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$1,972 pledged of $5,000 goal
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By Mark White
$1,972 pledged of $5,000 goal
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About this project

What is it?

Mutation is a new 3D board game.

The spherical board contains 8 movable pieces (4 black, 4 white). The pieces stay on the board, so there are no pieces to lose and no table required.

Play it anywhere: standing, sitting, couch, car, beach, office or in the hallway at school. Anywhere, really.  It's all good.

How do you play? 

That’s a great question.  There are many games that can be played, many ways to play them, and many games yet to be invented.

Mutation is more than a single game; it is a little game system.

The easiest game is played by two people and can be learned in a few seconds.  It is a bit like tic-tac-toe on a sphere.

The white pieces are arranged around any triangle, and the black pieces are put on the opposite triangle.

Start with pieces on adjacent spaces.
Start with pieces on adjacent spaces.

Players alternate moves.  The winner is the first player to make a tetrahedron.  Simple. 

(Don’t worry, you will know a tetrahedron when you see it, and the board will tell you when you have one.)

A tetrahedron - all four of your pieces are equally spaced.
A tetrahedron - all four of your pieces are equally spaced.

Little kids learn fast... and old people too.

A game usually lasts 2-5 minutes, and a new game can be set up in 5 seconds.

Games involving three players and four players are simple too. Games can be played in groups and teams.

It’s easy to invent new games to play with Mutation.  Imagine the fun of playing a game you just invented.  More game instructions are HERE.

What's the Idea?

Mutation is designed around perfect spatial symmetry and the five perfect solids.  These are basic things everybody should know, but few are ever taught.  Pity.  Even when you are not playing games with Mutation, it is an awesome tool for exploring cool ideas about space and symmetry.

Tetrahedron - Octahedron - Cube - Icosahedron - Dodecahedron
Tetrahedron - Octahedron - Cube - Icosahedron - Dodecahedron

Plus, it contains an entire map of the genetic code. No kidding. The genetic code of life on earth is represented in shapes and colors on the surface of this game. That's kinda cool, I think.

What is your goal?

The goal of this Kickstarter project is to re-design Mutation.

Why, It looks great?

The short answer is that it’s too expensive to make.  It is not commercially viable in this form.

The long answer is much longer, but kinda interesting.  So here it is:

(You asked.)

Mutation came about in a different time under different circumstances.  In fact it was a totally different game, and things have radically changed since then. The original game was called Code World. It consisted of two basic parts: a globe and a glider.

This mechanism proved to be incredibly demanding to make.  "Aerospace tolerances" was a phrase once uttered.  Plus, sharp color breaks were achieved by individually molding each part. (Not cost effective, but it looks fabulous.)

Code World was a different game entirely. It was originally a two-person game based on a special language and a deck of playing cards.

I was trying to figure out the "best" way to play this "simple" game when something totally bizarre happened.  I discovered that the language I invented for Code World had already been invented by something else – life on earth.

And what better way to market a new toy?

(That is a rhetorical question with many possible correct answers. The most generally correct answer is this: Any way other than with the genetic code.)

Here’s the basic idea: Humans speak about the genetic code in the natural mathematical language of a cube, but molecules speak it in terms of dodecahedrons and tetrahedrons, both literally and figuratively.

It's a language that is all about shapes when you look at it from a molecule's point of view.

So what happened to Code World?

I developed Code World into production prototypes to be made in China.  This included all of the injection molds, the playing cards, the instructions and retail packaging.

I unveiled it at Toy Fair 2004.

Folks liked it… but not enough. The general consensus was it was too complicated and too expensive.

I can accept that.

In fact, this "simple" game has proven to be anything but simple.  Truth be told, it has proven to be so hard to figure out, I still haven't figured it out.

Never fear, I'm still hard at work, and I'm getting close.  Ironically, instead of Code World teaching me the genetic code, the genetic code is teaching me how to play Code World.  Go figure.

It turns out these molecules are clever, and they have an awesome computational power driving them.

So a big part of this project will go toward getting modifications on Code World so that it too can become a playable game and live among us.

Then one day long ago Code World mutated into Mutation. Please note: it is a Code World globe - minus the glider - with Mutation pieces cleverly attached.

Ducky in the extreme, no doubt, but it too is not commercially viable as now constructed.  There are lots of ways to make Mutation, and this is simply a great way to make it if you want it to be really cool and really expensive.

Consider this:

There are more than 200 parts that go into making a single Code World or Mutation.  Too many... obviously.

At first it was perhaps viable, but since the initial days of Code World the cost of plastic has doubled.

(Note, this thing has more than a half pound of plastic.)

The cost of labor in China has quadrupled, and this thing requires a ridiculous amount of labor.

Conclusion:  This is no way to run a rodeo.

Where does that leave Mutation?

For all practical purposes, Mutation and Code World weren't going to see the light of day. That is a crying shame, because this really is a fabulous game.

Thank goodness for Kickstarter.

Mutation now has a chance to live, breath and walk the earth.

Exciting!

Folks should at least have a chance to see this and play with this, I think, even if they are only prototypes.

Not many Mutations will be made like these.  So whether or not the game becomes a classic, these samples will surely be valuable collectibles.  More importantly, folks who get them will be a valuable team of beta testers for the next round of development.

So where has this been for 10 years?

Mutation was not just buried for years; it was a closely kept secret. The reason for this is simple: patent protection.

Once a provisional patent is filed, the clock starts ticking. There is one year of general protection until a formal application must be filed.

With the launch of this project that clock has now finally started ticking.

What are the odds of pulling off this project?

The molds sat for so long that two things happened. First, they had actually rusted. (Really?) Second, some of the molds were lost. (How do you lose a mold?)

Goodness.

In preparation for this project, I had the missing molds replaced and the old molds refurbished. Expensive, oui, but without the ability to test the molds and make samples there really is no project. I certainly didn't want to get into this... again, without knowing what I was getting into.

Fortunately, the first batch of test samples “T1 Samples” turned out beautifully, as good as the day they were first made! It brought a tear to my eye.

300 T1 samples were made, many of which are going into “press kits” to publicize this project and spread the word.

Seriously: These might be the only Mutations ever made... but I doubt it.  Surely more than 300 people will want one of these... I hope.

So I really hope to make a second batch of samples to meet the demand that we manage to create here on Kickstarter.

Who knows what that number will be. It's a mystery.

Although I am convinced that Code World represents the abstract first life form, perhaps the single best clue to the mystery of the origin of life on earth, Mutation is a better game.  So I have focused my efforts in this project on getting Mutation out into the world.

Note: These samples will not include any printed material or retail packaging.  It is too expensive and unnecessary.  Plus, there are basic instructions on the website.  After all, this is more like beta testing than retail shopping.

To track sample batches it is possible to slightly alter the color of one of the pieces. This is not only fun but it helps protect the collectible value to early supporters.  Instead of plain white pieces, the T1 samples have been made with pearl white pieces.

Subtle but effective.

They also will include a numbered and signed card, or Certificate of Authenticity (COA).

(Awesome signature.)

The second batch - if there is one - will have pearl black pieces (no COA, sorry).  

What do you hope to accomplish with these rewards?

I want to make sure that these rewards have intrinsic value.  And I want this project to be fun for everybody who gets involved.

Importantly, we can finally get Mutation out into the world to be played with, explored and shown around.

I want to improve on what has already been done, and I want to make more and better toys for learning these important ideas.

Thanks.

KickstarterWikipedia: Kickstarter is the world's largest crowdfunding platform.

Risks and challenges

The risks and challenges of this project are few and fairly clear. The objectives are simple and obtainable. The work done so far, I believe, demonstrates a basic level of competence that should carry forward to successful completion of the project.

Much of the risk was mitigated by delivery of T1 samples. There is a slight risk that another batch of samples will fail, but it is unlikely.

The contours after this Kickstarter project depend entirely on the type of response received on Kickstarter. Feedback from those who participate here will be critical.

With any luck, we might be able to KickStart Code World as well.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    SOCCER BALL: Get a colorful soccer ball - the G-Ball - about 7" diameter with a complete map of the genetic code. Free shipping in USA.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    EARLY BIRD: Get a production sample of Mutation from the 2nd batch. Identifiable by pearl black pieces. Free shipping.

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    Limited 16 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    MUTATION: Get a production sample of Mutation from the 2nd batch. Identifiable by pearl black pieces. Free shipping in USA.

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    7 backers
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    TWO BALLS: Get a production sample of Mutation from the 2nd batch, and get a genetic code soccer ball. Free shipping in USA.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    T1 SAMPLE: Get a production sample of Mutation from the first test batch. Only 300 were made. Identifiable by pearl white pieces. Includes a numbered and signed COA. Available for immediate delivery. Free shipping in USA.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    YOU and TWO FRIENDS: Get 3 production samples of Mutation from the 2nd batch, and help spread the word. Free shipping in USA.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    BETA TEST LAB: Start your very own beta test lab with 6 production samples of Mutation from the 2nd batch. Free shipping in USA.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    FIRST PROTOTYPE: Get the first handmade Code World prototype that mapped the genetic code. A real museum piece.

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Funding period

- (40 days)