How’s that kickstarter doing?

I’ve backed a few kickstarters over the last couple years… I guess 15 altogether. Since I’m a busy person, I haven’t exactly followed each project closely. I figured it was a good time to review the projects I’ve backed to see how they’ve done.

In alphabetical order:

Aaron Swartz Documentary – The Internet’s Own Boy

Still in production. I funded at the DVD level, and supposedly should be getting my DVD in March 2014.

Beautiful vim Cheat-Sheet

This one was successfully completed, a bit delayed but not too bad.

Big Blue, an underwater adventure game

This sequel to the videogame Ecco The Dolphin failed to achieve funding, raising less than 10% of goal. I guess the team is still trying to find a way to get a game developed somehow.

Chip Maestro – An NES MIDI Synthesizer Cartridge

This project completed successfully, albeit delayed by over a year. It was frustrating to wait so long, but the finished product was good. I didn’t get the feeling that Jarek wasn’t capable of delivering, just that his estimates for how long it would take to do the things he promised were overly optimistic, and the response was larger than he anticipated, which added complications.

Code Hero: A Game That Teaches You To Make Games

This one doesn’t seem to be as well managed as the others, with the main project website having difficulty remaining up, and delays in releasing updates. The website is currently down. :(

The Jason Scott Documentary Three Pack

In progress. Jason has been doing a good job at keeping followers updated with the project. Jason did an amazing job on his first kickstarter project, Get Lamp, and the self-funded BBS documentary before that, so I’m confident that this project will be completed successfully, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final results when they’re ready.

Light Table

I consider this one a success. Beta builds have been released, the latest 0.5.0 in August 2013.

Metal Savior

A game developer friend of mine recommended I back this one, but it failed to achieve goal.

Neurodreamer sleep mask

I received my reward (the “trip goggles” that serve as a sort of prototype for the sleep mask) for backing this one a long time ago, and just saw Mitch announce about a week ago that the sleep masks had been produced.

OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console

The fundraising effort for Ouya was a huge success. I received my console a few months ago. It’s

Project Maiden – a Zeldalike in reverse

I only backed this one for the minimum level, which gets my name in the credits. I figure if/when the game gets released I’ll buy it… but I see that he’s actually releasing it DRM-free, free to download, forever — a gift to the world. Really amazing, and I think if the game is as good as it looks that I’ll send him a rather large tip as a thank-you.

Looking at the project pages update log, it looks like Kevin & Co. have been working diligently and productively on this project. I’m really looking forward to playing this when it is released. Considering that the team only raised $12000 for this project, the fact that they’re releasing the finished product as a free, no-DRM download is amazing.

SPORTSFRIENDS featuring Johan Sebastian Joust

I backed this project on the strength of BaraBariBall, which I had the opportunity to play at the Cleveland Game Developers booth at Cleveland Ingenuity Fest in 2012. The game was quite playable and fun even then, and so it’s a bit disappointing to have waited this long and still not seen the game officially released yet. The release was supposed happen in October 2013, but has been pushed back. I don’t really care about the other games, I want my Barabariball!


Still in progress, but they have been releasing beta builds and making strong progress for some time.

Star Castle 2600

Completed successfully. I received my game cartridge and downloaded the ROM to play on emulator. It’s a VERY difficult game in emulation. I would have liked a slower-paced version of this game.

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

Anita Sarkeesian has been somewhat slower than expected at churning out her series of videos, to date having produced just four videos of the series so far, out of a total of 12 announced (7 of which were made possible by reaching stretch goals). The videos have been about what I expected in terms of quality and content, which is to say pretty good, overall. They have generated a lot of negative response from certain segments of the gamer community, which deserves more analysis than I’m prepared to give here.

The twelve topics announced on the kickstarter page were as follows (the bolded ones have been produced):

  1. The Damsel in Distress (parts 1, 2, and 3)
  2. The Fighting F#@k Toy
  3. The Sexy Sidekick
  4. The Sexy Villainess
  5. The Background Decoration
  6. Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress
  7. Women as Reward
  8. Mrs. Male Character
  9. Unattractive Equals Evil
  10. Man with Boobs
  11. Positive Female Characters!
  12. Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games

So, despite the four videos being released, it feels like there’s still a long way to go for this project to be completed. It would be nice to see the release schedule sped up, but not at the cost of quality.

Kickstarter… Good? Yeah, I’d say so. YMMV

Over the last year or so, I’ve read and heard about backers regretting backing one project or another because it was poorly managed and failed to deliver once successfully funded. And, to be fair, there have been some high profile projects that raised a lot of money and ended up failing. It seems that there is a danger with overfunded projects succumbing to scope creep, hype, and unrealistic expectations.

It’s definitely worth keeping in mind that fundraising success doesn’t guarantee project success. If you look at kickstarter projects like a pre-order system, I think you’re more likely to be disappointed. If on the other hand you look at kickstarter as an opportunity to give an inventor or creative person a chance at making something cool, it’s a different story. While a failed project is still disappointing, understanding that failure is a possibility and that fundraising success doesn’t guarantee project success, it can put things into proper perspective. Limit your contribution to what you’re comfortable losing, and hope for the best.

At some point I realized that, despite there being many projects out there that seemed interesting and worthy of support, I couldn’t possibly keep up with all of them if I wanted to, so I limited my backing to projects that I really wanted to see make it, and that I felt would deliver rewards that I would enjoy or find useful. I also begged off funding projects if I heard about them after they were already above goal, so as not to contribute to the overfunding leading to unrealistic expectations problem. I figured if the project was successful I could probably go out and buy the product when it became available.

Overall, allowing leniency on time, I’d say that the kickstarters I’ve chosen to back have been mostly successful. With the exception of Code Hero, I haven’t felt like I’ve been burned yet. Delays are disappointing, but understandable, and as long as progress is communicated regularly and honestly, I can live with them, within reason.

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