Author Topic: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??  (Read 3399 times)

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2016, 02:07:46 PM »
Heavy stuff Chris.

If this sort of schedule slippage sounds familiar, it's basically what happens when you start without a design document and try to do a lot of experimental stuff.  It's what happened to Raptor and SBR, and it's precisely what the giant design document for AI War II is intended to prevent.  Originally I was going to be slightly more conservative with the AI War II design, but too many compelling things came up either from myself or others, and I think that those elements ultimately make a kickstarter more likely to succeed rather than less.
Eep. But also, ha yes.

I also have the difficult decision of whether to include the soundtrack from Pablo (aka him creating one) in the base budget, or whether to make it the first stretch goal.  That's a different topic, though.
I'll answer it here, and break my my heart but: first stretch goal.

1. When do you think we should launch and how long should it run?
Start as close to September as you can and end before the Halloween weekend. If you choose to start in October, target November 2nd to end because CoD drops on 11/04 and the release schedule gets worse from there.

2. What data do you have from the market that could help me make a decision to agree or disagree with that?
Shades of the SBR talk: November is dangerous territory for us and we have to avoid it as much as possible. I don't actually know how much Steam sales impact Kickstarters; I suspect most serious Kickstarters avoid the sale period.

Writing that, and given your need for an extra week, it seems the 21 day period is what we'll end up doing. This is making me scream internally but it's more because all the Kickstarters I've followed were 30 days. We'll want to set up a slackerbacker system of some kind regardless.

As I've said in the past, we need a HARD date for the start no matter what, because we need to start pulling eyeballs our way before we get out of the gate.

3. Does anyone have good data on the uncollected-pledge amounts?
Know anyone besides Draco who's done a Kickstarter? Might be good to get a few anecdotes.

4. Anything you can do to help in terms of resolving the design document's many open ends would be appreciated.
What of these open ends are most relevant to us for the pitch and cost calculation?

Offline kasnavada

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2016, 02:14:38 PM »
Quote
When you sign up, you do technically opt-in to a newsletter that we can send you, but the big concern is how people would react. As a gamer, I wouldn't be upset if a company I liked emailed me once or twice for some huge news, as long as it wasn't constant.

;D

As to the spambots, there are 0 spam bots that we are aware of. I just went through and deleted the last batch of them. (Aware of means they have 0 posts, and have a link in their signature or in the website field).
Hum... sorry my bad. About 99% of the explaining was not done there. The spam bot register on the forum, do they count toward the user count on the main forum page ? How much of the "registered" users do they represent ?

Like this guy : http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php?action=profile;u=23722


« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 02:16:50 PM by kasnavada »

Offline Tridus

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2016, 03:08:21 PM »
Another good example is having multiple playable races.  This is something that solves a whole lot of design problems and inconsistencies, and it's actually a really super-cool marquee feature to focus on in the kickstarter pitch in general.  But this does come at a certain cost in terms of us needing to actually design that (Cinth is pretty well single-handedly taking that on, though, which is a really big help to me).  But then when we jerk around the core quadrangle, then that sets HIM back, and so on.

Just how much of this needs to be done for a kickstarter, though? You need a race theme of some kind and a good idea of how it will play, but you don't actually need a full ship list.

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Overall there are simply more features and options and whatnot than I remembered (hahahaha -- and there were a bajillion that I had remembered), and getting all those things written up, organized, and evaluated for inclusion or revision is a big task.  To some extent "can't those little things just wait until later?" is a valid question.  However, in order to do a kickstarter with confidence, Keith and I and Blue all need to be able to properly estimate how long things will take us, with appropriate buffers.  That then translates into a cost figure, again with buffer.

At some point, you need to set a cut off date and say "if it hasn't been brought up by tomorrow, it's not in 1.0. Period." and stick to it. Otherwise we'll keep bringing stuff up forever. :)

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While that would be possible, there's still so freaking much to the design document that needs to be added (that thing is already 46 thousand words long, but it's going to practically double I think).  And then there's the whole video and presentation and so forth, and the question of how much time I can spend on really making that amazing versus having to rush something less compelling out.  That seems like a rush would be a Really Bad Idea.

You only get one shot to make a first impression, especially on Kickstarter. You want people to see the page the first time and go "yep, I want to follow that!"

A rush job is a poor option, because if people see it that way, they'll leave and you won't get them back.

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If this sort of schedule slippage sounds familiar, it's basically what happens when you start without a design document and try to do a lot of experimental stuff.  It's what happened to Raptor and SBR, and it's precisely what the giant design document for AI War II is intended to prevent.  Originally I was going to be slightly more conservative with the AI War II design, but too many compelling things came up either from myself or others, and I think that those elements ultimately make a kickstarter more likely to succeed rather than less.

So as a calculated risk, I let the "design the kickstarter" phase of this increase in scope somewhat, and now that's biting me in the butt a bit.  I'm more concerned about it biting certain staff than myself, though, to be honest.  Ultimately if this kickstarter gains traction at all (which it already seems to have momentum to say the least), then I think that will have been a very good call.

That's why you may need to cut off discussion of new stuff at some point. All the discussion is leading to a better kickstarter, but it can go on forever as each feature from every expansion gets brought up, and that's just not realistic. Someone has to be the project manager, and the project manager has to be a jerk when necessary.

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We all complain about the "suits" at big publishers giving arbitrary deadlines that cramp the creativity and quality of AAA games that are coming out, and in this case I'm the suit.  And I hate that!  I feel like one extra week is a pretty good compromise, but it can't go slip-sliding on from there.

Yep. It gives everyone a timeline to work with. Then it has to go. Because that's how real life goes.

(I've read theories from some game developers that the primary role of a publisher is actually to be hated. Everyone loves the "developer wants to do it but the evil overlords won't let us" story, even when it's not actually true. Having someone to direct the anger at frees the developer up from a lot of it.)

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There's a line there somewhere between "this needs to get resolved to make things make sense and for the central design architecture to be correct" and "I think that this would be a bit better than that, for these detailed reasons."  If the latter category is something data-driven anyway (like should MLRS be demolition class or siege), then for goodness sake please let's table that one for now. ;) 

Can do. :)

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From what I've read, a shorter kickstarter (say, 21 days) has a lot of benefits in terms of creating more urgency for people to back and tell others to back.  The most common downside is the inability to reach enough press in time, but again I really don't think that one is a factor here when we're talking 21 versus 30 days.  The other big downside I've read about is that if someone sees that a KS has 20 days left and is only 12% funded, they might think that it's destined for obvious failure; but actually it's just the first day of the KS, so it's doing fine.  This is the part that worries me the most, honestly.

I've never pledged to a KS that was 21 days and succeeded. for what it's worth. 30 seems to be the standard. You do have the lull in the middle, but you don't have someone showing up on day 1 and thinking it's got no momentum when it really just started.

There might be a reason to do it in 21 days to avoid November, but in that case you really want to have a good first day so it looks strong. Probably want to get all of us lined up for that one. ;)

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Like I said, these are the things I'm trying to make decisions on right now.  The TLDR:

1. When do you think we should launch and how long should it run?
2. What data do you have from the market that could help me make a decision to agree or disagree with that?
3. Does anyone have good data on the uncollected-pledge amounts?
4. Anything you can do to help in terms of resolving the design document's many open ends would be appreciated.

Thank you so much!
Chris

I'd suggest asking people who have done successful campaigns that stuff. I haven't, sorry. Some of them are pretty approachable, though. A guy named Jason Anarchy has done several board game ones successfully, including the recent and very successful Drinking Quest: Journey into Draught. He's very approachable and might be willing to answer some questions about that stuff.

One really popular thing he did was had a tier where for $5 extra, he'd send you two extra cards: one with a hand written compliment, and one with a hand written insult. Those were limited to 100, and sold out almost immeditately. So he added another tier that was $1 more, with 100 more of those. Then he did it again, and again, and again, and again. He ended up having to do 1200 cards, but that was $500+600+700+800+900+1000 extra pledges just out of that silliness.

You're not shipping anything physical so something similar might be harder, but people love fun little things like that and you can earn significant extra pledges with them.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2016, 03:13:48 PM »

I've never pledged to a KS that was 21 days and succeeded. for what it's worth. 30 seems to be the standard. You do have the lull in the middle, but you don't have someone showing up on day 1 and thinking it's got no momentum when it really just started.

There might be a reason to do it in 21 days to avoid November, but in that case you really want to have a good first day so it looks strong. Probably want to get all of us lined up for that one. ;)

+1 this. 30 days is the norm. If the tail end has to be in November, fine. That is better then doing something unusual and giving an awful first impression. The initial glance of the campaign is more important then the tail end, and 21 days is a poor first glance.



One really popular thing he did was had a tier where for $5 extra, he'd send you two extra cards: one with a hand written compliment, and one with a hand written insult. Those were limited to 100, and sold out almost immeditately. So he added another tier that was $1 more, with 100 more of those. Then he did it again, and again, and again, and again. He ended up having to do 1200 cards, but that was $500+600+700+800+900+1000 extra pledges just out of that silliness.

You're not shipping anything physical so something similar might be harder, but people love fun little things like that and you can earn significant extra pledges with them.


Wow! That is !fun! I would instantly drop 5 dollars just for that, game or not.
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Offline Captain Jack

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2016, 03:20:30 PM »
Oh yes, what are the stretch goals looking like at the moment? Pablo music will be one or will be part of the campaign, the lorebook and general writing/story stuff... what else?

I have to confess "player faction: Spire" and "player faction: Zenith" look like PERFECT stretch goal material.

I've never pledged to a KS that was 21 days and succeeded. for what it's worth. 30 seems to be the standard. You do have the lull in the middle, but you don't have someone showing up on day 1 and thinking it's got no momentum when it really just started.
Oof.

Also, Jason Anarchy is an AMAZING name.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2016, 03:25:53 PM »
I am REALLY digging that letter idea. I know nothing physical, but letters seem to be the one thing that fills all the key points. It is fairly easy to make (you just write a paragraph). It is not involving a 3rd party. It is satisfying for the customer and not soul crushing for the developer. It is profitable (.47 for domestic, 1.15 for international. Charge 5 dollars and 10 dollars respectively). It is the perfect upsell. Only soda at restaurants can compete with just how brilliant the idea is to me.
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2016, 03:28:16 PM »
I have to confess "player faction: Spire" and "player faction: Zenith" look like PERFECT stretch goal material.

I feel the game needs at least 1 additional race beside human as a proof of concept.

Offline Tridus

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2016, 03:29:20 PM »
Oh yes, what are the stretch goals looking like at the moment? Pablo music will be one or will be part of the campaign, the lorebook and general writing/story stuff... what else?

I have to confess "player faction: Spire" and "player faction: Zenith" look like PERFECT stretch goal material.

It's true. But at that point you don't have that as part of the base campaign anymore, so you can't show it as a flagship feature upgrade over AIWC. I'm not sure that's a good idea, as it's a pretty big thing to open the pitch with.

Offline Tridus

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2016, 03:33:24 PM »
I am REALLY digging that letter idea. I know nothing physical, but letters seem to be the one thing that fills all the key points. It is fairly easy to make (you just write a paragraph). It is not involving a 3rd party. It is satisfying for the customer and not soul crushing for the developer. It is profitable (.47 for domestic, 1.15 for international. Charge 5 dollars and 10 dollars respectively). It is the perfect upsell. Only soda at restaurants can compete with just how brilliant the idea is to me.

"Pay us extra and the AI will send you a letter insulting your prowess as a commander!" :D

Maybe do something in game, like pay a bit extra and you get a code. Put the code in game and it unlocks a custom AI taunt for when it attacks you, in addition to the regular ones. That doesn't require shipping anything except codes, but is kind of the same idea.

Offline chemical_art

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2016, 03:42:13 PM »
Maybe do something in game, like pay a bit extra and you get a code. Put the code in game and it unlocks a custom AI taunt for when it attacks you, in addition to the regular ones. That doesn't require shipping anything except codes, but is kind of the same idea.

That is another idea too, but not as appealing to me for some reason. It feels a bit less personal.

Do I think Chris would write a unique insult to everyone? I won't say. Would he write a unique insult to me? No doubt  >D

Also, letter writing is almost obsolete and that gives it a charm and personal feeling. That is what makes it worth paying five dollars for.
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Offline kasnavada

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2016, 03:48:56 PM »
I am REALLY digging that letter idea. I know nothing physical, but letters seem to be the one thing that fills all the key points. It is fairly easy to make (you just write a paragraph). It is not involving a 3rd party. It is satisfying for the customer and not soul crushing for the developer. It is profitable (.47 for domestic, 1.15 for international. Charge 5 dollars and 10 dollars respectively). It is the perfect upsell. Only soda at restaurants can compete with just how brilliant the idea is to me.

Why is everyone hung on the idea that it'll fail, and / or need scrap money ? You guys exchange "despair groupthink" mails I'm excluded from ? Thank god if it's the case though. Yet, what the hell guys ?

AI War sold 300K units with great reviews.

Arcen Games has a reputation of solidity, even if the results when making games are kinda random. But here ? It's not a "random" concept that's going out of nowhere like the last federation was. It's not going to Arcen's unknown territory. It's not trying to reinvent diplomacy in 4X game like SBR tried. It's not a genre that has a lot of competition like the raptor thingy . It's what made the company in the first place. It's stuff that Arcen has experience in. AI War 2 needs what.. 15K backers ? So 5% of the buyers of the original game ? (that's steamspy apparently).

Where is it going to fail here ?

I'm not for being overly optimistic but... the other side ?


PS: And... even if it fails. Out of respect for the guys that pushed that adventure for years, at least they'll know what they have to do, and wouldn't have to be under such heavy stress as the SBR period for another year of their lives.

To me, it's a Win-Win.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 03:54:09 PM by kasnavada »

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2016, 03:59:17 PM »
I have to confess "player faction: Spire" and "player faction: Zenith" look like PERFECT stretch goal material.

I feel the game needs at least 1 additional race beside human as a proof of concept.
Oh yes, what are the stretch goals looking like at the moment? Pablo music will be one or will be part of the campaign, the lorebook and general writing/story stuff... what else?

I have to confess "player faction: Spire" and "player faction: Zenith" look like PERFECT stretch goal material.

It's true. But at that point you don't have that as part of the base campaign anymore, so you can't show it as a flagship feature upgrade over AIWC. I'm not sure that's a good idea, as it's a pretty big thing to open the pitch with.
It's want vs. need. How many people will pay these alternate game modes? Very few. Dedicated AI War players. Most of them will be equally excited about AI War 2 happening at all, we're not likely to get extra money up front because of the aliens.

Why is everyone hung on the idea that it'll fail, and / or need scrap money ? You guys exchange "despair groupthink" mails I'm excluded from ? Thank god if it's the case though. Yet, what the hell guys ?

AI War sold 300K units with great reviews.
Because gaming is butting up against economic reality. There are TOO MANY games and too many GOOD games coming out, more than you could ever play. So people are getting choosy with their dollars. They want safe franchises and low prices, meaning AAA games and stuff from Steam sales and their personal darlings. Mid-range studios are nigh-extinct because of this, and small studios come and go all the time.

At the risk of hyperbole: this is a difficult time to be a gamedev unless you've got the AAA fanbase or just need peanuts to stay afloat. EA and Spiderweb Studios are the two sides to this. Arcen is in the middle and that's a hard place to be. Arcen doesn't have the reach to guarantee AIW2 gets its funding--the easy KS period is over and Arcen isn't in the news enough to drive excitement on AI War 2. A lot of people stopped following the company when SBR got delayed, which will make them less willing to open their wallets.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 05:35:26 PM by Captain Jack »

Offline chemical_art

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2016, 04:00:56 PM »
I am not expecting it to fail.

But on the other hand I am as a part of my job a financial steward. That means cutting costs and increasing revenue.

An option that could give an extra 4 dollars for writing 2 paragraphs is really appealing to me. It could provide tide over money that prevents a certain someone to going part time. Chris has expressed he is considering paying personal money to prevent this. The letters can let him recoup the money.
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Offline Tridus

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2016, 04:41:55 PM »
I am REALLY digging that letter idea. I know nothing physical, but letters seem to be the one thing that fills all the key points. It is fairly easy to make (you just write a paragraph). It is not involving a 3rd party. It is satisfying for the customer and not soul crushing for the developer. It is profitable (.47 for domestic, 1.15 for international. Charge 5 dollars and 10 dollars respectively). It is the perfect upsell. Only soda at restaurants can compete with just how brilliant the idea is to me.

Why is everyone hung on the idea that it'll fail, and / or need scrap money ? You guys exchange "despair groupthink" mails I'm excluded from ? Thank god if it's the case though. Yet, what the hell guys ?

AI War sold 300K units with great reviews.

Arcen Games has a reputation of solidity, even if the results when making games are kinda random. But here ? It's not a "random" concept that's going out of nowhere like the last federation was. It's not going to Arcen's unknown territory. It's not trying to reinvent diplomacy in 4X game like SBR tried. It's not a genre that has a lot of competition like the raptor thingy . It's what made the company in the first place. It's stuff that Arcen has experience in. AI War 2 needs what.. 15K backers ? So 5% of the buyers of the original game ? (that's steamspy apparently).

Where is it going to fail here ?

I'm not for being overly optimistic but... the other side ?


PS: And... even if it fails. Out of respect for the guys that pushed that adventure for years, at least they'll know what they have to do, and wouldn't have to be under such heavy stress as the SBR period for another year of their lives.

To me, it's a Win-Win.

Huh? Why do you think we think it'll fail? Nobody said that. I don't think that.

All I did was point out a fun thing another campaign did that generated a lot of interest and a few thousand in revenue. Fun and revenue are both good things on Kickstarter. If there's a way to do both without a ton of work being added to the plate, why wouldn't we talk about it? Maybe we will hit something Chris likes. :)

Offline Tridus

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Re: From Chris: Kickstarter 21 days or 30 days? Plus help in general??
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2016, 04:48:04 PM »
Maybe do something in game, like pay a bit extra and you get a code. Put the code in game and it unlocks a custom AI taunt for when it attacks you, in addition to the regular ones. That doesn't require shipping anything except codes, but is kind of the same idea.

That is another idea too, but not as appealing to me for some reason. It feels a bit less personal.

Do I think Chris would write a unique insult to everyone? I won't say. Would he write a unique insult to me? No doubt  >D

Also, letter writing is almost obsolete and that gives it a charm and personal feeling. That is what makes it worth paying five dollars for.

Well, a paragraph and mailing a letter to 1000 people is suddenly a lot of work. The DQ campaign was two sentences per person in something that was being mailed anyway, and it still took something like a week to execute. Good revenue for a week of work, but paragraphs and mailing are a significant step up in effort, especially when trying to also build a game. I would start that at $10 to make it even remotely worth the effort to do, and at that starting price I don't know how well it does.

Something like a customized taunt is a lot easier to do and doesn't carry physical shipping cost. If you have to do a thousand of them, that matters. :)