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I can't help but feel like Kickstarter will be a very unreliable way of helping fund my VN. Even if the initial concept looks good, will people actually care enough to set aside some money for the project? And is it typical for great ideas to get ignored with little to no funding effort?
- Lemma-Class Veteran
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From what I've seen, kickstarters are tricky to master.
Best results seem to come when you post the kickstarter as close to project completion as possible, but have given people a blog or other social media detailing your progress over the past several months.
Warning: May contain trace amounts of gratuitous plot.
pro·gram·mer (noun) An organism capable of converting caffeine into code.
Actually finish a project
- Lemma-Class Veteran
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Running a successful Kickstarter is a LOT of work. It involves a lot of work before the campaign even starts, you want to get 1/3 of the funding in the first 24 hours. So you need to have lots of hype before the Kickstarter even starts. You don't want to hope the Kickstarter itself will generate the hype. And it works best if you already have cultivated a fan base who are invested in you before the Kickstarter starts.
Note, I'm a Kickstarter Superuser...or whatever it is called. I Kickstart a LOT of projects. But it isn't easy to get my support. I have to trust you. I have to see some sort of evidence that you are going to be able to finish the project and that it won't just be vaporware. And it has to be new and interesting and not just the same old, same old. And I need evidence of a history of success and reliability. I am really not likely to support some random group of people's first project ever when nothing at all has been done.
A Close Shave:
*Last Thing Done (Aug 17): Finished coding emotions and camera for 4/10 main labels.
*Currently Doing: Coding of emotions and camera for the labels--On 5/10
*First Next thing to do: Code in all CG and special animation stuff
*Next Next thing to do: Set up film animation
*Other Thing to Do: Do SFX and Score (maybe think about eye blinks?)
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It definitely has to do with your ability to advertise yourself. Do you already have a decent following? If not, then maybe hold off on the Kickstarter. It's not exactly the same, but if you want to test the waters you could always try out Patreon and see if that works for you. It seems like a good way to test how many people like your work enough to put some money in your pocket without the full stress of organizing a KS campaign. Sort of like building accountability within a community.
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As someone who did it in 2014, I can only imagine how much harder it is to succeed on Kickstarter nowadays. Though the crowdfunding scene seems really active, there's a lot more options now. Not just VNs, but a multitude of entertainment media fighting for people's time, attention, and of course money.
Just a concept or idea didn't work before, and it probably won't work now. There are a few "idea Kickstarters" without proof of concept that succeeded, but they're extremely rare and the ones that turn out well are even rare. At the very least, have a demo to prove that you're not starting from scratch with people's pledges. Even better if you build a following before you launch on KS - that's how you reach critical mass, with people talking about your game in places you wouldn't have imagined.
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I did a kickstarter for Your Royal Gayness in 2017 and as others have mentioned, it was a ton of work! Before the campaign I did a lot of research on what makes a KS campaign successful. We created a pretty high quality video using my university's filming equipment, made special graphics, gathered an email list, promoted the game on FB to get more potential backers, contacted all our families to give us money on day 1..... And much, much more. The KS campaign was almost the only thing I had time for for 2 months (though I was also studying in an university). The campaign was successful and we got about 7000 USD (though a big slice of it went into KS fees, taxes, etc). It was a good way to promote the game and get some money, but it was really difficult and time consuming. If you don't put in the work, you won't reach your goals.
Personally, I found the process so difficult that I don't want to do another KS campaign unless it's my only option. I'm currently looking into publishers and government funding for my next game.
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