3D Printing Money: Prodigy

By Ben Barrett on April 3rd, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

Oh dear. Oh no. This can’t be allowed, surely. The rules are that Skylanders gets to exist because it’s marketed so cynically at kids that we’re all too embarassed to go out and buy them for ourselves. They get one radically cool design per release and everyone but the parents goes home happy. Prodigy is breaking these fundamental laws by doing something similar to the model-battling juggernaut, but with an awesome fantasy style. For the unacquainted, this is an RPG where party members are represented by actual physical models and are then moved around a board, which communicates with the electronics in their base. Devs Hanakai Studio have put it up on Kickstarter asking for a meagre $100k, towards which they are already halfway at the time of writing. Have a look below.

If there are any free money mines left on crowd-funding, fantasy models are certainly among them. A quick glance at the most funded games category shows that, along with all our favourite remakes, some of the top projects are those that include ever more ridiculous, detailed and expensive models. Right up there with nostalgia, the want for extremely pretty pieces of plastic and metal is Kickstarter fuel. The Reaper miniatures series, which covers two of the most well-funded projects of all time, doesn’t even have a game attached. Others, like Zombicide, have their game take a backseat to the much more easily marketable solid objects. Planning stretch goals around adding models means each one causes pledgers to raise their donation as they decide they want the latest goody. This feeds into itself and can create moments of exponential growth.

Even in the above video, you’ll notice the game itself is barely described and the actual purpose or result of the moves displayed isn’t mentioned. In the pitch itself, the models and world they come from is given backstory, but how exactly it plays into the mechanics of the game is given much less focus. Just enough is left up to the imagination that the brain will fill in the blanks of how it could work and that creates desire. Which is all fine – but take note of it before pledging. It is likely that Hanakai will talk about the game before the end of what I’m willing to predict will be a very successful campaign. And you could wait until then.

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47 Comments »

  1. DatonKallandor says:

    I had Eye of Judgement because it sounded cool. All I got was a bad game with a terrible interface and this Sony Eye Camera. Sorry your weird pseudo-AR boardgame/computer game hybrids just end up being gimmicky crap with bad interface so this is another Kickstarter that inevitably succeeds and inevitably disappoints.

    Can’t wait for them to be bough by Google.

    • DanMan says:

      I wish Magic would look somewhat like it though. The board coming alive with all the monsters and stuff. Just placing the cards on the virtual table gets old pretty quickly.

      • Baines says:

        I’d like to see realized the computer-assisted card game that was hinted at in Yu-Gi-Oh’s manga and anime, before it was turned into a real, physical card game.

        Like many stories, the author made up the game as he went along. When the Pegasus story starts, the card game gets expanded with computer support and virtual reality. At that point, it was a card game of seemingly infinite possibilities.

        For example, it was a world where it seemed possible to fuse pretty much any combination of monsters to get something, because that’s pretty much what the characters were doing. Not practical with a physical card game, but with a computer system handling the work, and no need to have physical cards for the results?

        Or, at least when the author decided to write a story revolving around it, you had rather complex interactions between cards and terrain. Mako fighting only at a sea cliff in order to have a half water battle field, the water directly affecting how cards fought, and additional cards further manipulated the water level. It was a world where people who dedicated their lives to the game still saw completely new stuff and interactions in battles.

        • Ben Barrett says:

          I think we’d all like to live in a world where YGO’s vision of reality was actual reality.

          • Tacroy says:

            You could totally make it an MMO – wander around, have card battles with wandering monsters that drop cards as loot, get quests to find five trash cards… kinda like Card Hunter mixed with Hearthstone mixed with, I don’t know, Lineage or something.

      • DanMan says:

        That sounds awesome as a VR game. Two players wearing VR goggles IRL, opposing each other in-game on a battlefield, fighting each other just like in the YGO anime. Summoning monsters and all. I’d buy that.

  2. jorygriffis says:

    I feel very lucky to be completely disinterested in this.

  3. jarowdowsky says:

    There really is an interesting balance to find between polish and unfinished work in a kickstarter video.

    The idea seems pretty unformed here and I just don’t see any reason to contribute, since the promo video just looks like they’ve got plenty of backing already.

    But yeah, I prefer my boardgames Euro rather than miniature based so don’t think I’m the whale they’re aiming at here.

  4. Geebs says:

    Kickstarter-arter-arter-arter-arter

  5. jarowdowsky says:

    Holy fucksticks, $500 dollars for what, 15 figures and an RF reader? Some people got crazy monies to spend.

  6. Anthile says:

    Needs a no no no no no tag.

  7. MattMk1 says:

    Seems totally like a solution in search of a problem.

    I can see how a system that could track miniature positions on a *large* battlemat, the kind you would use for a tabletop RPG or a wargame, might actually allow you to do some new things – drastically increase the speed of combat resolution, or increase the complexity / realism of the simulation by having the PC do otherwise impractical number crunching…

    But this? This is either an incredibly complex and expensive interface for a low-quality computer game, or a bunch of unnecessary glitz on top of a simple miniatures game.

    • jrodman says:

      I saw a kickstarter of people doing this kind of thing to play tabletop games with electronic assist all sitting around a playfield thingy. I assumed that’s what this was. The image is very confusing though as you say.

    • jorygriffis says:

      Perfectly articulated.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, I didn’t see why Harebrained Schemes’ Golem Arcana tabletop/electronic fusion game needed a physical component, and I don’t see the appeal here either. Except that with Harebrained Schemes I at least know that some people from FASA are part of that team and have some minis experience (theoretically?) and can deliver a solid, enjoyable game even if I don’t see why they’re doing it the way they’re doing it. This? No assurances whatsoever.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Thing is: it doesn’t. But hey, let’s add more limits so we can ask the customer to shell out even more money! Yay!

      • MattMk1 says:

        Computer enhancements for table top games are a marginal proposition at best.

        I play in a PnP RPG in which the DM uses a laptop that can wirelessly project to a big screen TV on the wall nearby, and he sometimes uses that to put up maps or images – and we sometimes talk about how it would be nice to have a way to use the computer to display a model of the battlefield, see our heroes on the screen, have the computer able to handle NPC hit points and initiative, etc.

        However, at the end of the day it’s obvious even that – a much better idea IMO than this kickstarter – would probably be more trouble than it’d be worth. Also likely to fall way short of the bells and whistles people are used to seeing in modern computer games *and* not nearly as cool as it looks inside your own head… perhaps the worst of both worlds.

        • jrodman says:

          I think computer-assisted games is very different from adding computer assist to existing games.
          A Pen & Paper RPG is generally designed to not require computers, and computers therefore don’t add that much. A co-op boardgame with significant RNG adversaries could definitely be improved by computers, and some elements which might be fiddly and tedious in a board game style might be fun and engaging in an automated style.

          However, there is tradeoff. Playing board games you typically end up understanding the mechanics VERY well, while with computerized games it’s quite hit & miss.

          • gwathdring says:

            For this Kickstarter and it’s ilk to make sense, we need to look at new design paradigms that would benefit from both analog and digital features–simply adding figurines to a workable digital game or adding digital stuff to a workable analog game isn’t enough to justify the expense and technical complexity of this sort of system.

            We can already speed up resolution and all that by simply making a game digital INSTEAD of physical. Some games (Small World, Agricola) have ported themselves to digital very, very well.

            For example. For me to buy a virtual tabletop that takes up as much space as a physical tabletop … it needs to do more than integrate what I already do on my calculator and laptop more sveltely into the play surface. It needs to give me things I can’t do elsewhere, too.

  8. PopeRatzo says:

    Is it me or has it been a really long time since there have been really good new games to play?

    What’s up with developers? Are they too busy doing “jams” to sit down and make a decent game? Maybe a little less time on the kickstarter campaign and more on making a frigging game.

    I mean, I can only play so much 2048. And who wants to bet that someone is trying to figure out how to make 2048 into a co-op, early access multiplayer MOBA?

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Age of Wonders 3 just came out. It’s great.
      Ring Runner came out a while ago. Also great.
      Dark Souls 2 is coming out soon. Probably going to be an unholy mess of a port, but modders will have it fixed a day before launch and it’ll be great.
      Wargame Red Dragon is about to come out. It’s great too!

      There’s some good games coming out, they’re just not by EA or Activision (although Titanfall is awesome).

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s just you.

    • jarowdowsky says:

      Robinson Crusoe and A Distant Plain have both been fucking fantastic…

      Oh, you mean computer games?

    • Mctittles says:

      While I’ll agree the Steam new releases list looks like it teamed up with newgrounds, their is plenty of great stuff coming out in between the crap. There are so many awesome new games I can’t decide what to play. Just yesterday I tried the demo for “Running with Rifles” and was hooked but right before that I purchased Factorio and that game just won’t let me quit!

    • soulis6 says:

      I would argue that there are, at this moment, more interesting, deep, original, innovative, fun, and exciting games coming out and being created right now then there have ever before in all of history.

      If you’re not being interested by any new releases or finding anything fun you want to play, you might consider either trying more games that you might not normally, or changing how you discover new games.

  9. sharkh20 says:

    It won’t have physical model’s, but I have been playing a bit of Tabletop Simulator and it will definitely be possible to play games like this without having to purchase a mat.

  10. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    This stinks of moneygrabbing to me. A digital miniatures game can do without real miniatures. A real miniatures game is better off without a digital component.

  11. oyog says:

    Oh hey, a new generation that’s only aware of Warhammer as a computer game IP? Perfect. Here, check out these collectable miniatures that interact with this otherwise useless piece of hardware. Oh hey, you love collecting stuff? That’s ideal cause we can keep selling you stuff. Just in case you weren’t convinced here’s a video full of marketing keywords.

  12. stupid_mcgee says:

    I absolutely adore how the RPS honchos always get all stuffy and go around saying, “don’t pre-order games! Early Access is a potential disaster! Kickstarter is unreliable!” then have posts like this, where the first two paragraphs deliver hype and the final third paragraph is a half wishy-washy “this could suck” caveat balanced out with more “but it could be super duper amazing!” hype.

    Eat your cake and have it, too, RPS.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      You mean the first paragraph which explains that people like buying physical models for digital games, second which describes that Kickstarters for miniatures did historically well and the dubious methods that help them achieve that, and finally the third one which says this Kickstarter game doesn’t appear to be selling a game at all?

      Yeah. It’s like RPS robbed me at gunpoint.

      • Baines says:

        RPS does push a lot of Kickstarter projects with comments like “Why hasn’t this been funded yet?” and does do plenty of PR-style coverage of unfinished games.

        I’m not saying it is bad for a game news site to cover game news, and there probably isn’t really any effective solution, but it does weaken any “Don’t pre-order” stance that is brought out when a hyped game fails.

  13. Melloj says:

    The way the lady narrator in that video speaks totally reminds me of the narrator from the intro to Dune II.

  14. Dawngreeter says:

    It might be a sign that I’m getting old (I’m 32 at the time of this writing), but I just can’t bring myself to pledge for a Kickstarter like this. The concept sounds fun, the design looks good, I can even live with the fact that the Kickstarter page tells me absolutely nothing about the GAME part of this, you know. Game.

    However, what gets to me is that there are more than several pledge options for stuff I don’t even know how much I need. Or for what. I can’t be bothered to spend better part of an hour deciphering that shit. I’ll just wait for the game to be properly released and then I’ll buy what I need. I realize that this is not very helpful in terms of funding this project and it would really suck if it were not funded because people like me didn’t pledge (luckily that doesn’t seem to be an issue here), but I honestly think that too many Kickstarter projects are completely missing the point. You’re not trying to get me to buy a collector’s edition of Assassin’s Watchdogs 24, a franchise with more fans than football. You’re trying to get me to give you money to create something no one has ever seen. I don’t think bonus this, limited that, backer exclusive other thing is helping you cause.

  15. SuicideKing says:

    Well it looks interesting to me. I’d imagine people who play Hearthstone (and really like it) could be the audience for this game?

  16. sonofsanta says:

    Shame it looks so generic in its fantasy stylings, even down to ridiculous boob armour and white-haired-slim-mage-types. The big monster is about the only halfway original looking fellow there. Wasn’t the evil dude in Overlord before this?

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