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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

Kickstarter Monday: Flag and Hadean Lands

Ages ago, I wrote up a few posts to see how various Kickstarters I backed had turned out. Starting this month, I'm going to make the first Monday of the month about reporting on a couple of the projects that I've backed since then, or catching up on previously mentioned incomplete projects. There was a time when Kickstarting was probably my number one way to spend money frivolously, and while these days I’d say that hobby has given way to room escapes, I’ve still backed or attempted to back over 80 projects. 

My first instinct here was to draw this series out and cover all of them, but I stand by just about everything I had to say when I wrote the previous reviews. Here's the digest version: 

  • Video games are second only to films as bad projects to back.
  • First-timers making hardware gadgets are probably going to fail.
  • Sometimes I back artists more as a way to thank them for previous work than because I want their new thing.
  • I like things that light up.

So here's what's new:

The Glif, and also The New Glif - These are well-made and practical gadgets for sticking your phone on a tripod. The original was built for the iPhone 4, which means it is now a piece of plastic trash that I will move from junk drawer to junk drawer until I die. The "New" version is built to be phone agnostic, and although I don’t use it often, it’s a big help when I do have a need for it. 

Flag - This was a startup that did a huge faceplant leading its founder, Samuel Agboola, to try to scrub himself and the project from the internet.  The idea was for you to get free prints of your photos in the mail, as paid for by advertising that would appear on the reverse side of each print. I guess their problem was that you can’t attract advertisers to a platform with no users, and they didn’t have enough cash to burn on giving away prints until they had a respectable amount of users. Plus they promised a bunch of dumb and expensive frills. They ran a second (and third) shady crowdfunding campaign, totally failed to keep up with shipping prints to their existing users after a couple of months, and then shut down as much of their web presence as possible. Backers have been left to post pleas for refunds on the campaign comment pages like an extra sad chain letter.  For what it’s worth, the first photos I received were actually very nicely done and encouraging of the service as a whole. The second month was four months late in delivery and of noticeably lower quality. Neither batch had any ads, and I never saw anything else from them except apologies and promises.

Hadean Lands - This wonderful text adventure (ahem, interactive fiction) is like a Thanksgiving dinner - Andrew Plotkin spent years developing it, and when it was finally served I gulped the whole thing down in a tiny fraction of the time. It’s a story of alchemy-powered space travel gone awry, and it’s the reason I have TextExpander snippets for things like “orichalcum,” “anaphylaxis,” and “anti-Tellurian distillate,” along with some especially long and complicated series of commands I used time and again. I am perfectly pleased with myself to also mention that I was among the first players to complete the game in the week it was released, before the internet filled up with hints. This was one of the very first projects I ever backed, and it's pretty much a best-case scenario for how happy I was with the end result.