I’m happy to announce that Tales From The Under-Realm: Hazel is now officially out! You can get it from here: https://winter-wolves.itch.io/hazel
As usual, you’ll be able to redeem Steam keys from itchio once the game is out on Steam, very likely early next month. And now some thoughts about my KS experience.
As you probably know, Hazel was my first Kickstarted game. Before I never did it for two simple reasons: until 2 years ago (I think?) it wasn’t available at all in Italy. So that was already a major issue. And second, because I was scared to not met the goal or fall in the trap of overpromising stuff.
Overall it went pretty well. Here are some thoughts/considerations that might be helpful for people thinking about doing one. Bear in mind that I’m no expert though!
About the goal / stretch goals
I had in mind almost all the stretch goals from the first drafts of my KS. We didn’t reach them all but I expected that, it’s always better to have more goals than you think you’ll need.
Regarding the goal / funding target, I kept mine really low, mainly because was my first time and I had no clue how it could go. I think in general the goal should match the kind of game. You can’t do a KS for a complex VN/RPG and aks $5000 since people are going to wonder how you can actually produce anything good with that amount!
In my case, I had already some stuff done so I didn’t need the full funding of the game. This is also another possibility, asking for funding to finish a game you have already started (like you could have a draft of the story, sketches, etc already done). I think I’ll do this again, I’d feel less anxious this way, but that’s just my personal view, nothing wrong with asking the full funding.
Regarding the project size, Hazel was intended from the start to be a smaller yuri-only visual novel set in my world of Aravorn. So it had a smaller market compared to my usual RPGs which have all kind of romances + gameplay (even if it really seems that yuri is the bigger part of my fans).
In the end, thanks to the stretch goals the game became bigger than originally planned, around 70k words and with 15 CGs, full OST+theme song so definitely can’t be considered small by everyone’s standard (maybe by my standard yes!).
However I think as first KS was a much better idea to pick a small project. If I did a KS for a bigger game, there was the risk of going into feature-creep, and also on missing deadlines. I am not sure if people really care a lot or not (I’ve seen KS late by YEARS!) but by how I am made, if I say a game is ready before a certain date, I want to keep my word. Not even one month later. This is subjective of course, but if possible I’ll always try to met every single KS deadline for all my future projects.
This is always a major point. Prepare to get spammed by “services”, which will be completely useless. I spoke with many other devs who did KS before and they all confirmed that if you get a spam message from someone claiming “they can do KS marketing, increasing goals bla bla” have no doubts: it’s a bullshit 😀
At the end of the KS, you see a nice pie-chart and where the pledges comes from. It was particularly interesting for me to see that over 50% of pledges came from KS website itself, meaning that’s money I’d normally not see (not coming from my usual fans, but just by random people who stumble in my project while visiting KS).
I was also very surprised to see how little impact social media had. Think that Twitter only accounted for 5% of total pledges. Facebook was even worse, close to 1%. And I spammed Twitter and Facebook every day (Twitter in particular).
Now it might also be because I have very little followers, someone with 10-20k followers could have more luck. But still, for me was almost irrelevant, and definitely not matching the efforts I put. A good chunk of pledges came from my mailing list, but those were fans so I kind of expected it (thank you by the way!).
Would do it again? Yes, absolutely, I am already planning another one right now. Would I do a KS for a bigger game? I am not sure. Beside the issues listed above, and the fact that I’m still burned out, I don’t like to get a big amount of money upfront to make a game. This world is full of risks, and I definitely don’t want to get $25k (assuming it was possible) and then have a constant worry to finish this big epic RPG I got the money for. No thanks.
Once again are personal preferences: but for now I think I’ll stick to using KS for smaller projects, rather than big ones. Or for the big games, only after I have already developed a good part to finish them (like Curse Of Mantras, which will talk about in next month’s post).
Now excuse me, I’m going to finish planning this new slice of life / comedy yuri dating sim for the next KS!