Ambition and failure can go hand in hand when it comes to creative endeavors. In game development, an ambitious game lacking necessary #funding will surely lead to failure. Fortunately, crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has turned out to be a quick solution for many game studios. It’s not always the easiest task to get funded there, however.
Dreamlords Digital, a development studio with teams in Manila and Las Vegas, recently got its game Graywalkers: Purgatory funded on Kickstarter. The game smashed its funding goal by achieving US$47,305, a whole $7,305 more than asked for. But did you know that this is actually Dreamlords Digital’s second Kickstarter campaign for the same game?
The first Kickstarter for Graywalkers: Purgatory was launched in late October 2013. Its first funding goal was US$100,000, but it had no downloadable demo (Linux, Mac and Windows PC), and the Kickstarter earned less than half of the initial target amount.
CEO Russell Tomas says that the studio learned a lot from its first try. “One major change was doing preliminary efforts with regards to press. Second was being more active in promoting through many avenues.” He adds that the team also improved on how its tier rewards were priced and presented.
“When we made the adjustments, people started pledging more beyond the basic $20 tier.” Tomas says that simple, affordable ads on key sites like Kicktraq and Reddit helped their cause as well.
Tomas says that the studio’s goal going into the second Kickstarter was basically to show that the game was a viable project. This would hopefully convince Dreamlords Digital’s current investor and other potential investors to put in more money. “The funding we’re trying to secure is not only for development, but also for marketing and distribution when the game is done,” Tomas adds. Dreamlords Digital is also planning to partially fund Graywalkers internally, as other parts of the studio, which work on mobile applications and digital publications, will likely generate some revenue soon.
As a result, the second Kickstarter campaign for Graywalkers – which included a pre-alpha demo for potential backers – raised an amount beyond its funding goal.
Tomas advises that developers planning to take the Kickstarter route to secure funding should do a lot planning and preparation. “Do a lot of research. Talk to a lot of media people before hand, globally, not just locally. Get everything ready, make sure you have a demo,” he says. Cross-promotion with other Kickstarters will help as well.
Graywalkers: Purgatory is an ambitious title, described by the studio as “emergent strategic and tactical turn-based supernatural post-apocalyptic RPG inspired by Fallout, X-Com, and Jagged Alliance.” The game centers on 36 special characters called the Graywalkers, each with their own fighting styles, skills, and back stories. The player-created Graywalker will lead a band of heroes in a territorial battle against demons and other hellish creatures.
There are many Kickstarter-funded games that have missed their delivery dates, and Tomas admits that Dreamlords has been hearing quite a lot about the game being an ambitious endeavor. “The game is indeed ambitious but in our minds, we have a clear picture of what we want to do and how we can get there. We honestly never thought of it as too ambitious though because we always had a plan and we realized that there were no major blocks ahead of us in developing the game we had in mind.”
“We knew we could build this game but it would take a long time for us to do so,” he continues, adding that the size of the team has been boosted by its investors’ funds and that he has also hired a “very experienced triple-A” producer to guide the team. “She will ensure that we stay on track while still maintaining our indie culture. With her help, and the help of the team leaders, we should be able to keep on track and on focus to ensure that the project will be done relatively on time,” Tomas says.
Graywalkers: Purgatory begins full production next month with the target release date being January 2016. The initial release platforms include Linux, Mac, and Windows PC.