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Kickstarter Faith

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Mak

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To drag my previous journal entry on a bit - I have to say I'm really and pleasantly taken aback by the belief/faith shown by the backers. I've even had feedback from potential backers who have provided helpful suggestions which might persuade them to back in the future, which we've taken on board - the feedback has generally been great, so I'm still confident the pitch works - it's hopefully just a matter of getting people who like this kind of game to actually see the pitch.

I've now publically cited that I expect this pitch to fail (duh!) given the fund target, time left etc. and even so, the backers have still expressed their belief that the game looks good, and welcome a re-pitch.


I've thanked them gratefully, but it's worth noting here for others to see (such as Silvanis). Just because one pitch fails, it's not the end of the road. If people seem keen on the idea, then keep at it. The trick is to make a re-pitch better or more realistic so as not to bore or disuade the backers and lose them.

More to come...

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Sorry to hear that your attempt will most likely fail, but on the other, to be honest, I think that it is the right decision. For all the words, experiences (industry vets on board) and quite high demand, you just don't show much of the product. Comparing this to other successful kickstarter projects, you often see mind blowing concept art, first models and/or a working prototypes.

With your current team, 5000-10000 $ and two month of work you should be able to pull off some amazing trailer or rapid prototype. People want to see, that you have a passion and the will to invest time and money to complete your dream game. On the other hand people don't like the feeling of investing in a 'give-me-enough-money-then-I-will-start-to-make-this-game' projects.

I wish you good luck for the next attempt :)
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Cheers Ashaman73 ;) Yes, that's the problem - chicken and egg... we want to make the chicken, but can't afford the egg... I've spent 4 months of every spare second of my life making the prototype (coding on the train to work) with no funds available to pay the guys (who all have day jobs, so they can't leave them until we get funded) - there's no way to compete with CryEngine3 and an existing dedicated studio full of artists and coders.

I understood Kickstarter to be exactly the 'give-me-enough-money-then-I-will-start-to-make-this-game' medium - based on it's original ethos, and the slew of other successful game pitches that have been funded. But, it seems that's no longer the case. As you say - you have to compete on a higher level. I've already mentioned to Kickstarter - it's almost like you need a Kickstarter pitch to get the funds to make a Kickstarter pitch...

So - with that lesson learned, and armed with great feedback and a better looking approach - we will return when we've drummed up enough interest ;)

Thanks for the good wishes!
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[quote]I understood Kickstarter to be exactly the 'give-me-enough-money-then-I-will-start-to-make-this-game' medium -[/quote]
I think this is just wrong. Your demand must be on level of your presentation and progress. With almost nothing at hands, you could try to get $5000, but if you like to pitch $500k, you need to show off more.

The situation is comparable to traditional publishers. With kickstarter you have 1000th of mini-publishers/investors who need to be convinced that you are able to pull it off. Each mini-investor is willing to risk an investment, but if you try to pitch such a sum, you need to convince lot of people. When checking a kickstarter project, I first check the title and theme, then the sum. If the sum seems to be too high, I check who is trying to do the pitch (some famous indie studio or game designer, appealing trailer, demo ?). If this is not the case, the sum alone is the reason to not pledge, because I see no chance that this project will ever start.

[quote]
I've spent 4 months of every spare second of my life making the prototype (coding on the train to work) with no funds available to pay the guys
[/quote]
This is not much, believe me. Here are two journals of two community members who successfully pitched/finished their games:
[url="http://www.gamedev.net/blog/644-journal-of-dbaumgart/"]Dungeons of Dredmore (dbaumgart)[/url]
[url="http://www.gamedev.net/blog/289-radioactive-software/"]Gettysburg: Armored Warfare (dgreen02)[/url]

Here's a postmortom
[url="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134840/postmortem_arrowhead_game_.php"]Magicka[/url]

You will see, that you need really high degree of investment to pitch your game, kickstart will not change this. All the high profile kickstarter game successes of 2012 are from [i]famous [/i]game designers or studios.
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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1355472251']
I think this is just wrong. Your demand must be on level of your presentation and progress.
[/quote]

I think it was right - back when Kickstarter began. Yes, presentation and "having something" is great - but being told by Kickstarter they'd only consider a "staff pick" if we had a gameplay video really is asking for the Chicken before the Egg.

But as we've found already - it's clear you are right. It's no longer the place to try and launch an ambitious title unless you are known. It's suffered "App Store Syndrome". Small scale and very good or unique indie projects [i]can[/i] flourish on Kickstarter with little more than a fag-packet design if it speaks volumes. But for larger projects, the "faith" issue is apparent. That said our backers have shown immense faith, for which I am truly thankful.

IMHO our issue is still throughput. Here are some interesting figures for everyone...

Our average pledge is £64 across 34 backers - I may be wrong here, but that's high surely?

Kickstarters Dashboard (which does not show page hits for some bizarre reason) shows 1126 plays of the video. That gives a view to pledge conversion rate of 3.0% (roughly). If my math isn't failing me, that means we'd need roughly 166,000 video plays to hit our target fund - presuming the same average pledge (which of course would drop over time). Out of [i]all[/i] the Kickstarters out there, that's achievable surely? If we could get them to see it...

Of the £2000 odd we've had so far, 63% has come from Kickstarter itself, 37% via external referrers. We're running a Facebook campaign, with an ad - so far it's ok (500 likes) but none seem to go onto the Kickstarter link - which I think is quite prominent on the page, but must be we're getting "false" Likes... FB is a foreign territory to me whose language I fail to comprehend being honest.

I still feel (strongly) it's a question of exposure, rather than ambition vs fund target. But I agree, the fund target was giving me concerns before I launched. I should have listened to the "inner voice".

But - I fully appreciate what you are saying, it makes perfect sense. We're doing exactly what you suggest for the repitch - descope to produce an even tighter core feature set yet still retain interest, reduce the fund target (dramatically), produce stretch goals, try and increase pre-launch exposure and interest...

And as for the "I've spent..." - I wasn't plugging for how great we are ;) I get your point. Though I did fail to point out I've been working on this game design for 26 years, and the engine for 12... all in spare time ;) whilst doing a full-time job to pay the mortgage/bills/etc. That's not a sympathy plea either, I've been in the industry long enough to know there are tens of thousands of people doing exactly that. I ain't special ;)

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1355472251']
All the high profile kickstarter game successes of 2012 are from [i]famous [/i]game designers or studios.
[/quote]

Ah, now - this [i]is[/i] the blue-touch paper for me... [i]that[/i] is my point about Kickstarter... the ethos [i]was[/i] for Kickstarting something exciting or new... typically by wannabe's - but not exclusively. What we're seeing of late are big name, high profile, existing, backed studios pumping out rehashes of old (very old) products as their "Kickstarter"... now don't get me wrong[i]. I love these products![/i] I cut my teeth on them, I'd love to see up to date (but better) versions! But really they should stick to their own funding attempts - Kickstarter should not have allowed them in the same way it rejected big name publishers.

If Kickstarter funding now means being a big name, or having a partially complete product already... then it's no different to the traditional Publisher model - which requires a playable level to pitch to Publishers before they'll even look at it. This is what's destroyed the UK studio's... investing £100,000's in pitchs and getting no interest - and I've seen some truly killer pitches... 2 or 3 of these failing to get traction, and that studio is dust.

In it's defence against my own comments there - Star Citizen (one I backed because it's doing something [i]new[/i]) had it's own separate funding campaign alongside - it's Kickstarter target was (IMHO) modest for a game with it's AAA ambition, and the size of the studio involved, But the others are, frankly - taking the p*ss in my opinion. Established studio's with big names that can easily draw publisher backing and funding from VC's and traditional sources (or at least, far more easily than Indies can!). These guys aren't "Kickstarting" anything... they're rehashing. Do something new and maybe I'd back them!

But, regardless of that lack of ethos - they're proving popular on Kickstarter - and getting backing because of just that. I would love to buy one product in particular on there, but I won't back it on principal because it just shouldn't be there (and yes, that may seem quite selfish, and arrogant, but I believe in Kickstarter more than I believe in that product).

If Richard Branson (I know, but work with me here...) announced a Kickstarter project to build a new type of space-plane for Virgin Galactic - he'd probably get the money even though he's minted already. But he [i]shouldn't[/i] be allowed to pitch such a project on Kickstarter - VG is a going concern and all it would be doing is rehashing something they are already working on.

But, if Mr. Branson announced a Kickstarter project to develop a [i]teleporter[/i]... now, that's something entirely different. I'd back it in a flash!

So yes, you are right - [i]now[/i].

I'm curious to see what happens with Kickstarter over time... I think it's losing it's way a little, but of course - all you can do is follow the direction the market takes you...
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Hmm... you are blaming the tool for the failure of the artist.

Kickstarter is just a tool, a plattform and banning high-profile projects is not the solution for your failed campaign. When you announced your campaign in your journal I went over (interest+awareness) and my first thought was: 'epic fail' (presentation+demand)
There was never the thought of 'oh, I spend my money elsewhere'.

Kickstarter is not a money printing machine, it is a plattform where you need to invest lot of efforts to convince a lot of people.
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No, I'm not blaming anyone, or anything. Kickstarter has "evolved" - I just got caught in the evolution whereas I was hoping to get in [i]before[/i] the change which I could clearly see coming.

So now we have to evolve to stand a chance in the re-pitch. I always love a challenge ;)

It's great to hear the Journal entry piqued your interest - so it was worth trying. My issue with the exposure campaign is that due to the competition it's impossible to gain any - but that's life, and that's how it works [i]anywhere[/i]. It just would have been more straightforward a few months ago is all.

When I repitch I'd appreciate this kind of feedback on it - if you've a mind to of course.
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I forgot to ask Ashaman73! (presentation+demand) - I get the demand bit, but the presentation - was that on the original day of the journal post I made, or do you think the presentation is still lacking as it stands today?

I've reworked it a fair bit based on feedback - but more is always welcome. It's important for me to reflect improvements in the repitch...

Cheers!
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[quote]was that on the original day of the journal post I made, or do you think the presentation is still lacking as it stands today?[/quote]
Ok, currently visiting your kickstarter presentation, here are my impressions coming to mind:
1. Clicked on the video, can't play it because https is disabled here.
2. Seeing big link to homepage: no interest to navigate there
3. Skipping the text, lot of text, too lazy to read it yet, still on search for some eye catcher.
4. Your second video appears where you(?) are talking about the game, skipped through the video: too much talking, I want to see something of the game !
5. Skipping further through the text, too much text for my personal impression. 666 catched my eye, my thought: calling an engine 666 is somewhat unprofessional
6. I'm aware now, that there're are image labels, but I don't see any images. Https problem ?
7. Counted the words, there're 5000 words, but I read just 10 ! I want images, lot of images.
8. Take a look at the highest pledges which are 1000, limited to 20, you will get 20k from this , but need 325k. Doing some math, you need around 20000 when hitting an average sum of 15, still 10000 when targeting 30 on average.
9. My personal conclusion: I don't know you, I have just saw you in a video, but nothing of the game at all, I have the impression, that you have never done a project this size before, I doubt, that 10000-20000 people will pledge for this project.
10. Move on...
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And an additional note about needing 10k-20k people to pledge. My game has been (accidentally) covered by rock-paper-shotgun which pushed the visits of my websits up to 15k in just three days and around 3k downloads of the pre-alpha in the next 2 month. But the interest vanished quite fast (from 5k hits down to 100 in two days), but every, really every single visiter would need to spend ~20 to reach such a demand. With a conversion rate of 5% I would have needed 300.000 visiters....
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Ok, that's great - I'm just going to comment on the feedback - but not in a "pick it to pieces" way, just observational...

1) odd - that's quite an issue. This actually shows the game as it stands (being largely prototype clips)...
2) ancilliary info... I had feedback no-one knew it was there, so I had to emphasise it.
3) I've reduced this as well :) Hmm... images are key for sure - but it comes back to the old "need something nearly finished before you begin" problem.
4) Yeh, tis I. I hated doing that video... but see 1) that's where the gravy is.
5) 666 probably does need explaining... it's based on Heinlein's "Number of the Beast" book - where it actually represents 6 to the power 6 to the power 6 possible universes.
6) seems like it's some oddball https issue - the page is peppered with images.
7) are you seeing any images at all? there are 17, a number of which are quite large screenshots
8) the rewards were painful, really painful... I'm going to have to redress this in the re-pitch
9 & 10) Fair enough... I'll see what I can do to change that :)

I thank you for your time Ashaman - time is precious to everyone, and you've helped a lot! It's taken on board...
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After opening it in IE it works for me, including the video, it does seem to have issues with firefox, because I can't see the first video or any image besides the second youtube video.

Now to the images. Much better with images [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
Here are some thoughts:
1. You are starting with the weakest concept art, adding better art later on.
2. The images as separators are often very dark and hard to read.
3. The game engine quality is somewhat low, it does not help to envision the final product.
4. The art and presentation of the art is really inconsistent. I.e. the first conecpt seems to be drawn on checker-paper, others are painted, then there are several pieces cluttered on really small images, the model rendering is somewhat out of place.

Building a feature complete engine and game in just 14 month is.. ehmm.. ambitious.

I know, you need money to make it look good, but people won't invest money as long as it looks ugly. Therefore instead of hoping and praying I would really create a consistent and polished presentation. I would start with
1. One hi-quality concept.
2. One hi-quality render of the according model.
3. One hi-quality ingame screenshot.
4. Add some eye-catcher visuals to your engine (particles ! explosions !).
5. Consider to switch the engine (unity,udk ?)

Use commercial art to pimp it, nobody want to see programmer art as placeholder. You don't need to spend a lot of money, you already feature a 3drt.com model, buy more art and work on a proper presentaiton, polish it like hell, like trying to pitch to a publisher.

Add:
The inconsistency, the low render quality, the missing quality in the game engine are all sign of an over-ambitious project lead by people with not enough experience for a hi-profile kickstarter project. If you have industry experience you should know what quality is expected to pitch a project. I know that this seems unfair and hard, being myself a hobby game developer I in a similar situation, but most potential backers will look for just a few seconds on your project until they decide to invest or move on.

If you write "space game for 325k", people expect to see EVE online, if you write "rogue like space game for 50k", people expect to see FTL. Try to trim your project and art to make it look feasable for the amount of money you demand. Sometimes less is more :)
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That's where we're headed - trimming down the initial expectation vs fund requested.

Cheers again Ashaman, I can't thank you enough for the constructive feedback - it's appreciated ;) Now to do something with it! :)
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One tip, I bumped into this post browsing the journals and I couldn't see a link to your kickstarter page. I wanted to look, but without a link and no idea what your project is actually called, I'm immediately walking past. You should link your project on every entry.
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Good point evolutional! I'm using the Journal as a brain-dump, and it should be a marketing tool! I thought most GameDev's would be mightily sick of people doing that, but if so - apologies in advance...

[url="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maksw/dominion-episode-1"]http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maksw/dominion-episode-1[/url]

;)
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