Update Posted by Jonathan Liu, Designer
Hi! Ever since I updated my Mac OS, my webcam has been giving me fits and often cuts out while I'm trying to record these videos. So, no video today, just these three announcements: Meet the Artist, a Designer Diary entry about consumer confidence, and our new Stretch Goal!
Meet the Artist: Ray Friesen
I first met Ray Friesen at a Comic-Con years ago, when I came across some of his very silly cartoons, like Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken. There's no doubt that Ray has found the secret to maintaining a childlike perspective on the world. His current webcomic, Divine Whiners, stars the gods Hermes, Quetzacoatl and Thor. And later this year he'll be releasing both Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken 2 and Fairy Tales I Just Made Up (which will actually be illustrated by some of Ray's friends). You can find out more about Ray at his DontEatAnyBugs.com, which isn't just a URL, it's good advice.
Ray provided this statement about working on Emperor's New Clothes: "I think the research trip to Thailand, Zanzibar, and Finland they sent me on for the illustrations I provided was a really enriching experience, and super helpful in contributing to the vibe of the finished project. It's just such a shame, for legal reasons, I had to keep the blindfold on the whole time. Food was good though."
Just a heads-up: this update is probably not nearly as entertaining but I hope you'll read it. I know I'm a little long-winded here because I feel this is a very important topic. So I'll start with this little joke graphic, and then we'll get serious.
I've already told you in Update #6 part of why Emperor's New Clothes is presented this way: it's my gimmick, my way of catching your attention and getting people talking about the project. But there's another reason I've framed my project this way.
It goes back to that consumer confidence in Kickstarter, actually. A lot of people are worried that some high-profile campaign is going to raise a huge sum and then fail to deliver, and that will shake confidence in Kickstarter. And if that happens, that's bad for everyone who is trying to run a legitimate campaign, somebody who was counting on crowdfunding to make their dream a reality. Well, this has already happened. This recent article talks about the Collusion iPad Pen, which some people have complained is "unusable" after it delivered months behind schedule. Several months before that, there was a story about ZionEyez, which took in nearly $350k in funding and had yet to deliver anything despite promising something by summer 2012. Surely the backers of those two products are now hesitant to use Kickstarter. Those are just two examples, but there are also examples in the software category and the board game category.
Since then, Kickstarter has tried to address some of these issues. Their blog post about "Kickstarter Is Not a Store" stirred up a lot of discussion, but it was one attempt at reminding backers that you're not just shopping at a store. You're backing an idea, making a bet on the project creator because you think they've got a great idea that you'd like to see happen. But you're also making a bet on that creator's ability to carry out their plan.
I entirely agree that every project that successfully funds and then fails to deliver is bad for Kickstarter and decreases consumer trust in that. I agree that this is bad for those who have found Kickstarter to be a good business model for publishing games or books or other projects. So why run a campaign that looks like a scam, albeit a really obvious, completely transparent one?
Because I want backers to stop and think. I want people to spend a few extra minutes reading the updates or downloading the rulebook or looking up the people involved in a project before just hopping on board the bandwagon. I want people to exercise the level of scrutiny they're giving my project for every project they back—to judge for themselves whether or not it's a good idea, and also take a hard look at whether they think the people responsible will have the means to complete their project in the timeframe they promise. "A thousand backers can't be wrong" is, as we've unfortunately learned, patently false. It's advice I'm trying to follow myself, because I have been disappointed in some projects. I've put money toward things that could have been better used elsewhere. But that doesn't mean that I give up on the platform—it means that I examine projects more carefully going forward.
If everyone approached each project the way some of you are looking at mine, searching for the warning flags, checking out the updates to decide if somebody is trustworthy or not, then there would be fewer projects on Kickstarter that blow past their funding goals and then fail spectacularly. And the fewer sad stories we hear about late or undelivered rewards, the better we'll all feel about Kickstarter overall.
New Stretch Goal: Double the Fun!
My plan for this campaign was to slowly peel back the layers as we progress, revealing a little at a time, and building up to the final reveal at the end. Obviously this has led to a lot of questions and comments about the project, but I had a plan for when particular pieces of the puzzle would be revealed. However, things have happened this weekend that have forced me to tip my hand a little earlier than planned. Not entirely, mind you, but there's something I feel like I need to address now before we can continue.
You probably saw that huge jump in pledges this weekend—maybe some of you pledged because you saw the numbers growing rapidly and figured that's a good reason to back this project. Well, after Game Salute looked at the numbers (I can't do that directly), they told me that in fact we got a single pledge for $10,000 from one backer. I won't reveal who that was—I'll respect their privacy—but it's not somebody I know personally, and their account on Kickstarter is new enough that I can't judge whether they're serious or not.
Maybe they've pledged because they actually believe in the project and want it to succeed—if so, many many thanks to you and I'll even add a personal thank-you bonus to your package. Maybe they pledged to force us to unlock a bunch of stretch goals before we actually reach those levels in real funding. Maybe they pledged because they think this is a joke project that we'll cancel on April 1 and so they won't actually get charged. Whatever the case, it also means that it would be very easy for a single person to make our project funding drop by $10,000.
Personally, I think it's somewhat funny. I'm pulling a prank of sorts, and so somebody has come up with a clever way to prank me back. But I'm telling you this because there is real money involved here, and you deserve to know if somebody is trying to game the system. If we kept silent about it, I think it might eventually come out anyway, and I don't want to be accused of hiding this sort of information from backers who thought we had broken through stretch goals when in fact it was one person who had no intention of keeping their pledge to the end. And if our final funding level drops below the stretch goal thresholds, then it means that we have to take those back.
With that in mind, here's our next stretch goal: If we hit 500 backers at the $25 level or higher, we will double most of the components in the game. Not everything, mind you. You still get one box, one Start Player pawn, one scoring track board, etc. But we can double the cards, the dice, the resource cubes in every version of the game. That's the threshold we need to hit in order to bump up to the next level for bulk prices on these components, and it's my goal to give you as much for your money as possible.
At even higher levels, I'll finally get to add in the optional components in the Deluxe version of the game. I still need to work out the numbers with Game Salute, but as a preview I'd like to include a tile-laying mechanic which represents the path of the parade through town, and a real-time aspect (which requires a sand-timer) that pressures you to take your turn quickly. (Not for the faint of heart, but if you've got those players who are prone to analysis paralysis, then you'll love it!) And with enough backers, some of these extra mechanics may even make it into the base game as well—but we'll make sure the Deluxe version still stands out in some way.
So, please, tell your friends about the project! But, like I said, tell them to check out the updates and really find out for themselves whether Emperor's New Clothes is right for them.