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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessPoncho - Kickstarter Failure post-mortem
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Moth
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2014, 09:29:13 PM »

Hey, I ran the Creepy Castle kickstarter and watched as Poncho was going at the same time. Honestly I thought it was a shoe-in for a big success so it's sad to see you guys had so much trouble and couldn't make it in the end; ecstatic to hear you got a publisher though! Smiley

Your note about not getting Staff Picked is really interesting... had I known, I would have written to them too. It was cringe inducing watching projects that clearly won't even funded get slapped with Staff Pick, but yeah, I guess it's still not everything... some legitimately good projects with reasonable goals have gotten Staff Pick status but didn't meet success despite the pick Sad

2.) The only point of critique I would have from your campaign is the lack of "meaty" updates. There are some good updates but generally the updates are loaded with other KS projects (feels like Im browsing KS again) or a general status update on the status of the campaign (which lets be honest, wont excite many backers).

Yeah this is really true. My campaign updates are filled with cross promos and I kind of feel like it was tacky now... we didn't really get much extra audience from cross promoing, more than once we didn't even get a single new backer for doing it. Of course the times we did get interested folks from another project, it was really cool... but I don't wanna look desperate, honestly, and unfortunately I feel like the cross promoing I did does look desperate (but I was desperate so I guess that makes sense!)

And I didn't even really have much to say besides "here's a cross promo, also we're at x%". I honestly wanted to make more interesting articles but I was so pressed for time that I couldn't... it's something I should have thought about before the KS launched, not after (I unfortunately assumed I would have had the time to consistently make fun updates.)
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2014, 02:22:17 PM »

Yeah, all good points. We did have a few updates concerning going to EGX, or announcing stretch goals or new platforms, but most of them were cross promo ones as well. Ah well, lesson learned!
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joe_eyemobi
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« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2014, 12:16:32 AM »

Hey, I ran the Creepy Castle kickstarter and watched as Poncho was going at the same time. Honestly I thought it was a shoe-in for a big success so it's sad to see you guys had so much trouble and couldn't make it in the end; ecstatic to hear you got a publisher though! Smiley

Your note about not getting Staff Picked is really interesting... had I known, I would have written to them too. It was cringe inducing watching projects that clearly won't even funded get slapped with Staff Pick, but yeah, I guess it's still not everything... some legitimately good projects with reasonable goals have gotten Staff Pick status but didn't meet success despite the pick Sad

2.) The only point of critique I would have from your campaign is the lack of "meaty" updates. There are some good updates but generally the updates are loaded with other KS projects (feels like Im browsing KS again) or a general status update on the status of the campaign (which lets be honest, wont excite many backers).

Yeah this is really true. My campaign updates are filled with cross promos and I kind of feel like it was tacky now... we didn't really get much extra audience from cross promoing, more than once we didn't even get a single new backer for doing it. Of course the times we did get interested folks from another project, it was really cool... but I don't wanna look desperate, honestly, and unfortunately I feel like the cross promoing I did does look desperate (but I was desperate so I guess that makes sense!)

And I didn't even really have much to say besides "here's a cross promo, also we're at x%". I honestly wanted to make more interesting articles but I was so pressed for time that I couldn't... it's something I should have thought about before the KS launched, not after (I unfortunately assumed I would have had the time to consistently make fun updates.)
Hey Moth, well done on your successful KS btw!  Beer!
That was awesome that you were featured on TIGSource!  Did that help a great deal by the way?  Also did you do anything in particular to get selected?
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hexicGrind
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« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2014, 10:19:03 AM »

Thanks for sharing OP. You have made me rethink my strategy for my upcoming KS launch, because my plan was very similar to yours. There are a couple of notable differences, but hearing from those who have been there is invaluable. So on behalf of those of us who will be handling our first KS launch before long, thank you.
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SouldomainTM
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2014, 07:29:47 AM »

I just played the alpha demo. I like the art direction and the way the story started. The story tells me what's going on but the gameplay mechanics themselves just leave me lost. Maybe it was just me. But if anybody else played it and experienced the same thing. Then the demo itself is a huge problem in my opinion.

It seems people compare this game to Gomez. I only heard about Gomez, I never played it. And I also don't know how Gomez played when it was an Alpha demo. However, either my subconscious mind or the gaming gods themselves whisper that Poncho makes a questionable impression.
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2014, 08:01:12 AM »

I just played the alpha demo. I like the art direction and the way the story started. The story tells me what's going on but the gameplay mechanics themselves just leave me lost. Maybe it was just me. But if anybody else played it and experienced the same thing. Then the demo itself is a huge problem in my opinion.

It seems people compare this game to Gomez. I only heard about Gomez, I never played it. And I also don't know how Gomez played when it was an Alpha demo. However, either my subconscious mind or the gaming gods themselves whisper that Poncho makes a questionable impression.

Yeah, after EGX and getting lots of feedback we've found a load of stuff we want to change with the gameplay. Mainly people were having trouble with the level where the blocks move around, I'm guessing that's where you got lost. Too much difficulty too early I think. Other than that though, most people seemed to really like it apart from a few Alpha demo bugs.

I don't suppose you could be more specific in how the gameplay threw you off? It would be really helpful!

And yeah we get compared to FEZ, because these are both pixel art games with a perspective/3D mechanic. And that's ok, I don't really mind it, I think the comparison wouldn't happen so much if the game wasn't also named after clothing though. Might I ask what you mean by "questionable impression?"

I'm really trying to find good sources of criticism so I can make the game as good as it can be. So any specific things you can pick out would be helpful.  Smiley
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SouldomainTM
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« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2014, 01:42:03 PM »

Might I ask what you mean by "questionable impression?"

Oh, crap. That's a wrong wording. I didn't mean that I think that you try to screw or scam people. I'm only pessimistic about the gameplay mechanics and its future. But I'm always pessimistic about gameplay. Lips Sealed

And English is not my native language!

I don't suppose you could be more specific in how the gameplay threw you off? It would be really helpful!

I just played the demo again. And I needed a bit more time to get used to the blinking between the grounds. Yeah the blocks that move back and forth broke my patience. Their movement is hard to predict. Though I was wondering, why can't I move back and forth with the block I'm standing on? I would have preferred to jump on a block and wait until the next one aligned.
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2014, 01:04:23 AM »

Ah no worries! :D

In terms of the gameplay, yeah there's a bunch of changes we've made to make that level a bit better as well as in general. should be able to show some stuff off soonish.
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jgrams
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« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2014, 08:01:18 AM »

I looked at your KS shortly after it started, and...for me, the trailer was very meh: it didn't sell me on the game at all. 45-ish seconds of sitting there staring at SLOOOOOW text and scrolling backgrounds with nice pixel art but no hint of what the gameplay was about other than "some kind of platformer". Then the moving blocks which flashed and made my eyes hurt. So then when you *finally* started showing gameplay you had already lost me. And the gameplay was confusing: I had to back the video up a couple of times before I really got it, beyond "oh, you're switching layers somehow". The layers aren't easy to distinguish sometimes and the robot doesn't transition smoothly between them: just zooms and disappears and then reappears on the new layer. And the way the camera bobs around rather than just zooming to the new level and stopping -- that also makes it difficult to tell which way the player is moving (when you're just watching a video). Also maybe a more downward looking camera angle would help give a little more separation between layers? Treasure Raid is clearer, for instance:



I went back just now and tried the alpha, and that would have made me completely certain that I don't like your style of level design and wouldn't like the game.

So I guess for me...get right to the interesting gameplay in the trailer. Show me some interesting puzzles or something. I get that it's beautiful, but why is it fun? And I'd like to hear a little of you talking about who you are and what you're trying to do with the game, to get a feel for who I would be giving my money to.

And I gather you've learned better since you made that demo, but in case my train of thought while playing is useful:

Quote
Another 40-ish seconds of unskippable text, then you start me off in the dark with an obnoxious flashing light. Then...what? I guess...I have to just walk off into the darkness and trust that it won't kill me? OK...hmm...yeah, apparently that *was* what I was supposed to do. Walking, walking...hrm...flashing blocks that appear in front of you. Well, at least it's not quite as painful on the eyes as the flashing light at the beginning.

Oh, *now* it's not safe to walk into the darkness, I just fall off the edge?!?? Maybe it's a gap I can jump across? Nope. Oh, if I jump *on* that big flat thing instead of over it there's more unskippable text. But still no way forward? Maybe I didn't jump *right* from the very edge? Oh, now there's an invisible block that lights up when you land on it. How am I supposed to hit that? *Peers at the screen* Oh, not quite invisible, just very dark. OK.

OK, there's a timer counting down. Better hurry. Ooops, that's another edge. Oh, it overlaps with a back level, so I need to switch here. Switching, walking, switching, jumping...Oh, I can go forward or backward around that block, and collect all the little things...but now there's another block in the air. How do I tell what layer it's on? It doesn't seem to light up when I'm on the same layer or anything...maybe it's on all layers? Nope. OK, I'll just have to guess until I get it right.

And...now I have to sit here and watch it zoom out on the scenery, there's not even any text. Come on already...ah, now I can move again. But...er...guess I'm just jumping off the edge then.

Well, I didn't die from the fall. And there's a key in the background. Looks like this is starting to get interesting. But these trees in the background are horribly in the way. I see a green key, but can't seem to get to it. Let's see...I have to jump. Inch sideways, try again, inch sideways, try again, inch sideways, try again -- ah, there we go. Man, that was annoying. Jump over the stones, get the gems or whatever...oops, that was an edge. How was I supposed to know that? Oh well, try again.

Hmm. Ruins to explore. Cool. But I can't see anything. If I move too fast, the areas in front are still solid and I can't see where I'm going. If I stand still too long, they fade out almost completely and I can't see where I might want to jump to. I guess these are puzzles about memorizing where things are. Not my cup of tea, but ok. Aha! Made it to the top. But now I can't see down. Guess I'll just have to jump and hope? Yup. Seems to be a theme here. OK, next area.

Ow, my eyes! Why are they flashing like that??!? OK, keep pushing on. Oh, they're moving between levels. Cool. But...they don't carry you with them. So it's a timing puzzle. But...they don't give you any real warning, so you have to memorize the timing? OK, I can do this. No, I take that back, this is too painful to look at. Bye now.
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2014, 08:44:31 AM »

Well I'm glad you had a good go at the game, most of the issues you mentioned have been sorted now, such as a far clearer definition between layers and a warning when shifting blocks are about to move as well as a bunch of other stuff.

I'd just like to point out also that we were only at an Alpha stage when we pushed all that stuff out, so a great deal of how the game plays was still in the air as well as a ton of bugs were still around. That said, the game is pretty slow paced and doesn't have any kind of combat so it won't be for everyone certainly.

Still, thanks for the feedback, the main complaints that we've had have been as you say, those shifting blocks and differences between layers so we've spent some time working on those. You can see below that the distance between layers has been increased, as well as layer specific colouring to make it easier. Still, work in progress! Smiley

 
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jgrams
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« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2014, 02:09:36 AM »

Awesome. I still think the camera "bounce" is a little much, but that's a lot more clear.
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danieru
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« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2014, 03:12:51 AM »

It sort of feels wrong that Poncho disappears. It causes my eyes to lose track of him. It also makes the shifts more disorienting by removing my focal point.

Have you tried keeping Poncho's screenspace location constant and only shifting the world? For me that would make it easier to follow the switch.
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2014, 03:18:29 AM »

It sort of feels wrong that Poncho disappears. It causes my eyes to lose track of him. It also makes the shifts more disorienting by removing my focal point.

Have you tried keeping Poncho's screenspace location constant and only shifting the world? For me that would make it easier to follow the switch.

Hmm, yeah we've been thinking this also, might be worth trying a new animation for shifting, I think.
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rj
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« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2014, 11:33:46 AM »

i vote that the shine effect should stay but doing it without having poncho disappear is probably best

also my earlier comments re: some kind of a time stop when switching + allowing you to be shifted between planes by standing on platforms that are actively moving between planes would make this game as a whole wayyyyyyyyy less frustrating in the early going especially. if there are areas where it's super crucial, fine, but otherwise?
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joe_eyemobi
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« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2014, 01:11:27 PM »

Hey Danny, one thing I forgot to ask last time: did you have an existing fan base before you started the KS?
If so, how big was it, and how engaged are they?
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2014, 01:30:18 PM »

Hey Danny, one thing I forgot to ask last time: did you have an existing fan base before you started the KS?
If so, how big was it, and how engaged are they?

Not at all, Poncho is our first major game. We've made a couple of other small games on our own outside of games we made at companies, but they were, to be honest, total crap. :D

So no, no fan base. We did spend a month trying to build one via videos, social media, forums, etc, but in the end we had about 100 backers turn up on the first couple of days which was probably friends and family telling their friends and family, etc, mostly.
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joe_eyemobi
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« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2014, 01:51:47 AM »

Well that is pretty awesome then - you now have a 400+ fan base which is a great start!  Coffee
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2014, 02:43:47 AM »

Yeah, it's strange to put a number on it like that, and also that so many people cared enough to want to put money down. Even if it failed, it feels nice that we got a good measure of support and love for the game. Getting messages of  support from strangers is pretty cool.
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Sazem
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« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2014, 04:02:10 AM »

Great Post-mortem! always nice to read and learn from these.
I really liked the art style of the game and I started to wonder that you still didnt get greenlighted? If that doesnt get greenlighted I wont never have a change!  Grin

About friends not giving the critic of the game I littebit disagree. I think all my (true) friends & family tell me the problems of the game. Maybe we have more open attitude on everything and constructed criticism is always good thing.

I am on same line with Jgrams about the trailer. I got to admit that I first skipped the trailer on steam after 10 - 15 seconds because nothing happened.

After reading this discussion I went and watched it again with though.
Exactly what Jgrams said, there is nothing happening in first minute? I was waiting to see the gameplay.. the art is really fine for me but when watching video I think it should be more about action. The video is probably the most important thing on greenlight too? People watch it first and then dedicate if they will read the descriptions or not?  I would cut the first minute of the trailer away and start from the action. Also then it would only last 39 seconds which would be fine too.
(I am talking about

)

Here is good talk about trailers which I just watched few days ago:
GDC Vault

Here is few examples I really liked and watched until the end. (ok, maybe bit more action based games anyway)



Crawl Greenlight trailer
Super Time Force

Only my thoughs... I really dont have no exprience in Greenlights or Kickstarters what so ever :D
Anyway good luck for the game.. it looks great!
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Danny Hayes
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« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2014, 04:31:33 AM »

Great Post-mortem! always nice to read and learn from these.
I really liked the art style of the game and I started to wonder that you still didnt get greenlighted? If that doesnt get greenlighted I wont never have a change!  Grin

Currently we're 70% to the top 100 in greenlight, so eventually we hope! Though the new steam layout seems to have buried greenlight now and I'm not sure if they're really taking much notice of greenlight games anymore vs the curation process.

I am on same line with Jgrams about the trailer. I got to admit that I first skipped the trailer on steam after 10 - 15 seconds because nothing happened.

Yeah, we tried to create something that was slow paced and built up. Lessons learned!
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