Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kickstarter Requested Inquiry - Looking at the Metamorphosis Alpha Roleplaying Game

Yep, we've got a new feature when it comes to the RPG Kickstarters, the Kickstarter Requested Inquiry. Basically, what this is is my taking a peek at an overdue Kickstarter that I didn't support for one reason or another, but one (or more) of this blog's readers did. It's overdue, and it needs some light put on it.

In this case, we are talking about the Metamorphosis Alpha Roleplaying Game Kickstarter. Damn, Metamorphosis Alpha is an RPG classic. WTF didn't I support this one?

The reasons are simple:

1 - It's James Ward. I'm not going to take anything away from what the man did in the past, but once he started working for Trolls he seemed to have set his target at 12 year olds (I seem to recall he actually said something to that effect, but damned if I can find the quote). He single handedly killed the Crusader Magazine. His Towers of Adventure for C&C pissed me off to no end - an expensive piece of shitty filler.

2 - It's NOT James Ward. Best I can tell from reading the public updates and comments, it James' IP, but it's Jamie Chambers' project. I'm not even sure if James is involved beyond licensing the IP. (edit - apparently his is writing something for ut)

3 - It's an entirely new system using d6s (System 26), which is about as far as you can get from any of the previous incarnations of MA. Not my bag, man.

So, what are the issues?

Launched: Apr 6, 2012
Funding ended: Apr 29, 2012
Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Todays Date: Nov 28, 2012

It's only two months late, no biggie, right? Wrong! Two month's late with no new estimate in sight. Depending on where the book is being printed, lead time from finished product in electronic format to print is one to three months. I'll assume they are going print on demand, so closer to a month with proofs and corrections. The thing is, the rules dont seem to be nearly done yet.

Here's the latest public update:

Exploration, Action, Adventure!

Update #20 · Oct. 31, 2012 · 7 comments   

G'morning folks! Having been both shot with X-Rays and surrounded by powerful electromagnets in the last few days, I'm waiting to find out if I get a mutation of my very own. (After injuring my back earlier this year I've been dealing with recurring problems and pain. Hopefully I'll know exactly what's going on soon.) I just returned from the Geek Media Expo in Nashville, where among other things I ran "The Petting Zoo of Death" adventure for a group of five vic—er, lucky players. I confess I was actually a bit disappointed that the group wholly survived the adventure, through a combination of successfully negotiating out of what would have been a tough fight, smart tactics when they could have been swarmed, and us running out of time before the nasty final encounter. It was a good time, though, and the players enjoyed both the setting and the game system!

One player remarked how he enjoyed the multi-genre elements of Metamorphosis Alpha, which is my favorite thing too. The adventure was like a short dungeon crawl, yet clearly in a sci-fi setting, but the characters had weird powers. In a nutshell, she summed up my favorite elements of MA as well.

Just as I feel like a good RPG adventure combines combat, problem-solving, and roleplaying, a good Metamorphosis Alpha adventure combines the exploration of the unknown, the trappings of the future, and the craziness of strange mutant powers. I think it's one of the things that makes MA unique and special in the world of RPGs, separating it from post-apocalyptic settings.

Progress Report

Convention season is officially over, and I'm going to be taking a last look at where we at and what we need to do to get this book done and out the door to our (very patient!) (not all are so patient, as it wouldn't have been pointed out to me if they were) backers. I met with Lizard (contributing writer) in Ohio two weeks ago. You can see another piece of chapter art above from the amazing Lindsay Archer! I'll try to give you guys some more concrete scheduling information next week. (Note - this update was 4 weeks ago - I'm guessing none of it has gotten any closer to being "concrete")

And there is one more potential piece of news ...


I can't say too much about this yet, as this would be an independent licensing deal with James M. Ward for the MA property but I can report the following: I've had an informal conversation with someone who may be bringing out a line of miniatures for Metamorphosis Alpha! This is exciting news for everyone involved, and though it would be a separate deal we've already established that if it goes through we will share resources and information to make sure we bring the fans material that will work well together! I'll repeat that this is NOT OFFICIAL at this time, but I'm excited about the possibilities. When there is something to announce, I'll let everyone know immediately! (nice, but where the game?)

Comments, anyone?

As a followup to Mike, is there any projected date on the release? Maybe even a PDF beta copy? I want to consider running MA at GenCon next year (at least for the KFG Wed Gaming), but need to start working on it now since I'm not an overly experienced GM and have critically limited (and erratic) time to work on scenarios. With luck, I can get a playtest of it in at WYC in March. Are these time frames expected to be doable? (this guy is hoping it will only be 6 months late)

Any word on a concrete release date?

Anything yet in the way of an update? Is there a website yet?
Asking courteously, of course -- just like the delegate from New York. (from the October update)

Not comfortable even answering that with a non-answer it seems...

Apparently, since the summer, public updates have been coming along at one every 5 to 6 weeks. I am a HUGE proponent of frequent updates on funded but not completed Kickstarter projects. The creator might think that the 30 minutes he spends typing a weekly update might be spent in more productive ways, but without updates, your supporters are going to assume you are NOT being productive.

Unhappy supporters means less repeat customers. The concept is simple. Keep folks happy (even if it means you are stringing them along) and you'll do better business in the long run.

Have a project you want me to take a peek at that is dragging it's feet? You can send me a message via G+ or my Google Profile.


  1. Thank you for these. You're doing god's work, son.

  2. I'm sure I'm burning bridges in the niche, but as I have a few built on friendships (and none have them have down crowdfunding) I'm going to assume they're okay ;)

    I do enjoy the comments from rabid fans that feel like I'm unduly picking on their favorite project - the truth is, I pick on all projects that deserve the attention :)

  3. I'm curious what you think about FASA's 1879 KS project, basically wanting $325,000 to fund an whole new product line (basically a Victorian Stargate)

  4. @Jeremy - I took a peek, then carefully stepped away from the steaming pile of poo

  5. Asking courteously, of course -- just like the delegate from New York.


  6. Replies
    1. I did. In the beginning, the delays were understandable (fire at creator's home, health problems). Then there were more excuses (traveling the con circuit, caught con crud, everyone at the office was ill as well). He's apologized more than once for lack of updates and promised he'd update more often. But each promise he's made, he's broken. Final straw is finding out the project's been "officially" pushed back to Q1 2013, but this info was released on his personal blog and on a video he filmed at a convention. This info has NOT been posted to the official KS page and the 400+ backers remain in the dark unless they go looking for info elsewhere. Way to piss off folks who supported the company, the creator, and the project. I daresay goodwill toward future Signalfire projects will be in short supply.

  7. Good lord, how many times are they going to re-release Metamorphosis Alpha? They did a big hardcover book last decade, and before that they did a crappy little pamphlet version under the Fast Forward Entertainment label, and before that wasn't it an Amazing Engine setting for a bit, and...

    The real kicker is that all you need to play Metamorphosis Alpha, really, is a copy of Gamma World or Mutant Future.

  8. Funny story about this one: Signal Fire Studios actually announced the game back in 2011 as a D&D 4e supplement. This intrigued me, so when pre-orders happened, I pre-ordered it. In August 2011. It was due out in November at the time.

    They scrapped the 4e idea when Wizards announced D&DNext and just decided to do the whole project over again.

    So there's that.

  9. Just thought I'd revisit this entry a year later. Still nothing in sight. And the book's still being written apparently...

  10. So here we are, a year later. So far, the backers have only seen half of the finished chapters, as it's STILL being written apparently. We get updates only when we badger Jaime for them. Two "final release dates" have been blown. And no end is in sight yet...

    1. Timely! I was just talking about this today...

  11. Hi Kids! Another year flies by with nothing in sight! Oh, the creator popped up (after 6 months) to apologize (again) and claiming he'll makes things right (again).

    What a trainwreck.


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