KickStarter Spotlight: New Orbit

KickStarter Spotlight: New Orbit

Jan 15, 2014

When looking for a good project to spotlight this week I had trouble finding a deserving Android-compatible game. There suddenly seems to be a random dearth of games up for funding, but as always a deserving candidate rose to the top. This week’s spotlight is cast on a great little game called New Orbit; which is actually the second part to a previous game that garnered some impressive attention considering it was built by a one-man team. This time around, however, there are three developers working on cinematics, gameplay, and sound which naturally expands the scope and quality of the game.

The basic storyline behind New Orbit is that the player is an engineer in an escape pod floating around the ruins of a mothership that was blown up on a mysterious mission. Because the player is simply a lowly engineer they are not privy to the details of the mission, and that is what much of the storyline revolves around. Taking a page from the wildly successful Kerbal Space Program game; the escape pod can be upgraded with numerous parts and sensors that, along with even fuel amount, realistically alter the performance of the craft. New Orbit even includes real-time cockpit control panels when sensors are added to the spacecraft. In order to add some new high-tech sensor from a wreckage the player might have to upgrade to a better generator in order supply enough power. This example shows how much attention was paid to even the smallest details of New Orbit.

This great gameplay is built around what is promised to be an extraordinary story that is sure to keep players committed to ensuring their virtual counterpart’s survival and wellbeing. At the time of writing, with 8 days to go, New Orbit still needs $24,000 to become fully funded, and from what I have seen this game more than deserves to be seen to completion. Those who enjoy simulation games like Kerbal or adventure games are sure to find themselves investing a lot of time into New Orbit. So, like always, do what is possible and at the very least pay their KickStarter page a visit and consider helping a deserving project.

The Top 10 KickStarter Spotlights of 2013

The Top 10 KickStarter Spotlights of 2013

Jan 1, 2014

It’s the end of the year and everyone knows what that means: Top Ten Lists. There are lists for every possible subject, and I figured that it was only appropriate if I looked back and chose ten of my favorite KickStarter projects. All of these projects were successfully funded, and were just a handful of the great KickStarter projects that I had the pleasure of choosing from during 2013. So, as they say, theres no better place to start than the beginning.

10 – Holho

Who would not want to be able to display a full on hologram on their tablet or phone. That was the thought behind this project that uses a prism to combine multiple images to render the appearance of a three dimensional object. I was excited for this project, and even though it is still in development the project is still highly anticipated.

Original AR article
Holho website

9 – Pixel Kingdom

Is there anything better then being the supreme commander of a pixel army? Not much that I can think of. A standout in a myriad of pixel-art games this year, this game went on to achieve great things on the Play Store, and currently has an average rating of 4.5/5.

Original AR Article
Pixel Kingdom on the Google Play Store

8 – RK-1


After slaying digital foes becomes too mundane, maybe the urge to play with something more physical will surface. When I first saw the RK-1 arduino robot kit I was very intrigued about the potential of this project, both in the personal and classroom applications. There are not many better ways to get young children excited about engineering than by using robots. Add in the ease of use and DIY nature of the kit made this a great KickStarter project. However, since this project was funded in June there still has not been much activity from the developers other than pre-orders on their website.

Original AR Article
RK-1 Website

7 – Pixel Press


This project was cool. Imagine being able to design and create a platformer on the fly by simply drawing the level out on a piece of graph paper. This is then scanned into the game and a playable level is created instantly. I loved the ambition of the project, but has concerns about the practicality and marketability of the project. The Pixel Press has been quiet since gaining funding, but there have been multiple demos at schools and other public places which indicates the project is coming along.

Original AR Article
Pixel Press Website

6 – Beast Grip


Initially this project seemed kind of silly. Here was a giant contraption that a phone was to be wedged into in order for lenses or other professional camera equipment to be attached. It seemed to me that just buying a real camera would be less of a hassle. The more I thought about it, though, the idea is actually genius. With all the crazy advancements in phone camera sensors the only thing really holding them back is the lack of full quality lenses. The project was fully funded in early November and pre-orders are still being accepted until March 2014.

Original AR Article
Beast Grip Website

5 – The Dead Flowers Case


I realize this list has been entirely devoid of the many games that were covered this year, and I do not really have a concrete reason for that. One thing I can say, however, is that the developers at Mondo Production blew me away with their initial concept for the Dead Flowers Case. This game has a rock solid art direction and overlays that on proven and popular gameplay. Being one of the more recent Spotlight’s this game is still in development and is anxiously awaited by many.

Original AR Article
The Dead Flowers Case Website

4 – BBiQ


Barbecuing is the All-American pastime, and unfortunately, it involves cooking which can be a frustrating endeavor. Luckily this little project popped up on KickStarter earlier this year, and it aimed to take out some of the pain involved in making the perfect steaks. Using a grill-side device with a thermometer probe, the BBiQ communicates with a smartphone; sending alerts when the desired temperature is reached. The app also is the database for ideal temperatures for different meats as well as a place for user-submitted recipes. The project is still under development after being successfully funded, and I am sure there are plenty of people anxiously awaiting its arrival.

Original AR Article
BBiQ Website

3 – Chipolo


This project was exciting to me almost specifically because I am amazingly incapable of keeping track of anything. These little pucks communicate with a smartphone and are able to keep track of the location of any object; even going so far as to display the last recorded GPS location if, say, your keys were left at a bar. The project was, obviously, successfully funded and is now for sale with a February delivery date.

Original AR Article
Chipolo Website

2 – The Catchall


The most recent addition to this list, I just did this project a few weeks ago, and I am more excited about a simple wooden stand than I probably should. The beauty of this project is it’s simplicity and the fact that, unlike a few projects on this list, it is very reasonably priced. As I mentioned above, I have a hard time keeping track of my phone and wallet so this bedside stand should go a long way in helping with that.

Original AR Article
The Catchall KickStarter Page

1 – The Barman


The Barman, a simple way to make the perfect mixed drink, as well as share concoctions with friends around the world. Need I say more?

Original AR Article
The Barman Website

Android Rundown’s Look Back at 2013: The State of Kickstarter and Android

Android Rundown’s Look Back at 2013: The State of Kickstarter and Android

Dec 30, 2013

I have been doing a lot of coverage of KickStarter over the past two years, and I have seen it grow and mature with increased publicity and a more willing user base. It seems obvious to me that Android is the best vehicle for KickStarter due to its openness and robustness as a platform, but the question I want to ask is how much of an effect KickStarter has had on the Android landscape.

First off, KickStarter is great for hilighting the most creative and well polished ideas and bubbling them up to the surface. Sure, there are duds thrown in every now and again, but that is bound to happen, and stopping the failures would in turn hinder many successful campaigns. Android prides itself somewhat on being the hobbyist operating system; the SDK is free to download, and as anyone can create the next great app, or just a personal one, for free. As we have seen over this year games are certainly a big draw on KickStarter with over $83 million being pledged to game projects in 2013; most of them in some way comparable with Android, and there is no denying this helps the platform.

FIST OF AWESOME 5A hidden issue, however, is that a majority of these funded games are also compatible with iOS, and part of the reason is because previously unavailable funding suddenly exists. xCode, Apple’s developing environment, is only compatible with OSX and includes that annoying $99/year App Store fee, but once that is paid for by supporters it is understandable that many developers focus more on a platform that only needs one or two modifications to reach 95% of users. Because of this most apps come out initially for iOS and select Android devices, leaving full Android support as a stretch goal or future endeavor.

This is not an all encompassing assessment, however, because the best part of Android, still, is its flexibility. Nobody is throwing a version of iOS7 onto a cheap, low powered game system. Ouya, as we have seen, is one of the most successful KickStarter projects ever, gaining over $8.5 million on KickStarter, and while the sales have been less than impressive it springs hope for future consoles, none of which will be running iOS or Windows Phone 8 software.

As always, some quiet reservations exist about KickStarter, and it is necessary to take a step back and take an objective look at things. I have, personally, funded a handful of projects and some have been successful, delivering great products and apps that I use everyday, and some have simply faded into nothing or have become shells of their promised outcome. Like every money making opportunity there exists those who want to extort the system, and sometimes developers don’t pan out because they are simply not ready for the spotlight. This is all necessary, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, but it is something that is hard for most people to fully accept. Talking to some friends, KickStarter has, for some, gotten the reputation as a place where people go for free money, and while they know it is not true for the whole this stigma does exist, however lightly. As Android and KickStarter become more intertwined it will be imperative for both parties to keep creativity and innovation as a priority over using KickStarter as a money service.

KickStarter Spotlight: The Catchall

KickStarter Spotlight: The Catchall

Dec 19, 2013

This week’s KickStarter Spotlight focuses on a small project; something that is awesomely cheap and might help the less organized like myself. Every night I leave my phone, wallet, keys, and other extraneous peripherals scattered across my apartment, and then frustratedly spend 15 minutes the next morning scrambling around trying to find a misplaced item. I have tried it all, bowls, nails in the wall, even a custom dock or two; no dice. My more frugal side asks the inevitable question; why would I buy something that I could easily either make my own, or simply grow some responsibility and remember to put my wallet on my desk at night. Two things will sway this small voice: a product that is visually interesting as well as inexpensive.

Viola, that very product is exactly what The Catchall is; a smartly-made bedside stand that is constructed of two interlocking, self-supporting piece of wood that have spaces set aside for glasses, keys, a charging phone, a wallet, pens, and a watch or bracelets. The whole “charging phone” aspect is probably the most crucial, however, without it this whole project would be entirely 1980′s and not worth it. A small slot is cut out in the bottom of the ledge that holds the phone and allows the phone to sit upright with the charger falling though the bottom. No finagling cords through a the back of a encapsulated stand that crimps the end of the cord, and it also frees the cord up to be used for something else other than just charging.


The construction is also very intriguing. Two pieces of high quality, all hardwood plywood connect to create a bottom edge and upper back that support themselves and serve as something that creates a good amount of visual interest. The whole thing is cheap to boot, the sanded, unsealed version is going for just $20, and with an extra $5 the whole assembly will be sealed with a clear coat giving a great light wood sheen. Personally, I ordered the unfinished option because I wanted to stain it myself, and I am actually fairly grateful I was given the option. So, as I said before, this week’s Spotlight shines on a small project, but one that is accessible to many because of the low price and nearly universal need. Please give The Catchall a look and consider helping deserving entrepreneurs and their incredible product.

KickStarter Spotlight: Hey, Shu!

KickStarter Spotlight: Hey, Shu!

Dec 11, 2013

Hey, Shu!

That’s the name of this weeks KickStarter Spotlight; it is a game full of colorful personality that provides relaxation by means of terraforming a barren planet. Seems like hard work, repopulating a planet devoid of any plant life, but all in a day’s work for a little green legume ball named Shu. A miniature arboretum, Shu rolls across the countryside planting a carpet of grass in her (his?) wake and picking up seeds from other mature plants. Shu’s job is to traverse this once vivacious land and reawaken it by re-energizing the atmosphere via a few different plants that each contribute a separate, and necessary kind of gas. The ratio is so far unknown, and the point is to manually figure out the correct proportions in order to have the most efficient ecosystem.

The world of Hey, Shu! is an ever changing one and every action has a slight, but definite, impact on the world around Shu. The game is a 2-D side scroller that follows the curvature of this unknown planet, and the colors and animations of the game are very vibrant and excellently done. Shu hops along its planet squealing with delight, days pass by in real time, and clouds shift in and out in accordance with atmospheric makeup.

As I’ve stated before here the gameplay is essentially about rebuilding the ecosystem on a barren planet one tree at a time. Shu automatically plants grass and every time it passes a tree it collects a seed that can be planted to grow more trees. Some of the gameplay mechanics have not been disclosed at this time, and even the fully dependent atmosphere feature is in testing. The game, as a whole, is said to be in alpha mode, but I am still impressed by some of the gameplay shown in the video on their KickStarter page. Hey, Shu! is a game that is meant to be played often but in short increments, and I definitely feel it will find a market with thousands of smartphone users looking for a relaxing romp restoring life and creating, rather than destroying, something beautiful.

IndieGoGo Inquiry: Chronic Wellness

IndieGoGo Inquiry: Chronic Wellness

Nov 27, 2013

Surprise! This week our usual KickStarter Spotlight has been replaced by a selection from the other popular crowd-funding website IndieGoGo. This week’s project revolves around a helpful aid to those suffering from chronic illness. I was surprised to learn that 50% of adults in the United States suffer from some sort of chronic illness, and knowing this it is surprising there has not been a greater effort put forth to address this. This lack of tools for sufferers is why ambitious web developer Lindsay Pera created the Chronic Wellness website that has already helped hundreds of people.

Lindsay herself is a chronic pain sufferer and to help cope with her pain she became nearly addicted to ‘tracking’. Tracking is a way to learn more about a personal illness by learning more about how different treatments, medications, diets, or exercise affect ones body. By keeping a detailed record Lindsay was able to make real headway into keeping her condition as painless and under control as possible. Tracking makes sense, and adds a completely empirical way to measuring the body’s reaction to a changing variable.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 10.23.17 AM

Her success lead her to create a website, for the 50% of Americans just like her. The website includes various ways to track a specific condition, and has a plethora of plotting and visual ways to browse what is and is not working. The web-app is very intuitive and it is not hard to see why Chronic Wellness has been so successful.

This IndieGoGo campaign, however, is not for the website, but instead a companion mobile app. Tracking is something that is best done in the moment, after a change has been made and the body’s reaction is prevalent. Having to wait to get home to a computer while at the gym is not exactly the most practical method. Given the quality of the website, I have no reservations about the effort that will go into this app, and I am more than confident that it will be an exceptional mobile tool.

Again, this project is on IndieGoGo, and not KickStarter, but do not let that be a deterrent. For anyone suffering from a chronic pain or illness I would highly recumbent looking into this app, both on the web and potentially for mobile. With less than 9 days left, Chronic Wellness still needs about $13,000 to reach its goal, and it would be a shame if this great service was denied.

KickStarter Spotlight: Read Only Memories

KickStarter Spotlight: Read Only Memories

Nov 20, 2013

The 1990′s, a time where Sega meant something more than terrible Sonic efforts, and it was a time where adventure games were arguably at their most creative. Having to blend complex narratives into such a limited technological window took some great innovation and the restrictions helped for a more focused gaming experience. Recently on KickStarter there have been a lot of games that harken back to those days. This might be because the idea of putting story before graphics makes for a very simple game to physically build, but nostalgia undoubtedly plays a major part.

So what makes this week’s Spotlight different than the rest of the heard? Other than it’s ambitious goals, and the fact that Ouya is pledging to match all donations up to over $60,000, Read Only Memories is one of the few games to place a queer character front and center. Matt Conn, founder of GaymerX; the developer for this game, stresses in their KickStarter video that this game is not meant to focus on the orientation of its characters, but on the game as a whole.

This is something that is prevalent in gaming, but is something that is rarely taken seriously. Gender roles are ignominiously cemented in video games, from first-person-shooters with Marcus Fenix clones, to women clad in strategically unfit armor, it is something that all gamers acknowledge but not much is actually being done about it. Granted, things have gotten better over the last few years, but there still are not many games with a strong queer lead, or really even a prevalent queer character not set by the user.


In keeping with Matt’s intentions, this is a game that should be judged on it’s gaming merits first, and from that point of view this game looks awesome. Borrowing heavily from 90′s adventure games such as Snatcher, Read Only Memories takes place in futuristic Neo San Fransisco. A mysterious personal robot is delivered to the player’s house, and the game slowly unwinds from there. A strong story is told via luminous pixel artwork, and a quality soundtrack put together by multiple legitimate artists.

All this, and it’s placement of realistic characters, help make this game really stand out from the regular KickStarter crowd. So, please check out their page, and remember Ouya is matching any donation.

KickStarter Spotlight: The Dead Flowers Case

KickStarter Spotlight: The Dead Flowers Case

Nov 6, 2013

Android Rundown is proud to Spotlight a great new project from French studio Mando Productions. Going by The Dead Flowers Case this ‘point and click’ investigative adventure places the player in an impressively detailed steampunk paradise. This world is set in a time where plants and sunshine are vague memories of the past, and the entire world is mechanized like some futuristic, steampunk Industrial Revolution. The entire world is fantastically designed by world-class artist Stéphane Halleux and blends traditional steampunk elements with a dare-I-say Tim Burton-esque touch of the macabre. There is plenty of concept art on the game’s website

Like similar games, the story revolves around a murder. This time it is of an important accountant inside the automobile production building; a murder that is in need of solving. Finding clues is aided by a few futuristic machines, and the team promises “hours” of gameplay riddled with suspense, puzzles, twists, and plenty of deep thought.


Mando Productions is currently running a promotional contest for one of two limited edition signed The Dead Flowers Case art prints. The contest’s widget can be found below, and it is a real prize; the artwork in this game is incredible.

Tomorrow, Thursday November 7th, The Dead Flowers Case goes live on KickStarter and its fate becomes entirely up to the public. So, I strongly encourage everyone to check out the page tomorrow and consider putting their name into the contest; this game is really something special. Public opinion for similar games has wained in recent years, but the world should never be truly without game with such richness and potentially gripping story.


The Dead Flowers Case giveaway

KickStarter Spotlight: Drone

KickStarter Spotlight: Drone

Oct 30, 2013

With the recent advent of incredibly legitimate games for the ever more powerful smartphone and tablet market there has been a certain clamor for a mobile physical controller to offset the only drawback to playing a game on a giant touchscreen. Some curse the consoles for making us so reliable on these contraptions, but the fact remains that we, as a gaming culture, have become entirely dependent on console-quality controllers. 4 face buttons, a D-pad, start/select, and 2 joysticks, triggers, and bumpers. This is the foundation we have built for ourselves. So, instead of fighting, it is definitely easier to pony up small sum for a quality mobile controller. Now, obviously because the design is fairly set, and the demand is so high, there are a lot of startups who are looking to design the first flagship, go-to mobile controller, and we have even covered a few here. One worth keeping an eye on, however, is called Drone, and it is produced by Evolution Controllers out in Microsoft’s backyard in Redmond, WA.

So what does Drone have that other similar product’s do not? Well, for starters it supports a lot more devices than simply smartphones and tablets, and the build quality looks to be top of the line. The Drone comes in 7 different colors, including a personal favorite, matte black, and sports an Xbox configuration with the joystick placement (also a preference of mine). Another thing the Drone has going for it is the fact that it is completely open source; meaning that developers simply need to make their firmware available for download an the controller is instantly compatible. This makes the Drone a comparatively safer purchase as it is essentially ‘future-proof’. The Drone is also incredibly portable, coming in at about 5″x2.5″x1″, and with over 17 hours of battery life this is definitely something that can withstand a week of train rides to work.

It is looking that the drone will retail for $60 which is on the high end of the scale but is a fair price considering its feature set and quality. First, the Drone needs to complete its funding goal which, as of writing, is unfulfilled. So head on over to their KickStarter page and help the Drone controller become the new standard for quality mobile controllers.

KickStarter Spotlight: Chipolo

KickStarter Spotlight: Chipolo

Oct 23, 2013

Maybe this post is repetitive considering I made a post a while ago championing the Keeo keychain that can send alerts when I eventually forget my keys somewhere. In that post I explained how miserable I am when it comes to losing my belongings; be it keys, wallet, or phone. It is a common complaint made by many, and that is why Chipolo is a device that I can easily see being very successful. Chipolo is a bluetooth tagging system that easily syncs with any smartphone and allows the user to quickly find any tagged items so long as they are within the 200 ft. range. That range might seem restricting, but considering the app will send a small notification if a specific tag goes out of range it is hard to see leaving something outside of that area.

There are a lot of bluetooth tagging systems out there, and it is a legitimate concern that Chipolo has not done enough to differentiate themselves from the crowd. I can safely say that while it is not the most innovative KickStarter Spotlight we have done here, it is much more polished and generally of a higher quality than its competition. One feature that is generally unique to Chipolo is the built in temperature sensor, and a very attractive app that really makes using Chipolo more of an experience. The app will record the last known position and temperature of any tag that has gone out of range which can help me pinpoint exactly which bar I left my wallet in. To find a tag simply hit the magnifying glass icon and a number 0-100 apears to help determine proximity. For further help, pressing the giant horn button will make the tag in question put out a short beep.

All of these subtle features add up to create a great product that will surely become indispensable for many forgetful individuals such as myself. A future plan for this small startup is to create a network of Chipolo users who can look for community memeber’s lost items with their Chipolo app. This expansive thinking and ambition is an encouraging sign, and is one of the reasons that with still 23 days to go Chipolo is more than fully funded. This is not to discourage anyone from checking them out and donating themselves; every little bit helps, and plus, who does not need help being a little more organized.

KickStarter Spotlight: Beastgrip

KickStarter Spotlight: Beastgrip

Oct 16, 2013

Being an amateur photographer myself the Instagramed over-filtered photo movement is slowly killing me inside. As the camera sensors on phones keeps improving the line between phone and camera becomes increasingly blurred, but until legitimate lenses could be securely mounted onto phones the gap would still be too great to be considered serious. This is exactly why this week’s KickStarter Spotlight, Beastgrip, caught my eye. The Beastgrip is a device that holds most smartphones and allows for easy mounting and attaching of lenses to turn any modern smartphone into a full fledged photography machine.

Staying true to its name the Beastgrip is a “beast” of a grip. The thing is huge, but honestly, it has to be in order to account for as many phones and mounts as possible. Attach the Beastgrip wherever any other camera mount could go: the side of a car, on a longboard, a pole for some first person skiing; the list goes on. In short, the Beastgrip is one of the best ways to turn that normal smartphone into a GoPro.

8999a93386460dfc35df85652572da9e_largeI probably would not be spotlighting the Beastgrip if it was not for the option to attach 37mm and 52mm threaded mount lenses. Anyone who works with cameras knows that lenses are massively important and are the main reason most smartphones will never fully render the standalone camera obsolete. Pretty much any lens can be attached from wide angle and fisheye to telephoto and macro; even SLR prime lenses will work with the proper adapters. So no more adding filters in post-processing, slap a real color filter on the Beastgrip and get some great hipster shots the old fashioned way, J.J. Abrams lens flare and all.

Currently, the Beastgrip is being offered for incremental $65, $70, $75, and $85 donations, but supplies are limited as the $65 and $75 offers have both already sold out. So, anyone looking to take their smartphone to the next level and add some professional level touch to their Instagram page should definitely give Beastgrip a look.

KickStarter Spotlight: Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville

KickStarter Spotlight: Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville

Oct 9, 2013

While the “impending” zombie apocalypse does nothing for me personally, there is definitely a large faction of people who find it very compelling. This is obvious by the large number of games, movies, TV Shows, and books about the undead. Thinking of zombie games the first things that come to mind would probably be first person shooters or maybe Plants vs. Zombies, but this week’s KickStarter Spotlight, Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville, has taken a fresh take on the genera by combining the Sim City and Civilization experience with the Walking Dead.

The Rebuild world is pretty bleak. A zombie apocalypse has wiped out most of earth’s population and a few survivors are barricaded over a few small city blocks. While managing resources, retaining sanity, and staying alive the player must try to expand their stronghold one building at a time all the while dealing with the ever-present zombie threat. Adding to this are the rival gangs throughout the city, and a deep personal connection with each character that really places emotional weight on each decision. In Rebuild conflicts with zombies are not handled directly, rather a member or a group of members go out into the city to scavenge for supplies and each mission carries the real possibility that they will not return.

The creator of Rebuild, Sarah Northway, has come out with two versions of the game over the years; the first a free-to-play flash game, and the second, Rebuild 2, a popular mobile game. Both of these games pale in comparison to the new depth and scale of Gangs of Deadville. This KickStarter is mainly to fund the hiring of artists and writers; both of which were not involved in previous efforts. I am excited to see the “whole novels full” of story lines that unfold during the course of the game. Unlike the previous two Rebuild games, Gangs of Deadsville is going to be a full release for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. As of writing, this project is still a little under $5,000 short of its goal with 22 days remaining. There really seems to be a ton of work going into this game and I am really looking forward to constructing my last beacon of humanity. So, check out the project, and for those who want a taste of Rebuild action right now, Rebuild 2 is available on the Play Store for $0.99.