[dropcap size=big]P[/dropcap]roject Scissors: NightCry was a heck of a Kickstarter campaign to watch. The newest game by Clock Tower designer Hifumi Kono had an amazing team and concept, yet found itself struggling to gain attention and funds early on. Many even felt it would fail (both onlookers and actual members within the team!). However, things turned around about halfway through and funds suddenly started pouring in en masse. The game found itself funded! This has been one heck of a ride for developer Nude Maker and Playism Games and we at Cliqist are glad to see the campaign succeeded.
This interview with Hifumi Kono is not focused on how frightening or cool Project Scissors: NightCry is, instead it focuses on the amazing circumstances that took place during the campaign’s run. We hope you enjoy this “inside look” into turning a Kickstarter campaign around.
Cliqist: First, please tell us a little bit about Project Scissors: NightCry – What inspired you to return to your horror roots, and how did you assemble such a talented team?
Hifumi Kono: I had the urge to return to my roots, horror, for a several years now. The reason for this was after the production of Clock Tower, there were many horror titles that I enjoyed, but none of them where exactly to my liking. In order for me to play a horror game that I truly enjoy, I knew I had to make it myself.
I am truly honored that such amazing talents came together for this project. Quite frankly, because we are an indie developer, these talents did not join my camp for the money. Rather, these members have come aboard for much less pay than they normally receive.
I spoke with numerous creators that I have had the honor of being acquaintances with, and creators that I could count on. In the end, I was able to have this great team join me for this project.
Cliqist: How did your team feel about using Kickstarter to fund a PC version of the game? Were there any reservations or fears about crowdfunding in the U.S.?
Hifumi Kono: Although I went through articles on crowd funding, and spoke with people who had experience in crowd funding to prepare for this project, my impression on crowd funding as “unknown terrain” did not change. As such, we as a team felt anxious that we could not foresee the outcome, but at the same time, we also felt it was worth the challenge.
Looking back, I feel that regardless of how much data we were to gather prior to the campaign, we would not have truly understood the monster until we actually went through with it.
Cliqist: Do you feel that Project Scissors: NightCry received a lot of publicity and positive response from gamers or were reactions initially mixed?
Hifumi Kono: My impression is that domestic game media regardless of size promoted our project with positive responses, but the major media in North America seem to have passed over us. However, we saw a large number of welcoming reactions over SNS. We also saw a lot of harsh comments directed toward the game graphics as well.
Cliqist: After the first few days, funding slowed to a dangerous degree. Did you/your team recognize this trend was happening or find it normal for Kickstarter projects?
Hifumi Kono: From the start to the halfway mark, everything we tried did not go as planned, and it truly was a dangerous situation for us. We as a team really started looking into a Kickstarter re-launch.
We had entrusted another team with the management and strategy for Kickstarter, so our task was to pick up the pace in development so that we could deliver the gameplay trailers on time. Around this time, we were mentally dead-beat, and I began to consider preparing for all possible repercussions.
Cliqist: From around February 8th funds started to healthily increase again. Was your team’s social media strategy evolving at this point?
Hifumi Kono: I requested updating the SNS strategy to the Kickstarter management team, but they too pushing themselves to the limit, and did not have the capacity to take the necessary actions. So, as contributions that I could make, I visited creators that I know, and asked them if they could back our project. It seems that such people who are “offline” for the most part became backers for us (with major contributions!)
At the same time, we had a crowdfunding campaign using a domestic service around the same time, and we were able to lead people who were willing to invest more to our Kickstarter campaign. Most importantly, around this time, backers voluntarily began hosting events, and helped us spread word about NightCry.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if the mood of resignation began to spread at the time, but I am truly thankful for the backers that took initiative and supported our project.
Cliqist: Within the last week funds skyrocketed. What do you believe to be the main causes?
Hifumi Kono: The skyrocketing funds around the final week seems to be due to the SNS strategy.
Since I had finished delivering all planned trailers, I was able to contribute in other ways. So, I began approaching major SNS accounts with an affinity for horror, indie devs to help us spread word about NightCry. Most accounts ignored us, but there was one account that had a large number of horror followers that promised full-scale support.
This lead to our tweets being retweeted across various accounts with followers of horror, and this was a big help to us in reaching a larger population. Without being bound to games as a medium, we were able to reach people who were truly passionate about horror.
Also, around this time I received comments and messages in my Twitter from people who had backed our project from an early stage, informing me that they had upgraded to a higher level reward tier. I feel it was the backers and our team that drove our project to being fully funded.
Cliqist: How did you rally up your team when the campaign seemed to be in trouble early on? Or was everyone always feeling positive about Project Scissors: NightCry’s Kickstarter?
Hifumi Kono: Originally, we were very confident, due to optimistic estimates, but by midway through the campaign, there were times when the devil named Surrender tempted us.
It was the backers cheering for us that got us through those rough moments. I’ve mentioned this several times already, but the backers of this project are invaluable members of this team.
I had heard of trolls creating chaos in the comments section in Kickstarter, but we did not see such people. On the contrary, our backers provided input for us to reach a larger population, and gave us advice to help our project succeed. For the fact that I was able to connect with such passionate people, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work on this project.
Cliqist: Would you potentially return to Kickstarter in the future if another project seemed a good fit for the service? What are some suggestions you would give to others hoping to succeed via Kickstarter?
Hifumi Kono: Throughout our campaign, we looked at other projects, and upon seeing projects with amazing skill and creators struggling, we understood that preparing a project that matches Kickstarter is a major factor. So, if I come up with a title that matches, I would like to give Kickstarter another challenge.
As far as advice for people who are planning to use Kickstarter…that’s a tough question. I feel we are still a challenger in the eyes of Kickstarter and the backers, so I don’t think we have earned the right to give advice to anyone yet.
Cliqist: Would you like to leave horror fans with any comments about Project Scissors: NightCry?
Hifumi Kono: There have been fantastic horror games that have been announced for console in recent days.
We hope NightCry will become a stepping stone for horror games to further strengthen its foothold in the sphere of entertainment. We plan on giving it our all so that NightCry will be all that it can, so please look forward to it!
We would like to thank Hifumi Kono for taking the time to answer our questions! If you’d like to know more about Project Scissors: NightCry please check out their Kickstarter campaign for the latest updates.