Input Video Games

The King’s Assembly mashes up keyboard, joystick, mouse, crushes enemies

The Premise. While any PC gamer worth their kill/death ratio will say that keyboard and mouse is the only way to play, many games have had to optimize their control scheme to operate with a hand on each. More complicated games or any game with text chat requires players to take a hand off the mouse and slow their game down to communicate.

The Product. The King’s Assembly from Solid Art Labs is an intimidating but smart solution to this problem that combines keyboard, mouse, and joystick into a one- or two-handed system that looks like the love child of a typewriter and an air hockey paddle. By using a rest for the palm and a downward sweeping curved keyboard, gamers have access to more keys than ever without having to move their hands around. And by using an optical laser on the bottom, the device can be moved around like a mouse without having to change hand position.

The Pitch. Engineer, gamer, and founder of Solid Art Labs Eric Charlton explains how he designed the King’s Assembly to satisfy his personal gaming needs and demos the product. Campaign graphics show off the console-inspired thumb joystick, ergonomic palm rest, and a look at the unique curved keyboard. The project is looking to raise $20,000 to create molds, develop packaging and complete testing. Multiple stretch goals are announced, starting with upgrading the parts and making the device work with as many hand shapes and sizes as possible at $50,000. $100,000 will have the King’s Assembly bundled with presets designed by pro gamers for specific games and onboard macros. At $150,000 the company will add more colors, programmable backlighting and other style options, and at $250,000 the device will become fully wireless, both in connection to the PC and to each hand of the device.

The Perks. To get one hand of choice of the King’s Assembly by September takes a $110 pledge. Both hands are available for $185. If that’s too long to wait, a $350 pledge is all it takes to get a signed pre-production set by July.

The Potential. The unique approach of the King’s Assembly means it will have a hard time competing with established or traditional gaming peripheral manufacturers like Razer and Roccat, but all it will really take is for one pro to adopt and endorse this device for it to catch on with curious gamers.

Video Games

Nano Vapor provides affordable Steam Box platform

The Premise. The Steam Box platform is gearing up to offer top-of-the-line PC gaming experiences in the living room with set up and convenience similar to that of your standard gaming console.  One of the apparent strengths of the Steam Box/Steam Machines platform is its flexibility – there are already at least a dozen proposed models, each offering different components, different designs, tailored to fit any budget, any gamer’s requirements, and any entertainment center.

The Product. The Nano Vapor looks to hit the low end of two of those. The Vapor is designed to be small and convenient, both to set up and to purchase. Though it looks small, it’s packing serious heat under the hood currently operating with a 3.8 GHz quad-core processor, a Radeon 7750 graphics card, and plenty of RAM and storage. Any USB controller is expected to be supported, whether it’s an Xbox 360, PS3, or Steam Controller, or a good old keyboard and mouse.

The Pitch. The campaign is asking for a mere $5,000  (The company needs only 10 system pre-orders to move forward with production?) The campaign is designed to help the company pay for the system’s cooling units and to 3D print the prototype cases, in addition to funding the designers’ hunger for pizza as well as innovation. The price point of the Nano Vapor is expected to go up as they the device moves closer to production, so early adopters are getting in on a discount. There are no marketing materials yet aside from an early render of what the system looks like – a router with lots of vents.

The Perks. The project creators are keeping it simple. The $499 tier is both the highest reward tier and the lowest tier that offers a Nano Vapor at this time. Included in the cost is an HDMI cable to connect it to a TV, but no controller for the system.

The Potential. For the price, this is a solid, competitively priced performance option for gamers looking to get a Steam Box without paying full gaming PC prices. While it seems pretty commonplace to imagine seeing it on shelves of electronic, gaming, and department stores, it’s not without competition. Not only are there going to be scores of SteamBox models, but companies like CyberpowerPC and iBuyPower have announced models with similar power, and size at identical price point. The Nano Vapor could take off, but the company will have to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd, and really ought to try and bundle some kind of controller to compete.