Friday, August 30, 2013

Discover the Wonder of Nixie Tubes

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by James Budai who has made an interesting project for Kickstarter called Nixie Tube Clock.  Thank you for joining us today James.

Hi James.  I’m happy to be here, and very excited to have started my first kickstarter project.

I guess we’ll start with a simple question, what’s a Nixie Tube and why did you make a clock using them?  

A nixie tube is a device that was used in very expensive scientific instruments in the 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s.  It is a glass tube filled with neon gas and flat metal number stacked on top of each other.  Unlike other tubes of the time these tubes would not get hot.  They produced light by exciting the neon gas around the metallic digits.  Unlike light bulbs that create light and heat from current flowing into a filament.

I thought it would be neat to produce a clock with them because I figured everyone could use a clock, and it highlights the features of the nixie tube well.

What’s your background working with Nixie Tubes and such?  

I first saw an old piece of scientific test equipment with nixie tubes while I was in the US Air Force in the mid 80s.  About ten years later saw some old equipment at HP while I was working there as an engineer.  I was alway curious about the technology but didn’t get that involved with it until I purchased a HeathKit frequency counter and tore it apart a couple of years ago.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Do you know where your Scary Godmother is?

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by the very talented Jill Thompson who is here to talk to us about her very first Kickstarter project The Scary Godmother Doll. Thank you for joining us today Jill.  

Thank you for inviting me James!

Could you start off by telling us about about who the Scary Godmother is?  

Well, The Scary Godmother is like your fairy godmother, but for Halloween. I came up for the idea over 16 years ago, when my first niece was being born. I’m a comic book artist  and I wanted to make something cool for the new baby. I also was vying for the coveted title of godmother! Back in the day I was a bit more goth than I am now, so I envisioned myself standing at the back of the church with my motorcycle jacket, wild red curly hair and crazy shoes and thought…”HA, I’d be a pretty scary Godmother!” and truly I had one of those AHA! moments when the lightbulb goes on over your head because I immediately thought of  this black tu tu wearing, little ,witchy fairy and scribbled her down! Once she was on paper the ideas started rolling in! I envisioned her monster pals and Hannah the little girl from our world who gets to visit her Scary Godmother on the Fright side!

Since I was an established comic book artist who had been working for years on things like Wonder Woman and Sandman, I shopped my idea around and found a small publisher called Sirius Entertainment who immediately wanted to publish books and comics featuring Scary Godmother and her pals. We did four graphic novels and eleven comics together! Currently all of those stories are recompiled into two volumes and being published by Dark Horse Comics!
Soon after the first book came out Scary Godmother was optioned for animation by Mainframe Entertainment. I also produced a Scary Godmother Children’s play in 2001 in Chicago with Runamuck Productions. We adapted the play to television for the first Scary Godmother Holiday Spooktakular. It got shown on Cartoon Network and a sequel was ordered based on my second book, Scary Godmother, The Revenge of Jimmy! And that’s the concise Scary Godmother history in a nutshell!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Symphony Orchestra + Video Games = Win!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I am pleased to be joined by Tommy Tallarico who is here to share his exciting Kickstarter project Video Games Live: Level 3.  Thanks for joining us today Tommy.

Yo!  Thanks for having me!

Can you give us a brief overview of Video Games Live and Level 3 in particular?

Video Games Live is all the greatest video game music of all time played by a live orchestra and choir, but what really makes it unique is that everything is completely synchronized to video, automated state-of-the-art lighting & special effects, stage-show production, interactive elements where we bring people up on stage and they play a video game while the orchestra changes the music in real time on the fly, depending on what the person does.  I like to describe Video Games Live as having the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra and combining it with the energy and excitement of a rock concert and mixing that together with the interactivity, cutting-edge visuals, technology, and fun that video games provide.

Level 3 will be our 3rd album release which will be studio recorded by first class musicians and will focus on lesser covered game music such as Shadow of the Colossus, Monkey Island, Street Fighter II, Beyond Good & Evil, Journey, Skyrim and many many more!

As a trombone player who hated concert band I have to ask, where were you when I was a kid?  Video Game music just seems much more current than what is normally played by symphonies today.  

Totally agree!  That’s why I created the show with EVERYONE in mind.  You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to come out and appreciate the show and music.  My goal in creating Video Games Live was to prove to the WORLD how artistic and culturally significant video games have become.  It’s also been a great way to introduce a whole new generation of young people to a symphony!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Pi Pan to make March 14th Even More Special

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I wish today was March 14th, and you’ll understand why when you see what Garrett Heath has come to share with us today.  Thank you for joining us today!

Great to be here! Looking forward to this irrational conversation!

(Chuckles) Irrational indeed. Now you’ve made a product I can’t believe I haven’t seen before especially with sites like ThinkGeek out there.  Would you be so kind as to tell us all about your Pi Pans?

Sure thing. In 2010 I had left my job to try to start a business, but it ended up failing miserably. During this time I could never get a good night’s sleep because I was worried about how to make money and survive and my mind was in overdrive. I started getting a lot of crazy ideas so I would scribble them down on a piece of paper to get them out of my head. Some were turned into iPhone apps and others stayed on the back burner. The Pi Pans were one of those ideas that fell somewhere in between.

I remember doing a Google search for Pi-shaped pie pans and couldn’t believe that nothing came up. I registered and dusted off my old CAD drawing skills to come up with some rough sketches. Several weeks later, I had a pretty decent drawing. I then turned to Elance to find a manufacturer to give me a quote on the mold to make the pans. I got a lot of pushback, namely that there were too many curves to make it work. Because I didn’t have a job or any money coming in, I put the designs on the backburner.

Fast forward to 2012, one of my friends, Philip Butler, brought the Pi Pans back to life. He had been collaborating with a friend of his from MIT, Chris Possinger, who had more of a mechanical engineering/material science background. Chris knew how to make the design even better and in a way that could be manufactured. The rest is history and here we are.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Caught My Eye 8/26/2013

Caught my son's eyes too!

Welcome back to another "Caught MY Eye" for the 26th of August 2013.   As always Kickstarter offers up a wealth of projects from across the spectrum and here are a few in descending order from ending soonest to last.

by Marc Tormo

I grew up playing CCG's like Magic the Gathering, Battletech CCG, Star Wars, Star Trek, and even that Simcity one.  Everyone and their mother seemed to be making a CCG for a while there. Now thanks to mobile devices CCG's are making a comeback and WWII: TCG seems to be cashing in on that idea by making a PC/Android/iOS multi-platform CCG game. It looks like a pretty slick system with a bit more complexity than I've seen in recent CCG's yet keeping a simple "3 action point" system.  So no "out buying" your opponent it seems.

by Leddie Team

I love Makers and the Maker culture because I think many of those future dreamers are going to be key to our future.  So when I see a Kickstarter supported by Make I had to take a look.  Then I see the project and I'm confused because I have no clue why anyone would want an LED light notification system for their smartphone/tablet.  That said I'm not a power user of such things (I don't even have a cell phone) so maybe this is a project for you young dreamers out there instead of us old fogies.

LEDDIE: LED light & visual notifications for iOS and Android -- Kicktraq Mini

Making Every Biker Look Like TRON!

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I’m pleased to be joined by Paul Schneider who is here to talk to us about his Electroluminescent Helmet Kit.  Thank you for joining us today Paul!
Thanks James, I’m excited to be featured on your site.

Electroluminescent is a very long and hard to say word.  What does it mean and why should people be excited by it besides being a really cool looking light source?

Yea, it really is. The name was tricky because ‘EL’ is somewhat known for the EL Wire products and I wanted to keep that association.
I think if people knew a fraction of the things that are cool about Electroluminescent Tech we’d see it in widespread use. There have been case studies of Electroluminescent vs. Incandescent lighting. The most notable I think is the USAF study referenced in the project description. They found it to be four times the visibility distance and more energy efficient. That’s pretty good.
Visibility through fog or haze is awesome due to the narrow bandwidth of the light produced. Basically it works very well with the human eye.
Imagine EL road signs or caution signs with a little solar panel on top and a battery like the emergency phones on the highway. That’s an easy one. Most EL devices are waterproof or easy to make waterproof, so how about marine applications? The list goes on..

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Caught MY Eye 8/20/2013

Welcome back to another Caught MY Eye post for 8/20/2013.  I'm going to try something new with these posts by breaking them up over the week.  So we get Caught MY Eye on Tuesday, Underachievers on Wednesday, and Caught MY Eye again on Thursday.  Let's see how this works out.

This time on Caught MY Eye an odd mix of projects from 1889 space role playing to a web based app development system, a fully customizable Guitar system, and even educational LARPing and a webcomic.  These projects have caught MY eye, here's hoping they catch yours too.  
by Angus Abranson / Chronicle City

The video alone is a lot of fun and well done.  Playing with the theme and the fact that they're German these guys have really nailed their target audience and well surpassed their goal.  More than just a translation of the German game, Space 1880 looks like it's a whole new edition of the game with updated art, rules, and content.  While I do worry about having that many stretch goals the campaign seem sto be doing well.  Congratulations on funding the English version of Space: 1889!

Space: 1889 - SF Role Playing in a More Civilized Time -- Kicktraq Mini

by Abs Girdhar

This one caught my eye for the pledges as much as the project itself.  The concept of being able to make game apps from the web and download them to your device is interesting, but not sure how that could/would work.  The bigger part of this story is that they only have 4 backers and have nearly hit their $10,000 goal.  Yeah, caught my eye but I'm still not sure what I'm looking at.

Appy Pie Makes Making a Game as Easy as Pie -- Kicktraq Mini

Monday, August 19, 2013


In September of 2012 I had already been a member of the Kickstarter community for over 7 months when I started getting annoyed by a lot of really bad Kickstarter projects.  Projects I would later start calling the “Gimme Money” projects since they didn’t seem to do more than say “Gimme Money” and nothing else.  They weren’t even as nice as a used car salesman saying “Trust Me,” those at least worked a bit harder to try and sell you on an idea even without proving they could do it.  No, the “Gimme Money” posts were nothing more than a sign and an open hand, like a panhandler who wasn’t even trying.  They irritated me on so many levels because they insulted not only the backers, but the creators as well.  They imply that the creators don’t even believe in themselves enough to try and sell you on their ideas.   

The Liberal Dan Podcast

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I take a trip into the podcast section of Kickstarter to bring you Daniel Jay Zimmerman who is here to talk to us about his Liberal Dan Radio Kickstarter.  Thank you for joining us today Daniel.  

Thank you for interviewing me. I always love to talk about both Liberal Dan Radio and the Kickstarter project I am currently working on

Why don’t we start off with an overview of your podcast and what brings you to Kickstarter?

I have been looking for ways to expand my podcast for the last year. If you listen to any of the previous podcasts you will see that I have had some luck getting a few advertisers to come on board but nothing that would allow me to really expand the show and the listenership. That is where I felt Kickstarter was a perfect fit. It would give me the ability to leverage social media in order to expand both my advertiser base and my listener base.

Your video mentions that Liberals should “reclaim the word and not only proclaim they are liberals but why.”  So what is your definition of being a liberal and why are you a liberal?  

A liberal is someone who will always watch out for the liberty of everyone regardless of the size of the group they belong to. To me, that is the very basic definition of what it means to be a liberal. In my political activities I always try and make sure that all people, regardless of how little power they have, can be treated as equal under the eyes of the law and can have every opportunity available to everyone else to succeed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Underachievers for the week of 8/14/2013

I've seen hundreds of Kickstarter projects, some successful, others not so much.  Kickstarter projects are often very personal projects by their creators that it hurts to see them not succeeding.  Kickstarter projects fail for a variety of reasons, from poor publicity, bad layout, lack of information, or the project is just plan not ready.   Lets take a look at a few of these projects and see why they're a part of the Underachievers.

As always these listings are in descending chronological order, from first to finish to last.

Solalounge - Solar Powered Misting Lounge Chair
I grew up just down the road from Las Vegas and I still live in the desert so the idea of a misting lounge chair is kind of nice. It's solar powered that's cool, the back is powered to?  Well I guess that's nice if you've got power there already... it's metal okay....  $2800 for a single chair?!?!  I'm sorry but I have no clue how a chair, a deck chair no less, can cost $2800 for a single chair!  I can mist my whole patio for under $100 and then buy two nice lounge chairs for that.  
So maybe this is a premium product and they full break down the budget and costs as to why they need $50,000? Of course they don't.  Oh and on top of that their video sounds like they're at the bottom of a well and there's absolutely no testimonials from even the wives, let alone the hundreds of folks they could put into it and get their reactions.  Honestly they seem to have put a lot of time, effort, and thought into their product, and like zero into their sales pitch and presentation.  
Now I could really dump on Leonardo here but I think many of his problems probably stem from the fact that he's probably not a native English speaker.  I bet if I tried to use my broken Spanish to make a Kickstarter for Mexico they'd laugh at my results too.  Which brings up a key issue, Kickstarter is an English language site and as such you should really get a native English speaker to review your project.  (I've seen a few Eastern European groups do this) This also allows you to get whomever is your "English faceman" to also handle the money since you need an American or UK presence to post on Kickstarter. 
A quick hit list of fixes for this project:  
  • Don't make a slideshow video with no voices.  If I want to read about your project let me read about it in the main post.
  • Make it personable, I don't know who is running this project or why. 
  • Get some words from the artist if you're not doing the art. 
  • Don't use famous works of art if they're not going to be in the book. 
  • BUDGET BREAKDOWN.  Saying it includes stuff and that you've "calculated it accurately" and just list the final total doesn't cut it anymore. 
  • Cost per unit for backers?  It looks like you can't get a physical copy of the book and at 100 you get a signed eBook? 

Space Shooter + Newtonian Physics + Tower Defense = Last Jungle in Sector 17

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Lennart Rikk who has brought us Last Jungle In Sector 17.  Thanks for joining us today Lennart!  

Hey, thank you for inviting me to this interview. We really do feel privileged to be featured on your site. I’m the project’s designer and animator, I also did the level designs for the demo.

Last Jungle In Sector 17 is an odd title for a game, can you tell us about about the game and where the title comes from?  

Last Jungle In Sector 17 is a new take on the traditional top-down view space shooter with added RTS elements, some of the games it relates to are Subspace, Star Control and classic Asteroids.

The title comes from the story, I agree it is a little long, but we couldn’t just use “Last Jungle” because the game isn’t about the last jungle in the universe. However it is about the last jungle in that specific sector of the universe.

The game is about Ryder, a fighter craft pilot, who, after a large battle, ends up on an abandoned space station. He is cut off from rest of humanity and is without communications for months. At that time he gets acquainted with the on-board neural network AI “Johnny” . Together they try to work out ways to contact the outside galaxy. At one point the space station is found by the enemy. They then have only each other to rely on in order to survive the hostile assault.

Having played some of the playable demo I can see why you’ve had people say your game is just another bullet hell shooter game.  What do you have to say to dissuade people of that idea?  

Excellent question, I think, when looking at the trailer, it might look like “just another bullet hell” and let’s not forget “generic”, but this kind of RTS/space shooter combo has not been done before. To be successful in the game, the player has to use strategy combined with skill.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Caught MY Eye for the week of 8/13/2013

Here at Kickstarter Conversations I see hundreds of Kickstarters from across the spectrum or creativity and invention.  Many catch my eye in some way or another but either don't rise to the level of a full individual article or interview so the "Caught MY Eye" article was born.   Lets see what we have for this week?  

As always projects listed in descending order from ending first to last.  

Clique Refresh 
by Amy T. Falcone

Another Kickstarter project by a Stripsearch Alumni?  Is this bias?  Sort of, I'm biased toward interesting projects from interesting people and the Stripsearch Alumni all count.  That said I'm actually pretty drawn to this project as it hits very close to home.  A story about internet friends who've never met?  Friends who mean more to you than the people or are physically near you?

Hmm... I met my future wife completely online and didn't physically meet her until the week I proposed?  Yeah I think this story hits close to home for me.  :)

RED AEGIS Roleplaying Game
Now nothing has ever stopped anyone from roleplaying over long periods of time in a game, but I can't think of one designed from the ground up to have the players purposefully play out an entire bloodline from beginning to end.  It's an ambitious project and one that is quite successful.  I am a bit annoyed by their talk of stretch goals like they've never been done before (you get more the more who back us at no extra cost) but that's probably because I've seen so many other Kickstarters.

SOS Saga Otome

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am joined by Jennie Golliday who is here to talk about her Kickstarter project SOS SAGA Otome.  Thank you for joining us today Jennie!

Thanks for giving me a chance to share what my project is about!

Now that’s quite a mouthful for a game title!  Can you tell us a bit about the project?  

SOS SAGA happens to be the abbreviated form of the real story name, ‘Scions of the Seraph’.  And the story follows the ‘Seraph’ and the guardians that protect you are simply called ‘Scions’.

‘Otome’  isn’t really part of the title.  The game is supposed to be an ‘otome’/’visual novel’, meaning that my target audience is female.  Doesn’t mean that the story won’t appeal to men, but the main character happens to be a teenage girl.

In today’s gaming market, more girls are picking up the controller to play games.  And a good portion of them like to play role-playing and/or dating sims.  Unfortunately, there’s just not that many English versions out there to play.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cheeks returns with Bastion's 7

Thank you all for joining us for another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be welcoming back Sean “Cheeks” Galloway whom you may remember from the Gumshoes 4 Hire Kickstarter a few months back.  Well he’s back with an all new project, thank you for coming to talk to us again Sean.

Hey, James!  It’s good to be back.  Thank you for having me.

So now that Gumshoes 4 Hire is done and out the door you’ve returned to Kickstarter with a new project called Bastion’s 7.  Can you tell us a bit about the new project?  

Definitely! The Bastion’s 7 project is about a boy named Kai who doesn’t have a family he can come home to.  Sure, he has a foster home, and to look over him is a grandma-like guardian called Ama. But he’s wanting more. If he can’t have a mom or dad he’ll try to make a home with the organization called Bastion’s 7.  Bastion’s 7 is an elite team of soldiers that defend sectors around the universe.  But before Kai can ever be part of the B7 crew he has to train hard.  He trains as much as he can via his “How To Punch People In the Face Properly... (and Beat Up Bad Guys)" Kung-Fu Handbook, as well as work as a delivery boy for Ama.  

The B7 universe takes place in San Diego, but not a San Diego we’re used to.  Chinatown has taken over the city  on a parallel Earth that has a mixture of different species living together.
Kai and the world of Bastion’s 7 is loosely based off of my experiences whether my upbringing, ethnicity,  to where I lived over the years.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Underachievers 8/7/2013

Week after week I see dozens of Kickstarter projects that just aren't living up to their full potential.  It could be the project concept, presentation, or any of a myriad or reason but the result is the same.  These projects just aren't doing well and hence they are the Underachievers. 

As always I try to list these projects in descending order from finishing first to last.  

Have you seen these coins? I mean seriously I'm a sucker for coins for gaming but these are some of the coolest I've seen since they're done "Old school." Unfortunately because they're done "old school" the cost per unit is way higher than most gamers are probably willing to pay. Honestly at $2 a coin (S&H is in there too) it's a lot harder to drop a "sack of gold" on the table and these are brass. For instance $61 gets me 31 (since they added one per level) and a leather pouch of Dragon fantasy coins which are about the size of a penny, or for $50 you were able to get 150 Realm Coins with a bag. Sure they're not anywhere near as authentic but we're talking about coins for gaming here and not for collecting. Plus at .33 cents a unit instead of $2 I'm more willing to let my kids play with them. Hell since the Dragon coins are about the size of a penny I could spend .50 and get 50 coins right away to play with and work just fine as a game token. (Though nowhere near as cool looking)

Like I said though, these are awesome looking coins that I love, but I think the price isn't right and even the licenced Game of Thrones versions of the coins from the same guy are going to have a tough time of it.

I like this project because they saw a problem and attempted to fix it.  That said as a parent with a baby this lid would not help me as they designed it for standard bottles (which isn't a bad idea) but we don't use those.  We use a wider angled bottle that this lid wouldn't fit.  Plus I honestly don't care as much about germ exposure as some parents so yeah I'm not the target audience.  

Other than that I honestly think they have a pretty decently, if a bit "infomercial-ish" video and campaign laid out.  $10 for a single "universal" lid at the early bird price could also be part of the problem.  I mean I can buy one of these bottles for like $1 with a whole new lid so I could just buy 10 and still cost the same as this.  So they're fighting scale and visability.  

Would this project fit well in the baby industry?  Of course! There are worse specialized projects (PeePee Teepee anyone?)  out there that I shake my head at wondering how they ever hit the market.  Maybe Kickstarter isn't good for baby projects?  Maybe they just find the right people to see the project?  In the end I think this one's poor performance is mostly just not getting the right eyes on it more than the project itself.