Dan Goes Inside Stellar Leap

Today, Dan interviews TIGR’s own, Carla Kopp, about her upcoming Kickstarter campaign: Stellar Leap.

Stellar Leap is a one- to four-player, space-exploration board game by publisher Weird Giraffe Games and designer Carla Kopp. Here’s some vital information:

  • Launch date: September 18th, 2017
  • End date: October 19th, 2017
  • Goal: $8500
  • Cost for a copy of the game: $39
  • Designed by: Carla Kopp
  • Published by: Weird Giraffe Games
  • Link: http://StellarLeap.Space/KS11

DAN: Why don’t you start us off by giving us a brief overview of Stellar Leap.

CARLA: Stellar Leap is a space exploration game with variable player powers, hidden traits, and game-changing events. The game starts off with each player taking control of a certain species with only knowledge of their home planet. From there, the galaxy is completely up to the players! Players choose to do two High Command actions from a possible four and use their three divisions, Labor, Intelligence, and Mining as they wish. The game ends after the players trigger 6 events; these are all based on player actions, such as increasing population, discovering the last planet or asteroid in a solar system, and completing the last in a tier of missions. Events can change how the game works, can be positive or negative, and are typically better for the player who triggered them. As the game doesn’t run for a certain number of rounds, games can run longer or shorted based on what the what actions the players choose to take.  Overall, it’s a light to medium 4x space game that plays in about an hour for 1-4 players (Up to 5, if we hit that stretch goal!).

Your first campaign was for Super Hack Override, what is something you learned from this campaign that you are either applying or doing different this time around?

I’m using BGG this time around! I’ve been posting Design Diaries, I have a WIP thread, I plan to add Stellar Leap to a bunch of geeklists, and I’ve added a bunch more information to the Stellar Leap game page and forums.

I’ve done several contests and giveaways to try to build my audience, gain emails, and get more known in the community. I have a launch event to try to gauge day one interest to try and build more hype early on in the campaign.

I’m also lining up a number of interviews before the campaign starts! During the Super Hack Override campaign, I was featured in a number of interviews, but those were all organized after the campaign started and were rather hectic. Instead, I organized with a number of podcasts and written interviewers to set them up beforehand so that the campaign is more focused.

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I’ve tried to build the local board game community quite a bit. I run a game night at the local cupcake store to try to get more people interesting in gaming, I’ve started a biweekly design night for all the local designers to get together, discuss, and playtest, and I’ve also done a monthly playtesting day for the designers involved.

Overall, it’s all about being prepared and meeting more people.

Wow, you have definitely been a busy bee. But if you could pick one thing you could say you definitely did right in preparation for this campaign, what would it be?

A few months before the campaign, I started interviewing publishers on Kickstarter. I think this was a great decision to make, as I got to talk with people that were in the Kickstarter process at the moment which meant that I was in the Kickstarter mindset for far longer than I normally would be. I got to interview a bunch of amazing people and learn from them, while also helping to promote their campaigns! It was definitely a win-win.

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I agree, I love just getting knee deep in all things Kickstarter and just taking in everything I can! What was the best piece of advice you received about your campaign before launching?

The best piece of advice was actually from you! You told me to invest time in BoardGameGeek and even wrote an article about it! I had never dedicated any amount of time to getting over the learning curve, even though I had wanted to on several occasions, but I finally did with your encouragement! It’s different than what I’m used to, but I feel like it’ll be a great resource.

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Oh that is really nice, thank you! I am glad I was able to help. It looks like you have been playtesting and demoing this game a lot! What conventions have you brought the game to and what are some things you have learned during these demos?

I’ve been trying! I brought Stellar Leap to Origins, Gen Con, and Hoover’s SciFi and Fantasy Fest. I learned so much! Origins was basically a week of just demoing Stellar Leap to other designers and getting their feedback. I updated the game so much during that time and after based on so much feedback. There were a lot of changes made to the game to add in more player choice, to simplify the rules, and to balance the game.

I used DriveThruCards and it’s about $20 for 300 cards. I made both traditional promo cards to be used in the game and cards with the Kickstarter date and mailing list link on one side and the art of Stellar Leap on the other.

I also learned that it’s a really good idea to create a promo card and bring it to conventions. I used DriveThruCards and it’s about $20 for 300 cards. I made both traditional promo cards to be used in the game and cards with the Kickstarter date and mailing list link on one side and the art of Stellar Leap on the other. Together, I think I was able to get a lot of people interested in the game, but also something to remember that they met me and that I was having a Kickstarter soon.

Next year, I’m definitely making changes with my convention prep. Origins had an Unpub room for designers to playtest their games and I asked about slots early enough in the convention that I did get some slots, but I could have signed up in advance and I would definitely recommend that. For GenCon, you can

sign up to demo your game to whoever signs up and this is free! I thought that you’d have to pay, so I didn’t do it, but I’m definitely demoing my game next year, officially, instead of telling people I’ll be in a certain Hall. It’s easier to find and organize.

Outside of cons, how are your advertising or spreading the word about this game?

I’m advertising on Facebook, Reddit, and BGG. I’m spreading the word on the game by participating in a number of interviews, either written or podcast, posting in a variety of facebook groups and on several geeklists on BGG.

OK, we have been talking about advertising and prep but I want to switch gears and discuss your campaign page. It seems that GIFs are the latest thing and usually they are animations of renders, but you chose to GIF live action videos of you guys with the game. I love them. Why did you go this route vs animations and how did you make them?

I’m not an artist so we’d have to hire someone to make animations and as much as I’d like to throw money at problems, I’d figured we’d go with the live action instead. Plus, the live action ones are super easy to make! It ended up taking about two hours to make all of them and that was just using an iPhone, our prototype, and the IMG Play app (free!).

I was a little disappointed that you are not offering Super Hack Override as a bundle with Stellar Leap, this is a great way to add more funding to your campaign! I am a big fan of offering bundles so I am curious why you chose to exclude it as an add on for this campaign.

I might have it as an add-on in the pledge manager after the campaign, but I haven’t decided. I’m focusing on making Stellar Leap and the Kickstarter campaign the best it can be right now.

Still looking at reward tiers, it looks like you have an expansion that is rather small (about 30 additional cards). What made you decide to include this as an add-on/expansion instead of just including it in the base game for all backers?

Including it in the base game would have increased the cost for all backers; I thought that the backers would prefer to choose to either back only the base game at $39 or for both at $49, instead of only having the higher cost. The Expansion is also for more advanced players with an added card type and more crazy events and traits. It’s definitely a lot of fun, but not for those learning the game.

Well you have definitely thought through a lot of this and it seems you are super prepared to I wish you the best of luck. Say that I am on the fence about your game, what would you say to me to push me over the edge and convince me to back?

Stellar Leap has incredible depth and replayability, but at a much shorter length than a typical 4X game. You can explore a new galaxy in an hour! It has something for every play style and games are very different depending on the people you play with. It also has a solo variant, which I particularly enjoy. If you like games with pretty art, I think Stellar Leap fits! The planets are diverse and colorful, but the card backs are where the game really shines. There’s epic space battles, rainbow solar systems, and a variety of alien landscapes. We’ve tried to make the experience of Stellar Leap a memorable one; from gameplay to visuals!

A huge thanks to Carla for taking the time to do this interview! If you are a 4x fan, deep space fan, or you just think Carla is awesome, head on over to the campaign page and delve deeper into this interstellar experience!

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