shawn's blog

Terrible Hot Dogs and their path to Kickstarter

Posted in Other by Shawn on November 30, 2013

So, I’m finally planning to launch the Kickstarter for These French Fries Are Terrible Hot Dogs. I’m asking for $4,000, and I’ve heard from others that it’s a reasonable goal. I’m trying hard to ignore my barrage of self-questioning and hoping that others correct. Anyway, overall, I’m pretty excited to get this started, and definitely curious to see what the results will be.

I never really thought about doing a Kickstarter for the game, at least, certainly not after it’s creation. I just figured it’d be something I would play with people from time to time, and not make it bigger than it was at that moment. Most of reasons behind those thoughts was because I wasn’t sure how the game would work in a public space. Yes, it’s a easy going game that doesn’t take too much effort to understand, but there are a number of games out there that people just ignore, regardless of the game’s quality. Eventually, when I realized that the game should be bigger than what it was, Kickstarter became more of an appealing option. It was always an option, but the feedback, as well as people asking “So, when are you going to do Kickstarter for the game” swayed me to the crowdfunding website.

On the path to this launch, I did a number of things, some right, some wrong, as one would expect with most ventures.

1. I could have maintained a better schedule

For anyone who doesn’t know me, I want to make games of all kinds, not just tabletop games, or just digital games. I’ve been mostly working on digital games, some where you need to use a mouse/keyboard, others controller based. I even worked on a game called Rainbow Bacon, which used Playstation Move Controllers. I don’t want to work in one space of games, I want to live in each area. Because of that, I’m usually working on multiple projects all at once, projects vary greatly under the large umbrella of game and their development. This often leads me to unfairly devoting time to one project when I should be spending more time on something else. Part of this is because I would fail to recognize the importance of one project, and underestimate the time it would take to complete a certain issue. I do try and keep a tight schedule, and I use project management software to organize my tasks. However, it’s easy to get lost in different projects, especially when you don’t know where each one will eventually turn up.

I also don’t have a full days to dedicate to game development. I can only work on projects after I get home from my day job. Then there’s those annoying things that need to be taken care of, like eating, sleeping, and maintaining a certain level of hygiene. I usually try to make Saturday’s my big, ‘productive’ day, but I also remember that I need to spend time doing game development research (read: play games).

As time has gone on, I have gotten better with my project management. As with most things, though, there’s still room for improvement.

2. I did keep a schedule

While I could have kept a better schedule, the fact remains that I did keep a schedule. I did go through bouts of not being able to do as much as I would have liked, but when I was on a roll with keeping on top of tasks, I was able to push through and complete all the things I needed to get done.

3. Events and the constant delay

Originally, I wanted to launch the Kickstarter for this game in August. However, I submit my game to the Boston Festival of Indie Games, after which I decided to try and delay the game until around, or shortly after that event. This way, the game would be fresh in people’s minds, and it would be easier for them to remember that the game was something that they may have enjoyed. BostonFig was in September, and obviously, I haven’t pushed the launch button. Part of this was because I wasn’t completely ready for my Kickstarter. Another reason was because shortly before BostonFig, I found out that Terrible Hot Dogs was accepted as part of the game showcase for IndieCade 2103. After that, I knew I had to wait, even if it meant not running the Kickstarter until late October.

So, I pushed it back again. Was it worth it? I would definitely say yes. Both of those events allowed me to introduce the game to new people who enjoyed the game. The goal for me and this project is to have as many people play as possible, and that can only be done if I try my best to tell everyone about the game. BostonFig and IndieCade both helped me make progress in that area.

4. I received help

Getting help can be a double edged sword if not handled properly. During the build up to the Kickstarter, I did receive a lot of assistance, whether it was with production, or just general advice. The visuals aren’t mine, they belong to Will Stallwood, of Cipher Prime. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to make something look that good, and luckily, I knew someone who could. He also helped out with the video and other general Kickstarter advice. As a matter of fact, I did get a of advice on how to run the Kickstarter from the people who attend Philly Dev Night. There was great input on what I should put on the page, when I should launch, etc. However, if not handled carefully, that could easily lead to a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. There were times I was more influenced by people that I should have allowed myself to be, and in hindsight, there are areas where I should have reached a decision much earlier than I did. Regardless, all the help I received was useful in one way or another. Additionally, I was also able to reach out to a few people who played the game at these events and they provided me with great feedback.

5. I was nervous

And I still am. The biggest drawback to being nervous is that it can hold you back. It’s incredibly easy to say “Just do it”, but sometimes, there are some heavy physiological hurdles that one may need to get over. It’s different with everyone, but that’s all I’ll say about the subject, as I am not knowledgeable enough to continue writing about it. In my particular case, I’m constantly worried about what people will think, whether or not the project is good enough, and if this is an endeavor even worth pursuing. I’m sure that a majority of people have this battle, and I’m no stranger to it.

Conversely, being cautious and nervous can work out in your favor. There were a few situations where I was doing something horribly wrong, and because I was cautious, and nervous about, well, everything, I would review different areas over and over again. I did manage to catch a few mistakes, some of which could have really gotten in my way later down the line, and cause unnecessary headaches. It would be nice to think that it was just being cautions, but I owe a great deal to me being nervous about the entire thing.

There’s a lot of minor things that I could have done better/worse, and a lot of them probably fall under planning. Now, though, I need to focus on what is next! I still have no idea about how I will approach the press about Terrible Hot Dogs. I do know that I’ll have help, and I plan to take full advantage of the offers I was given. of course, only time will tell, and we’ll see this upcoming Monday when the Kickstarter goes live. [I will update this post after it goes live with a link to the page]



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