We’ve reached part 3 of 5 in my kickstarter campaign reviews. The seven kickstarter campaigns for this week come from a busy period of backing for me, running from August through December 2014. As previously many of these projects turned out really well but several experienced very rough patches, including one which I don’t expect to ever pan out as planned.
I love gaming tools so when I saw a kickstarter for tools for inspiring interesting character backstories, I had to contribute. With just under a thousand backers the team raised $24,790 (5 times their goal) in August 2014.
In a well run campaign, they delivered the main part of my pledge only somewhat delayed (four months late, arriving in January 2015) and then continued with monthly expansions for about a year afterwards.
The final product seems good though I haven’t used them yet. It was a cheap addition to by my bag of tricks so I don’t regret the contribution.
Save Point Tavern
I like to support local businesses and I like to support gaming. So contributing to establishing a gaming bar in Sacramento seemed like a perfect idea.
Now I’m glad I didn’t give them very much.
251 other backers helped fill the project’s $25,000 goal (with a little extra) but I am unsure the business will ever manifest.
Technically my reward was a sticker which I got two months late in February 2015. The actual tavern seems stuck in poor business planning limbo. Supposedly a location was secured but no progress has materialized in getting the space ready for use. I expect the money has already dried up.
Girls on Games
This book was another project that experienced problems and an unsatisfactory ending for me.
The kickstarter was highly successful earning $19,565 on a $2,500 goal from 903 backers. The promised collection of articles written by female game designers was something I hoped to make a gift for my wife. Instead it ended up being very very delayed.
When the kickstarter funded in September 2014, the final book was planned for March the following year. I expected it to be delayed (I find almost all creators underestimate the time to complete a project) but I hoped to have it by June (and my anniversary) or Christmas at the latest.
Instead as months dragged on, the backers received more excuses and periods of disturbing quiet.
Finally, the book arrived in August 2016, a year and a half late. But the minimal packing used for shipping meant that when my envelope got sliced open in transit, the book became severely damaged by water.
The worst part however was the lack of a response from the developer when I emailed her about the issue. I did not expect a replacement (even though I have gotten such things from other creators). I did however expect a response.
I will not fund another kickstarter with Elisa Teague as the main developer.
The Sprawl: Cyberpunk Roleplaying
A Powered by the Apocalypse game for a cyberpunk adventuring, this New Zealand based team earned NZ$18,487 (over 7 times their goal) from 675 backers in October 2014. They ambitiously promised a print book by February but it arrived a year later.
The final product arrived as a nice digest-sized volume. The rules for the game feel pretty good. I reviewed it here after a short campaign.
Right now I’m waiting on the Touched supplement stretch goal which expands the setting to include magic and other weirdness. Essentially they plan to create an unofficial Shadowrun supplement. That part of the project has been moving along slowly and updates have been few and far between. That’s somewhat discouraging.
Feng Shui 2
Now to look at how a kickstarter should be run.
The second edition of Feng Shui raised over 20 times its $8000 goal ($185,137) thanks to 3402 backers in October 2014. They promised a print book by the following August and they delivered.
This is a revision of the classic Feng Shui by Robin Laws featuring time traveling martial arts mayhem. The stretch goals added new character types, adventures and other supplemental material. A year after the core rules arrived, I was able to close the books on this project.
As for the game itself, sometimes I buy something for future reference. In this case I wanted to look the classic rules to see what could be extracted for later. I’m happy with the books even if I’m not planning on using it directly. At the worst, they were a good read.
This latest version of the classic game of clones, conspiracies, and your friend the computer raised £217,517 (seven times its original goal) from an impressive 4,380 backers in December 2014.
I really didn’t expect the print version until spring of 2016 and I was not been disappointed. Originally slated for June 2015, the project languished in development hell for a long time as the creators went back and forth with the license holders. But eventually things came together and I finally received the boxed set in May 2017.
Mitigating the frustrating delay was a constant stream of communications including game materials and artwork. As I often found, if creators are honest and communicative even very delayed projects can work out.
This was the kickstarter that convinced me to cut back in my contributions. Not because anything went wrong with it but because I spent way way more than I really should have.
Thanks to such generous souls as myself (and a lot of more sensible folks) the campaign earned £87,935 (for a £10,000 goal) in December 2014.
This product combines a mega adventure for Night’s Black Agents with a gorgeous in-game handout of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with the “secret bits added back in”. The extra money funded bonus adventures, a book of film reviews, music, an expansion for playing as the other side and other goodies.
As I’ve come to expect from Pelgrane Press, they met their August 2015 deadline for the main books and the other stretch goals have come in at a mostly steady clip. The only real delay was with the final item: physical handouts stained to look like actual historical artifacts (one of the crazy things I splurged on). The process of assembling them was very labor intensive (something I vicariously enjoyed thanks to monthly status updates).
Another item in this kickstarter’s favor was how responsive the creative team was. When I was shipped the wrong versions of the books, they quickly responded to my enquiry and rectified the situation in a quick and satisfactory manner.