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Concept To Funded Kickstarter in Less Than a Month. [Tabletop]

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DennisDuty

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The Beginning:
Boardgames are the future. I give them a LOT of thought.
(An anti-tech trend will be upon us soon... followed by a homeostasis that balances tech and non-tech entertainment.)

On December 24th, 2014 (christmas eve) I had an idea for a board game... My girlfriend and I printed up our own holiday Cards Against Humanity (CaH) cards and were having fun playing together. The problem was CaH is a 4-20 player 'party' game.

package-1.jpg


We didn't have a party, we're just two people... but we still wanted to play.
I searched online for two player variations on the rules, and all I came across were discussions about how impossible it was.

There were people asking these questions online. This proved that there was a NEED.
They said it was impossible. This proved there was no solution. If I could solve this need with a solution.. I'd have a viable product on my hand now wouldn't I?

This was an opportunity I didn't want to ignore. VALENTINES DAY WAS COMING UP and I thought this game could capitalize off the press-wave of couple-related activities. I had to launch within a month!

Solving The Core Problem.
Over the next week I started breaking down the problem into logical steps.
The first solution that came to mind was to add 'simulated players' via random cards from the deck.

I did it... and it was exactly as the people chatting online said it would be: unfun. When you can tell which cards are human played and which cards aren't... they're not really 'simulated players' like I thought they would be. It's just extra noise.

That's where others had stopped... they encountered a problem, and threw their hands in the air in defeat. Years of entrepreneurial failures, near-successes, and hindsights taught me to keep pushing.

So I solved the first problem: Categorizing/Labeling cards into distinct piles eliminated the issue and now these simulated players would work! I labeled each card as a "Person" "Place" "Thing" "Verb" "Exclamation".

The game was officially in "alpha" stage and playable!

jyvjpMz.png


True, it didn't have a name, manufacturing process, or launch date... but the core concept was sound.

Solving The Secondary Problems.
Solving the first problem only created a dozen more.
  • Was complicated, too many piles of cards
  • Person/Place/Thing/Verb/Exclamation labels made the game feel educational and not fun
  • Wasn't intuitive/hard to explain
Even though the game was a complicated mess and not ready for the public, I pushed forward. I created a TheGameCrafter (TGC) account and looked at potential pricing for my game. They are a print-on-demand gaming company with a MOQ of 1 unit.

I compared how much it would cost to provide the amount of content that CaH provided. The BASE COST would be $70. CaH could afford to print 400+ separate cards per deck because they were printing in such high volume. A small guy like me could never compete!

B3S1U9b.jpg


This was the moment I wanted to throw my arms in the air and give up.
OBVIOUSLY selling a less-fun. more complicated knock-off of CaH would do poorly. There's no way I could compete.

Years of entrepreneurial failures, near-successes, and hindsights taught me to keep pushing.

I realized that this was just ANOTHER problem I'd have to deal with... just like the first one everybody else gave up on. Creatively... how could I lower the price of the cards BESIDES ordering a few thousand at once?

DOUBLE SIDED CARDS would cut manufacturing costs in HALF!
I ran the numbers again... and what I saw was much more feasible. For $35 base costs I could get a prototype of the game made.

While talking to other game designers, they pointed out the TGC had SQUARE cards, which would cut down costs yet again! Hizzah, I had a workable solution to lower costs!

Design.
The game was still pretty complicated. Mostly due to the labels. Did the player really need to KNOW that they were person/place/thing/action?

No.. the questions and answers just needed to line up. They didn't need labels, colors would work just fine... so I removed the labels and my girlfriend (an artist) decided on a color pallet.

This is the current design of our cards:

4UTpol3.jpg


There were a DOZEN other struggles I had with design... but they don't really matter. They didn't involve overcoming any great struggles.

It's at this point WE HAD A GAME!

The thing about the design, is it ADDED SO MUCH to the actual gameplay.
All of a sudden, hand management became a STRATEGY. You weren't just playing a card, you were THROWING 3 CARDS AWAY.

Preparing For Kickstarter.
Remember, everything I talked about took place within the span of 2 weeks. My launch-date was approaching and I needed to get prepped for kickstarter!

I spent the MAJORITY OF MY TIME writing and rewriting the sales page, tweaking the images and video.

The message HAD TO BE RIGHT, it had to speak to a very specific audience... especially if I wanted to capitalize on press writeups. I can't tell you how much love and attention the sales page got... especially considering how difficult the game is to explain verbally. It all had to be done with images.

4bf62a52b88a34da75eff5778931f5ba_large.gif


Even now, after the launch, there's still a lot that needs doing, but juggling time is so much of a challenge.

Once the branding was to a place of comfortability, I reached out to every blog I could manage. I started spinning crazy new angles at them. "Write about gamification of society!" "Write about technology ruining our lives!" "Write about valentines day activities!"

I lined up about 4-5 articles featuring the game that would go live at the end of January. I pressed "Launch"

Launch Day
So that night, I got a backer who pledged $100. I woke up to two more backers pledging the same. $300 overnight? With no community or mailing list?

What? How?

As it turns out.. All the prepwork I did on the landing page PAID OFF. From the very conception, this game had an audience.


Marketing isn't just about PR, Press, Social Media, and PPC. Marketing starts at product conception. When you design and develop a product to meet the needs of a specific group, THAT'S MARKETING.

Having a good product, and clearly communicating the value you bring are just as much marketing as anything else! And it showed.

By the next day, I had funded 100%.
5Ccx1C0.png


I have 28 days left in the campaign, and I'm hustling every single day... writing guest posts, working social media, generating buzz, releasing videos.

I have a winner here with a bright future and I'm going to pursue it.

Edit: Stupid me. Just occurred that since I talked up the sales page so much, you're probably want to see it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/389081548/original-spin-the-only-party-game-for-2-players
 
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codo3500

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Congrats on your success!

Just wondering where you targeted prior to the launch - did you talk to any bloggers or traditional media .etc? How did you get traffic to your KS page upon launch?

Thanks in advance, and good luck getting even more funding!
 

DennisDuty

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Congrats on your success!

Just wondering where you targeted prior to the launch - did you talk to any bloggers or traditional media .etc? How did you get traffic to your KS page upon launch?

Thanks in advance, and good luck getting even more funding!
Thanks for the luck.

I asked my friends to share it on their facebook and basically won't shut up about it (I try to be nonspammy, just excited).
A few of my friends and business buddies supported me off the bat which was REALLY nice... it gave the project some social proof.

I contacted blogs and press like mad... but nobody had a chance to get back to me, write about me, or feature me yet.
I have an interview with somebody scheduled for tomorrow... and a few stories going life the end of Jan.

When I asked my biggest backers how they found me.. they told me it was through Kickstarter's "new" page. They saw the graphics, they watched the video, and they connected with the project emotionally and wanted to back it.

This is why I said that marketing's more than just 'getting it out there'. Marketing starts at conception of the product. Design and color choice are informed by your target demographic, your words on the sales page are informed by target demographic, headline, etc.
 
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DennisDuty

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It's been over ten years, but there was a site that had social games & board games for those with ADD. That's what it reminds me of, wish I could find the site. lol

I'm so glad somebody's doing that!

It's funny. I recently found out that I might have had Dyslexia for the past 27 years and just developed coping mechanisms to cover it up.
When it was pointed out to me that it might be the case, I was like "It makes so much sense".

In fact, I think that many of my user interface, copywriting, and design comes from needing to simplify things FOR MYSELF TO UNDERSTAND... which also makes things better for others too.
 

Mattie

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Yes, I thought they were neat when I bought them for my son. Apparently A.D.D. Warehouse doesn't sell them anymore or something. I just remembered the name and I don't see the board games listed anymore. I do remember though one had a lot of questions and how you would respond in certain events or circumstances.

Probably back at home they're sitting there some place. Yes, I think it does simply things, and makes people aware and alert.
 
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codo3500

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DennisDuty

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Not to hi-jack, just to say your timing is unfortunately the same as:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elanlee/exploding-kittens - as I write this he is over $1.3m in under a day!

I wouldn't say unfortunate at all....
I'm actually excited about it, it's fortunate if anything.
I just had this argument with another game designer.

The only people who suffer from losses due to another project doing well are people who relied on random people to fund.
  1. I didn't PLAN on random people funding my kickstarter, it just happened.
  2. Our audience doesn't overlap. He brought his own audience from TheOatmeal.
If anything, he's educating and bringing new people to kickstarter who haven't backed before. While they're supporting him, they might go on to support similar games. If not now, def. in the future.
 

codo3500

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I wouldn't say unfortunate at all....
I'm actually excited about it, it's fortunate if anything.
I just had this argument with another game designer.

The only people who suffer from losses due to another project doing well are people who relied on random people to fund.
  1. I didn't PLAN on random people funding my kickstarter, it just happened.
  2. Our audience doesn't overlap. He brought his own audience from TheOatmeal.
If anything, he's educating and bringing new people to kickstarter who haven't backed before. While they're supporting him, they might go on to support similar games. If not now, def. in the future.
Great mindset! Excellent way of looking at it mate
 
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Nice work. I wondered if you were going to make a game. I still haven't started mine.
 

Digamma

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That's so cool, man. I love tabletop games.
In fact, when you say that boardgames are the future, what do you mean? What makes you so sure? I would love such a trend.
 

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Awesome post and very nicely done. @ChasingPaper and @Ubermensch ... THIS IS WHAT VALUE LOOKS LIKE, not "I'm going to own a Bugatti and talk about it for years!"

Curious, instead of going to a 3rd party game shop, have you tried to outsource parts of this directly? I would go directly to manufacturers as opposed to some middleman who is taking a piece of the cut. That's why you are having trouble getting good pricing.
In fact, when you say that boardgames are the future, what do you mean? What makes you so sure? I would love such a trend.

I mentioned this as well. I think people are starting to wear thin on digital socializing and again are trying to reconnect on a personal, human level. Board games do this. CAH is a great example of people getting together in real life, not on some screen and keyboard.
 
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Digamma

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Maybe that's what he means. :)
orly_owl.jpg

I mentioned this as well. I think people are starting to wear thin on digital socializing and again are trying to reconnect on a personal, human level. Board games do this. CAH is a great example of people getting together in real life, not on some screen and keyboard.
Yep, I get it.

What I meant to ask was if he has actual data to connect this trend to the general population, though.
 

DennisDuty

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Huge tabletop fan here. Like I play with my friends every friday night.
What do you play?

Curious, instead of going to a 3rd party game shop, have you tried to outsource parts of this directly? I would go directly to manufacturers as opposed to some middleman who is taking a piece of the cut. That's why you are having trouble getting good pricing.

Yeah, I talked to a few Asian manufacturers and found one I felt comfortable with. If I can reach required MOQ on my order I'll be ordering parts individually from them and assembling them myself, shipping the extra games to amazon.

Good job! Time to start telling entire forums about your success to draw more attention.

I'll have to see what I can do. I'm glad I funded so early so I can use that as part of my pitch... I'll have to see how I can highjack exploding cats press, if at all possible.


What I meant to ask was if he has actual data to connect this trend to the general population, though.
No data.. just a gut feeling based on subjective evidence.

There are already a ton of people on the anti-tech bandwagon... Everytime there's a scare (heartbleed) the issue is pushed further. There will be a movement (probably the size of the fat-activism pro-body stuff that's trending now) and hating technology will become the new 'trendy' thing to do (current trend: hating on GMOs, supporting locally sourced food, hating on cops).

After the anti-tech sentiment dies down, we'll return to a homeostasis that's less tech heavy than it is now, but not antitech either.
I'm just always get timelines wrong with these things and think they'll happen a lot faster than they do.
 
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Digamma

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No data.. just a gut feeling based on subjective evidence.

There are already a ton of people on the anti-tech bandwagon... Everytime there's a scare (heartbleed) the issue is pushed further. There will be a movement (probably the size of the fat-activism pro-body stuff that's trending now) and hating technology will become the new 'trendy' thing to do (current trend: hating on GMOs, supporting locally sourced food, hating on cops).

After the anti-tech sentiment dies down, we'll return to a homeostasis that's less tech heavy than it is now, but not antitech either.
I'm just always get timelines wrong with these things and think they'll happen a lot faster than they do.
Cool man, I can tell you that I have the same feeling.
I look forward for an adjustment in the role tech has in our lives.
 

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Carcassone, Tsuro of the seas, Munchkin, The Resistance, Puerto Rico, & Ticket to ride. I play a few others, but those to name a few.

Ticket to ride is a lot of fun. I hate Munchkin. I love cooperative games (Pandemic, Zombicide, Castle Ravenloft, etc...)
 
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Ticket to ride is a lot of fun. I hate Munchkin. I love cooperative games (Pandemic, Zombicide, Castle Ravenloft, etc...)

Cooperative games are a lot of fun. You can have a experienced player with a newbie and it still manages to work out. Love it.
 

theag

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No data.. just a gut feeling based on subjective evidence.

There are already a ton of people on the anti-tech bandwagon... Everytime there's a scare (heartbleed) the issue is pushed further. There will be a movement (probably the size of the fat-activism pro-body stuff that's trending now) and hating technology will become the new 'trendy' thing to do (current trend: hating on GMOs, supporting locally sourced food, hating on cops).

After the anti-tech sentiment dies down, we'll return to a homeostasis that's less tech heavy than it is now, but not antitech either.
I highly doubt it. This wont happen in the general population. Maybe for hipsters, but who cares about hipsters.

Good luck with the game.
 

bane

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First off well done! Loved reading the OP!

When I asked my biggest backers how they found me.. they told me it was through Kickstarter's "new" page. They saw the graphics, they watched the video, and they connected with the project emotionally and wanted to back it.

Do you think you could repeat the technique of getting on the "new" page? or was it more of a "lucky" thing?

Cheers mate!
 
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DennisDuty

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Ticket to ride is a lot of fun. I hate Munchkin. I love cooperative games (Pandemic, Zombicide, Castle Ravenloft, etc...)

Creator of Forbidden Island and Pandemic did a game called Forbidden Dessert and it's my absolute favorite. Smartsmartsmart behind-the-scenes game design. The "hidden information" feature was groundbreaking.

This wont happen in the general population.
I don't think people will be burning their laptops in the street, and I don't think the movement will have a "name".

But I think we'll see more rude stares and intolerance for using your phone in social situations. We'll see more shaming for using social media too much. It's already infiltrated popular media. The show "Selfie" was anti-tech (too much so, unfortunately) and even as early as 2007 children's programming was incredibly antitechnology.

I really really think we're going to see people fed up with all the apps they have to keep track of and never use.... any newsworthy incident on top of that and we'll bounce back to technology that's main selling "feature" is simplicity.

Do you think you could repeat the technique of getting on the "new" page? or was it more of a "lucky" thing?
No. I didn't plan on it happening this time, and I would never plan on it happening ever. It was an incredibly lucky break early on.
I planned on (and will continue to plan on) driving all my own traffic. The moment I even cross my fingers for a lucky break is the moment I'm being lazy.

What do I have in the works that's PLANNED content?
  • I reached out to a few big relationship blogs to pitch a story about relationships and playing board games. One agreed (150K monthly readers).
  • Once that article goes live, I will use it as leverage to reengage other relationship bloggers
  • I pitched an article to lifehack "10 low-tech valentines day hacks to blow her away". They accepted, my article to them is due in 3 days. "Board games" is hack #3 with my KS video embedded
  • TGC is promoting me to their audience 2x throughout the life of my campaign, since I publicly stated they're my go-to manufacturer for smaller orders.
  • I'm responding to HARO entries daily... even faking expertise when I have to.
  • My YT channel RebelFund, which I started a few months ago covers kickstarters, of course, will be covering MYSELF (the whole reason I started the damn thing)
  • I am reaching out to every successful kickstarter I covered on Rebelfund, asking for a social shout out.
This is the type of promotion I planned on from the start... and why I designed my KS/Landing page the way I did. It just-so-happened that the random views were on-board with the core message/sentiment.
 

bane

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No. I didn't plan on it happening this time, and I would never plan on it happening ever.
ah cool. just checking haha

  • I pitched an article to lifehack "10 low-tech valentines day hacks to blow her away". They accepted, my article to them is due in 3 days. "Board games" is hack #3 with my KS video embedded
ah great idea. Did they list you as the author? or is a guest post?

Other great strategies too. Thank you! I'm interested in how you do this successfully.

Did you make your KS video yourself? I really like it and am wondering how much that would cost.

Thanks :)
 

ilrein

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@DennisDuty bet you didn't think you'd go from THE kickstarter youtube show to making your own dealio.

Not that the two are mutually exclusive or anything...good hustle!

That's totally the way to go. Start a campaign for like $1000 bucks. Get that going. Leverage your track record to go for more ambitious stunts after.

Smart somewhere, escalate as you go. It's just like picking up a pretty girl ;)
 

DennisDuty

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Not to hi-jack, just to say your timing is unfortunately the same as:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/elanlee/exploding-kittens - as I write this he is over $1.3m in under a day!
If anything, he's educating and bringing new people to kickstarter who haven't backed before. While they're supporting him, they might go on to support similar games. If not now, def. in the future.

This is an example if that:
BlO0aEW.png

Looking at the date they joined, it looks like they joined specifically to back exploding kittens. While they were here on kickstarter and preeducated, They went ahead and backed my project. These are the only two projects they backed.

Big names, celebrities, and blogs bringing their preexisting audience to kickstarter is very good for the others in the industry.
It does make some people nervous, since they were relying on a "Kickstarter staff pick!" or a front page feature to get traffic, which becomes almost impossible when you're overshadowed by the top new kickstarter project ever.

PRESS
In press-related news.... I've gotten GeekDad to blog about my game!

It's not live yey but a writer has officially been assigned to my game! If you don't know geekdad, they have 436K unique visits a month, equating to 5.6m total page views. It's a big blog, filled with people who love buying technology, videogames, and boardgames.

This goes back to my thesis for this thread, something I don't want to let get glossed over, and something all of you need to know:

marketing starts at product conception.

When I started this, I knew it has that original spin (hahah!) that the press would want to write about. Yes, it's a game for couples, which is great. It's also a game for PARENTS who want to play with their kid and not have to invite a billion of their kid's friends over to enjoy the game. It's also an INCLUSIVE game that uses non-defamatory, non-hateful humor.

I released a statement about my humor here: http://www.originalspingame.com/humor
I go on record to be precise about the humor used in the game. There are no racial jokes, no swears, no sexist jokes. This is a game that doesn't need "shock humor" to be funny.

These are unique selling points that were in-place before work on the game actually started.
 

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