15 May 2013

Kickstarter: Part 12 - Thoughts as Crowdfunding Continues to Evolve and New Projects!

This is the twelfth part in an ongoing series about crowdfunding. Overview and Index.

Of the eight new crowdfunding projects here, four of them are new editions (Witch Hunter, Cartoon Action Hour, Exalted and OVA), one is an expansion to a current line (Transhuman for Eclipse Phase), and two are from authors using previous success (Golden Sky Stories and Myriad Song). Only Trigger Happy is new to the print field, and even then has been previously published. This is a veteran group and the success of the various projects shows it; they have all been funded.

This is a microcosm of the larger trend when established "artists" are using the crowdfunding model to bring their project directly to their customers and bypass the normal funding model. Some supporters are offended by what seems like co-opting the mechanism to discover and fund newcomers to the field; what was indie is now mainstream, in essence.

On the surface, this may seem to be true, but I think that it is missing the larger opportunity. When "big names" show up, they bring attention with them. They bring fans and they bring money. This opens up the playing field to supporters out there that may not have experienced the crowdfunding model previously. Getting involved early with a project that delivers, which veteran artists are more likely to do - let's face it, experience counts for a lot, means that they will have a net positive experience.

Colloquially, I've noted that backers that have a good first experience are more likely to continue supporting new projects. Even more than that, however, is once you have backed one project, you are significantly more likely to back additional projects. You've taken the risk once, you've gotten exposed to other projects and your awareness of the crowdfunding model is increased.

My thoughts on the matter are: Bringing in more big names, more people, more attention, is only a good thing. Maybe it will bring a greater sense of responsibility and accountability to the various projects. Crowdfunding is more successful with a bigger crowd. Sure, it isn't as indie or as cool anymore, but just because there is a juggernaut like Exalted 3E, doesn't mean that Golden Sky Stories or OVA (which despite having experience, really are indie publishers) cannot see amazing success, or new entries into the market cannot have modest success.

The more people paying attention, the more likely you will get noticed or there will be something amazing that never would have been available previously. It's a big tent, why not invite everyone in that wants to be there?

New Projects

Witch Hunter: The Invisible World 2nd Edition

Closes: 18 MAY 2013
Funded: Yes!

The new edition of a great game that never managed to get much press. The original was clearly inspired by the World of Darkness (in a good way) as a colonial era swashbuckling/horror game about fighting back the darkness. There is a lot to like about this game of action and adventure, mystery and intrigue, and investigating ancient ruins and musty tomes. The new edition promises more streamlined combat and magic systems. If this sounds like your thing, take a look. The pdf is $25 and color hardback at $40.

Trigger Happy: Role-Playing in a World that Hates You

Closes: 20 MAY 2013
Funded: Yes!

No need to lie, I love Feng Shui and pretty much any game that does a good job of handling cinematic action movies (though there aren't very many). This promises to fall neatly into that category. The mechanics seem to be simple and focused on moving the action forward, rather than worrying obsessively over resources (I like those games too, just not for this genre). Elements include Ins (ways you get in trouble), Outs (how you get yourself out of trouble), and Limit (which seems to put you constantly on the razor edge of success and failure). The pdf is $10 and softcover available for $30. 

Golden Sky Stories: Heartwarming Role-Playing

Closes: 21 MAY 2013
Funded: Yes!

Okay, so you play magical animals that have taken the form of humans. You get up to some mischief, but ultimately solve problems in a small, enchanted town with your creativity and friendship. It's the translation of a Japanese game and the art looks amazing. I have a niece that I plan on turning to the geek side. Could you imagine a better gateway? Perfect for any Studio Ghibli fan out there, the pdf is $10 and the softcover (with a dust jacket) is $25. Also, the success of this project was clearly unanticipated - the number of stretch goals blown through is impressive.

Transhuman: The Eclipse Phase Player's Guide

Closes: 22 MAY 2013
Funded: Yes!

The newest sourcebook for Eclipse Phase, probably the premier transhuman RPG out there. If you're not familiar with Eclipse Phase, it's a real gem and one of the best takes on what can be a rather unapproachable genre. It is a hard sci-fi game that examines what it means to be human in a world where traditional definitions of "human" just don't apply anymore. There are elements of horror, but primarily action and intrigue. If you like the game, you will probably want to get in on this, as there are some excellent stretch goals to be had. The pdf is a $10 and the full-color hardcover $50.

Myriad Song - Science Fiction Tabletop RPG of 10,000 Worlds

Closes: 25 MAY 2013
Funded: Yes!

Anthropomorphic space opera from the creators of Ironclaw, and using the same Cardinal system. The history of the setting is one of oppression under the thumb of the brutal Syndicate, who disappear one day without warning. Now, 100 years later, the various races have spread and factions have formed. Corporations, new empires, federations and even Syndicate loyalists all vie for power in this interesting premise. To be honest, I'm a sucker for fun space opera, and so far Sanguine has delivered the fun. The pdf is $20 and physical rewards start at $40. 

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3

Closes: 02 JUN 2013
Funded: Yes!

Do you have a deep and abiding love (or at least fascination) with 80's cartoons that always had a toy line lurking behind the scenes waiting to be out of stock in the holidays? If yes, then you should look into this game. It's the 3rd edition of a perennial favorite for emulating that particular genre - BraveStarr, Centurions, C.O.P.S., Captain PowerDino-Riders, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Inhumanoids, JemM.A.S.K., She-Ra, SilverHawks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the cartoon, not the comic), ThunderCats, TigerSharks, Transformers, Voltron... okay, this could go on forever. CAH is designed from the ground up to emulate those cartoons, with all of their "logic" fully intact - if there is something of a slightly different color, then you will be touching it no matter the consequence! The pdf is $10 and the full-color softcover book is $25.

Deluxe Exalted 3rd Edition

Closes: 08 JUN 2013
Funded: Yes! (and how)

I don't know if any introduction needs to be done here. Exalted is a thing unto itself - there's nothing else quite like it, and there likely isn't any other fan base quite like it. It's an extremely high-powered fantasy game that takes cues from a number of different sources that can be emphasized, or entirely ignored. The setting is unique and poised right at the moment before everything breaks. In a switch form the average fantasy game, you start out as a force to be reckoned with in the world and only go up from there.

The newest edition has a host of changes and improvements over the previous incarnation - seriously, there are a lot - including two new Exalted types you can include in your game. The biggest story here is the level of support it has received. It was fully funded at $60,000 18 minutes after launch and all of the initial stretch goals funded under two hours. Currently sitting at $375,000 as I type this, there are still 23 days left. That is insane. Kicktraq, for all that it is to be trusted, projects this to end somewhere between $680K and $1M. Uh, what? This project also has the dubious distinction of providing the most expensive book (not produced in strictly limited quantities) that I've ever seen at $375. To be fair, it has a slab of real gold on the cover. Which is certainly a thing.

In all honesty, despite the amount of text I've spent on it, I'm not certain if there is anyone left that hasn't heard of this project.

OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game

Closes: 17 JUN 2013
Funded: Yes!

Open Versatile Anime is a cute, rules light (though with enough depth to sink your teeth into it) game designed to emulate various anime. As the name suggests, it's customizable and easy to learn and play. Similar to Big Eyes Small Mouth, OVA benefits some of the more recent developments in gaming (such as the rise of player created character traits to generate mechanical effects, rather than just attributes and lists of powers) to create a faster experience that feels more like the character, rather than their mechanical baggage, matters. It is worth mentioning that this game works for any genre, not just emulating stereotypical anime tropes - I've used it for some grim urban fantasy and space opera. Essentially, there is a lot to like in this game for a lot of different tastes; example player books can be found here and here. The pdf is $15 and the full-color softcover (with dust jacket) is $30.