Monday, October 28, 2013

Kickstarter Rant #2: The Long Drive

Being a Kickstarter funder myself, I've been through the same turmoil and gripes as others when projects fall through the cracks - so much so that I've voiced my opinion on it - but I feel like there's another thing worth noting. The long drive.

What Do You Mean?

There are, predominantly, two types of board game Kickstarter projects - ones that request for funding to bring their creation to life, and ones that need it purely to produce. The former brings you along for the ride, while the latter picks you up near its destination. Sometimes, if the trip is exciting enough, you'll want to be there every step of the way, provided you won't get bored of the sights. Other times, you just want to get from point A to point B in a hurry.

The problem that most KS projects have with the former is that they're like the parent in the trip - mostly focused on driving, and talking very little to you. Few updates and no assurance causes feelings of neglect and regret among funders, causing both parties to feel frustrated at the end (if they ever reach it).

On the other hand, if the creators have the game near its life cycle's end, but just need the funds to get it out to the public, the return is more assured, more guaranteed. Funders get to look forward to the end product, without having to go through the long trip.

We've Been on the Road for So Long...

The problem is, going to a new place is not so straight forward. People get lost, ask for directions, veer off the main route, and sometimes just plain break down. Games lose footing, change rules along the way. Delays suddenly appear, which surprises the creators just as badly as the funders. Or worse...they left you stranded in the middle of nowhere, driving off with your luggage.

As you're left there a year later, full of questions and rage, you begin to question your initial excitement for the board game. How you thought the concept was novel, how the theme leapt at you from the screen, how their funding request seemed reasonable in the beginning. And then it hits you - it was exciting...A YEAR AGO.

Funder's Remorse

I've backed about 18 projects so far myself, and I've had my share of disappointments - enough to write a second rant about them. But probably the one project I'm most frustrated about is "Airborne in your Pocket" project. One of my earlier ones I funded had ended funding over a year ago, and overdue from its release by 7 months so far. Not only have its backers adamantly demanded their money back, but it also has quite a bit of controversy. Nevertheless, the creators still insists, despite its numerous delays and excuses, that the game is still progressing, albeit slowly.

I've already come to terms where my money has gone, and am quite indifferent at the creator's current state of affairs. But from time to time, I have to remind myself "why?" Then it sparks. The modular map, the possible replay scenarios, the different items, the danger of enemies at every turn, the fast gameplay. And I really do still have a fondness for the game - I even print-and-played it.

At that time, this game already felt real to me. I knew it would be perfect for me. And they were the same people that brought D-Day Dice (which, on the other spectrum, ended remarkably well AND was well-received), so I backed with some sense of confidence. Now? I'm left on the curb, walking slowly back home...abandoned and left with little hope and idle memories. From time to time, I think of this as I browse KS projects now, and fund with a steadier hand. It has made me wiser, and with less regret.

Plan Ahead

This not only pertains to the creators, but to the backers as well. If the board game you're backing is not fully completed, plan for the long drive accordingly. Realize that you will experience delays, accept that there will be detours in the road ahead. Understand that it will be a while before you reach your destination, so don't think about it every second. 

But most importantly of all, don't loose what you felt when you first saw the product. It's that same feeling the creator felt when he made his board game, and it's that same feeling that he wants to share with others. Projects always have the potential to go south, to suffer through delays and lack of updates (which has unfortunately become the norm as of late). But the moment you realize your feelings for the project have gone is the moment you gave up on the product. A product that has yet to arrive.
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