Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BGDF contest, again

Just got done reading through the BGDF contest entries for August and casting my votes.  Neat stuff - there are a number of them with very clever design components - mechanics, board layouts, theme ideas, etc.  No idea how I'll do.  To me, it seemed like a few of them suffered from the typical problem in this competition where the games just aren't fleshed out enough in 800 words to get a sense of how they go, or they invoke big decks of cards that you have to imagine would be carefully tested and full of cool stuff.  But others are just neat-o.

A couple also seemed not to honor the restrictions put on entries this time around, which were that you had to have shared components and two separate unique paths to victory.  For a couple of the games (in one case, one that I really liked otherwise) they seem to have ignored this completely; for others, they're technically honored, I guess, but not really in spirit (the two victors get there the same way, by following the same goals, for example).  There's not really any way to police this, other than to hope the voters see it too, but I guess it's not that big a deal for something with no real prize that you're doing for fun.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Racial stereotypes in games

Bruno Faidutti, noted game designer, wrestles with changes required in the art for one of his games over at his blog.  The game involves exploration of an island populated by tribespeople, and the tribespeople were originally drawn as black guys with really big lips.  It's interesting - he realizes the old pictures were bad because he's been told they were, but he doesn't really get at the gut level why the old pictures would be condemned here in the US.  He's even able to figure out some of the historical reasons why (especially in his note down at the bottom) but (if I read him right) he winds up thinking Americans are just touchy and too politically correct. I think that's sometimes true (see my earlier posts on the King Phillip's War game), but not in this case.

I suppose Bruno probably wouldn't want to hear that the art, even after the changes, would still be considered in bad taste by many Americans, even though it's being marketed by an American company.  Not the screaming bad taste that the outrageously swollen lips in the original art showed, but still not representing people of color in a positive light.  The bone-in-the-nose thing, which he thinks is not offensive, actually would be - see here for an example of racist thinking at work in another venue.  The feather ornaments and such, too, probably.

Caricature is tough - you want to exaggerate certain features for humor, but you don't want to slide into stereotype.  Some political cartoonists have chosen racial stereotypes drawing Obama (see the Tea Party Comix for an extreme example); others have emphasized other features, like his slight physique and his ears, to get at more humor value without awakening past racist traditions.

The solution for this game?  Easy. Make the tribesmen white (or gray-green or something) and the explorers multi-ethnic (and multi-gender).  No big deal, and nobody's offended (other than maybe white supremacists). It's not like it's an actual representation of real history, right?  It's a simple game, and the ethnicity of the people isn't important.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boardgame Exchange

Via Purple Pawn, I learned there's an interesting new service for game enthusiasts.  It's the Boardgame Exchange - essentially, a Netflix style service for games.  You get to have one game mailed to you at a time, in custom shipping boxes with prepaid postage.  When you're done, you send the game back, and they send you the next one on your list.  They allow you to swap up to two times per month (presumably because the postage on these things will run them something like $8-$10 a shot, I'd guess).  

You pay about $30 a month for the service depending on how long a term you sign up for.  If you rapid-fire the games, sending them back quickly, I bet they end up barely breaking even at that price, since they'd have to cover four shipping costs and employees to send them out, not to mention inventory.  But they probably count on people having to keep the games for a while in order to get a group together, and then you'll probably also have the Netflix thing where you keep a loser game for a while thinking you'll play it but never doing so.  For some users, they'll probably get paid every month for not having to do anything other than having a game out on loan.

I'd be surprised if this is around in a year, unless they have a ton of venture capital behind them.  Netflix works because DVDs are cheap, easy to handle, reaonably durable, and very cheap to mail.  Games aren't these things.  But maybe they'll make a go of it - since getting into this publishing thing, I've certainly realized there's a huge and enthusiastic community of game players out there, many of whom would love to play something new every week.

I'm not sure if they're good for publishers or bad - on the one hand, you could get some exposure, and they'll have to buy at least one copy of your game to send it to people.  On the other, if your game isn't that great, people might try it here and never buy it.  But my guess is, it won't hurt sales and might help them, particularly if you've got a good game and not much marketing budget, as I think I will.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August BGDF entries up

That was fast.  Eight of them, ranging from a new card game with a standard deck of cards to a couple with over 240 pieces.  Lots of artwork in these entries - more than usual, and more complete.  Because of the restrictions, the rules are pretty complex - I need to sit down with a monster Diet Mountain Dew and wade through them all before voting.

Which is soon this time - midnight on August 30.  Exciting.  I hope more people give comments and reviews than last time - that was kind of disappointing, since only I and one other guy did.

August BGDF contest entry in

I got my entry in for the August BGDF showdown.  I think it's a good one.  The problem is, I had to rush at the end, and I never got a chance to playtest it.  I think it would work OK, but I didn't have time to find four people to give it a try.

Might get that chance this weekend.  Anyway, we'll see what everybody else did within the restrictions.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Xinghui printing problems

James at Minion Games has given some more details about his Xinghui printing troubles (which I've discussed before) here at this BGDF post.  He also has pictures of misprinted cards at the links shown below, and I've hotlinked one at left so you can see the double printing.  I was tempted to use these guys initially, because their quote came in so far below the others, but apparently you get what you pay for.  Or rather, you get unsellable items that loosely resemble what you paid for.

Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lucky Train

The company my brother works for, A Bit Lucky, has produced a social Facebook game called Lucky Train, in which you build a small town and then send the population around on trains to your Facebook friends.  The game is still in beta, and they're adding more features every week.

It's interesting - although I've played it a ton, I've found myself not quite as addicted to it as some of the other, stupider Facebook games, like Dragon Wars and Mobsters II, where you develop a character over time by doing little meaningless quests over and over.  The gameplay is actually far more interesting in Lucky Train, but I think the thing that's missing is that the plot doesn't shift or reset - you end up in an apex state, where you have a bunch of trains and a fully-developed town, and then there's not so much more to do other than the same thing over and over again.

I'm sure they know this, and are planning on adding that kind of thing when they shift out of beta.  I think when they do, they'll have a real hit on their hands - the graphics, sounds, and gameplay are far more fun than the other games like this, and the social aspect is fun, seeing all your friends on your train routes and sending trains back and forth.  It just doesn't yet have an addiction that lasts past where your town is mature, which in the current beta state takes about a month or so of play, compared to Mafia Wars and its ilk, where they keep giving you missions and levels until you burn out (for me, after about 6 months).

Anyway, check it out - it's fun!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The last to know...

I'm guessing my LLC registration went through, not because I've heard anything from the state, but because I got two pieces of mail from credit card processing companies today addressed to it.  Reminds me of the time I got a speeding ticket and received eight letters from skeezeball lawyers the next day - how do they know so fast?

Ah, here we go:  http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/Corp.aspx?PitemId=9576355

Cool! Except they misspelled my middle name. My Scottish ancestors would be a wee bi' surly.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


About a year ago, my brother turned me onto a great computer game called Slay (available here) by Sean O'Connor.  The game is basically a territory-capture game with different ranked units and an underlying economics system.  It's got a set of rules that are very much like boardgame rules, and it plays out on a hex map.  Although it has a boardgame feel, I think it works much better on a computer than it would on a board because of the underlying mathematics involved - the math isn't so hard that you couldn't figure it out, and you can actually do the calculations if you need to for a critical decision, but mostly it's more fun just to let the computer do the math and focus on the strategic parts.

And the strategy is fun - you've got ranked units that can capture territory or block others from capturing, and buildings that merely block capture. You do much better with bigger connected areas of territory, so the idea is to consolidate from small dispersed areas into a large area whose edges you can defend.  Each separate territory you control has its own economy, so small areas can't afford very powerful units, while with bigger areas, you can get some of the more powerful units that can defeat lesser units and take out the buildings.  Also, your guys can move to and attack from any space in a connected territory, so units fly around the board if you've got a big connected realm.  The catch is that you have to support the units (but not the buildings), so you need to have enough squares under your control to pay all your guys each turn.  If you don't they ALL die, not just the ones you can't afford, and your territory is up for grabs unless you've got buildings in place.  The unit costs go up exponentially for the higher ranked units, so they can be dangerous.  Any spare income you don't use is banked, so you can save up over the course of several turns, but your reserves are lost if your area capital is conquered.

Further complicating the game are plants that grow into spaces and cancel the income you receive from them.  There are two kinds, one of which is a pine tree, which grows slowly at apparently random intervals, while the other looks like palm trees (although when I'm playing I think of them more as weeds).  The palm trees spread each turn to an open space, so you can rapidly lose territory to a weed infestations.  You can clear a square with any unit, but that counts as the unit's attack for the turn.  When units die from lack of support, they often turn into weeds (conquered buildings sometimes go to pine trees), so a bad economic defeat can cripple a whole area and then bleed over into neighboring territories.

The strategy is interesting - you want to try to expand and connect your areas, but you also need to defend, particularly when you've got a narrow strip of territory that could be easily severed.  Often, late in the game, you can pull dramatic moves, sending a string of guys across a big area to divide it into two, which can cause somebody's whole army to die all at once.  But doing that can leave you unprotected, so somebody can do it to you right back.

You can play online with others, but the network interface is pretty old-school, so I've mostly just played against computer opponents, who are quite competent and fun.  The graphics hearken back to simpler 8-bit times, and it's clearly a one-man operation, which I'm quite familiar with through my experience writing and selling Snood. The game costs $20 for Windows and Mac, $4 for iPhone, and it's well worth the investment.

Image above borrowed from the Slay homepage.

Starcraft II

I've been playing some of this over the last couple of weeks.  It took a while, but I've really started enjoying the single-player campaign games.  They've got a difficulty tuning problem, I think - the "normal" setting is very easy, and the "hard" setting is often extremely difficult.  Except when it's not.  It's a little frustrating to play some levels and feel completely unchallenged, and then to bump up one difficulty level and feel like there's no way anyone could ever prevail. With the tech upgrades you can keep buying, the "hard" level is becoming easier, too, which is odd.

The games against actual humans seem not to have too much depth compared to other RTS games I've played, although I've heard that this gets better the better you get. For me, it mostly seems like whoever makes a bigger wad of guys earlier nearly always wins - it's a very rush-intensive game, and there aren't very many strong defensive buildings or siege weapons, although some races have more than others.  That means most of the fights are chaotic close-quarters kinds of things, and there's less of the strategic stuff going on - there are so many units, and they're sooo rock-paper-scissors, where one is terrific against some units and horrible against others, that it's hard to come up with a good strategy other than guessing what your opponent will do.

Again, I may find it to be more tuned the longer I play, but for now, multiplayer is not so much fun - lots of work for one fight about 10 minutes in that determines the whole game.  Makes me miss Age of Empires II, which was a favorite, and appreciate Company of Heroes, which allows the use of cover and defensive structures and positions in interesting ways.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New BGDF showdown is a doozy

Lots of conditions for the BGDF design showdown this month - shared resources, at least four players, and two people have to win simultaneously.  I'm at a loss for now, but hopefully something will occur to me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Diggity all over

My friend Jon, one of the early adopters of Diggity, shared the game with friends in Pennsylvania over the summer, and he says it was well-received.  Neat-o.  He's posted a brief comment at BGG, too - he sort of apologized today for admitting that he was my friend in the comment, but of course he can (and maybe should) do that.

I explained some of my recent rules changes - requiring three cards played down before a miner can be made, and making the high-point-value cards optional - and he seemed to approve.  I think he (like me) enjoys the more variable (and thus more exciting but also more random) scoring.

Anyway, neat to hear that it's been enjoyed elsewhere by strangers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


My daughter taught me Stress today.  Interesting game, but the design is weird.  The game is set up (and the object stated in such a way) so that it appears to be better to be faster at making matches.  However, if both players are competent (not even good, just competent), then the whole thing boils down to endgame, and who can set up the last winning play first.  The first 95% of the game is exciting but mostly irrelevant, since the faster player will nearly always end up just waiting for the slower one, who gains control of the game, because the faster player will be out of "smart" plays.  The faster player can try some tricky moves designed to hinder or trick the slower one, but it's mostly beyond his or her control.

I might have to play it some more, and play deliberately slowly, to see if the slower player can actually always engineer a win by virtue of control of the game and more options with the cards.  I suspect that might be possible, which would make the best strategy actually the opposite of how it seems upon first glance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yoggity help cards

I ordered copies of Yoggity for the Rio Grande competition today.  I added some informational cards - I hope they help the players at the Memphis GameCon understand the game more quickly.  TGC has shifted their card sheets to 18 cards, so I had some extra cards available for free thanks to the reformat, so luckily I get more cards for the same price.

Images are below - many games now have this kind of thing, and I think it sums up what you're supposed to do pretty well.  People will still have to consult the rules for the details, but hopefully this will help the learning curve. I'm probably going to do it for Diggity, too.  These images include a margin on the edge that would be cut off in printing, so there's not as much blue as it seems.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Got my LLC filing back from the Secretary of State's office saying they needed an address on line three.  The same address that it came from, the same address that's on every other address line on the form.  They could have just used the address, or called me and cleared it up, but instead they blow a stamp, envelope, and three days sending it back to me so I can write the address again, and then I get to blow a stamp, envelope, and three days sending it back.

LLC will have to wait until next week.  Why is this form not online?  Argh.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New puzzle game concept art

While waiting for art for Diggity, I've been thinking about a puzzle game.  I was playing some Snoodoku, and trying to figure out what made that fun, and came up with a new idea.  It's going to be a logic puzzle game, played on a computer, details still a bit fuzzy, but I've been working on some icons (see below).  Also learning Illustrator, which is a bit tricky for me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Attack from Mars

I fixed (I hope) a nagging problem on my pinball machine today - replaced the opto sensor for the saucer trough so that it can detect balls again.  This is good, because previously, the game would pause six seconds and then flail around trying to find the ball every time it goes down there.

I managed to complete several tasks to do this:

  • Figured out where to find non-Williams replacement sensor boards - non-trivial, because the manufacturer has been out of business for some time.
  • Removed the broken sensors without breaking anything else
  • Soldered the replacements ones into place, crossed my fingers, and turned it back on
My soldering skills are shaky at best (I won't be posting glamor shots of my silvery beads, let's say), but the game works again, and I've found that any job I complete successfully that requires soldering is one that I'm inordinately proud of - my burnt fingers are a badge of honor.

From a game design standpoint, this is a really well-designed pinball game.  It's fun for beginners, because there is obvious stuff to hit, lots of forgiving help, including a long ball saver, and a great sense of humor in the graphics and sound. Even people who've never played any pinball before end up having fun, laughing, and scoring hundreds of millions of points (the point scoring is ridiculous - my high is about 34 billion).  It's also really fun for more experienced players, because it's got six big goals (some relatively simple, some really, really hard) to complete to get to the final battle with the Martians, which I only manage to do about once in every 30-40 games or so, making it quite elusive.  Lots to learn there about designing other games, too - depth, theme, humor, and a variety of well-balanced overlapping goals.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sandcastles rules

The rules to my entry for the BGDF contest are here.  Pictures, too.  It shares some elements with Diggity what with the map building, but I think it would play completely differently.  I might have to make up cards and test it to see.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sandcastles wins!

My entry in the July BGDF showdown won!  Yippee.  I had fun thinking this one up.  I went with simultaneous movement for one phase the game - not sure how that would actually work, but I give the players something complicated to do with a common set of resources to draw from, so I think it would be fun to play.  It might be like Set, though, where I've found that natural ability is a big factor - it can be hard to enjoy a game where the emphasis is on a skill you just don't have.

I'm really enjoying these contests.  I've entered four times now, and won three of them, so that's gratifying - the games are always creative, and it keeps me active thinking up a new game each week.  And condensing the rules into 800 words is good practice!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stratego reordination

I learned last week that the makers of Stratego have reordered their pieces in the recent games, so that the good ones are now the higher numbers, and the worse ones are lower.  I suppose that sort of makes sense for people learning the game anew, if the higher ones are better, but the curmudgeon in me will always think of miners as 8's, not 2's.

Ridiculous, I say.  If you're number one, you should be able to beat everybody, right?  Not in the new version - number ones are the feeble scouts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Artist on board?

BoardgameNews.com reports on a new small Italian game company called Albe Pavo, which consists of a designer plus an artist.  That's something that could be really useful to me - an artist on board.  The art for the game looks neat - very ancient Rome.

It seems like you need three components to make a successful small game company:
  1. A game designer
  2. An artist
  3. A business person
Now, these roles can be combined into one person.  I've known of folks who were 1 and 2 combined, although it's rare to see somebody who can do both well.  My guess is that if you were 2 and 3, you'd be running a graphic design shop and not worried about games.  I'm trying to be 1 and 3 together and outsourcing my art, which I hope will work. Tasty Minstrel seems to have a separate #1 and #3, although they're now outsourcing #1 some.

It looks like Albe Pavo have #1 and #2 - I wonder how they're covering #3?

And of course, there's

    4.  A pile of money to light on fire

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Possible source for marketing/distribution help?

On the most recent edition of Paper Money, Ben and Rett talked with Rob Boyle, a guy who has done a lot of work on the Shadowrun RPG but is now working with a new company called Posthuman Studios.  The show was interesting - he's been in the game industry for years and years, but he's founding a new company now after leaving Catalyst Games, a company which I gather suffered a setback from some accounting irregularities.

One of the things Rob mentions in the show is working with Sandstorm LLC, a company that purports to handle the business end of the games industry, allowing the designers to spend their time designing.  That might be something worthwhile for me.  Their website is pretty barebones, and some of the links don't work, and others are pretty cutesy for a supposedly professional company, but they seem to have some clients, and their services would be right up my alley. I think I'll try to get in touch with them and at least see what their terms are.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Big step

I filed the Articles of Organization for Plankton Games LLC today.  Not a huge step in terms of what I had to do, but a big psychological step, and one that left me $125 poorer.  But if I'm producing manufactured goods, I really can't afford to be personally liable for problems or issues.

There's a $200 annual report fee for the LLC, so I guess this starts the bleeding - my games have to make more than $200 in the next year to cover that expense.  Of course, I also have already paid for the web hosting, artwork, samples from TGC, etc.  But some of that I'd have done anyway.

Exciting stuff.  Next step (assuming my LLC application is approved) will be to get a state sales tax ID and a local business license, and then I'll need a federal EIN so I can get a business bank account.  And I'll have to figure out how to collect, report, and pay state sales tax for in-state sales.

This is the part that's not so glamorous, but it's still part of the journey, and even a little fun at this point because of what it represents.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

July BGDF entries up

The entries for the July BGDF Design Showdown are up here.  Voting ends soon.  Only five entries this time, and they took a variety of different paths with the wide-open topic choice.  Some interesting ones in there.  I'll reveal mine next week when the voting is done (it's supposed to be anonymous).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Game design blog

Here's a new blog, Inspiration to Publication (http://inspirationtopublication.wordpress.com) that looks at bringing a game to publication.  The author, whose name actually doesn't appear in the blog other than in the first post, is Jay Cormier, who (with his design partner Sen) has a few games coming out over the next year or so from Tasty Minstrel Games, who I've written about some before, and ToyVault, who I hadn't heard of but who seems to be a combination licensed-toy/boardgame manufacturer.

Some interesting ideas, and some good advice, but not a lot of specifics yet.  I've added him to my feed list.

Friday, August 6, 2010


We played our new copy of Pandemic earlier this week.  Four players, the easy version (with four epidemic cards).  It was a lot of fun; we caught on quickly, I thought, but then we got creamed, not by disease showing up everywhere, which we were on top of.  We had cures to all four diseases and were managing to get them eradicated, we didn't have too many outbreaks, our epidemic level was only up to three cards.  No, despite our valiantly beating back the tide of disease, we lost because we ran out of city cards to draw, which was kind of unsatisfying. We need to try again to see where we went wrong - it seemed like we were doing good things every turn, but I suppose there's a more optimal way to move around and avoid outbreaks than we were able to spot.  I wish there were some rules that covered that kind of ending (infection rate increases when you're out of cards or something) rather than just losing by default, but I guess that's kind of like cheating at solitaire.

The game actually felt to me like a creative computer puzzle game - the cooperative element was fun, but it would work just as well as a solo game with one player controlling everything.  It was an interesting and different way to play a boardgame - I could see why it was so lauded.  I'll try it some more to see how it goes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Starship Catan

I played a couple games of Starship Catan today.  It was pretty fun, but it's very tippy - it seems like somebody who gets ahead early will stay ahead.  There are a number of mechanisms that reinforce this (nearly every way to get victory points also is moderately to very useful for other purposes).  The biggest is the construction of the super-modules for your spacecraft.  These are not terribly expensive, but they provide a pretty good bonus ability plus a victory point plus there is only one of each, so you block your opponent from both the victory point and the bonus ability.

The other thing that's interesting is that the two sides are fundamentally unequal - the Sun player starts building fuel cells, while the Moon player starts building carbon.  Carbon is used for weapons, fuel cells for engines, but that part of it isn't too bad - both engines and weapons are useful, and they're not entirely central to the game, so that's not a big deal.  What seems more unfair is that carbon is needed for the modules, which are very useful, especially early on, while the fuel cells are needed for trade ships and colony ships.  The trade and colony ships are nice, because they let you grab more planets, but they don't seem as useful both immediately and long-term as the modules.  This is compounded by how they're used - you need to find a planet to use a trade ship or colony ship on, while you can build a module whenever you can afford it.

In my second game, I was the sun player, and I was swimming in fuel cells but never had any carbon, so I got way behind with the modules, and then never was able to catch up or mount any kind of challenge.  The first game was more even, but as the Moon player, I had a tremendously powerful ship and most of the double-upgrade modules. 

I do applaud the effort to differentiate between the two sides, and the game is strategically rich and very complex in other ways.  I haven't played enough to know how it goes all the time, and there may be a counter strategy I haven't stumbled upon yet for the Sun player, but it does seem pretty slippery-slope, where the early leader will usually win.  There aren't any catch-up mechanisms built into the game - not one that I can see, anyway - so there's nothing holding back the snowballing effect.

I enjoyed it, though, and would recommend it to others.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sample CPSIA statement

Here's a copy of the CPSIA statement that Koplow Games has posted on ACD (acdd.com), a game distributor.  Koplow makes a ton of dice, dice games, and educational game parts for schools, so they're not directly parallel to what I'm doing, but it's interesting nonetheless to see what they've come up with for the new regulations.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Games People Play

I recently visited a game store I've been going to since my college days back in the late 1980's - The Games People Play in Cambridge, MA.  Great store - a huge selection of really neat stuff.  I bought my copies of Wiz War and Swashbuckler there back in college, along with some other games. This time around my father-in-law picked us up Pandemic, which I'm eager to try.

I spoke with the guy there (I think his name was Hank?) about how they acquire their games.  He said they get most of them through distributors, from Alliance and ACD, about whom I hadn't yet heard but probably should have.  But he said they also make some purchases for their big wall of single-copy games (i.e. games where they have only one copy in stock) directly from designers at trade shows, and that they'd sometimes buy games directly from producers.  So, there's a chance there to avoid paying the distributor's mark-up and get into stores directly, but it's going to be in very small numbers and require a lot of effort.  But it did sound like the trade shows were maybe worth doing.

Interesting stuff!  It was great to see the store again (they've moved across the street from where I remember them, but little else has changed) and to get good information from a knowledgeable source.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Even more on the CE mark

James from MinionGames.com implies, in response to my question over at BGDF.com, that the CE mark isn't a big deal.  I think I still need to do some research to make sure I meet the standards for card games, but I don't need to prove that independently to somebody in Europe, at least not until I get called on it by somebody over there.  So, my current understanding is, if I can figure out the standards for games, and figure out if I meet them, and do any requisite testing myself, then I can assert that I meet the standards and put the CE mark on without filing anything with a government agency.

Sound right?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I've talked about several games that have used Kickstarter to raise funds (see here, here, and here), and (to my surprise) they've been successful.

Others are getting into the act, reports the Purple Pawn, and it's not apparently all roses and sunshine.  Some of the game projects they list are way below their targets, even as they approach their target dates.  I think for Kickstarter to work, you have to have a network of folks who are willing to get you started, and who know a bunch of other people who might be willing to contribute to the friend of a friend. Being willing to set a lower goal for funding is important, too, since Kickstarter only pays out if you surpass your goal.