iOS Kickstarter Roundup, Part 3: April Crowdfunding Showers

Whether driven by chance or inspired by Double Fine Adventure’s legendary results in March, iOS developers absolutely flocked to Kickstarter with campaigns that wrapped up last month. We were hoping to fit all our picks into yesterday’s feature on funded projects, but when we dug into April it became clear we’d need another article to catch ’em all.

ARG Zombies
Funded On: April 1

If you’re a Marine stationed in the middle of a war zone, how should you spend your downtime? For Owen Morris the answer was clear: draw up a neat videogame concept! The “ARG” stands for “alternate reality game,” meaning this mobile MMO blurs the lines between the real world and the game world. Planted in ARG Zombies’ in-game environments are monster encounters tied to real-world locations, and proximity to other players opens opportunities for duels or item trades. One of ARG’s most interesting features is the use of QR codes to bestow power-ups on your character through the device’s camera.

What makes ARG really exciting in our minds is its gesture driven turn-based battle system. Anything that joins Saturday Morning RPG and Battleloot Adventure in furthering this trend is well worth the effort put into its production!

Aura Tactics
Funded On:
April 6

If you loved Hero Mages but would rather have an asynchronous play-by-mail experience in your multiplayer TBS, the team at Ingredient Blu have you covered. With their newfound financial backing, they’ll be bringing their rough alpha build to a much more polished state. Gameplay-wise, they aim to shake up the genre with on-the-fly class switching at any time — right in the middle of the battlefield.

The really interesting thing about Ingredient Blu’s Kickstarter campaign is that they’ve given backers a vote on whether Aura Tactics should continue development with chess-like pieces as the player characters, or whether the team should go the yummy fantasy art route. Backers chose both, so Aura Tactics will have one of the most unique releases we’ve seen on iOS: a primary edition will feature the abstract chess style, and feedback from that release will shape a second edition featuring the fantasy art style and a full story. We can’t wait to see how this turns out!

College Ruled Universe
Funded On:
April 7

C’mon, admit it: if you’ve been through college, you’ve sat through at least one lecture doodling something or other on the margins of that notebook. Naturally some of us produce cooler things with that zone-out time than others, but Leo Dasso is making his doodles an outright service to mobile gaming humanity! Armed with nothing but a ballpoint pen, lots of college-ruled notebook paper and presumably a scanner, he’s sketched out tons of intricate designs for weird biomechanical bosses and spaceships that would fit right at home in the side-scrolling shooter genre.

It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of quality to go with the style here. The player’s ship can be heavily customized through a modular parts system and it looks like some adventure segments are on tap, with the ship producing a little puzzle-solving, platforming pilot when it touches down on new worlds! You can already tell Doc Prop’s atmospheric tunes will mesh well with the visuals, so our expectations are running high for this one all around.

Funded On:
April 15

A student-teacher collaboration spanning national boundaries and backed by a downright heartwarming pitch video, Proppa looks set to charm casual gamers the world over when it’s complete. The alpha build – available online if you’re running Windows 7 – is already promising. The gist is, you’ve got all these propeller-headed creatures onscreen and have to manage each type with different gestures, hopefully popping them up at just the right time to collect their eggs and bop snakes that are out to get them.

What blows us away about Proppa is the fact that the game design professors at DePaul University went to such lengths to give their students a shot at entering the industry with a commercial product under their belts. Professors Linhoff and Tomuro, our propeller hats go off to you!

The Banner Saga
Funded On:
April 20

Stoic’s website updates say it all. March 19: “The Kickstarter is ‘Go.'” March 20: “The Kickstarter is Whoa.” Chances are this one needs little introduction and an iOS version wasn’t necessarily in the cards from the beginning, but boy, are iDevice-owning strategy fans lucky this campaign took off. Pretty much every piece of media surrounding Banner gives you the sense that Disney and Square Enix had a love child, but this baby has way more creative freedom than either of the parents. Stoic draws talent from BioWare, DC Comics and NASA(!), so our expectations are just as stratospheric as the Kickstarter returns.

If Banner’s iOS release happens to trail the PC version, rest assured we’ll toss money at the first one to hit market and give you a thorough rundown of the gameplay features in a First Look. This has everything to do with our love for you, dear reader, and nothing to do with treating ourselves to an ultra-slick TBS.

City Conquest: Tower Defense Evolved
Funded On:
April 29

Just another Tower Defense game? Not by a long shot! Heading the production team on City Conquest is Paul Tozour, a member of the Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime 3 dev teams. As one of the granddaddies of modern videogame AI, he also helped pioneer the industry-wide use of navigation meshes for enemy and NPC movement. His recent interview with AIGameDev is a must-read if you have the slightest interest in the direction AI in game development is headed.

City Conquest takes a groundbreaking algorithmic approach to gameplay balance using the latest tool in Paul’s bag of game design tricks, so we’re betting its challenge levels are like fighting Skynet. Moreover, City Conquest’s game mechanics are bound to make it way more interesting than your average Tower Defense game: players are in charge of dispatching waves of minions against enemy towers in addition to placing their own! We’re looking forward to City Conquest hitting the App Store this summer.

Funded On:
April 30

You may not recognize Igor Choromanski and Min Kang by name, but they’ve served as animators on some films you might know quite well — Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Ice Age 3 and Green Lantern to name a few. When they’re not buzzing away on a feature film they can be found creating the occasional animated short. Their latest, “nstaCharge,” inspired a racing game where the player takes up the wheels of a run-down but modular robot who must defy the odds against a sleek, state-of-the-art competitor.

You might wonder how film animators will fare as game designers, but the gameplay details look promising on paper. We’re especially keen to see how performance rewards and bike modding turn out when nstaCharge releases in late 2012.