Interview with a successful Kickstarter: We would change quite a few things if we had to do it again
RPG strategy mix Legends of Eisenwald created a nice buzz on crowd funding website Kickstarter ending with a 171% funding. We talked to the CEO of Aterdux Entertainment, Alexander Dergay, about the campaign, things to improve at Kickstarter and what to expect from the stretched goals that have not been funded.
Legends of Eisenwald has done it! The campaign at Kickstarter ended a few days ago, successfully. The initial funding of 50.000 US dollars was exceeded to a grat extent: 83.500 dollars were gathered by 2.729 backers. Now the small Belarus developer team Aterdux Entertainment is working on Legends of Eisenwald, the promised beta, the promised bonus for backers (a revised version of the predecessor of Eisenwald, Discord Times) and to get some more sleep. We talked again with
Aterdux CEO Alexander Dergay about Kickstarter, the campaign and time zones. Thanks @ Alexander for answering the questions. :-)
PCGH: What was the first thing you do after the Kickstarter countdown has ended?
Alexander (Aterdux): The first thing we did is we slept a lot. Then we rather celebrated the end of the campaign in rather modest way so no big festivities yet :) The real celebration will happen when our game is released and for now we have lots of work that we started doing now with new energy.
PCGH: The kickstarter time zone is very different to your's. How did you manage that situation?
Alexander (Aterdux): Some of us had to switch to working at nights - nothing else worked. As many IT people we like to get to bed late and get up late, so there were no difficulties with switching. For some it worked better - in the last day of the campaign Victor managed to get up at 6AM which he couldn't do for a long time :)
PCGH: How many hours of sleep did you have during the campaign?
Alexander (Aterdux): It's hard to say. Towards the end of campaign it was as little as 3-4, but on other days much less than usual. We communicated with the media, worked on making promotion materials and participated in forum discussions. And as strange as it might seem, quite a bit of time was spent on discussing idea about what to do next.
PCGH: What were your initial expectations on the final funding sum? Did the expectations change during the campaign?
Alexander (Aterdux): When we had an idea to get funding through Kickstarter we were under impression of "Banner Saga" - this is also turn based RPG/strategy. We knew that publicity played an important role but we had no idea how huge this role was. Expectations on the final sum depended on our optimism. After Stoic sent in a lot of supporters we were almost sure that we would get to our funding goal. And that's when we started to think about many different stretch goals. The growth of our finances was very uneven so we felt both a lot of excitement and joy.
PCGH: The first six days showed a very slow start - and then came Stoic. Was failure an realistic option for you during these first days? Or were you confident enough to achieve the funding over the course of the campaign?
Alexander (Aterdux): We wouldn't say our start was too slow. In the first day we got 36 backers and it was without any publicity at all. At Kickstarter there are projects somewhat similar to ours that had just few backers for the entire week. Our main difficulty was absence of information about us in English speaking media. Stoic helped us a lot with their support and we are very grateful for that but if we look at kicktraq statistics we probably would get our financing without it at all. There is another, more valuable moment in the fact that Banner Saga authors said good words about our project: they are real experts in tactical games and if they liked our game, then it can live up even to very high expectations.
PCGH: If you may travel back in time: Is there anything that you would like to change with the campaign like pledge levels, PR strategies, social media strategies?
Alexander (Aterdux): We got a lot of experience during our Kickstarter campaign and we would change quite a few things if we had to do it again. First of all, we would start earlier working with the media, the more people would know about the game the better. Second, we would have given detailed information about our project from the start: detailed description of gameplay, screen shots, video etc. Third, some of us could use some more English knowledge to be able to communicate with backers which plays an important role.
PCGH: Can you explain why other projects at Kickstarter from small developer teams gather so much more money than Eisenwald?
Alexander (Aterdux): The answer to this is simple - publicity in English speaking media. Almost all successful Kickstarter projects are done by veterans of game industry. They are well known and big video game sites write about them a lot and with pleasure. The only known exception that we know about is FTL team. Only at the end we received attention of a great site Rock Paper Shotgun. Thanks to PCGH we received great coverage in Germany for which we are very grateful. But Kickstarter is mostly geared towards US users so the decisive role for a project is determined by how much they are known in their media space.
PCGH: Any chance that goals like Castles Upgrade and Castle Attacks will find a way into the game later?
Alexander (Aterdux): Definitely. We are not going to discard these wonderful ideas. They all will be included in expansion pack. But it the first release of the game they won't be there. And it's not just the funds issue but also a time one: we promised to release our game in Autumn and we don't want to disappoint our backers with delays.
PCGH: Is there anything you would like to say to the German backers of Eisenwald?
Alexander (Aterdux): The same thing as to all backers: huge thank you and see you in medieval times! But we have to say we think highly of German players. We don't have to explain them the meaning of the word Eisenwald. We knew that turned based tactical games are popular in Germany so our game's world partially similar to medieval Germany. And also, it is similar to the world where Faust lived: there are no elements of modern fantasy but there is magic - witches and spirits, metaphysics and alchemy, passion - and death. And we are very happy that German players made a high percent of backers and one of them is going to help us with German localization so the game will be released in three languages simultaneously: in German, English and Russian.
PCGH: Thanks, Alexander, for the interview!
In summary, Legends of Eisenwald incorporates the following features:
- Mix of RPG and strategy, turn-based tactical combat with a simple economic system
- Three "professions": Knight, Mystic, Baroness, each with slightly different story
- Tactical battles without boredom: No movement without attack, very small battlefield, low round figures in the fight, no random strikes, no unit "stacking"
- Game is single player only, at least 30 hours of gameplay, Campaign with side missions
- Many units with skill tree. Each unit can be improved through upgrades and equipment
- Lots of weapons and magic
- Castles may be take to strengthen the army, defense units may be placed inside
- Legends of Eisenwald is DRM-free.
- Gameplay on the world map is similar to King's Bounty, while the story is rather towards Heroes of Might and Magic. The fight resembles in many areas Disciples 1 and 2 (not Disciples 3). Also, upgrading of characters is similar to Discples, but with the accessories, and even war horses.
- The development started over two years ago. They have an alpha version, technical aspects of gameplay, battle AI, etc. are 90 percent finished.
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