Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Mineserver – A Minecraft Hardware Solution

Having fled from the impending demise of NetherByte… which was still up and running the last I checked… and its “$22.50 for six months” pricing to find refuge at MCPro Hosting, which has a better reputation, but charges about that much a month if you add on the ability to do server backups, and for less RAM, the whole “buy or rent” question has surfaced in my head again.

At what point is it worth just buying some hardware and hosting the server myself?  Visions of Intel NUC boxes float through my head, but the cost even at that end puts the return on the investment a bit too far out in the future.  If I could just put together something that would handle our group, wasn’t a complete pain in the ass to manage, and had a ROI point of about 12 months, I would be very interested.

On to this fertile mental pasture… and remember, fertilizer is traditionally most shit… lands a post about the Mineserver Kickstarter campaign.

Mineserver, according to the campaign, is a hardware and software package that gives you a headless server that you can plug into your network, administer through a web interface, can be made accessible/discoverable outside your network (so your friends can play), and even has an Android/iOS admin app that allows parents to control access from their ever present phones and tablets.

For this, the three primaries in this operation Channing, Cole, and Fallon (ages 13, 11, and 9 if I have the names in the right order) want only $99 for a Mineserver capable of hosting 20 player, or $199 for a Mineserver Pro, which is billed as being able to host 50 players and still keep its cool.  Less if you order early.

Pull the other one, right?

The tale is more plausible when you bring their father into the picture, Mark Stephens, more commonly known as Robert X. Cringely.  A long time staple of Silicon Valley, his column in InfoWorld was a must-read though his primary claim to fame is his book Accidental Empires, a history of Silicon Valley and the early tech industry, very much a must read in my cranky old opinion (along with Rick Chapman’s In Search of Stupidity, which fills in some of the missing lore), which was turned into the PBS documentary Triumph of the Nerds.  His blog, I, Cringely, is a regular read of mine and is linked somewhere down in my blogroll.

Anyway, Cringely and his tech connections and knowledge and backing of the whole venture makes everything more plausible.  The kids have clearly had access to the right sources and mentoring from the right people in order to put this sort of project together.  This gives the project credibility.

Still, I look at it and I have a few doubts.  In this sort of venture it seems to me a good plan to emphasize your strengths and obscure your weaknesses.

The strengths they are running with are cost, ease of administration via their custom software, security and safety for your kids, and server speed.

However, on speed, they are focused almost entirely network speed because the Mineserver will be plugged into your local router. (Though there is a WiFi option for people who want the box to sit somewhere else.)  That is a speed boost for people in your house, maybe not so much for anybody remote.

Things they have not brought into the picture include any details about the admin software, the discoverability aspect, the Linux distro, the Minecraft server version, the long term viability when it comes to updates and support for ongoing Minecraft development, and most important to me, any hardware specs whatsoever.

The last to me is doubly vexing.  First, as I have learned fairly quickly that, at least for hosting services, saying a config will support X players is often hopelessly optimistic.  I refer back to MCPro Hosting where, during their setup I told them I wanted to be able to host 20 players for vanilla Minecraft and they immediately recommended a 30 player option where we are constantly at edge of processor and RAM usage with four players in-game.  So when they say a Mineserver can accommodate 20 players, whose measure are they using?

Second, hardware isn’t something this project should be competing on, yet when asked point blank about specs, Cringley has declined to answer because he says he doesn’t want to project to be reverse engineered. (Comment on his blog post.)  But the secret sauce on this burger is the software, the stuff that they clearly see as the strong part of their pitch.  Hardware is a commodity and ought to warrant two lines at the bottom of the page with basic specs simple to prove that the platform has the moxie to do what they say it does.  Doubly so because whenever I show the Kickstarter to anybody in tech, the first question they ask when they see the hardware is, “Oh, is that run on a Raspberry Pi?”

Screen grab from the project video

Screen grab from the project video

I hope it isn’t a Raspberry Pi, or if it is, that they have been able to really optimize their software as I am not sure that would run anything beyond 10 players very well.  Also, Raspberry Pi as a server has been tried and talked about before.

Still, the doubts I express might just be mine.  As somebody who works in enterprise software and frets about such details professionally, I tend to have a skewed outlook.  For somebody who wants a home server this may very well be an ideal solution.

The project itself looks like a slam dunk to fund.  They opted for just a three week campaign and here, a couple days in they are just inches from their funding goal of $15,000.  (The joy of having a father people listen to, something my daughter will never experience.)  That will get them cases to kick off production, as everything else is reported to be done, so that they can start shipping out units before Christmas.  That would have to be some sort of short turn-around record for a Kickstarter project more complicated than potato salad.

It looks cool, sounds cool, and I want to believe, all the more so because of the enthusiasm of the kids in their project video.

What do you think?  Worth a go or not?  Certainly something I will keep my eye on.

Mineserver Kickstarter page

I also wonder what the guy who did the Mineserver software distro thinks about the project.  So few good names to choose from.

Addendum: The project passed its goal somewhere between when I wrote this and when it posted, so congratulations to the team.  Now where will thing go with stretch goals and such?  I hope they stay focused where ever they head.

Project: Gorgon and the Post Kickstarter Plan

Fresh off of the successful Kickstarter fundraising effort, Eric Heimberg has posted a new update indicating the next steps for Project:Gorgon.


The update timeline presented looks like this:

Right now: the game continues to be open for anyone to play. Feel free to jump in any time!

So you can still jump in and try the game out over at the Project: Gorgon web site.

Within a week: if you pledged at the $25 reward or higher, you’ll receive a survey email from Kickstarter which asks you for your Project: Gorgon account name (among other things). When we have that, we’ll be able to tie your Kickstarter and Project: Gorgon accounts together so that you get the appropriate rewards.

So those of us who pledged will get registered.  I actually haven’t made an official account for the game, having opted in the past to just use the easy method to run in and play.  I need to fix that!

Mid September (2-3 weeks from now): we will close the server to everyone except people who pledged in the Kickstarter. (Behind the scenes, we’ll begin transitioning everything to Steam authentication at this point.)

Ah, herein comes the rub.  Free samples for a limited time only.

Late October: the game will be available for sale on Steam early access. You’ll be emailed the Steam key(s) you’ve purchased, and we’ll have a process to help you transfer your Gorgon account to Steam. After this point, you will need Steam installed in order to log into the game.

Steam is okay by me.  I am fine with that, though it sort of makes creating Project: Gorgon account a bit of a waste.  Still, we have to get there somehow I suppose.  Selling the game as “early access” will be interesting.  I have generally been against such, but Project: Gorgon, which has been free to play through development so far may have earned the right at this point.

Beyond that: we’ll be focusing on improving the game! Judging by previous experience, we expect to have game updates 1-3 times per month.

We’ll also have a few game updates during the transition, including new game features, new content, balance, etc. Multitasking! We have an update planned for early next week, in fact.

Well, that is what you expect for a game that is a work in progress.

There is also a short FAQ with the update which says that if you didn’t pledge for the Kickstarter but now regret that, there will be a way to get in on that at some offers in the near future.  Also, if you cannot abide Steam, there will be a way to play without Steam at some future date.

And that is about it.  A preview of guilds is planned for the next code push.  Now I just have to find some time to really give the game a try.

Project: Gorgon ends up with $74,781

“Op success!” as we sometimes say in EVE Online.

Project: Gorgon overcame its somewhat unloved name and rose from relative obscurity to garner a lot more followers, some decent press coverage, and managed to rais $74,781 from 1,318 backers over the course of its 30 day Kickstarter campaign.


There are some summaries over at Kicktraq if you want to see how the campaign played out.  There was certainly a surge during the last 48 hours as people pledged.  But for me, success is best defined by these summaries over at Kicktraq that sizes up the three Kickstarter campaigns for the project.

Summaries from Kicktraq

Summaries from Kicktraq

The first two times out the campaigns hovered around 300 supporters.  The word was not getting out, or if it was, people were not buying it.  But this time around 1,000 more people showed up to back the project, so that even though it was asking for much less money, it ended up succeeding far beyond the past two runs.

So congratulations to Eric Heimberg and Sandra Powers, both for success in their funding drive and for getting more people interested in their project overall!  Now it is just the run to the December 2016 promised launch date.  The game is already in a playable state, so what will it be like then?

Project: Gorgon – In the Final Stretch of the Kickstarter Campaign

This time around the Kickstarter experience for Project:Gorgon has been much different than the last two times around the block.  The campaign has been a success and with about a half a day left to go, things look good.  If you want to peek in, or get in at the last minute, you can find the campaign here.

ProjectGorgonLogoI was anxious about this campaign when it kicked of 29 days back.  The goal, just $20,000, seemed modest.  But in the first run, which asked for $55,000, the project only got $14,000 in pledges.  And while it passed that amount during the second campaign, getting $23,000 in pledges, that was nowhere near the $100,000 goal.

So, as things kicked off this time around I couldn’t get myself to see even $20,000 as an easy mark to hit.  And doubly so because things started rather suddenly.  There wasn’t much in the way of build up or fanfare, and the start/end times for the campaign seemed sub-optimal.

But the goal was hit just eight days into the campaign.  The game seemed to get far more favorable coverage than during previous runs and enjoyed a small following in the blogger community.  The development version of the game   Now the pledged amount stands beyond the $65,000 mark, more than triple the initial goal, and the various stretch goals seem secure.

  • $25,000 Stretch Goal – Unique Backer Mount
  • $30,000  Stretch Goal – Exclusive Backer Character Race: Dwarves!
  • $35,000 Player Instrument Expansion
  • $40,000 New Player Skill: the Bard!
  • $45,000 Project Gorgon Soundtrack
  • $50,000 Advanced Guild Features
  • $55,000 a Completely New and Unique Animal Form
  • $60,000 Unlocking the ancient curse of the Vampire
  • $65,000 Unofficial, Official Stretch Goal: Party Pack!

And the base of supporters is wide enough, at nearly 1,200 people, that the risk of somebody backing out at the last minute and bringing things down.  The loss of one huge backer has brought down at least one campaign I read about of late.  There is only one backer at the top tier, with a $3,000 pledge.  The bulk of the backers are down in the $25 to $50 range.

Soon this campaign will be in the past and we will have to see how this money affects Project:Gorgon and if this project can hit its target launch date, which is currently December of 2016.

Project: Gorgon – Further Success and Stretch Goals

The Project: Gorgon Kickstarter campaign carries on successfully.

While modest in its goals, something to which Eric Heimberg attributes its success so far, it has done better in total pledges than either of the previous two campaigns.  It managed to hit its $20,000 goal in just over a week and here, at the halfway point, it is beyond $35,000 and has the first three stretch goals covered.  A custom mount for backers and Dwarves are now in along with one of the new stretch goals.

ProjectGorgonLogoAfter the first two were in the bag, two new stretch goals were announced for the $35,000 and $40,000 levels.  The first is, at $35K, is an expansion of the player instrument system.

We have 6 instruments planned, each with six short music loops that can be combined in any order. But if we hit this stretch goal, we’ll add a second “song” that’s completely different from the first, consisting of six new music loops for every instrument. We’ll also add a seventh unique instrument, and we will work on allowing animal forms to participate in the fun!

That sounds interesting, though my deep and abiding wish is that they would copy the LOTRO ability to play music in game through locally stored .abc files.  Still, we look to have that one now.

And at the $40K level there is the Bard player ability.

The Bard is part psychologist, part performer, and all charisma. Bards can inspire allies to momentary bursts of outrageous heroism, use their improvisational skills to change the tide of the battle, and use song to soothe wounded souls. It works great with other skills: combine the Bard skill with the already-existing Mentalism skill to create a classic EQ1-style “buffing bard”, or combine with Psychology to create an exceptional crowd-controller.

Invoking the EverQuest bards, weaving their songs to buff parties, is clearly striking at a target of opportunity.  They were a special class back in old Norrath and have never really been duplicated in feel for me since.

Meanwhile, having passed the halfway point and met the initial funding goal, the campaign is in what is traditionally a bit of a lull.  While it is harder to see on sites like Kicktraq due to the smaller dollar amounts in play, the daily pledges do seem to be slowing down a bit.

Still, the game itself is getting more press attention this time around as well, which is getting more people to play the pre-release version of the game.

200 players on at once doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, but that is a record for this little project.

There is a nice interview with Eric Heimburg over at Massively OP about the development and plans around Project: Gorgon that you should check out if you are interested in the game.

Project: Gorgon – Kickstarter Success at Last!

It feels like success on this front has been a long time coming.  Eric Heimberg first rolled out a Kickstarter campaign for Project: Gorgon back in October of 2012 with a goal of financing art and audio assets.  The campaign did not make its goal, but Eric and Sandra Powers, his wife and co-developer, vowed to carry on, opening up a freely playable development version of the game for people to try.


On the strength of that, last year he launched another campaign with an even bigger target.  I was pessimistic due to some aspects of how the campaign was handled.  It did not come close to reaching its goal, but by the the development version of the game had grown into quite a viable demo.  You could tell this was going to turn into something, Kickstarter or not.

So when the third Kickstarter campaign launched last week, I was feeling nervous.  While the amount being asked for was small when compared to similar MMO projects… asking for $20K in a market where Shroud of the Avatar, Camelot Unchained, and Crowfall all ended up well past a million dollars… I was still worried that the campaign might miss as its predecessors did.

But this campaign seemed to reap the groundwork laid by the past failures.  While the first time around simple awareness of the project was an issue, this past week there was coverage of Project: Gorgon across at least the MMO segment of the gaming press, enthusiastic blog coverages (Syp in particular seems quite taken), and even some industry names backing the project.

And so it was that yesterday, with 22 days left to go in the campaign, Project: Gorgon hit its funding goal at last.  That seems like it was fast enough, yet it feels like it was also nearly three years in getting there.  A big congratulations is due to the Project: Gorgon team!

Of course, with success comes new challenged.  With a Kickstarter campaign more money is better, but to encourage people… and remind them that the whole thing isn’t done yet… you need stretch goals.  And so we have two stretch goals for the campaign.

I like the first one, as it is aimed straight at giving backers something special.

$25,000 Stretch Goal – Unique Backer Mount

  • An exclusive backer mount skin will be created and available to players once they obtain the horseback riding skill in-game. All backers at the Horseback Explorer level or higher will receive the mount as soon as available.

That seems modest, doable, and worthwhile.  I wonder if that will motivate some backers to move up to the $75 Horseback Explorer level.

The next stretch goal is… bigger.

$30,000  Stretch Goal – Exclusive Backer Character Race: Dwarves!

The Dwarves are stout, dour subterranean people and Kickstarter Backers will have exclusive access to them during the alpha and beta period! Kickstarter backers below the Patron level will be able to unlock the Dwarven class through in-game objectives, while those at or above the Patron level will have them automatically unlocked once available.

The personality of Dwarves varies greatly as some are introverts, some can be a bore, and some are precision craftsmen, while others solely decide to rely on their exceptional strength. There is one thing they all have in common, they love the underground and it’s the only place they truly feel at home.

Dwarven players will be able to unlock the secrets of the ancient race, they include:

  • The ability to track your position underground,
  • Spells that let you hide in stone momentarily,
  • A combat stance that makes you unmovable,
  • Long-forgotten weapon-crafting techniques.

These secrets come with a dark side, however, for their patron god Ormorek is also the god of bitterness, self-doubt, and lost innocence. In ages past, Dwarves were their own worst enemies, and players who unearth these ancient techniques will have to battle with ancient foes — both within and without.

An additional race represents a big investment as so many art related assets then have to be scaled and tuned to yet another body style.  That seems like a pretty big item for another five thousand dollars.  But that is just my view from the outside.

Anyway, the campaign continues.  Go check it out if you have not so far, or play the game as it stands today to see that it is a real thing.  There is still more than 20 days left to go and the pledges look to be continuing to come in.

Project: Gorgon Kickstarter – Third Time’s a Charm?

Project:Gorgon is back for a third try at funding through Kickstarter.

ProjectGorgonLogoI have found fault in the past with various aspects of how Project: Gorgon kickstarters have been handled, with little build up, low press coverage due to almost no follow up, and the name of the game itself.  Also, Eric Heimburg?

And this time around is no exception.  Why, for example, would you want to launch a kickstarter campaign at 9pm Pacific time (midnight Eastern time) on a Friday night?  Who does that?  9am Tuesday morning yes, 9pm Friday night no.

Still, the campaign seems better situated this time around.  The first time out Eric Heimburg asked for $55K and got $14K in pledges.  The second time around he went for $100K and got $23K in pledges.

This time though he is asking for a mere $20K.  That should be attainable, right?

Meanwhile the game is already green lit on Steam, people have been able to play early versions of the game for a couple of years now as it has progressed (go straight to the site and download it), and despite the rather depressing cave-focused starting area, the whole thing opens up into a beautiful world.

The Kickstarter itself is focused on raising funds in order to contract out some work on guilds, guild halls, and mounts.

Backing the project can get you a number of perks from Steam beta access to thanks in the credits to a mount with special saddle bags allowing you to carry more items, and titles up to that of Archduke, which will allow you to name and help design a small city in the game.

The Kickstarter runs until Sunday, August 23 2015 at 9:00pm… another bad end time, he should have waited until Tuesday… and is already past the 20% funding mark, so is looking good on that front.  Maybe the third time, with a low goal, will be a charm.  Of course, if he goes past that too soon, he’ll have to start in on stretch goals.

The project itself is now slated to ship in December of 2016.