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Chris

Xenonauts Kickstarter and Public Build

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OK, so the time has come to bite the bullet and do a Kickstarter for this project.

If you're unsure as to why we'd want to do this, it's mostly because a variety of games have done very well out of it - Doublefine and Wasteland 2 being the two most famous Kickstarters so far, but much smaller games like FTL have also raked in a lot of cash too. FTL is sitting at $150,000 at the moment. To put that in perspective, that's substantially more than we've taken in pre-order revenue over the entire lifetime of this project.

The major difference between us and the other projects announced so far is that they are generally brand new games very early in the development cycle, whereas we're towards the end of ours. This is a disadvantage in the sense that we're not exciting new news in the same way as they are, but it's an advantage because we've got loads of nice art to show off and there should be less doubts about whether we can pull off making a game.

Because we're an existing project, we're going to take a slightly different approach. My plan is to make a playable demo of the game available to everyone, so people can see for themselves how the game looks. Our pitch in the video is basically going to be "We're getting to the end of our development cycle, and we'd like to raise a load of money so we can make the game as good as it can be".

This is a pretty honest pitch - we're going to need more money than we have now if we're going to make Xenonauts an exceptional game. We're on track to make it a good game - perhaps even a very good one, but we're constrained by cashflow on some of our ideas.

Anyway, the flip side of this is that next weekend we're going to try and release the basic version of the build that we'll be releasing to the entire internet. The idea is this build will contain the gameplay in the game until a couple of weeks after the Corvettes appear, which will allow the player to get laser weapons and Wolf armour, and then it'll spawn a couple of scripted events - a terror site and then a base defence mission. Once the base defence mission is over, the demo will end.

The hope is that it'll show off the best parts of the game to everyone, and convince them to pay up. It should also give journalists something to write about. Once the key features are in place, we'll just keep iterating it until it's basically bug free and then go ahead with the Kickstarter.

We're going to be working pretty hard at this end to make the game as fun as possible so we can make as good an impression as possible. We're going to try and implement these features:

Ground combat:

- Slopes / Hills (important for house roofs, and the future arctic / desert tilesets)

- Base Defence missions (generating a proper recreation of the player base)

- Terror Missions (using the town tileset, which is admittedly very basic at the moment, and having no UFO on the map)

- Adding the Andron alien race for either the Base Defence or the Terror mission (hopefully)

- Giving the National Guard so AI

Geoscape:

- Finishing the air combat UI implementation

- Balancing the air combat so that the Corvette is a bit more of a challenge and it is a bit more varied

- Adding more of a research tree, allowing you to research alien corpses and the like

- Making it a bit more obvious on the Aircraft Equip screen when you're manufactuing an aircraft

We'll want you guys to test both the current and the next build as thoroughly as possible. The public build needs to be as stable as humanly possible when it is released, so we can make a good impression with the gaming public.

Thoughts welcome!

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Oh - when I say Kickstarter, I actually mean IndieGoGo.com as we're not going to be able to get on Kickstarter as we don't have any US citizens on the team. Shouldn't actually affect anything though (hopefully).

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Sounds like a plan, but like you said the game is late in development, so it wont have that same feeling of contribution to a indy project. Angle the pitch that support is needed for many more features such as X and X (im sure you had this in mind already).

A day or two after you release the demo, I will stream it when I can on twitch.tv. You have no idea how many people buy games from watching someone else play them, also you have direct access to someone playing the game, so you can get their thoughts and opinions.

Last build I played was a year ago and it gave me that xcom tingly feeling, so I already know its a great game. I was actually going to play and stream it tomorrow but I will wait for the demo :)

Kai.

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Goddamn amazon.com!! I think you are going to miss out on some of the kickstarter crowd =( kickstarter would probably be much more benefitial since a crowd has been drawn by wasteland and doublefine already.

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...as we're not going to be able to get on Kickstarter as we don't have any US citizens on the team.

Had no idea this was a requirement. How unsavory.

Since IGG almost certainly isn't as well known as KS it would be wise to get the news to the media (as many outlets as possible) asap after the IGG "campaign" starts as that will be the most effective way of getting people to actually visit the page. I guess this is kinda obvious but I felt like emphasizing.

Really hope this works (to a sufficient extent). In a way, FTL's 150k is an even more amazing achievement that what 2x Fine and WL2 pulled off.

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Had no idea this was a requirement. How unsavory.

Since IGG almost certainly isn't as well known as KS it would be wise to get the news to the media (as many outlets as possible) asap after the IGG "campaign" starts as that will be the most effective way of getting people to actually visit the page. I guess this is kinda obvious but I felt like emphasizing.

Really hope this works (to a sufficient extent). In a way, FTL's 150k is an even more amazing achievement that what 2x Fine and WL2 pulled off.

I hope this will work out well too. Though, I disagree on FTLs 150k being a more amazing achievement. They're in the same situation as Xenonauts is, they have a functional game, and something to show us already, and just need some additional funding to finish it off. While yes they are nearly 1,500% funding for it, they didn't ask for much, and it's not as big of a leap of faith in their game compared to the double fine and WL2 games which have nothing but their word on delivering a game. I'm sad I missed the FTL onLive demo as the game looks like a hoot.

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Though, I disagree on FTLs 150k being a more amazing achievement.

I said that because, for one, FTL is a small game with low production value compared to the more heavily funded projects but, even more importantly, because, unlike Schafer or Fargo, the FTL devs and their franchise are completely new to the scene and have 0 brand recognition because their brand and reputation are being built up just now.

I don't find it surprising that creators of Fallout and Grim Fandango were able to draw a crowd, but the fact that a pair of anonymous first-time devs were able to do so and get 150% funding (despite the fact that they asked "little") shows that KS funding isn't viable just for long established names/brands but for anyone who has a good idea. This is much more reassuring to someone in Chris' position than Schafer/Fargo's KS successes.

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The features you're planning on introducing sound like a lot of fun. Exciting times ahead!

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All I can add is make very sure that the pitch doesn't come off as an evil moneygrab and jumping on the train of success. Anyway I don't think you guys will botch this, from your post it seems like you know what to do!

Just be very clear that there will be a game even if the kickstarter doesn't actually go through and that it's purpose is to add more funding that will allow you to put more stuff into the game. You also need to make plans for what to do if you go way over target, do you push the release up more to allow more time for development if you can afford that? Just give it some thought :)

Anything that will help the game be better is good, also it will add more publicity to the game as well but it's a shame you can't use kickstarter since it needs a US citizen (is there absolutely no way to get around this? I would really recommend you exhaust all your options to use kickstarter before dismissing it)

Last thoughts, if the kickstarter gets popular and you get a lot of money for development, don't be afraid to push the game's release back if it's possible, sure it might be painful to wait longer for it but the last thing we want is the game released too early cutting it's potential short. What we are hoping for is a game that will last years and years and what's a little more time to wait for that? Especially when there's dev builds to play with! But this is just my opinion and there will probably be others that don't agree.

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I don't think IndieGoGo.com can make noticeably more than desura already does. But more publicity is good direction.

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Hey Chris,

do you think about an open beta? maybe a closed beta before the release?

Many games do this or did you think its better to release only a demo?

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Any US citizens who want to work for Goldhawk for 1% of their kickstarter funds? :P

Please, answer this guy! ;) No, really, I would call myself an advanced indie gamer (maybe not an expert), but I have never been to Indiegogo. Thus, the potential for a crowdfunding drive through that site seems very limited to me (although this is of course heuristic information processing, then again that's how the internet seems to work ;) ). I would really urge you to try and get on Kickstarter. Crowdfunding is popular at the moment, but funding on seven different sites? It's the same with digital distributors, even though there are others, Steam is still pretty much king. One might not like that, but for the sake of the project, one should acknowledge it.

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I can't find anything in the kickstarter guidelines against an idea I had. Problem is I don't know if it would be benefitial or possibly backfire.

What if an American unrelated to Goldhawk starts up a Xenonaut kickstarter, with no intention of meting it's goal but instead simply informs that there is an interesting game on indiegogo (you might have to just link to goldhawk interactive without mentioning indiegogo and hope people reach indiegogo from there). Explain that non US citizens can't use Kickstarter. Give a bit of information about the game. Give no rewards (if you have to, then put a thank you at 1000 bucks). Wonder if it should have a ridicolous ammount as goal or reflect the goal set by Chris at indiegogo tough. (you can allways cancel the project. If people start pledgeing money. Or possibly cancel it at the start anyway)

Would this look bad and turn people away from the project? Or would it be positive publicity?

Technically it's an abuse of kickstarter but as I said I can't see any guidelines about setting up a project to purposly fail or promote other sites. (To me there seems to be a project called "Free will" in the graphic novel section that is set up to do fail as hard as they can)

Edited by Gorlom

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I have never heard of Indigogo. I just read their FAQ and they charge you a 9% fee of the money raised if your goal is not reached. Ouch!

Kickstarter charges you only if successful. I suggest to involve a US based partner and use Kickstarter.

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Szabtom: Thats only if you select the flexible funding option. That's where you keep any money people have pledged even if you don't reach the goal. If you select fixed funding and don't reach your goal they take nothing.

If you reach your goal they only charge 4% in both options. + that 3% and 25$ in third party fees that seems to apply to both options, and not only the flexible funding as I thought at first.

http://www.indiegogo.com/learn/pricing

Edited by Gorlom

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Any US citizens who want to work for Goldhawk for 1% of their kickstarter funds? :P

Would that work? I DOnt have much actual Programming Experience outside of what I learned 10 years ago in c++, which I have never used again.

I have some Spreadsheet skills. lol

BUt If I was Just a Figurehead... 1% seems a Bit Much. Maybe Pay me a Dollar.

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Sounds like Kickstarter is the winning bet. Bad luck you don't have an american citizen in the team :(

So far the game is going really awesome, with extra funding and all the ideas the game would be one of the best.

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we're not going to be able to get on Kickstarter as we don't have any US citizens on the team. Shouldn't actually affect anything though (hopefully).

This is the main fact why I don't support Kickstarter projects, I honestly think Non-US citizens should be made aware of this before contributing as it's a major slap in the face.

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I thought Kickstarter had changed the US requirement?

I know it's still on their project creation page, but it was a requirement of the Amazon Payments system they used, and said Amazon Payments now accepts people and credit/debit cards from the UK (I know, I've used it to fund Wasteland 2 and Double Fine Adv).

Might be worth checking up on that as Kickstarter is certainly more well known than IndieGoGo.

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Kickstarter's Help page says

I'm not in the US. Can I start a project on Kickstarter?

You don't have to physically be in the US, but there are some US requirements to be eligible. Please read: "Am I eligible to start a Kickstarter project?"

We’re working hard to open up to more countries. If you’ve been waiting, we really appreciate your patience.

I guess you could contact them and see if it is up to date but i'm going to assume it is.

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We've already looked into the Kickstarter thing and it's not possible to circumvent it unfortunately.

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Well, don't know if it would help but I would be glad to aid in starting the kickstarter campaign in any way I could as a US citizen. I truly believe in this game, it has tremendous meaning to me, and would offer my assistance for free.

FYI I've worked in the business prior as a gaming Journalist (Strategy Games +, Games Domain, Gone Gold, UGO) , a strategy guide writer (prima publishing), and a beta tester (edios and Bungie).

Been out of the industry for a bit after getting a job at Intel, which I've been at for 12 years.

So if anyway I can assist in the game for the kickstarter (or even a writer) I'd love to assist.

BTW, I'm a premium pre-order customer, how do I get that icon on my account?

Edited by ender101
spelling challanged

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Ender by visiting this sticky thread:

http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/145-How-to-claim-your-Pre-Order-forum-badge!

Personally I wouldnt be comfortable with a kickstarter that uses the bank account of someone that volunteered through the forum. I assume other backers would have a problem with that as well. Ok if Chris goes headhunting and recruits someone, but voluenteers just seems like a bad idea from an outside perspective.

Edited by Gorlom

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