Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kickstarter Post-Mortem

Hi everyone! Last month's Kickstarter was a resounding success due in no small part to our amazing community! In the spirit of self-improvement and to give everyone feedback on our experience, we decided to organize a little post-mortem of our Kickstarter adventure. It's our way of showing more of the inner workings that are going into making Highlands, and hopefully this will help other indie developers go through the challenges of a Kickstarter campaign.

How did we live through the kickstarter experience?
The Kickstarter experience is quite an ordeal. As a whole, we lived in a constant state of love/hate with it. Not only is it wholly invasive in everyone's life, but it's also incredibly rewarding. Allow me to clarify. On one side, when we got into the crowdfunding process, we had no idea how much work it was going to be. It's non-stop action. The back and forth with the community, the promotion and the constant checking and refreshing of the main page to see new stats and backers! It followed us everywhere and for a whole month we were on edge. At the same time, it is one of the most rewarding things we could've done! Every pledge we received was met with cheers and when we hit the goal, it was such a relief! When you get in a crowdfunding process, you have to adapt and learn new skills very quickly. It was, overall, a very positive learning experience for everyone involved on the team.

What did we do good?
The Kickstarter went through, so obviously we did something good. But what? On the whole, the preparation we put into it was satisfying for a first experience.  We have spent about 2 weeks of half-time research from a single team member, reading articles such as the one I'm posting and gathering various facts and best-practices on Kickstarter.  Then at the beginning of September when we decided to go for it, there was about 3 weeks of full preparation from the whole team.

The Kickstarter page and the image of the game were quite strong. We had many positive comments about our page, that it looked professionnal and had a good direction. We had a great message we wanted to send about the game, and with the help of the community we managed to narrow the description enough so that it was clear what players would be getting into. Speaking of players, we feel like we handled the community quite well, trying to answer everyone quickly and giving as much information and feedback as possible. Of course, you are all in a better position to judge that!

What did we do that wasn't so good?
Obviously, we can't do everything right. While the preparation time we had was satisfying, you can never have too much prep time. Seriously, be like batman, plan for the impossible. We also didn't expect the level of time and efforts it took us to run this successful campaign. We planned a lot of production time during the campaign but it took us so much efforts, we couldn't put more than 30-40% of our time into actual game production, at best. Of course, without funding, we simply couldn't go on with the game, so it was a good trade-off. In the research we did, we found out that there was a lull in the middle of the campaign, which we expected. But when faced with that downtime, we were actually panicking. Even if we knew that it would shoot back up, we had all hands on deck trying to reverse the direction.

What if we had to do it again?
There's plenty of things that we could've done better and that we'd do differently if we were to do it again. The marketing strategy would be one of those. While we had plenty of luck with the marketing we had, it could've been more thought-out. The reception we had from the media was great but if we planned it better? We're confident that it could have been glorious. One of the things that caused us pain was the pledges and stretch goals. The pledges were good, but the description wasn't as good as it could've been, same thing with the stretch goals. While we had good ideas for the goals, the money objective now seems too high. It looked logical at the time, but not so much now. Of course,  they say hindsight is 20/20 but it still is something that bears some thought. One last thing, we mentioned earlier that the message we tried to give of the game was good. It was, but looking back there was a lot that we needed to clarify mid-campaign.  The community feedback helped us a lot to refine our branding and better express our gameplay ideas and we could probably have planned it a little better.

And now, a word of advice!
We're an indie studio and we feel like the world of gaming could benefit from more indie games. Often, the step to take is a big one and that's why everyone at Burrito Studio has a little advice for every developer out there:

"Make sure your branding is rock-solid yet stay flexible and refine it on the way. " -BurritoJo

"Don't underestimate the workload!" -BurritoFrank

"Don't think Kickstarter will bring you views, you will bring views to Kickstarter" -BurritoLo

"Prepare yourself in advance, learn to use self-promotion tools, learn from others, more preparation." -BurritoAl

Thank you all again for all the love and support during the Kickstarter campaign.  We've been hard at work for more than three weeks now and we'll keep on working until the game is ready in all its glory. Beta is still on track for this December so stay tuned!  In the meantime, you are all awesome!

If you feel curious and want more insights on the Kickstarter experience, please feel free to comment and ask away!