Crowdfunding Friday: Games, demons and sinister tales
There are games, films and a publication of three weird illustrated tales among this week's selection of geeky crowdfunding projects...
The sheer number of crowdfunding things that appear every week is fascinating and slightly bewildering, and it's sometimes a wonder how some projects manage to rise above the background noise and get the funding they need. But somehow, the best ones frequently do, as though guided by some form of cosmic justice.
We were delighted to see, for example, that Conatus Creative's delightful reboot of River City Ransom managed to exceed its goal of $180,000 over on Kickstarter this week, and we can't wait to see how the finished game (a belt-scrolling brawler with disarmingly cute 8-bit graphics) eventually turns out.
We're hoping for similarly positive things for this week's crowdfunding selection, which contains a great-looking anthology film based on videogame urban legends, a horror western feature, a revival of a recently-deceased MMO, and a publication of three weird illustrated tales.
Given just how phenomenally popular and important games are as a medium in their own right, it's surprising that there aren't more films actually about them, as opposed to, say, adaptations such as Tomb Raider or Silent Hill. The few we do have are things like, I don't know, WarGames, Gamer and the rather cheeky feature-length 80s commercial for Nintendo products, The Wizard.
Anyway, this preamble brings me onto Multiplayer, an anthology movie that tells a series of tales all somehow linked to videogames. There are government cover-ups of games that cause death, haunted old Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges, and lots more besides. It's a great idea, and reminds me of the ominous Polybius coin-op urban legend that did the rounds a few years ago.
Multiplayer looks like a project made with real wit and warmth, and promises to provide equal parts cosy nostalgia and shudders of fear - and its founders are asking for a positively piffling $5,500 to get it going. Now, I wonder if its makers would consider a sequel based entirely on the legend of that killer arcade game, Polybius...
Demons Come At Dawn
Are you still pining for a film or TV adaptation of Stephen King's Dark Tower series of novels? You know, that adaptation that's been in development hell for absolutely years? If so, Demons Come At Dawn may be of interest to you. Like King's series, it's a wild mishmash of ideas, fusing together horror, sci-fi and Western to create a heady and violent brew.
About four assassins and their travels through a demon-infested forest, it has a dark fantasy air to it, with inspiration taken from The Exorcist, Pan's Labyrinth and American Psycho, among other things. We'll have to wait and see how all those influences coalesce, but there's no doubting writer and director Timothy Pape's ambition - unlike a lot of crowdfunded film campaigns, this will be a feature-length movie, not a short or a one-off web show.
In terms of its setting and concept art, Demons Come At Dawn certainly sounds like a project with promise, particularly if the finished film can recreate the atmosphere of those early production designs replicated on its Kickstarter page.
City Of Titans
When City Of Heroes shut down last year, its fans not only lost a superhero-themed MMO they'd poured hours of their lives into, but also a means of meeting and socialising with like-minded friends. It's hardly surprising, then, that the game's passing was so mourned by its army of devoted players; there were even attempts made to entice Disney into purchasing and reviving it, but to no avail.
City Of Titans represents a brave and concerted effort from a section of the game's community to revive the spirit of that lost MMO. Shouldering the task of building a grand online game is not a decision to be made lightly, but looking at the pitch video above, it looks as though Missing Worlds Media - a studio comprising dozens of volunteers who share a love for City Of Heroes - has already made some impressive progress.
There's a long way, to go, though, obviously. And while the project's already broken through its $320,000 initial goal, we're guessing that the more cash City Of Titans gets, the better the final result will be. If you miss that late, great MMORPG, then this is one project well worth backing.
I'll openly admit that I'm a real sucker for anything Japanese and retro videogame themed, which explains the inclusion of this next project. A seeming collision of Konami and Nintendo's finest 80s and 90s output, GameStar is a hybrid of action adventure, 2D platformer and shooter. About a hero sucked into a pixel world, it's stuffed full of cute characters, space ships and gigantic angry dragons.
We're intrigued to see how all these wild ideas all come together into a coherent whole, but creator Yuan-Hsi Chlang's experience in the indie game industry - he made the award-winning Wind And Water: Puzzle Battles - and the build quality of the project so far makes it well worth your consideration.
And for backers with deep pockets, a generous donation will furnish you with all manner of art books, figures and other trinkets to decorate your geek cave with. Marvellous.
Stories In Red
We love stumbling on dark and fascinating publishing projects like this on our crowdfunding investigations. A graphic novel created by three visual artists - Tom Wieja, Jakub Chwieszczenik and Bart Jekiel, Stories In Red is, as it sounds, a collection of a trio of stories with an eerily surreal theme.
The artists have used a variety of media to create their artworks, from photography to computers and traditional pencil-and-paper, and the results are detailed, atmospheric and quite unique. For anyone enticed by this handsome-looking book, it's worth getting over to the Kickstarter page and pledging £12 now - if you hurry, there are still a few copies of the limited-edition Stories In Red left at that price.
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