Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Picade Interview

Welcome back to yet another Kickstarter Conversation!  I’m very pleased to be shouting across the pond to England Paul and John of Pimoroni LTD creators of the “Picade: The Arcade cabinet kit for your mini computer.”  Thank you for joining us today!
So as one of the pioneering British Kickstarters I have to ask, why Kickstarter?  Did you wait until Kickstarter allowed British based projects?  Did you look at the alternatives in crowdfunding?  

J&P: We’d been thinking about the idea for Picade for some time but not really had the time to get into it properly. When we knew KickStarter was launching in the UK it seemed like the perfect thing to kick us into gear and get on with it!

I guess one of the big questions for the less tech nerdy of my readers is, “what’s a Mini computer?” Let alone a Rasberry-Pi, Mini-ITX, Pandaboard and the like you’ve listed on your campaign.  

J&P: Yep, that terminology is pretty vague really! For us it means any single board system or micro computer that runs a standard OS (i.e. Windows or Linux) and can physically sit inside the Picade. I suppose in theory you could even squeeze a Mac Mini in there if you wanted, it’s really about size limitations more than anything.

So what are folks getting in your kit?  

J&P: They get all the parts they need to build the cabinet including: panels, screen & driver, speakers, amplifier, buttons, joystick, cabling, lights, decals, etc. Once you’ve put the kit together all you need to do is hook up your mini computer of choice to the various bits inside and boot it up!

You list £32,768 as your goal, that’s quite an odd number how did you arrive at it?  What will it be used for?

J&P: Computers internally work with binary numbers which are represented as ones and zeroes. In binary (or base-2) certain numbers like 32,768 (which is 2 to the power of 15) are actually nice round numbers. It’s a geeky little twist really, we knew we needed funding of around £30,000 so felt it was a nice touch! :)

(Laughs) Okay that one was so geeky you got me even. So now that you’ve blown right on past your initial goal what are your plans?  

J&P: We’ve now hit our last stretch goal of 200% funding, which unlocked a few extra goodies for Picade including custom artwork and support for some other systems. We’re in talks to actually supply some classic games with it as well which is super exciting for us.

So how hard would it be to say... I don’t know, take the guts out of a Neo Geo cabinet and put into your larger Picade?   Would that be a silly waste of your product or just another thing you will be surprised to see your customers do with what you give them?

J&P: I actually have no idea how hard that would be, I haven’t seen the internals of one! But we do hope that people will try crazy stuff out and show other people how they did it. That is core the whole point of Picade being a make it yourself kit with open source designs. We really want people to hack it, change it, and customise it!

So what level of maker/hacker/builder are you going to have to be to use your kit?  

J&P: To just build the Picade really only takes care and attention, we’ll provide full instructions and all of the parts that you need. So anyone should be able to do that. Beyond that there is a lot of scope for modifying it and customising it to whatever level of ability you have be that making new artwork for it, adding extra lights, changing the screen, adding different types of controls, or anything you can think of!

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

J&P: After the campaign is over is really when the action starts. We’ll be updating all our backers on the progress we’re making and providing them with the full plans, materials, and components we’re using so they can try things out or feedback to us. This is going to be really valuable for us in deciding which direction to take things as we refine Picade over the next couple of months.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to help things along?

J&P: We’ve had a lot of interest from all over! People from the classic games industry, hackers, makers, arcade enthusiasts. We’ve also been promoted by some notable publications and people which is lovely!

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

J&P: Find your audience first. We had a good idea of the type of person who might like Picade - they’d be people like us! We had to trigger the initial wave of interest and publicity by contacting people directly who might talk about it and get more visibility for the project. From there it snowballs as more people see and talk about it.
Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

J&P: Just like all our backers we can’t wait to get our hands on a production Picade - make something you love. :)

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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