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Chris Roberts: Have a very clear pitch, where you can visually understand what the game is. Do that well, and you don’t even need to be well-known. There were three kids in Montreal that did this thing called Castle Story; they raised $700,000 and they’d just graduated from university. I sort of liken it to the way you go into a movie theater and you see the trailers, and you sort of know if a movie’s going to be funny, or full of action, or cool, from the trailers.
Also, you need to engage your community on a daily basis. Kickstarter campaigns get really exhausting because it’s not an “I do it from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday” thing; you’ve got people all around the world in different time zones wanting to back something. Ask them questions and show them new stuff all the time. On top of all that, if you manage to listen to what the community says and come up with some stuff that folds in their input, that really pays off. Your community is really important. When they feel engaged with you they’re your best marketing.
Brenda Romero: Go in with the minimum amount of money it will take you to do this. Don’t ask for the funding necessary -- ask for the smallest funding you think you can make the game with, because the days of “This is what it will cost to do this” are over. People are expecting developers to shoulder part of the burden. There’s a term out there, “Minimum Viable Product.” I believe with Kickstarter that it’s really Minimum Viable Ask: “If we get this amount, we will not be doomed.” You don’t want to be one of the people who has a successful Kickstarter but never shows up with a finished product.
Before you launch your Kickstarter, share it with as many critical eyes as possible, particularly those in the development community. Link to the thing before it launches. And share it with people who give you negative feedback. Look for that stuff. Ask about what rewards they don’t like, and what they think is missing. I can’t tell you the amount of Kickstarter [notices] I get saying, “Just wanted to let you know our Kickstarter is live!” but I rarely get asked “What do you think about this Kickstarter we’re going to launch?”
Some of the best feedback that I got on the Shaker Kickstarter came after its launch from game developers who wished I had shown it to them before we launched, and that feedback addressed problems I very easily could have fixed. The wisdom of crowds will determine if you get funding. You have access to those crowds before you launch, so reach out to them.
Greg Rice: One of the major things in conceiving everything around your Kickstarter page, including your videos and your messaging and your rewards, is to really just think like a fan. I was able to do that because I was a fan of Double Fine before I was here, so that was easy. When you’re planning to pitch your game, you’re trying to pitch a publisher on why this game’s going to be successful, and why it’s going to make them money. On Kickstarter you’re not talking to somebody who cares about that. You need to think more about why the fans should be excited about this game, and find a hook in the story around your Kickstarter that makes it something that the fans should be excited about, and something that could only work on Kickstarter. They’ll read through anything that you do that is super beneficial to you, but not for them.
Also, make sure to pore over every detail, and ask yourself all the questions you think a fan would ask if they were reading it, because it’s going to happen. As soon as we launched, people wanted to know about platforms, and wanted to know if there was going to be DRM. Think through all of those details so you have an answer for them.
Be prepared for the amount of PR and support that’ll be coming afterward. With so many eyeballs on the project, there’s going to be a lot of questions, and those questions come, many times, in the form of direct messages. Ultimately, we felt like we needed to respond to all of them and we were getting dozens of those a day. As soon as you launch, it’s going to be a straight month of PR, of trying to track down interviews, and trying to get people to talk about your project as much as possible, and trying to get people as excited as possible. So make sure that once it launches you’re ready to fully support your Kickstarter for the entire month.
James Carey: Plan, to some extent, the whole campaign. That doesn’t mean you need to have every day of your whole month campaign worked out, but you should have some idea of what content you’re going to be able to add to that to build the momentum of that drive.
Jim Rossignol: Plan your updates. The other thing I would say is to expect loads of queries from people via Kickstarter. That’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize: Kickstarter’s backer messenger will give you messages, and you’ll get hundreds of them every day. Be prepared to answer every single one of them personally, because you need to do that.