Kickstarter has taken off, and crowd-sourced projects are popping up in a variety of disciplines. Each week, we’ll pick a few currently unfunded projects that seem interesting, innovative or just plain fun. 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 funded projects will come to fruition.

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Tex Murphy – Project Fedora by Big Finish Games
Fundraising Deadline: Saturday June 16, 2012 @ 1:51 AM EDT
Fundraising Goal: A gajillion dollars $450,000
Project Type: Adventure
Platform(s): PC and Mac (with others possible if funding goal exceeded)
Estimated Project Completion: December 2012

Project Description:

“Project Fedora” will continue the amazing adventures of Tex Murphy, the down-on-his-luck P.I. in post-apocalyptic San Francisco. This long-awaited game will be the sixth in the adventure series, which includes the award-winning games Under a Killing MoonThe Pandora Directive and Overseer.

Project Fedora will reunite creators Chris Jones and Aaron Conners and feature their trademarks of rich interactive storytelling and immersive gameplay. The new game will incorporate the very best of the classic Tex Murphy elements – sci-fi, film noir, witty dialogue, great characters, beautifully integrated FMV, and a deep, engaging story – but it will also enhance the experience of the former games with stunning new graphics, a sleek new interface, and other updates.

Why is it on our radar?

There was a time when the gaming community grew tired of hokey, full motion video (FMV). The practice has all but died out, which is a huge tragedy. Classic adventure games that incorporated live actors in funny costumes were a huge part of my childhood, and I couldn’t be happier to find out that the original creators of Tex Murphy are giving it a go through Kickstarter. The original creators are back, and have vowed to pick up where the cliffhanger at the end of Overseer (the third and final game in the series) left off.

Additionally, the team will be introducing “narrative patching” which changes the course of the story depending on player decisions. This will help address a frequent criticism of adventure games. Most people have a hard time returning to them after completion because the story is the same every time.

If you’d like to get a sense for how the new game’s engine will work in a 3D space, take a look at the pitch video. It’ll be interesting to see if Tex Murphy – Project Fedora can reinvigorate usage of FMV.

You can learn more about Tex Murphy – Project Fedora on the Kickstarter page.

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Word Realms by Asymmetric
Fundraising Deadline: Thursday June 21, 2012 @ 3:49 PM EDT
Fundraising Goal:$100,000
Project Type: Word-based RPG
Platform(s): PC and Mac
Estimated Project Completion: October 2012

Project Description

We decided to make a massively multiplayer online RPG where you’d fight by making words out of letter tiles (like a fisticuffs Scrabble, without a board). First, though, we thought we should make a single-player version of Word Realms to ensure that it was fun and worth doing. What was imagined as a six-month task has turned into a four-year project —  partly because we could only work on it half- or quarter-time (KoL soaks up a lot of our creative juices), and partly because the scope just kept creeping up and up.

We added one word-based mini-game, and then another, and then another, and now we have… eight? We crafted puzzles, included cutscenes, hid some Easter eggs, and commissioned an ever-increasing amount of awesome music (by Gaby Alter, who is also known as Gminor7 from MC Frontalot‘s band). We expanded the storyline, added multiple endings, and made an “endless” mode where you fight ever-tougher opponents and get cool randomly-generated loot.

Why is it on our radar?

My name is Mike and I’m a word nerd. Earlier this year, I fell in love with a game called Quarrel, which combines high pressure word formation with the joys of world domination. Think Risk with words. That game is proof positive that genre-blended word game can work. The great art style and clever gameplay hinted at in the pitch video have me interested. The creators also indicate that a beta is going to be ready to roll once the Kickstarter is finished.

It doesn’t hurt that they’ve hinted as some cool easter eggs. If you don’t recognize the figures featured on the page (at least some of them), you should be ashamed. The video also gives you a taste of the humor that will be involved in the rocket propelled grenade, so if goofy nerd jokes are your thing, you should be in heaven.

You can read up on Word Realms on the Kickstarter page.

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The Time Tribe by Karen Wehner
Fundraising Deadline: Tuesday June 5, 2012 @ 11:59 PM EDT
Fundraising Goal:$25,000
Project Type: Educational Adventure
Platform(s): iOS, PC and Mac
Estimated Project Completion: Summer 2012 (beta)

Project Description:

The Time Tribe is an episodic time travel adventure game for kids aged 8-13 (“tweens’’), built on an epic story rooted in real history and archaeology. Brought to life on beloved tween entertainment platforms, it’s designed to foster cross-cultural understanding, historical knowledge, empathy, and global citizenship.

With a core point-and-click adventure game set in an immersive, historically accurate virtual world environment, the game crosses the digital/real world divide with cool physical artifacts, serial comic books, real-world mailings such as letters from the characters, and plans for much, much more.

Why is it on our radar?

With two kids, I’m a sucker for cool trans-media experiences. Throw in the words “time travel” and I immediately flash back to my time with the chrono-capers of Carmen Sandiego. I want my kids to be able to have that same kind of experience with gaming, and while The Time Tribe isn’t exactly like the old Broderbund titles of my youth, it’s something that they will likely gravitate toward.

The inclusion of comics, letters and real world objects will enhance the educational experience. I remember playing a game called Majestic back in the early 2000s. It involved use of AIM, phone calls and more. It was a bit hokey, but kept me excited for the next episode. With the use of similar, unexpected connections with the game, children will be more engaged in the subject matter.

In this case, that content is being directed by Karen Wehner, a Ph.D. in anthropology, who also has a decade and a half of experience as an educator and researcher in the field of archaeology and history. This is exactly the kind of project that kids need to build a healthy understanding and appreciation for learning.

You can read up on The Time Tribe on the Kickstarter page.

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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.