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Tim Schafer offers top five tips for Kickstarter success

Tim Schafer offers top five tips for Kickstarter success

Wed 18 Apr 2012 4:55pm GMT / 12:55pm EDT / 9:55am PDT
BusinessFinance

Double Fine believes Kickstarter success can be repeated by others

The continued discussion of Kickstarter and the role of crowd-funding has many studios looking into alternative options over the traditional publishing model, and Double Fine's Tim Schafer believes that his studio's success is not a one-hit wonder. While the team did manage to rack up a staggering $3.3 million to fund a game they originally only wanted $400,000 for, Schafer believes that so long as the pitch and the product are profound, other studios will be able to keep the funding pool open.

"I definitely think it can be done again," said Schafer in a private Q&A session with IndieDB, on which he outlined his five pitch tips for Kickstarter success.

Schafer goes on to reflect about the power of their project, and how creating a wondrous adventure for the fans is paramount to getting funded. Schafer says that his success came from instilling the idea that the game had to be made, that his team was the only team that could do it, and that it had to be made in a specific way.

Schafer added that "For fans of adventure games, this is a chance to prove that there is still a large demand out there for a unique medium that inspired so many of us."

This title is therefore an "adventure game for adventure fans, funded by adventure fans, developed by adventure fans."

Provided a studio can show that it's filling a void, and can portray the virtues of getting the game made, a shot at $3 million is not all that out of the question. Wasteland 2's Brian Fargo recently closed up his Kickstarter, generating just over $2.9 million in 32 days.

17 Comments

It would be useful update the article with a bulletpoint of these tips perhaps(i appreciate the source is from IndieDB)

Posted:A year ago

#1

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
I think the best tips for Kickstarter success are having a well-known and much-loved studio who've never really had much commercial success, making a game in a genre which isn't well represented any more and having a famed and loved developer at the fore. Obviously not many studios are going to tick these boxes, but I think that's a big part of the reason it's worked so well for the likes of Double Fine and inXile, whereas say the guy behind Takedown for instance hasn't had such a warm reception.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Ollie Miles
Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer

15 0 0.0
Wrong. The only thing you need to be is popular. Look at the Yogscast. Their game is a load of crap, but cus they've just such a huge and devoted audience, they got their funding.

Double Fine has a really bad release history; Schafer made his name with Grim Fandango, did Psychonaughts (which fell under the radar), and then fucked up every major release due to his expertise in setting design and not gameplay (Brutal Legend was a multigenre mess) till Stacking (itself too short).

The public are stupid and not analysts; they don't see release history, project management and staff, or the fact that the genre is defunct and won't sell on mass. They see funnie video with charismatic fool who made one or two epic games they remember playing and enjoying. Add to this that they, the public, aren't expecting their money back.

I would've turned this monkie down for funding if he said, 'gimme 400k, 6 months and I'll give you a return on your investment'. OK, he's got 3 mil. 3 mil buys a lot of 'get-it-done', and brain if he needs it to get the product right, and add to that people know about this guy now due to the publicity, but based on historical ineptitude, this man is not the horse to bet on if you want a high quality, well selling title.

This entire thing is a soap bubble being inflated by Kickstarter.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Sorry Ollie, but you comment is nonsense.

"Double Fine has a really bad release history"

From Metacritic using the Xbox/360 versions:
Psychonauts - 88% critic average, 97% user average
Brutal Legend - 82% critics, 81% users
Costume Quest - 74% critics, 76% users
Stacking - 84% critics, 79% users
Iron Brigade - 82% critics, 79% users
Once Upon A Monster - 79% critics, 65% users
Happy Action Theatre - 80% critics, 75% users

Not amazing obviously, but a long way from 'really bad'. Their games may not feature the most amazing or detailed gameplay like you'd get from Assassin's Creed or Halo, but they're solid, characterful, distinct, and usually unique. That's why people have such warmth toward Double Fine.

Besides, historically Double Fine have been let down time and again by publishers, and this too makes the public warm to them (rather than their own "historical ineptitude" as you put it). Maybe if Microsoft had published Psychonauts after all as an Xbox exclusive it would have been much more successful and Double Fine would be much more secure financially. Maybe if Trenched hadn't had its trademark issues it would have been released in Europe much sooner and been more of a success.

Lastly, Tim Schafer made his name with Monkey Island, not Grim Fandango.

Posted:A year ago

#4

David Radd
Senior Editor

360 77 0.2
With all due respect to Tim Schafer, I think that being an established name in the gaming industry and working with an established IP that people can wrap their head around are two of the biggest factors. Granted, this isn't something that all Kickstarters will have, and it's usually something that projects will either have or not, I think it's still a key component in Kickstarter success.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Ollie Miles
Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer

15 0 0.0
Bottom up (I donít know why I bother to argue with people on forums)...:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grim_Fandango#Reception

Last one before Double Fine founding. That is what I meant by 'made his name' cus he literally went solo after this 9.2-5 game.

Irrelevant. Results are what count. If he couldn't release his game at the right time with the right people, he's not a good business investment. And if anything that makes my statement even more valid: publishers wouldn't support a guy who can't deliver.

Gameplay is everything in sales and longevity. I'm betting your one of those people who thinks making games pretty looking is what counts over, ya know, actually being playable. Good gameplay sells waaay better than good ascetics.

And the critics? The critics man, the critics are fucking idiots. Spore, average 9.0. Systemically speaking? Multigenre mess that was barely playable, underdeveloped, and skipped between stages so quickly that it felt short as.

Brutal Legend: multigenre, mess, praised for its ascetics, lamentable gameplay. If it was so fantastic, where's Brutal Legend 2?

The others, apart from Stacking, which was too short, were low profile and not AAA so I discounted them.

Point and click, defunct genre, a point you nicely skirted there, well done.

I'm a games designer dude; I don't give a flying fuck what the critics or public say or think. I look at how the things are built, their systemic quality. Schafer can do a bitching setting, ascetics, etc, roleplaying games in other words, but he cannot do good gameplay outside of his genre.

What precisely do you know about software development and game theory anyway writer man?

OHOH:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Arcade_Adventures:_On_the_Rain-Slick_Precipice_of_Darkness#Reception

See this? They thought a game could sell on its ascetics alone. BOY, were they ever wrong, and I was right when I said 'it'll never sell beyond 2 cus its gameplay is awful'.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ollie Miles on 19th April 2012 4:02pm

Posted:A year ago

#6

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Forget it, you patronising unpleasant fool. If you cannot have a reasonable conversation without resorting to insults on a respected industry site like this then I can't even be bothered to debate with you.

Posted:A year ago

#7
That Photo.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,372 1,018 0.7
The others, apart from Stacking, which was too short, were low profile and not AAA so I discounted them.
Epic troll is epic.

You could have had some points seriously debated and raised, if you hadn't shown that you only care about AAA highly marketed games.

To the article in question, it's very debatable what makes things work with Kickstarter funding. I think having a known game-brand OR developer is one of the keys, though. The Shadowrun Kickstarter has raised three times its $400,000 goal, with 9 days left. Because, whilst Jordan Weisman is known only in RPG circles, the Shadowrun brand is not. Meanwhile, other than "adventure game" no-one really knew what Tim Schafer was going to produce. But it's Tim. Freaking. Schafer. Everyone knows it's going to be fun and unique.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Jess Kappeler
Game Designer

15 26 1.7
I would've turned this monkie down for funding if he said, 'gimme 400k, 6 months and I'll give you a return on your investment'. OK, he's got 3 mil. 3 mil buys a lot of 'get-it-done', and brain if he needs it to get the product right, and add to that people know about this guy now due to the publicity, but based on historical ineptitude, this man is not the horse to bet on if you want a high quality, well selling title.
You seem to be under the impression that kickstarter backers are investing in a game. They are not. They are donating money to help fund a project they believe in. Yes, Double Fine has had trouble creating games that are financially successful, yet these games are loved by many and obviously there are people out there willing to pay more than the price of a normal game to see more of Double Fine's work.

People have become so obsessed with sales numbers as if the number of people that play a game or watch a movie determines the merit of that work. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed over $836 million worldwide, but I doubt many people are going to argue that this proves it is a better movie than any other movie that sold fewer tickets.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jess Kappeler on 19th April 2012 5:46pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Sean Lane
Artist/Animator

15 7 0.5
Looks like I won't be playing any games by Ollie Miles, "computer games professional," any time soon.

Also to clear up some inaccuracies on Ollie's game design trolling, Schafer is not the sole game designer at Double Fine. In fact, he has only been design lead on Brutal Legend. At LucasArts however, he was design lead on Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, as well as contributing design and writing to Monkey Island 1 and 2, all critically acclaimed. All of recent the amnesia fortnight games Double Fine has released have had their own project leads/designers with Schafer contributing writing or design ideas to each.

Tasha Harris was lead designer on Costume Quest, Lee Petty on Stacking, Erik Robson on Psychonauts, and Brad Muir on Iron Brigade. Tim Schafer has been very up front about the design leads on the projects, both on the company podcast and directing questions to them on gaming websites. To act like Tim Schafer is anything and everything about the studio is inaccurate. There are a lot of talented people there and it is a free studio with varying styles and gamemplay. Schafer is the creative director and owner. He oversees, but does have any kind of rule that all of their games must only have amazing atmosphere and writing but not solid gameplay.

So what all of this means? Double Fine brings breathes of fresh air, but they are not perfect, like most game companies. To find them at fault as if they are all a bunch of incompetent fools who can't make games is very unfair in the scope of things. They have made enough people happy to get tons of funding, and to go by many of the contributers I have talked to in the game industry in Austin, seems like many have not even played anything from his LucasArts days anyway, so I don't think a ton of the money came from just love for Grim Fandango.

Also past all the rockiness of Double Fine's release history, monetary history, and game design quibbles, one thing is for sure about Tim Schafer's game design abilities: he can design a mean adventure game. Some would say he's the best adventure game designer there ever was. So now that he's designing another adventure finally, what is the problem exactly?

Besides, this involves Ron Gilbert, who is good in his own right. Beyond Monkey Island, he did run Humongous Entertainment for over a decade. Those were probably the most masterful children's games to ever come out, besides counting the more recent fun that is Deathspank.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Bernard Parker
Studying game design

23 4 0.2
I wonder if the fact that he's "Tim Schafer" has anything to do with his KickStarter Success?

Posted:A year ago

#12

Ollie Miles
Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer

15 0 0.0
Forum, pointless to argue with anyone, and you have no cogent arguments and skirted around my genre point in any case. I have no respect for you, so why should I pretend otherwise? I can be the erudite I am, or I can just rip into you. The latter is more entertaining seeing as you are inconsequential in the extreme.

Likewise to everyone else, I don't actually care.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ollie Miles on 20th April 2012 12:30pm

Posted:A year ago

#13

Brian Smith
Artist

193 77 0.4
Doesn't seem titled appropriately. Where are these tips.

Also, Not sure how relevant tips are from Tim Schafer as his case is unique to his personality being attached to the funding he's managed to obtain.

I am a fan though. Can't wait to play what they make.

Posted:A year ago

#14

James Berg
Games User Researcher

122 107 0.9
Ollie, your valued contributions to the discussion will be sorely missed.

Kickstarter is providing funding for a lot of folks, and not everyone that's being successful is an industry legend. Banner Saga is about to end, and it broke 700% of it's goal (hitting over 700k), and plenty of small developers are finding success as well. I got in on a game called Aura Tactics, which doubled it's modest goal of $5k (with 874 backers).

I'm not sure Doublefine's reasons-for-success are going to be particularly successful elsewhere, but the visibility they've brought to Kickstarter as a whole has made it a lot more possible for completely different developers to succeed.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,372 1,018 0.7
The Banner Saga might be a clear indication of the way forward, in a way.

3 former BioWare staff, 2 of whom are amazing artists. So you've got people who used to work at a well-loved studio. They've produced some lovely promotional art, which really captures the imagination. Then there's Austin Wintory doing the soundtrack - pitch perfect timing, there, since Journey's only recently come out. The tier rewards are fantastic (the landscape art was easily worth the money if you had the spare cash lying around), and there's the sheet music, the recording session... It goes on. The fact they're giving all 3 chapters of the game to anyone paying $50 or more, alongside the specific rewards, means that there's tremendous value for money in it.

In short, they did a hell of a lot right with it.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 21st April 2012 4:13pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

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