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Author Topic: Inherit the Earth 2 Kickstarter Postmortem  (Read 19828 times)
WyrmMaster
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« on: January 28, 2013, 10:28:15 AM »

This is a topic where you can post comments about the cancelled Kickstarter funding drive for Inherit the Earth 2.

Here was what I posted on Kickstaarter about this:

I have started a “postmortem” topic on The Wyrmkeep Entertainment Co. forum to discuss options on how to proceed from here. I would especially like to discuss alternate ways of getting the project partially completed before trying Kickstarter again.

You are also welcome to post critiques of this Kickstarter on that forum topic, although I already have a fairly clear idea of what was wrong -- basically everything Sad
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ehcb
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 11:10:45 AM »

I think you definitely made the right call. I'm a fan of the original and my heart sank when the pitch video just didn't measure up to similar projects.
One thing I think it definitely needs is an introduction to the franchise, footage from the first game would obviously be the ideal but I'm guessing you had trouble clearing it or it would be there already. Certainly you could show off the comic and give a the viewers a brief idea of the characters, though?

If partially completing before Kickstarter does turn out to be an impossibility, one option could be to create just enough assets for one screen then use a free adventure game maker (Adventure Game Studio, Wintermute etc) to put it together as a proof-of-concept. It would be, and would most likely look like, a cheap mock-up but there was a bit of video that showed off how the mechanics were going to play out I think it would really help people get invested in there being a final product.

My last thing is I really, really, really, really, really think if it's at all possible you need to get the first game onto PC distribution services other than the Wyrmkeep.com site. Pay-what-you-want bundles don't raise as much money as they used to but they're a great way to build exposure, I've found out about tons of games I never would have otherwise through those things. If you told me you'd been in touch with GOG.com and they didn't want it on their site I'd be flabbergasted, it's exactly the sort of culty thing that pops up there, gets a bunch of early five-star reviews from nostalgic fans and brings new people into the fold and once it had a presence there it would stand a good chance of getting past the Greenlight process on Steam too.
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RennardFuchs
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 12:43:01 PM »

The problem with Kickstarter is that you need to get the interest of those who aren't fans... It's just like funding a completely new game by a "unknown" company. A lot of sketches, some finished concept art, maybe even a introduction to the plot.
Also some WIPs are interesting, they show that the producers are making the game with passion, and want to give a high quality product.
It's a psychological effect... when they see that it works, they'll buy it...
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Avo
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 12:48:23 PM »

Dude! I signed up on kickstarter around 1 hour before it got cancelled. I didn't even know there was a kickstarter until I clicked the ongoing-projects page for video games on KS, so I guess the first thing wrong was that none of the gaming sites I read (and I read quite a few) had any news of this. Maybe because the campaign didn't have enough meat on it? Maybe because you didn't write them? - I got excited when I saw it, and I guess I probably isn't the only one who didn't know about it.
To be honest I didn't even know this forum existed. I visited Wyrmkeep around... erhm. 5 years or so, and bought the CD with the game, and even though I'm a big fan, I haven't checked out the site since.

Okay, now to some constructive critique of the campaign.

1) Yeah, it probably needs more material to be successful. I understand why you launched the campaign (because you were enthusiastic, I was too when I discovered the kickstarter), but I guess most people need more material for them to open their wallets.

2) The drawing-style of the photo that meets users on kickstarter is in a completely different style than ITE1. I know it's in the style of the comic, but I haven't read the comic and my first thought was that the new game would perhaps be a childrens game (this is not a criqique of your artstyle, but it is a bit less "serious" than the style of ITE1). - If you have the resources I'd say 3 or more concept-art images in the style of ITE1 would help a lot, if that is the style you're going for.

3) Perhaps also some inclusion of ITE1 screenshots/video. Make people nostalgic!

I really hope this doesn't scare you from starting up a new kickstarter. To be honest, I think maybe you should make a preliminary campaign here on the forums, to shape up a really strong and impressive video for kickstarter, and then I bet it will go a lot better! - I know you might be a bit sad now, because it didn't go as expected. But I say, the show is not over 'till the fat boar sings!  cheesy
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WyrmMaster
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 01:21:07 PM »

I wanted to say I am reading your comments, but I need to decompress for a few days before starting on replies.

Except I will be looking at GOG.
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toro
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 01:53:45 PM »

Hi, I am an adventure fan since good ol' Zak, and have played most mayor productions since. I played ITE when I was 15 and my memories have somehow faded – but, I know that I liked the scenario a lot an was happy to hear that still some people think about a sequel. And I thought that should be a seller, like other old adventure developers did. Then I saw the kickstarter – well…

OK, let me recap before I try to help..

Problems pointed out:

• Lack of information
• Bad (sorry) bad video
• Bad public relations

Tips so so far:

• More concept work
• Professional video
• Original release on GOG and other platforms
• Better press work (adventure sites)
• Everything Luke Jayapalan pointed out in his comment on KS


Now what came to my wandering mind:

Be more professional: You want money, to make a game, to make a living.
A publisher wants to see people being able to do what they promise – so do backers.

To look professional you need imo a consistent overall appearance – that doesn't need to be sterile, but your website looks kinda antique to me (sorry, it's harsh)
Look (as always) at Doublefine: Logo, website, kickstarter site, video – everything fits.

Who am I talking to? I haven't seen a face yet. The KS video is just terrible – Sorry, I tried to watch it again now but I just can't stand it.
Games need to be directed – so need convincing videos. If you can't make a short video interesting – how could you do an entire video game?
I was kind of devasted when I saw that video and still I backed that project and now make an effort to help.
Again, more professionalism – I am not going to repeat the tips of Luke for a video.
It just has to hook it's audience.

There are many people who haven't played ITE and do have money.. unbelieavable!
My point is: Try to come and fetch people who haven't played the first part. Maybe you can interest them in playing the first part – but now you want to sell a second part:
Maybe there is a way to play ITE2 without having the knowledge of ITE1? Make a summary with *SPOILER* warning.. or a trailer?

Concept art, prototypes, ideas – don't just say you have them, where's the evidence.
Maybe even the time – just shortly after christmas isn't the best, but I can't back this statement with evidence.

When I read about plans for ITE3, well… – one footstep after another, its's not like you're on a roll.

A producer or creative director might be necessary – the project would otherwise haven't seen Kickstarter yet.

Well, if I think back to ITE, it's just blurry memories but I remember sympathetic characters, interesting story and great atmosphere. I'd like to see this again!
Maybe there'll be another ITE kickstarter!

And back other kickstarter projects – people like to see that.

Again sorry, if my words were a bit harsh. I do hope that one day you'll be able to make an decent ITE2 and I congrat you on the decision to cancel that kickstarter project.
It would be wise to study some successful projects and maybe you even know one or two guys on those projects who might be willing to help with concrete advice.

All the best!

Cheers
Toro

(a graphic and user interface designer)

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Diavolo
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 02:07:05 PM »

I think most young peoples don't know of the game ITE1. And many people that played it in the 90s forgot it or play another style of games now.

So what will be the target group for the game? Nostalgic player from the 90s? Most of them are between 25-35years now. Like Avo said they won't play or are interested in an ITE2 if it's style will be too childish.

And if it's for a very young audience, then who will give money for a kickstart? 12 year old boys? I don't think many of this group know of ITE1. Maybe their parents. But if they don't read sites like this often, they will never know of it.

What I want to say:

WE NEED MORE PICS AND INFOS Smiley And more promotion on big retro-game and adventure-sites. In germany there are many fans of adventures in the lucas arts style like ITE. If you search google you find many many tests for "Erben der Erde".

Sorry for the terrible english, hope you unterstood anything ^^
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Maus Merryjest
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 04:47:56 PM »

Joe, this is my advice:


-First, speak with Corey and Lori Cole, who successfully funded Hero-U. As a co-founder of the Dreamers Guild, I'm sure the names are more than familiar to you. They've learned a lot from their kickstarter campaign, and I'm sure that if you set up a time to discuss successful kickstarting strategies, they'd be more than happy. I pointed the project out to Lori and she said that she knew a lot of the people that were involved with the original game, and that she'd gladly back it up if they intended to come back for the sequel. You might also want to talk to the Two Guys from Andromeda, Al Lowe and Jane Jensen, who have had successful kickstarters of their own. They informed their fans of Hero-U's kickstarter, and that helped spread the word among all of the Sierra fan-base--- and believe you me, that's one heck of a powerful fan-base: four successful kickstarters of $400,000 PLUS a successful kickstarter by the composer of most of the Sierra soundtracks (last I checked, they were going for the 20K stretch goal).

I guess that the moral of my first point is: reach out to your old colleagues. You guys were creating adventure games during the golden age of adventure and made some fine stuff, and now that Kickstarter is bringing them back, you should definitely talk to them and coordinate to see if they can drop the word. You'd be amazed at what word-of-mouth does.

-Second, network with furry websites. Inherit The Earth is a game that made a huge impact in the furry community in the 1990s--- and I know that, for example, Toumal of Sofurry is big into adventure games and played many of the 1990s games. So, advertise for the kickstarter on Sofurry, Furaffinity and Weasyl- banners cost nothing more than $20 a month, and you get a good ratio of clicks. This is definitely playing out to your biggest fanbase. Also: contact the headsd of big upcoming conferences such as Anthrocon and see if you can purchase advertising on their conbooks for both ITE 1 AND the kickstarter, once you have decided on the new kickstarter date. Put your name out into the psyche of your potential gamers Smiley other websites are Gamingfurever.com, which features exclusively on gaming, and flayrah.com, which is an all-purpose furry news site along with furrynewsnetwork.com. If there's any help needed in contacting and coordinating with these sites, I can volunteer. I helped the Coles advertise H-U on Sofurry  at the time.

-Third, reach out to gaming websites that are relevant--- you have an incredible untapped market in adventuregamers.com, and the oldest adventure gaming site on the internet with a very large readership: http://www.justadventure.com/. You also should reach out to podcasts such as In The Name of Game (http://the-name-of-game.blogspot.com/) 1Up's Retronauts (http://www.1up.com/do/minisite?cId=3156908) and reach out to Katt Bailey at https://twitter.com/The_Katbot , and see if she'd be willing to put in a few tweets as well.

-Fourth (though it should be the first step, I think): release ITE1 on Gog.com and approach Steam either through their review process or through Greenlight. Getting a game on Steam is almost free publicity, as they like to announce new games in their repertoire. With ITE1 you have the cachet of offering a classic game.

-Fifth: For the kickstarter, have a ton of concept art, mock-ups, samples, etcetera. The more you can show, the more people can get excited about.

Those are my thoughts, and I'd be more than willing to help if any help is needed at all.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 04:50:04 PM by Maus Merryjest » Logged
Knux the Fox
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 02:59:41 PM »

I'm a big fan of the original game, and I do feel like the kickstarter should show some footage of the original game and artwork.  I know the first game was originally to be more mature, but the publisher felt that a game with talking animals would appeal to children, so it was scaled back a bit due to that, but the new game could change that.  I remember ITE2, as of 2006, was to be 2.5D perspective with a custom main character and cameos of Rif, Okk, Eeah, Rhene, and other characters from the first game.

I'm not sure the point-and-click format is the best way to go in this era of gaming, considering it's pretty much a dead genre, but certainly, it should be an adventure game.  I'm sure you already have your own idea as to what the game should be, but I'm just throwing that out.  The main thing about introducing a game in an already existing series is to familiarize newcomers to that game's world.  Rif is the clever hero type, but isn't perfect, he has faults, and that's good for any protagonist to have.  It means he has room to make himself better.  Rhene became the damsel in distress, but at the beginning she seemed fairly capable.  Perhaps she had tried to escape from the boars while Rif and the others were trying to solve the mystery of the missing orb?  One thing that kinda struck me was that they were fully capable of crafting and using tools, yet no weapons existed in the world.  The humans left behind some amazing technology, perhaps someone with sinister ideas would find a way to take control of that technology to become powerful?  Chota had discovered that the Orb of Storms could not only predict but control the weather, but that was only beginning.
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Maus Merryjest
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 05:07:05 PM »

Knux, I would certainly not call point-and-click a dead genre. Daedalic Entertainment has had great success with their traditional adventure games: The whispered world, Deponia, and their fantasy-themed one whose name I forget (mostly because, since I'm developing a game, I'm trying very hard not to pay attention to games that could sap my time). But they're just one of many-- the genre is hardly dead.
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WyrmMaster
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2013, 01:11:41 PM »

The new Sam and Max titles from Telltale Games would qualify under my definition of a "point-and-click" adventure game. Of course almost all recent adventure games are "point-and-click", as the only common alternative is "text-based!"

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Lobst
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 03:44:27 PM »

Point-and-click is most certainly alive, especially on Kickstarter! Just ask the folks at Double Fine, Replay Games, Two Guys From Andromeda, Project Fedora, and Pinkerton Road. Inherit The Earth 2 is the perfect match for Kickstarter -- it just needs the right presentation. All these successful Kickstarters have one thing in common: they pitch themselves with their personality first, like an adventure game should!

Questions to answer in your Kickstarter:
1) What will the game look like? Consider having professional artwork lined up for potential backers to look at before they can decide whether or not to put their money behind your product. This means going to whichever artist(s) you plan on hiring for your final product and commissioning them for enough spec screenshots to show what the game and world are all about. It'll require some investment on your own end, but it'll pay off when people decide to back your project!
2) Who are ItE2's main characters? What's unique and relatable about their personalities? What drives them forward in their quest? If you can make them sound interesting while leaving their physical appearance and occupation out of your description, then you'll really have something going!
3) Who will be working on your game? Show us a portfolio of their previous work, so as to let your backers know that this project is in capable hands!

Also, consider the rhetoric with which you market the project. A tried-and-true method of marketing your project in Kickstarter -- particularly applicable in your case, given the existence of ItE1 -- is by framing your project under the narrative that your company has wanted to create Inherit The Earth 2 for years, but the mainstream game industry's staunch rejection of the adventure game genre has kept ItE2 from being getting past the preproduction phase. This makes potential backers feel not only like they're enabling the creation of a game they want, but they're also helping you accomplish a goal that has been out of your reach up until the concept of crowdfunding gained prominence. They could also even feel like they're supporting a cause, showing game publishers that point-and-click adventures still have a vibrant audience!

Other projects to observe and learn from:
Barkley 2: Escape from Necron 7 - Revenge of Cuchulainn had one previous installment under their belt, but that didn't stop them from pitching their new game as something completely original.
Sealark, an Oceanic Adventure Game sold itself by being original and having a great aesthetic that made its world come alive! If you can capture those aspects of ItE2's world in your pre-production screenshots, then your chances will really go up!
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Maus Merryjest
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2013, 02:10:46 PM »

Lobst is completely right here. All you need to do is get the presentation right... talk to the Sierra alumni. After all, was Wyrmkeep, you do have a history of having "been there" during the first round of the Adventure Renaissance.
Heck, Jim Walls just announced that he's coming out of retirement to start a Kickstarter to make a new Police Quest-esque game. The market is here, you just have to get savvy. Believe me... market it right, and I can guarantee you that the furry fandom will gladly and fondly embrace the product. Distributing the original through accessible means such as gog and steam will help, too.
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WyrmMaster
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 02:39:23 PM »

Thanks for all the comments.

There is very little positive to say about the Kickstarter. I could list all the misadventures involved, but everything can be boiled down to (1) imposing an artificial deadline to get the Kickstarter going and (2) not requesting any "neutral" vetting of the presentation beforehand.

Some have noted that there seemed to be no marketing push. True. I delayed the marketing when I realized that the presentation needed to be redone. And then I cancelled the Kickstarter when it became obvious that I would not get the assets I needed in time. Although I could be wrong, I would think delaying the marketing was better in long-run given I still plan to give Kickstarter another try -- the less people who saw the first attempt the better!

Now I need to decide how to proceed.

First, all the critiques about the presentation are duly noted and will be considered before running another Kickstarter campaign.

The suggestion that I contact teams that have successfully funded a video game Kickstarter, especially an adventure game, is a great idea!

Is a game-play demo required for a successful Kickstarter in this market? Can I just get by with screen mock-ups? The former requires animation assets that simply don't exist right now.

A number of people have noted that lack of background on the development team. I expect the development team to be very small initially. If I create a project video showing a tiny development team, will that have a negative impact on funding? If so, what are the alternatives?

Is the impression that Inherit the Earth is a "kids" game a serious detriment in getting funding through Kickstarter? I see Inherit the Earth as an "all audiences" game, but is that a distinction that the gaming public doesn't perceive?

Finally, I will be looking into additional distribution channels for the original game outside of the Wyrmkeep website.
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Diavolo
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2013, 01:10:36 AM »

Finally, I will be looking into additional distribution channels for the original game outside of the Wyrmkeep website.
ITE for Android-Cellphones would be very nice Smiley
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