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Be Remarkable, Take Your Time – Kickstarter

Most people fund games on Kickstarter because it’s something THEY want to play, not something you want to make.

( This was copied from the original blog post here )
The opinions expressed in this write-up are my personal own. Take them with a grain of salt.

Tl;dr – Self Quote from below:


Most people fund games on Kickstarter because it’s something THEY want to play, not something you want to make.

Kickstarter is dying. Kickstarter is doing great. While most people today would probably lean towards the former, citing various statistics such as “amount of successful projects” or actual year-by-year fund amounts, I tend to lean towards the latter. For all the nay-sayers out there: I think getting a project funded is perfectly feasible. It’s not really luck or alignment of the stars or whatever you want to call it, but primarily two major things: A remarkable game, and time spent.


Remarkable Game: What is a remarkable game? Alexander Bruce said it very well (“Remarkable” section of talk):


AlexanderBruce_1
“Being different in a sea of other different games is just a different kind of “same”. … I later learned a more useful term, which was “Remarkable”. Not fun, not innovative, not polished, remarkable. Worth making a remark about.

 
You can be a Zelda clone and do great. You can be a Zelda clone and do bad. Ultimately though what lets your project live or die is whether or not people find your game remarkable. I think this is the single most important part of your game prior to everything else. If your own game doesn't give you excited shivers, make you cackle like a mad-man, curl up in a corner and cry, or run naked through the streets, why should other people feel that way? If you feel that making your “dream” game doesn't need to be remarkable, then ultimately Kickstarter is not for you. *News flash*: Most people fund games on Kickstarter because it’s something THEY want to play, not something you want to make. Becoming viral, garnering word of mouth, and getting the press to actually notice your game requires your game to be remarkable. Not in the sense of "awesomeness", but remarkable in the sense of "worth making a remark about". IE:

Unremarkable:


Zombie Survival is about surviving in a large world filled with zombies. Craft your own weapons and house, then go out and kill all the naughty zombies.

Remarkable:


In Zombie Survival, take control of ZombieDad. He only wants to put food on the table, but each day is fraught with peril as his prey must not suspect him or his family. Do you invite the boss over for "dinner", or do you pickup something more succulent from the local playground? Whoops! Did ZombieTommy not finish his snack, and now that snack is causing a riot and the military is moving in? GOSH DARNIT TOMMY.

I'm not saying to abandon your dream game, just don't expect your game to do amazingly well on Kickstarter unless people will actually talk about it.


Time: Yet again, Alexander Bruce said it very well (“Takeaway: Success is Messy” section): AlexanderBruce_2


[After showing Steam sales slide]: “None of this happened quickly. … This slide was nine years of decision making, seven years of work, three years of obsession, for one day. .. When you look at this one day [of Steam sales], you’re missing out on 2500 other days that lead to this thing."

Despite the numerous post-mortems, despite the numerous amount of advice out there, developers continue to spend little to no time on their Kickstarter pages as a whole. Some pages will be fully fleshed out, but have a horrible video (worse, NO video). Other pages will have a spectacular video, but not a fleshed out page. While most people will not read out an entire Kickstarter page of info, I think most people watch the video and then scroll down (without really reading) to just make sure the developer took the time to actually make a page, and then choose the tier they want to pledge. Funders want to see that you are serious.

I want to believe that you can just throw a Kickstarter page up in all its glory, leave it for 30 days, and come back to being fully funded, but as numerous dev’s have stated: A successful Kickstarter page is a full time job. Not just during the campaign, but before and after as well. You have to pour over your page and let outside people look at your page *prior* to going live. You have to respond to emails and press and comments during the campaign, and update the campaign where needed. If you can't dedicate that amount of time, get together people you trust to help drive the campaign when you can't.

Those are just my high-level perspectives on what it takes to have a successful campaign. Every two weeks or so, I dig into Kickstarter video games, and sort by “ending soon”, then poke through most all of the projects. I read through each project, finding ones I want to back, but the primary reason I do this is to take notes, as I recommend you do as well (if you’re hoping to run a campaign of your own). Here are my thoughts on this week’s checkup:

Unsuccessful Campaigns:

QuesteningThe Questening: A Modest Adventure - Unfunded: The video starts with “Your quest is to kill the end boss… and probably save a princess”, set to pretty mediocre music and not that great of an art-style (quasi-refined pixel art). Additionally, the developer never shows their face, something I think most backers like to see (a real face associated with development). One of the reward tiers is “exclusive” access to a dev blog, NOT a good marketing practice.

  TOC Towers of Cataclysm – Tower Defense Game - Unfunded: A tower defense game seeking $28,000. No comment.  



  ZombieZpocalypse: Survival – Unfunded: This is a strange beast. It comes from a studio that has numerous successful projects in the past, the successful ones being all physical board-game format. It looks like they tried to turn their successes into a video game, this being the second attempt with a $15k less fundage goal, but ultimately I feel they probably didn’t (or don’t have a way to) engage their fan base enough, or that their fan base just doesn’t care for video games. The choppy lackluster video and followup probably didn’t help.

  Vitavita incerta – Unfunded: No video, almost no information about the “game”, and what information is presented contains numerous grammar mistakes. Obviously no time was spent putting the page up.  


Successful Campaigns:

WASThe Hourglass of Lepidoptera - 500%+ Funded – Very modest budget for an existing game. Video is enticing, though honestly it doesn’t say much about the “game” itself. The genre of such a game is “DRAMA ADV”. I’ve noticed that ADV’s that are drawn well and have that typical manga/anime/etc type feel do VERY well wherever they are. Heck, you don’t even need well drawn characters.


ConcreteConcrete Jungle - 450%+ Funded - A modest goal set to an interesting page and video. The developer doesn’t show his face, but honestly the visuals of the game make up for that. I think this did so well because the SimCity crowd was disappointed in SimCity5 (I know I was).    



LizardLizard – 100%+ Funded - I laughed in the first 10 seconds of the video. That… never really happens. The game looks horrible by today’s art standards; Heck, doesn’t even look that great by NES golden year standards. Ultimately though, the dev hit’s a serious nostalgia curveball (ie; “remarkable”) by promising an NES cartridge.  


Ultimately I think that Kickstarter is doing great. Any negative success-to-unsuccessful comparisons rarely take into account the QUALITY of recent projects, and I believe less fundage amounts in recent times is due to any big-wigs (ie; Double Fine, etc) having already passed through the system. Just my two cents.

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