Today, Dan talks to the folks from Norwester Games about their current Kickstarter campaign: Stiches. He dissects their campaign and asks about things like player counts and preparing for game campaign. See if he can put together all the pieces.
- Launch date: October 12th, 2016
- End date: November 16th, 2016
- Goal: $11,000
- Cost for a copy of the game: $20
- Designed by: Doug Brinbury & Jason Rankin
- Published by: Norwester Games
- Campaign Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/norwestergames/stitches
- Why don’t you start us off by giving us a brief overview of Stitches.
Stitches is a fast-paced, semi-competitive card game for 3 to 7 players. Each player starts off as a reanimated body (à la Frankenstein’s monster) and upgrades their body parts by attacking other players or scavenging from a central market, trying to become strong enough to defeat the Abomination. It’s great for a family game night, for an opener as your game group is straggling in, or for playing multiple rounds of over the course of an evening.
- So I noticed the minimum player count is 3 players. Do you feel that some potential backers might be turned off by this? Why doesn’t the game support 2?
The social aspect of Stitches emerges in a larger group, as does the tension in the gameplay. It has a bit of “well if that person chooses A, then I should choose B” feel to it, and if you only have two players then a lot of that guessing game is lost. We feel strongly that every game should focus on what it does well, and for Stitches that really isn’t two player or solo gaming.
- I agree completely that you shouldn’t force the game to be something it is not to appease everybody. Speaking of focusing on what you do well, if you could pick one thing you could say you definitely did right in preparation for this campaign, what would it be?
Paying up for great art. We’ve been really lucky to work with Kyle Ferrin, previously of Vast: The Crystal Caverns, whose art really compliments the feel of the game. Having great art helps so much with drawing people in at cons and also on the Kickstarter page itself. Once you have a core game you believe in, it’s absolutely worth paying an artist upfront to get some standout images.
- I think the art is really fun and goes perfectly with the game, so nice job on that! It definitely looks like you guys were well prepared going into the campaign and that you put a lot of work into it. Leading up to the campaign, what was the best piece of advice you received about your campaign before launching?
“Start Small.” We have a larger game in development, Conduct, that involves minis, multiple boards, cards, player mats, dice, just a huge number of components. Starting with Stitches has been great, allowing us to get a handle on the logistics, manufacturing, campaign setup; all the nuts and bolts that are required to get a Kickstarter done that you just have to experience to get it right, regardless of how many blogs you read.
- That is fantastic advice. Many creators start big with overwhelming projects out the gate and they either fail to fund or fail to fulfill because they got in over their head too fast. I started small and worked on building from campaign to campaign as you plan to and I think it is really a great idea for first time creators. Since this is your first endeavor, how are your advertising or spreading the word about this game?
We’ve started with our email list, friends & family, and social media, of course. We have a few more reviews coming out over the course of the campaign, and we’re planning on running a costume contest through Facebook as well to tie in with Halloween. We’re also experimenting with paid Facebook ads, just putting $10 toward gamers in the Seattle area, but haven’t seen great results there yet. We talked about display ads on BGG or Kicktraq, but haven’t seen compelling numbers from other creators. We would probably consider those again for a bigger game.
- I have seen a lot of people ask online what the best ways to build up an email list are. What did you do to build up your list?
Our list is almost all people who have played our games at a con. We were fortunate to have our other game in progress, Conduct, be selected for the PAX South Indie Showcase in 2015, which gave us a great start, and we’ve continued to build our list from there, mostly at local cons. We also go to local game nights at coffeehouses and our FLGS.
- Have you found any mistakes you made that you have since adjusted or fixed since launch?
Just minor – we forgot to link a couple of our review videos before we launched, but corrected soon after. We’re also adding a couple of Kickstarter exclusive cards to the campaign, after a few backers suggested it.
- Most people add a standard $1 pledge tier for people to support and follow along when they are either on the fence or wanting to help out without actually purchasing the full game. You upped it and went for a $2 pledge. Why $2 instead of the standard $1?
Good question, we went back and forth on this ourselves. We’ve been seeing more and more campaigns with $2 and $3 base pledges, or campaigns with no “thank you” tier at all. We decided that with the Print & Play reward we were adding enough value to bump that to $2.
- I noticed that you are giving yourself almost a year to fulfill. Although I applaud you on trying not to over-promise, the game’s components are almost entirely cards and some chits. Why the long fulfillment time? Do you feel that you are pushing it as way too far of an overestimate?
We’re estimating nine months right now, partly because we have additional art in our stretch goals and want to give Kyle the time he needs to complete that, and partly because this is our first time. We’ve taken Panda’s estimate, added a month for Chinese New Year, and then a bit more as buffer. We’d much rather ship early than ship late.
- It is definitely better to push and back and fulfill early than the other way around! I noticed that you didn’t bundle US shipping into the reward tier. Did you ever consider doing this and reducing the shipping costs for all of the other countries? Why did you choose all separate vs more costs included?
There were two things we considered here, the first being price point. $20 was really the lowest we could go on the game itself, and bundling in shipping costs to push that higher seemed to us like moving past a psychological barrier for buyers. The second was value. We’ve seen a few games over the past few months that included US shipping in their base price, and as a result seemed like they were not providing great value for what was in the box. Separating out the shipping lets consumers see exactly what they’re paying for, and we think we’re offering great value at $20 for what we’re shipping.
- Your campaign is almost a week longer than a standard 30 day campaign. Considering the first and last week are the big draws and longer campaigns seem to just drag out the slump period, I am curious why you chose such a long campaign time.
Partly this is just because we’re doing this for the first time and wanted to be sure we had time to make corrections, like we’re doing with adding Kickstarter exclusives. Also, our first three stretch goals are unique art for three additional monsters, and we’re asking backers to vote on which monster they want to see. We wanted to have enough time to let people respond to three different polls. We also considered that a lot of gamers are saving up for the holidays at this time of year and wanted the campaign to run across three paydays (15th, 1st, 15th). That plus wanting to launch on a Mon-Wed led the campaign to being 35 days instead of 30.
- I also noticed you launched in October, coincidence? Did you consider ending the campaign closer to Halloween while people are still in full on monster mode instead of almost 2 weeks after?
Coincidence, though a happy one. We were originally planning to launch around GenCon but just didn’t have everything ready in time. We are going to run a contest around the Halloween theme, but ultimately we don’t think the time of year matters a huge amount unless the game is really themed around a particular holiday. Stitches certainly fits the Halloween theme, but is not specifically tied to it.
- Lastly, say that I am not into monster building and grunting and groaning the whole game, why should I back stitches?
On the surface Stitches is tied pretty closely to its theme, but we actually started with the idea of a spaceship building game. The Rock-Paper-Scissors combat mechanic is surprisingly deep and we’ve received a number of compliments from other creators on the system. We also haven’t seen anything similar to the words in Stitches and how they’re used to build teams throughout the game. So we think there are a number of interesting things in the game even if the monsters and growling and grunting isn’t your favorite thing.
A big thank you to the guys at Norwester Games for taking the time to answer some questions for me. If you think you want to support some really nice guys, please head on over to their Kickstarter campaign and check it out!