Today guest blogger Charlie Ecenbarger has a special interview with Josh Bricker of the Flux Capacity! NOTE: This interview took place two weeks ago before Give it to the King had funded on Kickstarter.
I’m a big fan of creative people doing creative things. I like to see dreams turn into reality. I like to see people’s creative work being recognized, enjoyed, and in the case of our passion – played. Kickstarter has revolutionized the way we support creative projects; however, the shadow side of that is when good projects fall short of their goals. One of the projects that caught my attention awhile back was Give it to the King! By The Flux Capacity. The campaign seemed solid enough to me even if the funding goal was a bit on the higher side. They had videos, reviews, and a game with interesting mechanics – what could go wrong?
Not enough people backed it, that’s what went wrong.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Josh Bricker, CEO of The Flux Capacity about the failed Give it to the King! Campaign and its current, much more successful, relaunch.
Josh: Hi Charlie,
My name is Josh Bricker, I am the CEO of The Flux Capacity. We are a startup tabletop game publishing company based out of Toronto, Ontario Canada. The Flux Capacity (TFC) was started with the intention of being a game publisher that is accessible to designers that would normally not have a voice to get their games out there or are simply tired of the traditional ‘pitch’ that they must make to large publishers. We have a very casual approach to the business in terms of how we deal with our vendors, designers, manufacturers, which allows us a lot of versatility when it comes to getting a game from a concept to (hopefully) everyone’s gaming table.
I met Francois Valentyne at a local designer night at Snakes and Lattes Boardgaming Cafe in Toronto where I was there to simply be a play-tester and see what the process was all about and essentially learn how to give proper feedback to a game designer. After a play-test of one of his other games (which is nearing the end of its development and sure to be a release of ours in the near future) I was pretty convinced that he would be a great partner to work with in order to get TFC off the ground. He has vast experience in the gaming industry and is already a published designer (Ticket To Ride Legendary Asia – Days of Wonder & Chaos – Z-Man) which really helped me gain the perspective that I needed in order to take the first step forward in publishing a game.
The decision to go to Kickstarter was one that we (Francois) and I discussed for a great deal of time to establish whether it was the correct medium to get the funding to bring Give It to the King! to market. We decided to put a campaign together, got the page ready and set everything up to what we thought would really illustrate the game the best we could as if we were showcasing a brand new BWM model at a car show. The campaign started off incredibly slow for a number of reasons including us being an unknown publisher, a relatively high funding goal and a price point per copy of the game that was well above what the average Kickstarter backer is comfortable spending….especially with a relatively unknown project creator.
We have corrected these errors in the current campaign and when I’m writing this we are currently over 60% funded after 4 days of being live.
Josh: Great question. Pulling the campaign was actually the easiest part of cancelling the first time around. The week leading up to that moment was the hardest part. What most people that have never run a campaign (including us before that moment of pressing “Launch” the first time around) is that designing, running, supporting and all the footwork that goes along with those elements are MASSIVE to say the least. So when you are slugging away trying to get your project funded and there is no movement, no chatter, no excitement about the product you sit there and wonder …. WHY? and WHAT DID I DO ALL THAT PAGE PREPARATION WORK FOR? I mean we even went to the extent to make sure ALL the artwork was complete! (not all but most projects are using sample art at the time of the campaign). Its humbling and also a huge learning experience. Turns out I knew a fraction of what I NEEDED to know about Kickstarter. Essentially to answer the question, we knew that because of the lack of momentum off the first few days that it wasn’t going to fund so instead of letting it fester there for the whole time we would pull the plug, apologize to everyone who backed us and promise that we would return shortly with a much better campaign! We also had a bit of a better idea of a more efficient costing structure sorted out before the moment we pulled the plug.
Charlie: As someone who backed the original campaign and the current (I really think this game looks like a ton of fun, haha) – how did the backers influence your decision to relaunch, if at all? And was there any backlash for deciding to relaunch?
Josh: First of all… a huge thanks to you for backing us in Round #1 and returning to be a supporter for Round #2!
A lot of the backers we had in the first campaign were not very vocal about the project to be honest. So there wasn’t too much backlash. I think we didn’t have enough backers for there really to be much backlash and it’s not like we were really making anyone upset, or insulting them by trying to sell them something that wasn’t worth the backing price (those figurines are actually very expensive to produce) so we were asking for exactly what we needed to get the game made to the best of our knowledge. We were also trying to build a product that (even after receiving industry advice) was waaaaaaay too expensive to be marketable. So no backlash and overall people were actually very positive in their feedback and were excited to see what we could return with.
Charlie: The overall funding goal is much lower than the original campaign, which is more attractive to potential backers – what marketing strategies did you have to adjust?
Josh: Ok, well… on the marketing side the short answer is… we did a LOT more pre-launch work within the social media communities, our friends, families and gaming groups and really let them see the campaign well in advance to get feedback before the launch button was pressed. The other things was that in the first campaign we launched with only one preview write-up (because we had another handful in the works) but due to conflicts in schedules some of those reviews weren’t ready for the first round which probably hurt our momentum with the crowds that didn’t know of us or those who weren’t familiar with Francois previous work. So this time around we had a few complete and of course lined up a few more and I’m still working on having more reviews done as we speak!… any reviewers out there reading this… drop me a line, eh?
Charlie: If I recall correctly, in the original campaign a wooden board and sculpted resin messengers was how the game was going to ship. It’s probably clear now that they should have been stretch goals from the beginning. Was it hard to separate ideas that would make the game “look and feel awesome!” and ideas that are financially and pragmatically feasible?
Josh: The wooden board was a pledge level ($140, if I recall) and they are still presented that way… I’m not sure they appeal to everyone but we actually have had 10 backers who have already pledged that level on the new campaign which is very cool because, the boards are very cool
The sculpted resin figurines was one of the major reasons that we had to price so high, for sure. So we took a step back and as you said, turned them into a stretch goal. They are amazing, and add a great feel to the game but if it was economically feasible to put high quality resin figurines in board games you would see them in games like Agricola, Carcassonne, Tzolk’in and those games still have great parts but they are wood or cardboard or what have you simply because no one would make any money putting resin figurines in every box as the market won’t bear the retail prices for that level of production quality en mass.
As for now… we want our Kickstarter backers to have access to those figurines so the will be included with all copies bought by backers if we hit $13,500.
Charlie: The relaunch of the campaign has been wildly successful and based on all the stats available to us through services like Kicktraq, it is very likely that Give it to the King! is going to fund. If you had to give all the credit to one change you made in the campaign, what would you attribute that to?
Josh: Awesome People. – the key to any crowdfunding are the crowds, the people who have faith that your product will be great and also who have faith that you will deliver it to them. We wouldn’t be doing this if we couldn’t make a great product and deliver it to the people who so graciously backed the game and we couldn’t bring the game to them without their commitment to the campaign. So it’s a partnership with each and every backer where you make an agreement that you will use their pledge money for what it was intended! The other important thing is the continuous help from all the supporters in sharing the project links, posting on blogs and bulletin boards and of course encouraging others to participate in the campaign, who aren’t already.
Charlie: Any advice for people considering Kickstarter to launch their project?
Josh: Don’t Rush – You may think your time is limited, but it’s better to measure twice and cut once Have 90% prepared, allow for 50% of that not too be enough and the remaining 10% to be a wildcard of reactions that you don’t expect!
Charlie: Where can find your games, upcoming projects, booths, and all that good promotional stuff? Publisher information if you’re accepting submissions and stuff like that would be good here too.
We are actively taking submissions for games of all kinds which can simply be emailed to myself for review or come onto Facebook for a chat
Charlie Ecenbarger is one half of the design team known as sizzlemoth. Alongside Matt Dickens, the two are currently working on their first release called Double Up, a dice and card game geared towards family game nights. Charlie has BS in visual communication and is currently Master’s degree candidate in Ball State University’s Digital Storytelling program when he is not using his brain power to work on tabletop games. He can be found tweeting away on the twitter machine @sizzlemoth or updating the sizzlemoth design diaries on their tumblr.