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Robot Turtles is the the most-backed board game in Kickstarter history. It sneakily teaches programming fundamentals to kids ages 3+.

Robot Turtles is the most-backed tabletop game in Kickstarter history. The campaign is now over, which means Kickstarter has frozen this page and it can never be updated.  Which means that everything here is absolutely, 100% guaranteed to be hopelessly and comically out of date.  The actual Robot Turtles activity is now happening at www.RobotTurtles.com, where you should proceed immediately (after watching my adorable children in the video above). 

Thank you so very, very much for your support.

-- Dan Shapiro

Robot Turtles Forever!

And now, the campaign that started it all...

Robot Turtles is a board game for kids ages 3-8. It takes seconds to learn, minutes to play, and will keep them learning for hours. Kids won't know it but while they're playing, they're learning the fundamentals of programming.

I'm a father of four year old twins.  Teaching them to program a computer is the single greatest superpower I can give them. I made Robot Turtles so that my kids could learn programming basics without needing a computer. In fact, they don't even need to be able to read!

I've been told that this would never sell in the toy aisle.  I've shown it to board game designers and manufacturers; they told me this would never work on store shelves. Learning programming just sounds too complicated.

But I disagree.  I think programming can be as simple as playing with these four turtles.

That's why I'm here on Kickstarter.  If there are a thousand of us, we can do this.  I don’t think I’m alone in believing that programming literacy is going to be key to our children’s future. How many of us are there?

I’m a software guy who’s been programming since I was 7 years old.  I invented Robot Turtles as I pondered these questions in the shower one morning:

1) Why are kid games either pure luck (Candyland) or a frustrating exercise in trying to lose on purpose, without the child noticing (Tic-Tac-Toe)?

2) How old does a child need to be to learn to program? (Do they even need to read?)

3) What's something cool I can do with my kids this afternoon?

I got out of the shower, printed out some generic robot clip art, and told my 4-year-old twins that I had a new game for us to play.  We started experimenting with the rules, and the kids couldn't get enough of it.

I got so excited about this game that I took a leave of absence from my job at Google and spent the summer working full time to develop it.

Now I just need to find homes for 1,000 copies so I can meet the factory minimum order!

One of the unique things about Robot Turtles is that only one person (the “Turtle Mover”) needs to read the rules. That means the kids can just start playing!  Here’s how it unfolds.

First, put away the Laser and Function Frog cards.  They'll get to unlock these later!

Every player (“Turtle Master”) gets to pick a turtle and gets a matching deck of cards.  

Stack the cards on the table, in piles, face up, and build a maze for each player out of walls and a jewel.

Then read these three rules out loud to your turtle masters:

The youngest turtle master goes first.  They put their first card down and you move the turtle accordingly.

It might help to point out that the purple card turns the turtle toward the purple flower, the yellow card toward the yellow flower, etc.

As they progress, they build their program up on the table. If they make a mistake, they can shout "Bug!" and debug it.

Pretty soon your kids will figure out the secret of Robot Turtles: it lets the kids control the grownups!  The little programmers put instruction cards down, driving the turtles through the maze, but the grownup is the computer, executing commands on the board.  At its heart, Robot Turtles is a game about bossing around adults. Just like programming is about bossing around computers.

Kids love unlocking new features of Robot Turtles, like powerups in a video game.  Each unlockable changes the game to make it more challenging, so Robot Turtles can grow with your children.

It may not look like it, but Robot Turtles is a very simple programming language.  It drew its inspiration from Logo, the first programming language I learned as a kid (and the first programming language to prominently feature a turtle).  

While the Robot Turtles programming language isn’t Turing complete, it prepares kids with the skills they’ll need to learn to love programming as they grow up:

Experiential learning. Kids start the game the same way they start programming – at the command line. Every instruction they issue is executed immediately. They quickly discover that they can learn by trying things out.

Debugging. The “Bug” undo feature offers the simple confidence that they can try anything. If it doesn’t work out, they know they can back up and try again. For new computer learners, discovering that there’s no cost for being wrong is essential to their growth.

Limited syntax. Computer programming is about expressing complicated ideas with just a few simple building blocks. The first time they play, kids will want to tell you what to do, or point the cards sideways to make them do something different. Learning Robot Turtles is a process of learning to use a new, simple language to express complicated thoughts.

Order of operations. It’s quickly apparent that “forward, forward, right” is very different from “right, forward, forward”.

Planning a program. There’s nothing more cool then when kids graduate to “Play 3” and “Write Program” and you see them planning out the whole course in their heads. Just like real programmers, they mentally run their code and debug it. Then they get frustrated and just try it to see what happens… also like real programmers.

Functions and optimizations. Although the youngest turtle masters may not be old enough for Write Program and Function Frog, this offers slightly older kids a level of abstraction and challenge on par with “real” programming. Yes, kindergartners can refactor code!

Computers work for you. Somewhere along the line, programmers learn that writing code isn’t like doing your homework – it’s like ordering around a devoted (if not very bright) servant. Guess what? You are the computer and they get to order you around. (That’s why kids love this game!)

Made in America

I spent a lot of time figuring out the best manufacturer for Robot Turtles, but in the end the decision was easy.  Delano Service is based in Battle Creek, Michigan.  They're over a century old and manufacture fantastic games like Anomia and Fluxx. Their CEO, Kim Drayer, is wicked sharp and a pleasure to work with.  And while we live in an international economy, I'm particularly proud to be able to send your family something that was made entirely in the country in which I live.  No matter where you may be! Which takes us to...

International Backers

Robot Turtles has the most amazing backers imaginable. 47 volunteer translators have already offered their services to help localize the Robot Turtles instructions in to 21 languages.  The game has no text except the instructions and the box art, so it's perfect for audiences around the world.  So far, backers plan to have the instructions available in the following languages:

Afrikaans , Catalan, Chinese (Simplified) , Danish, Dutch, Australian English, UK English, Finnish, French , German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian , Polish, Portuguese , Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

If you would like to help, please sign up!

Robot Turtles is available internationally for a single, fixed shipping price. All tiers except the early bird pricing tier (read why) are available to international backers, including the 3-pack and 10-pack discount tiers.

I can't believe you made it this far.

But if you did, you must be terribly interested in what kind of turtle experiences are available!  I will try not to disappoint.  If anything's unclear, let me know and I will clarify.  It's frustrating when you can't figure out what's in a pledge level and what isn't, so I tried to summarize each one below for you.

Thank you ($1)

Thank you for your support! Every dollar helps bring these adorable robotic terrapins in to existence. 

Summary:

  • My thanks, transmitted psychically and through email

Early Turtle: Full Game with Discount ($29) 

Small print runs of games are extremely expensive - most of the cost comes from set up, so the first thousand copies are the most expensive. Still, I want to get Robot Turtles in as many hands as possible. So the first people to pledge get robot turtles for just $29, including free shipping in the US. Unfortunately this tier is not available internationally (read why). 

Included in the box, you get:

  • 1 quad fold game board (20" x 20" heavy duty chipboard)
  • 1 full-color set of rules
  • 4 robot turtle tiles (all tiles are 2" x 2" heavy chipboard)
  • 4 decks of cards (one for each turtle player) - 36 poker-sized cards each
  • 14 stone wall tiles and 10 ice wall tiles
  • 4 robot gem tiles

and an incomparably good time with the kids!

Update: the incredible backers of this project have enabled me to make the game even better! More cards, more tiles, and more fun.  See the updates section for details.

Summary:

  • 1 game

Robot Turtle: Full Game ($40)

If you pledge at this level, you'll get the same as the Early Turtle tier. Unlike the Early Turtle tier, this one can be shipped internationally (and so can all the tiers below).

Summary:

  • 1 game

Thank-you Turtle: Letter & Game ($60) 

Your kid is going to be very happy: in addition to the full game, your child(ren) get a full-color letter, addressed to them by name, with an inked turtle-foot signature on the bottom. You get to choose which turtle sends it, too. And inside the game box? Their name is in the credits in the manual! This tier includes one letter with up to four children's names on it.  Note that an email will be sent asking for your children's names on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for them to be included in the manual.  You also get a digital printable version of award-winning illustrator Matthew Cordell's "Turtles Playing Turtles".

Update: Because of your incredible support, a full color pick-your-own-path 32-page ebook will be included at this tier!  It's a fantastic tale where kids make decisions at each page that guide the story. It tells how Beep the turtle learns how to work with his new friend the Function Frog.  

Here's a draft of the first of the 16 amazing illustrations in the book.  It's going to be something else. 

Summary:

  • 1 game
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • 1 thank-you letter
  • Thank-you in the manual

Triple Turtles: Holiday Shopping 3-pack ($80) 

Not one, not two, but three teams of turtles will march their way to your door. Not only do you get to stockpile games for when they go out of print in the inevitable turtlve-pocalypse, you get three boxes of turtle joy while just paying for two! You also get a digital printable version of award-winning illustrator Matthew Cordell's "Turtles Playing Turtles". This level doesn't include the letter or the recognition in the manual.

Summary:

  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • 3 games

Laser Turtles: Extraordinary 3D Edition ($200)

As terrific as Robot Turtles is, I have been itching to make something truly unique. Something gorgeous. Something 3D.

Something that gave me an excuse to spend some quality time with a 100-watt CO2 laser cutter.

After evaluating miniatures (big minimum order), 3D printing (ugly plastic and too expensive), and various handmade options (I have no artistic skill whatsoever), I settled on laser turtles - a special edition where all the tiles are upgraded to pure laser-made awesomeness.  

Each one of these is made by hand, probably by me although I'm still entertaining fantasies of recruiting someone's teenager to babysit the lasercutter. They are labeled for ages 12+ (not for little ones) because they absolutely cannot go in little mouths.  But damn, do these make the game amazing!  (This tier also comes with the standard game, which you'll need for the board and cards, plus you can play it with younger ones). And you get the Thank-You Turtle.

Here are the current prototypes. I'm going to keep experimenting with methods and materials to make this as fantastic as it can possibly be!

It is awesome.

If you want the laser turtles AND another tier, see the FAQ entry for "How do I get two rewards?"  

Summary:  

  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook  
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • 1 thank-you letter
  • Thank-you in the manual
  • 1 game
  • 1 Laser Turtles upgrade pack

Ten Turtles: School-size Deca-pack ($240) 

A very noble cause. Get 10 Robot Turtle games (for the price of 6 of them) so an entire class can play. The best way to overrun your pre-school with turtle programming goodness. Gift it to your local educational institution, parcel out to share with friends, or resell on ebay in 12 months for a massive profit. You decide! 

You will also get a Thank-you Turtle letter, and your child or favorite educational institution will be listed in the manual with a thank-you. Note that an email will be sent asking for your children or school's name on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for them to be included in the manual.

Summary:

  • 10 games
  • 1 letter
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • Thank-you in the manual

Turtle Historian: Collector’s Edition Game ($400) 

First, as soon as the Kickstarter ends, you'll get all the images from the game as a print-and-play PDF immediately. If you want to give the game as a gift for an October birthday, you and Kinkos can make that happen! Second, you'll get one of the first boxes off the assembly line, hand-signed by me. No ground shipping for you; these turtles will be airlifted from Turtle Production Facility #1 in Michigan direct to your door. And to round it out you'll get a copy of the full game in the snail mail so you have one to play with while you bequeath the fancy one to your next of kin. 

You will also get a Thank-you Turtle letter for your little one(s) - up to four of them - and you will be listed in the manual with a very special thank-you. Note that an email will be sent asking for the names you want to recognize in the manual on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for them to be included in the manual.

Summary:

  • 1 collector's edition game
  • 1 regular full game
  • 1 print-and-play PDF
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • Special thank-you in the manual

Art Turtle: Limited Edition Print ($440)

This tier has everything in the Thank-You Turtle tier above, PLUS  this awesome limited edition print "Turtles Playing Turtles" by award-winning children's book illustrator Matthew Cordell. 

"Turtles Playing Turtles", by Matthew Cordell
"Turtles Playing Turtles", by Matthew Cordell

You'll get one of 25 giclee prints on archival watercolor paper, signed by the artist and made out to your family or child(ren). The print will arrive before the game, probably in early November.  If you need it particularly fast (e.g. for an October birthday) send me a message and we'll see what we can do!

Note that an email will be sent asking for the names you want to recognize in the manual on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for them to be included in the manual.

Summary:

  • 1 game
  • 1 thank-you letter  
  • Thank-you in the manual
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • 1 of 25 limited edition prints of "Turtles Playing Turtles"
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" (backup?)

Art Historian Turtle: Limited Edition Print ($780)

This tier has everything in the Turtle Historian tier above, PLUS the awesome limited edition print "Turtles Playing Turtles" by award-winning children's book illustrator Matthew Cordell. 

You'll get one of 25 giclee prints on archival watercolor paper, signed by the artist and made out to your family or child(ren). The print will arrive before the game, probably in early November.  If you need it particularly fast (e.g. for an October birthday) send me a message and we'll see what we can do!

Note that an email will be sent asking for the names you want to recognize in the manual on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for them to be included in the manual.

Summary:

  • 1 collector's edition game
  • 1 regular full game
  • 1 print-and-play PDF
  • Special thank-you in the manual
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • 1 of 25 limited edition prints of "Turtles Playing Turtles"
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" 

Turtle Terraformer: Unique Game ($2500) 

Brainstorm with the Robot Turtles creator and get your own, custom Robot Turtles (or Obedient Llamas, or Well Heeled-Pinnipeds) board game. Your kids' faces on the turtles? No problem. Want boulders so you can play Turtle Sokoban? You got it, plus three glorious copies of your masterpiece to treasure and share. You'll even get the original digital art assets that are unique to your game plus a one-of-a-kind high-resolution print poster of your box art. And of course, you're going to get a really cool thank-you in the manual.  Note that an email will be sent asking for your your name for the manual on Sept 27, and you must reply within three days of the project's closing (by midnight PST on September 30th) in order for it to be included in the manual.

The original Robot Turtles designer will put in up to 20 hours of work customizing the art assets for the game however you want. Note that the custom game versions will be made using a different process and may vary slightly from the full version in parts and finish.  You will have unlimited rights to reproduce your custom artwork for your own use and/or give it away for free.  I will even connect you with the folks who can print additional copies for you.  However, you will not be able to sell your custom game. In fact, if you were thinking about that, a) you’re very clever, b) no you cannot, and c) you should pledge for the next tier instead. 

Summary:

  • 3 custom editions of the game
  • 1 print-and-play PDF of the custom edition of the game
  • Ability to order more custom editions 
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • Special thank-you in the manual

Turtle Entrepreneur: Hang in Seattle ($3000)

Spend a day together learning everything I know about starting companies, getting into top-tier accelerator programs, raising money from outside investors, and managing a startup to success. Plus I'll share everything I've learned about the Robot Turtles experience. Finally, you'll leave with three signed copies of the game AND a copy of the Laser Edition upgrade!

You can read a bit about me on Linkedin or on my blog – my last few projects have been startups, and I love to help others who are thinking about going down the same path. I particularly love helping folks who are thinking about fundraising – angel, VC, or through an accelerator like Techstars. Whether you’re interested in gaming, technology, or the intersection of the two, I’d love to talk to you about it.

I also love strategizing about Kickstarter. I’ll tell you everything I know, including a full, unvarnished look at the numbers and data behind this project (like this blog post, but waaaay more detailed!)

Summary:

  • At least 8 hours with me (probably more) at our mutual convenience
  • Coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle
  • A very special thank-you in the manual
  • Robot Turtles: Laser Edition upgrade pack
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • 3 signed copies of the game

Transmedia Turtle: Me & Elan Lee ($4500) 
UPDATE: SOLD OUT

Join me in Seattle for everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with the creator of transmedia gaming (and Chief Design Officer of Xbox Entertainment Studios), Emmy-award winner Elan Lee (Wikipedia link). Bring your designs, prototypes, napkin art, or wild-eyed ideas for discussion.   Note that Elan will be flying up from Los Angeles to meet with you so it may take a while to schedule. It also includes coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle. It also-also includes a listing in the manual with a very special thank-you, three signed copies of the game, the Laser Edition upgrade, and one signature of Elan on anything you want (subject to his discretion, but he has very little discretion).

Summary:

  • At least 8 hours with me (probably more) at our mutual convenience
  • Dinner with Elan Lee
  • Coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • Robot Turtles: Laser Edition upgrade pack
  • A very special thank-you in the manual
  • 3 signed copies of the game
  • 1 signature of Elan 

Tabletop Turtle: Me & Jordan Weisman ($4500)

Join me in Seattle for a day for everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with gaming legend Jordan Weisman, creator of Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and most recently Golem Arcana (now on Kickstarter). We'll have dinner and drinks at Cafe Mox and share conversation over your choice of game (including Golem Arcana and/or Robot Turtles prototypes). We'll schedule this at our mutual convenience.It also includes coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle. It also-also includes a listing in the manual with a very special thank-you, three signed copies of the game, the Laser Edition upgrade pack, and one signature of Jordan on any related item (at his discretion).  

Summary:  

  • At least 8 hours with me (probably more) at our mutual convenience
  • Dinner with me and Jordan  
  • Coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Robot Turtles: Laser Edition upgrade pack
  • A very special thank-you in the manual  
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • 3 signed copies of the game
  • 1 signature of Jordan

Boardgame Turtle: Me & Richard Tait ($4500)  

Join me in Seattle for everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with the founder of Cranium Inc, Richard Tait (Wikipedia link). Richard is the creator of what is arguably the single most important new board game franchise of the past half-century.  If you are serious about the board game business, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Bring your designs, prototypes, napkin art, or wild-eyed ideas for discussion!  

This reward includes at least 8 hours with me plus dinner with Richard at our mutual convenience. It also-also includes a listing in the manual with a very special thank-you, three signed copies of the game, one laser turtles upgrade, and one signed copy of Cranium.  

Summary:

  • At least 8 hours with me (probably more) at our mutual convenience
  • Dinner with Richard Tait
  • Coffee, lunch, and dinner at my favorite spots in Seattle
  • Full color pick-your-own-path ebook
  • Printable version of "Turtles Playing Turtles" by Matthew Cordell
  • A very special thank-you in the manual
  • 3 signed copies of the game
  • Robot Turtles: Laser Edition upgrade pack
  • 1 signed copy of Cranium

UPDATES

You can view them in detail here, but let me summarize the awesome things that have become possible with your amazing support.

  • Robot Turtles hit its goal in 5 hours.  Your support was spectacular. We did it. Production art is starting; the game is going to go to press. WOOHOO!
  • More early birds.  My $40 price was based around a 1,000 unit minimum order.  I had no idea there was going to be this kind of excitement. That means I get to place a bigger order, which means I get to make more units available at a discount!  (Note that, because international shipping is already discounted, I can't offer it as an option for Early Bird, so the best value for international backers is the 3- and 10-packs). 
  • Instant coloring sheets thank-you. For hitting (and then blasting through) the $60k stretch goal, Backers at the $1 level and up can go here and download a PDF of six coloring sheets. This is completely free, with no DRM, and available immediately.  
  • Robot Turtles in the news. You can read about the project all over the tech news.  Here's the list of articles
  • Robot Turtles: Galapagos Rules.  Us old codgers can enjoy Robot Turtles too!  Raising $150,000 has unlocked a new set of rules that allows older kids (8+) and grownups to play after the kids go to sleep.  It's incredibly fun!
  • Community website. Raising $200,000 has unlocked a community site to collaborate on new game ideas, translations of the manual, share pictures, and more.
  • Double-sided tiles. Raising $250,000 has unlocked tiles printed on both sides, so when your kid melts ice walls, you flip them over to reveal puddles!
  • Multicolor jewels.  Instead of just having green robot jewel tiles, the four jewels will come in four colors: sapphire, amathyst, ruby, and emerald.  
  • Limited edition print. Award-winning children's artist Matthew Cordell has created a limited edition of 25 prints, "Turtles playing turtles", that are available at two pledge levels, signed and personalized by the artist. 
  • Printable "Turtles Playing Turtles" For those of you who don't get the collectible limited edition print, all pledges at $60 or higher will get a digital, printable version of the print. 
  • Pick your own path book. All backers at the $1 level and up get the text; backers at the "Thank-you Turtle ($60)" and up levels get a full-color ebook! This is shaping up to be an amazing 32-page book, illustrated in a style similar to the box cover, where kids get to decide at each page what to do next.
  • 50% more tiles. The original design had 32 tiles, which was plenty for basic play but could run a little shy if you really wanted to build something incredible. Every copy of the game now comes with extra walls for a total of a ridiculous 48 tiles, enough for mazes that would make a minotaur marvel. 
  • We found a bug. Every game now comes with four unique bug cards, one in each deck, that kids can point to when they find a problem with their program.
  • More cards. Each deck has been upgraded from 36 to 45 cards, for bigger mazes and more turtle goodness!

Thanks so much for making it all the way to the bottom.  This project has been amazing because of people like you.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

This is my first time delivering a board game. I've spent months learning everything I can about the process and interviewing some of the greatest game developers around. I've been cataloging a huge litany of problems and mistakes, and making plans to avoid them. Here's what I've come up with.

I'm working with Delano Services, a major game publisher in Battle Creek, MI, that's been in business for over a century. I've quoted every aspect of the process so I know the costs and materials used. I've talked to the CEO, who fully supports the project, and has agreed to let me fly in for the initial print run to inspect the results (and to package up the collector's edition boxes and ship them immediately).

Because Delano is in the US, I can and will hop on a plane if something goes wrong. Since Robot Turtles uses standard cardboard parts, the risks of unforeseen production difficulties are minimal (but not zero).

Shipping is something that trips up many Kickstarters, so I've been working on that for a while. It's insanely expensive. If I took delivery of a pallet of games to my basement and shipped them out to you via UPS ground, it would cost me more to ship the game than it would to manufacture it! So instead, I'm shipping the games to Amazon and using their third party fulfillment services, which saves cost (and my basement, and my sanity).

But that adds another level of complexity. So I've spent some time working with an ex-Amazon consultant to do my best to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

My biggest concern isn't actually getting you the game. It's getting you the game in time for Christmas. I've reviewed the schedule with Delano, and everyone's confident that they can do it. But in the unlikely event that something holds up production of the game - natural disaster, turtle rebellion - I will get all the backers a print-and-play PDF version, then ship the games ASAP. I don't think it'll come to that, but that's the backup plan.

International backers have additional uncertainty. It is more likely that shipments may miss the holidays because of shipping delays, customs holdups, or border gremlins. I don't know the taxes, duties, or tariffs you may owe when the game arrives.

It's possible that, if problems occur, I may not be able to fix them to your liking. My options to make things better will be limited to refunds and, if extra inventory is still available, replacements. If extra inventory isn't available (or if there's a problem that can't be fixed, like a special reward that can't be delivered), then you're going to be stuck with a refund instead of a game.

But I'm deeply committed to getting this product in to your hands, and the hands of your kids, as quickly as possible. Whatever comes up, I will keep you posted, step by step.

FAQ

  • I wish, I wish, I wish I could do this. Here's the problem.

    Kickstarter only allows for a single price for international shipping. That means the charge to you is the same if you live in Canada or Cambodia. I can't charge the 'right amount'; I have to guess a single price that will average out to cover costs.

    That price came out really, really high. So I decided to discount international shipping to make it more available to international backers. Believe it or not, $20 is the DISCOUNT price. It doesn't cover shipping (and packing, and handling, and international compliance, and so on) for many of the countries pledging.

    So while the higher production volumes have let me add a discount to US backers, I've already discounted the international product by subsidizing the shipping price. For that reason, I can't stack the early bird discount on top of that.

    So to get a single game shipped internationally, you need to pledge at the $40 level, plus $20 international shipping. The one bit of good news is that the 3-pack and 10-pack discount tiers ARE available with international shipping add-ons, so finding a group of friends to split with can save a bunch of money (or consider donating to your local school!).

    Again, I wish I had a great solution to charge less. But without the ability to price international shipping on a per-country per-pledge basis, I'm stuck.

    Last updated:
  • Very roughly 11"x11"x3", 2.5 lbs. This may change.

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  • I don't know. I don't plan to get in to the board game business, and if I'm not driving manufacturing and distribution, it's not clear that there's a way to bring it to market. I've been fortunate to have a number of very large companies reach out about the property over the last few days. But I would not count on anything like that occurring (and if it does, the resulting product may not look very different).

    So if you ever plan on reproducing, or know someone who will, you might want to sock away a few copies now for their eventual offspring. ;)

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  • At the end of the Kickstarter campaign (Sept 27), you will get an email asking for your shipping information. MAKE SURE TO RESPOND PROMPTLY - if I don't get your address within a few days of the close of the campaign, I may have to put in the production order without you, and you'll wind up with a refund instead of a game. That would be sad.

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  • At the end of the Kickstarter campaign (Sept 27), you will get an email asking for your shipping information and your child's name. MAKE SURE TO RESPOND PROMPTLY - if I don't get your address within a few days of the close of the campaign, I may have to put in the production order without you, and you'll wind up with a refund instead of a game. That would be sad!

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  • Ug, this is a little more complicated than it needs to be! It only takes a minute, but it seems a little strange.
    1) Sign out of Kickstarter
    2) Create a new Kickstarter account with a different email address
    3) Use the same Amazon payments account to fund it (you don't need a new one of those)
    4) Make your second pledge.

    Again, I apologize for the complexity. Kickstarter doesn't have a great way to do this.

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  • They help the little ones with left/right orientation. The yellow card rotates the turtle towards the yellow flower, the purple one towards the purple flower, and the blue card moves the turtle forward, towards the blue flower.
    You may also spot something similar in the choose-your-own-path book illustrations, if you look carefully...

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  • Here's what Richard Garfield told me:

    Robot Turtles is simpler and faster than Robo Rally but uses similar programming. While easier to learn it goes into places my game never did - like sub routines and loops. I wish it had been around when my kids were younger, I am a believer in the use of games to educate, and this would have been a great tool!

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    152 backers

    Grateful Turtle: My Thanks ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for your support! Every dollar helps bring these adorable robotic terrapins in to existence.

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    Early Turtle: Full Game with Discount ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The early turtle gets the discount! You get the full game, scheduled to ship in time for Christmas. Delivery for Chanukah is less likely, because... seriously, November this year? While I can't guarantee that your favorite little one will be the next Steve Jobs or Ada Lovelace, I can tell you you're going to have a lot of fun with turtles. See below for more details.

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    Robot Turtle: Full Game ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Same as Early Turtle, at the regular price of $40. See below for more details.

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    476 backers

    Thank-you Turtle: Letter & Game ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Your kid is going to be very happy. In addition to the full game, your child(ren) get a full-color letter, addressed to them by name, with an inked turtle-foot signature on the bottom. You get to choose which turtle sends it too. And inside the game box? Their name is in the credits in the manual! See below for more details.

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    Triple Turtles: Holiday 3-pack ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Not one, not two, but three teams of turtles will march their way to your door. Not only do you get to stockpile games for when they go out of print in the inevitable turtle-pocalypse, you get three for the price of two! One for your family, one for a gift, and one to give away to the school auction come Spring. See below for more details.

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    Laser Turtles: Incredible 3D Edition ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All tiles get laser-cut 3D upgrades! The ice walls are transparent acrylic with mirrored blue bases that become puddles when melted. The stone walls are made of hardwood plywood. And the robot gems are actual semiprecious gemstones. For ages 12+. See below for more details.

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    188 backers

    Ten Turtles: School-size Deca-pack ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A very noble cause. Get 10 Robot Turtle games (for the price of 6.5 of them) so an entire class can play. The only way to overrun your pre-school with turtle programming goodness. Gift it to your local educational institution, parcel out to share with friends, or resell on ebay in 12 months for a massive profit. You decide! See below for more details.

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    10 backers All gone!

    Turtle Historian: Collector's Edition ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ First, as soon as the Kickstarter ends, you'll get all the images from the game as a print-and-play PDF immediately. If you want to give the game as a gift for an October birthday, you and Kinkos can make that happen! Second, you'll get one of the first boxes off the assembly line, hand-signed by me. No ground shipping for you; these turtles will be airlifted from Turtle Production Facility #1 in Michigan direct to your door. And to round it out you'll get a copy of the full game in the snail mail so you have one to play with while you bequeath the fancy one to your next of kin. See below for more details.

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    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    Art Turtle: Limited Edition Print ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Everything in the Thank-You Turtle tier above, plus a limited edition print "Turtles Playing Turtles" by award-winning children's book illustrator Matthew Cordell. One of 25 giclee prints on archival watercolor paper, signed by the artist and made out to your family or child(ren). Print will arrive before the game. See below for more details.

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    Art Historian Turtle: Limited Edition Print ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Everything in the Turtle Historian tier above, plus a limited edition print "Turtles Playing Turtles" by award-winning children's book illustrator Matthew Cordell. One of 25 giclee prints on archival watercolor paper, signed by the artist and made out to your family or child(ren). Print will arrive before the game. See below for more details.

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    Turtle Terraformer: Unique Game ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We'll brainstorm together and you will get your own, custom Robot Turtles (or Obedient Llamas, or Well Heeled-Pinnipeds) board game. Your kids' faces on the turtles? No problem. Want boulders so you can play Turtle Sokoban? You got it, plus three glorious copies of your masterpiece to treasure and share. You'll even get the original digital art assets that are unique to your game plus a one-of-a-kind high-resolution print poster of your box art. See below for more details.

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    Turtle Entrepreneur: Dinner with Dan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spend a day together learning everything I know about starting companies, getting in to top-tier accelerator programs, raising money from outside investors, and managing a startup to success. Plus I'll share everything I've learned about the Robot Turtles experience. See below for more details (and a brief bio on me).

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    Transmedia Turtle: Me & Elan Lee ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Join me in Seattle for everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with the creator of transmedia gaming (and Chief Design Officer of Xbox Entertainment Studios), Emmy-award winner Elan Lee. Bring your designs, prototypes, napkin art, or wild-eyed ideas for discussion. See below for more details.

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    Boardgame Turtle: Me & Richard Tait ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Join me in Seattle for everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with Cranium Inc. founder and CEO Richard Tait. Bring your designs, prototypes, napkin art, or wild-eyed ideas for discussion. See below for more details.

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    Tabletop Turtle: Me & Jordan Weisman ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Join me in Seattle for a day and get everything in the Turtle Entrepreneur package, PLUS dinner with gaming legend Jordan Weisman, creator of Shadowrun, Battletech, Mechwarrior, and most recently Golem Arcana (now on Kickstarter). We'll have dinner and drinks at Cafe Mox and share conversation over your choice of game (including Golem Arcana and/or Robot Turtles prototypes). See below for more details.

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