My thoughts on Kickstarter:
Many people with zero knowledge of programming and game development who want to create games will ask for money and not be able to deliver. I'm not going to risk giving money to people who have no clue what they are doing.
Thus, for me to donate, I require the following things:
- A game I'm interested in, or want to support.
A) People who have a track of development.
B) Are already 90% finished with the game before asking for funds.
Keeping in mind what I require as a mature and intelligent consumer* directs my choices in how I'll approach Kickstarter as a developer seeking funds.
When I post my game, it'll be almost entirely finished, so I'll mostly use Kickstarter as a launching/preorderer site, and to explicitely fund the production of the boxed versions of my game.
*Or you could just slap cat pictures over everything and I'll buy it. j/k
Sure, this means I have to somehow find a way to live while working on my game, and yes that's hard and difficult. I'm just simply not going to fund anyone who doesn't have proof of their skill (and no, shiny videos and nice graphics only show good artwork not good programming or good work ethics), and I'm not going to pay them to experiment making games at my expense. Further, I'd feel manipulative and exploitative to ask others to support me while I make a game for myself to profit on at their expense.
So that's how I approach Kickstarter. If you're asking, "How little can I do before I can convince the average (ignorant) joe to give me money to make a game I might fail to produce", that's the wrong question. If you're asking, "How far into development should I be before I can prove to myself beyond reasonable doubt that what I'm selling will actually be finished and not rip off consumers", then you're approaching it at the right angle. This is other people's money, that you'll benefit from. Minimizing their risk, not maximize your own convenience.
If they are "funding" you, they are investing in you completing the project. Minimize their risk, and don't deceive them (or yourself).
If they are "pre-ordering" from you, they are expecting a completed project. Don't manipulate them (or yourself), and ensure they get what they paid for.
If you fail, you still had work for 1-2 years that other people paid for. You still benefited immensely.
If you fail, they get nothing. Zero. After already paying. So you cost them money. They lost money, that you got (and spent). Money changed hands, you benefited, they did not.
Therefore, your focus needs to be on doing everything possible to ensure you won't fail, for the backer's benefit (not yours), before you ask for a single cent.
Having other people pay your living wages to make a game for them is a business - is the business a scam, exploitation, or actually beneficial to the people giving the money? What is the honest way to portray your game? If the honest portrayal isn't something you yourself would invest in or pre-order, then that means you aren't far enough along. If you hide the honest portrayal of the risks involved (or 'dress it up a little') to get more backers, then you are intentionally and willfully deceiving them for your own benefit.
That's how I view Kickstarter, and that's how I view business.