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Tag: Kickstarter (page 1 of 5)

WTF Happened To The Superbook?

The Superbook promised to be a technological masterpiece that would turn your smartphone into a laptop. But WTF happened to it?

The Superbook was revealed back in 2016. In a very successful Kickstarter campaign, creator Andromium Inc. showed a device that could turn your Android smartphone into a laptop for as low as $85. The idea was simple: Install Andromium’s custom launcher on your smartphone, connect it to the physical Superbook shell via USB and voila! Your phone is now a fully working laptop.

Despite renowned tech manufacturer ASUS’ repeated failed attempts to achieve the same1, people obviously have bad short-term memory. When the campaign ended on August 20, 2016, 16,732 backers had pledged $2,952,508 to Andromium Inc.

Then, in classic Kickstarter fashion, the waiting started.

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Kickstarter: The Long Overdue

In the world of Kickstarter, you win some and you lose some. And you wait some.

I’m not pledging to support Kickstarter campaigns at the same rate as I once did. But I still throw a bit of money at the odd project. So far in 2019, I’ve supported two video games, Lunark and Space Haven, and a comic, the fifth issue of Dunce. The Dunce pledge is a bit out of character for me, my modus operandi is computer game pledges. But the autobiographic Dunce comic is created by a Norwegian artist, Jens K. Styve, and I’m all for supporting local talent. That the strip is quite entertaining also helps, of course. When I’m writing this, there is still a couple of weeks left of the Dunce campaign. So why don’t you go pledge yourself?

But I digress, as I often do. This post is not supposed to be about the campaigns I’ve supported recently. It’s about two projects I supported a long time ago.

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Limit Theory Development Ends

After 6 grueling years, Josh finally admits defeat, and pulls the plug in Limit Theory.

In 2012, Josh Parnell had a vision: Limit Theory, an open-world space simulator, a sandbox game with no restrictions. In the beautiful, procedurally generated universe, players could explore, trade, pirate, mine, escort, hunt, defend, build, and more.

To finance Limit Theory, Josh did what many indie developers did in 2012. He launched a Kickstarter campaign. With great screenshots, amazing videos, and his unprecedented enthusiasm, Josh managed to raise a grand total of $187,865 from 5,449 backers. I was one of them, and I even covered the game on this site. The campaign was a success, and he now had the means to focus on Limit Theory without having to worry about money.

The game was a massive undertaking, with an enormous scope. Josh was a computer graphics student at the time, but that didn’t stop him from working 40 hours a week on Limit Theory. Unlike many other Kickstarter projects, he also engaged with his audience regularly, and somehow found the time post regular video updates on YouTube.

The game was originally slated for release in 2014, just two years after the Kickstarter campaign ended. It became obvious early on that the planned release date was not even remotely realistic. Limit Theory had the scope of No Man’s Sky – sans multiplayer – and it kept changing slightly. Josh, being a perfectionist, seemed to find it hard to actually finish a particular feature, and move on to the next. On top of that, he would not only develop the game’s features, he would also develop game’s engine from scratch.

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Core Worlds Digital

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I’ll just continue to naïvely throw money at campaigns on Kickstarter.

As you probably know by now, Kickstarter is one of my favorite sites. As one of the first crowdfunding sites, it enables people with a good idea a delusional fantasy to find the money to turn their mushroom induced hallucination into something real. Not everything Kickstarter touches turns into gold, though. Campaigners more often than not underestimate the scope of their plans. That leads to massive delays when the project is funded, and the actual work starts. Sometimes, the project even derails completely, and while most of them don’t turn into a spectacular train-wreck the size of Confederate Express, there is often some entertainment value in the aftermath.

Here’s a look at another Kickstarter campaign I pledged to that promised the moon, but turned into hot air: Core Worlds Digital.

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The Confederate Express Mess

Over the years, I’ve backed over 40 Kickstarter projects. Most of the them have delivered as promised, but Confederate Express turned out to be a spectacular failure.

The Confederate Express campaign launched on Kickstarter way back in 2013. The game was touted as “a strategy-oriented tactical RPG”, and the campaign launched with an impressive tech demo showing off the pixel art graphics engine. Confederate Express got mentioned by high traffic gaming sites like PC Gamer, and Destructoid, which undoubtedly boosted the campaign’s popularity. When it ended, 2,386 backers had pledged nearly $40,000. Several of the stretch goals were met, some of which drastically expanded the scope of the game. A small venture capital investment firm also threw some money at the game. With the extra money, the developer decided to use to expand the scope even further.

While the extra money sounded like a good idea in theory, it didn’t work out very well in practice. Adding more features means adding more complexity, and the addition funding wouldn’t be available until after the developers helped the VC firm finish another project. After Confederate Express was successfully funded in November 2013, little was heard until July 2014. The developer, now using the company name Kilobite, announced Knuckle Club. With that announcement came also the news that the development of Confederate Express had been postponed, citing “recent restructuring of Kilobite” as the cause. Kilobite also tried to get Knuckle Club funded through another Kickstarter campaign, but the site suspended the campaign before it reached $1,000.

By now, most of the backers were screaming bloody murder, and they started to dig around in the dirt to try to figure out was really going on. The media also got involved, and what they discovered was quite fascinating.

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