So, I thought I would do a series of articles on my experience with Kickstarter. Throughout the FAL Kickstarter I kept notes on the experience in case it was successful and in case anyone in the future was interested in using my experience as a reference for creating their own KS project. While I assume that some of my KS experience is for tabletop games only, I think some of it is applicable to a wide variety of projects. So, here we go.
My goal for the FAL KS was initially going to be in the summer of 2013. FAL had been playtested and I felt like I was ready to put it out for others. By that time it had already been in development for a while and the core of the game was finished. However, the stuff included in the Companion Rules was unfinished and the Tales of Awesome wasn't even on my mind. Originally, FAL was going to be released as a sandbox sort of game with broad general rules for micro and macro gaming and there was to be no defined setting (although a lot of the setting was woven into the game - like FAL specific races and such). So I started researching other KS projects and what it took to put a project together and what I needed to have done on my end. And probably, within a few hours of researching and looking at other projects, I realized I was nowhere near close to being ready for a KS project.
My research consisted on looking at projects that were both successful and those that weren't. I read a ton of articles and lists on how to go about setting up a KS and how to do it right (I only paid attention to those who had successfully run a KS). I looked at projects similar to my own, tabletop games, cards, rpgs, etc.. I spent a while looking at similar KS projects and what those people were doing and the outcomes. I looked at what projects were offering, the pricing, the delivery dates, the number of backers, what reward levels people were purchasing, etc.. I kept a word document with notes and links and constantly updated with new information. While I was doing all of this I was looking at what the "experts" had to say as well. I tried to pay a lot of attention to the various areas of a KS project and start from a core. Since the culmination of the FAL KS, I have found that the project really existed in three stages: the prep stage, the KS stage, and the post KS stage.
The Prep Stage
The prep stage of the FAL KS was the stage in which I was getting all of the materials together. This was the stage where I was working on the game, the mechanics, the rules, what I wanted to include (and eventually exclude), etc.. Since FAL had been in different forms (an old web comic, a terrible novel), I had already done some of the leg work as far as the idea went. And by the time summer 2013 had come around, FAL was pretty much finished on the micro end (when I say micro I'm talking about stuff like combat, character creation, monsters, etc.). But that was really just the beginning of the prep.
I knew I wanted to include a bunch of stuff in the KS. Stuff like books, cards, shirts, dice, posters, prints, maps, etc.. When I had planned on launching the KS in summer of 2013 I didn't even have the books finished, let alone the cards being done, the posters, shirts, or anything else. After reading some horror stories of successful KS projects that failed to deliver, I decided to postpone the FAL launch. I decided at that time that I would only release the project once it was finished, or at least so close to being finished that I could deliver barring only a huge catastrophe. By finished I mean I had the books and cards in physical form in my hand.
So, what I did was to make lists of everything I wanted included in the KS. From that list I began the process of creating each item to be included for FAL. Luckily for me, I have experience writing, editing, drawing, using various content creation software, doing layout work, etc.. I knew I was going to do all the artwork on my own so there was no need to hire an artist. I knew I was going to do all of the writing, editing, proofing on my own as well. I had entertained the idea of hiring someone to do the layout but quickly realized that I would be making changes as I went in the project and I didn't want to hire someone that I would drive crazy. I also realized that the scope of the project had grown to the point where five books would be created and there was no way I could afford to rely on someone to do layout. I couldn't hire someone because I had no money (although I had offers to do it for free or wait until the KS finished to determine the pay).
Basically, I decided against any outside involvement, at least on the creative end. My decision for this was based on two things. The first was I was capable of doing the majority of the work, and what I was incapable of doing I could probably learn with help from Google searches and some study. My second reason was that the majority of projects that I saw that failed to deliver often relied on multiple people. For example, you hire several artists online to do work for your books and they all tell you that they are going to have an image by this date. Or you have an editor who says this will be done by this date, or a layout person. I was afraid of putting that power in someone else's hands. I was more afraid of creating a project and taking people's money and relying on people I had never met. So I decided to do everything on my own.
Pt 2 will continue with the Prep phase. Thanks for reading.
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