Category Archives: Kickstarter/crowdsourcing

Open Development

Little kids look up to firefighters, police officers, and astronauts and make one their role model. Similarly, I am a little indie kid and I look up to Wolfire as my role model. They are working on Overgrowth and started the bundle movement with Humble Indie Bundle (HIB).

Even though both of those are amazing, that is not why I look up to them. I have been following Wolfire for a few years now, well before HIB, and something that always stood out to me is just how open they are with their development process. They have weekly alpha video updates providing an overview of the progress made that week. Along with that they less frequently do art asset overviews. Occasionally they will make a blog posts about game tech. They even have livestreams for some of the members - David and Aubrey. Lots of great stuff and very inspirational to me.

When I started Crea I decided I wanted to apply this inspiration. When I come across a new opportunity to share I welcome it with open arms. When I decided to start a pivotal tracker to do project planning on; I made it public. I now do coding livestreams on nearly a daily basis. I like to think I am very open with my development. The other day I was reminded of my inspiration’s source after watching a reasonably old video with two guys from Wolfire doing a talk on Open Development.

I’m aspired not only to continue my growth as an indie in the same direction as Wolfire, but also to help improve, expand, and explore open development.

The Story of Crea’s Kickstarter

The basics:

We are a small independent team developing a 2D sandbox video game called Crea. In July 2012, we ran a Kickstarter campaign to help us raise development funds and gain publicity for our game. We started with a goal of $15,000, and 30 days later we had successfully raised $27,870. As of August 2012, Crea is still in development. Here’s the story of how our campaign went, and our advice for future Kickstarter hopefuls.

The story:

Early on in Crea’s development, we knew that we wanted to run a Kickstarter. We read all sorts of articles and blog posts about running Kickstarter campaigns – (here’s a list of some of the ones we found most useful), and Jasson trolled the video game category of Kickstarter on a daily basis, taking notes on the common traits of successful and failing campaigns.

Making a video game has been a lifelong dream for Jasson, so he decided that it would be meaningful if the Kickstarter ended on his birthday, August 7. This deadline motivated us to get cracking and create as much content as possible. We got Crea to the point where we had some nice concept art, some very early gameplay footage, and we also had a fantastic composer on board, Robot Science. With help from a friend, we made a simple video introducing Crea to the world.

Our Kickstarter video, which was played over 22,000 times

About a week before we planned to begin the campaign, we set up a Launchrock page where people could sign up to be notified once the Kickstarter began. We posted the link on Facebook and gaming forums, and got about 100 email signups.

Our Launchrock page

Then we nervously clicked the big green “launch” button on our Kickstarter, and the campaign was on! Between the Launchrock signups, friends, and generous family members, support immediately came pouring in. There was a new pledge almost every time we refreshed the page! We were very giddy. In two days we had already reached 20% of our goal.

After a heady three days, the number of new pledges began to slow down. Because of our research, we knew that this was normal for Kickstarter campaigns, so we threw ourselves into developing more content, improving our reward tiers, and getting the word out. Still, we were a little nervous.

About a week in, Crea, along with our hopes and dreams, were languishing in the depths of Kickstarter. Pledges were coming in abysmally slow, averaging $200 per day or even less. At this rate, our project would fail to meet its goal. We rolled around our apartment floor groaning in despair, like katamaris of sadness.

Then one beautiful, beautiful morning we saw Crea on the “Staff Picks” page. Immediately our project got more attention, and that pushed us back up the “popular projects” page and eventually even to Kickstarter’s front page. This was the second wind we had been hoping for.

The front page of

Crea caught the eye of Jake from Edge of Space, another sandbox game which had recently finished a successful campaign. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jake was full of much  wisdom, and he kind of became our Kickstarter mentor.

Encouraged, we began to update on a Mon-Wed-Friday basis, showing more and more Crea content. Our project was mentioned on Rock Paper Shotgun twice, which brought in a lot of traffic. Due to Jasson’s relentless networking, other Kickstarter indie game devs, such as Edgar from Spriter and Larry from Moon Intern, also gave us shoutouts in their project updates. Things started to pick up, and we reached our $15,000 goal with one week to spare!

Party llama!

We set some new stretch goals, and continued to network and update, update and network. We also did two livestreams, which greatly boosted the enthusiasm of everyone who attended. Many backers began increasing their pledges. On Jasson’s birthday, we gathered around the computer and counted down until the Kickstarter’s dramatic finish. Then we high-fived and rolled around our apartment giggling, like katamaris of victory. Then went out for pizza. And then we got right back to work.

Kickstarter’s graph of our funding progress

What we learned:

  • Clearly we had enough content to successfully complete our campaign. However, we really only had the bare bones of gameplay to show off – this left Crea open to accusations of being a “Terraria clone.” If we could do it over, we would have pushed back the campaign until we had additional content that would clearly show our game’s uniqueness. That way we would have been able to spend less time trying to defend our concept and convince skeptics. Our advice: wait until you’re absolutely sure that your project is ready for Kickstarter, then work on it some more. 
  • We started doing livestreams late in Crea’s campaign. While our audience was relatively small, it was enormously powerful for turning supporters into enthusiastic Crea evangelists. A few people even wandered into our livestream randomly, saying, “What is this game?” who later left saying, “I can’t wait for this game!!!” Not doing these livestreams earlier was a missed opportunity that would have boosted interest in the game. Our advice: do regular livestreams, and make them opportunities for fans to personally connect with you.
  • We underestimated the time commitment Kickstarter required. Writing updates, answering questions and comments and getting the word out is basically a part-time job. As a result, little time was left over for development. Our advice: treat your Kickstarter as a second job, and be sure to calculate the time spent on Kickstarter into your project timeline.
  • In some ways, the Launchrock was both a blessing and a curse. It was exciting for us to build momentum before the Kickstarter began, and it also helped us get our campaign off to a solid start. We believe that that initial boost helped us get noticed by the Kickstarter staff. On the other hand, once we had publicly announced a launch date for our Kickstarter, we were kind of stuck with that date. As we collected our material for the campaign, we started to second-guess whether we were totally ready to start – but we had to stick to our launch date. Our advice: start building momentum after your project is ready to show off, not before.
  • Reaching out to other indie game developers proved to be priceless. Jasson backed their campaigns, encouraged their projects, then asked them to mention us in updates to their backers. Through this method, we were able to reach thousands of people who were interested in indie games and already familiar with Kickstarter. Our advice: You can Facebook and Twitter and pester your friends all day long, but targeting your marketing to the most specific possible audience is infinitely more worthwhile. Get involved in the online community.
  • On Kickstarter, once someone has pledged for a certain reward, you can’t change that reward. Although this obviously is meant to protect backers from being ripped off, it can also significantly complicate things. People were sometimes confused about what certain rewards entailed, and we wanted to clarify or add more to rewards, but we were unable to change them because someone had already backed them. So we had to add footnotes in updates. Between all the modifying and clarifying and updating, by the end of our campaign the reward tiers were fairly confusing. Our advice: right from the start, make your rewards concise, clear and consistent.
  • We regularly posted content-filled updates, showing off new artwork, new music, new blog posts, new videos, new rewards, as well as encouraging our backers to spread the word. It was a lot of work, but it boosted interest in the game and others’ confidence in our ability to complete it. Our advice: update regularly, and always make sure that you have something worthwhile to say.

Let me know if you found this useful, or if you have any questions. Best of luck in your own Kickstarter endeavors!

We did it!

We did it! Crea’s Kickstarter was a smashing success, reaching 185% of our original goal. We are very humbled by your support. Thanks everyone for helping make Crea a reality, and thanks for giving Jasson the best birthday ever!

After the Kickstarter ended, we high-fived and went out for Chicago-style pizza.

Some people have been asking how they can keep in touch with us – don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere! We intend to continue regularly updating this blog and Facebook page, as well as doing more livestreams. If you backed our Kickstarter, we’ll also be sending out some updates regarding rewards. We’re working on getting some community forums set up soon. So stay tuned – this is just the beginning!

Crea’s Vision Part 1 – Community

Since the launch of our Kickstarter campaign we have been asked about the different aspects of Crea many times. We have been accused of being a “Terraria Clone” even more often than that. When I (Jasson) started Crea, I made it one of my development goals to be open with the community. Keeping true to that, I want to share with you our vision for Crea. I have decided to split it up over three parts to keep the wall of text to a minimum.

First and foremost, we are about the community. We don’t want to be isolated in some ivory tower of development. Instead, we want to be actively engaged with the community on as many levels as possible, updating the game according to feedback from players. I plan to continue to provide development updates on the blog at least once per week. To add to that, we will soon be launching forums, a wiki after that, and we are always listening to the community for other suggestions.

I want to ensure that Crea is fully accessible to everyone. That is why we are pushing hard to release on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. We have already implemented localization support, which makes it easy for anyone to create a translation of Crea. As we get closer to release it would be great to work with the community to create some official translations.

After Crea is released, we’ll be working hard to fix any bugs players stumble upon. After that, we’d like to give players a chance to vote on what new features they’d like us to develop. I also want to assist modders who are creating interesting and original mods for Crea. We’ll be regularly participating in the forums to answer questions and provide assistance to players.

But before we can have a community, we first need a solid game. Tomorrow, in part 2, I will cover our vision for the gameplay in Crea. Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions.

Modding Video and Development Update

I forgot to post the modding video I put together the other day. It only covers some very simple modding but it really shows just how easy it is to mod Crea. I have another video planned that I will be putting together within the next few days (maybe even today!). This follow up video will have showcase some advanced modding.

Aside from putting together videos and keeping up with the Kickstarter campaign, I have been doing my best to keep pushing forward with development. Lately I have been implementing the real inventory system. Once I finish it and get some screenshots I will go over the details. I will say that it will be a lot less like Terraria and Minecraft and more like Torchlight.

Kickstarter Coming Soon!

We are currently crafting an awesome Kickstarter campaign, but it is missing something! Momentum. We need to build some juicy momentum over the next week in order to launch with a BANG. This is where you come in.

First of all, go to and sign up to receive word the moment our Kickstarter launches. Once you have signed up you can share your referral link with your friends. The more you share the more we’ll reciprocate the love.

Several updates will be coming over the next week as we prepare for our launch and even more once we launch. Exciting times are ahead!

5 Top Kickstarter Tips

Lately we’ve been scouring the internet for articles on how to conduct a successful Kickstarter campaign, and there’s a lot of great stuff out there! Here are 5 major points that we keep seeing pop up in Kickstarter articles again and again:

  1. Keep your campaign between 30 to 45 days. A longer campaign is not necessarily better. Most of your pledges will come in at the beginning, when people are excited because it’s new, and at the end, when people are excited because it’s ending. Not a lot happens inbetween. You want enough time for the word to get out, but not so much time that people lose their enthusiasm and forget about it. Also, a longer campaign means that early pledgers have to wait a longer time before they receive their rewards.
  2. Take the time to make your project and video as impressive as possible. If the Kickstarter team recommends it, you’ll show up on the front page (and maybe in their blog), resulting in more visibility.
  3. Promotion is essential. A Kickstarter project is like having a Myspace page for your band: no one knows or cares that it’s there unless you tell them. The most successful campaigns invested in promotion through social networking, blogging, paid advertising and sending out press releases to relevant websites. They built up buzz even before starting their campaign.
  4. Avoid offering too many different rewards – many articles agree that 5 is a good number to aim for. Many more than that, and you risk people delaying their pledges because they’re confused or indecisive.
  5. Update your Kickstarter page often. What every backer fears is pledging money and then being left in the dark to wonder how the project is doing. Reassure your backers by updating often with the latest news about your project.

Here are some articles that we’ve found particularly helpful: