Interview: Dan Letzring

In an effort to better understand what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to Kickstarter campaigns, I decided to begin reaching out to those who have done them (whether they have succeeded or not). Here’s the first interview with Letiman Games’ Dan Letzring.

 

–Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and other hobbies?
– My name is Dan Letzring and I have always been interested in making games but I did not start doing it seriously until around July, 2013 when I happened upon the Game Crafter.  The website for my games is http://www.letimangames.com.  Outside of gaming, I spend most of my time with my daughter and wife (who is pregnant with daughter #2!).

–What is your current favorite tabletop game?
– There are so many to choose from!  I would have to say that we play and love so many and we have different favorites depending on the groups we are playing with but we always come back to Settlers and Pandemic.

–What kind of games do you enjoy working on?
– I am open to working on any type of project but right now I am working on more family oriented gateway games.

–Earlier this year you ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Ph. D. The Game. Can you talk a little about the game itself?
– Well the game is obviously targeted to a niche audience: grad students (although it is actually fun for anyone, they just might not get all of the inside jokes).  It is a card game and players collect enough “Figure Cards”, submit them for review and their publication either gets accepted or rejected (based on a card draw from a REVIEW DECK).  Collect 3 Accepted cards and you win.  But there are all sorts of cards that screw the other players (strong take that mechanism) and there are lab member cards that you play in front of you to help you complete your project and win faster.  I like the mechanism of the random card draw for the review.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat when you or another player are going for their win!

–What do you feel you did right during the campaign?
– One thing I did was I dropped my original goal of 4,400 down to 2,200.  When I funded at 4,800 this basically allowed a few extra stretch goals that we would not have unlocked had the goal been 4,400.  I also communicated with my backers often.  I posted 20 updates in total and messaged every backer when I received a pledge.  This actually created a nice personal interaction with my backers and we were even able to share our experiences in grad school together.  It was nice to have connections like that with the backers.

–What do you feel you could have improved on?
– Where do I begin?  This was my first campaign and I was a Kickstarter newbie, so I made A LOT of mistakes.  I did not have any independent reviews at the time and I think that hurt my campaign a lot.  Since there were no reviews, I also wish that I posted a free PnP so that potential backers could have played it first.  I also overpriced the game.  I was nervous about not getting many backers and wanted to make the most of the backers I did get but I wish that I had less expensive reward levels to encourage people on the fence to take a leap of faith with the game.  Also, I was using the Kickstarter to fund artwork but games that are more polished and have more completed artwork seem to have a great initial eye appeal.  My artwork was originally (self-admittedly) bad and that is why I was trying to fund for updating it, but people may have been more drawn to my game if the artwork was already appealing.

–What was your strategy for connecting with backers and finding new backers? Did you do any paid advertising?
– I posted on a handful of free sites including Boardgamegeek’s crowd funding forum and on crowdfundingforum.com.  All Us Geeks has a great promotion where they post an ad for your kickstarter and all they ask is that you send them a copy of your game in return.  Since Jeff and the rest of the folks at AUG have much deeper connections in the gaming community than I do, I was very appreciate of this opportunity.  Lastly, I posted news announcements with The Game Crafter twice throughout the campaign.  They do this for free as long as you agree to fulfill your Kickstarter rewards with their services.

–What are you working on next?
– My latest game is called Dino Dude Ranch and it is designed to be a light family game that is fun for both gamers and non-gamers.  I am working with an artist now to finish up some images for it and am looking to get it to kickstarter in the first quarter of 2015.  I am also working on a few other smaller family games as well as throwing around the idea of a co-op.  None of them are too far along right now as I am focusing on Dino Dude Ranch and spending time with my family.

Big thanks to Dan for sharing his thoughts!
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