As I sit here on the eve of re-launching my Stones of Fate project, I can’t help but think about all I have learned the past year and how much more confident I feel as a project creator. I would like to share what I have learned and the steps that I think every project creator should take when their project fails.
This will not be a post getting into specifics about what mistakes were made and how to run a campaign. If you are interested in that information, I have I have blogged about it over on Board Game Geek (BGG). Hopefully, what I have to say here will help project creators from a more high level perspective.
So, what should you do if you have a project that just failed to meet its goal?
Thank whatever deity you may believe in (or just thank providence)
I personally think that failing at a Kickstarter is the most beneficial thing that can ever happen to any project creator. If you have failed or are on the verge of failure, sit back and be thankful that you get to experience what some never will. Failure at a Kickstarter has a way of focusing your priorities and really making you take stock of where you want to be and what you want to do.
So, as soon as you know your Kickstarter is headed for failure, use it as an opportunity, an opportunity to get better, an opportunity to listen to what your backers are telling you, an opportunity to come back bigger than ever!
Be honest with yourself
This step is critical. If you are going to succeed on a re-launch, you must honestly evaluate your project. Determine where you went wrong and what you did right. Compare your project to other projects of similar components, especially those project that have failed and successfully relaunched. What was their goal level? What does their project look like? How did they structure rewards, stretch goals, etc.?
It is very easy to get emotionally tied to a project. Don’t let that happen. Be willing to give up anything within the project to make the overall project better.
Now you know what you did wrong the first time, where you misstepped. It’s now time to figure out how to correct that. This is where the majority of your time will be spent as you prepare for your relaunch. Some good sources of information are:
- Blogs – Of course there is this one. But there are many, many great blogs out there detailing how to go about setting up and running Kickstarters. Some of my favorites are James Mathe and Jamey Stegmaier.
- Social media groups. There are so many groups on Meetup, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You would be just throwing away great information if you aren’t a member. These groups are free to join and people gladly give out great advice.
- Get to know fellow project creators. Whether it’s through the previously mentioned groups or through attendance at conventions or other in-person events, build a network you can rely on to answer tough questions when they come up.
- How to Design Tie-Breakers – September 12, 2016
- Where in Gen Con is the League of Gamemakers – 2016 Edition – August 1, 2016
- It’s OK to Play With Yourself: Designing Solo Rules – May 30, 2016
Partner With Great People
I have had the extreme pleasure of having some great people who are excited about Stones of Fate helping me out with the project. The first of these is my fellow League member and designer of Stones of Fate, Luke Laurie. Luke has gone above and beyond what is normally required by a designer in bringing a game to Kickstarter.
Two others I have had the pleasure of working with are Peter Vaughan, designer/publisher at Squirmy Beast Games and Jeff King, one of the podcasters at All Us Geeks. These two have answered every random question I have thrown at them, helped sponsor a contest, and have just been extraordinarily excited about bringing Stones of Fate to market.
Surround yourself with great people and your project will benefit. Don’t find people who will be “yes men”, find people who have your best interest and your project’s best interest at heart. People that will be honest with you about where you need to go with your project.
Take your time
I know Jamey Stegmaier says relaunch no later than 4 months after your first project fails. However, I would have to disagree with him somewhat on this. If it takes you longer than 4 months to get it right, then take that time.
Our first Stones of Fate failed on June 23, 2013. It has now been 8 months since that time and we are relaunching February 20th. We have been working on the relaunch almost the entire time. Some of that time has been spent growing the audience. Some has been spent learning from other project creators. Some has been spent working on the actual graphic design and information presented on the Kickstarter page. All of it has been valuable. You can’t rush a relaunch. While I do believe failing once is good for all project creators, I am not really wanting to see how it is to fail twice!
I guess we will all see soon if I know what I am talking about. Stones of Fate relaunches on Kickstarter February 20th.
Come on by and let us know what you think and if the project intrigues you please consider pledging. Thank You.
8 Readers CommentedJoin discussion
Jeff: I actually agree with your assessment on timing here. The 4-month guideline I offered was based on the data I presented in my KS Lesson about project relaunches, but I think the heart of that data is that you take the time to revamp your project to improve it based on backer feedback and maximize your chances of success. Sometimes that takes more time–in fact, I think creators probably rush that timeframe a little too much. You’ve been a great example of someone who has taken their time to really improve your project, and I think you’re going to see great results when you relaunch.
Thanks Jamey! As you know, a LOT of what I learned and a lot of the new Kickstarter is directly due to your excellent advice on your blog. So, thank you. And I will try to pay it forward as much as I possibly can 🙂
I think you already are! The way you write about your project is very accessible to other project creators trying to learn along with you.
I agree completely that failing your first is a great teacher. Evil Intent actually benefited as a game from it as well. We not only got a lot of ideas poured in from the first one that we used, but we also play tested like crazy during the 5 months in between and it became a more solid game because of it.
This is an awesome article. I think every designer should read this, print it and reread it. It’s now on my wall of my design office
Thanks Frank, I am glad you found it useful!
Excellent! Such a valuable experience.
Nice article Jeff! As creators preparing to relaunch ourselves, we’re striving to find as much information as possible on rebooting crowd funding projects for succes. We recently made a deal with our manufacturer to get our game (Epic Picnic) printed for a much lower cost, however we are now racing to meet a deadline for production in time for the next big convention we are attending. As such, we have had to get really creative with certain aspects, but more importantly the short timeline we are now on has really pushed us to keep the campaign as focused as possible and I believe it is far better because of it. Thanks!