Kickstarter Conversations: Ben Pierro

There’s nothing fun about a campaign not working out. But there is perhaps no better learning experience than going through something that doesn’t work. And what’s great about Kickstarter is that falling short can just be one step on the way to funding later on. Today, I talk to Ben Pierro of Argyle Games about his experience on Kickstarter. Thanks, Ben!

 

BG: For those who don’t know, please introduce yourself. How long have you been designing games? What’s your favorite game? What’s the best game you’ve played recently?
BEN: My name is Ben Pierro and I am a graphic designer and artist living in Chicago.  I’ve been designing games as a hobby for a few years but it wasn’t until late last summer that I decided to try my hand at actually publishing them.  I setup a small start-up company to bring local indie designers’ games to a larger audience.
My favorite games lately have been cooperative games.  I’ve always enjoyed dungeon crawlers and Fantasy Flight’s new game Imperial Assault takes that formula and really puts a great layer of polish on it.  Each mission is challenging and I love the on-going campaign aspect.
BG: What was the project you put on Kickstarter? What makes the game awesome?
BEN: The project that just ended on Kickstarter was called Foodtown Throwdown.  It is a casual card game about building a food truck business with a heavy emphasis on humor.  It was designed as a warmup game or a gateway game – something quick and easy to setup to kick off a game night or bring new gamers to the table.
BG: Did you discover anything particularly interesting or surprising in developing the game and investigating manufacturing?
BEN:  I was surprised at what I didn’t know.  Every step of the way you learn something new, whether it’s the reality of shipping to international backers, the costs of getting a product produced overseas, how to plan for unexpected delays like labor disputes at shipping yards, etc.
BG: What do you feel is the best thing you did during your Kickstarter campaign?
BEN: Reaching out not just to board gaming media, but to food bloggers and food trucks as well.  Since the game is designed to be attractive to new gamers or people who would not consider themselves gamers, reaching out to non-game related media was a big help
BG: What mistakes did you make in the campaign that you won’t make again?
BEN: We didn’t have enough media coverage at launch.  The reviews, interviews, podcasts, and most of the social media following came during the campaign.  Since crowdfunding is a game of momentum, those things really needed to be in place before launch to ensure a strong start.  Having a strong start can give you that necessary momentum to stay strong throughout the campaign.
BG: What is your plan for the game now?
BEN: The game will relaunch in around 8-12 weeks, once more reviews and media start coming in.  This will also give me enough time to explore better options for manufacturing and fulfillment and really make sure that I can get the product out on time and on budget.
BG: Any advice for others who are thinking of doing their own project on Kickstarter?
BEN: Don’t give up, even if you have a weak start.  Keep at it and use the opportunity to learn as much as you can about what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve.  You will learn valuable lessons that you can take with you into the future, and you can’t put a price on that.  Good luck!
Big thanks to Ben. Would you like to have a conversation about Kickstarter? Let me know at brikenbrakgames@gmail.com

Kickstarter Conversations: Dan Letzring

Whether I meant to or not, this blog has become very focused on Kickstarter. So why not embrace that! Along with the Road to Kickstarter entries, I will be putting together Kickstarter-centric interviews. First up is Dan Letzring from Letiman Games.

 

BG: For those who don’t know, what is your background? How long have you been designing games?

DAN: I live in Rochester, NY with my wife and daughters.  I have been designing games for a few years but only really got into it seriously about 2 years ago when I successfully funded my first game on kickstarter, Ph. D. The Game.  These past few years have been an amazing learning process and I look forward working hard to develop my skills in both game design and publishing more each and every day.
BG: What are you currently working on? Give us a quick breakdown of the game
DAN: Dino Dude Ranch is a Set Collection/Resource Management game designed for Ages 8+.  My goal in mind was a fun family game that was a 20-30 minute casual game night filler. The main idea of the game is that players roll dice to collect resources (meat, fish, and leaves) that are in turn used to capture dinosaurs to place on their ranches.  Cards can be purchased as well using any combination of two resources and they make purchasing easier or add a light take that mechanism to attack other players.  All players have hidden bonuses that are revealed in the end in order to gain additional scoring and whoever has the most points/most valuable ranch wins!
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BG: What’s the biggest hook to the game? The coolest thing about it?
DAN: Definitely that it is a great family game.  Adults love it, kids of all ages love it, it’s been a hit with most demographics.  It’s dinosaurs eating leaves, fish, and meat, it’s dice rolling, the cards add a lot of character,  What’s not to love?  Plus, the artwork is pretty fantastic too!
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BG: What’s the game that is closest to this one? So that fans of that game will know they’ll love this one too.
DAN: It’s got some similarities to a handful of games.  It has some similarities to Power Grid but is really nothing like it (if that makes sense).  So throw Power Grid into a melting pot with some casual card games with light take that and secret bonuses, mix with some Gamewright and you have Dino Dude Ranch.
BG: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had in creating this game?
DAN: Deciding how to balance it such that it is a kids game that adults enjoy.  I wanted enough appeal that adults and hardcore gamers would like it, but I did not want it to lose its identity as a light casual family game.  Once I made a decision to how I envisioned the end product, I think I was able to find a delicate balance that makes it appealing for all ages and player-types.
BG: What was the best moment you’ve had in developing or testing this game? 
DAN: When I ran into one of my playtesters on Christmas eve and he told me his 7 year old son had put Dino Dude Ranch on his Christmas list.  That was such a nice feeling.
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BG: Any advice for others who want to make their own game?
DAN: Spend the time to really talk to people who have done it.  Do not be afraid to share your idea, no one is going to steal it.  And take your time with it, don’t just rush it out as fast as possible because you are exited about it. Playtest and refine it until you are sick of it, and then do it some more.
BG: Why Kickstarter? What is the appeal for you?
DAN: Honestly, without it I will not be able to produce this game.  I do not have the funds to front the costs of purchasing things like the remainder of the artwork needed or the initial print run needed to use a large scale manufacturer.  Aside from that though, I have become really drawn into the kickstarter community.  In the last year I have backed about 40 projects and I have really been excited by the idea of a community of people coming together to discuss a project, throw ideas around, and work towards funding it and making a dream a reality.  It is really a great experience.
Thanks Dan! Would you like to have a conversation about Kickstarter? Let me know at brikenbrakgames@gmail.com