Our weekly dose of hot takes, occasionally well formed opinions, and fevered outbursts is back. Yup, it’s time for the Question of the Week! This week our question is inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins of Kickstarter video game campaigns.
What’s your Kickstarter pet peeve?
My big pet peeve is promising the moon when the company is brand new and has little to no experience or their experience is limited. Worse is if they lack a demo either players can play or that properly shows off their key systems in a properly synthesized environment (i.e. if you’re doing Twitch integration as a key control option, but the demo only works with a self-contained client, I’m a bit worried).
I hate to call them out on it, but this is my issue with Chronicles of Elyria. Some people have good experience while others are obviously just friends with the right people. Those on the team who have experience aren’t directly experienced with an MMO, and their single player demo talk makes it feel like they either don’t understand the genre or plan to use tech that’s neutered it. They are using some methods to actually engage the community in a gamey way really early on though, and that is something that helps make up for some missteps.
Well, there are a good number of things that really get under my skin that tend to drive me crazy. Such as not having enough to show off or talk about. Or continuing to “double dip” for more money. But, I can forgive most transgressions except for one. Namely, the desire to keep quiet and stop communicating with backers. For some reason or another some projects have gone radio silent for months if not years. Sure, there could be valid reasons such as working on the game, but even so every now and then it’s a good thing to poke your head out once in a while to let people know you’re still there.
And it’s not just long after the campaign ends that this silent treatment can be deafening. It’s even worse when developers won’t talk with backers during the funding process. I’ve seen, and been a part of, campaigns where you’ll hear nothing but silence. This has certainly caused some to crash and burn long before they get the money needed to finish their game. In fact, this treatment has turned off plenty of people and caused them to take their money elsewhere.
As much as I would have loved to have seen The 7th Guest 3 and Precinct make it they didn’t listen to their backers and did their own thing. In the case of the two attempts by Molotov Angel to get a Sierra documentary off the ground the silence was certainly deafening. Here’s the thing. You’re on Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding platform to not just make money but to, hopefully, gain a following. This means you need to talk with your fans.
I feel that communication is mandatory if you’re asking for other people’s money. They want to know that you’re there for them as much as they’re there for you. There’s a reason that we cover “MIA” pieces here at Cliqist. It’s this silence that makes people start to think that you’ve taken the money and ran off to some tropical island sipping martinis. In fact, this is such a major topic and point of contention that I ended up covering it for several installments of my crowdfunding tips over at the Space Quest Historian podcast this season.
My crowdfunding pet-peeve is one that isn’t just an annoyance but something which can actually tarnish the opinions of a developer/project in the eyes of its own backers. The problem is simple – dropping off the face of the earth after a successful campaign. No, I don’t expect people to write up an update every single week even when nothing really notable happens. However, I do expect that there at least be a little knowledge exchange between developers and backers so that the backers are aware something is actually happening. A team could be hard at work, but without backer updates, Twitter posts, or something, no one outside of the developers themselves is aware. Because some projects have failed over the years, many take this as a bad sign until news finally does come out months or years later. Don’t leave your backers in the dark for too long!
I think my biggest campaign pet-peeve has to be when developers seek funding for a project without having anything to show for it. Scribbled notebook pages and rough sketches of a “totally awesome” character are not worthy of a stranger’s money. Show me, right up front, that whatever you’re pitching is something that you can actually do, or I’ll click elsewhere.
I feel like the best way to know if your project is ready for prime time is to just start working on it. If you immediately run into problems it’s probably a good idea to go back to the drawing board right then. Some developers claim they can’t start working on their ideas until they get funding. I call BS on this. If you’re not creative enough to make progress on an idea without buying an expensive software or asset pack then you aren’t going to be able to overcome real obstacles when they come up.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand sometimes on Kickstarter, it’s the arrogance. To be fair, being a little cocky is good, you have to be to put yourself out there like that on a crowdfunding campaign. But I swear, too many times I run into campaigns where I can’t figure out if the devs are trying to make a game or a biopic. I get it. You’ve done some cool things before, and you’re gonna revolutionize gaming with your new hentai visual novel. Just let the game do the talking, you don’t have to overcompensate if it’s actually a good idea.
My personal pet peeve is likely to be a common one – simply a lack of updates during development. It’s such a simple step to just check in regularly and not doing so can quickly lead backers to worry, frustration and anger. All amplified when they also fail to respond to direct messages from backers as well. The same old excuses always get trotted out as well – other commitments, personal problems and my personal favourite “we didn’t want to post an update when there was nothing new to say”. In that case just add a brief update with a new screenshot, picture of the development team at work or simply just a note to say the project is still alive. Anything to just let the backers know you’re still there!
Let me start by saying that I tend to be really fussy when it comes to Kickstarters. Ludicrously priced reward tiers, spelling mistakes, poorly communicated target platforms and a lack of demo – all of these have inflicted insurmountable pain and suffering upon my poor soul. Yet, there is one really tiny detail that drives me nuts, and that’s text vital to a campaign being positioned inside images.
Yeah, I know, as far as first world problems go, this might be pretty high up on the list. And perhaps this is simply my inner “writer looking for important information when writing an article” speaking, but I would lie if I said I wasn’t shaking my head in denial every time I realized a Kickstarter’s stretch goals, key developers or release platforms are placed in the middle of a gigantic image.
As it turns out, I also really like using CTRL + F.
What do you think? Are we being too picky, or just plain childish? Chime in below and let us know your biggest Kickstarter video game pet peeve!