Friday, May 24, 2013

Kickstart Your Weekend: Mighty Morphin' Weekend!

Kickstart Your Weekend: A series in which I occasionally spotlight Kickstarter projects that are ending soon and deserve a little nerd love. Also, I'll highlight some past projects as well, as you never know when these enterprises are going to turn up again.

Another busy week for Kickstarter nerds. While I said from the start that Kickstart Your Weekend wouldn't be a weekly feature, it sure is shaping up that way. This week we've got updates on past projects and a new set of highlights. Next week I anticipate doing a highlights selection of past projects, and after that it looks like there may be a lull in truly exciting Kickstarter projects, though you never know when a new campaign might pop up. Kind of like pseudo-nazi societies in science-fiction, they turn up whenever things get stale. And, if you're lucky, they're worth the effort to vanquish them rather than becoming just another clumsy cash-in for some bland action scenes and ham-fisted morality tale (I'm looking at you, Stargate SG-1's Eurondans).

Sorry about that, back to Kickstarter stuff...

Jagged Alliance: Flashback--which I was most worried about over the past week--finished its campaign well, just squeaking by to collect its first stretch goal. I'd waited on this one until the last minute, but in the end the promise of Mac support plus the fun skin packs they were previewing helped secure my moneys. They also have a slacker backer program in the works at their main site, which will give users the chance to belatedly pre-order now that the Kickstarter campaign is finished.The steampunk air skirmisher Guns of Icarus: Adventure Mode funded at just over two hundred grand with outside supporters included, punting their MMO dreams a little further down the development gridiron. You can keep following their puffs of white steam and black smoke over at the Guns of Icarus site. Robotech RPG Tactics blew through stretch goal after stretch goal to claim a massive 1.442 million dollars, making it one of the most successful projects in the board game category on Kickstarter. Anime mecha fans should pop on over to Palladium Books to check out their RPG products and watch for the release of Robotech RPG Tactics in early 2014.

Bear: A First Time Parent's Continuing Journey is doing solidly well and is on track to get funded in twelve days.  Browncoats: Independence War just achieved full funding with 3 days to go, so I'd say they'll hit a stretch goal or two. And keep in mind that unless you back and get a download or DVD of the movie, it probably won't be available to see outside of con and special event screenings. So something to ponder, that. Finally, Deadzone is over $500,000 pledged with 9 days left, meaning it is almost guaranteed to be Mantic Games' most successful KS campaign yet. Seriously, don't forget about them and their enkindled Chovar model.

So with the past campaigns' roundups out of the way, I've got another set of three projects for you, this time featuring a second edition for a successful RPG, a superhero board/miniatures game mash-up, and a dark revival of a Saturday morning dynasty as a web series. Woot woot.

OVA: The Anime Role-playing Game

The art looks beautiful and perfectly evokes classic anime tropes.
What it is: OVA is an RPG tailored and streamlined to put players in anime-style adventures quickly and with a minimum of effort. Written by Clay Gardner, OVA (Open Versatile Anime) was originally published in 2005 and though it was a very small release, the unique and straightforward approach to the genre was fairly well-received. Eight years later, a wiser and more seasoned Clay Gardner is returning to his first effort with an eye to refine and deepen the rules and throw a hefty amount of artist glamour over the whole effort. The most interesting aspect of the game is the elegantly simple character creation process, which is supposed to take only a matter of minutes if you want. You design only the remarkable aspects of your character--there are no specified stats, no core abilities you need to define whether or not they're important to the character concept. If they're very good or very bad at something, that is what defines them, and that is what shows up on the character sheet. It's a novel approach and perfectly fits the anime genre, where mundane activities and attributes are hand-waved as a matter of course.

Why it's exciting: I'm a fan of GURPS, a point I've belabored on this blog several times already. But I have also said just as often that I'm a sucker for great art and for eccentric game mechanics. And OVA has both in spades. Mr. Gardner has also put up a couple of character books on his campaign's main page. I love character books--they're a combination of character background, detailed character sheet and illustration, and a summary of the core rules that apply to playing that character. It's a great play aid for learning the system, looks terribly attractive, and is useful for convention purposes for getting players into the game quickly. They're already fully funded and past a long list of stretch goals that include a mobile app to support the game. So OVA has definitely secured my pledge. And, as I said in my GM Tips post last week, a well-constructed system with a narrow focus trumps the best generic system in its realm of specialization, and OVA has me really excited to play some bright frenetic anime action. And, due to come out by the end of the year, I hopefully won't have to wait long.

Guardians Chronicles

What it is: Guardians Chronicles is an ambitious board game coming from Iello Games. In it, players take up dice, cards, miniatures, and play heroes assaulting the lair of the mastermind Professor Skarov. One player takes control of the villain and his base full of henchmen, trying to hold off the heroes while they vie to foil each other and score the most headlines by the game's end. The characters are all original heroes inspired by classic heroic paragons and villainous archetypes. And by that I mean they're totally defensible and creative designs that are obviously inspired by Dr. Strange, Captain America, Iron Man, and so forth. The play mechanics involve each hero wielding a small hand of cards to upgrade their hero with abilities and stat boosts on a turn-by-turn basis, battling robots, ninjas, and supervillains on their way.

Why it's exciting: Iello Games has already produced some very well-received, albeit more shallow, board games in the past. King of Tokyo in particular got a lot of great reviews over the past year. Guardians Chronicles looks like a colorful super-powered riff on the asymmetrical gameplay of Descent, with up to four players ganging up on a powerful mastermind controlling multiple characters of lesser ability. I love the artwork, and now that the game is fully funded with 24 days to go, I bet we'll see all or most of the stretch goals they've laid out funded before the end, which will unlock a dozen heroes and villains and bonus henchman for the larger pledges. I haven't pledged to them yet myself, but the colorful characters and action-packed game mechanics have me tempted.


What it is: When you consider all the iterations as one, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has been one of the longest running shows for kids. And that goes back to my generation, with the show premiering on Fox Kids in 1993. Twenty years later, the Power Rangers are still doing their thing. Still appealing to the same age demographic with the same pratfalls, bad comedy, and cheesy but kinetic action sequences. We all grew up, but the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers didn't. That's where MMPR comes in. A fan tribute web series, MMPR aims to bring our Saturday morning fondest memories into a contemporary light with a post-apocalyptic, more serious tone. Their campaign aims to fund the fan-series pilot episode to the series, plus any further episodes they might get via stretch goals.

Why it's exciting: Honestly, I want to see some of the action for this show before I get too excited, but that little teaser and the synopsis has got me perked up. A post-heroic, blasted setting that is somehow the result of evil being defeated in the past also strikes me as an interesting and unexpected angle to take. And I was always a dork for the Green Ranger, which means I'm fairly hooked by the plot conceit of a new generation of Rangers looking for Tommy, who's now in hiding. If MMPR can just give me a little bit of that old spark I used to feel when I'd watch the Green Dragon Zord rise up out of the water without making me feel like a dork? I'd get on board. Heck, who am I kidding--I've watched old episodes of Fraggle Rock on my own in the past few years--I'm not afraid of feeling like a dork.

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