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Team Super Comboman’s Evolution of Crowd Sourcing Campaigns [Videos]

Crowd sourcing is an interesting online innovation. Portals such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made it easier and more mainstream to fund innovation without having to be a hardcore enthusiast. People get to be a part of the project and see progress as development occurs “organically”.

Since the conception of our second game we have tried various ways to fund the project through the gauntlet of crowd sourcing. There have been ups and downs when moving forward but there are always lessons learned through each experience. This post briefly goes over our adventures.

Crowd Sourcing Episode 1: Kickstarter
The first time we launched we had just finished our first game and did not even have a prototype. I was working on my Masters degree for game production and management and everyone else was working at Sony or another studio. At the time we were working on some interesting concepts for games and decided to move forward with the idea that is now Super Comboman. When we applied to Kickstart our project we spoke directly to Cindy Au which was THE curator and person really pushing for the games category. She was mad cordial and accepting of us on the platform.

We had no clue how to market ourselves on the platform, there was no template or huge Banner Saga/Doublefine successes. Most of the game section was saturated with board games and figurines, this made it more difficult to stand out and get attention. We spent a few weeks on the pitch. We came up with a game mock up and a script for how we were going to shoot our idea. We checked out equipment from our college..which turned out to be jankyer than an HD Flip cam that we used the next year. We got all kinds of lighting equipment and background garments you can see that we snuck footage of us setting up in the video. The sound was hilarious and the way it was edited has me cracking up to this day.

I made a homemade Struggles Costume for the pitch and a gradually put on more pieces of the outfit through the different segments of the video. I bought a fat suit stomach piece, a Hawaiin shirt, cargo shorts and a fanny pack which housed a stack of oreo cookies. I made the head piece with Styrofoam planet balls from Wallmart that I spray painted. I had no ides that spray painting Styrofoam dissolving the material which actually added a curly hair texture. I put a hanger through all of the balls and made a helmet. It was whack and hurt like a mo-fo and would not recommend mammy made domepieces to anyone.

We launched shortly after in August 2010 and asked our friends and family to help contribute. The campaign was far from successful in a monetary sense. We raised a little over 1k out of the 15k we were asking for. We only had 22 people back the project and it was disheartening. However we bounced back and kept rolling towards finishing up the game. The video made it easier to pitch in contests and opportunities. Late in the year we showed the video off to IGN and were accepted to go to San Francisco for the IGN indie open house in 2011.

Our first Kickstarter project:

Episode 1 Successes:
The interesting thing that busting out the first Kickstarter was that it forced us to nail down a vision we wanted for the game as well as figure out who were the dedicated team members. This helped us with elevator pitches which were given so many times afterwards I lost track.

Crowd Sourcing Episode 2: IndieGoGo
During our stay at the IGN Indie Open House we busted our ass to just focus on the game and received help from an angel (Thank you Alicia) who decided to invest in the company and give us wisdom, support and contacts. During the end of the IOH it was obvious that we would need to find an alternate way of funding the game to stay in the bay area. Mentor and Co-founder Alicia Castillo told us about Indiegogo and challenged us to reach our goal. We would not have to reach a certain goal in order to receive the funds so there was really nothing to lose.

This time we asked for 8k which was much less than the 15k we asked for earlier. We also had gameplay footage and accolades to show from winning the pilot of the Next Game Boss and presenting at GDC. We did better than our last efforts but still did not reach our goal. We had some fans of the game involved with the campaign and did a little better with putting our selves out there but still had difficulties in terms of timing with the team and contributors.

At this point we still did not know how to market a crowd sourcing campaign and did not have a viral pitch that would help us out. The money we received went into purchasing the rewards and allowed us to stay afloat for a little while while gearing up for the next Indie Open House. Unfortunately some of us had to go back to San Diego and pursue other jobs to stay afloat. The struggle still continued.

Super Comboman Indiegogo:

Episode 2 Successes:
We were able to make a shorter video with less footage and more gameplay than our Kickstarter. I also personally figured out how to leverage contacts to get more exposure and minimize the time it took to get the word out using tools such as Mailchimp and Survey Gizmo.

Crowd Sourcing part 3: FTW
For our third “annual” Crowdfunding exercise we decided to beef it up. At this time I had been on 3 panels, showed the game off at multiple events and had a better following along with solid mechanics and near finished features that explained our vision.

For our pitch video we wanted better audio, video and to take a more cinematic approach. We wrote a script of gags, ideas and shenanigans that we ran by some editors before we shot. Having a better idea of what we wanted to do helped us figure out how we were going to edit and present ourselves.

At this point the Kickstarter games category was blowing up and we had a lot of models of what a successful Kickstarter looked like. It was still a challenge to find a formula that fit our project and visibility was even more tricky because of the saturation in this category.

We had some great support from the art community who agreed to help us contribute to a Super Comboman artbook which we are finishing up and very proud of. Some notable fighting game community members also helped us get the word out.

This was our last 2 months at IGN and we needed to get things together. With the help of Christian our awesome intern we filmed a bunch of segments, got a script and timeline organized and began editing. It took us 2 weeks to capture all of the footage we wanted and get the people we needed involved, but it was worth it. We were also blessed to have some help from IGN and the IPL family as far as allowing us to use the space and equipment to get things started. Naomi Kyle and some of the other editors were great and agreed to give us some time. Maxwell McGee from Gamespot who loves the indie movement also gave us some time to strut our thangs and get some feedback.

I am somewhat of a perfectionist so I spent a lot of time getting the timing of the gags just right as well as the music and audio. Shout out to Producer Ro-Rone! We also had our indie peers check out and be in the video for shits and giggles which worked out. When it was all finished we didn’t get everything in there but we did get what we thought was necessary for a successful video.

Before we launched the campaign we thought about how we were going to strategically market our project. We knew a lot more people in the industry now, we were more familiar with the press and had good bearings.

After the launch I felt like one of Pavlov’s dog conditioned to check my phone every time I heard my the email ringtone on my Android. This got out of hand especially when relaxing or intimate situations…Every donation made me feel like Christmas. We felt that it was going to be a runaway success.

“We were sooo wrong” – The girl with the Dragon tattoo – Prometheus…We got great headlines on sites such as SRK and eventually on Rock Paper Shot Gun and our first days totals were great. However towards the middle of the campaign everything dropped and we were seeing very little pledges, people were posting the trends from 3rd party sites that show you what the likely outcome would be. The outcome seemed grim and others were stating their worry. Some of the larger backers rescinded their pledges (this fluctuated a lot in the campaign actually.) I was scrambling to make something happen, posting on Facebook and Tweeting daily. A turn came towards the end when a few large pledges popped in and when we were featured on the IGN’s Daily Fix and had a contest through Prime.

Madcatz also helped support us through by sponsoring us with Sticks that we are modding for people who pledged a certain amount and for contests.

On The final day of the campaign we received crazy amounts of pledges literally up to the last minute. In the end we went a little over and although some of the payments did not go through it was a success and a relief.

Although we finished up the Kickstarter, we still are on the grind, working on the game and getting things in place to finish. There is going to be a lot of hard work involved but we will move forward until the game is nice and crispy for everyone.

Successful Kickstarter Campaign:

Crowd Sourcing Episode 3: Successes:
The main takeaways from this Kickstarter is that we have a game that people want and are looking forward to playing. We missed the sweet spot for over funding the campaign by not showing enough of ourselves and game features that make SCM unique to contributors of the KS community. We were able to show our personalities and that meant a lot. We also interacted with and posted updates often during the process which put us more in tune with contributors.

The overall process was great and we appreciate the lessons we have learned through the process as well as the people we met and who gave their input and support during each one of our campaigns. Our crowd sourcing efforts show our resilience and drive to complete the game no matter the circumstances.

We look forward to releasing Super Comboman and getting it out to all of our contributors.

Word

-ICJ @interabangent

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