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Day 1 Experience from Kickstarter

Reflections on our Kickstarter campaign's first day live.

james sadler, Blogger

August 8, 2014

6 Min Read

     Earlier today my team luanched our first Kickstarter campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1427029706/the-caretaker). The road here has been bumpy and unclear for the most part. Regardless though this morning I clicked the green button and let our Kicktarter page run free into the wild. Before clicking the button, and afterward we were filled with a lot of strange emotions that are difficult to explain. I think that a little backstory is necessary here so let me go over that tedious bit.

     Back in April I purchased an OUYA console, mainly for retro gaming. While I waited for it to be delivered I looked into the development kit and its Unity integration. Everything seemed pretty straight forward so I posed the idea of working on a new game to my partner, Nick Weber. My concept was crazy. I wanted to make a game from concept to completion in a week. Yes a week. Nick and I have always worked fast so as long as we could keep the scope down and empty some time in our schedules it wouldn't be a problem. All of that really went up in smoke when Nick posed the idea for the game we decided to work on, The Caretaker.

    My idea of doing a small game just wasn't as interesting as making The Caretaker a reality. There was also the reality that Nick and I cannot set aside a week's worth of time because of our work and home schedules. Because of all of this we decided to stretch out the development time and overall game concept. So away we went. April and May are exceptionally busy times for us so we held off starting any real development until June.

    At the beginning of June we jumped into development hard. My OUYA has always been with us so that we can test builds out every step of the way. We wanted to make sure that we didn't run into too many performance hiccups deep into the development process. Been there. Done that. We decided to schedule multiple one day crunch days periodically so that we can get away from working in silos and jam off of each other. This has worked great so far and each crunch day means crossing a lot of to-do's off of our list.

    All was going great and we were headed towards our release goal of October 2014. While watching one of the OUYA podcasts we heard about the Free the Game Fund. We had heard about it before, but never really gave it any thought. After some discussion we decided that it would be in our best interests to try and apply for the fund. The major condition of this is a successful Kickstarter campaign. A campaign had never really entered into our scope, but as we talked about it the more sense it made. With the funds we would be able to do a lot of the things we had wanted to do with The Caretaker, but weren't going to be able to; like Voice Acting. The Fund itself became a secondary thought though. If we achieved that great, but our focus was on the Kickstarter itself.

    So the decision was made to have a Kickstarter and apply for the Free the Games Fund. Not too big of a deal right? Well in order to qualify for the Fund we needed to get our Kickstarter up and running by August 10th and this was the end of July. We spent the last week of July and first week of August grinding away at The Caretaker and our Kickstarter page to make sure that we had something worthy of putting out in the world. It really is crazy all of the little things that it takes. Last minute banner graphics, finding the right background music for the pitch video, and even just where and when to shoot the video.

   There it was. I was calculating a couple of days of processing/review of our Kickstarter page by the submission staff so I wanted to have the page ready to go by August 6th. Then the 6th came. We had just shot the video the day before and we spent the whole day working on all of the other content to show in the video. I finished editing the video around 7pm. Then I sat in horror and frustration as the render crashed halfway in. Then again. Then again. Then again. In total it happened around ten times. Turns out I was using an old version of the editor which had some issues with some video formats. Updating fixed the issue. That was it right? Nope. Had to upload it. All in all we were ready to go at 11pm. 

    There was a lot of temptation to hit submit right there, but it was late and Nick hadn't had a chance to see the final edit yet, so I held off to the morning. This was smart as Nick saw a few things wrong with the page. 

   After the fixes were made there was nothing left stopping us, aside from the weird nervousness that suddenly came over us. After weeks of preping we were finally at the gate. With the push of a button we would finally let our game out of the localized box it had been sitting in since its concept. What if we were wrong? What if we were just making crap? The impostor syndrome came over us fairly heavily. I hovered over the submit button for a few minutes before finaly saying the heck with it and pressed it. That was it. There was no sound of trumpets that signalled we had entered the Thunder Dome of Kickstarter, just a page saying that it was up and live. That's it.

    It took awhile, but we're finally at the first day of our project being live. We spent the next hour spamming our social network feeds trying to pump up excitement. There was a lot of great support from the OUYA social feeds right off the bat. After two hours we still had zero backers. Then the next wave of doubt and fear kicked in. Maybe we did screw something up. Maybe we weren't as awesome as we thought we were. Crap. We decided to go to lunch to take our minds off of the campaign. 

   While at lunch I recieved an email about our first backer, OUYA themselves. Wow. The console we are targeting likes what we are doing. I guess we are doing something right. We spent the next few hours on a high. We did some more social hits throughout the day but as it went on the old fears started coming back. By the end of the day, as I am writing this, we are still sitting with a single backer. It is just day one out of thirty but it feels like it is day twenty-nine.

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