Cult County Kickstarter: Funded Success or Public Failure?
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
So, we have this Kickstarter thing happening right now. Cult County for Wii U, 3DS, Steam, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, and PS Vita. Our minimum funding goal is $580,000. As of this moment, we have currently raised just over $39,000. Gregg (Renegade Kid co-founder and art director) and I have talked about the idea of putting one of our projects on KS ever since the Double Fine campaign kicked off in 2012. Their project had a minimum goal of $400,000, and they raised $3,336,371.
We have always been leery of turning to KS because when you put your project on KS, you’re really putting yourself out there. You don’t know what the response will be. You can try to think of every angle to appeal to the audience you’re aiming for, but pressing that “Launch” button to make your KS campaign go live is a scary thing.
Prior to our KS campaign going live we spent a great deal of time thinking about the KS video and the information and images we’d display on the main KS page. Based on where we were in production – having spent many months developing the story and characters for the game – we had some great concept images to share. The fact that our project pitch was to work with the fans to develop the game, we felt this would be enough to communicate our vision to potential backers.
The KS video is a tricky thing to create. There have been videos of two dudes sitting in front of a camera, or just gameplay footage, a combination of the two, and even skit-like videos like Double Fine’s. We decided to go with a video that communicated what we felt was the important message while having a scene play out in the background that connected with the theme of our game, Cult County - a survival horror experience set in a small, dusty west Texas town.
It was the combination of Gregg, Mark (from Dvelop.tv), and myself discussing ideas for the video that finally molded the idea. We wanted to capture a little bit of Twilight Zone with some disturbing hillbilly imagery in the hope that it would present something unique and help convey our passion for the project through the effort and production values of the video. All in all, I am very happy with the final results. Mark Zamora of Dvelop.TV and short film awesome dude, Matthew Cowling, did an outstanding job!
Crafting the KS page itself was very much inspired by Mighty No. 9, who opted for the approach to include the fans with the creation of the game itself, which I feel is exciting and appealing for potential backers. In addition to every backer having some voting power on content for the game, we added pledge tiers that enable folks to get deeper and more involved with the creation of the game, as enemy designers or even have their face and voice in the game as an NPC or enemy.
I feel that the concept images that Gregg created do a wonderful job of setting the atmosphere of the Cult County environment, as well as giving fans a glimpse of key components of the game with the main character, Gavin Mellick, some weaponry, a key enemy figure, and locations. I think having them all in concept form helps communicate that this is the beginning of development, where the final ideas are still being formed – and where the backers can help us take the game to the finish line with their creative input and financial support.
The first 24 hours after pressing the launch button went fairly well. Even though it is very unlikely, I think everyone hopes that they knock it out of the park and reach their minimum goal straight away so the rest of the month can be focused on the celebration of the project and how it can be made even better. Unfortunately, that was not in the cards for us. A few days into the campaign, the pledges had slowed down to a crawl and we were finding it very difficult to gain extra momentum. To say it was a difficult and demoralizing time, would be an understatement.
I reached out to folk in an attempt to get the word out, but even with the amazing and appreciated support from Shuhei Yoshida – who announced his support of the project with a pledge and a tweet to his 120,000 followers, Gustavo Sorola - who retweeted it out to his 214,000 followers, and Anthony Padilla – who tweeted out his support to his 1.33M followers, it just didn’t seem to help gain new backers. And then, we needed to head off to PAX East in Boston to show off our warez.
I realized that we underestimated the need for gameplay footage. I had hoped that we would not need this, considering Double Fine and Mighty No. 9 did not, but in the end we are not Tim Schaefer or Keiji Inafune. So, we took our playable demo that we were working on in Unity and polished it up a bit and recorded footage. I think this helped a bit, but still, not enough. People at PAX East seemed to enjoy the video and had some great things to say about it, but getting the word out to folks is tricky. We will continue to push forward.
So, here we are, with 14 days remaining on our KS campaign for Cult County and even though we have not lost hope, it seems highly improbable that Cult County will reach its minimum KS goal - unless a miracle happens. We are now trying to convince Akira Yamaoka to create a tune for the game… we’ll see if that comes to pass or not. How amazing would that be? It would be great, but whether even that would be enough to propel us closer to our minimum goal is unlikely, unfortunately.
At the end of this campaign, I will write another blog entry. Will it be a celebration or a commiseration? Only time will tell. If you are someone who has backed the project; thank you so much for believing in our vision for the game. You are amazing! Even if we don’t reach the minimum goal, we will pursue other avenues to try and get it done. However, expect it to take a lot longer than it would with a successfully funded KS campaign, unfortunately.
If you are someone who is unsure, or have decided that this project is not for you, I hope you can do us a small favor and look over our KS page one more time and learn more about the story, the team, and how you and other backers can help us make this a very special survival horror experience in a world where even Capcom have decided to neuter their survival horror franchise in an effort to appeal to the masses with muscle-bound and/or sexy action heroes.
Please help us make a special survival horror experience for you. You won’t be disappointed.