When the hacker-friendly game console, the OUYA, was pitched as a kickstarter project in July of 2012 their tagline was "Cracking open the last closed platform." The Android-based console raised a staggering $8.6 million during its one month campaign and sparked a flurry of interest in indy game development and open hardware.
In their latest efforts to support independent content developers, OUYA has created a $1 million matching fund for game developers at http://freethegamesfund.com, which will double kickstarter pledged funds up to $250,000.
So, when Joe Pietruch, Lecture Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology's Department of Interactive Games and Media discovered OUYA's fund, he saw a learning opportunity for his students and began a campaign to crowdfund a cross-platform open source game entitled "Chain Gang Chase." The project is being managed by Joe in affiliation with the Center of Excellence in Media Arts Games Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC).
Chain Gang Chase is a cooperative game for up to 8 players running on the OUYA console, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is currently in pre-production, with with a planned release of May 2014.
Players start as escaped convicts running for freedom. They are chained together in one large chain gang, and must work together to avoid trees and other environmental obstacles that block their path. At the end of each level, players encounter a train track which can cut any chains stretched over the track when the train passes.
The Kickstarter campaign launched on October 18, 2013 and surpassed it's $10,000 funding goal. The money from the Kickstarter will be used as payment for students who work on the project as part of a co-op experience (think: internship) during the winter and spring of 2014.
Each level of stretch goal added more features to the game, and more students to the project doing "real-world" FOSS game development work. This is more than just a pay-day for students: work-study is a requirement for the completion of their degree programs.
Interesting aspects of the project include support for up to 8 players, the focus on funding student development, the use of open source libraries like libgdx, Box2D, (and the game itself will be released as open source after the launch!), and a community map editor that lets anyone create a map that becomes playable in game. One of the Kickstarter reward tiers, named 24601!!!!! in a nod to Les Miserables, offers backers a chance to have their likeness used as playable characters within the finished game.