Second time’s a charm: The Kickstarter comebacks

Don’t call it a comeback. Okay, do. These games rose from the grave to claim crowdfunding glory.
Hive Jump
Hive Jump © Graphite Games
By Damien McFerran

If at first you don't succeed, pick yourself up and try again. That's one of the oldest pieces of wisdom in the world, and it couldn't be more true when it comes to crowd-funding site Kickstarter.

You might assume that failing to reach your funding goal would be a solid indication that your game isn't worth making, or has no chance of finding an audience, but as the following Kickstarter resurrections prove, that isn't always the case – sometimes, a failed campaign is the perfect way to learn how to succeed next time around.

Graywalkers: Purgatory

© Dreamlords Digital

Described as an "emergent strategic and tactical turn-based supernatural post-apocalyptic RPG inspired by Fallout, X-Com, and Jagged Alliance" by creator Dreamlords Digital, Graywalkers: Purgatory managed to surpass its funding goal of $40,000 towards the end of last year, raising around $7,000 more than expected. However, this was actually the company's second shot at crowdfunding – the first attempt asked for $100,000 and fell disastrously short.

Dreamlords Digital learned from the failed campaign, this time making sure a playable demo was available to draw in backers, as well as promoting the game more heavily via international media outlets. While the developer's original funding goal of $100,000 still wasn't hit the second time around, refocusing the project allowed Dreamlords Digital to finally get the cash it needed – and half the money is better than no money at all. Graywalkers: Purgatory is expected to hit Windows, Mac and Linux in early 2016.

InSomnia

© Studio Mono

This unique-looking dieselpunk RPG appeared on Kickstarter back in 2013 with a funding goal of $70,000. Developer Studio Mono was forced to pull the plug when only $5,000 had been raised, and a rethink was clearly necessary. Amazingly, the game popped up on Kickstarter again in 2014 and smashed its $70,000 funding goal by over $20,000. So what went wrong the first time? Studio Mono admits that the original campaign was lost in translation (the team are Russian), and pitched the game as a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. Second time around, the company was sure to stress that this is actually a story-focused RPG, rather than an online experience. A playable demo also helped, allowing backers to get a taste for the game's incredible atmosphere before laying down their cash. InSomnia is coming later this year to PC, with Mac and Linux versions still a possibility.

Telepath Tactics

© The Sinister Design Channel

Tactical RPG titles like Fire Emblem and Shining Force have a healthy following on consoles, but on desktop PCs they're perhaps less popular. Keeping this in mind, it should probably come as no shock to learn that Telepath Tactics, described by creator Craig Stern as a cross between Fire Emblem and Disgaea, fell at the first hurdle in 2012, raising just over $18,000 of its $25,500 funding goal. Undeterred, Stern launched a second campaign after taking on board comments from people who had supported the first, raising over $40,000 in the process. Telepath Tactics is a good example of how a failed Kickstarter can actually be something of a benefit for the game and the developer, as it still connects them with an audience who can then help to shape a second, successful campaign.

Hive Jump

© Graphite Games

Graphite Lab's 2D run-and-gun shooter had a dismal first Kickstarter campaign, raising just $6,157 of a $75,000 goal before the developer cancelled it and reconsidered its options. A revised campaign with a lower funding target pulled in almost $60,000, and delivered some vital lessons for the developer.

Graphite have since gone on record to state that Kickstarter should never be used to announce a game – instead, you should build up hype by promoting the project in other ways before it goes to the funding stage. Secondly, developers should be as active as possible during the campaign to attract more backers – that means hitting social networks like Twitter and Facebook relentlessly to ensure everyone who might want to back your game knows about it. Hive Jump is expected to hit PC, Mac, Linux and Nintendo Wii U in August this year.

Pocket Rumble

© Cardboard Robot Games

Even Kickstarter campaigns with modest funding goals can run into bother and not make their target. Take Cardboard Robot's Pocket Rumble, a 2D fighting title inspired by SNK's ill-fated Game Boy rival, the Neo Geo Pocket Color. All that was asked for was $16,000, yet the campaign didn't even raise half of that total. At the second attempt the developer set a higher funding goal of $22,500, but managed to rake in $25,280.

It's easy to see why Pocket Rumble might not appeal to many players – the intentionally retro visuals replicate the style of the Neo Geo Pocket Color, a system which very few western players have even heard of – but the project is shaping up nicely. It's coming to computers this December, although one of the developer's unmet stretch goals included handheld consoles like the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS – two platforms which are arguably very well suited to this kind of game. Time will tell if Pocket Rumble actually lives up to its portable-themed moniker.

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