Shenanigans: The Musical is slated to launch on April 11th.
When I started doing this stuff I figured that with experience it would all become old hat. Launches would get less exciting but also less scary. It turns out that this isn’t remotely true, I’m nervous as hell that things aren’t going to go well and excited at what we might achieve. I thought that I might use today’s post to go over my pre-launch checklist, as a means to share ideas with other creators and to invite my readers to point out the absolutely fatal thing that I’ve forgotten to do.
1) Have a game.
The difference between a scam launch and a real launch is actually having a game. Soemthing well tested that’s getting good playtester responses. Sure pretty much everything is going to come down to persuading people, which is mostly style, but all of the flash in the world is wasted if there’s not something substantial to back it up.
If you’ve been following the TPO projects blog you’ve seen months of agonising over how all of the parts of the game fit together. You can see the cards here. It’s definitely real. Check!
2) Have a page.
It’s a pretty sorry Kickstarter launch that doesn’t have a page. Fortunately we do: It’s right here!
Of course above and beyond having a page, it’s important to have a good page. There are a LOT of elements that go into that, I couldn’t hope to cover it. We want images of the final thing, infographics for people who don’t read, text for people who don’t graphic and videos for people who do neither. We need to say all of the things that need saying and show off all of the great things about this project: Fun! Quick! Cheap! Good for musicians! Good to introduce people to the genre! Supports a charity! Fun yet quirky art style!
Ideally all of this will fit into a video of 10 seconds or less and no more than 30 words.
Like game design itself, there are a lot of trade offs that go into making a page. And like game design, you can’t just look at it and pick the objectively best one – you need to solicit feedback and improve based on it. Our page is still going through this process – if you look closely you might spot one graphic that’s been suggested as an addition but does not yet have a professional touch.
It’s there. But it’s still improving. Check(ish).
3) Have an audience
The sad fact is that you could create the most amazing game possible and have a Kickstarter page that shows it off perfectly, but still not get to make the game. A lot of people will use “How many people are already backing this?” as their metric for whether it’s worth being involved in. That means having a bunch of people ready to go on day one, who’ve already heard of the game and think well of it.
Erm. Hi! *waves*
This blog is something of a drop in the ocean in that respect though. My list of people who said “Email me whenever you’re making a game” is approaching a thousand strong these days. There’s also the TPO’s existing audience and their musicians too. I’m reliably told that they’re gearing up to get this thing going.
I don’t do very well at organising these things on social media though. It’s meant to be a huge outlet but somehow – and this might seem odd for someone who writes so much here – I never really feel like I’ve got anything to say.
That weak point aside, we’ve got a lot of interested people. So check!
4) Third party shenanigans
You know who thinks something is great: The person who put lots of effort into that something.
Everyone else knows that too. So it’s super important to make sure that you get a ‘reality check’ from a bunch of smart people. If they’re also articulate this is a double bonus because they’ll communicate the (hopefully) good points of the thing and help with that whole audience building experience.
Plenty of reviewers have got their hands on the Shenanigans prototypes and I’m chewing through my nails waiting to hear their thoughts. It doesn’t matter how well something does in playtesting, I’m always nervous about what the experts are going to say once they’re in a position to hand down their judgement. I don’t imagine I’ll see most of it until a couple of days before launch so there’s really nothing to do here but wait and hope.
My bit’s a check but that doesn’t mean it’s really good to go yet.
Sometimes people are caught off guard by their own success. Supposing there is a successful launch, there’ll be lots to do in order to keep the campaign running!
It’s good to have some posts and updates prepared in advance. It’s also super important to have the budget, manufacturing and shipping plan nailed down so that backers who ask tricksy questions can get straight answers. Contacting people who like to talk about live Kickstarters in advance via a spreadsheet of a hundredish places to send press releases to are also good tools to have to hand.
*looks around and piles of e-notes* Check.
6) That thing that I forgot.
There is always at least one of these. Unfortunately you never know what it is until it’s too late.
Still – perhaps this time – launch number four – will be the first time that nothing catches me by surprise on day one.
What do you think gentle reader? While I still have a couple of weeks, what’s the best direction for the last minute flail?