Turing Tumble Progress Update #17: Turing Tumble is Kickstarted
I thought I'd write one last Kickstarter update for you all. From here on, we'll keep updates going through email, but only if you sign up. You can sign up at the very bottom of the main turingtumble.com page. We can't express how much we've enjoyed communicating with you through these updates and we'd love to continue.
It's been just over a year since this Kickstarter project began and I think we can safely say that Turing Tumble is officially kickstarted. It WORKED! Thank you all SO much for your support this last year. There's no way it would have happened without your faith in us, your generosity, and your kind words of support. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
I'm happy to report that the Educator Guide is complete! We created the Educator Guide to help teachers get the most out of Turing Tumble in classrooms. It contains:
- A series of ten computer logic lessons that explain how Turing Tumble relates to regular, electronic computers we use every day.
- Puzzle-specific help that explains what each puzzle teaches and gives help for common hang-ups we've seen players have with each puzzle.
The Educator Guide is a free download available at edu.turingtumble.com.
Here's an example of a computer logic lesson from the Educator Guide that answers the question: How is Turing Tumble a computer?
This summer, as Alyssa and I were writing the Educator Guide, we ran classes at three local libraries where we taught the basics of how computers work using Turing Tumble. It was a chance to test out Turing Tumble in a classroom setting and see what sort of lesson material worked with kids. The classes went incredibly well! Granted, we lost a few balls, but the students understood it and they were super engaged! They learned how to build logic gates, how to read truth tables, how to read binary, and if you asked any of them why computers use binary, they could answer you in their own words.
It was surreal to see rooms full of kids playing Turing Tumble and learning.
New Turing Tumble Simulator
When one of our Kickstarter backers, Lode Vandevenne, made a Turing Tumble simulator called JSTumble, we were excited about it. We've been using it frequently on the Turing Tumble community forum to share puzzle ideas and alternative solutions. But I didn't realize how useful a Turing Tumble simulator would be in a classroom setting. It turns out that it's extremely useful for demonstrating in front of a classroom. You can project it on a screen, build machines on it quickly, and run it right there on screen for your class to watch and follow along.
Try it out if you have a moment. It's super cool. The parts look just like the real ones, so it's easy for kids to follow along, and you can even make the board bigger if you like. It animates balls falling through it with realistic physics, too.
Turing Tumble VR
I've learned that Tom is an amazing VR programmer. It was not easy to get the physics right. The way I understand it, Tom actually had to rewrite parts of a physics engine to get it working properly. And figuring out how to make the sound realistic was no small feat, either. It's a pretty fun experience solving puzzles on a 40-foot tall Turing Tumble board in space!
TTVR has the ability to save and load board setups, and it has the smarts built in to test whether your solution solves a puzzle or not. Turing Tumble VR currently runs on the HTC Vive.
ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award
This June, Turing Tumble got another big award. There's an association here in the US called the American Specialty Toy Retailer Association (ASTRA). Every year, at the ASTRA show (it's the 2nd biggest toy conference in the US), toy store owners from around the country vote on toys they think should win the award. We didn't think we stood a chance, being so new to the industry, and at the time, not being in very many retail stores. But we won the award in the "Logic" toys category! And now we can put this cool award logo on things. :)
Just a couple weeks ago, I submitted Turing Tumble for one of the Toy Association's famous "Toy of the Year" awards. Fingers crossed!
More and more toy stores are beginning to carry Turing Tumble. In fact, a couple local toy stores I visited frequently as a kid called "Air Traffic" and "Games by James" are going to carry Turing Tumble soon. I think it's going to be a little emotional for me to walk in and see Turing Tumble on display there.
If you're ever walking through a toy or game store and you have a moment, it would mean a lot to us if you could ask them if they carry Turing Tumble. We haven't yet figured out how to reach all the little toy stores around the country, but toy stores pay attention when customers specifically ask for a product. And Turing Tumble has done well in toy stores so far - especially when there's a demo on display.
There were a few countries where shipping took WAY longer than we expected (sorry Switzerland!), and there were some countries we couldn't ship to at all, but at this point, shipping is more or less complete. If you still haven't received your game or you have other issues, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll sort it out - er, Corinne will. (See below.)
A few weeks ago, we added a fourth person to our team: Corinne.
Corinne is super organized and an administrative powerhouse, among other things. She has already learned to navigate the settings in Shopify down to changing the html, and she isn't even a programmer! But you know, she's played Turing Tumble with her three boys, so she's pretty much there. :) She has been handling the bulk of our customer service lately and is doing a great job working out the toy store orders, education orders, and shipping glitches. Her biggest obstacle so far has been communicating her email address: email@example.com. She has to explain the pronunciation and spelling of both "corinne" AND "turing". She has a lot of patience.
What's next for Turing Tumble?
I suppose someday, when they make a blockbuster movie series about Turing Tumble, this will be our origin story. And this final Kickstarter update will be the end of the first movie - the part where we say goodbye to our friends for a little while and the credits roll. We'll keep up over email, but it just won't be the same. We'll really miss you all.
So what's next? We're focused on five different things now:
1. Education. We're working to find ways to spread the word about Turing Tumble to more educators. Now that there's a tool to do it, Alyssa and I would like to see it become standard to teach kids how computers work at a basic level starting in elementary school. We're offering discounts to educators (email firstname.lastname@example.org for details) to make cost less of an obstacle.
2. The next thing! I can't tell you how good it feels to have fulfillment complete and the Educator Guide done. It's time to get back to that new invention I almost told you about.
3. Retail stores. The two toy shows we've been to, the ASTRA award, and being in the The Good Toy Group holiday catalog have all been great for getting the word out to toy stores in the US. But we've only reached a tiny, minuscule fraction so far. How can we spread the word to more toy/game stores?
4. Marketing. Through a lot of experimentation, we've figured out some things that work to get the word out about Turing Tumble and some things that don't. We've learned an awful lot. We're going to keep experimenting and find more things that work.
5. International markets. The Kickstarter gave us a bit of a head start in countries other than the US. Now we plan to build those out more. We've got a lot to figure out...
I guess that's it. Wow. This Kickstarter has been quite an adventure. There were many, many times over the last year when difficult problems arose and we wondered if things would work at all. We had plenty of sleepless nights and Alyssa and I have quite a bit more gray hair than we had last year. But it was totally worth it. We couldn't be happier with how things turned out and we're so grateful that you gave us this opportunity.
Thank you so much,
Paul and Alyssa