On the pulse of crowdfunded gaming

Running to the finish line: A post-campaign Q&A with SaltyPepper

Posted by Olivia Cottrell on July 1, 2014 | Jump to 0 comments

We’ve had a few interviews now with developers after they’ve completed a successful Kickstarter campaign; generally, things get a little less exciting but a lot more hard work as they start turning backer dollars into tangible product.

However, what happens when a developer doesn’t do quite as well as they’d hoped? We reached out to SaltyPepper, the developer behind the fairy-tale themed Once Upon a Runner, which sadly failed to meet its target earlier this year.

What have they learned from the experience? And what’s the next chapter in their particular tale?

BitPulse: Can you summarize the Kickstarter experience for me? How was it trying to gather funding through the platform?

Jasmine Greene, lead designer: The Kickstarter experience was pretty time consuming. It’s not easy to get discovered with thousands of other projects going on at the same time so most of our work was done via social media sites and through personal emails to friends and family. As well, it was also about reaching out to the press to get coverage that might bring more people to our site. Every day we needed to find new/creative ways to tweet about our Kickstarter campaign and find ways to get people’s attention. In addition, we also needed to explain how Kickstarter works to many first time users. As popular as Kickstarter is there are still many more people who have never used it and some have never even heard of it!

What’s been the story of Once Upon a Runner post-campaign?

Greene: We’re still developing Kickstarter and we’re mainly working on a lot of bug testing and tweaks. Most of the major features of the games have already been implemented. We’ve released a new demo for people to try out that shows off some of the tweaks. So, we’re still going strong despite not making our goal.

The sea witch faces off against some poor unfortunate souls

The sea witch faces off against some poor unfortunate souls

What’s been the challenges associated with continuing a game that was unsuccessful on Kickstarter? Does it carry any kind of stigma?

Greene: It was definitely a bit disheartening to see that we didn’t reach it, especially after all of the work that we put into spreading the word. After the funding period ended, we all took a little break from development to regroup and take some much needed time off. Luckily our team isn’t so easily derailed, especially since we’re so far along in the development process. We came back together with renewed focus and energy for the project and have been plugging away since. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap and think why didn’t we reach our goal, but we’ve tried to steer clear of that kind of thinking. Instead we’re just using this first project as a learning experience.

How are you funding development now?

Greene: We’re pretty much funding development out of pocket though luckily our costs are relatively low. This means it’ll probably take a little longer to release the game. We also are offering a pre-order sale for $3 for those interested in getting a copy of the game early. Those that pre-order are also entered into a random drawing where they have a chance to win high resolution images of all the in-game comics and the soundtrack.

What was the most important thing you learned from crowdfunding? What would you do differently a second time around?

Greene: It’s a lot of work! Despite researching about how to crowdfund, it’s a completely different beast when you are actually in the process. You’re constantly trying to find ways to revamp the wording in your project description, finding nit-picky issues in the video, connected to social media and pretty much trying to spread the word. I really wish that there was better discoverability in Kickstarter because besides from the first couple days and last couple days you can’t really get pageviews unless you’re really bringing in a significant amount of pledges. If we’re to run another Kickstarter campaign we’re really going to drum up interest much earlier via social media, press, etc. A lot of successful Kickstarter owners have said that the whole process before launching the campaign probably takes around 2-3 months on top of the 1-2 month campaign.

While development has slowed on once Upon a Runner, they still hope to release sometime this summer. You can have a look at their demo via the official site, as well as look at another project, The Painter’s Apprentice, that they hope to release soon.


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