Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Game Sounds Like Utter Nonsense!







Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am joined by Tim Swindle who is here to share his party game Utter Nonsense.  Thank you for joining us today Tim.  

Thanks for having me, James, and thanks even more for showing interest in the Utter Nonsense Kickstarter project. We are three days in and Dave and I can’t wait to see this game come to life.

Party games come in all shapes and sizes to fit any kind of group, what kind of party game is Utter Nonsense and who does it appeal to?  

Utter Nonsense is the perfect late-night party game, meant for playing with friends, fueled by alcohol and ideal for people with an overall enthusiasm for laughing really, really hard. My co-creator Dave Mazurek and I have seen even the most introverted people get into the game. You can’t help but laugh hearing people say these ridiculous phrases in different voices, like orgasm or pirate. And the phrases speak for themselves, so the players don’t have to think too hard or try too hard to be funny, it happens pretty naturally.



Accent & Phrase Cards
Do you think this is one of those games that just gets better the more drunk the group gets or is there a happy buzzed medium you want to reach for maximum enjoyment?  

We’d like our players to still be conscious, but having a little extra lubrication from the sauce can help make the more self conscious players come out of their shells a little faster. But we just played a round of the game completely sober on a radio show, and everyone was dying laughing.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Are you ready to RUMBLE?!




Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I get to talk to someone closer to my home, from just the other side of White Sands Missile range comes Davy Wagnarok to talk to us about his Kickstarter n30n City Rumble.  Thank you for joining us today Davy!  How are things over in Alamogordo?  

*Looks outside and watches tumbleweed slowly careen past the window.*

It looks like a whole lot of desert out there, Mr. Yee. But it’s home, right?


For now at least.  So n30n City Rumble seems to be an interesting looking card game, would you tell us about it?  

Oh man, it’s pure unadulterated fun! Mechanics-wise, it’s deviously simple in that just about any gamer of any age can sit down and learn how to play the game in under 30 minutes. But at it’s core, NCR is a hardcore, highly competitive game. It plays a lot a fighting game, wherein players must practice with Fighters in order to become more skilled with them, but above that, they must learn to play the other player. This isn’t original thought on my part; I have David Sirlin’s theories on competitive gaming and Yomi to thank for this. Dynamically, this Poker mentality, coupled with a rock-paper-scissors style of attacking and a hot-potato-esque system for countering, makes for some intense and interesting gameplay. The gritty retro 90s look and feel for the game helps sell the fighting spirit behind N30N City RUMBLE.


How much do those old brawler games like River City Ransom and Double Dragon affect your themeing and gameplay?

I have loved brawlers and fighting games since I was a kid. In fact, Double Dragon II: The Revenge was one of the first videogames I ever played. I instantly fell in love with the setting, music, and high-octane gameplay. But it wasn’t until I played Streets of Rage 2 that I became obsessed with the genre as a whole. I remember pausing the game to draw Skate in various poses kicking the bejezus out of Signals. Other games that inspired NCR include Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, the Final FIght series (especially Mighty Final Fight), Street Fighter 2, Ninja Baseball Bat-man, River City Ransom (cannot flippin’ wait for Concatus Creative’s River City Ransom: Underground!), Super Ninja Boy, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Oh and let’s not forget Majesco’s Double Dragon NEON! That game was certainly underrated (you suck, IGN!).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kickstarter Review: OneBowl to rule them all!



Today the Conversation is taking a look at the OneBowl project. Justin Herd, the creator of OneBowl, had an interesting idea, "what if you could cook, strait, eat, and store food all in the same container?"  Instead of just going, "huh" and moving on like most people do, Justin began prototyping and trying to make good on his idea and the OneBowl was born. 

First off, lets look at the concept of a "single bowl solution" to cooking and eating noodles.  As someone who lived the "Ramen Noodle Diet" back in my younger days I can see the appeal of this project.  Place your noodles and water in the bowl, heat, strain without a separate colander, enjoy, and even save the leftovers all in one go.   At first glance this is the perfect item for college students and single people in general, then again like any good "as seen on TV" type product this one quickly breaks down beyond a limited use case scenario. 


There's nothing wrong with creating products for limited case situations, there are plenty of products that fit that mold, but the OneBowl definitely feels  like something you'd see for $19.95 being pitched by a pitchman of some kind and the actual Kickstarter Campaign taps into that fact quite well.  From kitschy edited event scenarios to the $20 price tag the campaign is designed to match "As Seen on TV" feel and energy in a great way.  Justin seems to know his target audience and has aimed appropriately.


In the end would I back the OneBowl?  No, but that's not really a knock on the project as I am most definitely not the target audience.  The question then becomes, is the target audience large enough to get them over the $50,000 target?  Honestly I think it is, but the problem becomes reaching that target audience and I'm not sure they've got the critical mass of internet attention to get them there.  I hope they can make it, or through this campaign gain the attention of one of the "As seen on TV" manufacturers looking for their next big idea.  I would love to see this product in Target the next time I'm at the checkout line.  

Final Review:

Product Review  4 out of 5
The OneBowl is a "limited use/situation product" but in that situation it seems well designed and thought out.  If you have limited time/space available for microwave cooking items this might be great for you.  Even beyond the dorm those with limited storage at work (like in you cubical) might also want to give this one a look.  

Campaign Review 4 out of 5
The campaign is very well laid out with lots of pictures and story along with some funny videos.  My only knock against the campaign is the lack of a budget breakdown and non-college related use scenarios.  I think the campaign has a slightly larger market then is being aimed at, but other than that it is doing a great job!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Never Underestimate the Power of a Great Cookie





Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I am rejoined by Vera Greentea and her accomplice Allison Strom who have come to talk about their latest Kickstarter Recipes for the Dead Issue 3.  Thank you for coming back Vera, and welcome Allison to your first visit to the conversation.  

Vera: Thanks so much for inviting us!
Allison: Thanks so much, Hi there!

Lets start with the basics, can you tell us a bit about the Recipes for the Dead series?  

Vera: Recipes for the Dead is an adventurous fantasy romp of an ambitious young pastry chef whose bakery is about to go bankrupt. In a desperate effort to save RocoCookie Shop, she steals a cookbook that seems to have the perfect recipes for bringing in customers. However, the book does a little more than offer instructions for cookies – it also seems to attract unsavory and rather demonic characters. Recipes for the Dead has a bit of everything; action, humor, a bit of horror and romance.

Now for full disclosure I am a backer on this project because the story sounded fun and the art was gorgeous.  Who do I get to thank for each of those things?  

Vera: Thanks, James! We love having you on board! Even though I’m the writer of Recipes for the Dead, Allison and I share many creative decisions on the flow of the storytelling. But, yeah, that art – that is all her. Allison does it all; the layouts and pencils, the incredibly radiant coloring that shines right out of the page, the imaginative character and Victorianpunk fashion design. She is amazing to work with – her brain concocts the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on a comic book page.

Allison: The art for recipes is a bit of a mix! I’m the only person currently drawing and coloring, but a lot of the character designs and aesthetics were begun by Recipes’ first artist, Ein Lee, back in Dark Delight with Cranberries. I’ve tried especially in the latest issue to synch a little better with the look and feel of the first volume. It’s been a huge challenge, but I’m so happy with how far it’s come since my first crack at the series in Apricot Asylum. I’m still really new to drawing comics and get very overwhelmed by the workload sometimes. It’s a constant learning process.
Recipes for the Dead: Apricot Asylum (Issue 2), cover by Allison Strom
The campaign describes the series as “Victorianpunk-manga-ish comic” where did you get that description for the comic?  Were you trying to be descriptive without being pigeonholed?  

Vera: The hardest thing about describing this comic in shorthand is trying to align it with a style. That phrase I chose hopefully gives people a bit of a visual impression of what the comic might be about. I consider Recipes for the Dead to be born and heavily influenced by the aesthetics and content of manga – but it’s not exactly that. There’s so much westernized culture imbued into it because that’s what I grew up with. It’s a broad mix of silly action-adventure, Burtonesque romance a la The Corpse Bride, and all kinds of fun oddities that struck my fancy.
Artistically, RftD has Victorian elements mixed into its visuals, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it steampunk. There are no airships or any kind of focus on machinery (or that cowboy impression you get when one reads steampunk novels). Allison seized on the idea of Victorianpunk and then gave it a baroque streak, interweaving shimmering brass curls into the buildings of Bluerouen or adding tiny ornate gold details into the clothing of the characters - inevitably giving the comic a visual language that is a deep blend of many older traditions but still comes out being its own thing.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Kangaroo Cup: The Return!




Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I get to welcome back Joe Born who is here to talk about the latest evolution of the Kangaroo Cups: Plastic.  Thanks for coming back to talk to us again Joe.  

Sure, thanks for helping us spread the word


Lets pick up where we left off back in 2012 by talking about how you raised $6,750 to produce the first Kangaroo cups based on your daughter Lily’s design.  What has happened since then?  Did the cups get to the backers?  Is it available in stores?

We actually raised over $20k because we had a simultaneous indiegogo campaign, but that’s a long story.  Yes we did get the cups to backers (though we are still working on a few of the custom ones and special orders).  We actually took a big detour by trying to get the cups made in the US which turned out a LOT harder than we expected, and that cost us almost a year, but we’re finally back on track and expect to have the cups back in production and yes in stores too.


What brings you back to Kickstarter?  Is it just the original Kangaroo cups done in plastic or have you adjusted the design at all?

We totally redesigned the cups for plastic, that manufacturing is a lot different in many respects, the tooling for plastic is hard steel and a very different process than the plaster molds that made the porcelain ones.  These are also a different size, so really quite different, besides there were a number of things we learned and we wanted to make the handles more comfortable and the shape a bit more comfortable to drink out of.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are you ready for Adventure?




Welcome back to the Conversation! Today I am joined by Kristin Brumley one of the talented folks behind Basic Adventuring 101.  Thank you for joining us today Kristin.    

You’re very welcome! Thank you for having me.

Basic Adventuring 101 is a webseries with an interesting premise, would you care to tell us about it?

Basic Adventuring 101 is a fictional webseries that features a group of Live Action Role Players.  It is done in a positive way that represents LARPing the way we feel is accurate and appealing! We follow the story of a new LARPer, Karen, and a hilarious adventuring team that is faced with saving their kingdom when Karen accidently releases a terrifying evil from a mysterious treasure box.

You can watch our pilot episode here.


As a long time supporter of all things roleplaying and acting I have a natural curiosity about LARPing, could you tell us a bit about LARPing?  


LARPing stands for Live Action Role Playing, and it’s a type of game where you act out a character that you have created. It’s really a hobby that involves many different interests--from acting and role play to combat, puzzle solving, costuming, and storytelling.  


Your campaign says that you want to “produce it in a way that makes our fellow LARPers proud to be called LARPers.”  What do you mean by that?  Is there a negative stereotype to LARPing and why do you think that is?

I feel that in the movies and TV-shows I’ve seen featuring LARPers, we’re often made out to be something we’re not.  Socially inept psychopaths and drug addicts isn’t a pretty picture when trying to convince new people to try a game.  I like to think of LARPers as extremely intelligent and creative people who are courageous enough to do something they love, despite the fact that it isn’t “normal.”

I know very few people who have given LARP an honest chance and came away from it disappointed. If more people were willing to play I think they’d find that they like the game just as much as we do! The trick is trying to convince people to make that step--which means fighting the stereotypes that exist because we’re part of the minority.  Without experiencing LARP in person it can often be misunderstood. Plus, I think Hollywood likes the idea of weirdos in the woods. They believe it’s more interesting than the reality.

I live life by example.  Showing people what makes LARP incredibly fun by creating a webseries is my way of doing that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TWEAK your dish washing routine



(Editor’s Note, English is not the first language of the interviewees so answers have been edited slightly for understandability.)  

Welcome back to the Conversation!  Today I’m joined from the other side of the planet by Nitzan Shafat and Aviv Rozenfeld in Israel to talk about a wonderfully simple product called TWEAK.  Thank you for joining us today good sirs.  

Thank you for writing about us.


They day I discovered TWEAK I had just finished dealing with a backed up kitchen sink due to it not having a garbage disposal so of course your product spoke to me.  Would you tell my readers all about it?

We invented Tweak just because of what you just described. We all hate to dispose of leftovers from the sink or hairs from the bathtub and Tweak allows you to do so easily and gracefully.    


What gave you the idea of making a squeezable strainer system that also doubles as a way of ejecting the leftovers out of it and into the garbage?  


We are both industrial designers, and during our studies we got a design brief, to design something to deal with the kitchen garbage.

I (Nitzan) always hate cleaning the sink and that time I lived with a roommate, which made the task even more unpleasant, so immediately I knew I was focusing on trying to solve this nasty problem I lived with daily. After few mockups, I came up with the flexibility concept and everybody liked it so we focused in on developing it to a nice looking product, that worked perfectly. We got a lot of help from Ani Dwilanski (product designer as well) in the design process, and she was the one who thought about doing the Tub-Tweak (woman input). We think it came out very well.