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Crunch and sizzle: Still Games on bouncing back after Kickstarter failure

Posted by Marcus Beard on November 18, 2014 | Jump to 0 comments

Still Games ran two Kickstarters for their ancient adventure Animal Gods; one in August and one in November. The first was a $2,432 failure, and the second was a $26,775 success.

There’s an unclear mix of variables and chance that play into a Kickstarter’s success or failure; Human Resources taught us it’s not about the size of your fanbase as Uber’s previous Kickstarter, Planetary Annihilation, had been a runaway hit.

The Black Glove showed that even an all-star development and an endorsement from Ken Levine himself won’t guarantee a campaign hits the goal.

Animal Gods 4

When Still Games launched their first campaign, it wasn’t a decision they rushed into. They’d be brewing the story of Thistle, a heroine slaying mythical creatures in ancient Britain, as long as they were thinking about Kickstarter.

“We had been planning to run a Kickstarter since the early, early stages of this project,” Still Games said. “We were inspired by what other video game Kickstarters were able to achieve, so it was always in our head to do the same ourselves.

“Video games are nuanced and complicated, so we worked hard on figuring out how to best explain our project. This means that we had to try very carefully to explain the most important parts of the game in an ordered way that would make sense to viewer.

“Preparing for Kickstarter is almost an “acid test” for a game developer — if you can’t communicate your game idea in a very short amount of time, then the idea still needs work.”

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Read more: Animal Gods unveils its first act with $27K goal

Despite the preparation, the page failed to make backers throw down cash. After a week, Still Games decided to plug the plug, being barely 10% funded.

“We realized that the project wasn’t getting enough outreach and that the page layout wasn’t working […] Viewers of the page didn’t ‘get it’ when they visited–so they clicked away and left,” Still Games continued.

“Our video was enchanting and beautiful, but there wasn’t enough hard content to spark the imagination of most viewers. Backers and potential-backers wanted to see more gameplay material in the video. So we decided to cancel the project early, look up PR teams, and create new content to share on a new Kickstarter page.

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When the project relaunched, the page was totally revamped. Quotes from press packed the top of the page, and the rest was filled with words like “crunch”, “sizzle” and a whole lot more gameplay shots. Still Games explained what they did to make the page have more impact: “The biggest change for the next campaign was that we showed more shots of Thistle, the main character, doing things. We added more visuals of her in action and we let her be the centerpiece of the video.

 “We did this because it helped us talk about gameplay: you move, dash, sword swipe, shoot arrows, etc. Everything the player does, Thistle does too. So we showed those things happening.”

Animal Gods 3

Still Games posit that much of their success with the second Kickstarter – which ended on Nov. 8 with $26,775 – is due to partnering with PR firm PR Hound.

“They were involved throughout the entire campaign and gave us some great advice along with press coverage,” according to Still Games. “We still had to do PR work ourselves–it would have been great to have a dedicated employee answering questions and formatting tweets–but, alas, that wasn’t in our scope as a small indie video game studio.”

Animal Gods

With the campaign finished, they’re now focusing on getting the game done and shipped to 453 backers. It should be arriving on PC, Mac and Linux by 2016.

“It’s primarily just two people working on the bulk of the project. The $26,000 raised will allow us to cover software and hardware costs, let us produce the merchandise we promised, and pay us a little bit to survive during our time on the project.”

With more money – from a publisher, or from pledges on their own website – they’ll be able to get the game done much faster. Right now though, they’re just plugging away, filling the open world with monsters. If you’re keen to get a super early taste, you can download a pre-alpha demo for free.

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