So far I've either pledged or donated a grand total of $700 (!) to various game-related Kickstarter projects. That being said, some of the donations are rather small ($15 each); and could probably be as almost unreasonably cheap pre-orders rather than as altruistic monetary gifts to groups of brilliant but penniless developers. In either case, below is a quick rundown of all the projects I've supported thus far (oh, and I'm still very much looking forward to the rumored Tex Murphy and Dead State Kickstarters...);
Wasteland 2(Donated: $300)
As previously mentioned on this blog, this one was a no-brainer. Wasteland 2 represents more than the mere resurgence of a classic IP; it's a rallying cry against the current action-oriented state of Western RPGs. As much as I can appreciate flashy modern roleplaying titles such as Skyrim, Mass Effect and even Dragon Age 2 I really want to help bring back turn-based, party-based gameplay to the American/European RPG scene.
Double Fine Adventure (Donated: $60)
I'm no passionate fan of adventure games in general, so in the case of DFA I'm probably more interested in the documentary series being filmed during the production of the game than I am in the final product. Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert seem to be super-nice guys, and if the development-oriented discussion video they released at the beginning of the KS campaign is any indication there's much to learn from getting a peak behind the curtains and learn how they address specific design decisions in the months to come.
Shadowrun Returns (Donated: $50)
Apart from having briefly rented the SNES game (sadly not the Genesis one, which seems even more awesome) many years ago my exposure to Shadowrun as a gaming phenomena is very limited, but it sure seems to be a cool and original cyberpunk universe alright and the idea of a turn-based RPG with direct ties to the old console classics is very appealing.
The Banner Saga (Donated: $50)
Turn-based combat, ambitious storytelling by ex-Bioware developers, animated film-inspired art design and a Viking theme? Sold! The Banner Saga is a really intriguing little game which became an early Kickstarter success story when it was 700% (over-)funded and the project grew in scope and scale far beyond what the developers had anticipated.
Pinkerton Road Studios/Moebius (Donated: $50)
It's admittedly not saying much given the generally miserable state of video game writing, but industry veteran Jane Jensen remains one of the more ambitious game writers and designers around. I'm normally a gameplay-over-story kind of guy, but titles such as the underrated Gabriel Knight: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned and the mostly over-looked Gray Matter overcome their mechanical flaws by providing mature (if undeniably pulpy) storylines and compelling characters. Jensen's "Pinkerton Road" initiative has an unusually long-term perspective for a Kickstarter project and promises to bring us several new adventure games over the coming years, starting with the intriguing Moebius and an as of yet unrevealed mystery title...
Grim Dawn (Pledged: $50)
With Torchlight II and Diablo III coming out pretty soon the world might not appear to be needing another click-heavy ARPG in the near future, but Grim Dawn's ambitious open world design, distinctive art design and deep character customization got me interested. Also, the game has been worked on for quite some time before the Kickstarter initiative and thus represents a more substantial proposition than a lot of other KS projects.
Republique (Pledged: $40)
In the brief history of Kickstarter game projects, camouflaj's slick and innovative stealth/survival horror game Republique is probably the most nerve-wrecking tale of an experienced team of affable developers racing against the clock to get their dauntingly ambitious new IP off the ground (they got fully funded with less than 8 hours to go). Part of the problem with Republique - as well as its underlying appeal - is that unlike most Kickstarter games it's not at all about feeding on nostalgia and resurrecting a dormant franchise; this is a new and decidedly "modern" game with intentionally high production values, innovative control mechanics and cinematic storytelling. Some grumpy Luddites were undoubtedly put off by the emphasis on iOS, but for once I feel that a "serious" (i.e. non-casual) gameplay idea has been tailored convincingly to the strengths and limitations of the platform. And while it's clear that the team didn't take the decision to add a PC version lightly, they've been very clear about their ambitions to go beyond a mere port and adapt the experience and interface to PC standards.
Xenonauts (Pledged: $30) (not including a previously placed pre-order)
Almost everything I hear about Firaxis' re-boot of X-COM warms my geeky heart, but there's no question that the independently developed Xenonauts is even more of a "spiritual successor" to the original Enemy Unknown. Lead Designer Chris England has already invested a lot of his own time and money into resurrecting this innovative combination of isometric combat, UFO spotting and base management, and judging by the early demos this looks like a very accomplished and faithful take on the classic gameplay formula.
Legends of Eisenwald (Pledged: $15)
Probably one of the nerdiest indie game project on Kickstarter (...and that's saying a lot!), Legends of Eisenwald was almost worth $15 just for the adorably geeky promotion video in which the Eastern European developers dress up in silly medieval-looking costumes (with considerably less irony than might be expected given the surplus of fake armor). The game itself is an intriguing Heroes of Might & Magic-style strategy/RPG hybrid with a dynamic campaign and lots of tactical turn-based combat. As with Grim Dawn and Xenonauts, the game has been in development for some time already and could be among the first Kickstarter games to actually get released.
Leisure Suit Larry (Donated: $15)
Helping to fund a remake of Leisure Suit Larry is not exactly on the top of my list of priorities in life, but the original game was an early and formative adventure game experience for me (disturbingly early and formative, given the subject matter), so it could be interesting in more ways than one to get re-acquinted with the tasteless sleazebag Larry Laffer. If nothing else, "Ken sent me" is forever etched into my brain...
Nekro (Pledged: $15)
I'm not sure I quite understand what Nekro is all about, but the guy and the gal in that video looked like awfully nice people so why not? To be serious, though, I get a cool Overlord/Dungeon Keeper vibe from this action/strategy hybrid (Myth is also cited as an inspiration) so I hope this one turns out well.
Carmageddon: Reincarnation (Pledged: $15)
The original Carmageddon always had its twisted heart in the right place; belonging as it did to an interesting era in video gaming history when the industry was becoming rather large but not big enough to constantly have to worry about being all respectable and tasteful. My strongest memory of the original game is playing it together with a classmate who had been hit by a car a few months earlier and, well, needless to say he wasn't too excited about the whole experience. In either case, the mere concept of mowing down pedestrians might not be as quite as cool in 2012 as it was in 1997, but it could still be capable of providing some mindless irreverent fun. If nothing else, Stainless Games are the original creators of the series (as well as a fairly distinguished developer of downloadable XBLA games such as Risk Factions and Magic the Gathering), so one would think that they know what they're doing.
Two Guys SpaceVenture by the creators of Space Quest (Pledged: $15)
I know embarrassingly little about Space Quest, but apparently the games were very funny. Worth $15 for a spiritual successor? Only time will tell, but this one will probably get funded on the strength of its (implied) brand...