Here at the League of Gamemakers, we know enough about Kickstarter to know that there’s always more to learn! Not everyone kickstarts a campaign in the same way. In this series, we seek to build on our own crowdfunding experiences by asking the same set of questions of other successful project creators and comparing the answers.
This week we feature Nicholas Yu who has not one but two successful campaigns and been helpful in several communities such as the Game Crafter and BGG:
7 KICKSTARTER QUESTIONS
WHAT ARE THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE ADVERT OUTLETS YOU’VE FOUND TO DRIVE FOLKS TO YOUR CAMPAIGN?
Honestly? Facebook ads. You can set it up so you’re only charged by click and you can control your budget and the targeted demographic(s).
NAME YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO ENGAGE BACKERS.
I try to be very responsive to messages and comments. I always have my phone on me with the Kickstarter app running, so I can respond pretty quickly to any questions or concerns they might have.
WHEN DO YOU KNOW YOUR GAME IS READY FOR KICKSTARTER?
I rely on feedback from my play-test groups. When I observe them forgetting that they’re testing and they’re treating it like an actual game, I know that it’s ready. Despite some early flaws, I knew I had a winner with Eternal Dynasty because, I kid you not, an argument broke out during the first play-testing session. That showed, to me, that the players were treating it like an actual game already.
WHAT IS YOUR ACTION PLAN FOR AFTER A CAMPAIGN ENDS?
I buckle down and make sure we go into overdrive for play-testing. Stretch goals, in particular, need to be looked at closely because you’ve had less time to work with them. For Eternal Dynasty, I had already devised most of the stretch goals, so we started testing most of them before the campaign launched. While final play-testing is going on, I’m working with the graphic designer to ensure that the game is getting ready to go to print as soon as we’ve finalized all the wording and the rules.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY ON YOUR NEXT CAMPAIGN?
I’d set a lower funding goal. Asking for over $20k is taking a big risk. I’d prefer to eat some of the cost rather than have to re-launch the campaign. I don’t know how some of the creators who re-launch do it. It’s such a stressful time to run a Kickstarter project, I’d hate to re-do the same project all over again. So here’s keeping our fingers crossed for Eternal Dynasty
. Editor note: Eternal Dynasty funded well over it’s goal since we first asked these questions, congrats!
WHAT 3 TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW PROJECT CREATOR?
The #1 piece of advice I give everyone is to do your homework
. Read Jamey Stegmaier’s Kickstarter Lessons
and James Mathe’s blog
. Talk to other project creators and see if they have any nuggets of wisdom.
#2. Get your page ready and approved 2-3 months before you plan on launching. I see a lot of first time creators scrambling with project approval from Amazon Payments or Kickstarter itself 24 hours within their planned launch or launching without an intro or gameplay video. You should have all that stuff done weeks, if not months, in advance. I mean, that green Launch button taunted me for a couple of months after Eternal Dynasty was approved, but it was nice to know I could hit it whenever because it was finished well in advance.
#3. Be active in the Kickstarter community. Pledge for a few projects like the one you plan to launch, even if it’s only for $1. That way you get an inside look at how a campaign should be run (or shouldn’t be run, in a few cases). That $1 doesn’t sound like much, but every bit counts in crowd-funding and it also increases the project’s total backer number, which is one of those mysterious things Kickstarter looks at when calculating popularity.
WHAT’S KICKING AROUND IN 2014?
My first game, Hero Brigade, should be shipping soon, so I’m looking forward to demo-ing that at cons this year. I’m actually going to be traveling with Game Salute as a featured designer to Gen Con, so it’ll be exciting to see a gaming convention from the other side of the table. Hero Brigade 2 is pretty much done except for final play-testing, so I’ll be looking to do a Kickstarter for that sometime in mid-late 2014 once Eternal Dynasty is off in the printer’s hands.
I have 2-3 other germinating game designs as well, so I might forego self-publishing some of them and try to pitch them in a more traditional designer role.
Ideally, I’d like to release 2-3 new games a year but I don’t have the time to self-publish all of them through Kickstarter. Once I think I’ve established myself a little more as a designer, I think pitching to publishers will be easier.
1 BONUS QUESTION, JUST FOR FUN
A BACKER IS WILLING TO GIVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR A KS CAMPAIGN. WHAT IS THE CRAZIEST AND BIGGEST REWARD YOU’D OFFER?
I’d offer to fly down to visit them and teach them the game. I actually included this as a crazy tier for Hero Brigade but there weren’t any takers. Maybe I’ll try it again if I ever become a fancy-pants auteur-level designer.
Nicholas Yu of Zucchini People Games, LLC has just delivered his first Kickstarter game from 2013, Hero Brigade, and has already funded his second, Eternal Dynasty. In both cases, he partnered with the Kickstarter powerhouse, Game Salute for publishing. His campaigns are run with attention to detail and passion, and no doubt we’ll be seeing some more great games to come from this designer!
If you have crowdfunded a successful campaign and would like to participate in our KS Questions, send us an email! – we’d love to hear and publish your answers and tips.