Shifting Strategies, Going Kickstarter

Shifting Strategies, Going Kickstarter

Marcel's inaugural Kickstarting column explains how Kickstarter is helping to remove the "suits" from the game development equation.

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This column looks like it could be very interesting, cant wait to see more

To be honest, I'm surprised the idea of crowdsourcing to meet the financial goal of a project, has taken this long to gain traction. I'm glad it has though. We are getting some very nice games out of the process, games that aren't the same 6 shades of brown & grey fps's.

I am interested. Looking forward to more of this column.

Now I can't help but wonder what these two games were that are mentioned as falling prey to the cluelessness of the "suits."

All right, this looks fantastic and I can't wait to see more!

Very interesting read, I'm looking forward to seeing more.

I am glad someone else is spending their time to wade through the Kickstarter sludge hopefully find gems for me to though money at. Most of the Kickstarters that I support are because I heard about them from another Kickstarter.

My secret formula for now is to only fund games that have met at least one stretch goal so at least they will have extra money if their initial cost assessment was wrong to make the game.

I think what we currently have is an awkward transition phase where devs are trying to figure out what to do without the suits. We see it all the time in projects that have been "successfully funded" but then the developers nervously cough into their hands and ask for more money.

I'm not saying the suits are right, and anyone keeping tabs on the state of the triple-AAA games market can certainly attest to the fact that they're choking some life out of it. I think we'll see a bit of winnowing inasmuch as the developers will acquire more in the way of business sense. They won't become suits, but rather "suit-ish".

^Nothing wrong with being "suit-ish." Good developers need not only good ideas but enough business sense to be able to work on the budget they end up with.

Developers that are purely idea people and aren't in any danger of becoming suit-ish? Schefer and Molyneux.

Gennadios:
^Nothing wrong with being "suit-ish." Good developers need not only good ideas but enough business sense to be able to work on the budget they end up with.

I agree. I would even go so far as to say that the developers need to adopt suit-ish sensibilities in order for this whole crowdsourced development thing to be a viable alternative to the publishing establishment. The truly great ones will have to wear many hats, and a few of those will be in the business side of things. But if they can pull it off, we will continue to see the release of successful games that the establishment would have written off as unprofitable.

On the other end of the spectrum we have...

Developers that are purely idea people and aren't in any danger of becoming suit-ish? Schefer and Molyneux.

Yeah, 'nuff said.

Gennadios:
^Nothing wrong with being "suit-ish." Good developers need not only good ideas but enough business sense to be able to work on the budget they end up with. Developers that are purely idea people and aren't in any danger of becoming suit-ish? Schefer and Molyneux.

This has always been a challenge. A good designer is not necessarily a good producer, and a good designer/producer is not necessarily an effective business man. The Venn Diagrams may overlap if you're fortunate, but you cannot rely upon it.

Some game developers are very good in the business way. I was exchanging email with the guy who does Rimworld and he seems to have an excellent head for business. Tarn Adams, who is a wonderful designer, does not. Nor, I think, does he care. And it's difficult to balance on the beam of the creative on one side and the finance on the other.

That being said, the downsides of the publishing model are far larger than anyone outside the development community probably recognizes. For all its challenges and flaws, Kickstarter provides a way to remove the middleman telling the designer what he will make and the player what he will play. That is why I created the Kickstarting column, because I believe crowdsourcing will become less expensive and more important as time proceeds.

I realize this is inside the baseball, to a certain extent, but I hope the players here will at least find it interesting. After all, the developers of tomorrow must come from the players of today. If anyone has questions, I can't promise I will answer all of them, but I do plan to visit The Escapist forums here when I can find the time.

By the way, I am acquainted with Peter Molyneux. He is a designer, not a producer. And pure designers are almost uniquely unsuited to run Kickstarters successfully. Designers are necessary evils as far as the actual development process is concerned. From the producer's perspective, once the designer provides the necessary ideas, often the most helpful thing he can possibly do is go away and stop evolving the scope of the game.

Repetition of "what is new" in the first paragraph is jarring.

Plus I'm fairly sure that everyone that's played a game in the last 15 years at the very least knows someone antiquated with Peter Molyneux.

That being said, this is a good idea for a series. Here's hoping it adds to the discourse.

Marcel Helion:
If you're interested in having your game project featured in this column, you can email [email protected], describe your project in a paragraph or two, and I'll get back to you if it sounds like something The Escapist readers would be interested in learning more about.

Would projects like boardgames, books ("geek" genres) or geek apparel be something you'd like a heads up on?
Or would this be a games-only column (for example, if that's the only thing you feel comfortable writing about)?

-

Afaik there are already some kickstarter-awareness guides and news out there, but it'd be sweet to see one here on The Escapist.

I found this article to be an interesting read.

I don't suppose you'll be looking into this, but the number of Kickstarter projects that appear firmly destined not to meet their funding goals, only to rescued during the final week by a huge influx of funds, is alarming. It would be surprising if this was all above board. There has been some work looking into the natural cycle of Kickstarter fundraising (intial push, lull, final rush) etc., but this seems to happening more and more.

StreamerDarkly:
...the number of Kickstarter projects that appear firmly destined not to meet their funding goals, only to rescued during the final week by a huge influx of funds, is alarming.

How huge are we talking? Even well overfunded projects tend to get about a third of their funding in the last couple days. The standard wisdom is that you get a third of your funding in the initial push, a third at the end, and the rest trickling in over the duration.

Pyrian:
How huge are we talking? Even well overfunded projects tend to get about a third of their funding in the last couple days. The standard wisdom is that you get a third of your funding in the initial push, a third at the end, and the rest trickling in over the duration.

Which is what seems crazy to me. Most everyone who is interested in the product has already backed it, I'd think. Who is this huge group of fence-sitters who suddenly decide to take the plunge in the last week? Aren't the attention grabbers such as Kickstarter staff picks and whatever buzz the creator can generate on social media already exhausted before the end of the campaign?

A lot of people will put off deciding whether or not to back a project until the last day. That's just what people are like.

Let's take something completely unrelated. Homework assignments. About a quarterish of students will do their homework right away (in class if possible), another quarterish will do it at some reasonable time, and another quarterish will be finishing up at the last possible second. (Don't ask about the fourth group, lol.) Procrastination is common.

Which isn't to say there AREN'T shenanigans going on, I'm sure there are, especially in edge cases. Even then, if they're not turning around and giving the money straight back, I don't think there's anything strictly wrong with going to your well-off parents and begging for a few grand to push you over.

Anyway, the fact that the last-minute surge is basically universal and frequently happens when it's not really necessary, means that it isn't, in itself, good evidence of corruption. When it occurs in an unusually large scale and the money is surreptitiously siphoned back to certain large donors, that's another matter.

Smilomaniac:
Would projects like boardgames, books ("geek" genres) or geek apparel be something you'd like a heads up on?

Boardgames yes. Books and geek apparel no. I am especially not qualified to have an opinion on apparel.

StreamerDarkly:
Which is what seems crazy to me. Most everyone who is interested in the product has already backed it, I'd think. Who is this huge group of fence-sitters who suddenly decide to take the plunge in the last week?

I think people who are lazy, also people who have previously decided to back it, but not decided as to the extent. I fail to see what purpose there might be in falsely pushing a Kickstarter over the finish line. Also, many of the successful Kickstarters exceed their initial goal by a considerable margin. The companies to whom I am speaking intentionally set their initial goals on the conservative side and appear to be less concerned about the base goal than about what you might call their actual goal.

There is some information to this regard in the next Kickstarting column.

Marcel:
I fail to see what purpose there might be in falsely pushing a Kickstarter over the finish line. ... The companies to whom I am speaking intentionally set their initial goals on the conservative side and appear to be less concerned about the base goal than about what you might call their actual goal.

Isn't that a different strategy on the same goal, though? "We want $$$, but $$ is still $$ more than nothing." So, a naïve actor might set a goal of $$$ and then find a corrupt way to kick in another $ when they only get $$, while a more experienced crew is setting a $$ goal in the first place, when they're really hoping for considerably more.

StreamerDarkly:

Pyrian:
How huge are we talking? Even well overfunded projects tend to get about a third of their funding in the last couple days. The standard wisdom is that you get a third of your funding in the initial push, a third at the end, and the rest trickling in over the duration.

Which is what seems crazy to me. Most everyone who is interested in the product has already backed it, I'd think. Who is this huge group of fence-sitters who suddenly decide to take the plunge in the last week? Aren't the attention grabbers such as Kickstarter staff picks and whatever buzz the creator can generate on social media already exhausted before the end of the campaign?

Personally, i'm so stingy with my money I always pledge in the last couple days for Kickstarters, I like to keep an eye on any new updates and stretch goals before I commit for as long as possible

Umm... just to point this out to some folks @Marcel may not be the same person as

Marcel Helion:
-snip-

OT, as a few others have said, while yes the 'suits' can get in the way, and have the stupidest complaints at times. They are required as well... as a Developer my specialty may be designing, coding, or art, etc. However that doesn't mean I have good financial discipline, it doesn't mean I don't either mind you.

I think a big problem with AAA-Suits at the moment is that they have too much sway / power the process which may just mean we need better agreements in place. Yes a Lawyer is important to make sure that all your T's have been crossed, and your I's dotted. So that your trademark is registers correctly, and that your employees can't sue you for things that were vague in their contracts. However, should they have any sway over the color of a laser? Hell no.

Additionally, while I agree with the points that kickstarter gets rid of the 'suits' you end up with something, in my opinion, much much worst, which are over-entitled backers. How many stories did we see last year of people who were demanding stuff because they helped fund something? Just recently there was the Rooster Teeth guy (I'm horrible with names sorry) who was ill. People donated to help with medical costs, and then wanted more info on what had happened. The problem comes from people misunderstanding their role in the system, which is exactly what has happened with the AAA-Suits.

Yes, we need a good lawyer to do the legal filings, just like we need a good artist to do the art, or a good developer to make efficient coding. Just like we need financial backers to front the bills for all of the other people, but those backers aren't the boss, they should be coming on board with the understanding of "Hey you give me $X.xx money, and I will use it to make a game in my own vision that is in this type of style". If you aren't comfortable with that, then do not donate money to kickstarters.

It is that simple.

EDIT:

Welcome Aboard Marcel!! :D

Pyrian:
Isn't that a different strategy on the same goal, though? "We want $$$, but $$ is still $$ more than nothing." So, a naïve actor might set a goal of $$$ and then find a corrupt way to kick in another $ when they only get $$, while a more experienced crew is setting a $$ goal in the first place, when they're really hoping for considerably more.

In effect, perhaps, but the motivations are entirely different. We are in the process of constructing our Kickstarter, about which you will read in perhaps six weeks, and one of the concerns is being careful that we do not find ourselves committed to trivial aspects while missing out on the things we very much want to do. The professionals understand that it is the time that is the truly valuable element. The money is necessary in most circumstances, of course, but secondary. So the base goal will be something the professionals are pleased to do.

You may recall Starr Long speaking of this in the interview with him. In essence, the less experienced focus on the funding, the more experienced focus on the commitments.

Demagogue:
Welcome Aboard Marcel!! :D

Merci. To be clear, I am the author of the articles. The other identity is the site master of The Escapist who ensures there is a way to discuss them on these forums.

 

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