The scene is my home office, about a month ago. Sandra is acting as producer for the MMO, looking over the schedule.
Sandra: “So you’re behind schedule… by… let’s see, six months.”
Sandra: “Well, we’ll just have to cut some more features to make it fit!”
Eric: “What?! You already made me cut Dark Geology. And Meteorology with real meteors! And were-tigers! There’s practically nothing left to cut now!”
Sandra: “You could cut this dungeon… the one labeled ‘a dungeon more vast than any other MMO dungeon has ever been’… I’m not sure that’s even a selling point.”
Eric: “But it’s part of my Vision for the game! It has to stay!”
Sandra: “Okay, let’s look at the art requirements. What the hell, you added more stuff to the list! What’s this, Bugbear Troubadors?”
Eric: “It subverts all the bugbear tropes while bringing them back to their classic form, of a creepy bear in the woods. But now they play a banjo! That’s gotta be in the game. It’s just got to. I… don’t think it’s worth making the game without that…”
Sandra: “But you just thought of that yesterday!”
Eric: “… true…”
Sandra: “Okay. Let me explain it in terms you can understand: Star Trek. Our credit cards are like shields that protect against being homeless. And they cannot sustain this much additional damage without a hull breach. So you either need to make more cuts, or find more money.”
Eric: “Find more money! Right!”
Why Really Kickstarter?
Well, the above scene is exaggerated, but I really did have to cut all those things, and many more. But I guess the big problem is that the game can’t be too small or it will flop. While playing the early version, I’ve come to suspect there won’t be enough content. Not enough land masses, NPCs, places to go and people to stab. I fear it wouldn’t hold people’s interest long enough: they’d burn through everything within a month — maybe even just a few weeks — and be gone.
I want to do monthly updates for the game after it launches, but if there’s nobody left to see them, what’s the point? An MMO needs a certain scale before it can keep users hooked in.
To be successful, I think it needs to launch with more areas, more monsters, more… stuff. But I can’t afford that. So I’m working up a Kickstarter plan. If it works, I’ll be able to push the game launch out until late 2013, and hire artists to make content while I work on game systems, areas, and combat polish. If the Kickstarter was REALLY successful, Sandra could afford to work more on the MMO, too, instead of doing useful work to pay the bills!
And also, man it would be awesome to have voice-overs for principal characters… and bugbears with banjos. And I really want to do playable fairy princesses, but REAL ones, with a suite of fairy powers and a fae court… sorry, I got distracted.
I guess no matter how much money I have, there’ll always be a lot of hard calls to make in terms of what gets added. But the fact is right now, I’m cutting too deep.
So I’m brainstorming Kickstarter rewards. I’ll pitch you some of my more insane ideas later this week, but right now I’d really like to know what works for you in a Kickstarter.
There’s all the obvious things, like:
- “Gold” access (gold users have access to all the skills in the game, whereas F2P players can only play a limited set of roles and skills)
- Reserve your character name
- Get into the closed beta
- Get to vote on “what do I add and what do I cut”
Conor Brace (who’s doing the soundtrack for the game) has graciously offered to add a digital soundtrack album to the list of rewards I can give out, too. I also have a lot of crazy ideas for higher-level rewards, too — but let me get my thoughts in order before I talk about those. Probably later this week.
In the mean time, what do you look for in a Kickstarter campaign? And what would convince you to pay, say, $20? (Please don’t say t-shirts, please don’t say t-shirts, please don’t say…) I want to avoid physical items because I have no skill or experience in getting those done, and it will take a ton of time… longer than custom in-game items and systems would! But seriously, if t-shirts or other swag is what excites you, please let me know!