Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ears and Tails above the Rest!

Greetings friends and welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by the very talented entrepreneur and seamstress Deanna Petro who is here to talk to us about her Realistic Animal Costume Ears on A Headband.  Thank you for joining us today Deanna!

Thank you - I am very happy to be here with you in this heated, air-conditioned studio with hot tea in delicate china and soft music playing in the background

{laughs} Your campaign’s title seems pretty straightforward, I guess the question becomes, why animal ears?   

I really don’t have an easy answer to this question.. To some extent, I think it’s just something we grow up with as children. You want to pretend to be a superhero, you don a cape and domino mask; and when you want to be an animal you go with the tail and ears. Something like an actor wearing his stage costume around town in order to get into character, wearing headband animal ears is an easy way to inject a little of the animal into our own consciousness.

While your campaign seems focused on just getting you the tools for making your ears will this help making your full outfits as well?

Most definitely. Art is not a linear equation so everything I can do to improve in any aspect of it, will improve other aspects as well. Ears are the big push that I wanted to focus on at this time, but most, if not all, of the goals I have set in place will go a long way towards streamlining the rest of my costume business as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Classic Toy Car for Today's Kids

Greetings friends and welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m joined by the fun folks over at ThoughtFull Toys to talk about their MODARRI Cars Kickstarter.  Thank you for joining us today.  

David and Trevor here.  Thanks, we’re super excited about these cars.  

At first glance the MODARRI Cars look like simple plastic toy cars you can find in any toy store.  What makes these different and what advantages do these have for a parent of two such as myself?  

Good question.  These cars have real working suspension and steering.  you can drive and do tricks with them, and they fit in the kids pocket.  They are also made from high strength plastic and metal, so they are super strong.  We want kids to play with these things for a long time...these are not made to be “Throw away” like so many toys.  Last, all of the pieces pull apart and can be re-assembled with the corresponding parts of the other cars.  Kids can design their own cars, and they are just as strong and cool looking when they are done.  AND NO BATTERIES or Noises...Whew!

Ah, the days of no batteries.  When toys didn’t need to DO something like light up, make noise (ugh), or move on their own.  What made you want to make a “simple” toy car line?  
Kids get bored with toys where the play value is all spelled out for them.  These cars help kids  create their own ways to play not tell them what to play.  We thought is was time to revolutionize the toy car, so a new generation could create the way we did when we were kids...even better though.  The cars are tough too, so they will last.  I am a father of 5, and I got tired of throwing toys away.  Oh yeah, and we love playing with cars too.

The Gaming Stories no one else tells

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I am joined by Matt Chandronait from AREA 5 who is here to talk about    Outerlands: Season One.  Thank you for joining us today Matt!

Thank You for reaching out!

Outerlands is an interesting name for a show, what will it be about?  What got you guys interested in this project?

First and foremost: it’s storytelling. Videogames are culture, and every culture has virtually limitless stories to tell; hopeful and tragic, big and small. We’ve wanted to tell these stories ever since we first got into videogames media (starting with The 1UP Show at, but finding the funding hasn’t ever worked out. Untold numbers of stories are being lost every day because no one else seems to have an interest in telling them. That’s an unmitigated tragedy. It’s as though anything that has a videogame component isn’t worth our time as a species, even though they affect so many of us so very deeply. No traditional funding source has ever taken the idea seriously that there could be a videogame culture show. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue. Unless someone does it first, no one believes it can be done—or at least not profitably. We’re hoping to be that “first.”

With six “hour long” episodes planned what topics are planned for these episodes?  Will these feature any well known personalities or more of just the people in the field as it were?

It’s about everything that happens outside of traditional media coverage when it comes to videogames. The mother and son that communicate over distance through online games; the small game shop owners that are doing everything they can to keep their business alive; custom joystick makers and peripheral hackers; gamer communities that inspire connection and charity (Smash Bros. and Speedrunners come to mind); museums and passionate individuals that do what they can to preserve our shared videogame heritage. And, yes, it’s about the rockstar game developer—not so much what their next game is, but what their life is like and what bringing a game into the world means to them from an everyday perspective. Out list of people and subjects is growing by the minute.

Will backers have any say in any of the episodes?  Will they have a chance to appear in the series?  

In short: yes and yes! Backers and fans are already sharing their stories, or stories they find compelling. As an example, we just got a Facebook message on our OuterlandsDoc page about a student-run Gamer Symphony at the University of Maryland. They've been active for years and have a crazy-awesome archive of their concerts online for free. That’s a perfect story for Outerlands! It’s something we never would have heard out without backers reaching out to us and sharing what they know and love so that we can come document it. Despite having a huge list of stories already, we’ll never cease being hungry for more and we can think of no better source for what our backers want to see than the backers themselves.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Space, the Wayward Terran Frontier

Welcome back friends to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by George Hultgren the creator of Wayward Terran Frontier.  Thank you for joining us today George!

Of course, I’m glad to be here.

Your game has a lot going for it, even if the title is a bit of a mouthful, can you tell us what Wayward Terran Frontier is all about?  

Wayward Terran Frontier is a game designed for anyone who has ever wanted to just live on a spaceship and go on adventures with their friends in a mysterious universe. It is also a social game for people who want to host a persistent galaxy for their friends to play in akin to a minecraft server, but with space stations and intergalactic wars that sort of thing.

I know how I want to play it: I want to connect briefly during the day to tend my space farm, I want to connect in the afternoon and run a trade route, and I want to spend a full day on the weekend trying to reach that hidden alien artifact I found in deep space surrounded by guys that always blow me up.

There are so many parts of your game that seem like parts of other games, yet at the same time it seems to be coming together into something greater than the sum of its parts.  How do you think Wayward Terran Frontier will differentiate itself from those that came before it?  

The truth is, I’m far from being the first person to try and make a multiplayer game where you can be the captain of a space ship. I think that this is a game lots of people have wanted for a long time, and many have tried to make it. In fact many are currently trying to make it and I am honestly excited to play games like Project Trillek and Star Citizen.

In terms of what really makes my game unique, I would have to go with the story. I have had this trilogy of space epics fermenting in my brain for years and I could never bring myself to sit down and write a novel type thing. I think I am more of a game programmer than a novelist, hopefully that is obvious by now.

Also I have always been interested in the study of player motivations and incentives in online games. I think as a geek who once struggled with social situations I tend to approach multiplayer games in a very analytic way. I never played farmville for instance, but I would often interview my friends to try and understand what made it so addicting.

Get trapped in time with: NORMAN

Welcome back friends to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by Joel Guelzo to talk about his film and Kickstarter campaign for the film Norman.  Thank you for joining us today Joel!

Thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure.

Let me start off by congratulating you on surpassing your initial goal with plenty of time left to go.  Can you tell us about the film and why you think it has done so well?  

Norman is a feature-length sci-fi film I wrote and directed about a time traveler and his A.I. companion. Norman becomes trapped and isolated in the past, jeopardizing life in both the past and the future. He must invent a way back to the future before the world collapses. This story is more about who Norman is, and why he became a time traveler in the first place, and the actual time travel elements are there as a means to tell this story than anything else.
I think most film related Kickstarters do well, at least in my opinion is because of having a good video to kick your campaign off with. People who are looking to back a film project I figured would be more visual people than wanting to read information, so I worked really hard to make sure to show off my film in the best way possible first, then if that hooked them, I would have extra information in text below to explain further details. The feedback I have gotten so far from most backers has really humbled me, hearing that my trailer looks really awesome, that the story seems really interesting, and the visuals and quality looks professional. This is all so awesome to hear from somebody outside the production, because when you are knee deep into the project, it is so hard to tell what your film looks like or how well it might do from the outside.

As to be expected of a film project you’ve created a very compelling Kickstarter video.  How much do you think your videos have aided you in the success of your campaign?

I think this is a huge part honestly. Like I mentioned earlier, I think most people who look for film projects to fund, are going to be hooked quicker if the quality of the video and trailer are really well done, and also the fact that my film is 98% shot helps too I think. The hardest part about making the trailer was coming up with a way to hint at the storyline, and the main premise of the film without being able to use almost any of the scenes that are shot that have dialogue. The reason being, that because of such a low budget, I wasn’t able to have a consistent audio guy on set because of the last minute shooting dates, changing schedules, etc. I decided to just shoot this thing, and because of my brother Jonah Guelzo, who is an amazing sound designer working out of L.A., I was confident that he would be able to work with the actors to re-record the dialogue afterwards and have consistent audio quality.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Akari no Chikai

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m a joined by Jerry Miller who is here to talk to us about his group’s Kickstarter project Akari no Chikai (Part 1).  Thank you for joining us today Jerry!

Thanks for having me, James. Ready when you are!

There’s several things it seems I get to talk with you about here Jerry.  From Blender, to Kickstarter, and of course Akari no Chikai of course.  Let’s start with that, can you tell us about the story in Akari no Chikai?  

Akari no chikai means the Oath of Akari. During these few “Parts” We will travel with her and Aliester as they investigate the death of Akari’s Father. Some say he was working on a super secret personality alteration technology for Blacksign Arms.

Now for those who don’t recognize it, there’s a lot of Japanese in this project, from the title, to half the campaign being written in Japanese, and even the character designs are Japanese based.  Who is behind the art and writing of this project?  

We have recruited a very good Illustrator named Sozo Maika. Sozo has some pretty impressive pieces of art on blender artists and on his Deviant Art account, I only recently found out he also makes 3D Models too.

The writing is being done by our Project Lead, Dave Gadrinab. Dave has been working on the Akari project for little over a year now. He has some serious talent in modeling, He can practically take any anime image of a character and turn it into an accurate 3D model with great topology in 2 days from scratch. He inspires me and after reviewing his models I’ve learned how to do some interesting things I never thought of. Dave also won a competition our group had to make a 3D Model of a custom Naruto character.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

To the Skies with Project Nimbus!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by the creative folks over at KISS Ltd. to talk about their video game Kickstarter: Project Nimbus.  Thank you for joining us today.
Hello, we’re the GameCrafterTeam, an independent game maker team from Thailand. Thank you very much for reaching us!

Project Nimbus looks to be a very action oriented game; can you tell us all about it?  
Yes, this is a very action oriented game. It’s very fast paced, high speed flying mech game.
The third person, air combat based gameplay, strikes me of the Ace Combat series.  Was that deliberate or just a natural combination of genre and visual style?  
I think that’s a result from trying to create this kind of intense flying action experience. Project Nimbus does takes a lot of influences from many games that team members love.  As much as we strives to make ourselves unique we can’t help to pay homage to great gaming moments.

Your project mentions that the campaign isn’t to start the game but to finish it.  How far along in development are you?  Is it in a playable state at the moment?  
It’s playable right now, but not completed yet. We’re in the middle of finishing the campaign’s content. There will be a lot of work before it’s done.
The game is set to appear on STEAM did you guys have to go through the Greenlight process?  If so what did you think of the process and how difficult was it to get approved with your game in this early stage of development?
Getting green-lit on Steam greenlight was a big challenge. It really boosted our morale when it was a success. We were  truly ecstatic to know that so many people liked our game and wanted to play it!
I think the most important thing to do in Steam Greenlight is to make a trailer that’s truly reflect the game’s heart and soul. It’s not easy to accomplish that and we knew it was going to be a long shot. There were so little that was ready to be shown at that point, but I guess the hearts and mind of mech game fans do connect.

HEATWORKS MODEL 1 electric tankless water heater.

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m pleased to be talking to ISI Technology about their HEATWORKS MODEL 1.  Thank you for joining us today.

It is fantastic to be here.  Thanks you so much for this opportunity.
MODEL 1, at first glance, just seems like an electric tankless water heater; what makes it different from other water heaters on the market?  
Other than using electricity and water, everything is different. Traditional water heaters transfer energy via convection with a metal rod heated to temperatures in excess of 800 degrees F—vulnerable to element burnout and mineral plating—and use flow switches to switch the elements on or off, which is an unreliable technology. Heatworks MODEL 1 uses multiple pairs of graphite electrodes to excite the water molecules, the water is heated from the friction that results from their collisions.  MODEL 1 senses water flow beginning at 0.1 gallon per minute (compared to 0.5 GPM or more for all other gas or electric units), activating the heating system. Sensors inside the unit measure the water more than 60 times per second to detect temperature, while the number of graphite electrodes at work are continuously adjusted to use only the perfect level of power.

Since we eliminate heat transfer, nothing ever gets hotter than the water itself, eliminating plating and scalding. The MODEL 1 also eliminates the average 30-second delay needed for traditional water heaters to activate, heat up and transfer that heat, (think of an underwater toaster) saving water and energy. The MODEL 1 also auto senses voltage from 100 to 277 Volts AC , cycles from 50 to 60 Hertz, and is user adjustable from 15 to 48 amps. As a result, the MODEL 1 replaces dozens of competitive models. On top of all of this, it is the only smart, 100% digital electric water heater that can be controlled by WiFI, so you can measure and control power, duration, temperature, usage data, and much more. By combining these powerful technologies in the unit the size of a football, Heatworks MODEL 1 is a one-size-fits-all smart solution that makes it easy to attain perfect, reliable hot water.

I understand that tankless water heaters save water by not having to reheat a big tank of water constantly, but how does the MODEL 1 compare to other electric tankless water heaters?  How does it compare to gas tank-less heaters?  
We are all subject to the same laws of physics - it requires x amount of electricity to raise water temperature by y degrees. It is what we do with that x amount of power that matters. Other electric tankless are prone to failure due to the extreme heat inside the heating units and they cannot handle low flow. Because of latent heat, present in all conductive water heating, they cannot control temperature very well, and present a real scalding risk. The MODEL 1 is all solid state and uses microprocessors to monitor the outlet water temp, adjusting it 60 times a second, using only as much power as needed to maximize efficiency and provide great temperature control.  Natural gas is a great power source, and is generally less expensive to operate than electricity, but installation can be very expensive.  NG tankless units have the same problem that other electric tankless do, which is that they have scaling and mineral build-up problems, and they require very high flow rates to turn on, which wastes water.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Repopulation, the Final Week

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m pleased to be talking about The Repopulation: A Sandbox MMORPG and its return to Kickstarter.  Thank you all  for talking to us today.  

Hello, and thanks for having us.

First off congrats on doubling your $50,000 goal this time around!  You guys are starting to make a habit of doubling your Kickstarter goals.  What is it about the Repopulation that you think generates that kind of support?

Thank you! Part of that key is probably setting reasonable goals. Sometimes Kickstarter projects aim a little too high in their initial goals and sometimes some good projects fall a little short as a result. We instead focused on setting a reasonably attainable goal and then providing a number of worthwhile stretch goals after it was reached. Kickstarter is certainly unpredictable. It’s probably better to trim down your initial goals to what you need,  and then build the extras using stretch goals.

The sandbox nature of the game probably helps. I think a lot of MMO players are looking for a change of pace, and we’re a bit different from the mainstream theme park titles. I think there are also probably a lot of fans out there who are looking for a sandbox to fill the void left behind when Star Wars Galaxies was shut down two years ago. It was one of our inspirations and I think maybe some of those players were drawn in by some similar features.
My wife and I are both MMO players, and we’ve both gotten pretty bored by the current crop of MMO’s.  What is different about the Repopulation that should get us interested in the genre once again?  
We’re trying to recapture the social aspects and open ended gameplay that were more common in earlier titles and blend that with more recent innovations, along with some truly unique features, such as our generated mission system.

The biggest key for us was to give players choice. In earlier titles like Ultima Online or Star Wars Galaxies players weren’t forced into combat. Most players participated in it. But if they wanted to make a living smithing armor, or lumberjacking, dancing in a cantina, taming animals, or any of a number of other career choices they were free to do so.  The point of the game wasn’t simply to max out your character. There were social aspects and non-combat options in most of the earlier games that bonded players together and allowed them to be unique. We wanted to get back to that style of gameplay rather than the combat-oriented experience on rails that has become popular in recent years.

We have a little bit of something for everyone. If you enjoy the quest grind we have an advanced generated mission system.  Guild Wars 2 fans will feel at home with our Engagement system. Trade Skills drive our economy and allow crafters to create highly customized items. PvP types will enjoy the three faction warfare including and sieges. There are housing and player created cities to keep creative types busy. Pet types can Tame, Genetically Engineer or create and control Robotic pets. If you prefer to entertain, play diplomatically, be an outdoorsman, or a rogue type there are skill lines catered specifically for that. RPG fans can play the game like an RPG, where First/Third Person Shooter fans can play in Action Mode.

How “casual friendly” is the Repopulation?  One of the things I disliked about EVE Online was that if I wasn’t basically treating it like a second job I wasn’t getting the most of it.  Will I have to dedicate huge blocks of time to the game or will I be able to come and go as my schedule permits and yet still be a productive member of my guild/town/group?  
One of our core design philosophies was to narrow the gap between newbie and veteran while still giving players plenty of reason to continue advancing their characters. So you don’t have the huge leap in raw power difference between a newbie and a veteran. A 1 day and a 1 year veteran will have the same base health and endurance, for example. Veteran players will have higher skills and thus more abilities, and be capable of using better equipment. They’ll still be able to defeat a new player without too much hardship, but a few of those players could give them problems.

This works based on how our skills system works. There are over 75 skills in The Repopulation, and if you had years of time on your hands you could technically master all 75 if we never raised the caps. But mastering numerous skills doesn’t necessarily make you more powerful than a player who has only mastered a couple. It simply gives you more choice by allowing you to switch to multiple roles. But there are rather harsh penalties for switching during combat in the form of a six second penalty for each piece of equipment you swap. At the minimum you’d need to swap out your weapon to switch combat roles, and that would eat up between 3-6 combat rounds depending on the weapon type you are using. You can switch roles instantly though when out of combat.
Things work similarly for crafters. Instead of your skill levels being the sole determination on the quality of items you can produce, you have different mastery levels for most recipe types. In order to create the highest quality components or items you would want to maximize your mastery of that recipe. It would be extremely time-consuming for anyone to master every recipe in a skill though. This system allows for players with less time to specialize in less recipes, but to still be able to produce the higher quality results.

There is literally no penalty for grouping up in the game, and a variety of bonuses. It’s optional but by default the game will automatically group you with nearby players when you enter into an active engagement area to make it easier for shy players to find groups. There is no reason that players shouldn’t group up. And the game is designed so that a newbie character can group with a veteran and still be productive. They won’t be as productive as if a veteran was in their place, but they will still be able to contribute to the group and the group receives a bonus for them being in the group. It would be preferable for the veterans to fill the group up with a new player rather than leave slots open. Grouping isn’t forced, and soloing is completely viable. But we encourage grouping by making it easy to do and giving you little reason not to. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bigmouth Funnels

Greetings friends and welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I’m once again looking down under to Oz to talk to Robin Bristow to talk about his Bigmouth Funnels™.  Thank you for joining us today Robin.
Many thanks James for having me on your blog - much appreciated
What makes Bigmouth Funnels different than a funnel I can buy at any corner store currently?  
Several things actually - firstly they pack flat so that you can keep them in a kitchen drawer or next to your recipe books. I think most people appreciate this aspect the most as we never have enough space to store our kitchen gadgets. Secondly they also have a big mouth (hence the name) so you can use them to funnel peppercorns, oats, rice and foodstuffs like that - something that a normal funnel could not do. And lastly you can also adjust the size by holding them to the required diameter.
I like the fold flat design and simplicity of the funnels.  Is it possible to use these for liquids like used cooking oil or soy sauce?  Or would they leak too much on the “line” side?
Although I do know of people who successfully use their funnels for oil etc. the funnels were not designed to replace liquid funnels. Rather Bigmouth Funnels were designed to work mainly with dry goods and also as an alternative to canning funnels when you are making jams and sauces. I know of several chefs who have stopped using their canning funnels as they are bulky and hard to clean when compared to Bigmouth Funnels. I have also had many people complain that when they can’t find their Bigmouth Funnels then they go look for them in the workshop as they usually found their way there to be used for “non-food related purposes” such as putting nails into bottles etc.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ladder Morph - The Next Step for Ladders

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by by Dino Vassilakos the creator of the Ladder Morph - The Next Step for Ladders.  Thank you for joining us today Dino.

Thank you for having me.

The Ladder Morph is an interesting piece of hardware, could you explain it for our readers?  
Very simply the Ladder Morph is a bracket that attaches 2 separate extension ladders together at their peak creating an adjustable A Frame Ladder.

So your product is only the joint you put at the top of two regular ladders?  Your FAQ mentions some other piece that goes toward the base of the system is there any pictures of that?  
I do have pictures of the wings that I need to add to the Kickstarter page
A coworker I showed your project to said, “That’s a great idea!  Now that I know about it though I could make it myself,” which made me wonder, have you patented this idea to protect your intellectual property?  What advantages would someone have in backing you versus going out and making their own?  
I’m glad your co-worker liked the idea. I’m sure a lot of people say that about kickstarter projects and that’s some of the feedback we’ve received via Facebook “why didn’t I think of that?”  At present we have a Provisional patent which we are in the process of converting to a Utility Patent. Besides the legal issues of making their own version of the Ladder Morph there are a couple of immediate advantages to backing us versus making there own. First is the cost factor, to buy all the materials at retail would cost more than we are planning on retailing our product for. Second is the time needed to research the various components, and build it. Third and very importantly, would you want to climb 10 feet into the air on something that you built while copying a picture without specifics?  Hopefully the answer to that is no.  We are currently on our third  version of the original design which has been tested well beyond the maximum capacity of the ladders themselves.   It’s been very exciting for me to see this go from the original idea while standing in line - to prototype, to Kickstarter and next stop production…

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Ultmate Aircooled Race Engine

Greetings friends and welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined from New Zealand by Greg Anderson who has come to talk to us about his project The Ultmate Aircooled Race Engine.  Thank you for joining us today Greg.  

I would like to thank you James for asking me for  this interview and the chance to share my our project with your readers

You’re quite welcome. As a former VW Bug owner and a very minor wrench turner your project caught my eye for the simple idea that it wasn’t something you see every day.  Could you tell us about your project?  
Our project is one of building a flat four horizontally opposed race engine  with a goal of 2000 hp from our big block version
It was modeled after the VW engine  To date we are 95% finished and have only a couple of things left to do then it is on to final assembly,   fitting up to the dyno and running  
Bit of history on me
I’m very much into drag racing and have spent some 15 plus years building cars /parts in the states. Having worked at such companies as Halibrand Eng  (old time hotrod wheel and race car component manufacturing  company).  Did R&D for the likes of Richard Petty of Nascar fame as well as worked on some very famous race cars and the like over the years.What got you involved in VW racing engine design/creation?
This project started out by my working with a John Trehane here in Nelson who is into racing midgets at the local track and as you do one started looking at some of the problems and then what can we do to fix them.  I like to make things,  to understand why it may failed and then how to make it better
All the aftermarket VW engines  manufacturers out there have never addressed the design faults of the original engine.some of these are the 3 main bearing crank - the lack of material around the  barrel to keep the rings sealing  - then you have the problem of material fretting  between the two halves of the case.
John and I sat down and just started to work at addressing these problems one at a time. The first part we made was our five main bearing crank and then the one piece billet block. These are the backbone of the engine and forms the platform for us to built from  reach our goal of 2000 hp. John and myself  bought in Darren Stevenson to help with the funding and marketing of the engine
Why an air-cooled engine?  Aren’t traditional radiators more efficient at cooling?  So much so that modern VW bugs are no longer rear engine mounted vehicles.  
Having a radiator would make it easier to cool but then we need to get into making patterns and core boxes then having them cast. Making it as an air cooled engine is so much quicker and easier - makes for a lighter engine package more suited for the likes of off road racing.