Hi, I'm Blake. my big project is a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchmen'. you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchmen and sabotaging a building to delay an unstoppable one-man army.
I wanted to write about some of the mistakes I made during the kickstarter, and also write about some of the things I think I did well. Hopefully, by writing about these, anyone who is about to launch a kickstarter can learn from my mistakes, and also repeat my successes. By writing this, there is small chance that I may get to learn from my mistakes too ;)
1) Assuming I’d be the exception to the rule
If you assume (like I did) that you will be the exception to the rule, you will may feel totally unprepared if a strong launch doesn’t happen (like I was).
A better approach is to expect the best BUT prepare for the worst.
What if you slip into obscurity? What will you do then? Spending time thinking about these harder questions is a much better use of your time then thinking about what message you will write after you hit your 25th stretch goal.
2) I didn’t have a demo
A lot of the successful indie kickstarters are from previously successful indie developers, or developers with status in the industry. Why? The reason why is that backers like to back people with CREDIBILITY. For unknown developers such as myself, one of the ways that you can help to build credibility is by providing a demo. I didn’t (for this reason) but I know excluding one harmed my project’s success. Lots of people won’t even play a demo, but it just reassuring to backers to know that one is out and available.
3) I didn’t make shareable content
If you are lucky, your campaign will have organic growth - when people mention it to other people, who in turn mention it to other people etc. One way that you can encourage this to happen is to make your content easy to share. There are two parts to this:
1) Having tons of share links and creating content that is good at explaining your game.
2) Creating visually appealing content.
I’m really weak artistically, therefore I am especially bad at that second item. Let me give you an example:
The image on the left was the one I used in my campaign. Two weeks in, I redesigned it, creating the image on the right. Which one is more shareable? It’s obvious right?
I also didn’t have any downloadable videos. Why this was such a schlep is because it meant that I couldn’t write to / get involved with any groups that post videos about new kickstarters/indiegames etc. Seeing as video is one of the most popular ways to consume media, not having downloadable videos is (in my opinion) a death sentence.
What I Did Right
1) I believed it wasn’t over til it was over
Not long after realizing I wouldn’t be the exception to the rule, I had the realization if that things continued as they did, I wouldn't hit my goal. This realization was about as pleasant as a swift kick to the testicles.
2) I had lots of gifs / links
Before I launched my campaign, I browsed through lots of other kickstarters (successful and not). Without exception, all the successful kickstarters have a ton of visuals. What you’ll also notice is that successful campaigns generally avoid big chunks of text, instead they break it up with pictures. This makes the whole kickstarter more approachable and visually appealing - I can’t stress how important it is.
I’ve been on a few kickstarters and it is difficult to find out more about the game than is provided on the kickstarter page - why? Because they don’t provide links to other sites/pages that may be of interest. I think I did a good job of posting links to my blog/twitter account/etc, and what that meant is that people who wanted to find out more about the game, its creator, or its development could do so if they chose. This is another way that you can build credibility (which I mentioned before is so important).
3) I got back to people
I think for the most part, I could be depended upon to get back to any/all backers who had any questions or comments - heck, if backers decided to invest in you, so how can you not invest back in them? Treat your backers well, it will help you build an awesome community plus you’ll meet some really cool people in the process.
And that’s it for the breakdown! I hope it helps a bunch of people.
A special thanks to Lincoln who suggested I do a kickstarter post-mortem.
Also, in other news, I’ve started dedicating whatever time I can to the game’s continued development, and looks like the game might be getting some music soon :) I’ll keep you guys up to date, and let you know how that goes.
Follow the game's development on twitter (@FMMHenchmen), on facebook, or follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy
Last, but not least, this week I am going to release a Kickstarter breakdown. In it, I will share what I did right/wrong concerning my kickstarter campaign, and the lessons I am taking from it. This is not only good for me (cause it should make sure I don't repeat my mistakes) but hopefully, it will also be good for others who may one day find themselves in a similar position.
Anyway, that's it for now. Keep well,
The kickstarter for my game 'Forgive Me My Henchmen' did not hit its minimum kickstarter goal. So what happens next?
I've decided to include in full the message I wrote to my kickstarter backers.
Here it is:
Dear Backers and Henchmen,
As I’m sure many of you know, ‘Forgive Me My Henchmen’ (FMMH) didn’t hit its minimum kickstarter goal. First of all, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who decided to support this game - it’s been wonderful getting to meet and interact with you guys, and I am very grateful for the support you’ve given the game.
From the get go, the kickstarter campaign had a bit of a weak start. As far as I can tell, this had nothing to do with the game itself. Rather, I didn’t build up a big enough community before launching the campaign, and that’s on me. I also didn’t have a playable demo available, and I think having one would not have just added credibility to the project, it would have also given people a chance to experience the awesomeness that is FMMH first hand.
These shortcomings aside, I am happy with the effort I gave to this campaign - I worked hard on it, and have a degree of peace knowing that despite a weak start, I did my best to make up for it. It was incredible to watch the FMMH community grow, as well as be featured in articles/videos etc. Despite the outcome, it has been a great experience and I am grateful for it.
So what will be the plan for FMMH going forward?
The good news is that this isn’t the end of the line for FMMH - I will continue to work on this game because I love it. Furthermore, other people are starting to love it too, and it is the response this game has been getting from others which has contributed to my decision to complete this project. Bottom line is that FMMH will be released sooner or later.
However, financially, it is no longer viable for me to work on this project full-time (like I have been). There are bills to pay, and a man can only eat noodles for so long before enough is enough...that is why I will only be able to dedicate hours per week to the project instead of dedicating full days to it like I have been. Progress will be slow, but it will be continuous and forward.
There is a high chance of a future crowdfunding campaign. But before that can happen, I want to have at least completed a playable demo. It will take time to create that demo (afterall, the game still needs music and some serious programming) but with time, it will happen.
So, long story short, this likely won’t be the last time you hear about FMMH. Much like the vigilante, the development of this game can be delayed, but it won’t be stopped!
Thank you again for everything. Wishing you the best, and feel free to keep in touch.
Most of this is my fault - there are definitely things I could have done differently which would have made the launch more successful. This includes building up a bigger email list before hand, emphasizing the ‘why’ behind the game more, as well as countless other things. Amongst these is I tried to move too fast.
That being said, despite a weak launch the word has been spreading, and the kickstarter has - slowly but surely been gaining momentum. This is in part due to my crazy marketing efforts, but also a large part of this has been due to the journalist rockstars who have decided to write about the game, as well as the kickstarter community who are doing wonderful things to spread the word.
This may all be too little too late - there are only 9 days left - but there is still hope! I’m gonna work hard for that strong finish!
In other news, I finally may have also reached a truce with my laptop. This may not sound like a big deal, but for most of you who have read this blog before, you know that this may be marking the end of a hostile, bitter war that has gone on for months - war is hell.
But yeah, that’s about it guys! I am happy to say that, even with all this going on, I’ve also been able to make forward progress with the game. I have finally figured out a way to introduce the upgrade system in a way that works with the game and still means that the player gets to make meaningful choices - I’ll likely write about this in the week ahead.
Wish me luck guys!
PS - if you know about my game and have been thinking “Hmm, I’ve been meaning to commit my life-savings into kickstarting Blake’s project but just haven’t found the time...” I wanted to let you know that there is no better time to do so than now. Here’s the link ;)
I have a 20GB internet limit per month. Last month I used up the 20GB limit faster than you can say ‘marketing’ and as a result, I’ve been internet-less the past few weeks...But INTERNET IS BACK! Therefore, I can finally blog again - woot!
The biggest change, however, has been the decision to introduce a new mechanic into the game. Perhaps it is a bit reckless to introduce a new mechanic this late into development, especially since now I have committed to a July 9th launch date. That being said, my goal is (and has been) to make the best game I possibly can and I think adding this mechanic will help me to do that so...game on!
Before, the crimelord was a passive agent. He would just wait on the roof for the helicopter, and run towards it when it came, and that’s it. He would never get directly involved in the action or play an active role in delaying the vigilante. Well...that’s changing now.
And to make this happen, there will be a lot to do! I'll even have to redesign quite a few of the levels...but I truly think it will be worth it in the end.
Gosh...so much to do, so little time.
Anyway, life's good. In other news, it's Sunday Funday so I went for another hike today. I pulled a Forrest Gump and walked for a bit, then arrived at a destination, decided to walk a bit more etc, until I found myself deep in the mountains. It was pretty cool. Here's a couple of snapshots from today:
Unlike last time, I didn't get hopelessly lost, so at least I am improving in this regard.
Guys, It's done!! After months of work, the official trailer is finally here! Check it out:
A lot of time/love has gone into it, so I hope people are as stoked about it as I am. This is the beginning of something cool, and here is my prospective and ideal timeline:
Mid Feb: Release the gameplay trailer.
March: Run the kickstarter campaign.
April - July: Get shit done.
Mid July: Release the game.
August: Buy an island.
Not all these goals may be realistic, but I'll work my best to make em happen ;)
Cheers - Blake
I've been getting feedback on my trailer through reddit. I posted a link to a reworked trailer, and lots of people have commented on that. Today, however, I had a guy message me who had gone the extra mile - he reworked my reworked trailer! Check it out!
I think the most noticeable change, however, is the cool 'video looking' overlay he put on top of the intro sequence. It does a good job of recreating that 'action-movie' feel. A similar effect will be in the official FMMH trailer (coming soon) - I have overlayed a 'Super 8' film effect, and also put some movement into the still frames to make them come alive...hopefully people will like the effect.
I've spent this last week creating a gameplay trailer, which I hope to release the same time as the official trailer. The gameplay trailer is 6 and a half minutes long and has me playing through a few levels. I am creating this because I want people who buy this to have a clear idea of what they will be actually getting, and what they can expect from the game.
Since both of these trailers are done, the only final remaining hurdle before these trailers are released is thinking through a kickstarter campaign. I am thinking of what rewards people would like, am planning a budget, and thinking through how I can actually make this happen...I've never launched a kickstarter campaign before. One thing's for sure - this game will definitely need a successful kickstarter campaign to give it that final push - I feel so close...let's hope this all works out.
Follow the game's development on twitter (@FMMHenchmen), on facebook, or follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy