TheLeague of Gamemakers brings you more Kickstarter tips! In our series, Kickstarter Questions, we’ve asked the same 7 questions of project creators who have started and finished a campaign to discover the best practices and common paths to success.
Our next set of questions was posed to both a project creator and blogger on various Kickstarter and indie gamemaking topics. Here are the answers from Teale Fristoe, designer/publisher of Corporate America and Shadow Throne (NEW on Kickstarter!)
7 KICKSTARTER QUESTIONS
WHAT ARE THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE ADVERT OUTLETS YOU’VE FOUND TO DRIVE FOLKS TO YOUR CAMPAIGN?
You can make use of many free advertising strategies! Staying active in online communities, blogging, facebook, reddit, and twitter are all reasonable outlets for getting your campaign noticed. And don’t wait until the campaign starts–get your game’s name out there far in advance!
Also, make sure people play your game! Go to local game stores, regional conventions, and send your game to reviewers, who will often happily play your game for free. For Shadow Throne, I also released a free print and play to let anyone try the game before pledging for the finished product.
NAME YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO ENGAGE BACKERS.
For Shadow Throne, I’m really looking forward to some Kickstarter updates that delve into both the fiction of the world and strategy of the game. We’ve also lined up some really fun surprises that I can’t wait to share with backers, assuming the campaign does well enough!
WHEN DO YOU KNOW YOUR GAME IS READY FOR KICKSTARTER?
Excellent question! Unfortunately, these days, you have to start planning so far in advance (6+ months before the Kickstarter launches), that you really can’t know for sure if the game will be ready. That said, having a deadline is an excellent way to make sure you get your act together and make the game ready!
A few essential things you need for the game to be ready for Kickstarter:
Nice art. The game doesn’t have to be complete, but many backers judge a game based on the cover, so make sure you at least have a really nice looking cover.
Blind playtesting. I’m assuming you’ve already playtested the game dozens if not hundreds of times with your friends, but you really need to write the rules and get strangers to play it without your help. It’s usually painful, but the best medicine often is.
Set component list and quotes from a manufacturer. There is always pressure to add more to a game, but at some point you have to put your foot down and decide this is what will be in the game. And you need to know how much that will cost to have a realistic idea of how much money you need to raise.
WHAT IS YOUR ACTION PLAN FOR AFTER A CAMPAIGN ENDS?
For Shadow Throne, I’m hoping to get the files to the printer, Panda GM, as quickly as possible, within a day or two if all goes to plan. The manufacturing process takes a very long time, so getting the wheels in motion is important.
Otherwise, it’s time to celebrate! A successful Kickstarter is a big accomplishment, involving months of preparation and the help of lots of friends. It’s not every day you get to release a game!
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY ON YOUR NEXT CAMPAIGN?
It’s too soon to know what my mistakes are for the Shadow Throne Kickstarter. But I can tell you some things I AM doing different from my last campaign, Corporate America:
Simpler campaign. There’s nothing more than games in the rewards. The page is much less busy. The video is simple and to the point. I’m trying to keep things lean.
Free print and play. For Corporate America, I had a $10 reward tier for the print and play. But from everything I’ve read and seen, I think giving away the print and play is the right move. It’s a demo that lets people try before they buy, and it’s free advertising, since whoever printed it needs to play the game with friends. It also shows mutual trust, which is important to me.
Smaller game, smaller goal. For Corporate America, I was asking for $20k, a figure I probably shouldn’t have been able to raise when I did. For Shadow Throne, I’m shooting for the much more humble $12.5k, and I’m hoping the campaign is a little less stressful this time around.
WHAT 3 TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW PROJECT CREATOR?
1) For your first game, keep the scope low. Don’t ask people to spend more than $25 for a copy of your new game, and don’t expect to raise more than $10k or so. It takes time to build up a reputation so people will trust your brand and your designs.
2) Don’t neglect the appearance and components. I’m very much a mechanics sort of guy, and while I appreciate a well integrated theme, visuals and component quality aren’t that important to me personally. But they’re VERY important to many gamers out there. If you don’t show them immediately that you’re catering to their needs, they will skip over your project.
3) Don’t wait to start promoting. Playtest your game with strangers. Build a website. Get active in the community. Kickstarter is not going to advertise your game for you. It legitimizes your project and gives people an excuse to help you financially, but you’ll need to bring people to the campaign and show them why your game is awesome.
WHAT’S KICKING AROUND IN THE NEXT YEAR?
We will see! Depending on how the Kickstarter does, I could have plenty more Shadow Throne to work on. On top of that, I have a simple card game I’m looking forward to sharing with the world soon, and a slightly more complex game I put down a while back I’m starting to dig into again. I also make digital games, so I may try to release a few small games in the coming months.
1 BONUS QUESTION, JUST FOR FUN
WEAPON OF CHOICE? NAME A FAVORITE GAME PIECE COMPONENT.
Too easy! Definitely cards. Lots of space for information, easy to produce myself (I even wrote software to assist in the design process!), very easy to randomize, and built in hidden information! I’m sure there will come a day when I make a non-digital game that isn’t card based, but that day hasn’t come yet.
Teale Fristoe founded Nothing Sacred Games while he was making his first tabletop title, Corporate America. His latest effort is a ‘quick drafting game of Machiavellian intrigue,’ titled Shadow Throne. (League tested and approved!)
Corporate America can be found on GameSalute’s webstore or can be had at a discount in conjunction with Shadow Throne, on Kickstarter
More Kickstarter Questions here!
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.