Kickstarter is taking off and crowd-sourced projects are popping up in a variety of disciplines. Each week, we’ll pick a few currently unfunded projects and recap the rest that we have highlighted throughout the week. Got a hot tip on a cool Kickstarter project? Email Michael[at]RipTen[dot] com with the subject line: Kickstarter Tip. You can also check out our past Kickstarter coverage right here.

We’ve also identified which projects are Kicking it Forward participants, so you know if the developers have committed to reinvesting in crowd-sourced projects after their own initiatives are completed. To learn more about the Kicking it Forward pledge, visit the official website.

Please remember that when backing a Kickstarter project, you are taking a financial risk. There is no guarantee that successful projects will come to fruition.

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Nekro by darkForge
Fundraising Deadline: Friday May 4, 2012 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Fundraising Goal: $100,000
Project Type: Video Game (Top-down Action)
Platform(s): PC, Mac, Linux
Estimated Project Completion: June 2013

Project Description:

We love that old school gameplay with new school flare and attitude. For Nekro, we decided to combine the best elements from our favorite games of the last couple decades while adding in our own personal twist.

Nekro is a light-hearted yet dark themed game about controlling a powerful necromancer. The game’s premise was created from a conversation that went something like this: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a game where you could just walk into an innocent town, raise a bunch of zombies, skeletons and monsters and watch while they rip the townspeople to shreds?” Then we paused and said, “Well, why isn’t there?” What followed was many nights concepting, discussing and creating. “Wouldn’t it be cool if the Nekro could craft his own spells, but…collecting reagents in a randomly generated world!” The cumulative result of these discussions is what you see before you.

In Nekro, you are the bad guy; a powerful necromancer able to create unthinkable horrors out of the twisted lifeless corpses of your enemy. Blood is your fuel; razing towns and slaughtering anything that opposes you is your creed. Even though you are evil, the humans of the land are corrupted, and will stop at nothing to wipe you out. You will face many enemies and challenges in the world of Nekro.

Why is it on our radar?

Oh, darkForge, you had me at Dungeon Keeper. For those of you who have never played that game or its sequel, you should take a moment, head over to GoG. I’ll see you tomorrow. Do remember to eat.

For the rest of you who have delved into the dastardly dungeons of despair, you know the thrill of luring hapless heroes to their demise. Of course, it isn’t just hacking and slashing. No, it’s about creatively ending the oxygen habits of those foolish enough to enter your domain. Nekro is currently already in Alpha, meaning you can get a look at some of the basic gameplay and in-game characters via the pitch video.

The game is randomly generated, meaning each village you violate will be a new experience. The random world events will keep players guessing. As for credibility, members of the darkForge team hail from the hallowed halls of Blizzard, Sony, Microsoft and more. I’ve been longing for a return to the Keeper’s dungeons, and Nekro looks like it will be a worthy spiritual successor.

You can learn more about the Nekro project on the Kickstarter page.

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M3CH by Small Impact Games
Fundraising Deadline: Sunday May 20, 2012 @ 2:59 AM EDT
Fundraising Goal: $25,000
Project Type: Video Game (Third person mech shooter)
Platform(s): PC, iOS
Please note that this project is being hosted on indiegogo, another major crowd funding website.

Project Description:

Make war on your oppressors face to face in the M3CH arena and pilot your way to freedom and super-stardom in a nightmare vision of the future. Fight your way out of the slums. Enter the Tournament. Customise your salvaged M3CH and decimate the mighty pinnacles of M3CH technology in savage M3CH Combat. Own the M3CH arena with a devastating array of Class types, weapons, add-ons and pimp your ride with customisable paint-jobs.

With your help we can help bring you the game we want with all the gripping gameplay of a dark future of the moon. Battle hardcore AI opponents and profit big or devastate your rivals in competitive multiplayer. Gamble away your winnings or cut through wave after wave of Cleaver squads as they tear apart your M3CH for parts in vicious Scavenger Mode.

Why is it on our radar?

All hail the mighty mech, for it will stomp on your puny human faces. You must think I’ve lost a bet or something, because every time I mention one of these games I declare that 2012 is the Year of the Mech! Ahem. Now that we have that little bit of formality out of the way, M3CH caught my eye because of the slick art designs, the logical plan to start with iOS and the fact that every member the team is working on this project… well… let’s just say they are being very careful to work on this away from the office.

The game is going to take full advantage of the iOS version of the Unreal Engine (you know, the one that makes Infinity Blade look so damn good). Additionally, the team is concerned with more than the robot-on-robot action. Backers can net themselves a game soundtrack and digital graphic novel that will give more background on the world of M3CH. Admittedly, action games on mobile devices are not everyone’s cup of tea, but when they are executed well (and involve unknowable amounts of steel), it’s hard for me to resist.

You can learn more about the M3CH project on the indiegogo page.

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Moebius by Jane Jensen’s Pinkerton Road Studio
Fundraising Deadline: Saturday May 19, 2012 @ 9:57 AM EDT
Fundraising Goal: $300,000
Project Type: Video Game (3rd Person Adventure)
Platform(s): PC, Mac, iOS
Estimated Project Completion:  March 2013
Kicking it Forward participant

Project Description:

Malachi Rector is an antiquities dealer who hunts down artifacts all over the world. After his upscale Manhattan store is destroyed in a fire, he’s hired by billionaire Amble Dexter to investigate a series of events and document them in his meticulous way.

The first event is the death of a young woman in Venice. She was found hanging from a bridge.  As Rector investigates her life, compiling facts for his dossier, he realizes that the beautiful and talented young woman – and the interrupted path of her life — had great hidden significance. It appears that Amble Dexter and his associates are playing with the fabric of life in a way Rector never imagined was possible.  Even he, Rector himself, is part of a larger pattern.  He must figure out who is doing what, and whether their intentions are for good or ill, before he can decide if he will play his pre-scripted role — or try to change the outcome. This is a metaphysical thriller ala Dante’s Equation and Gabriel Knight.

Jane Jensen is no stranger to the world of adventure gaming, and even though her Pinkerton Road studio is brand new, it’s easy to have faith in the work that she and her husband, composer Robert Holmes, are planning to accomplish. One of the things I really liked about the initiative is the approach to design. Via Kickstarter, Pinkerton Road is selling yearly memberships (as one of the reward tiers) that essentially give you a seat at the design table. The higher the backer level, the more involvement you’ll receive. At $50 and up, you may even receive a second game for free as part of the Community Supported Gaming (CSG) program.

While I’m very interested to actually play an adventure game by one of the genre’s masters, I’m just as eager to see if this take on development ends up panning out. More cooks in the kitchen equals a greater chance of an inedible meal. Conversely, if the idea is to deliver a product tuned to those most deeply invested (in the emotional sense), then it may be the perfect recipe. OK… that’s enough of the cooking analogy.

You can learn more about the Moebius project on the Kickstarter page.

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BONUS PICK!

The Hit Squad by Chris Blundell
Fundraising Deadline: Monday June 4, 2012 @ 2:59 AM EDT
Fundraising Goal: $25,000
Project Type: Film
Estimated Project Completion: December 2012
Please note that this project is being hosted on indiegogo, another major crowd funding website.

Project Description:

The Hit Squad is an animated comedy movie about an 80′s band. The movie is made with 8 bit animation, meaning it totally looks like the 80′s too!

Roddy Stones and his band ‘The Hit Squad‘ were the worlds biggest band in the 80s, now they’re in 2012 they have run out of money, dignity and cocaine. They haven’t released a hit record in years. The world has moved on and the corporate Scourge Studios are going to buy The Hit Squad’s studio unless the band can raise $1 Million within a week.

Why is it on our radar?

Take note, project managers. Hitting us up on Twitter DOES work. Director Chris Blundell reached out to me and asked that I check out his project… he had me at “8-bit movie.” Sure, films like Scott Pilgrim have brought videogame tropes to the masses, but no other production (that I am aware of) has been presented in glorious 8-bit.

We spoke with Blundell, who shared that pixel art gives him a “warm, fuzzy feeling.” More importantly, it’s not a gimmick. “It reflects the time period when The Hit Squad band got themselves stuck in a creative rut,” he told us. Observant gamers will be able to pick out a bunch of easter eggs as they are watching the film.

Blundell was eager to share the genesis of the project with us.

The project started as a concept album idea. I’m originally a musician and i wanted to make an 80′s style album. The music came quickly, so I thought it’d be fun to invent a band with a backstory, a washed-up 80′s band.  The Hit squad were born. The backstory then developed into sketches, then scripts, then a feature length script then it got passed through film companies, TV companies, every person along the way wanted to change it from pixel art and I just wouldn’t budge. It’s part of the whole idea. It’s been a long and crazy journey, I will probably chronicle it into something legible one day.

You can check out some of the animation, the perfect voices and the whole pitch on The Hit Squad’s indiegogo page.

 

Michael Futter is the Managing Editor of @RipTen. You can follow him on Twitter (@mmmfutter). You can also send him crowd funding tips at Michael[at]RipTen[dot]com.