Kickstarter My experience from my first TTRPG Kickstarter Campaign – OR – Why can’t the other kids see my new toy!

1sickPuppy

First Post
So, two and a half years of virtual blood and actual sweat and tears, solo designing and developing my love-child project, Dimday Red TTRPG, the time has come to run my first Kickstarter campaign.

For various reasons I didn’t have enough time to prepare a community around the game, and cultivate it towards the campaign. But I knew the product was solid, everybody I talked to and showed them the game had a common thing to say: it looked great, had an intriguing story and showed a lot of promise.

All I had to do was to bring it in front of enough people, right? Well...

I have worked as designer and visual artist for the past thirty something years. I have always been compelled to tell stories one way or another, and I have been awarded and recognized in that field. But I haven’t created a tabletop RPG game before. Nobody knows me or my body of work in this industry and why should they?

Having in mind all that, I gathered all my resources and all my contacts, and set to run a humble campaign on Kickstarter’s Zine Quest this February. A friend suggested I tried a zine first, and he was so right as the stakes are lower in many levels.

The campaign started three days ago, and thanks to the support of people who had already seen the game and my work over the past couple of years, I was able to reach my goal rather quickly. Kickstarter loved the project, or maybe the fact that it was funded quickly, gave it the Project We Love budge and even brought it up in relevant search results. So far so good!
In fact it was more that good, as the promotion it got organically from Kickstarter, in key pages and search results, was far greater than I expected, and over a third of non-affiliated backers came from this. Still, it was not reaching enough people to make it boom!

Enter Social Proof or more accurately the lack of it!

How do you get out in the digital domain, stranger among strangers, trying to show your baby to the world and at the same time not spam them? What do you do when you know people will probably like what you have to show them, but right before you do, you are just another shady, suspicious character?

As in most important questions in this life, there is no clear answer. Time is certainly the most important factor. Don’t expect things to happen quickly. Community building needs effort, patience, time and money. I wish I had more time to prepare for this campaign, so when I try to connect with other people, I don’t have a big clock counting a month down in my head!
A common mistake among solo-devs of all kinds is that we put all our time and effort to creating our masterpiece, and leave connections to the last possible minute. And it is very logical, because we only have so much time and we have to do 100 tasks by ourselves. But don’t consider your game done until you have made those connections. Consider it as it is not finished yet!
Another less obvious aspect is to find ways to interact with others without trying to sell them something, even if deep down you possibly are! I find the being honest / being yourself / being human factor very useful for this, although it has a drawback, as it can leave you vulnerable to less kind behaviors.

Real life, face to face- even through a screen - connections will beat any kind of digital marketing campaign any day! And although this may be time consuming - here’s the time factor again – it can make all the difference. I got to meet so many people in the last couple of weeks that I hadn’t the chance to do in the past two years. And they all had something of value to bring, no matter how big or small.

I really shouldn’t complain. My project may not have become viral, but as of this writing 78 cool people have trusted me and my vision about a doomed world, not very different from our own. It just nags me that there are so many talented and remarkable creators out there, so many projects worth to be noticed, and they hang in the balance between being doomed to obscurity and being considered spam.

Real human connections are the solution I have found for this. But it needs time so it can happen without force and agony.

Note: if you are on the way to creating a TTRPG (as a small, indie effort) and thinking of using Kickstarter to fund it, consider the zine route, especially if you, like me, don’t have previous experience on crowdfunding. It is a very useful test for many things, and it will provide you with knowledge that could cost you much more in a full-sized campaign.
If you would like to check what Dimday Red is all about, here is its page on Kickstarter > http://kck.st/40Erwa0

I hope any of the above helps, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Cheers,
Spiros

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