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Your (Kickstarter) experience

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The question in short, what is your experience with Kickstarter (or similar funding)? Not in particular how much bucks you received, but did it help you achieving your goals? And how complex was it to manage the money (paying, keep everyone happy)? Or even more precise, someone in the Netherlands having experience with the legal side?

 

 

The question/story in long:

I've been working on a horror game (Tower22) for quite some years now. Mainly as a hobby, but with ambitious dreams. Although the project isn't super well known, the majority of reactions are very positive, and people suggested multiple times to get funding via Kickstarter or the likes. Very flattering of course, but modest as I am, I always felt it wouldn't be fair to ask for funding while I can't give any guarantee on a finished (&fun) game. But one Youtube responder said it wouldn't be fair to block their chances to "invest" into a game they like to see happening. Hmmm... never really thought about it that way.

 

He has a good point. In the current state, the game will never finish. Biggest problem? Lack of (3D)artists with sufficient time, talent and motivation. Unlike most Indie games, Tower22 is a "big" game with somewhat high-end graphics. Hearing the GTA V budgets, I know chasing superb quality will be a pitfall, but it just happened to be that most of the work we did so far just looks good for Indie standards, so I would hate to step back. But with those high demands, finding people is extremely hard. And keeping them seems to be even harder. Slow progress conflicts with motivation, and most of the talented guys are paid to do the same kind of work the whole day already. You can't expect them to put dozens of hours into a project.

 

 

 

I downgraded the targets from "making a game" to "make a small playable demo of the game". Which is more realistic, but still requires horsepower to get done. So, this is where Kickstarter might be helpful. But before plundering wallets, I still have concerns. Which is why I hope you can share your experience or thoughts on this.

 

 

Investors & Guarantees

Obviously you need some marketing and have a solid plan to begin with. IF I would "kick start", the goal would be to collect 40 or 50k. Less is nice as well, but honestly I don't think it will help the project much further. Which is my first concern. What if only a handful of people donates? There is no easy way to pay them back I suppose? In case we only collected a few thousand for example.

 

But moreover. See we reach our target. But we don't finish the game. Can't do it, lose my hands, no team, whatever. I would hate to let down those people. And let's say I couldn't spend all the money on the project because we quit... Doesn't that just make a thief in the end, with the remaining dollars? I'm sure donators are aware of risks, but well, just getting a bag of money and having no obligations sounds odd to me. Where is the catch?

 

 

50k.. what to do with it?

Say we manage to collect fifty thousand dollars. Which is quite a lot for a hobby project, absolutely nothing for a commercial project. I could hire 1 or 2 3D artists for a year for that budget, but I doubt they can get everything done. And you still need to be lucky to hire the right boy or girl. Doesn't sound like a good plan to me.

 

I thought about a "Pay-per-Asset" system. I make a list of stuff todo, and put a price on it. Like bounty hunting. Make me a cool barrel and you get 3 bucks. I think it stimulates, but we still need to keep the reward low. If I pay 100$ for a barrel, we run out of money soon as well, as the game just needs a lot of assets. So would it really motivate the talented-but-busy artist to do things?

 

 

Paycheck

Say we do this "Pay-per-Asset" system, or just pay people per month. Whatever. As I received a bag of money, I'm responsible for sending their "salaries". I'm anything except an accountant, so that sounds horrible. Apart from that, are their legal / law issues here? I know the Netherlands can be a bitch when it comes to stupid rules, paperwork, taxes, and whatsoever. I would hate to see 40% vaporize in tax, or receive penalties for having fun with a game.

 

Sounds like I need someone with a business or economic background here (I'm just a programmer who wants to stay far away from lawbooks). But I don't know any personally. I'm sure I can find one via internet, but... who the hell gives a bag of money to a stranger?

 

 

Geoge Washinton berserk

Probably not a good reason to avoid Kickstarter or money in general, but it's just true that people can get nasty once they see dollar signs. Audio composer works 6 hours on a song he thinks is awesome. I hate it. Should I pay him? Artist-X thinks Artist-Z gets the better-paid tasks and gets jealous. Drawer-D just copy-pastes an image from Google and wants 10 bucks for it. And... what about myself? So far, I worked a factor thousand times more than any other on this project. It would feel wrong to pay myself, but making others "rich" and getting nothing yourself while you are the heart of this project isn't fair either.

 

Well, plenty of things people can get mad or jealous about. In the end, doing this project is a hobby and it should keep feeling like that. So maybe you have some quacksalver hints to avoid heat.

 

 

 

Pfew, too long, but it feels good to write about it :)

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@Tom Sloper

What exactly defines a Business plan? Sorry if the question is dumb, but as said, I'm just a programmer. This hobby project grew a bit further than sharing stories on a blog and showing pictures, so that is why I'm trying to figure out (Kickstarter) stories from people who took a step further.

 

But to answer the question, the answer is no. Those who follow the project know roughly what it's all about, but it's not in an official paper. If we do get serious about funding, I know such documents must be written. A clear target & how-to, and I suppose a plan that tells how the money is exactly spend. It will be quite some paperwork I suspect, so before starting on it, I just want to read other ones experiences first.

 

 

@Frob

Not a very encouraging answer, but yeah, you pretty much describe my concerns hehe. My original answer to "you thought about Kickstarter?" was that I wanted the game in a much more advanced stadium first. Having a solid team and produced a decent amount of the game content already so that it gets easy to plan forward. However the problem is that we likely never reach that stadium to begin with because the nature of this project requires a lot of energy to even get it in its shoes.

 

I can pretty much control the programming part, but the artistic effort needed seems to be the Achilles Heel here. As you said, 50k is monkey peanuts. But then again, if a small reward per asset stimulates to keep the artists going rather than watching football, drink beer or spend time with their girls, it might be a key to actually achieve something. Don't know if others tried a similar system?

 

 

Thanks for the replies, keep them coming !

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I doubt many of us here have actually run a successful kick starter campaign. Might help to do research on the "successful" game project kick starter projects that have already happened, maybe even email them with questions.

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@Tom Sloper
What exactly defines a Business plan?

 

You can Google it. The reason I said that is that you are seeking business investment on Kickstarter, and the first thing any investor wants to see is a business plan. You also said it felt good to write about the project's needs, and your thinking on its expansion. As I said, it'll feel REALLY good to actually write a real business plan. Writing a plan is not just for your investors.  It's also for you. You'll know in much better detail what you're getting into.

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Should be plenty of examples and guidelines on Google indeed. And you're right, it probably is just good to write one, reminding yourself of the goals, or as a somewhat professional start when approaching others. With the limited free hours, I never really took time for such a thing though. Lot's of snippets and ideas, but not a consistent "Masterplan".

 

Then again it's hard to make such Masterplan if essential components such as having a team or funds are unsure. Writing about taking path A is a waste of time if we take (or forced to take) path B, which is common for hobby projects. At least, the project never went as smooth as wished so far, regardless initiatives such as plannings or giving more structure to the few volunteers that help. That's why I'm curious about the experiences with Kickstarter, and if it really helped to assemble a team for somewhat bigger projects, having a small budget. If it isn't, I won't bother Kickstarter and so it would affect the needs and contents of a Business Plan (for now).

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Just doing some -almost to good to be true- math. Just for fun... and I had some questions about that.

 

Whatever we could manage to get via Kickstarter or something, obviously we can't make a full game with that. Not even close. But, what we could do is make a playable demo. Nothing big, it's probably ~15 minutes of gameplay. I'm not sure if people are even willing to donate on such a thing, but anyhow, let's say we collect 10.000$. That doesn't sound too impossible.

 

I figured there are about 200 assets (textures, props, sounds, animations, etc etc) to make for one demo I had in mind. But let's double the number because things always blow up. In theory, it would mean that the average asset would be worth 10k / 400 = 25$. Hopefully about 10 persons would work consistently on this demo, so on average each person would get a reward of 1.000$ in the end. Can't pay the bills with that, but at this point noone is getting a single penny so it's an attractive bonus to introduce, and it could seriously improve productivity. Earning 1k with some night hour hobbying isn't a bad thing.

 

 

But... 

* Is it possible on sites like Kickstarter to make a target?

If the calculations are a bit correct, we wouldn't need a lot more money than 10k. It's nice to get more, but what if we don't want? And vice-versa, is it possible to refund if we didn't reach the target?

 

* Does that calculation make any sense?

Not meaning the asset-count, but more like tax related things. I believe in Holland you can't just throw with money like Santa Claus (unless you give it to yours truly government). And of course, hosting this demo somewhere probably will cost something as well, and probably I forget some other common expenses as well, so maybe half of that 10k is required for something else.

 

 

Well, slap me out of my dream, or isn't this such weird talk after all? Because if it isn't, I should start writing that Business Plan I think :p

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And vice-versa, is it possible to refund if we didn't reach the target?

Kickstarter funding is all-or-nothing -- if you don't reach or exceed your target the pledges aren't collected and you don't receive any money -- so there's no need for a refund.

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Ah, that's good to know. Having half of the desired funds wouldn't be very helpful, neither do we have to swim in money. The latter might be a bit unlikely, but a demo as described above simply doesn't need ten-thousands of dollars. The goal is to make that demo, not to get rich. Not yet at least hehe.

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