This Week In Kickstarter - Nov 7

Published: November 7, 2014 11:00 AM /



Welcome back to This Week in Kickstarter and we’re back to our normal schedule now with a mixture of Games and Tech. We bring you the projects that caught our attention this week, and give you a basic rundown so you can decide if you want to learn more!

Starting off with games, we have the Open World Science Fiction game Empyrion – Galactic Survival. Set hundreds of years in the future, Empyrion takes you to a universe to explore, discover and survive.

In Empyrion, the Earth has become an overpopulated, dying world. Between climate change, resource depletion, riots and all sorts of political instability, the future of the race was in doubt. It was clear that wherever paradise was, it was not here.

Then, came the discovery of an ancient space ship in the Antarctic hidden under piles of ice. A ship far more advanced than anything humanity had and with details of the stars, it represented new hope. The remaining leaders, known as the “United Council of Humanity” worked to focus all the resources to build ships to go to the new worlds discovered. 70 years later, you take control of a Frigate as part of the exploration team going out to find a new home for humanity. However, when the trip begins, something goes wrong and your ship fails leading to a crash landing in an unknown world…In Empyrion it is a wide open 3d world with exploration, and survival as key things. Not just on any given planet, but of various planets as you build yourself a stronger and better ship with what you find and various tools. Prepare for dangers both in space and on the planets of mysterious kinds as you seek a new home for humanity.

Empyrion Galaxy
A part of the Galaxy

With an action based combat system and dangers of various kinds that threaten shooters and space ships, battle can happen at the drop of a hat. Each planet you discover has its own unique biosphere and attributes meaning that not all planets are innately suitable for humanity. To explore it, you may have to use your precious oxygen reserves, and/or adapt yourself to the area. Because of the procedurally generated universe it is possible for all types of planets to come about and with all sorts of unique minor details making each trip unique.

Empyrion promises multiplayer co-op and pvp modes allowing you to work together exploring or fighting pirates or to take your ships up against each other in the vaccum of space.

With over 9000 of its 50000 euro goal raised already, it appears likely to make its goal. If the team’s skills and execution match their ambition, Empyrion promises to be an excellent genre bender. The one concern with the project is that the 50 000 Euro is meant to take them through to their Early Access release, which means they may be counting heavily on Early Access sales to finish the game. On the other hand, the video does show that the in game engine is pretty far along.

Another game that promises to bend genres is Epic Manager – which takes your tycoon style games and applies it to a dungeons and dragons campaign. In Epic Manager, you run an Adventuring Guild, with various people exploring, scouting, questing and doing other work for you in competition with several other Adventuring Guilds.

Starting off in a small town, you hire nearby hopefuls and set them off looking for treasure and dealing with issues across a map with over 100 locations. As many dungeons and dragons players will tell you though, having an adventuring party wander across a map isn’t safe as Random Encounters will pop up and Epic Manager embraces that full heartedly with to provide a rich mixture of encounter types and styles. Each encounter has at least 3 or 4 ways to resolve, some of them only available if your group has certain classes within it.

Classes work similar to a mixture of Dungeons and Dragons, and Final Fantasy Tactics. There are 16 different basic classes that the adventurers can take as their class. Each has their own skills and abilities, and they can also multiclass into other ones. Planning that and proper progression can unlock prestige classes for your characters – as can searching about and finding the proper people and events. Each character also has their own unique contract that you have to honour and pay them - and when it expires they might even change Agencies on you. .

Epic Manager
A sample character sheet and contract offer

In the game, you have to balance resources for leveling, scouting, equipment, and research among other things to try and get ahead of your competitors. Scouting is important; it not only gathers information on quests, but tells you about potential employees and the dangers that may be in a region. Without a scout there, you can be walking in blind, hiring a lying adventurer or taking on a job that is not at all what it seems. With a focus on things like team management (in contracts and adventurers), your fame and overall standing. Your goal each year is to beat out the other Adventurer's Guild to claim the title of Epic Manager for a year. Whoever wins the title of Epic Manager gets their pick of the best paying and most dangerous jobs as the Defender of the Realm.

The combination here of ideas looks really interesting and especially with the lighthearted tone could be really good. No video game has managed to truly realize the idea of running an adventurer guild, a group idea that is an old tabletop trope. It is currently also on Greenlight and you can support it there. With already more than a third of their goal made and a good while left to go, it looks like this one is very likely to make it to its goal and likely some of their stretch goals.

Finally in the way of games before moving onto tech we have Aerannis. Developed by a company called Ektomarch out in Portland Oregon, Aerannis is an action adventure game with stealth elements. [youtube]
 In a world controlled by a secret society of shapeshifters, the world has been torn apart by war. Populations have been wiped out by other unknown causes. One isolated city named Plovdiv, a peaceful city populated entirely by women survived unscathed. There is no crime with life being all about equality and freedom. But is this just a mere facade? Crime is kept in check through the use of assassins hired to take out dissidents. They are hired through private contracts, without government involvement. People know this goes on but no-one seems to care.

Also inspired somewhat by Megaman X
Also inspired somewhat by Megaman X

You play as a Bulgarian Turkish woman name Ceyda Farhi who lives in Plovdiv. Ceyda is a male-to-female transsexual, living as a female despite being assigned male at birth. Due to her unfortunate lot in life, she is ostracised by the other people of Plovdiv. Before the revolution that took place she was denounced as not being truly Bulgarian, and after it she will be denounced as female, which leads her to a life of crime.

While carrying out some routine assassinations, she discovers her recent missions have all involved an organized revolt against the government and societal foundations. She will learn of the ancient force behind all of it as she answers the question that haunts her. In a society where being female is a prerequisite to be treated as a human, does she, in her situation, really have the duty to save all those who alienated her beforehand?

Aerannis is an open-ended mission based action platformer. It does have some stealth elements in missions you take on. Some focus on stealth, some on action, while some may turn from one to the other dynamically. Aerannis is decidedly Metroidvania in that it's world is completely open-ended and interconnected. From city apartments, parks, government offices, street areas, warehouses and a mysterious void that lies outside of Earth.

Ceyda has a number of handy skills.
Ceyda has a number of handy skills.

Ceyda has a variety of skills. She can use npc's as hostages or meatshield, make noises to create distractions metal gear and even strategically place traps. She can sneak, hide in designated spots, and last but not least if all else fails she can shoot her way out of trouble through a variety of areas ranging from sewers to high rise apartments. The world is vibrant and alive. Started on October 31, the Aerannis kickstarter page has so far amounted $1,138 USD of it's $6,000 USD goal. It's very likely to meet this goal by November 30. $10 USD worth of a pledge will get you a digital copy of the game and have you in the credits. It's a small price to pay for what looks like a good game and if it interests you go vote it up on the Greenlight steam page for Aerannis. We already did!

The art goes out of it's way to portray Ceyda as masculine looking.
The art goes out of it's way to portray Ceyda as masculine looking.

At the core of Aerannis beats an intense looking game to add to the all too sparse Metroidvania genre of video games. The screens and video manage to conjure up the old feelings from super metroid and castlevania symphony of the night. Sadly there are a few troublesome aspects of the game to deter one. For one, the writing doesn't seem all that great from some of the conversations shown on the kickstarter. Hopefully this will improve as the game reaches it's final development stages. The other aspect that feels like a point of contention is the main character. There is no issue with her being male to female in fact it seems like a rather important aspect of the story, without feeling shoehorned. Ceyda however seems to be portrayed as effectively looking like a guy. It's not specified what the status of her transition is. Perhaps she hasn't started any treatment yet, who knows? However, the fact that in the artwork she is portrayed as looking decidedly masculine somewhat undermines the poignant social message this could have towards the gaming community as a whole and perpetuates an all too familiar stereotype.

Over in Technology we have a product that could help with both security and ease of use. The Everykey is a small bluetooth wristband that you wear with a special smart chip that allows easy opening of devices and more secure, easy to use passwords.

The Everykey works using military encryption and sets up unique identifiers with your devices to make it more secure. Additionally, like a credit card there is an easy call line to deactivate it like you would do with a lost credit card and the company will send you a new one at a reduced cost that will have the data to unlock your passwords as your old one did. As soon as it is out of range (which is modifiable, with a maximum of 3 meters), the devices relock.

It has 3 main functions to work. The first is as a password Keychain. When used in this matter, it identifies itself with your devices and every time you enter a password for the first time on a site, the Everykey will ask if you want to store it. If so, it stores a specific encryption inside your Everykey which whenever it is near your computer and you go to that site again it will transmit and you won’t need to log in. The password is still stored on the computer and the Everykey webserver and never in the Everykey itself. Additionally, the Everykey can help you generate secure passwords when registering for sites and save them so that it’s difficult to brute force your passwords or if one gets compromised, not all of yours are.Second it can unlock devices and computers with their codes. It never stores the code itself, instead creating a unique encryption code that it sends when the Everykey is nearby to unlock it. The Everykey doesn’t know what the actual code is, again protecting your device if your Everykey goes missing or is stolen.

Everykey designs
Everykey design

The last use is one with more speculative value than current value in many ways. The Everykey will also have the ability to unlock doors, cars, bike locks and various other things that have the proper hardware and SDK set up. If the Everykey catches on, these devices could become a market of their own and it’s not hard to see syncing up your Everykey with a hotel passcard for a room.

Currently at over 38 000 of its 100 000 goal, Everykey is well on pace to surpass their goal. The price points for the devices in kickstarter are pretty reasonable and provide good value to the backers. The main risk here is if they run into issues with their manufacturing partners that cause major cost overruns or delays.

Further adding to the tech ensemble this week is the world's first home pod, whatever that means. Keecker a device designed to stream content at home in any room and on any surface dares you to think outside the screen. Developed by a company by the same name, Keecker is launching it's first flagship product. The Keecker Homepod. Keecker is founded by an ex Google product manager named Pierre Lebau[youtube]
 Keecker is the culmination of the company's dream to have a wire-free home where digital content could be stream without screens or black boxes. They wanted a device that could go online, would be mobile and go where the customer wanted, when the customer wanted. Kecker is a home entertainment system that seems designed with home life in mind. Equipped with a 360 degree panoramic audio & video camera as well as a video projection system. Keecker allows you to project movies and images. You can use it to listen to music with it's surround sound, browse the web, make video calls, play video games and even create home decoration. It even holds 1 terabyte of files on it so you'll never be at a loss of what to watch.

Keecker Specs
Keecker Specs

Keecker being entirely wire-free, allows it to move around the house. Keecker is completely mobile and will move wherever you wish it, allowing streaming anywhere. This is done by controlling Keecker via a smartphone app via WiFi. Available on Google play and and the iStore, all you need to do is download it and you'll be set. As well as making use of the Keecker app, the device is claimed to work with any Android app. Keecker will work with Netflix, Skype, Google Chrome, Twitter, facebook, Minecraft, Hbo, Spotify and numerous others.[vimeo 107919823 w=500 h=281]

Security with Keecker from KEECKER on Vimeo.

Because Keecker is designed for the home, it keeps track of various home analytics. Keecker can record temperature, carbon dioxide levels, noise, unusual movements and more. This means if you're away from the home, you can check in remotely, moving keecker around the house to see if you've been broken into, forgotten to turn the stove off, or even start a livechat with your kids. Above is an example of how it will work. According to the Kickstarter page for Keecker created on October 15, Keecker is fully funded, however it's not too late to get in. The backers prices vary greatly with the smallest pledge netting you a big thank you and signup to their mailing list all the way up to meeting the CEO at the official launch party. The downside is however that if you would like your very own Keecker, it will cost a pledge of $2,690 USD or more.

While the Keecker does look like a nifty piece of tech, pictures on the kickstarter page don't inspire us. The resolution on the projector looks okay but it's too faded. They may be inaccurate due to the angle but it looks too easily washed out. The cost for what it is, is probably still a bit too hefty. There's still far cheaper devices you can get that do all of this with the only drawback being wires. While the Keecker might keep the house tidier being wireless and all, the price is more than most would be willing to pay. It is very cool that this sort of idea is being experimented on and perfected though. Give it a few years and the benefit may outweigh the cost but for now, the replacement of several perfectly functional cheaper devices seems just out of our grasp. If however you happen to have a spare almost $3,000 burning a hole in your pocket, don't let us stop you. The kickstarter will end on November 19 so get in fast.

Lastly we have the Stove Lite. A traditional looking lantern that uses the heat of your wood stove to light up a room, or charge a smartphone and tablet. It has been developed by company based out of Radolph, Vermont called Tegpro.

Harnessing the heat from a wood stove, the Stove Lite is designed to convert it to electricity, powering the built in light, charging its battery as well as smartphone devices. Whether you occupy an off-grid house without infrastructure electricity, preparing for a disaster or trying to make your home more electricity efficient the Stove Lite is for you, turning your wood stove into a "miniature power plant".

The Stove Lite was conceived by a group of Vermont engineers working with thermoelectric technology. Upon finding a rusty old kerosene in an antique shop they wondered if it could be retrofitted for modern technology. Painting over the rust, outfitting it with a thermoelectric module, custom electronics, and LED's they had their first Stove Lite prototype. Improving on the reliability and efficiency of it's output, they focused on affordability and ease of construction.

Yes that is a plastic dixie cup.
Yes that is a plastic dixie cup.

This is Tegpro's second kickstarter attempt. The first receiving almost $30,000 USD in pledges served as an opportunity for them to learn the customer's wants. This time round they have added a micro-usb charge input to the Stove Lite Pro which has greatly extended its use from year-round light use to portable lantern.

You're probably wondering what are the differences between the two version, Basic and Pro. The Basic version absorbs heat from a wood stove via the thermoelectric generator, lighting the LED's. It can even be removed from the stove and will continue to emit light for use as a portable lantern. Basic also has a small fan to help circulate the heat from the stove, warming the room.

The Stove Lite Pro comes with all the aforementioned in the Basic, plus a dimmer, battery, USB charge outlet and micro USB charge jack. It works works with the built in battery storing the power. This affords it more portability, running off it's internal battery. It can be used to charge a smartphone, tablet, and other devices via USB. Charging the Stove Lite Pro itself can be done one of two ways. It can be placed on a hot stove with the heat charging it, or it can be plugged into a standard wall adapter, lighter outlet cord, and other micro-USB devices. The Stove Lite charges in a couple of hours and will provide light for even more as well as powering a smartphone. With the Solar Window charger peripheral you can use the sun to charge it. It sticks directly to the window and will charge a 2600 mAh power battery.

Currently the Stove Lite Kickstarter has only $11,329 USD of it's goal of $50,000 USD. Considering it only needs roughly $40,000 USD by December 5 we at TechRaptor see no reason why it can't reach it's goal. The Stove Lite is really cool no doubt, and pretty affordable. A pledge of just $109 US will net you the Basic Stove Lite, while $149 will net the Pro. This is amazingly affordable for what the device can do. We at Techraptor feel that the Basic however is probably not worth it. While none of us are survivalists ourselves, having a chargeable battery and the extras for only $40 USD more seems better. Being able to use it as a portable light for hours and charge devices off it, the Pro is by far the superior version. It actually makes one wonder why they even offer the Basic and don't just only make the Pro. Perhaps the Basic is far more cheaper to manufacture but whatever the reason, this device seems like a must have for anyone not wishing to rely on grid electricity.

Previously on this week in Kickstarter:

SPOT has picked up $143 of its goal and is not looking likely to hit completion with two weeks left.

DeB has made its goal with plenty of time left. There are no stretch goals yet.

Dexmo is at 27% funded so far with over a couple weeks left.

AMPY is well past its goal and is 50 000 short of its 325 000 Stretch Goal for it to be available in white.

Impact Winter is nearly done and appears that it will not make it.

Graywalkers: Purgatory was fully funded and made several of its stretch goals, which add some localizations, several races, a new recruit and a new character path.


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