They’re mean and vicious and they just might come after you next. You’ve got to help!
Last Day: LET’S NAME SOME TROLLS!
UPDATE: Whether it’s someone you love, someone you hate or someone you love to hate, check out the latest update and help us name at least five trolls.
They’re mean and vicious and they just might come after you next. You’ve got to help! They have to be stopped. They have to be exposed. Alex didn’t ask for this. All she wanted was a chance to chase her dream. She didn’t even know they existed…until they turned her mother to stone. Without warning, her 9 year old world has been turned upside down. Though they’d been there moments before, Alex no longer saw her father or brothers. They weren’t stone but they were gone. Where were they? What happened to them?
For the first time in her life, Alex was alone – and she was terrified! But she knew her surroundings. She knew the Isle of Kent like the back of her hand. What she didn’t know was who the creatures were that wreaked suck havoc and why? What do they want? And why did they choose her family? Over the past few weeks, Alex sensed something was happening. Her parents’ homeland, the land of her birth, once filled with goodness and pure potential, was changing. Hoping for answers, she’d tiptoe to her parents’ bedroom when she should have been sleeping. She could swear she heard her parents whispering of families that had disappeared, but the hushed conversations ceased the moment she was spotted. And just yesterday, her brothers swore they’d seen their mother crying. But Alex didn’t believe them. Her mother was strong and her father hung the moon so she was certain he’d never let anything upset her to the point of tears. She decided her brothers were teasing and she was tired of falling for their tricks so she ignored them.
But now…now she was all alone and desperately wished she’d demanded to know what was happening. If only she’d asked her parents what they were whispering about. If only she’d believed her brothers. Maybe things would be different. But she’d been afraid. She loved being a little girl. And though she sometimes fought with her brothers, she was happy and she knew she was loved. So she pretended – something a child does best. At 9, ignorance is bliss and bliss is the fairy dust of which dreams and childhood days are made.
With no other choice, Alex put one foot in front of the other and went in search of answers. She looked around at the beauty that surrounded her and for a moment pretended it was all a dream. That none of it had happened. Suddenly she heard a strange noise – something foreign she’d never heard on this land she knew so well. Shivers ran down her spine and her gut told her to run. Without looking back, she ran as fast as she could to the Town Square. She had scratches and cuts but she’d made it and she was no longer alone. The Square was packed and people were everywhere. She’d chosen not to ask her parents and she wouldn’t make that mistake again. Certainly someone in town had to know what was happening.
Her heart raced as she climbed the looming, 50-foot-tall molten lava rock anchored in the center of the Town Square. The rock was a monument – revered by all – though she never understood why. Even touching it was forbidden. Alex took a deep breath and stood as tall and still as possible. Sensing danger, many people ran home. But a few saw courage and a little girl that needed help. They approached cautiously. Unburdened by life’s disappointments, Alex told of her story. In the middle of town, on top of that rock, Alex’s spoke the truth and asked the questions others had only dared to whisper.
A group of strangers surrounded her. And though the crowd was small, they quickly realized if they each shared what they knew and did what they could, together they were powerful. Within minutes the truth was revealed as they knew it. Several town leaders said they may have glimpsed an unusual creature but not one was certain. Alex pushed them and demanded answers. One by one, each told a version of history they’d convinced themselves was true. And once all had spoken, the truth was revealed – they’d all made the choice to look away because it was easier pretending nothing was wrong than to confront what had stood right before their eyes.
Annoyed by the men’s cowardice and the ease with which the town’s leaders were able to lie (even to themselves), Alex scanned the crowd looking for clues. Most refused to make eye contact, but Alex was desperate. She demanded they look at her. She’d expected the grownups to help, but they were useless. Some were even cowards. And then it happened. She found what she’d been searching for – a glimmer of hope in the eyes of the two teenagers she’d dismissed earlier. After all, they were friends of her brothers. She smiled and they acknowledged the longing in her eyes signaling they’d wait while she quickly descended the rock.
It was done on a dare that only a teenager would consider a binding agreement. And while they both admitted they’d seen a strange creature, only one had agreed to a double dare and actually talked to the creature who claimed to be a Troll in search of truth. But Alex knew better. She’d seen what they could do. She needed a plan and she needed a team. Somehow she had to find a way to get her family back….
It’s been a crazy Kickstarter ride but what a great story it’s become. The original $829 project had Kenzie creating her RPG in July at RPG Camp. But within two days, her campaign raised over $20,000 and she made history as the youngest Kickstarter to raise that much money that fast. It didn’t take long to realize something bigger was happening. With over 1000 backers came a few concerned naysayers demanding answers to questions a 9 year old hadn’t anticipated answering for months. She knew she wanted to make a game but had no idea what it would be about.
She’d asked for $829 on a whim but with $20,000 in play, several anonymous netizens concerned a 9 year old would destroy Kickstarter for them, they demanded instant transparency. How frustrating it must have been seeing a 9 year old girl with zero experience and no idea what her RPG would be about be handed $20,000 within hours to do something they’d only dreamed of – and she’d done it with almost zero effort which made any misdirected resentment understandable.
Since then, the entire Wilson family has worked feverishly to make every backer proud. Kenzie’s worked hard learning RPG Maker, developing the characters, story and plot line along with the land, scenes, adventures, enemies, armors, and weapons. And with 6 days left, Kenzie’s RPG finally has a name – Truth & Trolls.
With just as much ease, TruthAndTrolls.com was purchased for less than $10 and a trademark search revealed the name was available. So several hundred dollars and 30 minutes later, Kenzie’s trademark application for Truth & Trolls was electronically filed.
Though not part of the original project, after we realized there was a need for a safe place for kids to learn, share, create, play and test one another’s games (with some help from experts will to pay it back and pay it forward), PinkieSquare.com has evolved into a real website. It’s still a work in process and we’re still looking for experts to volunteer to host live Skype, Twitter and Facebook Q&A sessions. Check it out and see for yourself – PinkieSquare.com: Indie Gaming. For Kids. By Kids.
BONUS CONTENT to THANK YOU THE BACKERS!
Given the campaign’s success, Kenzie wants to thank every backer with bonus content at no additional cost! All existing backers will receive a bonus PDF supplement called The Making of Truth & Trolls. It’s really a gesture of thank you, but not just for simply backing this project. It’s a thank you for seeing what this campaign is really about and supporting Mackenzie in making her dreams come true. In short, thanks for being a good person.
Given the excess funding, Kenzie’s excited to deliver a high quality final product in July. But remember this is still about a 9 year old making her first RPG so it’s important to manage expectations. But Kenzie’s already working with to young ladies (ages 13 & 16) who are busy creating custom art for the game.
ABOUT THE GAME
Kenzie’s declared there will be no guns and the most powerful weapon in the game will be a Rainbow Sword (imagine a blade similar to Damascus steel that changes color as it reflects light). You can see Kenzie’s drafts of weapons below. No spoiler alert needed, but Kenzie & Company (a.k.a. her brothers & Dad) are busy creating characters with personality, depth and just enough quirks to be both entertaining, intriguing and potentially annoying along with an engaging story line filled with challenging adventures and interesting experiences that allow you to explore the legends and mysteries of the Isle of Kent.
Truth & Trolls is a single player RPG where you play Alex and your team of NPCs includes a Warrior, a Mage, a Cleric and a Ranger (whose gender, race and age you’ll be able to dictate). Your team must defeat the trolls by turning them into stone as you work to free Alex’s family (as well as the others the trolls have turned to stone or made disappear).
The game is turn-based. When a battle is entered a cut scene will start and the character will enter into a battle screen where the character will fight the enemy that has engaged. Once the enemy is defeated, you’ll learn whether or not you reap any rewards from the win (e.g., currency, experience points, and/or items (magical or otherwise) which includes potions, elixirs, weapons, armor and information.
The trolls, having mysteriously and suddenly arrived on the Isle of Kent, are turning women to stone and making their families disappear. There are several troll clans including Forest Trolls, Swamp Trolls, Cave Trolls, Mountain Trolls, and Aqua Trolls.
Each has a Clan Leader who oversees an army of trolls. Clan Leaders report to the Royal Family which includes both a King and Queen. If you’re successful in defeating the Royal Family you’ll go on to face the Troll Deity. Note that the decisions and choices you make in the game will determine future scenarios including whether you fight the King or the Queen and whether the Deity is a God, Goddess or Unisex.
INDIE GAMING. FOR KIDS. BY KIDS.
Once we realized there was a need for a safe place for kids to learn, share, create, play and test one another’s games (with some help from experts willing to pay it back and/or pay it forward), we launched PinkieSquare.com. A work in process, we’re looking for experts to volunteer their time to host live Skype, Twitter and Facebook Q&A sessions with kids eager to learn from YOU! We’ll handle the technology and the details. You just sign on, and help the kids by answering their questions and sharing your personal experiences.
$50,000 STRETCH GOAL: Creative Commons Custom Asset Library Available for Free to the Indie Gaming Community
You asked about a stretch goal and so did we but there was only one logical choice that complied with Kickstarter and benefits as many in the indie gaming community as possible. Young game designers and indie game developers find it difficult to secure inexpensive, legal artwork, content, music and sounds for their games – especially when the goal is to sell the finished game. It turns out custom assets are typically the biggest expense and often limit the quality, success and profitability of the final product. So let’s push hard in these final days to raise as much money as possible to fund an extensive Creative Commons Custom Asset Library.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Promote the project and the link: http://kck.st/WF0Cua. Tell everyone you haven’t told AND tell everyone you have told! Like, share, post, pin, tumble, tweet, text, email and even CALL. Do whatever you can to spread the word.
In the interest of transparency, there are a few key supporters we’d like to acknowledge and thank:
·Dell has invited Mackenzie and me to be their guests at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, June 2-4th in Istanbul, Turkey. This year’s theme, Pay it Forward, reflects Dell & Intel’s commitment to support the next generation of women entrepreneurs and girls. Kenzie will join a group of Turkish girls in a conversation with Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence to the United Nations, and Rina Onur, co-founder of Peake Games, one of the Top 3 Social Gaming companies in the world.
·Philip Tan, Creative Director for the MIT Game Lab, is volunteering 1 week of his personal time in the Summer for in-person 1-on-1 mentorship sessions on game production and design with Mackenzie Wilson to help her produce her game. This volunteer time will be given whether or not the Kickstarter succeeds as it is in the spirit of replacing the RPG camp she can no longer attend.
·The MIT Game Lab frequently hosts game jams both online and on-site at MIT. We are in planning talks to host one for parents and kids, but the details have not yet been finalized. This is a regular occurrence at the Game Lab and is not tied to the success of this Kickstarter, but rather in the spirit of this and many other projects where kids make their own games.
·And we just learned Dell is seeding Kenzie’s project with a portable Alienware unit so she can take it with her to Istanbul, MIT, and anywhere else she’ll be working to make her dreams come true.
Visit PinkieSquare.com and click on Kickstart Kids to see other kids' Kickstarter projects that need support.
THE ORIGINAL KICKSTARTER PROJECT:
My name is Mackenzie Wilson and I'm 9 but because you have to be 18 to have a project on Kickstarter, I'm partnering with my mom, Susan Wilson who told me to say she's 29 but I made her a birthday cake last week so I know she's 43.
Most people call me Kenzie. I'm 9, in 3rd grade, and I'm getting straight A's. I've always been the tallest person in my class and this year I'm actually taller than my teacher. I love computers, video games, apps, and role playing games - especially Magic the Gathering and Borderlands 2 that I get to play with my Dad (because my 15 & 16 year old brothers are too mean to play with me). But we do have D&D tournaments on the weekends which is cool. My favorite PS3 game right now is Dragon Age II.
In case it's not already clear, I'm not a girlie girl. I have friends that are which is fine, but I hate wearing dresses (so I don't) and I do lots of stuff my brothers do. Maybe if I sisters it would be different, but I really love my family (even when my brothers are mean to me) so I guess this is the way my life is supposed to be.
Here are some pix of my MTG and D&D stuff along with my RPG diary (I colored the cover). My diary's usually hidden because my thoughts, ideas, and game notes are top secret (and my brothers are brats):
My Mom told me to be careful about what information to include because there are some weird people out there so I tried to create a video that was cool and showed a bit about me and the project but wasn't actually me on video.
I have a Mac desktop that used to be my Dad's. It works fine but I really want my very own laptop. I got a KindleHD for my birthday and I take it with me everywhere. I know I can read books on it and sometimes I do, but I mostly watch TV and play games on my Kindle.
At home, I like playing with Scratch (the programming game created at M.I.T.). My Mom explained to me that more and more games are going to be created because they're fun and people actually learn better when it feels like play. So instead of having to sit through boring classes, people are starting to play games to learn new stuff. The weekend codecademy launched, my Mom had my whole family competing with each other. She calls it "the gamification of education" (which I literally had to make her spell out for me because I honestly think she's making it up)!
I'm raising $829 to cover the cost of attending this RPG STEM Camp for kids 9-12 years old for a week (it'll be my first overnight camping trip by myself and I can't wait):
I play games on my computer, PS3 and KindleHD all the time and it's fun but I REALLY WANT to create my own games to play. Ultimately I want to learn to program really cool stuff, but since I'm 9 I'm starting with RPG Maker because it lets me create something awesome without having to know how to actually program everything. I'll learn to program more as I get older, but right now, RPG Maker's drag & drop functionality makes it pretty easy for me to create working RPG games quickly. And each time, my games get better & better. I'm having fun playing with the software now and learning how it works. It's given me lots more ideas about how to make the game I'm going to build at RPG Camp even AWESOMER!
Right now, I know for sure that my game will be more age appropriate than the games I'm stuck playing. Sadly there just aren't many cool RPGs out there for kids my age that aren't stupid or silly.
As I said in the video, I want to create an RPG that isn't too violent and isn't filled with bad words, still has a good story line & cool graphics, but has shorter cut scenes, less menus & fewer controls. And most importantly, I want a game that allows team members to face danger together and get hurt but doesn't kill team mates off & eliminate them from battle.
It's no secret there aren't enough females in STEM professions so part of my Kickstarter campaign is aimed at raising awareness and getting girls thinking about careers in technology at an early age. I want to be a role model for kids - but especially to girls so there are more girls in tech because I don't want to be the only girl in the room. My Mom and I created fun messaging about things girls can do followed by "KEEP UP!" which implies that the person who's supporting the campaign is ahead of others and a leader. Both of these items will be built in the game.
Here's the original concept/design that will appear in the game and is intended to get more girls in STEM (especially technology):
And to ensure both males and females support the concept of women in technology, we created this custom designed KEEP UP! logo that will appear in the game (notice all of the built-in arrows pointing up):
My parents are into technology as users but my Mom has to hire programmers and developers sometimes for her work. She's really glad I like computers and programming because she says as a business person she feels like she's held hostage by developers. She's the one that got me interested in creating my own stuff on my computer instead of just playing with stuff other people create. She tried with my brothers but they weren't interested. I think they're stupid when I get to be their age, I don't want to be stuck playing games smart people imagine and create. I want to be able to create whatever I can imagine.
Right now, I'm working with RPG Maker VXAce because my Mom and I looked around and it seemed to be the best option for a 9 year old. But if anyone reading this knows something better, please let me know.:
Where's the Money Going?
I really want a new laptop but my Mom said I should start small since I've never done a crowdfunding project before. So the $829 will be used to cover the basic cost of RPG Camp (not the overnight fees and extras). Here's a copy of my registration confirmation so you can see the details:
My goal is to raise $829 to cover the cost of RPG Camp. But my Mom just told me about the Veronica Mars campaign so now I'm secretly hoping to raise more. My Mom said I can put any extra toward a laptop. I asked her if I raised even more than that, would she let me spend another week away at RPG camp. She said if I raised the money, she'd send me to RPG Camp all summer (which would be amazing because my friends at home are great but they're not really gamers like me so it'll awesome to hang out with hardcore gamers like me that are my age).
Because part of this campaign is about getting more girls in tech, we have a few cool rewards. My favorite is the Hoodie with "Keep Up!" embroidered on the back because (by definition) if someone can read it, that means they're BEHIND you and need to catch up or keep up!
$5 gets your name listed in the SPECIAL THANKS credit section of the game.
$10 gets you THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013.
$15 gets you this Can Koozie + THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013:
$25 gets you this Deluxe Mousepad + THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013:
$30 gets you this white unisex t-shirt + THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013:
$40 gets you this fitted women's white t-shirt + THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013:
$50 gets you this awesome hat embroidered with KEEP UP! + THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013:
$75 gets you a Deluxe White Hoodie with KEEP UP! embroidered on the back in black stitching:
And for $100 you get to name a character AND a copy of THE GAME via digital distribution when it's completed in July 2013.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
There aren't really any risks involved in this project because the goal of RPG Camp is to spend the week creating my very own custom RPG game and to leave camp with a copy of the game I can take home and play with my friends.
I'll be attending the World's #1 Tech Camp (www.InternalDrive.com) with "ridiculously small ratios" which means personalized instructions with just 8 kids per adult instructor. I'll be using using RPG Maker®, a massively popular RPG (role-playing game) development tool–user-friendly for beginners, but powerful enough for advanced game developers. The camp says "an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, RPG Maker®’s extensive library of characters and tile-based environments will have you creating fantastic RPG worlds, maps and awesome heroes. Take home your custom role-playing game for you and your friends to put to the test! Students will be introduced to the concepts of tiling, pixel art and conditional statements in creating their own top-down 2D RPG. This unique tool allows beginners to create a polished game that includes story dialogue boxes, custom items, and weapons, as well as battles with enemies and bosses."
Independent news agencies, reporters, & bloggers cover questions regarding Susan Wilson (i.e., me) and the overall project:
1. CNET's coverage by Eric Mack: Most articles were in typical story format, but the CNET coverage did a great job breaking down each concern/allegation and addressing them one by one so I'm posting this first: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57576194-1/trolls-take-on-9-year-old-girls-kickstarter-project...and-lose/http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57576194-1/trolls-take-on-9-year-old-girls-kickstarter-project...and-lose/
2. Kotaku story by Mike Fahey: http://kotaku.com/internet-rallies-against-kickstarter-for-nine-year-old-459542190
3. BeefJack's coverage by Joe Donnelly: http://beefjack.com/features/the-best-and-worst-of-kickstarter-an-interview-with-susan-wilson/
4. The Huffington Post's coverage by Katie Bindley: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/26/9-year-old-kickstarter-campaign_n_2949294.html