Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Derelict: A Short Story

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Tyson Guttwein, better known as Bashar to his online friends,who is here today to talk to us about his short story Kickstarter: “Derelict.”  Thank you for joining us today Bashar.

Hello Jim.  Thank you for having me.

Let me start off by congratulating you on reaching your goal of $500.  Could you give us a brief description of the story?

As a writer I can do many things with the written word but I’m not sure I ever had a good handle on “brief”.  Nevertheless, I‘ll do my best!

Derelict is a science fiction adventure story set in the far future.  The protagonist, a man by the name of Jason Conrad, is the navigator on a small starship hired to perform a deep space salvage operation on a derelict vessel.  Unfortunately that term which gives the story its name turns out to be something of a misnomer as Jason and his crew realize after they’ve boarded that they’re not alone.  Then Bad Things™ happen.

That’s the synopsis without divulging the outcome.  As for what the story is about, it’s really about a man coming to grips with the choices he’s made in life and deciding whether or not they’re worth it.  Events occur in the story that put life in focus for Jason and his fellow crewmates.  Each experiences those events differently and will have their own response, voluntarily in some cases and compelled in others.  We watch this unfold through Jason’s eyes.

I should also mention that with the generous support of one of my backers, we’re in line to be adding an additional story to this campaign.  As one of my project rewards I offered to write a short story for someone who backs at the $300 level.  Even though I have been waiting for more backers before formally implementing this reward tier, I did receive one such pledge.  We’ve discussed some ideas and I think we’ve come up with a promising plot.  I will reveal more on the project page once the details are hammered out but suffice to say it looks like Derelict will be a compilation work before this campaign is through.

Monday, May 20, 2013

If you build it, they will come

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by some of the talented folks over at Quixotic Games to talk about their first Kickstarter Canterbury.  Thank you for joining us today!

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss Canterbury, James!

Canterbury looks like it could be confusing to the uninitiated, could you tell us a bit about the game?

Canterbury allows you to take on the role of a Saxon Lord who is charged with building the city of Canterbury into a prosperous capital. Each structure that is built in the city provides a service such as food, religion, or culture. The players are vying for control of the city’s districts by providing the most services throughout the city.

Unlike other city-building games, we have removed the concept of personal wealth from the game. Whenever a player scores points, the city marker advances on the Prosperity Track, and this in turn dictates how much gold is available to the players for new building projects.

Another interesting feature of Canterbury is that, other than starting turn order, there is no luck in the game. Each session unfolds differently based upon the decisions made by the players as they build the city together. There are a multitude of strategies available as players seek to gain control over each other's districts and simultaneously provide the most of each particular service to the city. Each session promises a different experience and a brand new city when the game is complete.

As a worker placement game Canterbury should have much of the randomness some folks dislike removed, but is there more than just worker placement to this game? Resource management?  Trade? Location control?  

Canterbury isn’t a worker placement game. Players seek to gain control of different districts by building structures there, and to provide the most of each service to the city. The richness of the gameplay comes with structure placement, in particular the placement of larger structures that spread their services to multiple districts and allow players to strategically take over their opponent’s districts.

Could you describe a basic player’s turn?  How much analysis paralysis are we facing with Canterbury?  

Our goal for Canterbury was to keep the rules simple and streamlined. On your turn, you choose one of three actions (Levy Funds, Full Build, or Tax & Build). After you complete your action, your turn is over. There are of course lots of different strategies to pursue. Players need to develop strategies over multiple turns, and sometimes you will have a turn where you need a moment or two to think ahead. For the most part, however, play moves very quickly and downtime is minimal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Can AR and GPS combine to make a game that truly makes YOU the main character?

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I am joined by the Corey King from the team at ZenFri LLC to talk about their first Kickstarter project Clandestine: Anomaly.  Thank you for joining us today!

Thank you James! It’s a pleasure to join you.

Let me start off by congratulating you on getting selected as a “Staff Pick” that’s a great way to set yourself apart from the large number of gaming projects.  Can you tell us about your project and why you think it was selected as a “Staff Pick?”  

My feeling is that we’re presenting something that is genuinely new, and quite different and that this may have caught their attention.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Son of Nor

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Ricardo Valenzuela from Still Alive Studios to talk about their first Kickstarter Son of Nor.  Thank you for joining us today Ricardo!  

Thanks for having me James, I’m pretty excited to be here to talk about Son of Nor :)

With a name like “Son of Nor” the game sounds like a role playing, yet the video shows something different.  Would you care to describe the game?  

Do you think so? I find it quite similar to the name God of War, both are three letter words connected with “of.”

Back to topic, our game is a third person action-adventure game where you will be able to use the powers of telekinesis, terraforming and the elements of fire, wind and essence to defeat your foes and solve puzzles, the game can be played single-player or with up to three friends in co op mode, online or split-screen.

The gameplay reminds me of the old Playstation 2 game Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, was that game an influence at all?  What were some of the influences behind Son of Nor?

This is quite funny and very movie-like, but the game was born in one of Julian’s dream, if you take a look at the initial videos we have posted on youtube ( ) you will notice that the game was quite different back then (and quite ugly too). With time the game started to take shape and many things that even tho sounded cool, like stealing spells, didn’t work quite well and had to change. Since we are a big team with different backgrounds and tastes there are many influences behind it. In my case I love third person action-adventure and puzzle games, so we could say that games like Professor Layton, Zack & Wiki, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Resident Evil 4 and many others are big influence for me.

Under the STEAMtop

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Brent Bushnell from Two Bit Circus to talk about his wonderful Kickstarter project, the STEAM Carnival.  Thank you for joining us today Brent.  

Thanks so much for the time!  I really appreciate it.

Now I notice STEAM is in all caps in your title which implies it’s not steam but an acronym, can you tell us more about STEAM and your project specifically?  

STEAM is the acronym created by adding Art to the popular acronym STEM for science, technology, engineering, and math.   We believe Art is a fundamental addition to the STEM fields and sadly is one of the domains that is getting cut from school funding.

Now you bring up John Maeda of RISD and MIT when you bring up the “A” for art in STEAM, but I always connect it with Adam Savage from Mythbusters and his 2012 Maker Faire speech.  Did John coin it first?  Do you think it’s a good thing that more and more people are seeing the advantage of putting that “A” in there besides making the acronym sound better?  

Interestingly enough, looking around online it's not that clear who coined the term.  In addition to Adam Savage and John Maeda, there are pointers to Harvey White, co-founder of Qualcomm, as an early proponent of the term.   I'm thrilled that the STEAM term is catching on as fast as it is.  The addition of art makes the traditionally more intimidating STEM fields more accessible.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

It takes more than words

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I’m very pleased to be joined by veteran producer Gary W. Goldstein who is self-publishing a “Writer’s Guide to Hollywood.”  Thank you for joining us today Mr. Goldstein.
We live in exciting times, especially as a creative person or somebody who supports creative people, and Kickstarter is such a game-changing opportunity that’s rapidly shifting people’s thinking about what’s possible. I’m humbled to be here and please call me Gary.
That’s very true, Gary, so lets get to your project.  It’s a pretty straightforward title for your book, could you tell us a bit about it and why you decided to write it?  
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a career as a literary manager and then a producer in Hollywood for 25 years. Two years ago, I started reflecting on my career and all that I’ve learned and done to help the build the careers of countless writers and I just I started writing down everything that I’ve told writers over the years. At first I just thought it would be my legacy, but after I shared bits and pieces with my friends they told me they’ve never seen another book like it so I decided to go for it and spent the next two years writing the manuscript.
The book is 25 years of straightforward strategies, broken down step by step so that anybody can follow it and take the mystery out of how to “break in” to Hollywood and build a professional, enduring career. There seems to be change everyday in the film industry, especially with technology, but some things don’t change because people are the same. Knowing how to build relationships, present your work, your talent and yourself, all of that is just as relevant and necessary today as it always has been. That’s what my book is all about.
Most folks seem to think of Kickstarter as a place for Indies and small time creators come to seek funding, not full fledged Hollywood producers!  What got you interested in Kickstarter and finally pushed you to launch your project here?
I chose to launch a Kickstarter because it fascinates me, the amount of engagement that happens not by putting something up for sale but by asking a community to breath life into a project. I love the idea of actually being able to connect to each person, to provide things beyond the book that might not be readily available like mentorships and workbooks, but more importantly I wanted to leave my legacy with a community that it matters to, a community that has not always had a clear path for its passions.
The day we launched our Kickstarter campaign happened to be the day Zach Braff and Melissa Joan Hart launched their respective campaigns, and given the Veronica Mars campaign earlier I was aware that some people object to celebrities, which I find funny to be considered as one, using the platform. I am respectful of these feelings and of what Kickstarter represents, and I feel that people should always trust their instincts and support projects that they believe in and trust.
I also believe that what indie represents is not whether someone is small or big but any person who strives for creative independence and the freedom to be fully self expressed. In that sense I believe anybody should be able to engage their community and ask for help. Whether you’re a filmmaker or tech startup or creator of any stripe, we find ourselves suddenly able to finance, create and complete our works, effectively get them out into the world, without waiting for permission anymore. That should be available to everyone and everyone has a choice to support someone or not. Also by engaging more and more people on Kickstarter, I believe it only grows the size of the crowdfunding community by drawing in people who’ve never used Kickstarter before and potentially making a lifelong crowdfunder out of them. Can you imagine what our arts and creative community would be like if everybody just in the U.S. alone had contributed to one Kickstarter project?

Where LEGO meets GREEN construction: RamRocket!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m talking with David from RamRock Building Systems LLC to talk about their premier product, the RamRocket! Thank you for joining us today David.

Thanks so much, James.  Great to be with you.

The RamRocket Kickstarter is a very unique project, can you tell us a bit about it?  

As our Kickstarter site states, the RamRocket is the centerpiece of our green building system a portable machine that uses intense hydraulic pressure to fabricate interlocking masonry blocks, directly on the building site, out of urban-industrial wastes of one sort or another. Hydraulic cylinders will compress these materials into interchangeable molds of various sizes and shapes, the resulting blocks fabricated in accordance with the requirements of each particular RamRock structure.

We call the machine a RamRocket, not just because it's a natural extension of our process ramming materials into rock-like blocks but because the contours of the machine's "guts" are such that when we put a skin on them to protect them from the elements, the result will be something akin to the Space Shuttle.