style of 12 is Better Than 6. Instead, Ink Stains Games went old school for this game. What the game may lack in modern graphics, it more than makes up for in complexity and brutality. I don’t mean brutality in the context of the game being ultra-violent (Although it’s still plenty violent), this game is really, really, hard. Death is permanent and just about everything can kill your character… like even infection and disease. I did not make it far into the demo before dying. It’s like if Hardcore mode in Diablo 2 had a baby with Oregon Trail.

Ink Stains Games raised over $100,000 to fund Stoneshard, which is set to release in October for PC, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch.

 

 

Learn More About Stoneshard

Xeno Crisis: An Indie Game Kickstarter Done Right

By Tim Youngblood

Xeno Crisis, a retro top-down shooter for Sega Genesis developed by Bitmap Bureau recently more than doubled its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter. See how they did it!

A few months ago, I wrote about some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to making a Kickstarter campaign for an indie game. Xeno Crisis, developed by Bitmap Bureau, stuck by most of the principles I recommended and even did some things I would have been too timid to try. Although Bitmap Bureau was founded in 2016, the development team behind the company has a lot of experience, some going back over 20 years and they have some great marketing tricks for studios with a small or non-existent budget.

 

A Simple Game Trailer

I’ve harped on about game developers over-diverting time and effort into making extravagant cinematic trailers in the development and crowd-funding page. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful cinematic trailer as much as the next person, but I think that they fit in better for the release. When it comes to generating interest while the game is still under development, gamers want to get a feel for how the game plays more than anything. If you watch the trailer below, you’ll notice that the trailer is just gameplay and sweet retro synth metal.

 

Keeping it short and sweet.
 

Keeping the Content Focused on Gameplay

Even if a game has the greatest story ever told, plenty of games with great stories don’t have the gameplay to match it. When reading through Bitmap Bureau’s description of Xeno Crisis, they make practically no mention of the game’s plot in the description and instead go immediately into gameplay style comparisons. That being said, the game itself probably has a decently in-depth plot, but for crowdfunding purposes, viewers can simply gather that there is an alien infestation and some badass space marine has to shoot up a lot of xenomorphs to save the day.

 

This GIF illustrates the procedurally generated levels. Not the prettiest marketing material but it gets the job done.

When is the Best Time to Begin Crowdfunding an Indie Game?

Knowing the answer to this question can save developers a lot of redos when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns. Bitmap Bureau waiting until the frameworks of Xeno Crisis were completed before seeking funding. This ensured that their game would be playable when they began marketing it, even if they are still adding more levels and features between then and the release. The framework for gameplay, menus, and procedurally generated levels are already in the game, meaning that the odds of a catastrophic programming error delaying the game’s release are much lower. Xeno Crisis is already more complete than many EA releases lately…

 

Addressing Risks and Challenges

Bitmap Bureau was quick to address what they felt would be the primary concerns of backers. Since Xeno Crisis will have physical copies for Sega Genesis (Or MegaDrive in the UK) and Sega Dreamcast, the logistics become far more complex than a simple digital download. There is nothing worse for backers than funding a Kickstarter, having the project reach its funding goal, and still having to wait years to get your own copy or model. if it ever arrives at all… Reaching a crowdfunding goal and not delivering on your product is a good way to never get funding again.

Bitmap Bureau got ahead of the situation by noting that programming Sega Genesis cartridges can be troublesome and this could cause delays in the release. Bitmap Bureau’s solution was simple and effective, they included a digital download of the game for all backers and buyers. This ensures that even if there is a supply chain disaster or hardware difficulties, players will at least get to play the game!

 

Physical game copies can cause additional challenges to arise when releasing a game. 

Bitmap Bureau does a lot of little things with their marketing that allow a small studio to have success on a small budget. This goes beyond their Kickstarter campaigns and applies to their websites as well, which I’ll get into at a later date. If you’re a developer who doesn’t have much experience with marketing, emulating Bitmap Bureau is a good place to start!

If you know any tricks that Bitmap Bureau did that I left out, or if you know of any other any indie developers who you think market their games well, please share in the comments!

More Indie Game Marketing Tricks and Tutorials

Be sure to check in for more marketing tutorials and tricks. If there’s something you’d like to learn more about, let us know in the comments!

 

*All images courtesy of Bitmap Bureau and Kickstarter

Benefits of Using Unity for 3D Game Development

By Sunny Chawla

As a game developer, you have a ton of options in regards to picking a game engine. The determination runs the range from straightforward 2D engines to completely highlighted 3D powerhouses. With such huge numbers of choices, it can be hard to pick the engine that is appropriate for your venture. Mike Geig clarifies why he thinks the Unity game engine is the best decision.

The video game industry is a behemoth chugging along at full throttle and shows no signs backing off. I will disclose to you something that you most likely know already: Making video games takes a ton of work, aptitude, and commitment. It isn’t all fun circumstances and gatherings like in the films (I’m looking at you, Grandma’s Boy). As a game developer, you have a considerable measure of choices with regards to picking a game engine. Game engines’ expenses can quickly add up to a great many dollars. With many alternatives, it can be hard to pick the engine that is ideal for your undertaking. Here is why I think you should utilize the Unity game engine.

What is the Unity Game Engine?

It was made by Unity Technologies in 2004 as an improvement tool for their game, GooBall. It was later propelled in 2005 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Today, the Unity game engine flies under the flag of “democratizing game advancement and empowering everybody to make rich intelligent 3D content,” as indicated on Unity’s  website. It is evaluated that there are more than 1.3 million enrolled Unity developers (do names like Cartoon Network, Coca-Cola, Disney, LEGO, or NASA ring a bell?) and that there is more than 300,000 dynamic developers month to month. A 2012 review led by video game magazine Game Developer expresses that 53.1% of portable developers detailed utilizing Unity to make games. Whether you’re an indie developer or looking for a development job, development Unity is a valuable skill to learn.

 

Unity’s Ease of Use

The principal thing you will see when you make an undertaking in Unity is how visual everything is. This is an engine that concentrates a great deal on improving the game advancement work process, and no place is that more clear than with the Unity Editor.

 

Screenshot of the Unity interface. Courtesy of Unity.

 

If you’ve never worked with a game engine with a visual editorial manager, you’ll be astounded at how quickly it enables you to fabricate and alter your tasks. Need to move a thing a little to one side? You can click in the scene and drag your question. Done! Need to perceive how this question acts with new properties? Simply look to the investigator window. Shazam! The Unity editorial manager even goes so far as to run the game itself in the game window for quick testing.

Believe me when I say that the capacity to run your game while seeing the properties and areas of all articles in the scene is an intense and efficient element. You may ponder internally: “No canned arrangement can be utilized for my work process. It is exceptional and one of a kind simply like me!” Well, Negative Nancy, let me disclose to you that the Unity supervisor can be effectively stretched out to incorporate exclusively specific tools and modules. These tools and modules can be incorporated into the Unity interface.

 

The Power of Scripting

There are a considerable number game engines that have a visual manager. However, many of these engines do not have the power required to manufacture huge or complex games because of their canned way to deal with practices. With Unity, question practices aren’t constrained to work in modules that come bundled with the engine. Rather, Unity takes into consideration effective practices written in any of three powerful dialects: JavaScript, C#, and Boo. Each of the three languages can be utilized inside of an undertaking to permit individuals of various innovation foundations to add to a venture. The way that the languages are utilized as contents takes into account quick assembly times, snappy cycles, and adaptability of the plan.

 

 

One Source to Rule Them All!

Perhaps the greatest component of the Unity engine is the capacity to construct your ventures throughout various stages on multiple systems with minimal difficulty. With simple and straightforward determination of a drop-down menu, Unity can work for Windows PC, Linux (new with form 4), iOS (with module), Mac, Android (with module), Web Browser, Flash (with module), PS3, Xbox, and Wii U. This allows developers to invest more energy into enhancing the nature of their tasks and take less time on porting it to various gadgets.

 

Unity 5 works on 21 different platforms. Courtesy of Hexus.

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

No matter how easy an interface is to use, inevitably, developers will get stuck somewhere. Fortunately, Unity has a dynamic and bolstered community. Unity’s forums are an incredible place to make inquiries, get direction, examine best practices, help other people, and even hotshot a bit. Searching for a more organized way to deal with taking an interest in the community? Unity Answers is an administration that honors “karma” and identifications for good inquiries asked and replied. It is a more social approach than your common Q&A site.

There is also the Unity resource store, which is completely coordinated into the proofreader and gives a way to individuals to share or even offer their uniquely designed substance. This enables you to procure visual assets without having to make them yourself.

 

 

Evaluating and Licenses

Numerous engines today accompany extraordinary sticker prices or muddled installment designs. Numerous engines don’t have any costs recorded and long quote exchanges must occur to decide real figures. Unity doesn’t do any of that and rather just comes in two fundamental flavors: Unity Free and Unity Pro. Unity Free is obviously free (my favorite number) and isn’t some diluted, gimped form of the engine. It accompanies the greater part of the highlights you would need to make games that can sell commercially.

In the event that you might want a portion of the more expert highlights like LOD Support, Path-finding, or IK Rigs. You can buy the Unity Pro permit for $1,500. This may appear like a great deal to an individual simply getting into the field, but the upfront cost pays off in the long run by avoiding paying a percentage of profits like with the Unreal Engine.

 

Let’s Talk Games

At this point, you may ponder who is utilizing Unity and what precisely they are utilizing it for. As specified above, Unity has a fairly extensive enrolled client base. Numerous expansive organizations and non-mainstream players alike have found the power and flexibility of the Unity engine. What you may not know is that there are non-gaming organizations that utilize the engine too. Unity is being utilized for research, recreation, and exhibition by organizations everywhere throughout the world. In the event that you go to Unity’s game exhibition, you can see a portion of the astonishing games effectively made with the Unity game engine. 

About the Author

Sunny Chawla is a Marketing Manager at Alliance International IT – a Web design and Development Company. Helping global businesses with unique and engaging tools for their business. He would love to share thoughts on Unity 3d Game Development, Digital Marketing Services, Web Designing, and mobile app development.

 

*Editor’s Note: The opinions of guest posters are their own and not the official opinion of Game Borough. In fact, we don’t have an official opinion, we’re more interested in yours!