When setting up a Kickstarter for a game such as Novice Knights, one of the first things that everyone asks you is, “What are the stretch goals?”
Inevitably, just about every successful project has some version of stretch goals, but I find many projects do theirs in such a manner that they are insulting their backers. So often, even on the most successful of campaigns, I see stretch goals that include
- New cards
- New rules
- New pieces
- More players
Every time I see this, it sends a giant message to me on a billboard. “GAME IS NOT COMPLETE AS ADVERTISED. IF I DON’T GET WAY MORE BACKERS THAN MY FUNDING GOAL, YOU WILL RECEIVE AN INCOMPLETE GAME.”
Now, is that what these creators are tying to tell their backers? No, of course not. They are trying to incentivized further funding through optional additions to the game. The problem is, they are doing this piece mail, and while I’m sure they have thought about the balance of each and every change, they are inevitably selling a game that is not quite 100% of what they originally intended. I am all about expanding games, but if you want to do that, it should be done as a complete, optional, expansion; not piece mail.
That is why, no matter how you slice it, Novice Knights will be released as a whole game. There will be no “additional player” goal. There will be no “added cards” goal.
Another flaw, that I think could often be fatal to a start up game maker is the idea that some stretch goals will also include novelty items or perks, such as T-shirts or whatever. The logistical nightmare that is involved in trying to fulfill hundreds, if not thousands of orders is enough in itself, but you are almost certainly not manufacturing your key chain or T-shirt in the same place you are manufacturing your game. As such, you would either need to pack them yourself (time consuming and expensive) or have a fulfillment center do that on your behalf (expensive with multiple items). These items, while nice as a gesture, will take any earnings you might of had, and flush them down the drain. Good luck making Game #2.
“So Jim, if you’re not going to offer additional features, and you’re not going to use an air cannon to send me my free T-shirt, what can I expect in stretch goals from Novice Knights?”
That’s a great question, and that is exactly what I’m here today to answer.
- Improved Parts
- Creative License
Those are the only two things I can reasonably say a startup game manufacturer should ever offer as a stretch goal, and here’s why.
Improved Parts: The game is complete, but not all complete game are created equal. Improving the quality of the parts used in manufacturing is a way to show backers that you care about them, and that their continued support is important. As you increase your back base, the number of orders will grow. As the number of orders/units grow, the economies of scale will start to reduce the cost per unit. Instead of just hoarding that money for yourself, reinvesting that money into higher quality game components not only shows the backers that you care, but it will make for a better end product, which will result in more orders post campaign, and will likely help generate a following that will want to back your future games.
Creative License: Now this one is a little bit trickier than Improved Parts, but in other ways, it is simpler. For any game being created, there are a number of pieces of art, graphic design, names, settings, etc. For the game to function as designed, none of these factors matter. For a game to be successful though, the game will need to execute these areas very well. While some game makers like to include custom art as a stretch goal or perk, I think that is going a bit far. What is not going too far is allowing items, characters, cards, etc to have their names selected as a reward. It will not affect the general aesthetics of the game, it will not affect the mechanics, but it still allows your backers to have some creative license with the game itself. While depending on your theme, the number of backers you can allow to do this might be limited (If you do a theme with established names/places this become more difficult), if you have a fully original theme, you are only limited by the number of items the game has to offer.
For example, the Dragons of Novice Knights will be available to be named by backers of a certain pledge level.
While opinions vary, I am truly vested in what I want to deliver as a game to my future backers, and what I want to get them is the best, complete game possible, regardless of funding level.
No T-Shirt included.