10 Best Successful Houston Kickstarters

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For around two years now, I have been covering the best crowd-sourced projects by Houstonians, and this month, instead of the usual roundup, we're going to look back over some of those projects to see which were both awesome and successful. Stuff like...

Rotten Writer/director Dallas Box came highly recommended by local movie industry star Joe Grisaffi, and his upcoming short, Rotten looks amazing. It follows a couple who begin to serial murder in order to rekindle the sexual aspect of their relationship. Box says we can expect a very Lynchian approach, with dream worlds making up a big part of the short. The movie entered pre-production this month.

Steamcraft RPG Angela and James Hardy had a runaway hit with their steampunk tabletop RPG. Not only did they get the ball rolling on the franchise, but their subsequent expansion packs have also been successfully funded. Sadly, they've recently left the city to move their company, Perilous Journeys, to Oregon. Still, while they were here, they made something magical.

Postcards From the Trenches Dr. Irene Guenther of the University of Houston and Dr. Marion Deshmukh of George Mason University wanted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I with a one-of-a-kind exhibit. Soldiers often bought blank postcards to send back to their families, and many of those soldiers turned out to be fairly talented artists who would capture scenes of their lives in the conflict on the front to accompany their note on the back. Guenther and Deshmukh managed to raise more than $5,000 to exhibit these postcards at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery until September 27, and then reopen at the Printing Museum in October.

Equus I actually didn't cover this Kickstarter because I mistakenly thought it sounded a bit shady and unreliable, but by all accounts the version of the Peter Shaffer play Equus that Matthew C. Logan raised money for online and brought to the Frenetic Theater turned out pretty damned good. Our own Jim J. Tommaney raved about its keen direction and the brilliance of the lead, Kevin Daugherty. Just goes to show you you can cover a subject every month and still get it wrong.

Fluid Dynamics Probably the greatest bit of visual art ever produced by a Houstonian through Kickstarter was Lulu Lin's series of oil paintings mixing human subjects and the movements of liquids. It was as surreal as it was beautiful, and with such amazing images, it's no surprise she managed to pull it off.

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Virtuix Omni My personal favorite Kickstarter was this innovative video game accessory that combines with the Oculus Rift to create the most realistic virtual reality experience ever. The best part is that it works with any first-person video game already on the market. The walking pad takes some getting used to, and when I demoed it, there were still some bugs in getting the sensors in the Oculus and the Omni to sync up, but there's no doubt that this is the future. The first units are scheduled to be delivered in February of next year.

Cthulhu: A Puppet Play Who doesn't love puppets and the hidden madness beyond the stars that lies outside the human mind to adequately comprehend? No one I want to know, that's for sure, and Kelly Switzer made sure to combine those things thanks to a successful Kickstarter. It debuted at 14 Pews in 2013, and if you missed it, then the whole thing is available for free on YouTube!

Super 4 in 1 Multicart for the SNES One place that has benefited greatly from the crowdsource model is the realm of video games. Especially retro games. Houston's Eleazar Galindo Navarro was used to designing retro 16-bit titles, but then he got really ambitious and decided to release an actual SNES cartridge. Not only that, but he got three other designers, including the acclaimed creators of N-WARP Daisakusen, to go in with him. So if you've got a working SNES lying around, go pick up a copy on Amazon and feel like you're ten years old again.

Speaking of games...

Endica VII: the Dream King Coming soon this year from designer Nick Ridgway is another 16-bit undertaking that looks fun as hell. It's a Metroidvania sidescroller that is pretty ambitious in its scope. Ridgway took in $15,000 on it, promising 50 hours of play, more than 20 playable characters and multiplayer. That's a tall order, but all the reports so far show it coming along nicely.

Our Little Soldiers Authors and books almost never belong on Kickstarter. You don't need money to write a book, and if you think you're going to print a bunch of copies and Barnes & Noble is going to sell them, then you're living in the past.

However, Robert M. Ricketts, M.D. did need to print books, and he pulled it off thanks to Kickstarter. Our Little Soldiers is a children's book about the importance of medication compliance when fighting HIV/AIDS. Non-compliance is a major problem in African countries where the disease is rampant, and these people generally don't have eReaders. So Ricketts needs physical books to hand out. The story depicts the medicines as tiny soldiers within the patients' bodies fighting off the virus. The project pulled in over $30,000 in donations, more than three times the goal. Another success story in Houston crowdsourcing.

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