Iron Tower Studio ForumsRPGThe Shelter - Official Dead State Forum (Moderators: Brian, Caidoz, DrunkZombie, Christina, Jonathan, SunwardMold)3/19 Monday Design Update - Kickstarting a Kickstarter Discussion
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Brian
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« on: March 19, 2012, 01:30:11 pm »

First off, apologies to everyone about the lack of updates lately. As is the case for many small projects without much in the way of funding, life and side projects/jobs get in the way of production… which is to say, not much was happening for a few months. But, in the last few weeks, the team has refocused their efforts and our build is finally seeing regular updates again. Our dedication to the project restored, it kinds of brings us to an interesting dilemma – how do we keep the project going full-speed while still being able to pay for development essentials like electricity, software licenses, and beer?

Let’s backup to an internal conversation from a few months ago. Some of us were keeping an eye on this newfangled Kickstarter service that was featuring more and more interesting projects all the time. While there were a few games on there, nothing was really pulling in the money needed for an RPG with a 10+ person team. We were pretty sold on the possibilities, but ultimately it came down to whether or not we thought we had the game in a state where we’d be comfortable asking people to fund our continued development. The reality of the situation was that it was not quite where it needed to be yet, so we put those plans on hold.

Unfortunately, this kind of led to a period where everyone had to take on second jobs/contract work, which naturally resulted in less time being put into Dead State. And one of the worst things that can happen in a creative project is losing momentum, which is what we’ve spent the last few weeks gaining back. And in that time, there’s been kind of an explosion in the realm of crowdsourcing. There is now both an awareness and excitement over the possibilities, and some pretty big projects (way higher than our budget) getting funded through Kickstarter. I’m not so sure it’s “the future” yet and I expect Kickstarter fatigue to set in as every short-on-cash dev tries their luck at the crowdsourcing game. The last thing we want to do is look like a “me too” project trying to ride the gamer goldrush (dolla dolla bill, y’all!) – but I expect that there are going to be quite a few projects that have no such hang-ups.

I still don’t think we’re quite ready for a Kickstarter launch, but we’re starting to head in that direction. I think putting a bit of distance between any possible launch and the massive projects being funded right now is probably a smart move, though I’m not a bizdev guy, so who knows. While we toil away on the latest Dead State builds and features, I would like to open up the discussion to you, the potential supporter - let’s kickstart a Kickstarter discussion. Here’s what we would like to know:

-We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game? (Please don’t describe a fully complete game.)

-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest? (Keep in mind, no amount of money can make 10 people do the work of 25.)

-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much? (For example, higher level sponsorship might get your portrait done up as a zombie or non-ally NPC featured in the game.)

-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase? (Again, keep in mind, doing updates takes time out of our schedule.)

We still want to bring you the zombie survival RPG experience we set out to do from day one, but in order to get it done in a reasonable time frame, it’s no longer going to be possible without a way to sustain full-time development – your feedback would help shape our plans quite a bit. Thanks for your continued support and interest - let’s see if we can make 2012 a great year for Dead State!
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Caidoz
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 01:36:43 pm »

Hey Brian, great to hear from you!

To answer your questions:

-What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game?  -  I'd like to see that the main structure of the game is there, or that enough of the game is in place that all I'm really waiting on is details.  Maybe a look at some of the aspects of the game we haven't seen yet, like a combat screen, or a look at the map.

-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest? - At the absolute latest, I think by spring 2013.  I'm not sure if this is even reasonable, but the closer the release gets to 2014, the more impatient I would get.  I don't expect to see anything like a finished product this year, but I could be pleasantly surprised!

-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much? - I'm not sure how to respond to this either since I don't really know your budget, but I think to see something like what you suggested (and NPC or a zombie portrait), I'd be willing to pay 100+ for that.  I think it would be well worth the investment to support the game and then see yourself included in the final product!

-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase? - Bi-monthly updates would work great for me if they had a bit more information than the Monday updates were giving us.  I think what I'd like to see are more story-oriented updates, like characters, scenarios, or missions.  I think that could bring more life to the forum, as well, since we could start making "What would you do" threads, and the like.

Just my two cents.  But it's good to hear from you guys and glad to know that you're all still working hard.  Keep it up!   Salute
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 01:49:24 pm »

Quote
-We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game? (Please don’t describe a fully complete game.)

Since Dead State seems to be a fairly different game than most, I think maybe making a few videos with a voiceover talking about various features would work well. Like, making one video focused on the combat, showcasing how it works and the different options. And another one focused more on the shelter. And one with a general overview of the game.

I guess something that should also be taken into consideration is that (if I understand things correctly) both Doublefine and Inxile for example seem to really open up the game development and have fans be able to get a look into things behind the scenes and even affect things. Whether Doublebear would want this or not would need to be spelled out so that people know what they pledge their money to.

Good to see an update again!
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 01:53:12 pm »

Oh man, it's such a relief to hear an update.

I agree pretty strongly that you should avoid Wasteland 2's Kickstarter pledge time-wise, if possible, but I don't think any "ideal" time will present itself, so don't delay too much. This bandwagon is only going to get fuller.

In answer:

-What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game?
Nothing, really, I already would feel confident. And as Fargo proved, people care enough about old-style TB games to donate without too much of a concern, plus your name helps. Still, the more details the better, since this is a different kind of project. Since you're so much further, you can show screenshots/mockups, detailed art, character system plans, discuss unique approach to events/missions, etc. Videos of what makes it unique, specifically, of the way the unexpected can happen when going out to scavenge for instance, those would be perfect.

-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest?
Depends on budget and stuff. Next year would be nice.

-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much?
I advised Fargo on his Kickstarter stuff pretty extensively, always willing to help out here too. The core of it is: the $15 for digital works. Yes, it means people will pay less than for the final product, but that's the way it is. The $30 for digital premium is essential, too. From there on, Fargo's own $50 old-style big box and $100 CE were nice but producing them does cut into your budget heavily, I don't think people will mind if you bump up the prize further. It's easy to get lured in to add more physical rewards on Kickstarter but obviously you'll have to pay a ton.
Oh, and avoid the whole "your name in the game" thing. In the credits, sure, but not in the game. Unless it'll be as a nametag worn by a storeclerk zombie Tongue

-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase?
During a Kickstarter drive, there should be an update every few days. Yes, I realize it takes time but it's important. It can be anything though. New concept art, specific stories, just general musings, a few more details on character/weapon/item systems, as long as it stays in people's minds. Outside of Kickstarter, it's up to you, whenever you got something to show really.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 01:55:10 pm by Brother None » Logged
Brian
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2012, 01:56:05 pm »

Oh man, it's such a relief to hear an update.

I agree pretty strongly that you should avoid Wasteland 2's Kickstarter pledge time-wise, if possible, but I don't think any "ideal" time will present itself, so don't delay too much. This bandwagon is only going to get fuller.

In answer:<snip>


That was great feedback - many thanks!
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TailSwallower
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 02:08:04 pm »

-We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game? (Please don’t describe a fully complete game.)

I think without a demo/playable alpha available you're going to need to:
a) Really push the team's experience (Arcanum, VtM:B, etc),
b) Perhaps point to the AoD demo (which will likely drop before the Dead State Kickstarter) so people have some idea of the tech being used ie. so they know the engine is available, functional and being used for a similar project. Also, you're sharing some team members, so again, comparisons to AoD could be beneficial.
c) Screenshots, and not just combat. You aren't trying to sell an FPS to as many people as possible, you're trying to appeal to a niche demographic, so show us dialogue, character creation, skills, base management, etc.
d) If possible, gameplay video - just to show that the moving parts are at least partially in place.

Other thoughts: I don't think a 'humorous video' is necessary. The Double Fine one was great because Schafer is genuinely funny and entertaining, whereas Fargo only barely pulled it off.

Speaking of Fargo, I'm sure opening up a dialogue with him would be helpful - I think he'd be more than happy to tweet your link as he'd be excited to see more top-down, turn-based RPGs, if only to prove how wrong the publishers have been all this time.

-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest? (Keep in mind, no amount of money can make 10 people do the work of 25.)

This is a hard one. Obviously it'd be linked to how much money you're asking for as you'd have a reasonable idea of how much money you need for full-time work on the project per month.

But from the point of view of potential backers, I think people would like it to be 12 months or under, but you could probably stretch it safely to 18.

-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much? (For example, higher level sponsorship might get your portrait done up as a zombie or non-ally NPC featured in the game.)

Well the physical stuff really appeals to some, but you'd have to research manufacturing costs first. I kind of wonder if InXile did much research into that, 'cause I could imagine all those trinkets coming out to cost a lot more than they might anticipate.

Vince is still talking about offering a physical box and manual for AoD for $50 (I think), so perhaps he has contacts/has looked into it. If it's feasible then big box + manual + map would appeal to plenty of people I imagine.

I think the most basic level has to be the game itself - anything beneath that is pointless (but so many people seem to offer minor things in their Kickstarters). $15 seems to have worked for DF & W2 and $10 for FTL, so I imagine you'd want to go between $10 and $20. Also, it seems like the two big things people want for the digital version is for it to come on Steam and also be available DRM-free, so definitely look into offering both those options.

I like the idea of zombified backers and non-ally NPCs, but not sure how much further you could take it. Locations and items could maybe work, but they could dilute the established setting. A lot of people are already raising concerns about the number of NPCs, statues and what-not that InXile are going to have to shoe-horn into W2.

-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase? (Again, keep in mind, doing updates takes time out of our schedule.)

I'd be happy with monthly updates, but others might not be. Fortnightly was mentioned above, so I think that would work for most. And the kind of stuff that have made up previous MDUs would be fine for me as a backer.

Good luck! Dead State and Obsidian are about the only other projects I'd consider Kickstarting (after already pledging to DF, W2 and FTL), so I'll be here patiently waiting with my chequebook open.

(Edited to refine thoughts... a few times.)
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 02:23:52 pm by TailSwallower » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 02:20:09 pm »

I would recommend to stimulate the brand recognition before launching kickstarter. Make some promotional material - screens/maybe short gameplay video/dev. diary/whatever - and let gaming servers to pick it up few days/weeks before launching the kickstarter campaign. So that anyone who finds it on kickstarter will already be familiar with the idea behind it. Launching kickstarter campaign for well known project also stimulates the press coverage, more than just launching kickstarter for some new game nobody knows about.
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MidnightSun
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2012, 02:29:57 pm »

Quote
-We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game? (Please don’t describe a fully complete game.)

Probably a video showcasing choices and consequences, main RPG elements much like this one: http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,1896.0.html

And then something to showcase that this is a survival, not zombie-pinyata genre. Oh and someone has to get shot at least once.

Quote
-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest? (Keep in mind, no amount of money can make 10 people do the work of 25.)

I have long threshold, games take a while. 2015 ?

Quote
-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much? (For example, higher level sponsorship might get your portrait done up as a zombie or non-ally NPC featured in the game.)

I dunno. Copy Wasteland 2.

Quote
-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase? (Again, keep in mind, doing updates takes time out of our schedule.)

Monthly is frequent enough, but still managable. Show whatever you can even if it's just Oscar pulling out bug fixes list out of his ass. But I did love the gun and concept updates.
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 02:32:09 pm »

I agree with Brother None, basically.

Also, I suspect there are gonna be 100s of games on Kickstarter over the coming months. You have to stand out, somehow - so have something to show and make the pitch professional. Schafer and to an extent Fargo can get by on their names - namedropping Vampire and explaining your pedigree would definitely help. Also, be detailed about what each level of funding gets the backers, and set some clear timescales - the risk with indie development, in my view, is that it takes years and years and years for a release (and you indicate that it's already started to drag with months of 'down time'). I feel you have to be straight with people and give a clear target release date if you're asking for their money - especially if the company doesn't yet have a track record of releasing games.

Also, a commitment to platforms other than PC would help - if you can say you'll port the game to iOS or something (after funding reaches a cerain amount), that should get people interested - Mac/Linux at the very least, given how widespread those systems have become.

Honestly, I feel Obsidian are the only dev remaining that can expect to get millions of dollars - I hope they put any project on there ASAP before kickstarter is saturated.

EDIT: thinking about what makes me back Wasteland 2 and Double Fine... for W2, it's because Fallout 1/2 are two of my favourite games of all time and a game that is in the same vein (and the inspiration) is something I have to support - and the fact that the original devs are on board convinced me to pay out. Same for Double Fine - Schafer has proved over and over again that he is a game-creating genius and I completely trust him to make a great adventure game - he's never made a bad adventure game.

Dead State, on the other hand, would be a greater risk - I love V:TM, but Dead State isn't trying to be a spiritual successor and your studio doesn't have a track record. As someone who hasn't been following development, I think you would need to convince me in your pitch - show me in detail what the game is about, when you're going to release it and so on. I would donate based on the strength of what you can show me.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 02:37:53 pm by God is Dog backwards » Logged
johnc1256
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 02:34:44 pm »

I only want to ask 2 of the questions as I don't want to feel like a demanding customer. And i just hope this game comes out this year because the way it looks already it's one of my best game's.

1, We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game? I would like to see some combat, well not just me but ye the combat. and most important to me the map, that is the point of which it will draw me closer to the game or not like it. thank's

2, When would you want Dead State out by at the latest? Now I know you said that you only have a small team but I will kill myself as this game is driving me crazy if at least the demo is not out by half way August or September hope its not to much to ask. Thank you again.

Hope you guys are feeling good for this game because I am and just keep up the good work Smile
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 02:35:45 pm »

 Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile  Grin Grin  Realy hapy to see an update!!!!

-I would like to know more about survivor relationships. It would be cool to see examples of causes and effects of survivor behaviour.

-I realy don't care about the timeline. Whenever it is ready it would be ok with me. But for the sake of the game I would say no to 2014. Followers of the game are already distracted.

-A burger named of me at Mr. Bison's menu would be fun. It won't effect the game much. I would give 50 bucks for that. But that's just my budget!  Sad I think people would pay much more for a John Burger or Jane Fries...

-I think weekly updates would be fine. No need for huge updates. Just a little something to see game is still alive. Even "Sorry, no update this week. No time for that. We are so busy!" would be a enough for most of us.

Keep up the good work.
 Salute
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 02:36:09 pm »

Hmm, reading in between the lines it sounds like the Dead State team has been going through a rough patch. But it's good you are back at work and focused!  Salute Good luck with the game. As for your questions...

-What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game?
I don't think there's really anything more than what has already been shown. That being said a demo (even if it's a teeny tiny demo) would whet people's appetites more than anything else, mine included. But I know demos are hard to do, and are usually done only when the game is close to being finished, so... Other things work too. Or even showing nothing except what has been said is good enough.

And by the way, what initially brought me to these forums was the fact that Brian was one of the big writers of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, as well as an interview with him I read on a website. Brian and Annie are both "big names" so to speak, because of the games you worked on. Mentioning that in the kickstarter campaign, hokey as it may sound, could help bring in more money.

-When would you want Dead State out by at the latest?

Depends on how often you do updates, the content of the updates, if you make a demo, etc... I'd say I'd wait until 2013 - 2014. Can't speak for other people though.

-What kind of rewards would you like to see and for how much?

My suggestions are:
Access to a beta of the game at some point (doesn't have to be early, or only for these people, just knowing you're getting a beta earlier than anyone else is good enough)
Creating a loading screen quote  
Autographs from members of the dev team, possibly on the CD case/box of the game.
Original concept art of some sort (limited reward obviously, probably for a high amount)

Not sure about the price of these though.

-How often would you want to see updates and what would you like us to showcase?

I think very small updates once every two to four weeks could work. Nothing big, because focusing on the game and getting it out quickly is more important. I think even a token effort, just to keep the interest alive, works.

Great to hear from you again. Approve
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 02:45:41 pm »

I think that in case of Kickstarter funding, it's very important to emphasize all the features that separates Dead State from the rest of other hardcore RPGs, like Wasteland 2 and others that will soon follow (besides from obviously being a zombie survival game  Smile).
P.S. Sorry for my English, and it's great to hear from you!
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2012, 02:45:54 pm »

What came into my mind in the very first second: People who gave x amount of money could find their name / character in the form of a zombie randomly appearing in one of the maps. :>
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2012, 02:50:07 pm »

I'm not sure that Kickstarter being flooded by game projects is that much of a concern. There seems to be a relatively large base of people who crave for old-school RPGs and have been left out in the cold for years and years now. I think that if you deliver a product compelling enough for them, they will generate buzz and they will be glad to pre-purchase it themselves. I intend to contribute to a good portion if not all the decent RPG projects that will be thrown my way.
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