How good are you at lying to your friends? If your answer is "Not at all!" then you had better get good and fast, because you're going to want to school them at Diamond Trust of London — the new Nintendo DS title from independent game designer Jason Rohrer. It's two-player, turn-based, simultaneous-decision strategy game about diamond traders operating in Angola in the year 2000, and whichever players can bring back the most diamonds wins. Naturally, this requires outfoxing your opponent with bribes, spies, and lots of general craftiness, which we found intriguing enough to drop Jason a line with some questions. Check out his answers below (we're pretty sure he was telling us the truth), and be sure to investigate further details of his project here.
1. Was making your project video:
E. OH GOD. I CAN'T WATCH IT. I JUST. NO.
F. ALL OF THE ABOVE
Care to give a little pep talk for people currently procrastinating making their project videos?
You should take your video seriously and do the very best job you can — sound and image quality are important! In my case, since I didn't have proper equipment, I rented a pro-quality DSLR-video camera, lens, and lav mic from BorrowLenses. It cost me a few hundred dollars, but it was well worth it in terms of the level of polish that I was able to achieve. Plus, it's fun to play with a pro-quality camera. Plus, I got to shoot some beautiful, high-quality footage of my family before returning the camera (priceless!).
In earlier versions of the video, I tried talking directly to the camera. I didn't come across very human or natural while doing that (I'm a terrible actor). Finally, I tried having a friend interview me, and that produced much better results. Having someone to interact with and look at while explaining your project will help you to behave more naturally on camera (as any documentarian will tell you).
2. What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (about running a Kickstarter project, or life in general!)
I don't have any big revelations to share, yet. There have been little tweaks along the way (like shifting some copies of the limited edition around as one reward sells out more quickly than expected), but nothing that I should have predicted. I did a ton of research and planning ahead of time, though, and read everything about Kickstarter that I could find. I highly recommend taking a close look at all of the data posted here.
3. It's a bit of unusual route to make a game for DS. Wwhat made you to go this route? Tell us a little bit of the backstory.
It's a LONG backstory! More than three years ago, a publisher approached me about making a DS game, so I made one. But by the time I had finished, the DS market had weakened, and my publisher essentially got cold feet. Then the game sat, dormant, for a year. Then it got picked up by a new publisher. But by the time it was totally finished and approved by Nintendo, the game landscape had changed even more — it would be pretty irrational to sink so much manufacturing money into such a risky project.
4. Can you talk a bit about the decision to come to Kickstarter? The limited-edition boxes are an amazing and very thoughtful feeling incentive for your backers — how did those come about?
I had this lovely little game I had designed just for the DS, and I had designed the box art and manual, and everything was ready to go. It really needed to be a physical release — that's how I had always envisioned it. So it seemed like a perfect fit for Kickstarter.
The Limited Edition had been planned for a while, long before Kickstarter. This was an unusual, niche game, so I wanted to make the release as distinct as possible. As far as I'm aware, no Nintendo game has ever been signed and numbered before. And certainly, no Nintendo game (or any video game?) has ever shipped with the kinds of things that will ship with the Limited Edition.
And, with the Limited Edition already planned, the project seemed like an even more perfect fit for Kickstarter. But the bottom line was the huge, up-front manufacturing cost. Do enough people want the game to make that cost worth it? Kickstarter eliminates the risk by answering that question before the money is spent. If the answer to that question is, "No, not enough people want it," you'd rather know that up front.
5. The limited-edition nature of this. Can we get one hint? Half a hint? A dash of hint? Puh-leezeeeeee?!
There are several hints right in the title of the game itself.
6. What were some of your favorite games growing up? I mean, the super super classic die-hard stuff that you love and have played one million times since you were twelve.
King's Quest. The original Legend of Zelda. Metroid. Rygar. Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar. Oh, and the arcade game that I've probably spent the most quarters on is Raiden.
7. How has the use of Kickstarter been so far?
Kickstarter has been amazing to use. Very well-built, and it pretty much "just works" and works well, every step of the way. And, of course, it also "works" in terms of its design and purpose, which is to organize public-sourced funding. I'm sure that way too much about this has already been said, so I'll just summarize my thoughts this way: Kickstarter changes everything. It's exactly the kind of inversion that many people have been dreaming about for years, but finally made real and thriving.