Here comes another Kickstarter project just brimming with geekish goodness!
I learned of this one via the Geek Dad blog.
Mech Maker is the kind of project that I can almost get excited about. Their service will allow you to design your own custom mech figures using their software. You’ll be able to mix and match parts from a wide array of components, customize the color scheme to your liking, and then pose the figure the way you want it. Then they will 3D print your figures and mail them to you, or if you have access to a 3D printer you can download the file and print it yourself.
This… is… AWESOME!
I am a total mecha-head. A Protoculture addict. A Gundam goon. A Battletech… something pithy. The idea of printing my own army of mecha makes me a very happy geek.
So why do I say that I am “almost” excited about the project?
For a variety of reasons. First, quite honestly I’ve blown my Kickstarter budget for the time being. I went big on Sentinels Tactics and that’s bled my discretionary funds dry.
I regret nothing!
There are also some aspects of the project that give me pause. Nothing that I think should sink the project, but things that don’t jibe with my style.
For instance, you acquire design parts by purchasing component packs.
“When you open a pack, you will find an assortment of mech parts and patterns. If you love an item that is locked and can’t wait to get it in a pack, you can buy it outright! Or if you have plenty of parts you don’t use, you can recycle them to put towards new purchases! Each recycled component will give you points depending on the rarity.”
Ugh. The blind buy model. I do not like the blind buy model one bit. I understanding why people love it, but it is not for me. It’s why I never got into Magic: The Gathering, Hero Clix, or Monsterpocalypse. Though I have been sorely tempted to break my rule in the last case, because a miniatures game about kaiju is about as awesome as it gets.
To their credit, the developers know that not everyone is a fan of blind buy packs and have provided an alternative. You can buy specific parts or trade in unwanted parts for credits. Good ideas, but it’s still too fiddly for my tastes. They are using gamification for something I want to be utilitarian. I have no problem with buying expansion packs to get the designs I want, but I want that process to be simple. I don’t have to be concerned about how much it costs to buy a part outright vs taking my chances with a blind buy or fiddling with trade ins.
The other thing that gives me pause is that there is no pricing information available yet. We don’t know how much it costs to buy packs, individual parts, printing rates, or shipping. Without knowing these things I’m not ready to plunk down money for a service I might not be able to afford later.
Now, let me be clear, I do not think this is a problem with the campaign. I firmly believe that Kickstarter is an investment service where I use my money to help bring cool products to market and not just a pre-order storefront. I understand if they don’t want to commit to a rate sheet at this stage in the project’s development, especially regarding shipping costs. The model is understandable, it just isn’t right for me.
However, the idea that technology allows for this service has me extremely excited. Plus this is only the tip of the iceberg. If Mech Maker takes off, then additional parts can easily be introduced into their library and I imagine that terrain pieces will not be far behind. Eventually we could see a diverse range of figures being offered, from WWII tanks to starships, allowing Mech Maker to satisfy all your miniature needs.
Another smart move the developers are making is to try and build a gaming community around their service.
“When you’re ready, the tools will be there for you to design your own game. Upload to our website and share among your friends, play-test, and when you feel like the world needs to play your game, make it public.”
I will be watching the story of Mech Maker to see how things go. The possibilities are very exciting. And hey, if you decide to back it, drop me a note and let me know.