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Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign.

Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:33 am
by LobsterSundew
This thread is a bit different from the brainstorming threads about what backers want to see from the next game. Instead, this thread is more about the execution of next Kickstarter campaign and marketing more than it is about the game. It is about brainstorming content that can go into elevator pitches, infographics and presskits. Is is also good to think up potential questions that future backers may ask so that answers can be prepared.

Like the other brainstorming threads, Matt shouldn't be obligated to respond to any or all of the questions here because that may slow down the creative process.

I'll start here:

When were specific rewards delivered? A big part of Kickstarter is potential backers gauging if the project creator can actually deliver on the project. Since NN was not vaporware and actually shipped something more than an early-alpha it has an advantage over many other projects. NN released on Steam on September 26th 2014. The estimated delivery date during the campaign back in 2013 was for an August 2014 release. I don't remember for sure if the Ouya release was earlier than the Steam release. Compared to other Kickstarter projects that I've backed, NN was right on time. Actually keeping to the release schedule is a huge positive point to mention because many other crowdfunded games failed to release close to what they promised.

How many postcards, posters, t-shirts, etc. were shipped? This can help settle potential concerns about the fulfillment of physical rewards. Specific numbers like "423" can carry more weight than vague answers like "A lot of t-shirts". The best numbers could be selected for the presskit or project page.

Sometimes the not obvious numbers can be useful or entertaining. Looking at Matt's Steam profile I see he has over 261 hours of Retro/Grade played just for what Steam has logged. There could be a comment about how much he still plays Retro/Grade. Matt's project creator account has backed over 160 projects.

What are some interesting numbers? How many project updates were made? This could be divided in categories like posts during the campaign and after. The number could even be processed like the average number of updates per month. NN has been far better than even much larger projects for staying in communication with backers.

What has past coverage been like? How many rewards or nominations? How well did it fair in the top-ten lists bloggers produce at the end of a year? What conventions did it appear at? Which famous people played the game? Which famous Let's Players played it? How many views on those YouTube videos?

How well did the community involvement work? There can be testimonies from backers. There could be a summary of when builds were made available to backers. There could even be a brief compilation of fanart.

What features were accomplished? What languages was the game translated into? What features like cloud saves were implemented? What were the minimum computer requirements. What problems like Intel's integrated GPU bugs were overcome?

How has Matt's personal story continued since the 2013 project? The history behind NN and how that related to the experience being crafted was one of the reasons it received attention from press.

What about iOS ports of Neverending Nightmares? There was an interview long ago talking about sophisticated shaders in the game making it difficult to target multiple mobile hardware. An iOS launch around the same time as a Kickstarter launch could create some marketing synergy (The dreaded business word "synergy").

Will the next game be on the Ouya store? Many backers were also Ouya backers. If it is not going to support Ouya then there should be a justification like pushing the GPU demands more than they were with NN. There could be a mention of how Ouya's FTGF helped make the minimum goal smaller last time.

What should be on the Wikipedia page? The NN Wikipedia page should be updated to link to the next project at launch. It could be a lot longer and more filled out than it currently is.

What could be done better with the next project page? There is discussing what worked and what didn't for the NN project page. I think there could be more content about the other devteam members in an early project update. Their personal stories could be added to the project. The add-ons section took up a lot of space on the previous campaign. Next time it could be a more compact infographic.

What should the next pitch video be like? Because so many developer updates through YouTube were from the same camera position showing the shelves of game boxes, I think that scene should continue to be used at least for some part of the pitch. There is the option to horror decorate the scene a bit. The developer talking scene after a gameplay teaser trailer could begin with his room spooky and candle lit, but then it plays on audience expectations by not being a jumpscare but actually Matt's "Hello" with a wave and then the room's ceiling light turns on.

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:30 am
by evilkinggumby
Ya know I did a big ol post yesterday replying to this and some odd keystroke cleared it and I couldn't get it back.. *sigh* So you'll get the summarical short short version (which is likely a blessing to you all lol).

first, consider explaining how you as a developer (matt AND his team) have grown after the last game. what new techniques, tricks, and updates will the next game have? Did the last game help Matt's outlook or mental state? is there clear signs of growth and progress from it? Will the next game, in some fashion, be better and more grandiose than NeN?

Second: consider doing a limited run tier with Indiebox for a physical copy of the next game + NeN together. For anyone collecting the Indiebox games, this is an insta-buy (I did it when I saw it hit for Deadwood currently). Indiebox is doing print runs of about 1200 for their regular games, so doing even a limited block of 200-300 would be "rare" for their collectors. That tier is still going so hopefully it pans out and if you watch it, might see if it was successful or not.

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:19 am
by matt
I use firefox, and I always get screwed in the forum where I somehow lose focus on the textbox and hit backspace and it goes back to the previous page and I lose all my precious text. I changed the binding now, so hopefully it won't happen.

My email is totally broken at the moment, so I don't have all my records, but I think I had about 200 shirts made up. I do know we sent out 324 packages. Technically it was a bit more because there were a few special orders and things had to get resent, but that seems like a good number. :) I sent out 16 signed postcards and 32 bookmarks.

While I played a ton of Retro/Grade when testing the game, I haven't really touched it since because I try not to think about the game, since I am still saddened by its poor performance.

Mobile hardware has improved greatly since I gave that interview, so we are still considering a mobile port, but now, the real question really comes down to how to treat mobile from a business perspective... It's tough for paid apps to thrive, and we'd have to undercut our Steam price considerably, which is sort of par for the course, but it feels weird as a developer.

We are definitely considering OUYA, but it was a challenge to get Neverending Nightmares running well, and we are adding effects and other complexities to our new game, so it'll be harder. We are still looking into it. :)

I am moving to a new place soon, which means I won't be filming in the same office anymore. My new office will probably have a similar set up although I am not looking forward to unpacking everything. haha Those are some good suggestions for the pitch video!

With regard to Indiebox, I would rather keep things as kickstarter rewards because then it directly supports our project rather than having a middleman.

Anyway, I look forward to reading future posts on this thread! This is some good feedback for me! :)

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:12 pm
by evilkinggumby
the indiebox tier is still completely within kickstarter, it is just they're using indiebox as the fulfillment house for the physical copies, rather than having to search out and coordinate with some other company. So money coming in is still directly to the project, and cost is likely similar to using any 3rd party publishing house to print/create the game copies. The only diff is name recognition, a better guarantee of quality, and the chance to create an alternate edition of the game and charge enough to help make it worth it for the backers AND kick the projects funding ass. :)

good luck with the move. checking todays video, it was kind of sad and athetic to see the empty shelves behind you. are they coming with you or are they bolted/part of the wall? :) please tell me you are shifting to a place where your workspace is a little less cramped :)

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:31 pm
by RightClickSaveAs
Great questions being brought up! As a backer who didn't know anything about Neverending Nightmares prior to finding the Kickstarter for it, I thought the first project page did a good job selling it.

Seconding that you should definitely emphasize the fact that you've delivered a project on time and have been fantastic with the updates and community involvement. For fun, I've been putting together a spreadsheet of Kickstarter projects that have launched a finished game, and found that the average difference between estimated and actual release dates has been about 7 months, with more than a few stretching past a year. You're currently in the 30% of games that have released within 3 months of when they said they would. And out of that 30%, 4 or 5 of the projects were for releasing games that were basically already finished, and 1 was an Android/Itunes App Store zombie running game.

One thing that really helped sell me on the first project was that it had a playable demo. I know it's mixed as to whether or not demos are worth it, but it's something I personally look for. The one thing I'd say that could be improved on in the next one is to have a bit more variety in the demo, if possible, tease people with some of the more tense and action filled parts.

I also liked that NN had a large variety of tiers. It bums me out to see a project I like that offers tiers starting around $10-15, but then jumps right to $50 or higher with no middle options.

I say all this as someone who is already sold on the next project anyway, so this is more for hopefully being helpful in winning over people who aren't sure!

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:31 am
by LobsterSundew
Strength of The SWORD: ULTIMATE is an example of a project page using fancy infographs. These are much more elaborate than most projects need. They can still be used as a high-bar when planning infographics. I think the next Infinitap project could benefit from an infographic with "What's the same" and "What's different" that quickly conveys how the next game is different from Neverending Nightmares. The same infographs could be used for Imgur posts like the one made for Battle Chef Brigade. The Imgur post is useful for sharing through platforms like Reddit and Twitter.

When there is a fixed launch date, a countdown web page could be setup to coordinate future backers. After the launch, the countdown is switch to showing the minutes remaining until the project's deadline.

I see the empty shelves in Dev Diary #254. Relocating could be part of the story behind the project. Filming the games being put back onto shelves at the new location could provide many video updates worth of padding content.

If custom backer portraits are made an option again, the story about the hassle with the portraits for NN could justify a higher price than last time. Those NN portraits could be hidden somewhere in the next game as easter eggs to get further use out of those assets and as further thanks to the backers at that tier.

Neverending Nightmares ran its Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 before the PS4 launched in North America. Since then, many video game projects now get someone asking about a PS4 port just like how people since 2012 still ask if there will be a Linux port. I don't really see many people asking for Xbox One ports. There is sometimes people that ask about Wii U ports.

The organization of the FAQ for The Corner Gas Movie has questions grouped by topics like the crew and the rewards.

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:17 pm
by matt
One big advantage infographics has is there is a hard character limit on a kickstarter campaign page. I learned this because we hit it on Neverending Nightmares. hahaha I'm not sure if they are going to raise it or remove it, but if you condense information into pictures (or put your text into pictures), it means you can cram more stuff on your page. :)

I'll definitely give some thought to how we can create a more interesting layout than just lots and lots of text for the first campaign. A countdown until the launch of the kickstarter is a great idea provided we can get everything together with time to spare. Hopefully!

I'm in my new office, but I am not looking forward to putting everything back on the shelves. Everything will probably stay in boxes for a long while... :-/

Console stretch goals are interesting. I'd rather play most games on PS4 given the choice, but as someone who has done console development, I know it's quite expensive. The dev kits aren't cheap, Unity may or may not be free on PS4 (the wording is confusing), you need to do professional QA, and there are man months of work to make it compliant with technical requirements. (Unity doesn't solve many of the technical requirements for you) On top of all that, I suspect (I have no idea for sure) that keys aren't free. It adds a huge cost to the game. I would estimate it a lot lower than quite many projects offer them.

I'd definitely be open to offering a PS4 stretch goal, but it'd be a significant cost added on. I think WiiU is often offered as a stretch goal because they are going out of their way to court Unity developers. We became licensed for WiiU - or so I thought, but it turns out that we were only approved for Unity use. I never really followed up though, so I don't think we are a "real" WiiU dev. I know for a fact that we are licensed for PS4/PS3/Vita, and Xbox One. :) ID@Xbox is really cool because dev kits are free. Unity is free on Xbox One as well, but I have no idea how keys work for fulfillment though.

Hiding the original backer portraits is a really cool idea, but unfortunately, we are changing the art style, so they would stick out like a sore thumb. :(

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions! :)

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 6:18 pm
by RightClickSaveAs
I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but I was thinking earlier, have you thought about having one of the tier rewards include a copy of Neverending Nightmares?

Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:23 pm
by matt
Well, I was thinking about just offering Neverending Nightmares as an add on for $10. My thought was that people who already have Neverending Nightmares might feel like they are paying extra for something they already have, so keeping it separate might be helpful. Perhaps I'll include it in a tier if there is a gap in my reward structure and I need to add value to the tier.

I was also thinking about having all the digital add ons from Neverending Nightmares (dev commentary, novel, etc) for more reasonable prices since the current prices are a bit silly, and we want to drive as much business as we can though the kickstarter campaign, so I think discounting the products we have and putting them through kickstarter is a good way to go.

On the flip side, I don't want to have a confusing amount of add ons right off the bat. What do you guys think?


Re: Brainstorming thread about the next Kickstarter campaign

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 7:52 am
by evilkinggumby
I think it also depend son if you will have similar addons for the new game. like if i see a list of NEN1 addons and then NEN2 addons and then other addons that are not digital my brain will explode. :)

I mean it's always amusing to see the mega giant grid of "here's all the addons and tiers we created" but personally I find it really hard to digest visually and choose. I usually end up looking to see if the game has a physical tier, and if not, i shoot for the minimum tier for a digital copy (if it is reasonable). The rest is completely ignored.

Though I will say again, I would totally buy a printed dvd of "Behind the Nightmares" that walks through the process of both games and features all kinds of discussion, interviews, footage of some of the bits of development, and an extensive look at the creator of the series. But that would likely never happen so oh well. :)