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$2,836 pledged of $100,000 goal
$2,836 pledged of $100,000 goal

Statistical success of a less than succesful campaign.

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The current metrics for the campaign are sitting at 3,283 video plays and $2,590 raised. Roughly $2.50 for every three views. Statistically, not an insignificant number at all. At the start, if 100k people pledged a single dollar, the campaign would be funded. At the current rate, the campaign would be well on it's way... if 100,000 people had viewed it.

I've learned a lot from this campaign so far, and there are a lot of things I would like to have done better. A better quality video, more gameplay to show, more concept designs. But by the numbers, the biggest flaw in the campaign is still visibility, not the content. If every single person who viewed the video had pledged, at the current average pledge level, we would almost be funded. An unrealistic expectation if ever there was one, and still wouldn't be enough to counter low visibility and hype for the project.

Though I am sure click through rate is rather low because of that little green line under the campaign being non-existent.

So at this point I am looking toward the future and what can be done better next time. There are a number of options to pursue funding. I still believe crowdfunding is the best opportunity to make a project like this work. Whether on kickstarter or any of the 600+ other crowdfunding portals now in existence.

Looking Forward

My original plan was quite different than this current campaign.

Traditional investment models seek out "First wave funding" from individual 'angel' investors to produce a workable concept, then pitch that concept to investment firms in "second wave" funding. If successful the angel investors get paid back and the company moves forward with product development.

Second wave funding never really ends, though. If you can get more funding, you do it. A startup never stops seeking more funding.

In that sense I considered a first campaign set to get just enough funding for me to work on the project for 1-2 years. Then to run a second campaign with the purpose of getting better equipment, software, and possibly hiring on more developers and artists. The second campaign would be running on the premise that the game is already going to be made, no direct 'risk' with it not being funded.

That's never been done before. As ambitious as this project is already, I was concerned about the negative impact such a plan could have if it not explained properly. In the public eye, asking for more funding is a bad thing. Even if it's standard practice in the business of investment.

Looking Back

There are a number of things I changed in light of crowdfunding advice, though, that I think were harmful. Running the campaign for 30 days instead of 60 is one of those things. Three days into the campaign there were already comments on other sites that the project looked like a failure for having 27 days left and "only" being %1 funded. I think there would have been better reception, and a better looking outcome if I had gone with a 60 day campaign.

So I am reconsidering my starting 'overly-ambitious' plan of a smaller campaign to get the project moving, with a larger one to come later. That will require reducing the scope of the game by a considerable amount to be practical. Though I can still potentially do a lot with what I've got if I can have enough funding to just focus my energies on development.

I want this to be a community minded, community driven project. So now's the time to start looking for and building that community. I'd like to get as much feedback as I can. The current campaign, the possibility of a future one. There is a lot I want to change, but what do you think could have been done better? What convinced you to pledge? What nearly convinced you NOT to? What would you suggest for the project moving forward?

Jeff Kaplan likes this update.


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    1. Daniel J Swiger 2-time creator on March 1, 2014

      No, I'm definitely introverted. lol

      I have no problems interacting with individuals or an established community. Or being temporarily extroverted for limited periods.
      "Networking," the act of finding, meeting and generating new contacts, is exhausting though.

    2. speedster -Armikrog Army Annelid- $4.96 on March 1, 2014

      My friend who has been a gentoo linux dev for years has never met most of his gentoo friends in person, except for a few who meet up at SCALE because flights to LAX are relatively cheap. So my advice was more along the lines of joning online communities with occasional trips to conferences to meet new people and see online friends in person, which is the normal way to do things for most open source projects -- participants are often spread around the world. Another good friend of mine has been on the leadership team of several embedded Linux projects, and he hangs out with people from other states and other countries on IRC, learning a lot in the process.

      On the other hand I personally am more introverted and more likely to go on private IRC server with the few fellow linux geeks I know in person, but since you want to build a community hopefully you're willing to be a little more extroverted than that ;)

    3. Daniel J Swiger 2-time creator on March 1, 2014

      Yeah, a lot of crowd funding sites recommend getting your first %30 to %50 of funding lined up before you even launch the campaign. It's kind of standard practice, but I don't doubt that influences the negative perception of slow starting campaigns.

      I currently live in what could aptly be called 'the middle of nowhere.'
      I had to put Coos Bay as my location for Kickstater because there was no option for Gold beach. At a population of two thousand I doubt there is even another indie dev with a few hundred miles where I live. lol

      One reason I'm as self sufficient as I am and learned to do everything, rather than specializing and joining another team early on. Or getting a group together to do this project with me.

      Still, if I manage secure funding, and make this game, it's still a bold statement for the future of indie development.

      One possibility, another crazy idea, is to simply start my funding goal incredibly low. That would run the risk of getting too small of an amount to finish the game. But, I still intend to build it, even if I never get funded. It will just take longer.

    4. speedster -Armikrog Army Annelid- $4.96 on March 1, 2014

      That reminds me, Indie game dev gatherings can be a good way to build your network of like-minded people as well, have you been to any yet? That small project mentioned below would never have made it without help from fellow devs he met at a conference (sorry I forget which one).

    5. speedster -Armikrog Army Annelid- $4.96 on March 1, 2014

      That should have been "over 10% of the goal", about 11% for Conclave and 12% for Republique, which typically is not enough of a starting peak except for small game projects where one or two generous backers can save the day

    6. speedster -Armikrog Army Annelid- $4.96 on March 1, 2014

      The 60-day campaign is not likely to help unless you've got a pro PR campaign planned out like The Mandate, where they did super frequent updates and spread out news-worthy stuff throughout the campaign to inspire new articles from gaming sites.

      Those who are into crowdfunding and know the signs of a successful campaign are not going to be at all impressed with a longer campaign to make up for lack of initial momentum. The vast majority of campaigns slow way down in the middle, and extending the period just extends the stagnent period where backers are trickling in at a small percentage of the initial burst of interest. A typical successful kickstarter campaign has kind of an exponential looking funding profile, where the leading spike + the much lower middle steady-state period manages to reach 70% or more by the ending week. This inspires attention from people who like to back successful projects and not "waste time" on long shots, in addition to inspiring the existing backers who can see it needs just a bit of a push, so after a few weeks of slow growth there is another spike that might even push past the goal into stretch goals.

      I can only think of a couple of sizeable game funding campaigns that managed to fund despite a slow start -- keep in mind these are super outliers:

      In both cases they still managed to start out with 10% of goal within the first few days... and a major lucky break was required to get funded (in Conclave's case, it was the hugely successful Project Eternity running at the same time and sending backers over there for a last-minute save; in Republique's case they managed to catch the fancy of media which was much less burned-out on crowdfunded games at the time)

    7. Daniel J Swiger 2-time creator on March 1, 2014

      Building more of a community, volunteering on other projects, building a stronger social network following, traveling to conferences, all great ideas for promotion. But they have one major drawback: that's a huge time investment. To be done properly, a full-time investment.

      I can spend the next few months trying to promote the project all around the net, and have little more than what I have to show now. Or, I can spend the next few months working on having more of a game to show, and potentially have no more community than I have now. A bit of a catch 22 problem.

      Ideally, I think, the best course would be to find a partner. Someone dedicated to the promotional and marketing aspects of the project. Promotional work is well outside my comfort zone and general skill set.

    8. Daniel J Swiger 2-time creator on March 1, 2014

      Thanks for the reply, Dennis!

      Some more explanation on how it can be modded is a good idea. Maybe put together an additional video on that for the next campaign.

      To the answer that question, you can virtually do anything. How much you want to do will determine how much work it will take. You will be able to make changes via databases and checklists, or go deeper and make changes to code import your own 3D models.

      Cosmetic changes will be the easiest of all. Swapping textures, models, rearranging levels, all incredibly easy to do.

      Though it will be daunting, as everything in the game will be available, finding what you want to change will likely be the biggest curve for someone with no experience at all.

      I plan to have the code well commented, as well as a manual and tutorials made for it. Though much of that may come after release. As well as the community forums themselves where anyone can learn from the community, ask for help, join in on other projects.

      This is something that you could go into with no experience at all, and learn everything there is to know about making a game. Depending on how much you want to put into it.

    9. speedster -Armikrog Army Annelid- $4.96 on March 1, 2014

      I'm an enthusiastic Linux gamer who digs RPGs, so an open source RPG that aims to show the way for more professional-grade open source RPGs would be a great thing in my book.

      In order to build your own community, it makes sense for you to go out and join existing communities with similar interests. There are some great community-run open source conferences out there -- you could volunteer to give a talk on open source game development. Get involved with some of the open source projects that you find especially cool as a game developer. You're likely to make friends who will be supportive of projects like this, and will gain credibility among those who write about open source projects.

    10. Dennis S. on March 1, 2014

      While the nostalgia of the older games caught my eye, it was the community driven and expandability of the project that suggested to me that this would be an investment rather then a distraction of my time. If that makes sense?
      Maybe some examples of what users will have to do to make original content, just to show if this will be a database of check boxes or drag and drop code snippits? Are they going to have to learn some python or C++? An idea of the learning curve can go a long way to either bolster or deflate someones confidence in what they can personally achieve.
      Always, if a possibility, be sure to make note if things can be done from scratch for original content. What if someone wants a western town full of animal people, with a grumpy cat sheriff. Who needs the motivation to stop drinking and to stand up to the evil dinosaur bandit king. If it's an option, I'd be surprised if someone didn't try and do it.
      Being Kickstarter, people love swag. From stickers to T-Shirts, people like physical trinkets no matter how practical or worthwhile. Software in game exclusives also get peoples interest, I know that kind of works against the eventual free aspect of the goal though.
      Just my observations on what I have seen in others. I've backed a lot of one dollar pledges just for the warm fuzzies I get, so I can't truly speak for others.