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Kickstarter musings

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
I've backed 43 - 1 micro video game console, 2 kitchen things the wife wanted, and the rest are RPG or Board Games.

  • Biggest thing - I need to know who the creator is - they have to be someone I've got stuff from before (even as a contributor do a different game system), a company I trust, or person that industry people say does good stuff.
  • High quality product - if it's a book it needs to look nice, look sturdy, have good art and layout.
  • I look at stretch goals, and part of my decision is based on them (the only reason that I look at "funded in 20 minutes" at all, is that implies momentum and likely lots of stretch goals to meet. I prefer stuff that is either in the main book (although I don't mind extra PDFs), I'm generally not into "bling". Just give me more of what I am paying for.
  • Communication - I like daily or every other day emails while the kickstarter is going, and at least once a month after that.
  • Price is a big factor too... or value maybe. Every RPG kickstart I've back comes with free PDF with physical book, and if you have to pay separate for them (unless the difference is like 5 bucks) I will not back it.
 

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Wow, I thought I was doing well having supported 19 projects! Compared to some of you, that's a drop in the bucket.

  • All of mine have been TTRPG products save for 3 - a back massager, an endangered species enamel pin that my daughter wanted to back, and a couple $ for the Critical Role animated series. Most of the TTRPG ones are 5E supplements.
  • If it is a game or physical product (minis), will I use it? If I don't think so, then I'll pass
  • I've never chipped in for an add-on
  • trinkets (pins, plushies, 'collectibles') don't interest me
  • Stretch goals aren't a make-or-break decision for me, but once I've committed, I like to see those get unlocked.
  • I would be happy to see more stretch goals that add more art or adventures. I don't need more dice or dice bags.
  • I'm mostly interested in PDFs because of the quicker delivery and the usually horrendous shipping fees to Canada.
  • I'm a sucker for the ReaperMini Bones Kickstarters - we'll see what happens with Bones 6 now that I have a 3d printer
  • I've only been disappointed with one - a 'cinematic sci-fi' for 5E book, that introduced new rules, used cards and was far enough removed from 5E that they may as well have said it was a new game.

Apologies for the thread derail …

I’m also a big Reaper fan and I’m anxious for Bones 6 … but I think there is zero chance of them selling STL files. Reaper is too closely tied to their specific Bones material(s) to ‘let’ people print their own Reaper Bones.

Just my opinion, but I would be shocked if Bones 6 offered anything but physical minis.

End thread derail!
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
Yikes, daily emails would drive me nuts! Only email me if you have something really important to say!

(goes to show there’s no way to make everybody happy)

Most of the kickstarters I've back have hit at least 1 stretch goal a day, so letting me know which goals are being met in my inbox is a convience. And I normally only get 1 or 2 non spam emails a day, so it doesn't bother me. I could handle every few days, or weekly.
 

akr71

Hero
Apologies for the thread derail …

I’m also a big Reaper fan and I’m anxious for Bones 6 … but I think there is zero chance of them selling STL files. Reaper is too closely tied to their specific Bones material(s) to ‘let’ people print their own Reaper Bones.

Just my opinion, but I would be shocked if Bones 6 offered anything but physical minis.

End thread derail!
No, I don't expect them to offer STL files either. I meant I wonder if I can justify spending the $ when I can print my own now. I still haven't pulled the trigger on subscribing to a 3d sculpting service and the free ones I find are 'good enough for now.' I don't like paying for models I will likely never use, but as unlocked items to a KS, like the Reaper ones, I'm more than fine with.
 

TheSword

Legend
I think my experience of Kickstarter hasn’t been good. There has been some positives but on the whole pretty negative. Soured by a couple of bad actors.

I successfully backed reaper bones 3 and got everything I pledged. It was a pretty huge amount of money, but most of it was speculative and to be honest a lot is still unpainted and boxed even four years on. Was it worth the £400. Maybe when calculated but not practically on a cost benefit analysis for my hobbying over the last four years. That’s on me, but it’s not a great feeling after.

Worse was a hardback book of maps product I backed which wasn’t cheap. About £85 for two copies of the book sold on the principle you could lay them side by side. I realized after the production images started to come through that realistically it wasn’t going to be as useful as I thought and I got pretty big buyers remorse. The project was delayed by about 8 months as well and I moved house over that time and massive books became impractical. I tried to get out before fulfillment and the creator said no.

Then the big one that I’ve mentioned before was Throne of Night by Gary McBride. That started promisingly and went bad fast, with 80% of rewards unfulfilled and a total ghosting. The investment was £180 so not insignificant, however the feel of being defrauded or tricked was far worse than any financial loss, the frustration, the total inability to get closure, and the anger to see the person still highly active on Kickstarter was quite affecting. I can’t really compare it to any other feeling. The platform themselves have no ethical standards and there is zero accountability. They happily allowed a user to defraud 300+ people and then continued taking their cut of the 400 future kickstarters he went to fun (a pretty unbelievable figure in the circumstances). To be clear, I understand that kickstarters fail, I would understand that. All I wanted was an explanation and proper ownership of that.

If it had been just the first two issues I probably would have taken it on the chin and kept my optimism. There are probably a lot of products that seem exciting in principle but don’t quite live up to the hype. Caveat Emptor and all that. The third example though has pretty much killed my enthusiasm for the platform and the principle. I’ll now wait for products, the excitement in the build up just isn’t worth the frustration if it goes bad.

If I want to support creatives to build a financial base, I’d rather do it through Patreon, which seems like a far more respectable relationship. The value to my hobby of what I’ve got from the five or six Patreon’s I support is about 500-1000% of what I have paid. Whereas the value to my hobby of what I’ve got back from kickstart is about 5% of what I paid.
 
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I just backed Kobold's Tome of Heroes, but the stretch goals annoyed the crap out of me. I normally don't pay much attention to them, but when I saw the list of existing titles listed as stretch goals . . . I own the entire list already! As I'm sure many Kobold super-fans do! It's an easy freebie to throw a small, already completed product as a stretch goal, but . . . hella annoying!

Just wanted to make a quick comment here ... the Tome of Heroes Kickstarter offers 1 single stretch goal of an existing PDF (Beyond Damage Dice). That's it! There is also a brand new PDF stretch goal (Beyond Damage Dice Part 2) but that is an as of yet unreleased sequel to the first Beyond Damage Dice PDF, so backers will get that new PDF for free :)
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Just wanted to make a quick comment here ... the Tome of Heroes Kickstarter offers 1 single stretch goal of an existing PDF (Beyond Damage Dice). That's it! There is also a brand new PDF stretch goal (Beyond Damage Dice Part 2) but that is an as of yet unreleased sequel to the first Beyond Damage Dice PDF, so backers will get that new PDF for free :)
Thanks for the clarification!

I already own Beyond Damage Dice, and had assumed that Beyond Damage Dice 2 was released and in my digital library. My mistake there!

What about Deep Magic: Battle Magic and Warlock: War & Battle? Both are existing titles listed under bonus PDFs, followed by . . . and more!

It's not a deal killer that Kobold is offering existing works as bonus PDFs . . . it's just not a very exciting stretch goal idea, and one that moves the needle down for me, if slightly. Well, at least I will look forward to Beyond Damage Dice 2, as I'm sure the campaign will easily pass 200K!
 

I've backed, well, a lot; most were RPGs or support for RPGs, a small number were computer games. Some ran really late (more among the latter than the former, but a few among the former too), but so far all of them have come out. I've backed some projects that in retrospect I should have looked into more before getting caught up in the heat of the moment, but I can't say I've seen a project that was really bad among those I've backed. Some were just bad choices for me (RPGs that really, really want random generation to make them work right are a nonstarter, for example).
 

I've heard so many horror stories about videogame Kickstarters. For every Hollow Knight it seems like there's a dozen Goduses or Star Citizens.

I've only backed a couple dozen or so kickstarters, entirely ttrpgs and video games. About half of the video games have delivered, the other half are in limbo.

Trust is a huge part of it, absolutely. I'm willing to spend money on a Goodman Games or Kobold Press Kickstarter because I know they will deliver. I am willing to take a chance on a newcomer with a brilliant idea, but the buy-in has to be low enough to balance the risk.

  • Biggest thing - I need to know who the creator is - they have to be someone I've got stuff from before (even as a contributor do a different game system), a company I trust, or person that industry people say does good stuff.
 
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Zaukrie

New Publisher
The rules many of you have certainly are discouraging for launching my first KS sometime this year......since many of you won't back a first one.....and the main reason I'd even do one is to pay for art that I can't currently afford realistically.

As for my rules:
  • The only times I've really cared about stretch goals are on physical KS, like minis and terrain, where I end up getting A LOT more for my money. Indeed, I usually wait to near the end to see what the real value is or is no.
  • No more PC options (other than Level Up, which feels like a full new "game" in some ways). I have more than I can use.
  • There are people I like to support, so I usually do back their KS.
  • I have ZERO interest in physical stuff I don't need (stickers, buttons, whatever)....it is just landfill waste and makes me NOT want to back a project.
  • Adventures need to really offer something different at this point, as I own hundreds of PDFs.
  • Boardgames .... I need to be certain I'll play. I own a lot of games I rarely play. I don't really know what that means until I see the gameplay video, so I won't back them without that.
I used to back a ton of kickstarters, but have learned that I don't actually use most of what I already own.....so a KS has to offer something that makes my GM/Player life easier, something really unique, at least in the DnD space. I'd also back something like LU where it is a full re-write / improvement on the game. Or a rules supplement that brings back some of what I loved in previous editions.

Edit: Oh, ya, I'll back something like Solasta that allows me to play DnD solo......though not sure I need more of those right now. We'll see.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Thanks for the clarification!

I already own Beyond Damage Dice, and had assumed that Beyond Damage Dice 2 was released and in my digital library. My mistake there!

What about Deep Magic: Battle Magic and Warlock: War & Battle? Both are existing titles listed under bonus PDFs, followed by . . . and more!

It's not a deal killer that Kobold is offering existing works as bonus PDFs . . . it's just not a very exciting stretch goal idea, and one that moves the needle down for me, if slightly. Well, at least I will look forward to Beyond Damage Dice 2, as I'm sure the campaign will easily pass 200K!
Agreed. As a long-time Kobold backer, offering PDFs I already helped them fund as stretch goals bums me out, and makes me not want to back their projects.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The rules many of you have certainly are discouraging for launching my first KS sometime this year......since many of you won't back a first one.....and the main reason I'd even do one is to pay for art that I can't currently afford realistically.
That is disheartening, and it speaks to the very reason for Kickstarter, but plenty of people do back first time creators. Don’t worry too much about that. Everybody has to have a first project.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
That is disheartening, and it speaks to the very reason for Kickstarter, but plenty of people do back first time creators. Don’t worry too much about that. Everybody has to have a first project.
If I ever finish any of the projects in the hopper, you'll be the first to know (after my wife, of course)......the comments here sort of reinforce some of the things I've been trying to fix BEFORE I launch, frankly. Most of the comments here are super helpful.
 

ART!

Hero
In years past, I would back a pdf and digital stretch goals of things that seemed especially cool and up my alley.

I needed to trim down my digital storage recently, and...why the heck do I have all these PDFs?!?! I'm a very out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person, so I've realized 95% of PDFs never get any use.

Also, my gaming group is far and away more interested in D&D 5E than anything else, so buying gaming stuff non easily usable with 5E is a waste of money, time, and emotional investment.

As a result, 99% of the rpg stuff I back is a hard copy and D&D 5E-compatible. Print copies cost more than just the PDFs, so I'm much choosier for that reason, too.

I have little to no interest in trinket and gew-gaw rewards for my support.
 

Ironically, the above poster (while he has a legitimate point about games never likely to be used) is in the exact opposite of my situation; though I've made a couple exceptions, I mostly could not care less about anything for D&D proper, and I absolutely won't bloat up my available space with more hardcopy books.

I'm super-uninterested in various physical stretch goals, though.
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
The rules many of you have certainly are discouraging for launching my first KS sometime this year......since many of you won't back a first one.....and the main reason I'd even do one is to pay for art that I can't currently afford realistically.
I will back a first time - the rules I listed are "general rules" - If the project looks interesting and has good ideas, and a small sample, I'll back a first time at a digital level.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
The rules many of you have certainly are discouraging for launching my first KS sometime this year......since many of you won't back a first one.....and the main reason I'd even do one is to pay for art that I can't currently afford realistically.

As for my rules:
  • The only times I've really cared about stretch goals are on physical KS, like minis and terrain, where I end up getting A LOT more for my money. Indeed, I usually wait to near the end to see what the real value is or is no.
  • No more PC options (other than Level Up, which feels like a full new "game" in some ways). I have more than I can use.
  • There are people I like to support, so I usually do back their KS.
  • I have ZERO interest in physical stuff I don't need (stickers, buttons, whatever)....it is just landfill waste and makes me NOT want to back a project.
  • Adventures need to really offer something different at this point, as I own hundreds of PDFs.
  • Boardgames .... I need to be certain I'll play. I own a lot of games I rarely play. I don't really know what that means until I see the gameplay video, so I won't back them without that.
I used to back a ton of kickstarters, but have learned that I don't actually use most of what I already own.....so a KS has to offer something that makes my GM/Player life easier, something really unique, at least in the DnD space. I'd also back something like LU where it is a full re-write / improvement on the game. Or a rules supplement that brings back some of what I loved in previous editions.

Edit: Oh, ya, I'll back something like Solasta that allows me to play DnD solo......though not sure I need more of those right now. We'll see.
Running a successful Kickstarter is hard work and risky. The chance of failure, or pyrrhic success, is high. Do your homework before you enter into this sort of thing. Having said that, don't be discouraged either! Some hints I think would be useful (I'm a backer, not a publisher):
  • Under-promise and over-deliver . . . especially on timelines.
  • Unless your project is fully digital, have a plan to deal with delayed manufacturing and shipping, both of which are a mess right now due to COVID.
  • Use drivethrurpg.com for digital fulfillment. It's more convenient for most of your digital backers. If you use your own storefront, offer that AND ownership thru drivethru.
  • As a first-time Kickstarter campaigner, start with a small project that should be easy for you to complete and not a huge investment for your customers/fans. Offering a digital book between $10-15 is a price-point many will jump on, even if they are unsure of your track record.
  • Production values. Don't skimp on them. Art, layout, editing, marketing . . . . these expenses are why you are running the Kickstarter in the first place, right?
  • For the above, the annual Kickstarter zine promotion . . . . where Kickstarter encourages campaigners to launch small zine projects and helps market them . . . . is a good place to start.
  • Be honest and upfront in communications with backers, but also don't whine about how hard your life is and how it's causing your Kickstarter to be delayed another year. The balance between is a fine line, of course.
  • Keep communication constant, but don't overwhelm backers with multiple updates per day either. Again, the balance between is a fine line.
  • Don't overdo it on stretch goals and add-ons, but also don't ignore them (yes, fine line). Stretch goals that feel like things that should already be a part of the project are irritating, stretch goals that push the project in new directions are fun. More than a few campaigners are deciding to skip stretch goals and add-ons for small projects, perhaps sacrificing marketing and backer excitement, but making the project easier to manage.
  • Make sure completing the project PLUS any stretch goals, are a part of your initial planning and timelines. More than a few overly ambitious designers started with a project they could have finished on time . . . . and then got stretched to death, so to speak.
  • While a lot of us have complained about doo-dad stretch goals and add-ons . . . some folks like them! It's easy to go overboard on these, but if you have a cool idea . . . like cool artwork on a sticker or t-shirt . . . offering it as an add-on isn't a bad idea. Those who aren't interested don't have to add-on. Having these as a stretch goal irritates some . . . but the reasoning for doing so might be, "I can't afford a t-shirt run unless I bring in over a certain dollar amount . . ."
  • Please don't offer existing products as stretch goal rewards . . . . but offering them as add-ons is a good idea, either in the Kickstarter itself, or later on backerkit. Of course, if you're new to all of this, you probably don't have existing products yet . . . .
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Running a successful Kickstarter is hard work and risky. The chance of failure, or pyrrhic success, is high. Do your homework before you enter into this sort of thing. Having said that, don't be discouraged either! Some hints I think would be useful (I'm a backer, not a publisher):
  • Under-promise and over-deliver . . . especially on timelines.
  • Unless your project is fully digital, have a plan to deal with delayed manufacturing and shipping, both of which are a mess right now due to COVID.
  • Use drivethrurpg.com for digital fulfillment. It's more convenient for most of your digital backers. If you use your own storefront, offer that AND ownership thru drivethru.
  • As a first-time Kickstarter campaigner, start with a small project that should be easy for you to complete and not a huge investment for your customers/fans. Offering a digital book between $10-15 is a price-point many will jump on, even if they are unsure of your track record.
  • Production values. Don't skimp on them. Art, layout, editing, marketing . . . . these expenses are why you are running the Kickstarter in the first place, right?
  • For the above, the annual Kickstarter zine promotion . . . . where Kickstarter encourages campaigners to launch small zine projects and helps market them . . . . is a good place to start.
  • Be honest and upfront in communications with backers, but also don't whine about how hard your life is and how it's causing your Kickstarter to be delayed another year. The balance between is a fine line, of course.
  • Keep communication constant, but don't overwhelm backers with multiple updates per day either. Again, the balance between is a fine line.
  • Don't overdo it on stretch goals and add-ons, but also don't ignore them (yes, fine line). Stretch goals that feel like things that should already be a part of the project are irritating, stretch goals that push the project in new directions are fun. More than a few campaigners are deciding to skip stretch goals and add-ons for small projects, perhaps sacrificing marketing and backer excitement, but making the project easier to manage.
  • Make sure completing the project PLUS any stretch goals, are a part of your initial planning and timelines. More than a few overly ambitious designers started with a project they could have finished on time . . . . and then got stretched to death, so to speak.
  • While a lot of us have complained about doo-dad stretch goals and add-ons . . . some folks like them! It's easy to go overboard on these, but if you have a cool idea . . . like cool artwork on a sticker or t-shirt . . . offering it as an add-on isn't a bad idea. Those who aren't interested don't have to add-on. Having these as a stretch goal irritates some . . . but the reasoning for doing so might be, "I can't afford a t-shirt run unless I bring in over a certain dollar amount . . ."
  • Please don't offer existing products as stretch goal rewards . . . . but offering them as add-ons is a good idea, either in the Kickstarter itself, or later on backerkit. Of course, if you're new to all of this, you probably don't have existing products yet . . . .
All great advice, thank you. I can assure you, my KS will be all digital at this point in the process. I have one idea that might be a really good hardcover, but that won't be one of the first ones I do.

I'd guess 100% of the revenue on my early projects would go to art (and, if I get enough money, someone else to do layout).

My goal is to do a Morrus, and release the product the moment it closes, but given I'll be buying art based on what I sell (see goals, stretch), that won't happen.

Again, great stuff. Thanks!
 

Liane the Wayfarer

Frumious Flumph
I have backed 190 projects (really?... I may have a problem.) I have also backed projects that didn't deliver.

I backed both the Knights of the Dinner Table Live Action Series and Spinward Traveller TV Pilot kickstarter projects launched by Ken Whitman.

I also backed the City State of the Invincible Overlord, which is, I guess, still ongoing. The last update was a year ago, I'm not holding out much hope for this one.

I also backed a Masks of Nyarlathotep Prop Set, at a high level. Eventually, the lower tiers received some fulfillment (PDFs of props) but I never got anything. Except for the brush off.

My lesson learned is, I only back people who I'm reasonably certain will fulfill the project (and I'm a skeptic). For example, Gavin Norman already had the stuff written for the Old School Essentials kickstarter, so that was pretty certain to go off. He fulfilled on-time and in spades, so I'll back his follow-up projects, even though he maybe isn't finished with them yet, because he's earned my trust.

On the other hand, if I lived next door to Ken Whitman, and he told me personally that I would get as a stretch goal a lawn chair that I could clearly see in his backyard, I wouldn't believe him.
 

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