TR Member Perks!

A great week for audio lovers and games alike! We’ve got a wood finish turntable, a gothic sidescroller, laser headphones, and an MMO strategy game. All that and more This Week In Kickstarter!

Games

Crowfall

crowfall.com

Crowfall is a new fantasy MMO that turns standard MMO fare on its head, blending traditional MMO playstyles with a large-scale strategy game.

Crowfall’s head honchos are two industry veterans, who’ve worked on SWOTOR, The Sims Online, Shadowbane, Ultima Online, and more. To achieve the refreshing game style of strategy games, but the long term playing of MMO games, the two follow a simple rule: Eternal heroes, dying worlds.

Your character sticks around after the campaign is fought and won, but that campaign’s world leaves. Your character is an “immortal champion,” who can travel between different worlds in an eternal war. These worlds exist for around 1 – 3 months, or until the winning conditions are met. To reflect time, the world goes through all four seasons. It’s a race against time to win before the world is consumed by the undead legion consuming the earth.

The world is made of voxels, but far much more dense than say Minecraft, or the various crafting games that followed. This means the entire world (that’s right, the entire world) is destructible, a feature that’s been sorely missing from games recently. The maps are procedurally generated as well. With each new world brings new rules: what technology is available, how powerful is magic, etc. All this means that every campaign will take place on an unfamiliar field, bringing new challenges and strategies every time.

Ok I’m gonna pick on Crowfall for a second. There’s a difference between inspiration and imitating, and good God is this game’s design imitating Game of Thrones. From the title referencing the crows in the Night’s Watch, to the symbols, some of which are nearly identical to one’s in the show’s interpretation, to the music choices being just different enough to sound like Ramin Djawadi’s score without legal trouble, Crowfall is a Game of Thrones MMO in all but name and legal rights. This is by no means the first time a brand has taken generous inspiration from George RR Martin’s books, and by no means is ole’ George the one true originator of many of these concepts (usually its either Tolkien or real history) but the imagery is a little too flagrantly similar to ignore.

Play "Spot the Game of Thrones Houses." See how many you can find!

“Winter is Imminent”, “Hear Me Cry”, “Ours is the Wrath”, “Flame and Blood”

That criticism aside, while they may be stepping over the line of “inspiration”, their game set up is refreshing all the same, and really makes the game stand out to me. I’ve always had trouble getting into MMOs like World of Warcraft because I never felt like I really had a sense of direction. Conversely, I couldn’t get into MOBA’s like League of Legends or DOTA because I wanted a chance to explore the worlds, rather than fight in closed off battlefields. Crowfall looks like the best of both worlds, and I’m really excited to try it.

At the time of writing, Crowfall has surpassed its $800,000 goal, with a full month of funding left until March 26, 2015. Here’s to a hopeful future for this interesting take on the MMO genre.

Slain!

wolfbrewgames.com

Slain! is a 2D pixel hack and slash, with fantastic visuals and an eerie setting, coming to PC, Mac, and Linux.

You play as Bathoryn, in an effort to liberate seven towers in this gothic world. Bathroyn battles through legions of enemies, fighting through the towers, while avoiding traps, solving puzzles, and killing monsters.

The seven areas of Slain! are split into two sections: horizontal and vertical. The horizontal sections are for traveling to the towers, with a larger focus on combat, and ending in a mini boss. The vertical section, as you probably guessed, focuses on ascending the towers. Here you’ll find a larger emphasis on puzzles, platforming, and traps. The level ends with a duel with the area’s overlord. Brutal combat, rare save points, and a limited but varied arsenal make for an interesting and deadly romp.

I’ll be honest, I’m in love with this games art style. It’s beautiful. Its artful. It has a diverse color palette, it’s creepy, it’s gothic to its core. I want to play the game just so I can admire all the wonderful environments the Kickstarter page shows off. Its combat looks interesting and its enemies more so. It’s just a shame the swords feedback is so, well, dainty. So unsatisfying. The blood flies everywhere, but the sword is awkwardly quiet (though maybe that’s because of the overlaid music.) The sound the sword makes when it hits is more akin to dipping a spoon in yogurt than mighty steel singing as it slashes through a monster. Gorgeous as the environment may be, that’s top of the pyramid stuff. The base, the ground work of any successful game is in the gameplay, and that needs some fine tuning. If they can improve that, just based off what I’ve seen so far, I’d recommend Slain! to several of my friends.

Slain! has crossed the halfway mark, raising $7,563 of its $12,000 goal at the time of writing. The Kickstarter closes March 27, 2015.

 

Between Two Cities

stonemaiergames.com

A tile-drafting game of designing unique cities. Competitive, short, and for 2-7 players.

In Between Two Cities, you and friends each build two unique cities, discussing with each other where the best placements for landmarks are. By the end, each player counts their score, and the lowest scoring city wins.

Really that about sums up the whole project. In most cases I fear I leave out too much, but in this case the idea is that simple, and that’s why it works. The game is designed as a “gateway game”, so players unfamiliar with tabletop games will enjoy it as well. It can be a challenge to get people unfamiliar with tabletop games to play them, not because they aren’t interested, but because their limited exposure to complicated rules in games could be a bit too much to take in at once. Everyone has seen the same phenomena when they tried to get their parents to play video games with them when they were younger, but hadn’t considered their parents, with limited exposure to games, wouldn’t have the slightest clue what was going on. This looks like a fantastic introduction to the tabletop space.

Between Two Cities has well surpassed its original goal of $20,000 at the time of writing, amassing over $110,000. Donations close March 16, 2015.

 

 

Technology

FlyShark Smartwatch

No website =(

A smart watch that functions all on its own, with or without the need of a phone.

The FlyShark Smartwatch is everything you’s expect from today’s growing smart watch choices. Text, call, heart rate monitor, exercise tracker, sleep quality monitor, camera etc. But a unique feature, one undersold in its Kickstarter page, is it’s independence. Most smart watches depend on Bluetooth connecting to your phone for the more practical applications. This one doesn’t. You can insert a micro-SD and completely abandon your phone if you so choose. The watch band comes in a silver frame with a brown band, a dark grey frame with a black band, and a gold frame with a brown band.

I’m sure many of you dear, sweet, intelligent readers may say “Hey this really isn’t all that useful, your phone can already do all of this and more. A phone would be more powerful than this.” And you would be right, no two ways about it, this device can not compete with your phone. However, I put it in this article because, to me, I don’t see this as a device that is supposed to compete with your phone. The device can either compliment your phone, or replace it if you aren’t a big texter, or app user. Crazy as it seems, I believe the less tech savvy people would get more use out of this than the more tech savvy. A simple interface, limited but useful functions, uncomplicated controls, and very few menus to sort through and understand means to someone like my aunts and uncles, who rarely use their cell phones for more than calls and a few texts, could get a lot more use out of this. And of course, getting my uncle to stop wearing that weird cell phone belt clip all men his age wear would be a plus (why do all men above 40 wear those? You have pockets!) Also totally unimportant but in the video, he burnt 210 calories running in a suit and he didn’t change?! You’re about to get engaged man what the hell?! Ok I need to get back on track.

The Flyshark Smartwatch has quadrupled its original $10,000 goal, making over $40,000 at the time of writing. The Kickstarter ends April 1, 2015.

Glow

glowheadphones.com

Because why not?! A pair of quality headphones with vibrant lasers that pulse to the music.

Glow headphones pulse with a vibrant light to whatever songs you’re playing. You can customize the intensity in the Glow App. The headphones come with a 5-way controller, allowing you to toggle volume, forward/back, or more interesting controls. You can use the intuitive controls to respond to voice messages (highly recommend checking out the demo of that on their page) or use it to control your phone’s camera shutter. Best of all it doesn’t even need to be plugged into your phone to do it!

These are some awesome headphones, and I want a pair right now. Of course good quality is the most important feature, but having the text messaging function, the camera function, and of course, that awesome multicolored glow effect. The only thing I wish the headphones had was the ability to swap colors, though I am aware this would add to the cost and potential bulk of the headphones.

Glow has already fully funded itself, reaching over $475,000, when it only needed $100,000. Donations close March 13, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 Silvan Audio Workshop

Facebook.com/silvanaudioworkshop

An awesome set of custom made turn tables from a father/son team working out of their garage.

An audio turntable made from high end audio gear, and made with American Black Walnut wood as a stylish base. This makes every set one of a kind and makes a great center piece to an audio center, entertainment system, or coffee table. The entire device is made by hand, and tested. Cartridges are pre aligned and counterweights set, so it’s ready to go right as you get it. The turntable comes in three models, and if you already own a Rega turntable, send it to them and they’ll convert it.

I’m a big sucker for wood finishes on tech, and this is no exception from that. Much like the Glow headphones, this audio device is about style, but in the opposite direction. It’s meant for a lovely, homey sort of feel and made as the centerpiece for wherever you place it. Its elegant design is fantastic and Rega is a good choice for  quality audio parts. If you’re someone looking to get into vinyls and turntables, this certainly wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

The Silvan Audio Workshop has passed the halfway point to funding, raising over $8,600 of its $14,000 goal at the time of writing. The Kickstarter is still accepting donations until March 23, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The author (Bryan Heraghty) does not back any Kickstarter projects he writes about, nor are any of these inclusions sponsoring TechRaptor. These projects are included solely because the author thinks they are interesting.

What are your thoughts on some of the Kickstarters we saw this week? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! If you have a game or technology Kickstarter you think deserves attention, you can either comment below, email TechRaptor, or tweet @techraptr or @greyhoodedbryan your suggestion!


Bryan Heraghty

Staff Writer

Avid shooter and platformer fan. Coffee is the only power up I need. In the spare time I have I will listen to more podcasts than has scientifically been deemed healthy. Hit me up on Twitter if you ever want to chat with me about games, tech, or whatever.