Six Tips To Crowdfunding Success

This is a short piece I wrote for a recruitment agency’s client newsletter, which I thought you’d be interested to see:

SIX TIPS FOR CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS
1. Show your working. Don’t ask people to back a concept, ask them to finance the final stages of a project that’s almost completed. Successful crowdfunding is not about asking people to make your dreams come true, it’s the other way around—you’re offering them something amazing, if they pay for it.

2. Don’t set your target too high. Greed is not attractive to backers. Run the financials, work out how much it’ll cost to produce the basic form of your product, and ask for that (less the cost of rewards, of course). If the project over-funds, use the extra to add in more features.

3. Structure the rewards you offer. Kickstarter is a way for people to pre-order cool new stuff, so let them. Arrange your rewards so that someone can buy the basic product for £20 but ends up pledging £50 because they’ll get even more cool bits.

4. Prime your publicity. Kickstarter will not bring you an audience: you have to do that. Make sure your network is ready to help you publicise the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, newsfeeds and via mailouts. Some people pay to advertise their crowdfunding projects on popular websites.

5. Monitor the campaign daily. Staying in contact with your backers and supporters and making them feel invested is important: not only will they spread the word about your project for you, but often they’ll come back
and pledge more money for extra rewards and stretch goals.

6. Don’t worry if it fails. Cancel the project, work out where you went wrong, redefine the project or retool the campaign and try again. Crowdfunding is a great way of learning if your idea has a potential market, and refining it until you find the sweet spot.

Bringing crowdfunding to the masses

On 29th January at UKIE James Wallis gave a masterclass in crowdfunding and using Kickstarter, along with film-maker Martin Gooch and independent game-developer Andrew Sage. The evening was organised by Edugameshub and the London Educational Games Meetup (LEGup).

After the Starter

One of the things that nobody tells you about Kickstarter is how much a successful campaign raises your profile. Since Alas Vegas was spectacularly funded at the beginning of March, Spaaace’s client portfolio has exploded to include environmental charities, major oil companies, a major brewer, an educational establishment and several other new faces. James has delivered a number of lectures and workshops, including one on an island in a fjord courtesy of Hyperion, the federation of Norwegian gamers, has judged a couple of awards, and has contributed material to at least three other Kickstarter campaigns including a complete RPG for Mike Selinker’s barnstorming Maze of Games interactive puzzle novel, new games for Hide & Seek’s Tiny Games app, and Robin Laws’s Hillfolk drama-system game. For the last he created ‘The Battle of Wits’, which is almost certainly the only tabletop game based on the feuds and in-fighting of the Augustan poets.

All this has regrettably meant that Alas Vegas is running late. However its lead artist John Coulthart has now finished his amazing major arcana which will illustrate the book, and things are on track for a release in the autumn. In a race between quality and speed, we prefer the former.

Kickstarter update

The Kickstarter campaign to fund Alas Vegas launched at 5pm on Tuesday 29th January, and reached its funding goal less than eight hours later. At the time of this entry it has been running for just over a week and stands at £7202 from 364 backers, averaging £20 per backer. Three stretch goals have been unlocked, with the fourth less than £800 away.

The project runs till 28th February and is projected to raise almost £25,000, or over 800% of its original goal. You can follow its progress here:
ALAS VEGAS: an RPG of bad memories, bad luck & bad blood -- Kicktraq Mini

or you can visit the project’s Kickstarter page here.

Once the project is closed we’ll make a post with our conclusions about the process and advice to anyone thinking about using Kickstarter as part of a funding campaign. Or contact us directly.

We Can Kick It!

An update on the previous post: Alas Vegas hit 100% of its Kickstarter funding goal in seven hours and 45 minutes. According to Kicktraq it’s likely to reach a total somewhere in the region of £52,000.

Can You Kick It?

Spaaace has launched its first Kickstarter campaign, for the tabletop role-playing game Alas Vegas, described as ‘a horror RPG of bad luck, bad faith & bad blood’. You can see its webpage here.

The game has been two years in gestation. It’s a new format for RPGs, based on an HBO miniseries rather than the open-ended soap-operas that most RPGs turn out to be. We’re delighted to be working with two top-flight artists on the project: John Coultart, who rather delightfully won the World Fantasy Award a week after he agreed to illustrate the game, and veteran video-game artist Niki Hunter. And, of course, game design and text by James Wallis.

Obviously we want to get Alas Vegas funded and published, but we also want to explore the dynamics of running a crowdfunding campaign, to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s an exciting time, the shape of the industry has already changed, and the future is wide open for talented indies with a genius idea. Once it’s all done, if you’re interested in talking to us about our experience with crowdfunding and our advice for anyone starting a similar project, get in touch.

Conventions come, conventions go

Back in December Spaaace’s glorious leader James spoke at Dragonmeet, the London-based games convention he chaired for three years in the early 2000s. They’d invited him back to lead a panel on the British Games Industry, looking at where it had come from and where it was going. He was joined by Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press, Dominic McDowall-Thomas of Cubicle 7, noted freelance Phil Masters (GURPS Discworld), and Piers of London Indie Gamers. G*M*S Magazine videoed the panel, and you can watch it here.

James will be a guest at Warpcon in Cork at the end of January, where he will be showing off playtest copies of a couple of things he can’t talk about, possibly running a seminar called ‘How I Single-Handedly Saved The UK Roleplaying Industry From Certain Doom’, and auctioning off some rarities from his collection in the charity auction. Warpcon’s a good time. You should be there.

Once Upon a Time 3rd edition

The third edition of the award-winning sui generis storytelling card-game Once Upon a Time is now out from Atlas Games. Meanwhile the game has entered its tenth language, with two more to come—not including the pirated Chinese edition from a couple of years ago.

We mention Once Upon a Time partly because it was designed by James Wallis, head of Spaaace, and partly because it exemplifies what we aspire to: integrating great narratives and great gameplay to create true interactive stories. If you’ve never had the delight of playing it, do check it out.

Rising to the surface

Spaaace has been in stealth mode for over a year, running silent and deep, but after a month at periscope depth we have resurfaced, and we’re ready for action. Projects are piling up already—almost all of them on the QT, but we can talk about the following:

  • James has been working on two short-form RPGs, Cop Show and Alas Vegas and is talking to publishers on both sides of the Atlantic about them. His very short form RPG Here On Business (short enough that it fits on the back of his business card) was downloaded over 1500 times in its first 24 hours.
  • We’re premiering a new game of trade and translation, Universal Exchange, as part of the Sandpit event at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich on 13th October.
  • James is speaking at the Story and Games conference in Vienna on 27th September, where he will be announcing something very cool. About stories and games, inevitably. You may remember that he published the first serious journal on the subject, Interactive Fantasy, back in 1994 so he’s got history in the subject.

And more to come.  Stay tuned.

FRUP revived?

Spaaace magneto James Wallis has brought one of his 1990s projects out of mothballs, the never-completed parody-RPG FRUP, and is sharing choice excerpts from the manuscript and artwork on a new website, www.whatisfrup.com. Rumours that if there’s sufficient interest he will publish the game later this year have not been denied.