So, it’s been a while since I last checked in on the various alpha-funding projects I’ve mentioned before, and I wanted to do a quick roundup on how they’re doing, as well as some of the other new projects I’ve been looking into.

-Minecraft, of course, has had its official release, with some fairly decent post-release support.  I’ve been busy with other games, though, so I haven’t really touched it since then.  It’s still the best at what it does, although there are a number of entries in this space, including Cube World, and the similar-in-looks-only game 3079, which I’ll talk about in more detail below.

-Overgrowth continues to grow, with considerably impressive technology and just about the most brutal combat you’ll ever see in a fighting game.  I’ll have more to say about this when I have a chance to check out one of the more recent alpha builds.  It is, as of this writing, still available for preorder.

-Interstellar Marines, after a long period of dormancy, finally released Deadlock, their multiplayer combat preview that should show off some additional gameplay – however, it is apparently restricted to those who have actually submitted a preorder, which I have yet to do.  Interestingly, they do offer two preorder options, one for the first game, and one for the entirety of the planned trilogy (which seems like especially long odds given their pace of development), but it might be worth it if you want to support a high-quality shooter that’s not CODWhatever (and admittedly, you can preorder the trilogy for about 2/3 the price of a single current FPS game).

-I do want to report that Proteus now has an official beta preorder, which I have picked up, and the game really is shaping up to be properly brilliant.  While I’m sure some people would argue whether or not it’s properly a “game,” what it does provide is a vibrant, procedurally-generated world to explore, without the interference of goals or quests, where the whole point is to wander around and enjoy the environment, as well as the dynamic soundtrack that changes with your interactions.  That explanation hardly does it justice, though – it’s really something you need to experience firsthand.  It’s an incredibly beautiful and relaxing experience, and it’s a great project that you can just fire up for a few minutes to unwind – given that there are no set goals or savepoints, it’s the kind of game you can play for whatever duration you want.  (and, in fact, it’s the kind of game that I can’t help but wonder might have uses outside of the standard gaming environment – a virtual world called SnowWorld already shows promise for treating the pain of burn victims, and it seems like there might be a real space for a game/virtual world like this in certain therapeutic environments, or to help with relaxation and stress management).  There are multiple levels of preorder, and I would highly recommend getting this one, as the current build you can access through the preorder is considerably more impressive than the alpha build, and looking to get even more impressive still.

-Starfarer and A Valley Without Wind I haven’t kept up with much, although I’ve heard that Starfarer has made some impressive progress towards a proper interstellar campaign mode.  What I can say about it, though, is that it has perhaps the most detailed and meticulous ship combat that I’ve played, certainly since the days of EV Nova, and that I’m properly rubbish at controlling them so far – but if you’re willing to deal with a bit of complexity, it’s definitely worth it, and it’s certainly much easier to control than your average simulator.  I did, in fact, also pick up a copy of AVWW, and I have played it occasionally – however, while I was playing it the game was updated quite frequently (don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing), but the core mechanics were also undergoing a lot of updating that left me confused as to how some things worked between updates (and the update notes are surprisingly copious).  I do want to give this another look once things are a bit more stable on that front, which they may well be by now, and once some of the game areas are a bit more fleshed out (more on this once I’ve played a recent build).

-Indie Royale recently ran an Alpha Fund Bundle (which may or may not still display on that link by now), where people could support three recent games in development.  The one I’m most familiar with is 3079, which I’ve actually been following for a while before it became added to the bundle.  As I mentioned earlier, 3079 has a block-style world similar to Minecraft, but that’s where the similarity ends – aside from the procedurally-generated world, the heart of the game is a modern/future combat Action-RPG, where the idea is to fight in a war between two factions of creatures, leveling up your character and amassing better equipment, while seeking out the underlying cause of the conflict.  So far, I’ve rather enjoyed the game, as I’m quite fond of these types of RPGs.  The combat is pretty fun, with plenty of types of weapons (some of which can deform the environment) and fairly dynamic gunplay.  The environments also look fairly nice in their own right, and now have some rudimentary biomes.  The game also features dynamically generated quests based on your level and location, which adds some nice variety.  The only thing lacking is that for an RPG-type game, the story is so thin as to be almost nonexistent, with the combat taking the fore.  That being said, the game is still under very active development, and in fact if you play a current build you will most likely see a few features here and there that I suggested (the author of the game is very responsive to suggestions, and I can only hope his inclusion in the bundle doesn’t leave him too overwhelmed with feedback).  While that bundle is over, I am happy to see this sort of alpha funding taking off, and even without the bundle, I would recommend a preorder on this one, as for about $9 you get an already enjoyable beta version, with more features being added constantly and a lot of ambitious plans for future updates.

I’m sure there are many more I haven’t mentioned, but these are the ones I’ve recently been involved with.  I’ll keep updating with more interesting alpha projects as I find them.  This really is an interesting way to look at game development, and it’s hard to think of a more direct way that you can vote with your wallet to see the kind of games built that you’re interested in, especially if your interests fall outside of the mainstream genres that are served by the AAA-level game publishers.