Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

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Obscura
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Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#1 Post by Obscura » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:30 am

Since Lemmasoft is where it all started, I thought it would be fitting to post a big, sloppy THANK YOU as my Kickstarter draws to a close.

Tom--if you're reading this, I will be forever grateful to you for making RenPy. I plan to continue making games...one day I'm hoping to make one that you can actually play without cringing. :lol: And let me know about that Uncle Mugen add-on! :mrgreen:

Incidentally, if you guys have any specific questions about how campaigning works from the other side of the screen, I'll be happy to answer them. A lot went on behind the scenes...ongoing comments and pledges from my backers often told me what worked and what didn't. I definitely have acquired a list of DOs and DONT's for any future Kickstarter projects, should I ever have another.

It would be wonderful to see more VN's use Kickstarter as a resource, for those so inclined. I can't stress it enough: Kickstarter is an incredible platform, extremely well designed and thought out.

If anything, I also learned that lots and lots of people want more games of the BxB and GxG variety. BTW: I was asked several times if I'd be doing a lesbian version--and I probably won't any time soon, so I hope that's extra motivation for those of you working on a GxG!

Thank you again, folks. You are an amazing group of people. You made this game possible for me and all my backers, and for that I am deeply grateful.
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#2 Post by CheeryMoya » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:39 am

20 minutes to go girl, you got a little over 7 times what your original goal was :V

COoT's generated a lot of attention outside of LSF, so how much marketing did you do personally? I know you put up ads and branched out to Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and reddit, so was there anywhere else you went? As people played the demo, did they spread the word for you? Did you reach out to game review blogs/websites or did they do a post about it by themselves?

In other words, what's the secret to being popular? >_>

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#3 Post by Blue Lemma » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:42 am

That's very graceous and cool of you :)

I'd personally be curious as to the pressure aspect. That is, people have ponied up the dough, and now it's time to deliver. Does the upfront payment and people's expectations take a particular toll, compared to the traditional model?
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#4 Post by Geckos » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:57 am

Congratulations on your huge success! Your writing is quite entertaining; the full game should be a lot of fun.

A little journal of some sort about your experiences doing the kickstarter would be very informative, I'm sure.

I now have the sudden desire to do a GxG game haha. All of the different body types would be great to draw.
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#5 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:14 am

Congratulations, Obscura. You've put in a lot of hard work, and it's great to see how much you constantly improve. Since you've said you have a lot of dos and don'ts concerning Kickstarter, what is the biggest or number one "DO NOT" when running a Kickstarter for a game?

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#6 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:43 am

Congrats!!! I'm so excited for you. Your updates have been hilarious by the way.

I'm not planning on using Kickstarter for a game, but I would be very interested in hearing about it anyway. And the promotional side of things would be cool to read about as well.

Now, I wish you luck! Go forth and have men make out.

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#7 Post by Obscura » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:16 am

CheeryMoya wrote:20 minutes to go girl, you got a little over 7 times what your original goal was :V

COoT's generated a lot of attention outside of LSF, so how much marketing did you do personally? I know you put up ads and branched out to Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and reddit, so was there anywhere else you went? As people played the demo, did they spread the word for you? Did you reach out to game review blogs/websites or did they do a post about it by themselves?

In other words, what's the secret to being popular? >_>
Three things. Having what turned out to be a popular concept, engaging people early on by making constant improvements based on feedback, and luck.

And now, the giant wall of text if you want details:

I did a ton of marketing. If you add all the hours I put into making/marketing the game, that probably ate up 30-40% of my time. The first thing I did was trying to find out where all the Yaoi gamers were at--which led me Y-gallery and sifting through Tumblr tags ("yaoi", "bara", etc.) Occasionally I'd post a link to my demo and tag them appropriately on Tumblr for people watching those tag streams. I was aware of reddit/r/gaymers and reddit/r/gaybros, but I didn't want to hit them until I felt ready (those subreddits are huge). So I'd also post to r/shonenai and r/yaoi, which are far smaller and less intimidating.

Everywhere, it was mostly the same question. I'd ask "Are you interested in a game like this?" or "Hey, wanna check out my demo and give me your thoughts?" If you get responses to the tune of "YES TAKE ALL MY MONEY", that's a good sign! I got a couple of those, so that was encouraging. I'd also get helpful feedback in terms of what needed to be changed in the demo and whatnot.
And then of course I tried putting the game on Greenlight, wondering what people thought of it (not to actually get it okayed...this was back before the $100 charge) and people hated my art work, so I spent some time trying to improve it.

After getting artwork to a level that seemed to get people's attention (or at least not turn them off immediately), I'd post progress on Tumblr and y-gallery. At this point, the game seemed ready for something it wasn't ready for long ago. Sex. After doing a poll on my site, it seemed nearly everyone wanted sex. This gets a little hairy if you're doing Kickstarter, so I emailed them and got a sort of gray-area response. If any of you want to put sex in your Kickstarter project, make sure they know about it, and contact them first to get an okay!

At this point I felt ready to hit the big places like /r/gaymers with some artwork and I had a hugely enthusiastic response. At that point I started reworking the entire demo again with the new artwork. I figured once I had that ready, I was gonna be ready for Kickstarter. I went through 3 phases of beta-testing, with volunteers from both LS and people who happened to be following my blog.

When I felt the demo was ready, it I made it available for download at the same time I launched my Kickstarter page. I felt it was very important to do those two things in tandem. Many people from Reddit were waiting for the new (racier) demo (they had never played the old one, which I took offline), and the Kickstarter need to be ready if somebody wanted to donate after playing the demo. You can't rely on people to donate several days after playing a demo...you have to make giving money to your project as easy and instantaneous as possible. Furthermore, the advantage of having a demo is that a lot of questions people will have will already be addressed as they play the game.

And throughout this whole campaign, you talk and talk and talk to your backers and interested parties. That just never stopped. People were super excited, and I rarely had to ask people to spread the word.

As for advertising during the Kickstarter campaign, I spent a total of $500 out of pocket on a single ad that ran on Alex Woolfson's graphic novel site for about a month and a half. I was aware of his comic book before--they're American yaoi comic books, done in Western style art. He's very popular and he uses Project Wonderful (a very cool advertising system) that lets you bid on ads. Basically it was the perfect home for my ad, not just because of that but because he's also done a Kickstarter before! Which meant many of the people clicking on my ad were already familiar with the whole concept of Kickstarter.

$500 for an ad seems pretty ridiculous, I'm sure. Well, I paid day by day, and because Kickstarter has this wonderful system where you see where your pledges come from, I ended up keeping the ad there for nearly the entire length of the campaign, because it generated over $6000 in pledges. (I also lucked out because Alex, during part of January, also started advertising on two other popular U.S. Yaoi comic book websites--ones I couldn't get ads on because they were booked--so people who clicked on his ad had a good chance of finding me.) I'm wondering if I annoyed the hell out of whoever was advertising there earlier because I kept outbidding them...if you ever read this, I'm sorry! I'm done with my campaign now. XD

I only opened a Facebook account after my Kickstarter began. Both FB and Twitter also generated pledges for the project.

Gay media (Queerty, gaygamer.com) were also crucial to getting my game out. I received pledges from various gay websites writing articles about the game. I was very fortunate in not having to do a single press release. People were already interested in a game singularly devoted to dating gay guys.

What I didn't get help from, and didn't expect to get any help from, were the big gaming sites. The most I got was attention from GiantBomb, in a single one liner that said this was the perfect kind of project for Kickstarter.

I also got pledges from 4-chan, and a scattering from a couple of other forums.

There is probably more to it, but those are the basics.

Oh yeah, and I worked my butt off on that demo. It ended at a cliffhanger and I made one of the scenes extreme enough so it would be talked about. Probably veered too much on the side of graphic, but it needed to be unforgettable.
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#8 Post by sake-bento » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:31 am

Congratulations! I've seen some friends (unrelated to LS) post about your game, and every time they did I felt cool by extension. "Hey, I know that person!"

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#9 Post by Obscura » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:39 am

Blue Lemma wrote:That's very graceous and cool of you :)

I'd personally be curious as to the pressure aspect. That is, people have ponied up the dough, and now it's time to deliver. Does the upfront payment and people's expectations take a particular toll, compared to the traditional model?
Oh I'm sure it does. I haven't used the traditional model before, though! :lol:

I guess it works okay for me, because I'm the kind of person who absolutely needs a deadline to get anything done. I really want this game to be done before the year is out. This makes the deadline that much more pressing. To me that's a good thing. (But ask me again in December...I might have different thoughts. :lol: )
Geckos wrote:Congratulations on your huge success! Your writing is quite entertaining; the full game should be a lot of fun.

A little journal of some sort about your experiences doing the kickstarter would be very informative, I'm sure.

I now have the sudden desire to do a GxG game haha. All of the different body types would be great to draw.
Thanks Geckos! I'm including a day-to-day journal of my Kickstarter in that digital book reward. It has a lot of little details--not sure if they're going to bore or interest people. And GxG...you should totally do it if it something that's fun. The webcomic "Get a Roomie" has a lot of GxG stuff and it's DROPPING BOMBS ON YOUR MOMS on Kickstarter right now.
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:Congratulations, Obscura. You've put in a lot of hard work, and it's great to see how much you constantly improve. Since you've said you have a lot of dos and don'ts concerning Kickstarter, what is the biggest or number one "DO NOT" when running a Kickstarter for a game?
Thanks LWR! This biggest DON'T is: DO NOT expect Kickstarter to market for you! You'll get lots of interested people, but your best bet is building a fan base even before you launch your project.
Auro-Cyanide wrote:Congrats!!! I'm so excited for you. Your updates have been hilarious by the way.

I'm not planning on using Kickstarter for a game, but I would be very interested in hearing about it anyway. And the promotional side of things would be cool to read about as well.

Now, I wish you luck! Go forth and have men make out.
Thank you Auro! Hopefully I can help you promote your game when you guys are done. XD
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#10 Post by MaiMai » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:45 am

Congratulations! It's been a pleasure in seeing your determination to improve which quite frankly, you don't see a lot when a person gets discouraged about their game and art.

Go forth and draw more shirtless men (for me).
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#11 Post by Samu-kun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:04 am

Congratulations and thanks for the tips.

Now you should really use some of that extra money to add the Uncle Mugen DLC...

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#12 Post by MaiMai » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:06 am

You fool, that would only make him stronger and make the game crash and burn!!
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#13 Post by Obscura » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:37 am

Thanks Sake-Bento, MaiMai, and Samu-Kun!

If Tom wants it to happen, then Mugen's Brofinder date (a one-night stand with the MC for those of you who don't know) will be the very last DLC I add. I figure it will be the LSF super special secret download. Tom can give me the final say on what he wants, but you all should give him some good suggestions. XD

I dunno, for some reason I see Mugen cooking the MC a delicious meal. Then the two of them smoke out, while Mugen shows him his latest Google sketchup rendering and the MC just looks on in confusion.

Ultimately they decide to watch a hentai movie together but argue over which one to watch, and they part in annoyance.
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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#14 Post by Samu-kun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:45 am

Well, they should obviously watch Boku no Pico. We already know how much Mugen loves that thing... Heh.

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Re: Thank you for helping make my game a reality, Lemmasoft!

#15 Post by Obscura » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:56 am

Oh yeah--a couple of more KS things off the top of my head while I still remember them...

(Apologies for the wall of text. I'm trying to put this all together in a post before I forget.)

1. An existing fan base is good because of crowd psychology. At the start of your project, for most Kickstarters, if you don't get 30% funded in the first few days, you're in danger of not making your goal. (Funding is shaped like a huge U, with the most active days at the beginning and end of your campaign.) Only a handful of people think "Hey, this project isn't doing well and it needs more money! Let's give it some!" Many, many more people think, "Hey, everybody is backing this so it'll be successful! I'm going to back it too!" In numbers, by the time I actually hit Kickstarter, I had about 200 Tumblr followers, 70 or so Twitter followers, and about 200-400 hits on my blog everyday (with a peak when I hit Reddit, of about 20,000 hits or so in a short amount of time). Not astounding numbers by any means, but I knew I had at least a handful of people who said they'd back my project. Granted, I was still worried when I launched, thinking I had ruined my chances of funding by promising all my beta testers free copies of the game. (What if they were all my backers?!? GAH!)

2. Your demo. I don't have an established name, except my current silly moniker. Nobody knows me, so I had to make my demo as engaging as heck...and hopefully succeeded. The pros of doing a VN is that you can still make a viable demo without having to build a complete engine (thank you Tom) or getting into real complex programming issues. Not everybody played the demo, but I got a lot of increased pledges from those who did (including the top tier reward.) If you have great art style and a popular concept, you may be able to get away without making a demo--but having a demo that makes people say "I need to finish this!" will get you a lot more pull. Note I spent a lot of hours and a chunk of change on the demo. I enlisted help!

3. From the get go, I was very interested in reaching people who don't normally play VNs. I felt the BL VN market was too tiny. I went for a choose-your-own-adventure game feel and purposely called my game a "gay dating sim", instead of "BB visual novel" as often as possible, so I'd get hits from google searches and people searching the Kickstarter database for anything with "gay" themes.

4. I am a big fan of Kickstarter over Indiegogo, because journalists will routinely check Kickstarter pages for things that interest them. As soon as I launched, I got a message from a journalist at Queerty wanting an interview. I have a feeling "boy love game" or "boy love visual novel" or "yaoi game" wouldn't have ever been picked up with the same amount of speed or interest. I went for the "use the most familiar words possible" tactic.

5. My biggest mistake is that I thought more of my audience would be women. It turned out about 85-90% of my backers are men (if I just go by names and aliases). I most likely would have tailored the bodies to be a bit different. By the time I had my Kickstarter up though, I felt I had invested too much in the story and looks of the characters to feel I could change them drastically.

6. I started freaking out when I met the initial goal in the first week. Crap, I had 2 months. What the heck was I gonna use as stretch goals?!?! That was by far the most stressful part of the campaign. It's nice to have your campaign so successful you're scrambling for stretch goals--but once you realize a lot of Kickstarter funding gets used up, and that for many projects--you are in danger of actually going into a lot of debt if you don't plan carefully...this is something that can be a really dangerous part of the campaign. There are a lot of nuances to setting reward tiers and budgeting--I'd highly recommend asking someone who has done a Kickstarter and shipped their product to look over your figures for you! Most Kickstarters are in for some type of financial surprise sooner or later--and not pleasant ones either.

7. I had an abnormally lengthy Kickstarter (2 months as opposed to 1). Not sure if that helped or harmed me, but I was worried about the holiday season being way too busy.

8. Kicktraq has some nice day to day figures about ongoing and past Kickstarters. Very useful if you're Kickstarting! Here's one for Radio the Universe, a current Kickstarter that's been doing astoundingly well. The person put so much style into their presentation (check out not just the art style, but the way he words his rewards), it's obvious why he's kicking so much ass. This was Coming Out On Top's. It took me two months to get to this figure, remember. BTW, the bump the end is often partially caused by the "2-day-left reminder" Kickstarter sends to people sitting on the fence.

9. Be responsive and available to all questions and comments. This should go without saying!

10. Kickstarter takes about 8-10% in processing fees. For many campaigns, a lot of CC's will just not go through--I'm expecting about 2-3K of the total to disappear from rejected credit cards. There are also taxes, and also the cost of the rewards you'll be packaging and shipping. For the first time in my life, I'll be paying an accountant to do my taxes this year.

11. Is it worth it? If you're short on time, probably not. Marketing is a huge a time sink. If you have time, and you want to "prove your concept", meaning to see if there's a market for it, and if people will put their money where there mouth is, I can think of no better testing ground. I got a huge amount of publicity even though I wasn't featured on either the main Kickstarter front page or any large gaming sites. The indie sites and gay sites did articles about the game. There's also a bunch of buzz because what Kickstarter does is give backers a story, and something to root for...it does an amazing job of tapping into that psychology, especially if your campaign has some momentum. If after all that publicity, I didn't get funded, I think it still would have been worth doing--it's a sign if my game needed to be significantly changed to be a viable commercial and/or popular product.

12. I thought I was supposed to update my backers nearly every day. Boy, did I get told real quick that was unnecessary. XD

13. Don't put a bunch of stretch goals reaching to $1 million or you'll look delusional. Put them up in reasonable increments at the right time.

14. For most campaigns, some people will lower or cancel their pledges somewhere along the line, especially towards the end (and raise them too). I wish I had known this happens routinely...at one point I started freaking out and kept second guessing all my moves, until I realized this is just gonna happen regardless of what I do.

15. Time. I think you need a lot of it to do a Kickstarter. And if you have the kind of rewards I do (like a closed forum for development), you're gonna need even more. Being out of school and having a somewhat flexible job, I have time, but I cannot imagine someone maximizing funding for their campaign if they have a family and/or are in school. If so, be prepared to take a month doing little else.

16. Only 20% of Kickstarter projects are completed on time. Think about this when you decide on your project ship date!

17. Have a blast. You'll be on a roller coaster. It'll be one of the most interesting (and sleepless) periods of your life.
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