How to Get Your Kickstarter Game First

Today I’m processing a lot of Kickstarter orders, it just so happens that while Escape the Nightmare and Wizard’s Academy were kickstarted at different times their manufacturing processes have finished within a week of each other. Essentially my goal is to process the spreadsheets that Kickstarter gives you into a pile of address labels. There are thousands to get through and there’ll probably be a noticeable amount of time between the first one and the last one, so if I do your label first then you might see your game a week earlier than someone whose got done last. With that in mind I thought I’d write a guide to “Getting your kickstarter game first”

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Kickstarter: Predictions and Projections

So Escape the Nightmare has launched and we’re only a few days in but it looks like it’s going to be a close run thing. There were some tricky issues in the launch (some of which are still ongoing) and I’m sure at some point I’ll dissect those so that we can all talk about how they impact on things – but today I’d like to talk about ways of seeing the future and their impact both on me as a creator and on strategic decisions taken about the project as a whole. I’ll get onto the impact of a prediction later, first let’s talk about the method:

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Buisiness Models

Soon we will finish delivering 404: Law Not Found to backers, so it’s possible to get a snapshot of how the project has performed financially as a whole. It looks like the approximate outcome will be that we’ll have raised roughly as much money as we spent and have about 300 games left over. If we sell those games at £35 each then the project will have made a profit of around £10k (depending on what we end up paying in warehousing) which isn’t great for a project of its size and scope but is respectable. If we don’t sell any we’ll probably wind up with a small loss. Overall things have more or less worked out, but it seems like an interesting moment to step back and look at other paths that might have been taken and that could be taken for future games.

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What does a mini cost?

I’m getting a lot of questions about the Wizard’s Academy Kickstarter and minis. I’ve been asked why the game has minis in PMs, on BGG and on the Reddit AMA (which is a good read, it’s nice to see what people who’ve played the game have to say). The answer boils down to “Because it makes the game better and it makes sense for a 3D art company” – but I’ve also had questions about the economics of minis, particularly an add on mini, that I’ve held off answering because I needed a long form answer – this blog is all about the long form game design discussions so let’s do this thing!

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Philosophy of Lies

Today I was asked about whether I was GMing the Wizard’s Academy minigame in such a way that I’d cheat in order to make sure that the players weren’t utterly ruined by the RNG. My instinct was to say “No, of course not, if it all goes wrong the it all goes wrong!”, I like fair play and generally I try to offer real risks rather than illusory ones. This got me thinking about the philosophy of lies and when as a GM or game designer (the roles are similar in some respects) you would choose to mislead your players.

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Wizard’s Academy

I tried, I really did, to write something interesting and insightful about game design today – but I just can’t do it. We’re launching a Kickstarter tomorrow that’s going to have a huge impact on my career as a games designer. If things go well then we’ll keep making games and I’ll immediately get to start working on the next one, perhaps the several next ones. If it goes poorly then 3DTotal is likely to make the sensible economic decision to get out of the game making business and I’ll be out of a job. Hopefully I’d exploit other options I have to design more games, but it’d be a major step backwards in terms of the resources that I could leverage to keep building games.

The point is that I’m really not having a lot of success thinking about anything else, so if you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on game design then I’d ask you to please bear with me for just this week while I talk about something that’s important to me. Next week will be business as usual.

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Player Count

Today I’m working from home in preparation for doing an interview with BluePegPinkPeg, who look at games from the perspective of couples and families. That’s got me thinking about how different games handle player counts, a lot of games seem to display player counts that they can’t really handle. I’ve got plenty of games in my collection listed as “2-6 players” that are totally unplayable with two, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about how different games deal with varying player counts.

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Reviewer-Designer Synergy

I’m planning on launching Wizard’s Academy around March 16th and so have been soliciting reviews to help gamers decide if it’s the right game for them. There should be half a dozen previews going live on the day of the launch, Ricky (who is generally excellent) has half of his preview live here and will launch a second video during the campaign. Generally feedback has been positive, but not every reviewer has liked the game. That’s fine by me, I don’t expect that every person will like every game, but doing this preview/kickstarter model does afford me an option that would not be available to a designer working in the traditional way: I could change the game based on the reviewer’s opinion.

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What’s the price of a game?

So I’m presently losing sleep over how to price pledge levels for the upcoming Wizard’s Academy kickstarter. Fundamentally the problem is this: I would like to charge the lowest possible price that leads to the game still shipping, to maximise the number of people who get to enjoy the game (This is my main motivation for being in game design, over industries in which people actually make money and don’t get talked down to at parties). However after a point a lower pledge level makes the campaign less likely to succeed in which case nobody gets to play the game, so today I’m going to review the things that go into setting the price of the pledge level and talk about some solutions that I and other creators have used in the past.

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