It took a few months longer than we expected, but we are finally fully finished with the JunKing kickstarter, with all of the shipments to backers complete. We have a few emails out there waiting for responses from some select people with weird addresses, but I’m sure we will get that squared away soon. Let’s talk about what went right and wrong before we talk about what is next for the small JSG team.
For the Kickstarter, there was many things that were awesome, and a handful of things that went wrong. In no particular order:
1.) Quality First
When the three of us got together, we all agreed that a high quality game is a top priority. We had some issues with our own mistakes and mistakes by the manufacturer that led to choices of moving along, or delaying the final shipping date. We always sided with fixing the problem, and ultimately this pushed our date out nearly 3 months. But……the final product speaks for itself. We’ve had multiple gamers, game store owners, and other designers say that JunKing feels like the kind of game that sits nicely on a game shelf, whether at your home or in a store ready to be sold. We had options to make the box smaller and tighter for less cost, but I always feel that games that are small go into a drawer, and not on your gaming shelf. I’m very happy with our final product, and I hope that JunKing stands as a good first example of what this team can do.
During and after our campaign we communicated meaningful information to our backers and everyone else that would listen. We had some good fun making Flavor Text Contests during the campaign to keep the conversation going, and that flavor text made it into the final game. After the campaign we let all our backers know what was going on with the production, good or bad. Delivering bad news is rough, but the alternative (hope that noone would notice slipped dates) would have been dishonest. The feedback from our backers was very supportive and that part made us feel much better about having to send out so many sad but true updates. Knowing that our backers were watching and the support they gave back kept us going strong as we stuck to our commitments for quality and a strong game. We had a handful of people complain that our updates were too frequent, but if you remove the Flavor Text Contests, it really wasn’t any more than other campaigns. The participation we had from the contests was great, and we were able to incorporate the best entries into the final game, which for us was a huge win.
3.) Taking advice vs going with your instincts
In gaming, I always try to go with my first instinct as I choose my actions. If I lose that game, than I work to adjust how I think so my instincts get better and my first thoughts go to a better plan. Well… The Kickstarter campaign and fulfillment is one long marathon that you can only run once….per game. Knowing this, I took some advice on a number of things that I regret, although some advice was amazing. Here are my best and worst:
Best: READ. I learned so much before during and after this process through reading everyone’s blogs and articles about kickstarter. Jamey Stegmaier and James Mathe have between them enough reading material to set you up for a year of learning about the best way to run a kickstarter for a new game. I didn’t shy away from it and MAN am I glad I took the time to read as much as I could find on the subject.
Worst: Or game’s box shows a 14+ age recommendation. Anyone that plays it knows because of the simplistic mechanics and family friendly theme that it should be 10+ or lower, perhaps even 7+. The reason it shows 14+ is because I took the advice of someone that told me that if you put a low age requirement on it that you may have to pay upwards of $2000 to have the game tested for chemicals and whatnot, to be deemed safe for American children. I can tell you right now that the cost of this test would have eliminated most of our profit from the campaign so I got worried and took the advice, setting the age requirement to 14+ on the side of the box. That was ridiculously dumb of me. When I look back on the campaign, I am very proud of JunKing and what we’ve done, but this mistake just makes me mad that I didn’t trust my instincts.
4.) We had a great time.
My criteria for whether or not we would continue to make games as a team was that if at the end of this process if we don’t hate each other we will consider it. And yeah….. we are going to make more games. Some of the issues we had to deal with were not really fun, but all in all we had a good attitude towards anything that tried to block us from completing this campaign the way we envisioned.
5.) We got everything prepared ahead of time
We set a schedule for everything and were aggressive on our timelines, making it easier for us to hit the goals we set out for JunKing. We started doing this from early on, setting dates for everything needed to be finished. We had many small and large victories because of our organizational style. Ultimately itmanifested itself in 900 boxes folded and labels printed waaaayyyy before we got the final shipment. We got the shipment at 11am on Wednesday and by 4pm we had about 650 boxes labeled, sealed, and ready to go. We were finished in the middle of the next day.
The only way we failed in preparation is with a social media presence. We essentially had none. Yeah…. I don’t recommend that. I definitely felt the weight of noone really knowing who we are, as I heard popular podcasts guess at what we were doing with no input from us because they had no idea who we are. But now we have this awesome product that is getting good feedback and we can build on that for sure.
If you were one of our backers, thank you very much for helping make it happen for our team. The whole process from start to finish was daunting at first, but everyone was so nice and supportive it seemed like a breeze. We created Junk Spirit Games in the middle of the campaign, which frankly is hilarious. But after what we’ve experienced through this process, the JSG logo is likely to be put on a number of games in the future. =)
David Gerrard – @Dagerr
(For those that saw our process unfold through the Kickstarter Campaign, I’d love to hear what you think, leave a comment.) =)