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DD: Has the success of your Kickstarter changed the way you pitch and green-light projects internally?
GR: I think it has let people get a glimpse of what Double Fine is like, and helped define our brand, but ultimately we’ve always wanted to be more involved with our community. The Kickstarter has kinda forced us to spend a lot more time on working with our community. It’s also allowed us the freedom to be able to do that -- since we don’t have to worry about a publisher, we’re able to speak about a game really early. It’s been nice to be able to do that, and to see how excited fans get about that stuff. Once we saw how much they loved every bit of information they’ve been getting on games, we really wanted to start doing that more on our other projects as well. We’ve tried to put a lot more effort into being more vocal on our website, and blogs, and Twitter, and Tumblr, and trying to put more things out there for our fans to enjoy. It seems like it’s working.
DD: It seemed like that was especially noticeable during the recent Amnesia Fortnight. A lot of things that would normally be small notes to send to the team seemed to be put up on the public forums.
GR: We’ve always had internal forums for people to throw stuff back and forth on the project, and for Amnesia Fortnight we kinda just moved those to the external forums. People were posting music, and concepts, and everything to the forums as we were going, and fans were definitely eating it up. We were doing eight-hour livestreams, and you would see the same people just sitting there all day, every day, for those two weeks. So I think that there’s a lot of people that love video games, and are interested in the industry, and want to find out more about what a job in games looks like. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a good thing for them to look at, and I feel like people are kinda eating this up because it’s such an intimate, transparent look at a day in a video game studio and what that looks like.
DD: What are some Kickstarter problems that you guys maybe sidestepped that you’d warn other developers about?
GR: Think through your reward structure. Make it something that’ll be appealing to fans but isn’t going to waste your budget. Make sure you have a good margin of how much money is going into the game versus how much is going into the Kickstarter. One of the things that I wish that we had done differently was that we lopped a lot of this content off to only Kickstarter backers.
We have dozens of forum posts and hours and hours of documentary footage that’s exclusive to backers, so they’ve been getting a good idea of what’s been going on with the game, and what development is looking like. Outside of that though, a lot of people are kinda clueless about what’s happened. We see a lot of articles about “What’s going on with Double Fine Adventure? It launched a year ago and we haven’t heard anything about it,” because we promised to keep everything exclusive to backers.
Now, as we’re getting closer to our traditional marketing campaign for the game, we’ll start doing things like teasers and trailers, and being at events, and things like that, so people will start seeing it. But it was a little strange, just because this period of the game came way earlier than people usually hear about a game. Usually you don’t hear about a game until it’s in alpha. We announced our game before it was even an idea, or even had a team behind it. So, figuring out how to navigate those waters and show a game to fans in early stages before they’re used to seeing it has been difficult.