Monday, December 2

Three Times!

I’ve seen Paul three times in two weeks! Two weeks ago I spent the day in York playtesting FlickFleet scenarios with him; then last Monday I dropped in at a moment’s notice after my train travel to Manchester for work was heavily disrupted leaving me with some time to kill in York; and finally my family visited his this weekend as a pre-Christmas celebration. 

It’s been great to see more of him - we used to game together two or three times a week at one point and now I only see him a few times a year.

We’ve spent the last couple of visits talking manufacturing and planning for the second Kickstarter fulfilment. The focus of last week was finishing off the print and play files and sharing them with P&P reward backers ahead of Saturday’s deadline. The trip to York meant the deadline was actually Friday lunchtime - we left Friday evening and then we’re busy all day Saturday. I managed it though - so it was all good and slightly less last minute than last time!

With the P&P rewards done the next focus is on placing orders for the games’ materials.  First up is the boxes, then the asteroid acrylic, printing, wooden bits, other acrylic and finally dice. I’ve a decent chunk of work to do before placing the two acrylic orders and a little before the others. Better crack on!

Monday, November 25

Pressing Deadlines!

We hit all of our deadlines on our first Kickstarter, fulfilling pledges on time in the worst case and up to four months early in the best and I’d like to repeat that this time.

Last time round the Print and Play rewards were the tightest (I was sending emails with the files at 9:30 on New Year’s Eve!). This time around it’s the P&P rewards again that are proving to be the most challenging.

When setting the deadlines I hadn’t banked on running a pledge manager (it finishes next weekend - last chance for late backers to get the Kickstarter discounts and subsidised shipping!), and choosing a platform and setting that up took over a week (of the four I’ve got between the end of the Kickstarter and the end of this month) so things are pretty tight.

There's less than a week left of the Pledge Manager!

I’ve tweaked the base game files and they are ready to go, so I’m now working on the cutting files, instructions and rules. I did some in my lunch breaks last week and I’ve got a night in a hotel tonight to work on them too so I should be ok. But it’s cutting it fine!

Thursday, November 21

Design and Play

With the pledge manager live, and generating a very surprising (to me and Paul at least!) number of upgrades/add-ons, I’ve been able to focus this week on the graphic design for the expansion. In the run up to the Kickstarter I didn’t want to invest too heavily in it because I didn’t know which stretch goals we’d unlock. With that information sorted I’m now in a position to lay out the rulebook (and the ship dashboards - something else I’d deferred to focus on the Kickstarter). Last week I spent my lunch breaks on the dashboards and this week I've finished them off and started on the rulebook. We've also made a couple of tweaks to the base game rulebook to make things easier to understand and adjusted the points value of the fighters slightly (from 5->6 points).

The other thing we needed for the expansion rulebook was a bunch more scenarios. Again, the exact selection of scenarios relied on which stretch goals we unlocked - we’ve a limited amount of space in the rulebook, so we wanted to get a nice spread of scenarios that covered all the unlocked stretch goals.

On Saturday I went down to York (where Paul lives) and we spent six hours thoroughly testing the scenarios we’d chosen and confirming the points values for the new ships. I also got two hours on trains to work on the dashboards too!

Testing a scenario with the mines

This week will be all about graphic design again so I can get everything we need in place for on-time delivery of the Print and Play files (due by the end of this month).

After that it will be back to crafting physical rewards and ordering the stuff we need from manufacturers to do that. The Kickstarter funds have finally arrived, so it's all systems go!

Monday, November 11

FlickFleet Pledge Manager Live!

This week has mostly been about refreshing manufacturing quotes, setting up a pledge manager and getting on top of all things I should have done last weekend when my eye injury stopped me doing almost everything.

The manufacturing quotes are coming along nicely, and with a bit of jiggery-pokery around laying out the ships on larger acrylic sheets to reduce wastage per game and merging orders for expansion and base game to get economies of scale we’ve been able to get the price down to the point where we can include the Civilian Ships expansion (which everyone wanted but we didn’t unlock during the campaign) included in the expansion along with the Objectives.

Included for free!

The pledge manager is now live on Gamefound for late pledges/failed payments and the add-on. We'll be inviting all the Kickstarter backers to complete it in the next few days, once we've tested it out thoroughly. It will run until the end of November.

Sunday, November 3

We Did It!

I’ve not had a chance to prepare a proper Kickstarter debrief post so here’s a quick and dirty ‘it’s done’ post for the moment.

Funded! In 3.5 days as opposed to with 4 hours to spare!

We did it! We ended up 188% funded (£13,162 before payment errors) with 304 backers.

We had 85 backers of our first campaign return to get the expansion (that’s pretty much one third!) which is amazing. I’m amazed and delighted that so many people loved FlickFleet enough to want to get more.

And another 220-ish new supporters. I’m slightly disappointed that with ten times the advertising spend we didn’t get more people than last time but I think that it’s at least in part due to the video being too long and too serious. Lesson to learn there.

Even with funding really quickly (3.5 days) the Kickstarter process was still uncomfortable. The app on my phone notified me every time we got a new backer, but not cancellations (we had a lot again) or adjustments (positive or negative), so I was constantly checking to see where we were. Cancellations and negative adjustments still felt awful, like we’d failed in some way, despite the few people who explained it saying it was nothing we were doing wrong, just financial pressure.

Again I was completely thrown by the pledge levels people chose. Last time I was expecting a few deluxes and mostly standard but it was pretty much 50-50. This time (learning from that) I expected a 50-50 split with maybe a third of new backers wanting the expansion. This time it was 2/3rds deluxe and 85% of new backers opted for the game and the expansion.

And then the campaign ended with a (literal) whimper. On Wednesday afternoon I managed to get a paper cut on my eyeball. How you ask? My own ineptitude. Still it was very sore Wednesday evening so the stuff I had hoped to do (video editing) fell by the wayside. Thursday morning it seemed ok, so I went to work but as the day wore on it got worse and worse and I had to leave early. Thursday night we were into the last 48 hours and I dosed myself with painkillers and went to bed at 8:30. Friday morning it was agony, so I went to A&E and got prescribed all of the eye ointments. I spent most of Friday in a dark room with my eyes shut. Saturday morning was agony again so I got my hands on some codeine which did the trick, enough to do the bare minimum at campaign end.

Thankfully it’s doing much better now, my vision is returning (still a bit blurry at long range) and the pain is pretty much gone. Still I can’t help but think we could have had a better finish if I had been more on the ball.

Monday, October 28

Final Stretch

We’ve less than a week from the end of the FlickFleet campaign now and I’ve been spending the week tweaking components, the Kickstarter page and our Facebook and BGG ads ahead of a big push in the final 48 hours.

One of the things I struggle with is advertising, it’s not something I have any formal training in and sales and marketing don’t come naturally to me, so it’s been difficult. I’m tracking where our pledges come from and so far Facebook ads are doing ok (we’ve had 6 backers for £205 vs. a spend of £181, but we’ve also had three people buy the game from our website via that route too). Of course that’s only counting people who clicked on the ad and immediately backed, if they did any research or searched KS for the project later I have no way of tracking that.

One of our ads

Our BGG ads had 73,700 impressions early in the campaign and only led to 130 clicks to the KS campaign. As yet, no-one has immediately backed, so I’ve no idea whether that has led to anything at all :-(

I’m really hoping we can unlock some stretch goals for our backers and would love to get to around 400-500 backers so we can get the boxes made for us, but that’s looking pretty unlikely now unless the final 48 is absolutely incredible.

Please share the project if you can!

Monday, October 21

The Quiet Period

The rules of thirds says that on average a Kickstarter campaign will raise approximately 1/3 of its funds in the first 48 hours (when all your fans and people from your mailing list jump on early) and 1/3 in the last 48 hours when the reminder email goes out and there's a rush to get on board before it closes. The remaining 1/3 comes during the rest of the campaign, which is our case is 17 days. After the initial rush things slow right down (we saw this with our first campaign too), as the ratio goes from 1/2 days to 1/17 days. It's the doldrums, and that's where FlickFleet sits now after 8.5 days.

The slow bit!

We've tried doing a few things differently this time including spending some money on advertising on Facebook, BGG and The Crowdfunding Center. So far we have very little to show for that (we gave the three groups attribution links so we know if someone clicked on an ad and then immediately backed the project). The Facebook ads have been running continuously throughout the campaign, we've had 1,234 clicks to our campaign so far (for £97.55 spent so far), but only two confirmed backers through that route. The Crowdfunding Center started a few days ago and will run throughout (for £45) and claim to have given us 34 leads to date, but we've nothing confirmed from them yet and finally via BGG we've spent around £60 so far (a few days at the beginning and then we're going to do a big blast at the end). They've shown our ad 73,700 times, but we've only had 130 visits to our campaign page and so far nothing confirmed in terms of backers.

So either I'm hopeless at advertising (a strong possibility!) or the methods I'm using to track it really aren't working.

Anyway, we're half-way, we're funded and we're hoping for a strong finish when we'll be spending more on ads on Facebook and the vast majority of our BGG ads, so I'm still hopeful we can unlock a few of those stretch goals! We've also already got as many people following the project as we had at the end first time, so hopefully the reminder email will lead to a decent number of late backers. By the rule of thirds, we should be on for around £15,000 (200% funded). Here's hoping!