Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Crowdfunding Pine

Ellie here and this week I wanted to talk about crowdfunding. Now, being a game developer, I’m no stranger to the crowdfunding concept. I believe most of you readers will be the same, but for the sake of those other few, allow me to summarise.

The way projects are funded normally is through some sort of investment. Either through bootstrapping cash together, which is what we at late panda have done for Skorian Tales, or through investors. These are usually rich people who believe your project will turn a profit so they invest some of their money to get the project to completion in return for, well, more money. This is a very rudimentary version of what usually happens. With crowdfunding, the investment comes from hundreds to thousands of individuals who want to see the project completed. This spreads the cost out so the investment per person is low while the rewards can be great. As with any investment, the project can fail to deliver and thus the investor loses their investment. This is important to keep in mind whenever you decide to do something like this.

I’ve had some experiences backing up crowdfunded projects in the past and I recently invested in another game called Pine that I’d like to talk about during this post.

So here we go.

The First

The first project I backed was a small game by an individual Edinburgh developer Kenneth Ward from Incandescent Games. Kenneth was only asking for £5,000 total and I believe I paid about £5 of that to get a digital copy of the game back in 2013. The game has officially been released to steam this February after going through alpha, beta and greenlight. It might have taken a few years to get the final release but you’ve got to remember that Kenneth was working along on this project.

It’s a game about building robots and being able to program the circuitry of those robots to complete challenges. It’s pretty impressive. I was interested in the game but at the time didn’t know much about crowdfunding so £5 seemed like a safe bet. Thanks to Kenneth’s tireless work, this eventually paid off for me but I’m guessing the £5,892 wasn’t actually enough to complete the game. This is something you should also take into consideration when crowdfunding. Make sure the funding amount is enough for the project.

The Worst

The Stomping Land. Oh my, what a mess.

If you don’t know The Stomping Land’s Kickstarter campaign garnered a lot of hype. The campaign trailer looked promising and a lot of people wanted the game that was promised. This is evident due to the fact that the amount asked for was $20,000 while it ended up receiving $114,060. Over 5 times the asking amount! From over 4,400 individual investors!

The game was released to steam greenlight and, while being an interesting and somewhat fun experience, it was not at all near the campaign promises. This was understandable as the game was still being developed. We waited for updates but no updates came. Then the developer went silent. Then people started to get angry, demanding refunds. The game was eventually removed from Steam and those thousands of investors, including myself and Stephen, were left with nothing.

A cautionary tale for all would-be investors, this is one unfortunate scenario demonstrating what can, and in fact did go wrong.

Now, I’m not at all sure what happened from the point of view from the developer as he decided to not engage with his audience but I’m guessing there was just a lack of experience.

Looking back at the page now I see a lonesome Alex Fundora proclaiming that he could finish the game by himself on a budget of $20,000. With additional funding, he’d be able to hire an artist to make the island larger. He may have worked on large titles such as Skyrim but those large, open world role-playing games require hundreds of people, millions of dollars and take years to develop.


The Most Recent

Pine is a game currently being developed by Twirlbound Games and is actually the reason I wanted to write this post. I recently came across this campaign on Twitter and thought I’d check it out.

From the looks of things so far, this campaign is ticking all the right boxes for a successful game. Promotional materials such as pitch videos usually show highly scripted/edit versions of gameplay to generate hype for the game. This looks to be true for Pine as well but the important thing to note here is that, like Logicbots, there’s a playable demo of Pine out right now. You can see people playing the game and you can judge for yourself if it’s worth backing at this point.

Twirlbound is an award winning team of 6 developers who have already previously released the game With the Wind for iOS. This shows that they have a track record of finishing games their games, unlike Alex Fundora. Twirlbound seems to have a small but well rounded and dedicated team made up of everything from animators to artists to programmers.

Based on the information they’ve given in their campaign, the asking amount looks like it’s close the amount they’d actually need to finish the game within in a year or so. Looking at the amount of progress they can make within 13 weeks also gives me high hopes for this game.

Which is why I’m writing this post. I’ve backed them and if you like what you’ve seen I’d ask that you help them out. I want to see this game succeed.

You can check out the Pine Kickstarter page here and if you like what you see you should consider investing in them.

This is not a paid promotion btw. This is just my own opinions and thoughts surrounding Crowdfunding from an individual investment point of view.

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Ellie xx

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