The holiday bring all sorts of good news, and we couldn't be more excited to share our latest update, we think you'll want to get your hands on these dev-kit upgrades immediately. Here's a short video to show just what we've been working on.
The video is set in a bit of low light, mostly because I wanted to set the mood... I mean... make Blinks look their best. Additionally, the past many months have involved late nights bringing these new features to life, so it only seemed fitting to put you in the right setting :).
Game Sharing + Quick Programming
The BlinkOS Release Candidate has all sorts of functionality that, in all honesty, feels like magic. Try it out for yourself, capture some video of you showing someone what your Blinks can do. If you have any trouble, don't hesitate to reach out to us on the forum.
We’ve got so much to share, so let’s take it from the top.
From the start of our Kickstarter, our estimated delivery date has been March 2019. It was a carefully calculated estimate and we are even ahead of schedule. Blinks won’t be shipping for the holidays this year, however, if you would like to gift your reservation of the very first Blinks ever produced, here’s a design that you can simply print out at home or a local print shop to surprise someone with a hint of what will be coming in the new year.
Games, Games, Games
We’ve shared a few, and now we want to start sharing more. Over the coming weeks, we'll post play through videos of our newest games. With the help of the community, we’ve designed and built 12, (yes 12!), launch titles for Blinks, all of which are feeling great and offer different play experiences. This is just the beginning!
If you are a dev kit backer, <insert holiday in which you receive gifts> comes early! You can start playing the 12 launch titles this holiday season. We’ll be personally reaching out to a select group to help us play test our latest iterations.
Packaging & Game Art
Another major area of progress has been the packaging for Blinks. We’ve made a number of eco friendly decisions, including our paper-pulp insert which is much like Blinks seatbelt for a safe ride to your homes. You can see below a rendering of the packaging.
This past weekend, we were invited by the Kickstarter Games team to share Blinks at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia. We took the opportunity to not only play test Blinks games, but play some other games as well. Kickstarter set up the booth to feel like 4 living rooms and it was an incredibly chill way to experience some really creative games. Our space had the following: Status Report, Rewordable, Inhuman Conditions. We also got to play Metal, Root, and Bloc by Bloc. A number of designers at the convention shared their enthusiasm to make games for Blinks too (they also agreed we are totally unplugged :)
A Present for the Present
If you would like to support Move38 and delight someone with art/design/math in a beautiful bundle, we are stocked and ready to ship Troxes for the holidays. Troxes share the same DNA as Blinks and are a great way to spend the holidays hands-on and screen-free. To make the gifting process even sweeter, use this code: BLINKSBACKER When you buy 1 item you get 1 item at 50% off.
A belated Thanksgiving
We have a backlog of sooo many interesting stories, hurdles and breakthroughs(these often feel like magic). This process is far from easy, and we would like to share more of that part of the process, too. We consider you part of our family, so we want to express our thanks for believing in Blinks, Move38, and supporting us through this Journey. We're lucky to have you all along for this ride and you can expect more updates, more frequently as we bring Blinks to your homes.
I am currently in Shanghai, China, visiting a new factory every day. I want to be certain that the quality of product that we produce in prototype form can be reproduced with the level of craft and care that we put into all of our products. Each factory offers their own expertise which is really a neat experience.
On my first day, I visited a factory that has over 100 people working on R&D in battery technology alone. It's fun to consider the future possibilities for how Blinks are powered (maybe one day it will simply be the thermal energy of your hands, but not today). To visit any assembly or workspace, I needed to be in the official uniform for cleanliness, it really does make for a focussed workspace, and seeing the production line let's me picture the choreography of assembling the commercial Blinks. If you haven't noticed, every detail is important to us and I am feeling confident that we'll be delivering a truly valuable experience.
That's Awesome! But Where’s My Dev-Kit?
We've got over 50 Dev-Kits shipped, and the remainder going out the door the moment I step foot back in the US. We've been rolling them out in order of backer number and the rolling process has allowed us to continue to refine the developer materials. Thanks for being so patient in the process. If you've already received your Dev-Kit, be sure to share your creations with #madewithblinks, and join us on forum.move38.com, we are sharing games in progress through the forum.
Do You Live In New York City?
Did you order a commercial set of Blinks, but want to play with a set now? If you live in or around NYC, Blinks will be at the New York @makerfaire from September 22 - 23. Maker Faire is an incredible event and in addition to being able to play with Blinks, you’ll have a chance to see all kinds of cool projects made my incredible DIYers from around the world! Grab your tickets today and we’ll see you there!
Lastly, we are gonna have to arrange a massive Blinks party at some point because look at how much fun these Blinks have when they get together.
Plenty to update you all with on our end, as many of you are surely wondering, "Where are my Blinks?" You know how some people like to speed up when they see speed bumps? Well, we hit a big speed bump and kept on going. So now it is time to share that speed bump and how it has launched us to our next phase.
***BEFORE READING ANY FURTHER, PLEASE FILL OUT YOUR BACKER KIT SURVEYSO WE CAN START SHIPPING YOUR DEV KITS***
Wisdom of the one
Let’s start by talking about something really smart we did (pats self on back). We decided to do an Alpha dev-kit run with an initial set of dev-kit backers. We got our hardware out on time, assembled in house and delivered to backers to open up, dig in, and tear apart. Some of the components arrived broken, some expectations were exceeded and others were not met. This has been a great success, for us to get something wrong 1 out of 10 times rather than 10s or hundreds of times. Which expectations weren’t met?! That’s the important question.
The Alpha dev-kit Blinks shipped with one important component not present. The soft diffused tops that make Blinks so friendly to touch. We thought that getting Blinks into the devs hands asap w/o the tops would be worthwhile, and better than getting the tops at all, until it hit us, that so much of the fun of developing for Blinks is the ability to bring your games out and play test them with your friends, your little ones, and your crew at the bar that doesn’t want to worry about spilling their beer on some newfangled tech. Lo and behold, Jonathan, voice of this update, hustled his butt to see how to get some tops on these topless Blinks. It felt like a very tough decision because the design work, engineering and tooling that goes into these parts do not progress the commercial version of the Blinks, so it is entirely for the love of you devs, and a version of Blinks that we think you will truly cherish. Making it more difficult, the silicone has been responsible for poor communications between Blinks. We believe we have minimized the issue by modifying the mold and material properties of the silicone.
While this extended our ship date into August, we feel that this was the right decision to give you, our biggest supporters the best possible experience with your dev kits. What could be more important than that!
As promised, the Developer Kits will be shipping with custom-made carrying cases, all of which are being 3D printed. When I shipped out the Alpha Dev Kits, the Blinks didn’t have tops, and therefore the carry cases were smaller. Had I made a tool to create our carrying cases, I would have had a major problem on my hand because modifying or making new tools is expensive! Luckily, these parts could be modified quickly with me sending a new 3D file and having new proofs printed within a day. In total there was more than 1400 hrs of printer time, something I surely couldn’t do from the Makerbot in my office, and the enlisted help of Voodoo Manufacturing delivered. Check out the setup that made these carry cases.
In addition to changing the carry case size, that meant I had to change the foam packaging that holds all of the Dev Kit components. Once again, I was quite close to hiring a die cutting service to make these foam inserts, and instead opted to make them in-house. Our materials arrive tomorrow and we’ll have them all cut and ready by Tuesday of next week (~12 hours of laser cutter time). It’s a good thing I really love board games, cuz making changes here sure causes a domino effect 🙂
While this update is really for the Devs, I figured y’all would want to know the latest with the commercial Blinks progress, so here it goes. We’ve received quotes from wonderful factories in different regions of China, and guess who has never been to China. Me! So my visa application is going in and with any luck, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be visiting a number of factories, making my list, checking it twice, shaking some hands, and most importantly deciding on the Blinks nursery… Yup, you guessed it, where Blinks are born. I don’t want to say tooo much about the candidates for making Blinks yet, but let's just say that some of them might make toy parts that NASA considers high tolerance.
To get all of these wonderful Dev Kits to your doorstep, we have a lot of assembling and packing to do. Every assembly step has been timed and averaged and let’s just say it all adds up to a lot of time. We want you to celebrate this momentous occasion with us, so you guessed it, we’ll do a Kickstarter Live-Stream to update you on the latest Blinks games and you can see your kits get hand packed and ready to be shipped your way.
Are you in NYC or local and want to join in on the fun? We have limited spaces, so let us know asap if you are available on August 16th or August 17th and we’ll be in touch 🙂
It is never fun on this side to have delays, however, it is less fun for us to spend $$$ on shipping twice, so I hope you are all keeping cool this summer and we look forward to sending your next update in which Dev Kits are in the mail and arriving at your doorsteps.
That’s the Blink download!
Jonathan and Blinks Team
Oooh, I almost forgot to mention a couple of snazzy Kickstarter projects that might tickle your fancy. Whether you are looking for a novelty item or just a concept worth sharing, check these out:
At Move38, making physical objects perform magical feats is kinda our jam, so we really appreciate when others do the same.
LIMBO | The Magical Top That Spins For Hours!
LIMBO is a smart, self balancing electric gyro, disguised as a beautiful CNC machined spinning top that spins for hours.
On June 19th, LIMBO broke the official GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for ”longest-running mechanical spinning top”, all details are in LIMBO’s campaign.
LIMBO was designed to amaze anyone that interacts with it, and can even spin on a tomato (watch the “Will it Spin” video on LIMBO’s campaign HERE)!
Vector by Anki: A giant roll forward for robot kind.
Hi Backers, (I probably should have saved that awesome update title for our next update, but I couldn't resist :)
Things are heating up, and I don’t just mean, summer is here. Of course Move38 just kicked off our Summer Game Design Internships with 5 wonderful game design interns. Another welcome addition to the Move38 family is our new favorite team member (everyone voted and agrees), our 3-pawed furry mascot, Ernie! He’s a rescue from Nepal and is constantly making sure that we are getting enough exercise in this busy period of design, manufacturing, and development.
How’s Commercial Manufacturing Going?
First of all, the first Dev-Kits are going out the door, and we will continue to assemble, pack and get them out the door in the coming weeks. We started with our Alpha Backers and have received helpful feedback, that will help us with the rest of the Dev Kits (there are a lot of them 😁 ).
As I mentioned in a previous update, we wanted to do the Dev Kits with a manufacturer that we are considering to also use for our commercial run. Their communication was great and they delivered some beautiful Dev Blinks. Most importantly, they work, and are ready for your creative hands to get ahold of them.
Here’s a quick run-through of the magic that went into producing the Dev Kit Blinks.
Apply solder paste to each of the panelized Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
Add the components to the PCBs (with a device called a CNC pick'n'place machine)
Program the Blinks to make sure they are ready for developers to put games on them :)
Run the simple test application I wrote to validate that RGB LEDs are working and then validate that all 6 sides are communicating. Here a gang of 6 surrounding Blinks are simply used to test the middle one's ability to communicate. "Can you hear me know?"
What EXACTLY is the difference between Dev Kit Blinks and Commercial Blinks?
Dev Kit Blinks are functionally the same as commercial Blinks, however, some have referred to them as topless. Don’t worry, these Blinks aren’t flashing indecent exposure, this just means that the electronics are exposed on the top, there isn’t a diffuser, and the button is simply in the middle of the Blink. There are a couple of reasons for their lack of cover, mostly because the original design with diffuser makes for faulty communications between Blinks. While they look pretty and are closer to the final appearance, we didn’t want to supply developers with materials that make games feel buggy. The second reason is that we wanted to get Dev Blinks out the door as quickly as possible so you can start making games.
As for the commercial Blinks, they are looking super fine and we are triple checking our prototypes to make sure everything will work, fit, assemble the way we intend. Did I mention that I designed a new carry case for the commercial Blinks? I am hoping it is not outrageously expensive to manufacture, it should be simple and straight-forward, and I think you’ll really love it. I call it the Blinks Sushi Roll 😛 See it in action here
Since the Blinks have magnets in them, the case is simply made of steel with a thin sheet of Tyvek holding it all together. The weight in the hand feels amazing and most of my friends are just asking for the case now. I have a feeling ordering extra Blinks Sushi Rolls is going to be a thing, would you buy one of these separately?
How’s Game Design Going?
We’ve announce 4 different games for Blinks, and more are headed our way. Last week we play tested a game called Oath by John Bruneau and Yuxin Gao, that is a button mashing game of influence. The goal is to make Blinks show allegiance to your color, the way of doing so is by touching the Blink when it shows your color (adding influence) and when Blinks of a specific color surround another Blink, they influence the the surrounded Blink. It is a fast paced masher, and every time we see people play testing, they are having a great time winning, or losing 🙂
The summer interns are just digging in and will be refining and balancing existing games, so if you have a Dev Kit, we’ll want your feedback on play testing our games in development too! There are some nice refinements coming to both Mortals and Fracture and we still have a long list of games in progress.
In Connecticut this weekend and can't wait to get your hands in the game? You're in luck. BeRrY creators are at CT-FIG all weekend showing off their games as well as others. Reach out, send a tweet, or holla at us... so we know who to thank for all of the support.
Any Word On What The Six Games Being Featured Will Be?
You of course know you’ll be getting Mortals and Fracture. User created games, BeRrY and Bomb Brigade are hits with us, and in the coming weeks/months, we think there will be an explosion of new games from the dev community. We want to give the earliest supporters the opportunity to make and share games that can potentially ship with Blinks.
I Have A Game Idea, But I Didn’t Get A Dev Kit, What Can I Do?