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Ekuator Games

Celestian Tales: Old North producer on success, failure, and redefining the classic RPG

Posted by Tyler Colp on April 3, 2014 | Jump to 0 comments

The challenge of pitching a project through Kickstarter is over for Ekuator Games. Celestian Tales: Old North raised more than twice it’s initial goal of $30,000. Now, the team just has to make a game in the next eight months.

From the outside, it looks like a success. The campaign hit all five of its stretch goals, which includes two playable characters with their own campaigns. But Ekuator Games has failed before, and after interviewing the game’s producer Cipto Adiguno, it’s clear the first campaign was an important experience to go through. Not only to learn how not to do a Kickstarter campaign, but also to find an audience willing to pay money for its attempt to reinvigorate the classic turn-based, RPG genre.

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We asked Adiguno about what’s next, what it took away from the first campaign, and how Celestian Tales: Old North came about.

BitPulse: Congratulations on exceeding your Kickstarter goal! Did you and the team celebrate? If so, how, if you don’t mind me asking?

Adiguno: We celebrated by buying three whole fried chicken buckets and 8 liters of Coca Cola for everyone to share. We ate until we were drunk with chicken. The celebration party costs just around $15 in total.

Did you end up receiving enough money to fund all three parts of the game?

Yes, the amount should be enough for all three parts of the game. However, since we’ve planned the game to be made in three parts (and told everyone that it’s the format), we will still stick to that plan.

You hit all five of your stretch goals, including the two that include new playable characters and campaigns, can you explain to me how the two work into the release of the game? Are they both included in part one?

The additional story arcs work like stand-alone side stories. You will play as a character that’s only available in the main story as an NPC, and experience the world through him/her. These stories should be played as you switch to the next part to give you a glimpse about events that happen (or have happened) which affected the main arc.

Will the game be released on Steam Early Access in beta form or are you skipping that for a final release?

We will have the game on Steam Early Access. We need that format as reward fulfillment for backers who wanted beta access.

Why did you choose to use Kickstarter? Did you pitch the game to any publishers?

The market for games of this scale in our area is almost non-existent. We knew we had to reach the world, and Kickstarter gives us that reach. We didn’t pitch the game to any publishers for this reason. However, some publishers did come to us after seeing our success in Kickstarter and Greenlight.

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Despite only raising about half of what your goal was for the first campaign, you kept posting regular updates on the game and had plans for a relaunch since the day it ended. Why did you keep posting updates and why did you relaunch the campaign?

Our previous campaign, while it failed, had 600 backers and raised $24,000. When we thought clearly and objectively, that’s a huge support for some unknown developer like us. While our overconfidence failed us, the campaign made us realise that there’s a real demand for the kind of game we’re going to make. Moreover, the huge continuous support from our backers kept us going. It’s really different when you’re making a game and there are people who truly believe in your vision.

When you launched the first campaign, did you have any plans in place for it failing or did that come up later on?

We did have plans in case it failed, but of course we wanted it to succeed.

Now, let’s rewind a bit more. When and how did the team meet each other?

Most of us originally worked in the same game studio before we formed Ekuator. While that studio originally aimed to make great games like we do, financial aspects and investments slowly shifted their focus to web, mobile, and advertisement games, and even publishing. We don’t feel like it fits us anymore, and so we split.

When and how did the idea for Celestian Tales: Old North come about? Was it always going to be episodic?

Celestian Tales started out from our Dungeons & Dragons campaigns over the last eight years, which formed a vast setting with rich lore abound. Since our D&D campaigns are very roleplay-focused and not combat-oriented, we thought it’d be perfect to combine it with a medium where players can experience the story first hand and decide their own fate. We originally aimed for it to be a single game, but the flexibility of being able to assess players’ choices will help us a lot in making the next parts.

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You say you want to “redefine” the classic RPG with a heavy focus on a choice-driven narrative, characters, and combat. Why do you think classic RPGs need redefining?

“Classic” RPGs very often have the same aspects and storyline. A lot of people aiming to develop a classic RPG return to 90s pixel art. This is 2014, and technology has allowed us to make prettier games. The same players who played 90s RPGs have matured and yearn for quality story instead of just good guy saving the world from evil. We’d like to give a breath of fresh air to that stale combination.

You have about 1,300 people who, presumably, want to play a game by the end of 2014. How are you dealing with that pressure?

It’s a big responsibility indeed, but we know what we’ve promised — something that is within our capabilities. Because of this, we’re really more happy and glad for the huge support than feel pressured.

What stage is the game in now and what are you working on next?

The game is in its pre-alpha. It can be played, it has working systems, and it has a style that defines its identity, but is very short and not yet feature-complete. Right now we are implementing these features as well as expanding the game to its full form.

Will you continue to provide updates on the game throughout development? If so, how will you be doing that?

Absolutely. We’ll be updating the Kickstarter regularly and post to our Development Log on the website (which is kind of abandoned, we’ll get to that soon). All backers will be notified when we make updates and choices for the game.

You’ve been through two Kickstarter campaigns on both ends of the spectrum, what would you tell someone looking to start one for their own game.

Kickstarter doesn’t get you traffic on its own. You have to look for it. Build a community BEFORE going to Kickstarter. Show your game to people in its fullest form, ask for feedbacks, and fix things you think you have to fix. Kickstarter is for those who are ready and prepared.

Do you think you’d use it again?

We would prefer not to go to Kickstarter again. If everything goes well, we should be able to fund our next project ourselves and not rely on backers anymore. We can still get feedbacks and support from our 1300 backers, and it also gives them exclusivity.

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