Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack kickstarted

For its tenth anniversary, Mechaton, a game of giant fighty robots made of LEGO, is getting a revision and a new title. Today the Kickstarter for the new version started. Please help fund it.

Also, if you have a lot of cash, seriously consider one of the high level awards. Soren Roberts is an extremely talented LEGO designer and the rewards for his original work are rare offers.

Thanks in large part to prior posts here about Mechaton and LDraw, I’ve been asked to render the assembly instructions for the mechs in this product. Hopefully I can post some LDraw models when the product is published.

Kickstarter analysis

DivNull Productions backs a lot of Kickstarter projects. Curious about return on investment and so on, I ran the numbers on all projects DivNull backed with a “funding complete” date prior to January 1, 2012. Thus, all projects in the data set have had at least two months to deliver goals (most have had much longer). I wanted to see how much DivNull spent, what types of projects were funded, how much money went unclaimed (i.e. projects which failed to reach their funding goal) and how many projects actually delivered. Over this period, DivNull offered funding to 113 projects, 42 of which failed to reach their funding goal. This is all summarized in the following chart.

Kickstarter results through 2011

The first take away from this graph is that the number of projects not yet delivering is higher than I would have guessed. At present, 34 of the projects DivNull funded have not delivered. The monetary value obscures this a little, as around $1500 of the total can be attributed to just four of these projects. This does, however, represent just under 48% of the funded projects, which looks grim; however, the vast majority of these projects seem to be still working towards delivery.

Another surprise is that almost half of the cash offered up didn’t get used. After funding this many projects, you get a bit of a feel for which will succeed and which won’t. Initially, DivNull was fairly promiscuous about funding, taking a “give them a chance” approach, particularly when it came to role-playing games. That trailed off slightly as time went on.

As someone who gets irritated by lots of useless project updates, I tracked how many updates were made by each project. On a whim, I created a graph of the number of updates vs. the percentage of the target funds raised by the project:

Number of updates vs. Percentage of target funds

I’m not sure this reveals much of anything, except perhaps that there is no clear correlation between number of updates and funding success. And, perhaps, that overly successful projects clearly don’t update more often than other projects. I made an attempt for a while to categorize the type of comments made and count them, but ran out of interest so my dataset is incomplete. The categories may be of interest, though, especially in that they can be divided into two groups based on category: comments I care about and comments I don’t care about. All comments fell into one of these categories:

  1. “Spread the word”: requests for backers to shill for the project.
  2. “Project is progressing”: essentially a progress report without offering any new content.
  3. “Nothing is happening”: a non-progress report, usually to reassure backers that the project is still alive, even though it’s not being worked on.
  4. “Success/thanks”: Nearly every project has at least one “we did it” post.
  5. “Explaining delay or problem”: Details about why you’re not getting your swag on time.
  6. “Pitch changes/clarifications”: Adding new tiers, bonus goals provided in the event of overfunding, etc.
  7. “Pitch of related Kickstarter”: If you liked this project, you might like…
  8. “Art/content preview”: Preview text or artwork, all by itself. Sometimes art is included with other sorts of updates.
  9. “Reference to external content”: Links to a forum or blog supporting the project. Sometimes links to freebie stuff supporting the product, such as character sheets.
  10. “Incremental version”: Download to beta drafts, etc.
  11. “Request for information”: Project needs to give them information.
  12. “Release details”: Links to PDFs, details of product shipping, etc.

This list is sorted in order of least important to me to most important to me. Generally, I really only must see the last two.

Lark #03: A retrospective

One year has passed since the third lark was awarded to help produce Sage LaTorra‘s game Powers For Good. According to Sage’s progress notes on the game, the iOS application he pledged to create is awaiting AppStore approval. This will make his release a couple days late but, since he also produced the totally excellent Dungeon World while making this game, I think we can cut him a little slack.

You may have noticed I’m not running a similar “$1,000 for an indie game” concept this year. This is mostly because I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with running it this year, but also partly for other reasons. Since the first lark, Kickstarter has grown popular for managing the risk of an indie game launch, and it may be a better fit for bringing quality games to market than contests like this one. I have made a point of funding nearly any rpg-related Kickstarter I find. I have to check to see if I’ve spent $1,000 on Kickstarters yet, but it seems like it might be a better use of the cash. Still thinking about it though.

I thought it might be interesting to see what became of some of the other ideas pitched a year ago. Some of these were already close to completion at the time. If you pitched last year, and I get the current details wrong or couldn’t find information about the game you picthed, post a comment to correct me. In the order they were pitched:

Kickstarter: Early Dark

Early DarkAnthropos Games is soliciting funding on Kickstarter to print of their new game Early Dark. DivNull makes a point of backing any tabletop RPG that shows up on Kickstarter, especially if the result will be open source or a cut above your average game. Early Dark seems like it has a chance to be the latter, which is why it’s being mentioned here. Its goals are certainly interesting: “Treat gender, race, and human consciousness as progressively as possible; Forge a world indebted to non-European myth and story in addition to common Western fantasy tropes; and Create a dynamic game engine that drives dramatic narrative while reproducing realistic conflict and human limitations”.

This is also a decent opportunity to praise Kickstarter for a feature: making the amount pledged independent of the “pledge tiers”. That is, you can choose the benefit of, say, the $20 tier, but still pledge $100 if you want. Often, I want to pledge a certain amount, but am totally uninterested in the extra crap thrown into that tier.

One the other hand, Kickstarter’s search feature is horrible. It should not be difficult to build a search like role-playing and rpg, but that fails totally. Also, role-playing and roleplaying return totally different results. That could be considered desirable, but only if you also allow role-playing and roleplaying (or, better yet, role*playing) searches. Kickstarter has informed me they intend to fix this, but nothing has happened as yet.

Kickstarting e20

e20 SystemGary M. Sarli, editor and developer of the well received roleplaying game Star Wars Saga Edition aims to create a new generic roleplaying system called the e20 System. Based on the open content d20 system, e20 development uses a patronage model, where the public can pledge funding and, if a certain pledge target is reached ($10,000 in this case), pledges are cashed and the product begins. The patronage project site kickstarter handles the pledges for e20.

The project has a little bit to go to reach their target by the deadline of March 15. To help them, DivNull Productions is increasing its pledge to this project to $500. Two things interest me about this project. First, just like its inspiration, the result will be Open Gaming Content. Second, the design of the system is being driven by feedback from millions of hours of playing the d20 system from players all over the world, a real playground of evolutionary forces. While I’m not the biggest fan of d20, I care a lot about open source gaming, so I wish good luck to this project.

Please consider throwing a few bucks to the project to help them meet their goal. (And, while you’re at it, see if there is anything else on kickstarter that interests you.)