Hey there! We are launching a day early because we get to hear from a great guy, Eduardo Baraf! He has an impressive background in digital games, and now has a Kickstarter campaign going right now for his wonderful little board game, Lift Off! After seeing the obvious signs of extensive preparation, I invited Mr. Baraf to share some insights. He was kind enough to send along this little breakdown of his process from development up through launch. I hope you are excited as I am about what he has to say. Here he goes:
On The Prototype
Like everyone else, I started with pencil prototypes. I’ve actually uploaded a number of the designs to Twitter and the game’s Facebook page. Early on though, I knew I wanted to have a prototype which would last for a long time and be a showcase for what I actually intended the final game to look like. While doing the design work we explored the visual style and once they were both in great shape moved to making the prototypes (there are 3 in existence).
All of the prototypes are hand made. We used cardboard, masonite, wood and a jigsaw. Lots of trial and error and crafts work to get it right. I’ve included some of those steps along the way in my Uber Fan package on the KS.
Playtesting is critical. To start, I played tested early versions by myself. Playing as multiple players, etc. Then I played with my wife, Nichole, and Adam. This was the core group who played multiple games. From there, I had game nights to play the game. This was the meat of the early playtesting.
I set up group to do playing where a) I didn’t play and then b) where they used the instructions on their own to play. Then for a long time it was a game I pulled out with different groups – just took notes each time. Getting ready for the Kickstarter there have been a TON of plays. Also in sending it off to reviewers and friends.
I evaluated a ton of printers by looking them up, checking online resources, asking people for references, etc. Then I sent out my spec for bids from four I believe. Three came back with bids, two of which are actually competitive. I had those two bids as I rolled into the Kickstarter.
Leading up to the Kickstarter
I began my planning and prepping for the Kickstarter roughly 1 month to launch. This was after the lion share of the material was complete for the Kickstarter. This period I really focused on lining up reviews, talking to blogs, reaching out to people, building my following on twitter etc. I would have liked to have started 3 months before!
Advice / Lessons Learned
I found it very hard to cut through all the mountains and mountains of information and advice on how to be successful for Kickstarter. Amazing stuff out there, but it is information overload. I’m not going to do that here!
Be humble, listen, always try to do better, and pay it forward by helping others.
Your key destinations will be Facebook, Twitter, and BGG
You will need a YouTube channel too, but just to get a H2P [how to play] video up.
- Facebook: This acts as your home base for users and your website (you don’t need a website). This is easy and quick to setup.
- Twitter: Start early. Twitter accounts grow slow and steady. Your reach is a reflection of the time on Twitter. To start, the only thing you should be doing on Twitter is helping other people, building trust, and being interesting. Pay attention to good use of hashtags, pics, links, etc.
- BoardGameGeek: Basically a requirement and a snarl to set up. You need to wait for admins to approve and they are picky. Get this set up a month in advance.
Setting up your Kickstarter
Let me save you a lot of time. Go find your favorite Kickstarter, which you thought was most effective. Copy it (layout, content length, information amount, etc). Then take a look at 3 other successful campaigns, figure out the delta, and take one improvement from each. Then pass your preview links around readily and listen to feedback.
Build a small group of 15 super individuals to be your core
One of the best things I did. Early on I recruited friends and strangers to be on my Lift Off! SWAT Team. Only requirement was that they let me tell them what I was doing and what I was thinking. Helped a ton.
Make a Calendar
Use Powerpoint, Keynote, or an actual Staples calendar to chart out every day of your campaign and what is happening. THIS IS HUGE. Fill gaps.
- Consider what you are willing to spend on reviews
- Consider what you are willing to spend on ads
- Get to know blogs and bloggers
- Look at what everyone else is doing.
- Use Backercamp (solid $10 value)
- Be weary of everyone else.
Get to know every single backer that will let you
I’ve written a direct note to all 400+ backers of Lift Off! some respond, some don’t. If they respond I start a dialog.
Front-Load, but still have more
You absolutely want to have a big first 2 days. Your entire campaign rides on it. At the same time, do make sure you have interesting things going on for the duration of the project. If you have nothing happening during slump you’ll get super depressed.
Wow! How great was that?! I gotta tell you, I first saw Mr. Baraf on Twitter, @ebaraf, where he was constantly chatting with designers, sharing other projects, and enticing us all with teasers for his game. When he finally launched the campaign, I was blown away by the professionalism, open communication, and extensive preparation that I saw on every inch of that page. I really appreciate Mr. Baraf taking the time to share some of his knowledge with the rest of us. Please, check out his campaign for Lift Off!, and, more importantly, stop by his website, Facebook, or Twitter and let him know how much YOU appreciate his advice.