A Kick for Kickstarters: My Time at Portia and Renaine

It’s a rough time for crowdfunding campaigns.

I feel like I’ve opened my “A Kick for Kickstarters” posts and their variants with this info too often lately, but that’s become truer in the last few months. We’re near the point where I can’t remember the last overly successful campaign. I’m not saying there haven’t been any examples of successes this year, like the campaigns for strategy title Phoenix Point and Pillars of Eternity II on Fig earlier this year. Others however, have crawled to their initial goals and haven’t gotten much further, while some like Project Rap Rabbit didn’t come close to hitting that. You know it’s bad when even the enthusiast press can’t help. I have two more currently-running and struggling projects to post about, and both need help to get over the initial edge.

The first is My Time at Portia, a 3D simulation RPG with gameplay elements inspired by Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Dark Cloud 2, with themes inspired by various Studio Ghibli films. The game will be about the player’s created character crafting a new life for themselves in their inherited workshop in a town on the edge of civilization called Portia, where they’ll spend time exploring and building.

For instance, the player will be able to grow a garden, explore perilous dungeons to gather the equipment and resources necessary to accomplish those building tasks, and fight enemies while venturing through various caves and environments. They’ll also have the option to develop bonds and relationships with the townspeople, and potentially marry one. The list of inspirations wasn’t just for show.

The game looks good for a low-to-mid-tier title in terms of graphics and aesthetics, so it’s surprising that it’s struggling to reach its low initial goal. Developer Pathea Games is asking for $100,000 to fund the game, and prepared a series of stretch goals to set higher goals backers could strive for. They also plan to release it for every current platform that can run it, including Steam for multiple OSes, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. So what’s wrong?

Part of the unluckiness is due to the lack of attention it’s receiving. It’s why you’re only seeing a post on this blog now, despite the campaign having only five days remaining. It sadly wasn’t big enough for many larger press outlets to cover it, and less people visit crowdfunding sites to discover projects than they used to.

The project has been struggling in terms of exposure, but since it’s at a little over $80,000 now, there’s a chance it could make its initial goal with the last-minute rush of funding. I’d rather see the team get as much as they can so they can live a little easier while developing the project, but hopefully they’re able to deliver a superlative product regardless. If all goes according to plan, the final game will release in August 2018, after a period in Steam Early Access. A demo is also available for anyone to try.

Another title worth giving a look is Renaine, a pixel-based side-scrolling platformer/roguelike hybrid whose campaign was recommended to me by frequent commenter Phronemophobia. A lot of games in the roguelike and platforming genres have been crowdfunded in the last few years, to the point that some are tiring of them. But this won’t be too big of a problem if the game turns out well, and the team is putting serious effort into the project given its looks.

The main character of the game is Aine, a Phoenix Knight on a quest to defeat a legendary dragon. But since she’ll have to learn how to use her new powers along the way (along with the player), her journey will be tough. At the start, she’ll have basic abilities like attacking, dodging, and jumping, but over time, she’ll obtain more through temporary upgrades and items to gain an advantage against enemies. The game won’t have permanent upgrades, so it’s best for her to use the abilities as she gets them. The levels will be tough, but Phoenix Statues have been placed throughout the game so she can restart at later levels. Towns are also present for her to take a brief respite in and accept side quests, but all those quests will have to be completed in set times.

The team at Squidly has already done quite a bit of work, but they need $10,000 to complete the project. It’s made a little over $2,000 thus far with 17 days remaining in the campaign, which isn’t great, but it’s not impossible for the project to get more attention and reach the initial goal by the end. The team mentions how they’re shooting for above $10,000 on the lower half of the Kickstarter page, but that will be tough to reach given its current funding pace.

If they do, they hope to release the game by June 2018. Hopefully other press outlets pick it up outside smaller sites like Hardcore Gamer. Like My Time at Portia, a demo for Renaine is available for potential backers to try.

Plenty remain wary of pledging to more crowdfunding campaigns. Some are still waiting for projects they helped fund to be completed, but they could be ready to pledge to more when they’re finished. However, the too-prevalent narrative of crowdfunding projects being scams hasn’t helped, especially when some projects turned out that way or disappointed backers. There’s a chance a string of projects successful in terms of funding and reception could reelevate the position of video game crowdfunding, but things are presently dire, and could be for a while.

While it’s tough for me to highlight every interesting-looking project alone, I’ll try to cover most I come across in the future.

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