Why I haven’t made a Kickstarter
To be honest I thought the wave of Kickstarter projects for indie games might have subsided by now, but it doesn’t seem like it has (or will soon). I remember first hearing about Kickstarter when we began this project. There were– and still are– a lot of reasons I might want to make one. Well, I say a lot, but I’ll be honest, it boils down to two: money and promotion. Doesn’t that just sound nice to a novice game developer tackling a, frankly, altogether audacious project?
Yet, there are two good reasons, I think, to the contrary. Two reasons why I did not make a Kickstarter, and will not at least until the time comes to pay licenses on Visual Studio (a couple hundred bucks, I may not even bother). I’d like to outline a few.
Reason 1: Flexibility
I think now is as good of a time as ever to tell you small community of blog-followers that two weeks ago I made the final commit on the project “StarsGame” (aka, Gravitas before we had a name), and retired it. Don’t freak out! That same day I created a new project, this time properly named, and made the first commit. This is, as we call it, “starting from scratch”. It was a big move, but it was one that needed to be done. And it was the right decision, as I hope to explain in a later post. Now the endless piling list of bugs is gone, and in these two weeks I have already re-implemented many of the trickiest features of the game without reviving that bug pile. New direction, new organization, new code. But here’s the thing: I would have never done that if I had made a Kickstarter.
Think about it: if my Kickstarter succeeds, I take egregious piles of money and amass a decent following. Lovely? Dream come true? Sure, but what happens on that day, almost a year into development, when I announce, “hey, scrapping that, starting over”. I like to be honest, ethical, and not let people down. I don’t think I could do it. And if I did, I don’t think the project would survive the backlash. Investors complicate things. Even good decisions can trash the project if they waste money that isn’t really quite mine. I’m not in the business of wasting money or the generous efforts of strangers, so for now I’ll stay out of that game and treasure the autonomy that gives me to make some tough decisions which will lead to a better game in the end.
Reason 2: I didn’t need the money
I’m sort of a good case for a developer in need: I’ve still got 2 more years of college to pay for, classes to attend which will take up my time, I don’t have the licenses for the tools I’m using (only thanks to MSNDAA can I use them at all)… sounds like I need some money to get this off the ground, right? I didn’t even have a job for the first 7 months of working on Gravitas. I was losing cash constantly, making none, and spending part-time-job hours creating this game. Now that I do have a job, I have even less time to work on it. In fact, my whole summer so far has been work and Gravitas. I guess there are some benefits to being single, because that’s the only way I’ve managed I believe.
But, despite possibly having a nice story of need I could sell some very generous internet folk, it’s pretty clear to me now (and was fairly well back then) that I don’t really need the money to make this game. I am, as of this post, not in debt. Despite not getting a cent for my efforts, I have spent a year making this game. It’s not because I’m planning on making dividends– I’ll be happy if anyone buys/pirates it when it’s out and enjoys it. But I love this game, I love making it, and it’s exactly what I want to do right now. And, to be honest, I can’t even conceive of how I’d use the money which most Kickstarters seem to aim for. I can’t even think of development costs involved in this game which would total more than $1k. I’m even including soda costs. Perhaps I chose the right type of game to make, but there really hasn’t been anything involved in this process I couldn’t do by myself in my spare time, including assets like textures and sound.
So, that’s about all I have to say about that. This is sort of a roundabout way to announce the re-coding of the game. Trust me, it’s going very well, despite a hiccup today. I have basically implemented each feature in 2-3 days of work, even despite having a job this summer. Compare that to a feature per month like we were basically doing before– it’s going well! At the moment I have geometry pretty settled out, physics is in order, collisions are questionable, inventory is shiny, selecting space objects is prettier than before, and building is coming along nicely. Anyways, like I said, I’ll write another post on that. It’s true this has been a setback, but it’s like a pit stop, sort of. It looks like taking the stop is going to lose you the race, but you come out ten times as fast as when your tires were all flat.
Thanks for reading and following the project. It means a lot.