Kickstarter campaign – 3 days in

Almost 3 days into our Kickstarter and we’re at 48% of our goal. For a funding round, that’s pretty good. If we’d make 60K/day every day our studio would be making the most fantastic RPGs you can imagine ;)

But to be fair, everybody, myself included, had hoped that it would’ve gone faster and I’m getting some flak for the timing of the campaign, and how with better messaging/positioning/timing this thing could’ve been flying through the roof. I don’t know, I guess it’s always easier to sail the boat when you’re actually on land (or whatever the saying is), but it’s still early days and I’m a born optimist.

Personally, I think we can still have a campaign that can go way beyond our funding goal, though admittedly, we will need to fix a few obvious things (well, they’re obvious now ;) ) like the rewards, part of the story we tell (less features, more who and why), and what happens if we fail in this Kickstarter.  Thank you to DarkUnderlord,Robcat and the rest of the gang for helping us get these insights btw.

When I look at the stats of the videos: we have 4452 backers out of 22344 video views at this moment. That means that 1 in 5 people who see the video are backing it. I think that’s an incredible conversion rate, so I’d think that even if we don’t change anything in the messaging,  if we manage to get more people to see our page, we could reach our goal in no time. Something to work on.

What media help when doing a RPG kickstarter? Some surprising absentees in there (at least to me)

Obviously there’s also GDC/PAX/Easter/Torment/End of month so that doesn’t help, but if we want to give the game the extra pass it needs, we need to start on it sooner rather than later, so we couldn’t wait indefinitely. I already explained that this campaign started a bit chaotically, something I regret now but which I didn’t foresee in the heat of the moment.

But still,  we didn’t know shroud of the avatar and Torment were going to launch when we started to the promotion tour for this game back in early february, and once we talked to magazines, there was a limit on how long we could delay things.  E.g. I just read a fantastic hands-on article in a print magazine that’s telling people to go to our Kickstarter page so if the page wouldn’t be there, that’d be a waste.

There’s been quite a few hands-on reports in the media by now and I think there’s a very clear message coming from almost everybody who played it and who loves RPGS – back this game, it deserves it, it’s clear what they could do if somebody allows them to give it an extra round of development.That message hasn’t been repeated everywhere yet though due to GDC/PAX and I hope we’ll see an increase in video views next week when other media finally post their articles. For instance, there is going to be coverage on IGN (at least they promised), and though obviously, I don’t know what they’re going to write, it will generate some more exposure. If we can get the video views to over 50K and we maintain the average conversion rate and backer amount, we’re probably there already. But our real goal shoiuld be to get the page views high in the 100′s of K’s so we’ll need to figure out how to do that. All help welcome.

We’ll in any case start working on fixing the rewards to include things people really want and then I think we’ll launch a second wave of PR, somehow, so that the video count goes up. And highlight a bit more of the inside of Larian, of the hopes and aspirations we have for our game. I somehow thought that was already pretty evident, but apparently not enough.

If any of you have more ideas of what we can do to push this thing further, I’m all ears.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/katrien.cornelis Katrien Cornelis

    hehe I’m “spamming” like crazy,every site I think I might find RPG enthusiasts I’m spreading the word..tweeting,retweeting,keeping a steady buzz..for the rest i think it’s indeed more a matter of maybe putting a tad a different emphasis in your KS explication (as you already mentioned) and is it me or is it possible I still haven’t seen THAT many articles covering D:OS /KS ?I’ve seen maybe..8 in total?But I thought you mentioned something of 70articles prepared? And oh yeah, being linked to a viral vid can help , so did a +1 post on the update song for original sin KS =D

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Thx Katrien! If you google, you’ll find already quite a lot but most will be coming next week (we hope – it’s not in our hands)

  • MicoSelva

    AMAs (Ask Me Anything) on reddit are quite popular way to gain exposure for kickstarter projects. Maybe You could consider that.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      On our list

  • http://www.facebook.com/vpuglia90 Vincenzo Puglia

    Considering your early interview with him it would not seem unreasonable to ask a retweet from @totalbiscuit. His audience is of mostly PC gamers and more mature than most which means they should have more disposable income to throw your way. Of course a new video from him would be even better but it is unlikely to happen without any new material about the game.
    I’m sorry if my english wasn’t up to par but I really wanted to share this and thank you for this small insight into gma developement!

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Most of the industry is on a holiday so we’ll only be able to do stuff on the 2nd, and I expect we’ll have another bump that day as some long-awaited articles finally come out

  • Paul

    Really hope you guys raise at least 500K, I want this game to be as good as it can. 9/10 ranges at least.
    Oh and yes, getting accounts on reddit/neogaf/something awful/rpg codex and interacting with those communities should help.

  • JackDandy

    As I said on Tweeter- you want to make it easier to get more people into it? Make the site have screenshots that are easy to save.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katrien.cornelis Katrien Cornelis

      I dig this, was trying to get a nice screenie to go stalk some people about d:os but wound up searching google for an image..ik was ok, but could’ve gone much smoother

    • JackDandy

      Oh, and another suggestion for the update videos- It might just be me, but watching you guys play the game isn’t exactly exciting. It’s even sort of.. boring. IMO you should try and make them drag on a bit less.

      • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

        We want to take our time to show each feature so people would understand, but you’re right – we need a shorter movie too. This will take a bit more time to make but we’ll make it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/herkules.falsk Herkules Falsk

      Agreed, this is a lot more important than web designers seem to understand these days.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      I forwarded it to our web-guy asking him to do something about it

      • JackDandy

        And one more thing- if possible, try to upload some new screens with cleverfunny dialogue. (No “Arrow to the knee” jokes, though.. That one’s got kinda old!)
        Gotta make people see this isn’t all about combat.

  • Craig234

    Be careful of the lessons you draw. So in the first three days 1 in 5 video viewers sign up. Couldn’t htat be related to people who are very likely to sign up already making up those viewers? Does it really mean 1 in 5 of the people who haven’t signed up are likely to as well when they watch it? Who knows, but it’s a big assumption. (I signed up and haven’t watched the video, for what it’s worth).
    That Plansecape project is at like over 3 million dollars now – are there any lessons there since they’re both for great rpg’s?

    • AlexF

      It’s not fair to compair the two projects. InXile did a phenomenal promotional job with the Torment campaign. I mean it should be a guideline to future kickstarter projects. The thing went like this: First there is an announcement that they bought the Torment licence. That generated a lot of interest. Then they announce that they are planning on using it to make a spiritual successor to PS:T with the second most important member of the Torment team on board as the main designer. They announce that their new setting would be Numenera which was a successful kickstarter campaign on its own and Monte Cook would be involved with the new Torment. Then their masterstroke, they release the Wasteland 2 video. All the backers and fans are ecstatic, the game seems to be everything they ever hoped for. InXile, with only one video convinced everyone that they can deliver. Then they announce the Torment kickstarter but don’t start it just yet. They let people seep in all this information, let the wasteland video do the rounds, let the anticipation grow and then and only then they start the kickstarter campaign and make 900k dollars in just a few hours. By the time their kickstarter started there were already thousands of people ready to back it the moment it was on.

      It was a process that gradually built anticipation and by the time they started the campaign they had already had a lot of media attention. After that it was only a matter of setting the right stretchgoals. At the start they were few and far appart but they got wiser and inserted more short term goals and what improvements they would bring to the game specifically. For example at 2 million: New Area, New Companion, Expanded Music. Such goals usually make the fans more excited than “We’ll increase the overall quality of the game”. Also they managed to bring abroad some of the most celebrated RPG designers like George Ziets and Brian Mitsoda (if you haven’t played Vampire the Masquarade: Bloodlines yet do yourselves a favor and buy it now, sadly it’s not on gog.com but you can find it on steam). I’m sure by the end of the campaign, counting the paypall contributions, they will reach the 3.5 mill goal and maybe a couple of hundred more.

      Now what of all this if any benefits Larian? The whole thing about how to build up the campaign is of course too late to be of use. The good thing is that the campaign is on a steady rise. Larian will probably meet the goal in another week or so if things don’t slow down. Then you have the opportunity to apply the wisdom of other kickstarter campaigns while setting stretch goals. Be specific, make them interesting. Things like adding talking henchment, new areas, tilesets for the editor, new dungeons etc. Something both Obisidan and inXile did with their campaigns was to reward by the number of contributors, not just the money. Obsidian promised a huge dungeon that would get more levels every 5000 or so backers and ever few thousand likes on the facebook page. InXile does the same with a dungeon of their own, adding ‘fathoms’ by backer numbers and facebook likes. That is a good idea to motivate people to spread the word even after the game gets funded and also get more attention on facebook. Personally I don’t like social media but there’s no denying it that they can be a great way to get some more publicity. Also be ready with paypal to have it up as an option as soon as the campaign goal is met. Some people prefer it to amazon (I think that’s what kickstarter uses) or can only use paypal.

      One more thing, from the videos and such the game looks like standar fantasy fare. I know that’s unfair cause Larian always had their own unique flair of fantasy with humour, a bit more fairytale-ish (is that a word?) than more classic campaigns, a bit more unconventional. For example other settings have strict rules about magic and what can be done with it. Larian had someone’s soul bound to a chicken, a chicken that you could then kill. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think that the uniqueness of the world is adequately represented in the videos so far. The way I describe Dragon Knight Saga to friends is that it’s a game that’s pure fun. (I maintain the opinion that it’s better than Divine Divinity). You could try to show some more unique areas, or unique encounters. There’s bound to be a talking skeleton somewhere in there. Make a promotional video showing variety, showing quests (not only the funny ones). Yes we get it, the main attractions are co-op, nice turn based combat with element interaction, the ability to move objects freely, a powerful editor. All these are great but we already know about them. Give us something about the story, what the game does different in terms of quests, how deep do the consequences of your actions run. Show us something that we don’t expect (with as little spoilers as possible please :p ).

      That’s it from me. I also support the idea of enlisting the help of some youtube celebrities but I don’t really know the scene so can’t contribute much there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/piratemano Ex Serv

    Hi, i’ll write this in english even though i’m french… just to say sorry for my bad english :)

    To me if there’s a thing that make Divinity games stand out its the “humor”. I”ve played all Divinity games and really they made me laugh, like a lot. Crazy people, crazy situation, crazy ironic dialogues…

    That’s really you’re trademark i believe at larian studios. Why not aim to make a viral youtube video featuring a quest with funny ironic / pop culture reference and hope it spread the word for you ?

    I’m sure there’s a lot of people who want old school RPG out there, but i’m pretty confident that there are WAY MORE people who want a good laugh and enjoy a well written RPG.

    So that’s my last two cents, i spent the rest of my money on the kickstarter already :P Waiting for the beginning of the new month to up the pledge ;)

    Good luck to you !

  • nobody72

    I’m not sure I would advocate this but one option would be to cancel the current campaign and restart it in 30 days. As I said I don’t really advocate this option but it is always something to consider if things do not pan out. There are other issues of course. When comparing to torment or shroud they have a longer history and are perhaps better known (I did contribute to torment but not shroud). There have been other well known campaign which did not do so well (they made 400K to 500K) such as grim dawn and hero-u. I really don’t know what you should expect. I personally hope you see in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 million (obviously some arbitrary high number is nice but one should be realistic) though at this point 1.1 might be a bit optimistic. It is hard to tell as your curve might be less standard (a bit higher rate in the middle) as news spread. I have no clue on the sales number for dvinity or DKS; but i believe titan quest (grim dawn predecessor) had over 2 million sales and one can only imagine what torment sales has been over the years. I guess the only other comparison to be made would be with project eternity but again they were much earlier, very well known. and indirectly campaigned for a long time prior to their kickstart launch (their fans practically begged them to do a kickstart 6 months in advance and I think they used this lead time to generate a huge amount of interest).

    Anyways I wish you luck – there are 3 or 4 developers I really like over the years (Triump, cd projek, arkane and I suspect a couple of new ones xile, crate) not just because they produce great games but because they ‘play fair’ (i.e, support the games and tend to be semi-transparent).

    • Raze

      Larian already had to delay the kickstarter more than a month due to delays setting up the US subsidiary. While restarting could theoretically help get more money, it would burn though more time, which is also required to be able to add anything substantial to the game before it gets released.

  • DivinePonies

    Try to arrange some sort of cooperation with some famous youtube channels. AtheneWins comes first to mind because he’s from Belgia and I believe he’d be willing to say a few words about this project. He’s got a huge community of gamers behind him (625k subscribers on YouTube) and it’s worth a shot.

  • MoGlee

    I have seen all the videos posted thus far and also the E3 video. They all show co-op. I own all the Divinity games but I have yet to back this as I am not interested in co-op. Will you consider doing a non-co-op video?

    • Phlegmish

      Don’t worry, co-op is optional. If you can’t or don’t want to play with someone else, you can control both characters at the same time or have the computer control the second character.

    • Raze

      The next update (by Tuesday) will be about single player gameplay.

      Really, though, co-op just means another person controls some of the characters you would otherwise be controlling yourself.

      Having dialog written for 2 people to be able to play in co-op actually means that in single player the non-lead main character has more detailed dialog options than is usual for party members. You can either choose both characters dialog options (so possibly argue with yourself), have the non-lead character’s options selected based on a personality type you choose (or set to random), or just go with what the lead character says.

  • pusheax

    Your kickstarter front page video is OK, but not the best you could come up with.

    I know Larian and that your games are different. But even I paused for a second and asked myself “How is this any better(in terms of mechanics/setting) than Torment/Wasteland/Project Eternity?” and did not know immediately the answer. I think you should address how your product is different from other products on the market. I think you should have underlined features besides coop/strategy more. What are the things that distinguish your game from the rest? For Torment that is massive dialog trees. Wasteland is for fallout fans who did not like fallout becoming FPS. Eternity actually does not have unique features but have strong obsidian community(basically this company has a lot of goodwill). Shroud of the Avatar is successful because of the shadow that Ultima series casts over entire RPG genre, otherwise it does not have unique features either.

    I’m sorry Sven, but you don’t have so much goodwill and your kickstater is honestly doing just fine. I mean look at Peter Molyneux’s Project GODUS – it barely made it’s goal and this guy is pretty famous. Also look at Grim Dawn devs. They got a bit over 500k. They made a good game Titan Quest which was very good but nothing ground breaking. And they got this much.

    I guess my point is that everything is going just fine. If you would propose significant features which will move RPG genre forward you would probably get more press coverage. You just make good polished RPGs which stand out in minor ways. And for that you’re doing pretty good.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      That may be true but there really are a lot of Divinity fans out there, more than people sometimes imagine – imho we need to find a way of letting them know that DOS is there and needs their help. That conversion rate really is high imho.

  • Xhanth

    Swen you really need to convince a big youtuber to play a coop session with you or one of your guys. People like Totalbiscuit now generate more traffic and have a bigger influence than traditional video game medias.

    You have the advantage of having something playable, use it. Either livestream or record a session (or both), if you can convince 10% of a 1M subscriber channel you’ll get 100k backers (I’m so good at maths).

    Here are famous youtubers i know of :

    - The Yogscast : 4M subscribers (they are a duo, maybe you could let them play together and just watch and guide them) I’m not sure if they are fans of CRPG though.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BlueXephos/videos?view=0

    -TotalBiscuit : 1 M subscribers – http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

    - Athene : 600k subs. – http://www.youtube.com/user/AtheneWins

    - Force Strategy Gaming – 200k subs. – http://www.youtube.com/user/ForceSC2strategy

    I’m sure there are more I’m not aware of or I simply just forgot.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      Yes, we’re going to go after them – I hope they’ll make time for us

  • http://skapusniak.livejournal.com/ SKapusniak

    I’m useless at this social networking stuff, but I would have thought, if you have any contacts with them, mentions from one or two of guys who have done crpg kickstarters and are currently in development (e.g Shadrowrun Returns/Dead State/Project Eternity etc.) in the kickstarter updates of there games might be helpful in pointing out you exist to people who might interested.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      We’ll see if they’re willing to do that i.e. we’ll ask

  • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

    Thx for all the feedback guys! Apologies if I don’t reply right away but I will – the wife is putting quite a lot of pressure on me right now to not be in the environment of a laptop ;)

  • GhanBuriGhan

    Better timing may have helped a little (I really don’t think there was a need to rush it after the RPGwatch report – some pre-KS press is good, allows for a faster start). But I think it’s also natural that a game that will come out anyway will get less support than a project that will only see the light of day if the KS succeeds. Than you have the competition of Torment, SotA, and of the easter bunny… But you may also have a more steady campaign than most as you probably have a number of press reports lined up, and I am sure some big name interviews will also be possible. I am sure it will work out , keep the campaign updates coming at a nice pace, and work towards a really strong last three days with some attractive stretch goals.

  • Andre Du Plessis

    Well I moved my kickstarter funds over from Shroud of the Avatar to yours as I believe more in your product.

    What I didn’t like about SOTA, is that it was to developed into an expansive RPG – and suddenly 2 more episodes are announced ?!?

  • Frank Trienbach

    OK, to my mind, the timing of the kickstarter was one of the worst moment to do it and people should have heard a little more about your game BEFORE the kickstarter campaign, and should have waited the kickstarter to begin with anticipation.

    Now, to increase a little bit pledge levels, add things to the boxed versions, especially the collector one, be more precise for your pledge levels (is the 150$ version means 1 boxed game + 1 digital game (so two games) or is it only one game ?…) same questions for every boxed kickstarter after 150$.

    And about media coverage : release regular new content : new gameplay videos (!), new screens, music, and make some new videos to explain game mechanics (item combination, explain how magic works, …)

    take heart, what you’re doing deserves it.

    • Raze

      Yes, it is 2 separate copies of the game, one DVD, one digital. In the next few days there are going to be some adjustments to the tiers and a chart provided to make it easier to see what exactly is in each tier, and be better able to compare them.

  • ikbenrichard

    Add the paypal option and you got my money

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      We will, once the campaign reaches its funding goal. Otherwise we would get into the mess of trying to revert the money

      • ikbenrichard

        Bedankt voor je antwoordt, kan niet wachten om het spel te spelen. Ik wou dat ik het process van dichtbij mocht meemaken..

  • Will47

    IMHO, the most powerful way would be to have your kickstarter campaign cross-referenced by another major RPG campaign taking place. Obviously that will reach the right public right away. That’s nice to make the project known to the whole public, but you want the guys ready to take their wallets out to back up your project.
    But well, it will depend on your relation with Brian Fargo (just a fortuitous name, naturally…), or on how much he did like your products.

    And btw you are probably not taking enough advantage of your release date. Usual kickstarter campaigns for video games are more like with delivery dates due in 18 months than 6.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      How would you mention the release date thing ? I mean – what type of phrasing would you use ?

      • Will47

        Hello Swen,
        I’m really, really sorry I didn’t reply sooner, even though you went through the trouble of responding me. (I’ll probably have to sacrifice a kitten to amend myself… and increase my pledge on the Kickstarter’s altar to appease the Larians Gods.)

        Well, anyway, regarding the phrasing, “And Reap the Benefits this Fall” in your Gameplay Trailer Video sounded quite good to me. Several days ago I would probably have suggested to try to associate “Sin” and “Fall”…
        If you want to add another thing, you can probably simply add “this fall” to your “Coming to Windows/Linux/Mac” located at the top of your Kickstarter Home page. It would be probably displayed on most screens without having to scroll the page or launch a video.

        And my best wishes to achieve the Butcher and a legendary game…

  • http://twitter.com/Roqsan Roq Marish

    My feeling (as someone already hinted) is that the emphasis on multiplayer in the video is a big factor, perhaps the major reason the Kickstarter hasn’t really taken off. It’s not even clear that single player is deemed important or that you get to play with both characters in single player. Also note that this emphasis on multiplayer is probably the major factor holding SOTA back (TBH their pitch was even more confusing in this respect). Tides, of course, has no such problem, being entirely single player. So, a single player update might be a good idea – I don’t imagine it would be possible to alter the original video now.

    • http://www.lar.net/ Swen Vincke

      We’ll do the SP update but I’ll quote what I wrote on the KS page about this – We are proud of the coop feature and we’re pretty sure that anybody who’ll play it in a coop will have a blast, but we’re equally proud of the world we’re creating and we know that everybody who’ll play it in single player will have an equally fantastic experience. We’ll highlight the latter over the coming days as we’ve shown the former enough now, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to try to hide it – it really is an innovative way of doing RPG multiplayer and DOS will eventually get recognition for that.

      • http://twitter.com/Roqsan Roq Marish

        I didn’t mean to imply it was a poor feature, I think it’s a great idea and will definitely be playing it with friends!

        However, I already knew how this feature worked from your previous coverage before the KS. The problem, as I see it, is that people can evaluate new Kickstarters quickly, perhaps in the first minute of so of the video, and if they don’t see exactly the type of gameplay they are looking for, they may not pledge.

        Multiplayer gameplay is under a bit of a cloud with some gamers, possibly due to the abrasive communities and cash shops in some online games. And it’s apparent that not everyone is able to distinguish easily between the different types of multiplayer (or even between online and networked multiplayer). They may also feel that multiplayer features are likely to have a negative impact on single player gameplay:- That’s largely what caused all the controversy at the start of the SOTA campaign.

  • Martel

    Just in case somebody hasn’t mentioned this yet, I found out about your kickstarter from RPS and their hands on. I would suggest an interview with them as well, it’ll give you a chance to express some of your ideas that are hard to cover on a Kickstarter page, and get some more visibility to folks that tend to lean towards classic RPGs..

  • Jean-Marie

    I’m sorry I couldn’t get jeuxvideo.com to put a link to the Kickstarter campaign in my preview… It’s just not their policy to put links in articles. Which is kind of odd on the web, but it’s not up to me!

    Anyway, I saw that some of our readers have posted the link in both the article’s comments and the game’s forum, so I hope you’ll have some money from these dedicated gamers :)

    I’m also sorry that I don’t have any advice to give as to your communication issue, but I’m terrible at those things. In an ideal world, I’d say that you just have to keep making great games, and people will buy them. But experience has told us that it’s unfortunately not true…

  • http://www.facebook.com/cherednichenko Roma Cherednichenko

    Have you heard about http://kickingitforward.org/?

  • Hammer46

    Well, I don’t know whether you know or have any contact with the guys at inXile or Obsidian, but maybe they could mention you in one of their updates… RPG-fans unite, something like that. They should even kick it forward :-) (This might also have been suggested already)

    I myself found out about your game through Gameplay magazine. Have yet to back, but will probably be unable to contain myself anyway :)