Not the first and definitely not the last

Hi, and welcome to the first in a series I like to call ‘Kickstarter Campaign Round Up’ where I provide snap analysis of Canadian KS campaigns. After going through a plethora of campaigns over the past year or so, I’ve decided to focus my interest in Games. Tabletop gaming to be specific because heck, I’m developing board games. The purpose of these review posts are to be educational and critical towards the expectation received and presentation provided. It is not to demean, demoralize or bash the creators. I’m just sharing my honest point of view on the project’s success or failure as a game designer. I’m not new to the crowd funding approach but KS, IndieGoGo and the likes have had me really apprehensive about taking that big step. The old school way of demoing a game, doing play tests and sharing your self-published game through websites, e-commerce and Facebook has always been around. Now with the increased popularity of digital crowd funding and attracting a larger audience than just your local community is very key to a projects success. The entrepreneur in us all can thank the internet for helping them get a piece of that pie.

Hardcopy, analog games with a tactile approach and player communication is all the rage. Classic board gaming is back with a vengeance and anyone capable of writing, drawing, crafting or printing parts can get in on it.  I’ve been sharing with my group the critiques and adulation of campaigns I’ve come across and I thought I should share them with you. Here are some of the ones that have caught my interest.


Kill the customers

I think either they failed on the marketing aspect or didn’t pitch it to the public early enough to run the campaign. Kill the customers has an Eff The World type of mentality where whether or not you like the game, others will. Cards Against Humanity is probably the king of offensive card games at the moment and I feel the creator(s) of this game wanted in on that space. We’re all despicable at times, why not exercise that angst and rage in a board game. Great concept poorly executed. The video was cheeky, I like the artwork and the portrayal of “revenge” but things didn’t work out. It felt lacking. From the onset most of the content was a set up. Some artwork drafts were shown and then the rules. A site link was provided but that link doesn’t work any longer. I assume the developer(s) just nixed the whole project entirely. Sad really. Barebones at best, this project has wings but never considered the application of the runway.

Ruudy Vikings

Equation for success on Kickstarter: Short concise video + Additional video(s) + Outline of cards + Outline of game play + Quality of components + Bonus items + Nice artwork + Constant updates + Good mix of tiers + Exclusive items to higher tier backers + Entry backing tier is the actual game (no digital or or thank you donations). I can’t say enough about this campaign. A solid game and a solid campaign period. For that type of return they probably did a ton of play testing and betas to get people amped before the KS launch. Awareness is the most important part of any campaign, no matter how incomplete a project is.

Golem Academy

Fusion is the key. I like the concept, gameplay and such. Got me thinking about Ghost Matrix actually. The artwork for this is top-notch. The game designer knows his manga style really well. Box art artist is a different dude. The card art artist still holds some strong lines and designs. Golem Academy is a testament to a well structured, thoroughly planned project which delivers all the information one should ever need. They outlined all the facts about the game, about the creators and about their vision. Nice artwork is always good but game play videos, to me, are probably the most vital. They even provided a link to download the beta game so you can play test before you invest. Kudos to the team at Silly Kids Games and best of luck getting the game globally recognized.

RPG Mobile Card Game

Zero. Absolutely Zero. That number, word even sums up the hopes and dreams of this whole campaign. Here’s someone who clearly missed the part where KS aides you by fleshing out the barebones of any project. Even if that wasn’t easy enough, how about “follow your fellow man” and just copy another (hopefully already successful) KS campaign format. All he had to do is look at ANY 5 card game campaigns to benchmark his presentation and backing tiers. Actually, never mind card game campaigns. He could have followed the format of any KS campaign out there. I guess some folks just want to get something up and hope that the internet community will find and fund it. All good in theory but ultimately a unanimous FAIL!

Rise of the Dragon Lords

Someone who’s looking for quite a bit of cash and may not have gone through all the pre-play, marketing, and media to get the game in front of as many people as possible. Maybe he did, but we can’t tell from the campaign. Maybe it’s just too much money to ask for, but then again the game looks fairly large in scale. The presentation is good, I’ll give him that. Cheeky and fun video, details about the project provided clearly, a breakdown of the funds required listed, and overall a good foundation. Better than most, but again, another who stifled his backers by limiting their budget cap to just 4 tiers. Even has a facebook page — Even with a  visibly solid delivery projects can still falter. What truly makes up a great crowd funding campaign? Only the pros know, but if you’re willing to spend the extra money there are a few well recognized KS services out there that will run your campaign for you… for a cost of course.


Closing Notes

I noticed that all the campaigns that got good things going for them are 2 fold; Market awareness + Justifiable Cause. Great awareness in their community due to a great presentation really helps. Regardless the cost of backing, people can appreciate the value of the game. Moreover, they and are willing to invest in something tried and true as they’ve already had exposure to it. There are very few games I see that pique my interested in backing for over $40 due to the tier structure and perceived entertainment. But like most board gamers I’m willing to play any game once. Not too sure about buying every game though. See you next week when I take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Disclaimer: The purpose of these reviews is to share an first impression critique based on expectation received and presentation provided. It is not to demean, demoralize or flame the creators and/or their games. Just sharing my honest point of view on the project’s success or failure as a fellow game designer.