What If I gave you 12 days to make $20,000 dollars? Too easy? How 'bout 18 days to come up with $378,000? That's more of a challenge and it's not impossible to achieve in the world of crowdfunding but some of these projects still have their work cut out for them. This week we have a presidential playing card deck, a plague spreading business scheme, and a happy-go-lucky trip to the abandoned local asylum. There's a good chance one of these won't make it to successful funding this week but these are all cream of the crop ideas that are worth your time nonetheless.
If someone said you've got 12 days to make $20,000 the average person would think it impossible, but with the advent of crowdfunding such a lofty goal as this is possible for even the most indie of developers. Coincidently Senscape has just that amount left to reach its goals of $100,000 to finish production on Asylum - a point and click adventure game set in a supposedly abandoned psychiatric facility. Senscape is a game development company based in Argentina and its founder, Agustín Cordes, says that completing their crowdfunding goals will allow the team to "lock [themselves] inside an office for the remainder of the year until Asylum is complete". My my a year locked away in an office building sounds positively maddening.
Asylum's setting, The Hanwell Mental Institute, has long been abandoned but there are still mysteries lurking within its creaking walls. Agustin appears in the Kickstarter video and introduces us to his labor of love: a four story turn-of-the-century building the length of two football fields.
The eerie building that Senscape has crafted already has close to 100 rooms including a library, bathing facilities, a classroom, inspection rooms and even what appears to be an autopsy setup. all this is creepy enough the fact that it's in disrepair, dark and supposedly empty just adds to the scare factor. As a player you'll explore the Institute discovering hidden tales of past patients and you'll probably run into a few of them who've stuck around for the mushrooms and other moldy edibles. There's a mystery to solve here if you can survive the horrors inside these walls. If the emaciated creatures don't eat you alive the spirits trapped within might torment you to death just for fun.
Asylum is already well into its development and a successful Kickstarter funding will only serve to push it across the finish line. Agustin says on the proposal page that "The script and design have been ready for a long time, most characters have already been modeled, the Dagon engine is mature enough, and the programming is well under way… In a nutshell: Asylum will happen." I couldn't ask for a more positive outlook from a game based on a mysterious mental institute.
Rewards for supporting Asylum range from digital copies of the game and soundtrack (a standard of Kickstarter games nowadays) to full blown characters modeled after you featured in the game. There are some special high roller tires that will give supporters the chance to be featured prominently in the story as twisted characters interned in the facility. I've put that on my birthday wishlist - must raise $5,000 to have self locked in a padded cell for who knows how long. Some of the premium tiers include physical copies of the game, t-shirts, plenty of in-game items and a physical copy of the asylum registry. If you're particularly spendy you can get a list of past inmates which might help you become more enthralled in the Asylum storyline.
Ambient Studios has over 2,200 supporters so far and they've managed to raise over $85,000 but they've still got a long ways to go and not much time to do it in. One of the reasons they don't seem much closer to reaching their crowdfunding goals might be because they're asking for nearly half a million dollars ($465,000) a hefty sum for an indie developer. Just to give you an idea Gas Powered Games, a full-fledged development company, was able to raise $500,000 before funding for Wildman was canceled a few day short of its deadline. So now that i've sufficiently rained on Ambient Studios parade what makes their project unique?
First off a portion of Ambient studio is formed from alumni out of Media Molecule the developer that brought us Little Big Planet. That's good enough reason to support for me but there's more to the game than an impressive pedigree. Death Inc. is a strategy game in which you must efficiently dole out death by spreading the plague and unleashing the plague on 17th century England. It's a terrible story true, but i'd say it's nowhere near too soon to start making fun of 17th century England's problems. You'll play as Grim T. Livingstone, a freelance Reaper who runs Death Inc. As a pseudo Reaper you'll jump back and forth between the human world and The Nether (your base of operations) each mission. As you kill people with the plague in one world you'll be able to harvest their souls and refine your business empire in The Nether until you produce the perfect corporate killing machine.
Ambient's game already beautiful and quirky, couple this with the fact that it's all about dealing death to tiny little villagers running around their comically proportioned kingdom and you have a recipe for fun. Playing the game is simple "Death Inc's fluid control mechanic allows you to quickly and simply paint orders directly in the world for your horde to follow. Use broad brush strokes from afar to direct large swathes of infected, or zoom right in for pencil sharp accuracy." So you can literally paint the town pink with picture perfect plague.
Death Inc. has a long way to go but if you support their efforts you'll not only be able to get the digital game but you can snag exclusive goodies at certain reward tiers. Physical copies of the game, free access to future expansions, a themed map of the English countryside, t-shirts and more are locked away at the middle tiers. If you start throwing premium level money at this project Ambient Studios will work with you to design characters and missions in the game based on your specifications. This customization could include castles, decorations, coat-of-arms and other livery featured in the final version of the game.
Founders Playing Cards
These smartly designed playing cards have a subtle blue theme that slowly grows on you. Inside the indigo blue tuck-box you'll find symbols of our country's origins scrawled amongst geometric patterns that will remind you of our historic documents, monuments and symbols. You might go so far as to say these playing cards will help you to remember our founding fathers because after all they're featured on the face cards. That's right some of the most memorable figures in The United States of America's early history are the King, Queen, & Jack in each of the four suits.
The Founders Playing cards are a project that seems to be created by John Slabyk who wikipedia is sure was the "Art Director/Creative Director for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign for President of the United States". John's company, which he co-founded, called Celsius Design is a subdomain on a website linked with the Kickstarter project at dodsr.com called intriguingly "The Department of Design". So I guess one can reach the conclusion that if you want a playing card deck designed by the Creative Director for Obama's 2008 Presidential Campaign you've found the right project.
The reasoning behind individual founder's placement in each suit is described in detail on the campaign page. Each person is classified into "Nobility (Spades), Clergy (Hearts), The People (Clubs), and Merchants (Diamonds)". Furthermore "each Founder is seen brandishing their own unique element, representative of their role as a founder and the legacy they have left behind as our inheritance". One can't argue with this sort of logic and the cards are smart looking to boot.
As with other Kickstarter playing card projects printed through the USPCC supporters will have access to many different benefits at certain reward tiers. The Department of Design has offered supporters uncut sheets, a copy of the bill of rights printed on a gaff card, a blue themed t-shirt, a themed poster and a rather impressive engraved coin to serve as a general marker. All this is very well organized as is expected from a top-notch designer. The project's already reached its initial funding goals and it's smooth sailing from this point forward.