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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

The Mega Kickstarter Review Post, Part 2

We're tallying up my Kickstarter adventures. So far, I've backed 10 projects out of friendship or professional self-interest, and I've given 5 of them the ๐Ÿ‘ seal of approval. Also, 8 of them actually delivered! In today's categories, I am backing as a pre-order. A down payment on stuff I want to get, own, have, and enjoy.

These categories here are responsible for my second era of kickstarting. After getting burned on some expensive and disappointing projects, I changed my habits to buying almost exclusively from proven professionals in their respective fields. I figured they would have a much better chance of actually knowing how to make their thing, and maybe that thing would be less likely to suck.

Music Projects

In almost every case below, I didn't end up liking the actual music that came from these Kickstarters as much as I liked the music they had already made, which was what convinced me to support their art in the first place. I have no regrets about choosing to help any of these people.

  • Bess Rogers - This is a perfect example of the internet working. She made a fun promo video, which I saw, then I found some of her other albums on iTunes, and I liked them enough to want to help her make more. ๐Ÿ‘
  • An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer - I got a digital download of the multi-disc release, which I have not listened to. Since this was a $1 pledge, it used to be in the Price is Right category, but I was donating to get stuff, so now it's here.
  • Nataly Dawn - Half of the delightful YouTube-born band Pomplamoose. I'm 90% sure I actually listened to the album when it was released.
  • No School Today - a children's album from the bassist of They Might Be Giants.


This is actually two categories. Video games are a bad deal on Kickstarter. As a general rule, assuming the project doesn't fail, you're paying a premium as a backer. Especially if it's going to end up on Steam one day.

  • Hadean Lands - this is a game of interactive fiction by a game designer I was previously aware of and whose work I enjoy, Andrew Plotkin. This was one of the first projects I ever backed, and it funded in December 2010. Despite regular monthly updates, it has yet to be completed.
  • Zombies, Run! - A game that requires real-life running around with your phone to progress. Once they realized they couldn't actually deliver on their promises due to App Store limitations, they issued refunds. (So we could spend the money on them in the app store, was probably the theory.) ๐Ÿ‘Ž
  • Double Fine Adventure - This project was huge. One of the first entries into crowdfunded gaming by a known developer, this project wasn't even for a specific game, just the idea that they'd come up with one, and make a documentary about how they did it. That game is Broken Age and it has been split into two pieces. The first half did a pretty good job of delivering on the flavor of the old-school point-and-click adventure they were promising. The second half has yet to be completed. I have not watched any of the documentary.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light - this computer game "is a spaceship simulation roguelike-like. Its aim is to recreate the atmosphere of running a spaceship exploring the galaxy." And it does a great job. It's fun, and difficult, and delivered darn close to on time. ๐Ÿ‘
  • Shadowrun Returns - I loved Shadowrun as a kid. Particularly the games on the SNES and Genesis, so backing a new game was an easy sell. They delivered, and I have never made the time to play it. However, they seem to keep on releasing patches, overhauls, expansions, and now a forthcoming 'Director's Cut,' so I feel like I've made the right choice, because if I had played it immediately on release I probably would not have replayed again and again in each new form.
  • LA Game Space - I live in LA. Why not a Game Space? The reward promised was 30 original indie games, and I have no idea if they delivered, or if they built a Game Space, or what happened with this one. Endless indie bundles have left me feeling somewhat dubious about the quality of 30 prototype games though. ๐Ÿ‘Ž (What I should have backed was a GameHaรผs!)
  • Energy Hook - I will play any Spider-Man game. Even the Atari 2600 Spider-Man game is fun, because all I want in any Spider-Man game is to web swing around the city. And here's the guy who made the best web swinging system, making a game where the only thing that happens is you swing around, except with energy instead of copyrighted webs. Unfortunately, the game has yet to be completed because the developer decided to make another game instead. ๐Ÿ‘Ž (But hopefully ๐Ÿ‘ once I can actually play it. (Until then, Floating Point is a free game with almost nothing going on but swingin' around some blocks.))

I don't think I'm likely to back another video game project. I think Kickstarter shines as venue for creators who have created something, but need a financial push to make the leap from bits to atoms. It's awesome that everyone supported the very idea of Tim Schafer (and Zarf) making a new adventure game, and that seems to be turning out well, but backing digital goods that haven't progressed past the idea stage feels substantially riskier โ€“ and more importantly, less fun.

Board games, on the other hand, are expensive to physically produce and ship, and might be a pretty good value in pre-release.

  • Super Showdown! - I don't know what possessed me to back this game. The good news is that when it arrived, they accidentally sent me two copies. The bad news is that it isn't all that much fun.
  • Z-Ward: A Parsely Game - I really like this project. A Parsely game is an interactive fiction game, or text adventure, but instead of being played with a computer one player acts as the interpreter, following the printed materials with regard to the map, items, actions, etc. I got their whole collection, and my dream for these is to play them with a crowd before or during a comedy show, but I haven't really gotten to play them at all yet, and I don't want to read ahead and ruin them! Still, they seem awesome. ๐Ÿ‘
  • Call of Cthulhu: 7th Edition - This is the project that sucked me in the most. It makes up almost a third of all my kickstarter spending. As their campaign revealed stretch goal after stretch goal featuring new books and items, and even let me buy the adventure from the previous year's kickstarter campaign that I missed out on, the Horror on the Orient Express at half of list price, I kept on bumping up my pledge. The crate of stuff from this project, when it finally arrives, promises to be immense. Of course, all those new books and things now have to be written, so the project has yet to be completed. The hope is that it won't be much more than 1 year late.
  • Chaosmos - This is a board game closely inspired by a book I found in the school library in 7th grade, Interstellar Pig. When I bought my first hobby board game, Cosmic Encounter, it was because I thought it would be this game. Aliens are chasing after an artifact, hiding it from one another, and each alien race has a rule-breaking power. I got to playtest this game once, and had a nice time, but the project has yet to be completed.

That's another 16 projects. Of those, only 9 are complete, and of those, only 3 got a ๐Ÿ‘.
Total score to date: 26 projects. 17 completed, 8 that I'm glad I backed.

Next week we'll actually get to some of those disappointing tech projects, a category that's an even worse deal than video games, and maybe a list of projects I backed that didn't fund.