First off, yay! It's looking like we're off to a great start. Tons of support from everyone on Kickstarter and lots of great coverage in the press. I've just spent a few hours plowing through the piles of emails and KS messages. Oft repeated questions have been converted into FAQs and added to the page. Anything missing or unclear? Let me know and I'll add it ASAP. Suggestions for how we might improve our campaign or goals? I'm all ears!
A few themes I noticed in the messages and press coverage that are worth exploring quickly:
First off, the idea that we're running a Kickstarter to finish the game because we've "run out of money." Kotaku really hammered this notion in their coverage, creating a sense that without this campaign we'll be unable to finish the game. Not true! The game is, for all intents and purposes, finished. It's been in Closed Beta since October - with nearly 30,000 players having run through it from start to end. During that time we've been tuning and polishing - but ALL content and major features are done.
Why then are we running a Kickstarter campaign? Or better yet, what would happen if we did NOT achieve our funding goals? This is a question we wrestled with (as we should) whenever someone suggested that we run a Kickstarter for Akaneiro. Why would we do that with a finished game? Because there are additional goals we can achieve with outside support - and because support will tend to cluster around vocal groups who are interested in particular goals. Linux is a great example. I personally LOVE Linux and want to see Akaneiro running on my killer Ubuntu box... but we might find there's more demand (and support) for an Ouya port first.
Back to the "what if" question about not hitting the initial goal - in that case the game would be launched, as planned, in January 2013 to Windows/OSX (browser and stand-alone client.) A content and maintenance team would remain on-board but we'd need to move our tech team to new projects. If the Win/Mac versions did alright we might gather enough resources to return to the idea of tablets, Linux, Ouya, etc - but that would happen more slowly. Kickstarter can, as it seems intended to do, drive an accelerated and focused development schedule based on demands from you the audience.
Beyond that, Kickstarter is a wonderful marketing tool in and of itself. Even if we never achieved our funding goal, we've already generated 1000x more interest and coverage for Akaneiro than we had yesterday. Platforms, publishers and players are suddenly aware of what we're up to. If we stopped today I could say we'd achieved a huge amount of new awareness and be happy with that... but we're not going to stop today!
Next up, there's a bit of confusion around the free-to-play nature of the game and how players might access the game if they do provide backing. I've also read a few notes from people concerned about how Kickstarter has historically responded to the notion of F2P. I get it. F2P has many variations and a lot of them are bad. All I can say is that we're doing everything we can to emulate the good examples (like League of Legends) and stay away from the bad examples (who shall remain unnamed.) Being F2P does mean that you'll get access to the game no matter what - back the game, don't back the game - just head over to angry-red.com and sign up!
Thank you, all of you, for helping make the first day of the campaign excellent. I'll be back tomorrow morning with another update.
From Shanghai with Love,