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Character Work + Network Code + Amping up for Kickstarter

Posted by riuthamus, 14 January 2013 · 697 views

RuinValor
We have been working hard to resolve several issues that have plagued us over the past couple months. One of these being the network code. With the help of many of this communities members, and the grace of god at some points, it would seem we have resolved most of the network based issues. We still have much to be tested in that field and will continue to do as we progress further. For now, the server is stable and healthy and players can join and leave without any real issue other than a few camera glitches here and there. Telanor has been working to resolve those and has resumed work on block destruction and placement being managed on the network side of things.

On the art side of the house work has resumed on the detailing of the gorgane model. I hope to have some screenshots by the weeks end. We have been working very hard on getting a constant theme within the art. This is one of the most annoying processes as we see something everyday that might change our minds as to the direction we should go. The key is to pick something and stay focused with that technique or design. This can be very hard to do but I think it is ideal for a team if they want to ever finish the game! After the work on the gorgane we have started to do work on environment details as well as objects that you will find throughout the realm. Art is going to be a big factor in what makes our game look and feel different than other voxel based block games. We dont just want to make it feel blocky but rather we want to create a harmony between models and blocks. This is tricky but if we are able to pull it off I think it will be unique enough to be eye catching.

Lastly, we are amping up our development phase for our kickstarter launch. What does that mean? This means that we are going to be turning out more images and developmental stages so that we can get something worth showing off. Our goals are very modest ( we would like to see 100,000 or so to keep up production ) but I think we have more than enough to catch the people to get that. I have been studying the medium for some time now and think I have plenty of data to assist in making a quality kickstarter campaign. The key seems to be in the following areas:

Art:
While the least of the three parts ( since some games with horrid art are still making 100,000 ) it is key to understand that art does have to be in the game for the kickstarter to work. People have thrown up just concepts and they have failed horribly because of their inability to portray the picture for the playerbase. You must paint a picture of what your game would be like and to aid in that process real art helps! The more game assets you show off the better and youtube videos of in game videos is a major plus.

Bottom line? Unless you have made a game previously you will not make money based only on concept!

Concept:
The members of kickstarter need to understand what it is you are doing. They do not need 5000 pie charts with a full diagram, they need a cookie sized serving of what your game will be and how they will enjoy it. The campaigns that have had the most success are the ones that got right to what the best part of their game was and focused on that. Be it from bear punching to pigs who upgrade themselves by fighting, the goal is very clear you must express the concept of your game in a very clear and concise manor. The simpler and easier it is to understand the more receptive people are. My favorite one so far is Planetary Annihilation. In the first few moments they show you blowing up a planet with an asteroid and at that point you are very clear on what your purpose is.

Tech Demo:
Tech demos are not needed but they help to show how far along your game is. The more polished a demo the more receptive people have been. That said, I have seen games like Forge that were highly polished that did horrible. ( keep in mind they actually made some good money from their greenlight version of the game ) Kickstarter is a fickle mistress and you really have to know the audience you are going for in order to gain the most support. The key to the tech demo is showing off the features and the features only. People do not want to see 5 hours of gameplay footage of you running around. While this is interesting to you ( you made the game of course it is ) it is not interesting to the player. Highlight the key points and do so in a very short period of time.

Again, this is just data I have noticed from the most successful projects. ( I think anything that is 75,000 and up to be a real success ) There are many other methods you could use and some of them are worth investing if you have the right people. I remember one of the projects used humor and I would have never backed the project otherwise... but the guy was just that damn funny. I thought maybe if just some of his humor was to translate into the game it would be worth the 5 bucks. Sometimes, that is all it really takes...

Anyway, thats all for now. I dont normally like to post things without some form of screenshot or visual to show progress but at this point there is not much to show off. I am working on getting our logo and website done so in the future that might be something I can show off.




Our goals are very modest ( we would like to see 100,000 or so to keep up production )

Kickstarter is a beast very hard to tame. Here are some thoughts which might be inspiring, as it seems, that you already have done a lot of research in this area, though these are just my observations and two cents, so feel free to ignore them.

 

First off, I think that 2012 shows, that two kind of projects are very successful, either projects of old (80s/90s) veterans and projects with some cool, fresh ideas (often hardware). Both have the benefit, that the result in an immediate interest in the media ('hey, old Freddy starts a kickstart in spirit of his old, but very succesful, game hit XYZ' and 'wow, have you seen this gadget, this will never work/be a hit'), producing free advertisement. Therefore media awareness is a (the) key factor.

 

Do some math before. I've seen a lot of projects which have limited pledges and low entry level pledges that it needed just too many people to gain some momentum. If you plan to reach an average pledge of 10, you already need 10000 backers, consider this when you plan your pledges. Although consider, that there are whale, people who are willing to bake a lot of money. Keep some slots for them to sink in some money if they find your project interesting.

 

Think about what you really need to start your project. What happens if your kickstarter failed, will you abort your project ? If not, think twice about  your goal. There are examples where projects wanted 100k in the first try, but gained only around 60k and failed the second attempt by only $20, although they only wanted 50k this time. On the other hand there're enough example of projects which have a lower threshold (let's say 50K) and add addtional features for each 5k above this goal. Recent example is the indiegogo project of ADOM.

 

Some people rate the project by the goal, not the individual pledge, it is like a price tag and if they don't think that it is worth, they will not bake. Many people don't work in the industry, they don't know how much it costs to create a game or software (general issue of many people who can't value something which they cannot put on a scale, the reason that many who pirate software would never go into a supermarket and steal some bananas). Realistic numbers might be daunting to these people.

 

Be sure about your final price tag for your game, compare it to other games, similar games. Then you can have a pre-order of your game as a pledge for e.g. half the price + beta access. This way bakers can pre-order a game they would most likely buy later and where you don't have any up-front investments like printing some t-shirts.

 

I wish you good luck :)

Your views are good to hear, as some of the points are areas that I had not thought of. Always good to get a new perspective and especially one from somebody I value!

 

1) I agree that throwbacks or innovation are the two most successful. That said, some of the same old same old has done well in other markets but flopped on kickstarter. Something to think of obviously but very key to note.

 

2) I agree fully that getting your name out is the key. The more people know of you the more kickstart can help you. Word of mouth is the single most important thing a person can do to promote their game. The good thing behind the numbers is I have a gaming community which is well established of about 2,500 people. This alone means I can reach close to 1/4 of the overall sales if all of them do the basic backer program. Some of them are big donators and would be willing to contribute more, others are capable of spreading the word at the very least.

 

I have been debating on putting the project up on greenlight but before I do that I want to ensure the art style is in place and solid. I dont want to get branded as a clone and if I simply show up with some blocks and some tech I will be like every other pre-branded minecraft clone. They need to see how we are different and to show them that I need a bit more art ( which is why our kickstarter is being delayed for 3 months )

 

3) You make a very valid point. We shouldnt be asking for more than what we need to get the game up and running. To do that, we will most certainly need close to 50,000. I have debated on setting this as the kickstarter goal and seeing how we progress from there. Castle Story did a very similar process where they asked for 80,000 and when they gained enough interest ( people sharing and such ) they skyrocketed. I think they could have made crazy more money than they did if they would have road the hype wave, but they are probably new to the market and did not understand how important that really is. All in all they did very well for themselves making a total of 700,000+. So in short, I agree keeping it to the exact bare min is ideal as it will ensure you get what you need rather than missing it by just a few short points.

 

4) I have not thought of it as a goal, so this is something to look into. I have some done testing within my own community to see what people would be willing to pay for different tier groups. Something I find annoying about the process is that nobody makes an easy to understand tier setup. It is my goal to make a website that fully describes and details how each tier will work rather than a shotty image with 50000 sub images on it saying "ULTRA EPIC BACKER PACK".

 

5) Something I want to correct with the kickstarter process is to fully detail how much the game will cost. I want to break it down into basic formulas that even a 5th grader could understand. This would be extra information that is available on the supporting website ( which I am making now ) so that anybody who is interested in how things will be funded will fully understand where and what their money is going to. I also want to be sure to have weekly interaction with the people and ensure I am keeping them in touch even after the kickstarter poofs. I think many people dont put into a project because they feel that their is no dependability. To keep that thought out of their minds I plan to start the weekly development posts/livestreams far before the Kickstarter is created. That way they can see that we have already invested a lot of time into this project and it wont be going "poof" anytime soon.

 

6) Lastly, the game price is 10$ and we plan to keep it that way. We have some special deals that we will be aiming for as well giving them alpha access and other such things. The main key for us will be to properly advertise the tiers and ensure the possible playerbase is aware of what our plans are. I very much enjoy your post and thank you for your suggestions. They have helped me to view the process in a new light which will ultimately improve our overall chance for success.

The good thing behind the numbers is I have a gaming community which is well established of about 2,500 people

Wow, this is at least a very good start :)

 

 

Castle Story did a very similar process where they asked for 80,000

The gained 80k in the first 5 hours. Therefore they were already famous before they even started the kickstarter project. One reason was for sure the presentation of a demo at the IGDA. Beside media awareness, it shows, that a project will skyrock beyond the goal when people have faith in it.

 

 

I want to break it down into basic formulas that even a 5th grader could understand. This would be extra information that is available on the supporting website ( which I am making now ) so that anybody who is interested in how things will be funded will fully understand where and what their money is going to.

I believe, that the majority of people will make the decision to support a project in just a few seconds, even before ever seeing the kickstarter project page (->media coverage, community support). Even the best justification has the disadvantage, that it is a justification.

 

Eventually I think that you are approaching this topic in a very mature way. Again, good luck :)

Did some research into more of the kickstarter process after I started to crunch some numbers... will be making a post about it shortly as the findings were rather interesting.

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