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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSuper Toaster X: Learn Japanese RPG: Devlog 99: Resource Management
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Author Topic: Super Toaster X: Learn Japanese RPG: Devlog 99: Resource Management  (Read 78284 times)
Zizka
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« Reply #560 on: July 11, 2016, 05:09:17 AM »

So this isn't a devlog per se but a discussion about design. Basically, I'm stumped. I'm working on my project tree and I want to make it interesting. The problem I have right now is that it's repetitive and not very compelling since it always follow the same pattern: ability-lock-ability-lock etc...

I'd like to make it interesting. I'm interested in brainstorming with y'all to make this better. Final Fantasy IX grid comes to mind as good design, both visually and gameplay wise.



The dark toast in the middle is the starting point so to speak. The basic idea is that you get keys for every level. You can then use those keys to unlock blocks. I like the basic concept but I want to make it more interesting but I'm drawing a blank here to be honest.
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« Reply #561 on: July 11, 2016, 05:12:22 AM »

Could this be relevant to the situation here?

http://ctrl500.com/tech/handcrafted-feel-dungeon-generation-unexplored-explores-cyclic-dungeon-generation/
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Zizka
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« Reply #562 on: July 11, 2016, 05:15:15 AM »

Not really I don't think. A generator isn't what I'm looking for here so much as core ideas to make the skill tree more compelling. Unless I misunderstand the link that is.  Smiley
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #563 on: July 11, 2016, 07:03:44 AM »

Ah true, but I was thinking that you might have already locked yourself out of other, potentially more interesting alternatives by going with a skill tree instead of othe arrangements.
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« Reply #564 on: July 11, 2016, 06:45:17 PM »

Alright let me just throw out an idea I just had.
What if the book page was a shopping list? Each connected tree box could be a shopping bag, each tied to a certain skill. 'Purchase' each shopping bag with the keys. That could make it more graphically compelling. For gameplay wise, you could have the player choose from a variety of branches from the start, almost like different classes, so to speak.
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« Reply #565 on: July 12, 2016, 07:39:17 AM »


Maybe not to the skill tree, but it's a really cool idea for map generation.  I'll have to take a look at this when I'm doing my later passes on the random map generator.
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Zizka
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« Reply #566 on: July 14, 2016, 06:11:08 AM »

@Crabby: I've read your messages a couple of times but I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Maybe you could provide an example to illustrate your thoughts? Up to you!  Smiley

Rewards Brainstorming

So I would say I'm about 75% done with the KickStarter presentation which is taking most of my free time right now. Writing the descriptions, making the art, organizing everything and other related management tasks.

I would say my last stumbling block concerns the rewards and I'll tell you why.

Here's what I have so far (the following is in Canadian Dollars, not US). Each of the tier include the previous tiers:

[Tier 0]
1$: Thank you.

[Tier 1]
10$: Full game when completed

[Tier 2]
15$: Early Access

[Tier 3]
25$: Digital Soundtrack + name in the credits.

[Tier 4]
100$: Portrait in-game (limited)

[Tier 5]
150$: Design a foe (limited)

[Tier 6]
200$: Design an ability (limited)

So as you can see the issue here is the wide gap between the 25$ tier and the 100$ one. Also, none of the tiers identified here have any "physical" rewards. 1,500$ out of 25,000$ (so that's about 6% of the total amount) is meant to be invested for physical rewards (in order to cover shipping and the actual reward).

Now of course I'd like to have rewards which are game-related and the least generic as possible.

From my humble understanding of things rewards can make or break a campaign. This is definitely unknown territory for me so I'm looking for different opinions and insights. From my personal experience, you always end up with a better result when you pool the ideas of people as opposed to limiting yourself to your own opinions and beliefs.

I've some idea but I feel "meh" about them:

#1: T-shirts? With so many t-shirts do people really care about that?

#2: Posters. Not very original.

#3: Icon to represent the backer in-game (sort of overlaps with the portrait).

#4: Toaster X plushy: Is there enough attachment/popularity about the character to make this a viable choice.

#5: Japanese/English dictionary. Don't know if I could get a deal if I buy a big amount?

So I don't have any ideas at the moment, I mean none I feel super excited about.

So there you go, I thought we'd brainstorm together.

Thanks for reading!
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« Reply #567 on: July 14, 2016, 11:18:47 PM »

I'm in the process of rereading this thread to catch up with the new direction the game is taking.

About campaign scheduling.

July, August and September are months that require extra care when scheduling a Kickstarter campaign. There are big events that bloggers and Let's Players travel to attend.

I'll go over the generic steps for scheduling a Kickstarter campaign.

The first step is a table of potential times to run. Below is a link to a table for July and August.
http://i.imgur.com/MIefH34.png

The table is the result of these guidelines based on past experience:
● Mondays to Wednesday are generally good days to launch.
● Ending on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays should be avoided if possible.
● Mondays to Wednesdays are generally good days to end.
● Thursday aren't as good a day to launch because the last half of the precious first-48-hours gets wasted on a Friday. However, Thursdays can be a good day to end.
● A campaign duration of 30 to 34 days is recommended. Running closer to 30 days is generally better, but sometimes a few extra days help align the campaign with a much better date to end while not losing a good starting date.
● It is good to launch in the morning and end in the evening for the Eastern time zone for North America. There is an option to set the specific ending hour for the final day.

The second step is looking at the external environment a campaign would be facing.

Gamescom 2016 is August 17th to 21st. Gamescom has leveled-up into an event similar to E3 over the last few years. News sites will be busy prioritizing the AAA gaming news. Microsoft has announced it will have a presence on the show floor, but it won't be holding a press event this year since it already showed so much at E3. There is a rumour that Nintendo may finally reveal their new NX system at Gamescom because of the decision at-the-last-minute to not reveal it at E3 in June. Even if that NX reveal is just a rumour, speculation about it could keep bloggers very busy just before the event.

PAX is being handled differently compared to the recent years. PAX Dev is August 31st to September 1st. It is the first year for this Dev spin-off, so it is uncertain what it will be like to run a Kickstarter campaign during this time. It seems to be more like GDC and less focused on games trying to get press coverage.

PAX West (which was previously PAX Prime) is scheduled for September 2nd to 6th. Games with a presence at PAX can utilize it to help boost a Kickstarter campaign, but games that aren't at PAX can find getting press coverage more difficult. Bloggers will be focusing on the games at PAX.

The 2016 Olympics in Rio are August 5th to 21st. The Olympics might not be too much of a problem. I remember that the 2012 Olympics in London didn't seem to harm the Kickstarter video game campaigns back then.

Tokyo Game Show is September 15th to 18th and Paris Games Week is October 27th to 31st. Both of those events haven't been big disruptions to Kickstarter campaigns like Gamescom or PAX. Sony does have the task this year of promoting its PlayStation VR product launch on October 13th, so it may use those shows to heavily promote the best VR games on its platform.

No Man's Sky has a release date of August 9th if there isn't a delay. Deus EX: Mankind Divided is August 23rd. World of Warcraft's Legion expansion is August 30th. ReCore is September 13th. Persona 5 is September 15th. Final Fantasy XV is September 30th.

I have not looked at the schedule for anime conventions during July and August.

The third step is looking at what is happening within Kickstarter.

The two big active Kickstarter campaigns right now are System Shock and Prey For The Gods. System Shock ends on July 28th and Prey For The Gods ends on August 5th. Large campaigns can bring in lots of traffic to Kickstarter during their last-48-hours surges.

Over the next 10 days there are many campaigns ending. When a new month start there is a wave of new high quality campaigns.

July and August can be more unpredictable than other months. Some years they were good. Other years they were very tough and saturated times to run. Without hindsight it is difficult to tell, but every year has had big waves of low-effort projects (such as no pitch video or a project page body without any images) appearing during these months. The first week of September can be a very harsh time to run. After that first week, September can be a great month. October is one of the best performing months for the video games category, but part of this is due to the projects from really famous developers that often pick this month. An advantage to running in summer is that it still leaves time in the year to launch a reboot if the first attempt fails. The second half of November and the month of December are harsh times to run crowdfunding campaigns due to all the travel and holidays.

About the reward tiers.

A way to very roughly estimate how many backers a project needs to aim to achieve is dividing the minimum-funding-goal by double the price of the game. The next step is to divide the minimum-funding-goal by triple the price of the game. At $10 for a copy of the game, you would divide the minimum goal by $20 or $30 to get an estimate of how many backers may be needed.

The $1 to $50 range is where the majority of backers will be. Think of that price range as the engine driving the campaign. Messing up the tiers in that range can result in needing an increased number of backers just to reach the same funding goal.

T-shirts are a big topic, but a quick summary is that t-shirts can be very popular, there are many places available to get them printed and t-shirts can be a big headache to coordinate. Fulfillment can involve so many different physical sizes. The correct t-shirt size has to be surveyed, produced and distributed. Messing up at any of those 3 steps can create more work to fix. Some cheap methods of printing also have limitations that can influence the visual design. An example is that very thin lines can be very difficult to screen print. Thin lines may becoming inconsistent in spots due to bleed, be too faint to see, deteriorate quickly or easily suffer from a defect called misregistration where the line didn't fit properly to a previously printed layer so there is a tiny annoying gap.

Large posters can be expensive to ship because of the protective cardboard tubes used. Folding the posters creates creasing lines that many people dislike. There is the cheaper option to use multiple smaller sized posters or even post cards that can fit inside rigid envelopes that won't cost as much to mail.

Plushies are hard to get the costs down. It often results in someone's mother sewing a bunch over a long time because coordinating a production run in China can get complicated at low order volumes and a seller on Etsy may not be able to get their prices per unit low enough.

Running a small campaign without physical rewards is possible.

Rewards like designing a foe are the type I would strongly recommend for a small project. Why? Because fulfillment of that reward creates content for the game.
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Zizka
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« Reply #568 on: July 15, 2016, 07:46:37 AM »

Great, I was hoping you'd stop by!

So based on your table, I'm thinking to launch on August 1st to September 1st, which would mean a 31 days campaign. So more specifically this would mean Monday August 1st to Thursday September 1st. I think it sounds pretty good.

Quote
Gamescom 2016 is August 17th to 21st. Gamescom has leveled-up into an event similar to E3 over the last few years. News sites will be busy prioritizing the AAA gaming news. Microsoft has announced it will have a presence on the show floor, but it won't be holding a press event this year since it already showed so much at E3. There is a rumour that Nintendo may finally reveal their new NX system at Gamescom because of the decision at-the-last-minute to not reveal it at E3 in June. Even if that NX reveal is just a rumour, speculation about it could keep bloggers very busy just before the event.

The way I see it, external factors are unavoidable. It doesn't matter when I launch the campaign, I won't benefit for a month long campaign with only facilitating factor. I was originally going for a 20 days campaign so those extra days should cover the Gamescom event. This is what I have in mind anyway.

Quote
PAX is being handled differently compared to the recent years. PAX Dev is August 31st to September 1st. It is the first year for this Dev spin-off, so it is uncertain what it will be like to run a Kickstarter campaign during this time. It seems to be more like GDC and less focused on games trying to get press coverage.

PAX West (which was previously PAX Prime) is scheduled for September 2nd to 6th. Games with a presence at PAX can utilize it to help boost a Kickstarter campaign, but games that aren't at PAX can find getting press coverage more difficult. Bloggers will be focusing on the games at PAX.

Ok, so I'd be dodging PAX by ending on September 1st then. I won't be going to PAX so I wouldn't benefit from it anyway. If anything, the project would be disadvantaged by it.

Quote
The two big active Kickstarter campaigns right now are System Shock and Prey For The Gods. System Shock ends on July 28th and Prey For The Gods ends on August 5th. Large campaigns can bring in lots of traffic to Kickstarter during their last-48-hours surges.

We'll be overlapping with Prey for the Gods but I don't think I'll ever launch a 31 days campaign which doesn't overlap with other big releases. Also, in this case it's not a KS campaign but a game release. I don't think this can be realistically avoided.

I haven't really been in the details about the campaign just yet. Our goal is 25,000$CAN so it's not very high compared to most projects. I'm actually hoping this lower amount won't actually disadvantage the project by making it look cheap.

I'd like to share a preview of what I have so far:

Keep in mind the following is still missing:
*in-depth game description
*Etienne's trailer (me)
*the trailer (being made at the moment by Tony)
*The demo link (going through the final stages of coding at the moment). This demo is very polished. I haven't decided if we'll release it along the way or right from the get-go. This is a practice I'm unfamiliar with.
*a couple of reward tiers, as mentioned in my previous post.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/714585684/818484859?token=7fe1b1bf

Quote
The $1 to $50 range is where the majority of backers will be. Think of that price range as the engine driving the campaign. Messing up the tiers in that range can result in needing an increased number of backers just to reach the same funding goal.

I have most tiers done for that tier with basically: 1, 10, 15 and 25. 100 and 150 tiers I also have. What I'm really missing is a good 50$ tiers really.

Quote
A way to very roughly estimate how many backers a project needs to aim to achieve is dividing the minimum-funding-goal by double the price of the game. The next step is to divide the minimum-funding-goal by triple the price of the game. At $10 for a copy of the game, you would divide the minimum goal by $20 or $30 to get an estimate of how many backers may be needed.

Well, the minimal funding here is 1$ so it probably doesn't apply. The next one is 10$ however. So I'm not sure how this would work exactly. I mean, to determine how many backers I need.

Quote
T-shirts are a big topic, but a quick summary is that t-shirts can be very popular, there are many places available to get them printed and t-shirts can be a big headache to coordinate. Fulfillment can involve so many different physical sizes. The correct t-shirt size has to be surveyed, produced and distributed. Messing up at any of those 3 steps can create more work to fix. Some cheap methods of printing also have limitations that can influence the visual design. An example is that very thin lines can be very difficult to screen print. Thin lines may becoming inconsistent in spots due to bleed, be too faint to see, deteriorate quickly or easily suffer from a defect called misregistration where the line didn't fit properly to a previously printed layer so there is a tiny annoying gap.

Large posters can be expensive to ship because of the protective cardboard tubes used. Folding the posters creates creasing lines that many people dislike. There is the cheaper option to use multiple smaller sized posters or even post cards that can fit inside rigid envelopes that won't cost as much to mail.

Plushies are hard to get the costs down. It often results in someone's mother sewing a bunch over a long time because coordinating a production run in China can get complicated at low order volumes and a seller on Etsy may not be able to get their prices per unit low enough.

Yes, I'm not convinced by any of those three. Besides, this would be for the 50$ tier and I don't think it would be beneficial cost-wise.

So this is where I'm at at the moment. Thanks for the comment as usual. I will do some more research and provide another preview once I have the demo on hand and the trailer.











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LobsterSundew
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« Reply #569 on: July 16, 2016, 11:48:36 PM »

An August 1st launch date leaves less than 16 days to prepare the campaign. It usually takes a month to properly prepare a campaign before launch without burning a team out.

About the niche:

First is the educational side. Teaching Japanese would be one of the main hooks. Other games have tried to teach Japanese, so it is beneficial to see how they did it.

Koe had 4,169 backers pledge £75,167. It received good press coverage during its campaign.

Influent had 1,258 backers pledge $28,086. I was a backer back when it was known under the name SanJiten.

Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War is an active campaign. It launched on Friday and is currently ranked 3rd in popularity for the video games category. It is scheduled to end on August 14th. I suggest paying close attention to this campaign and where it gets press. It is probably the biggest potential competitor Super Toaster X will have to face within Kickstarter.

Slime Forest Adventure is another game that teaches players to read Japanese.

The market for the game that stands out is English speakers that want to learn Japanese because they consume lots of anime and manga.

Second is the RPG side of the game.

From what I've seen of battles a big part of the gameplay loop in battle is a card is drawn with a symbol, the player types the phonetic version of the symbol such as "chi" for "ち", if correct it adds to the power meter and then the next card is drawn. A July 9th post says the battle system is no-longer turn-based.

If it works like Super Mario RPG that could generate some traffic, but I'm not clear yet on what aspects of Super Mario RPG the game is comparing itself to. I remember Super Mario RPG for the timing mechanics mixed with turn-based combat such as the Geno Whirl attack. I also remember it for the isometric platforming adventure around the various environments.

Right now it seems I'll have to wait until more material is ready before I'll have a good enough understand of what the gameplay will be like.

About the number of backers:

Having an estimate for the number of backers needed to reach a funding goal provides a sense of scope of what a campaign needs to do. Some campaigns are only going to need a few hundred backers to reach 100%. Others could need tens of thousands of backers. The more backers needed, the more work the campaign will need.

Back in 2013 and 2014 I used a weightclass system that grouped campaigns with their peers. Think of it like how professional boxers or Battlebots are grouped into different weight groups like lightweights and heavyweights. The crude estimate method in the last post is the result of simplifying the patterns I saw based on how games were priced. It is way less work for a similar result.

Most backers will only be interested in the cheapest open reward tier that promises a copy of the game. Some call it the "anchor tier", "main tier" or "introductory tier". Its pricing has a huge impact on the average pledge per backer metric. The cheapest tier can be a discounted early-bird tier and when that fills up the regular priced tier takes its place.

A project that is poor at up-selling its reward tiers could see 80% of its backers picking the cheapest available reward tier that offers them a copy of the game. That is a pessimistic scenario. The percent is higher because less backers picked the following tiers. A project doing a good job at up-selling could see that down to 40% of backers picking that tier. That is optimistic. The percent at the cheapest tier is lower because more backers were up-sold to higher priced tiers.

$25,000CAD currently converts to about $19,270USD. With that goal amount is could easily take 770 to 1,400 backers to reach it based on past campaigns. At $20CAD per backer it would take 1,250 backers to reach $25,000CAD. At $30CAD per backer it would take 834 backers. Reaching 100% is a long-term goal. What a campaign needs to focus on at the start is getting enough traction in the short-term after it launches. Some campaigns have small enough goals that they can get funded near the end with a final push even if they stalled in the middle. $19,000 is large enough that the campaign can't afford to stall out in the middle because it would be too far away from its goal for a normal final push to get it to 100%.

A short-term goal for a campaign is to get to at least 30% funded before halfway through the campaign's length. This greatly increases its statistical chances of getting funded. Some sources of crowdfunding advice would even say that a campaign needs to do 30% in its first week. Getting 15% is often enough if the campaign doesn't have a very high minimum-funding-goal. Kickstarter success is often about traction. It is very clear in the data that many campaigns are that fail will fail by a large percent because they never achieved enough traction and just stalled.

15% of $25,000CAD is $3,750CAD and 30% is $7,500. $7,500 divided by $30 per backer would be 250 backers. If Super Toaster X could get 250 backers at launch it would have a strong chance to get funded. I don't have a strong sense yet of how much of a pre-launch following the game currently has. There are 194 followers on Twitter. More pre-launch marketing may be needed. There is still time to explore some options like Prefundia, Reddit, reviving the IndieDB page and Thunderclap.
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Zizka
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« Reply #570 on: July 20, 2016, 10:33:39 AM »

Again, a lot of appreciation for another detailed message. I will reply a more detailed answer later on for sure.

Just as an update for the rewards which I thought I would share and get your input about.

So basically:


50$ for a physical copy of the game.



75$ for the t-shirt. The text is missing here.

So to sum things up:

1$:  thank you
10$: game at release
15$: early access
25$: digital soundtrack + name in credits
50$: physical copy of the game
75$: t-shirt (Pan): Pixel art (limited to 50)
100$: portrait in-game
150$: Design an enemy (limited to 10) Max: 1,500$
200$: Design an ability for Pan (limited to 5) Max: 1,000$


Is this reasonable? Good? Bad? Terrible? Wonderful?
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« Reply #571 on: July 20, 2016, 11:45:38 PM »

11 days remaining until August 1st. There may be even less time to prepare the project page if e-mails to press are sent including a preview link before launch.

About Kickstarter itself:

The waves of low-effort July campaigns really started after August 15th. Sometimes there are days in good months where every new project has a pitch video. Then there are days when seeing project without pitch videos or any graphics on the project page body become common.

System Shock ends in 7 days. Prey for the Gods ends in 15 days. Wizard of Legends ends in 15 hours. Learn Japanese To Survive! has 25 days to go. Those are the top 4 in popularity for the category. Ikenfell, Fictorum, Buck, Xydonia, Best Buds and Mongrel are ended this upcoming week.

A bunch of dead campaigns that had launched during E3 week and immediately stalled have now cleared out of the category.

Jim Sterling made a video for Pigsodus which may have saved its campaign with that boost. Kologeon had a Jim Sterling video back in June revive that campaign. http://i.imgur.com/KowC3jG.png

Kickstarter has recently added some new "Superbacker" thing next to some frequent backers' names in comments sections. I'm also seeing a "+ curate" button on my screen that has a function I'm not familiar with. Maybe Kickstarter does a thing like Steam curators in the future. There is already the pages system for organizations. An example is the Internation Game Developers Association has a page on Kickstarter. 2016 has had lots of tweaking done to Kickstarter itself.

There are 155 live video game projects on Kickstarter. It can often be over 200. The category feels slower right now except for the activities of System Shock and Prey for the Gods.

About project page preview:

The project page graphics seem to progress first, then the progress with the text lags behind. The animated pixel art is one of the strengths to leverage, but it can be easy to get distracted producing lots of little animations. There isn't much non-placeholder text available to critique. It often takes many iterations to polish up text.

"KSP" could be expanded to "Kerbal Space Program" for those that aren't familiar with the game.

At the moment a pitch video hasn't been uploaded. There is the standard advice of don't waste the precious first 30 seconds and try to show gameplay very early in the video. If a game isn't from a famous developer then many visitors can give up on a pitch video if it is taking too long to show them what they want to see. Videos starting with 2 minutes of a developer talking to a camera can be a chore.

Animated GIFs of gameplay are often an easy way to split up paragraphs and decorate the project page after other elements are in place. A screenshot can convey tons of information very quickly, but an animated GIF of gameplay can convey even more.

Be careful of not wasting too much vertical whitespace with the final version of some of the graphics. It takes more effort to scroll down the taller the page is.

The description is currently "RPG Game based on Super Mario RPG mechanics to learn Japanese vocabulary and kanas (hiragana and katakana)." A more streamlined version would be "Use Super Mario RPG mechanics to learn Japanese vocabulary and read kanas." If someone didn't know what "hiragana" and "katakana" are, then that person likely wouldn't know was "kanas" are. Another direction would be to remove "kanas" to have "hirigana and katakana".

There is an extra space in front of "No good deeds goes unpunished!". You could remove that space or keep it there. What's important is to keep it consistent after deciding. Right now some paragraphs are starting with that small indent while other paragraphs don't.

A demo is a strong advantage over many of the other campaigns right now that are just concept art. The project thumbnail, description or near the very top of the main body of the project page are candidates for spots to tell visitors there is a demo available. A badge or banner on the project thumbnail stating there is a demo would probably work best in this case.

The first 50 characters in the project title influence the project URL. It is possible to change the title after launch. What this means is many campaigns launch with a simpler title to produce a simpler URL and then edit the title to be longer. The project creator account can use the vanity URL option to influence the part of the URL after "projects". If you don't use the vanity URL you get assigned a bunch of numbers instead. If you do use the vanity URL be very careful of spelling because there is no second chance to edit it.

Project thumbnail images are generally huge potential time-sinks due to constant reworking and significant differences in opinion. Kickstarter changed the dimensions of project thumbnails in 2016, so Super Toaster X has those black bars on either side as a result. Remember one of the important things about a project thumbnail is that text is readable at the reduced zoomed-out size. The bottom left corner needs to have room for the heart icon to appear if the game gets staff picked.

About project page's key information:

One of the most important pieces of information is the supported platforms. For gamers on Windows they usually have no worries. For Linux and Mac gamers they sometimes need to hunt for answers. The most common places to present that information are the project thumbnail, the project title and/or the project description because that way the information can be seen while in the project discovery area.

DRM-free and how the game will be digitally distributed are important issues to many frequent backers. The FAQ section may have to clarify stances.

The game engine may need to be clarified. Demo footage showed the Unity3D splash screen. GameMaker is mentioned in the history. RPGMaker was used for Slimongo.

Another important piece is the core concept of the game. For some projects this is very simple. SUPERHOT's "Time only moves when you move" accompanied by an animated GIF of its firefights was enough to immediately convey the concept. Doing a good job usually means the player will be able to imagine playing the game. For a complicated premise the objective could be to have them be able to see how they will benefit (learn some Japanese) from playing the game.

Episodic games need to be careful when they are explaining their scope. There is the risk that story arcs never get completed if an episode financially fails. Sometimes people want to know how many episodes are planned or want an option to pledge to a reward tier to receive all future episodes too. Episodic game projects can also have complicated decisions about what stretch goals should be. There is the argument of more features versus securing funding for more episodes.

The order that the audience encounters information is also important. Some information most people won't care about. Other pieces are critical and should be served as soon as possible. The music and art sections may take priority over the section about the team. A link to Slimongo: Rise of the Slombies may need more presence. That past game could be more of an asset than you realize.

About preview of the rewards:

The rewards fit together into a simple rewards sequence or a more complicated branching reward structure. Most of the major work for the reward tiers doesn't get tweaked just before launch, but there are often minor tweaks that happen all the way up to the few hours before launching.

There are 9 tiers. 4 of them are priced below $30 where you should expect most of your backers to reside. Overall it is a rather plain looking set of tiers. There are many campaigns both successful, and not, with plain tiers. Some campaigns have a few interesting tiers. Some campaigns have amazing tiers that grab attention. Great rewards often depend on what opportunities a game can present.

A $1 tier can be very powerful for assisting a project's popularity ranking because the number of backers is a more important metric than the amount pledged. If the reverse was true Kickstarter's rankings would be very exploitable because people could just pledge large amounts and reduce the size of their pledges before the deadline (which is something that still happens). In the slow Kickstarter trough period after a campaign's first week a $1 backer can be as important as a $10 backer for keeping the campaign going. However, there are strong and weak versions of a $1 tier. A $1 tier that offers some sort of value (while having virtually no cost to the project creator) can be far more effective than a $1 tier that is just a thank you. It could be a single mp3 file download, a desktop wallpaper or at the extreme end even to be included in the game's credits.

There needs to be a reason for self-interested gamers to support the campaign now instead of waiting for the game to release. One of the most effective options besides a discount is to include backers in the game's credits. Moving the credits mention from the $25 tier to the $10 tier could be far more effective at attracting backers.

At $10 there isn't much room to do a discounted early-bird tier. There are scenarios where an early-bird tier can be harmful. They can really help with initial traction, but they sacrifice efficiency at accumulating funds and some campaigns don't survive the transition for early-birds to normal pricing. An early-bird for the $15 tier could be an option, such as a $10 to $14 priced tier for early-access.

A physical copy of the game may not have enough margin at $50. Shipping for Canadians can get expensive. Even an extra amount added onto the pledge to cover shipping risks not being enough. Rates can go up and currencies can devalue. The Americans below the border have it so much easier in this regards.

Physical copies of a game can be a very popularly picked reward tier, but a problem that haunts physical copies is having to wait until after the release of version 1.0 and a few patches so that the physical copy is a stable version. Having to wait until a stable version can create significant delays. The alternative of sending a beta version can be problematic due to sometimes game-breaking bugs. Collectors will usually want the game shrink wrapped if they are thinking about future resale. There is also managing backers expectations by explaining what form the physical release will be. Some people expecting cardboard boxed games in CD cases ended up getting simple DVD cases. Some disliked receiving a flashdrive in a box instead of a disc (flash memory has long-term storage issues). To avoid extra VAT in Europe some flash drives may even be sent empty/unformatted. Some backers may be expecting a paper manual. Some may expect one of the classic PC gaming box sizes. Different disc duplication services can also have different levels of quality control.

The highest priced tier is $200. When there isn't a tier that contain a large pledge like $1,000 then that creates a disincentive for such a large pledge to be made. For even a small project I'd often suggest a rewards structure that spans to $2,000 or $5,000 because those pledges can happen. The big problem to avoid is stretching out the reward tier pacing trying to climb to a specific large price point. That stretch makes upgrading from one tier to another less appealing or appear more stingy. It is more important that the lower tiers function well at up-selling. That is where most of the activity will be. It is also easier to later add large reward tiers after launch.

From experience the planning of $50 to $100 range continues to be a difficult range to fill. On many campaigns its became trouble. Rushing from $50 to $100 skips a sometimes great performing region around $80. The $50 to $100 range often ends up personalized for each game to have rewards that don't work for many other games like naming an NPC or having a special icon next to any guild a backer creates. I don't have a close enough understand of what the current design of the game is like.

A mistake in the past was some campaigns wasted lots of time remaking and redoing the art for reward tier graphs, matrices or explanation section. The artist would keep having to redo and redo the graphics. If text placeholders had been used the artist could have waited until close to the launch date to finalize the graphics showing the reward tiers.
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Zizka
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« Reply #572 on: July 25, 2016, 06:16:08 AM »

Again, my appreciation for your in-depth commentary. I've sent you a PM for a reward by the way.

I wanted to share a video I just did which shows what the upcoming build is about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO2i9EnTZJ4&feature=youtu.be

(for some reason the video isn't showing directly, I'll try to find a solution).
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« Reply #573 on: July 25, 2016, 08:23:12 AM »

Getting curious now... LobsterSundew suddenly jumped in with KS info. What's that about? Do you usually do that? Really nice of you, either way!

Final Fantasy IX grid comes to mind as good design, both visually and gameplay wise.

Agh, I always found these things in FF so complex and confusing. If the locks work differently from the other things, I think it would be clearer if you gave them a different colour. The starting icon too, probably. At a glance this is very disorienting because everything looks so similar. I think different colours would really help upping the immediate readability.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 08:31:50 AM by Prinsessa » Logged

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« Reply #574 on: July 25, 2016, 12:14:45 PM »

That skill tree is just brilliant!
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« Reply #575 on: July 25, 2016, 12:56:00 PM »

(for some reason the video isn't showing directly, I'll try to find a solution).




Remove the s from https.

I like the idea of re-adding basic jump and run mechanics. Smiley
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 02:00:56 PM by zorg » Logged
JobLeonard
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« Reply #576 on: July 26, 2016, 12:42:52 AM »

Hey thanks zorg, I completely missed the video!

Yeah, mild action elements supposedly help the learning process too (mentioned somewhere halfway in the video below), so you can even justify it for educational purposes!





Speculation: I suspect because they make you engage with your spacial processing part of the brain, which is pretty fundamental at structuring information. So activating that might have the benefit of making learning easier.

Some feedback on the interface: this game will involve a lot of typing, and mode switches seem somewhat inevitable (ideally minimised and clearly communicated; please click that link). I think that ideally the keybindings should be organised in such a way that I don't have to lift my hands or even leave the home row with my fingers. Furthermore, it's a two-handed interface, so the "flow" of actions should be sensibly arranged from coarse-grained to fine-grained.

If you have the time, I really strongly advise/recommend reading Asymmetric Division of Labor in Human Skilled Bimanual Action:
The Kinematic Chain as a Model
by Yves Guiard. It's a really cool paper about why thinking about hands in terms of "one hand being dominant" will lead you astray, and it's highly influential in the HCI crowd for the design of asymmetrical bi-anual (fancy word for two-handed) interfaces (when studying Interaction Design I wrote two master theses (because Sweden has a weird educational system, but I digress) about this very topic, so I can't help but have a strong opinion on this Wink. Obviously feel free to go disagree with anything I bring up here). It's also a great model to analyse and design game interfaces, since they tend to be bimanual too.

The main idea of the Kinematic Chain model is that our two hands from, well, a chain of motion. Instead of one hand being dominant and the other being the off-hand, motion "flows" from one hand to the other. The "off-hand" is used to set up the frame of reference. After that, the "dominant" hand performs the final action within this frame of reference. It is due to this that the off-hand is more coarse in its motion, whereas the dominant hand needs have be better fine-grained motor skills.

This model actually is visible in good computer interfaces too, even if they were discovered intuitively. Take WASD + mouse-look of FPS games for example: the left hand sets up the frame of reference by moving the player around, the right hand provides the fine-grained aiming.

Anyway, enough babbling, on to this game's interface and its menu selection!

For the sake of the discussion, I'm going to assume we discuss keybindings on an international US QWERTY keyboard:



(you might want to provide alternate bindings for other keyboards, and the ability to customize keybindings)

Let's assume the player is right-handed (although being left-handed myself I wouldn't mind a left-handed option!)

The flow from reference frame to fine-grained is moving around => select action type => select specific action.

Here's a first suggestion: let's bind moving around to WASD. Players are familar with it, and don't have to move their hand from arrow keys to regular keys. Use the SPACE BAR for jump if we want to separate it from moving up. Let's make J the "select" and K the "cancel" button. Pressing J once opens the menu. WASD can now be used to navigate the menu. Pressing K closes it, pressing J again selects an item. Now WASD can be used directly to select one of the cross options, with J as a final confirmation. If you don't pause time while the menu is open, I suggest that pressing SPACE BAR at any time would the menus and jumps, so players can always literally jump away from danger! Might add some fun time pressure.

Benefits of this scheme are consistency of the left hand providing spatial navigation, and the right hand for the final confirm/cancel action. It aligns with expectations and the intuitive flow of actions. Furthermore the hands never have to leave the home row so are always in position to type something. A downside is that it overloads the character keys, introducing a mode switch.

To give an example of another scheme: arrow keys for movement, ASDF for opening one of four different menu options, and SPACE BAR to confirm selection items on the cross. Furthermore, in that case I'd bind the most commonly chosen menu to F, second-most common to D, and so on. In this scenario motion flows from the right hand to the left, and the player has to move their hand from arrow keys to character keys to type. However, this represents a real mode switch too, so a benefit is that it has slightly less overloading of keys (ASDF still has multiple meanings though).

Anyway, some ideas for you to ponder on how to make the whole interface experience as fluid as possible Smiley.
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oahda
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« Reply #577 on: July 26, 2016, 02:20:03 AM »

(you might want to provide alternate bindings for other keyboards, and the ability to customize keybindings)
Not might. You do. One especially common setup is AZERTY which as you can see has neither W nor A in the same place as a QWERTY keyboard, so you'd immediately be excluding those players. There was a good post about this last LD. I'm on my phone now, but go look at the last LD thread (in the competitions subforum I think); there's a link to that post somewhere in there.
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« Reply #578 on: July 26, 2016, 02:40:23 AM »

I tried to avoid sounding like I'm telling him what to do
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Zizka
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« Reply #579 on: July 26, 2016, 05:23:02 AM »

Alright, time to reply some.

So first of all, regarding the input, you can configure your keys yourself from the launcher:


This is default setup at the moment however:


So from what I understand, I should make the following changes:

-Change the default arrow keys to "wasd".

Quote
Some feedback on the interface: this game will involve a lot of typing, and mode switches seem somewhat inevitable (ideally minimised and clearly communicated; please click that link). I think that ideally the keybindings should be organised in such a way that I don't have to lift my hands or even leave the home row with my fingers. Furthermore, it's a two-handed interface, so the "flow" of actions should be sensibly arranged from coarse-grained to fine-grained.

This made me think. Instead of having a different key for the battle/defense cross, how about a mode switch key? I'd like to streamline the process, save steps if possible to simplify things.

Quote
Here's a first suggestion: let's bind moving around to WASD. Players are familar with it, and don't have to move their hand from arrow keys to regular keys. Use the SPACE BAR for jump if we want to separate it from moving up. Let's make J the "select" and K the "cancel" button. Pressing J once opens the menu. WASD can now be used to navigate the menu. Pressing K closes it, pressing J again selects an item. Now WASD can be used directly to select one of the cross options, with J as a final confirmation. If you don't pause time while the menu is open, I suggest that pressing SPACE BAR at any time would the menus and jumps, so players can always literally jump away from danger! Might add some fun time pressure.

I agree about "wasd". There's no jump in battle just yet, I'm thinking of how to implement it.

Just to clarify though: I think there's a confusion about the gameplay mechanic (which makes sense as no one as played the latest build).

The game takes place in two distinct phases: Exploration and Battle. I think it's important to understand the distinction between those two phases.

Exploration:
This is the dungeon crawler aspect. You open chests, move from room to room and so on. This is where you can open up the game "menu". So for this, I think "J" sounds like a good idea and "K" cancels.

Battle:
Battle triggers when you run into an enemy. At this point in time,  you can't access the "menu" as you could in the Exploration phase. So there's no menu interaction here. When in battle, you can move around as a "basic" action. In order to use abilities, you need to bring up either the defense cross or the attack cross. Those are the only two options available.

At the moment, you press the direction key once to select and once again to confirm. Honestly, I think this works pretty well, but I wouldn't mind also having the option of pressing "J" to confirm a selection, I'll talk to Jeff about it.

Quote
If you don't pause time while the menu is open, I suggest that pressing SPACE BAR at any time would the menus and jumps, so players can always literally jump away from danger! Might add some fun time pressure.

Oh I definitely want to pause the game while the menu is open. I think there's a time for pressure and a time for thought. I think guessing cards as everything is moving around would be rather off-putting to say the least.

Thanks for the descriptive message however, it will certainly influence the game.

Quote
Getting curious now... LobsterSundew suddenly jumped in with KS info. What's that about? Do you usually do that? Really nice of you, either way!

Yes, he does it fairly often actually. He could probably give you the list. It's good reading with insightful, empirical information (which I appreciate).

@LobsterSundew:
Will reply in a complete message!

@zorg:
Quote
I like the idea of re-adding basic jump and run mechanics.

Well, the jump isn't back yet.

As for moving, yes, it's back. This is actually because of the criticism I received here regarding the lack of dynamism of battle (which was excellent criticism).

Basically the battery recharges unless you are moving in battle. So although you can move around as much as you want in battle, the downside is that your energy won't recharge when you do.

The reason why I really want to release the current build is to actually get feedback from players about this. Adding dynamism without sacrificing strategy (which is the priority here) is easier said than done.

I think I'll eventually have to sacrifice *some* dynamism because I don't want to combat to turn into an action-fest, I think this goes against the spirit of rpg (which are fundamentally strategic or should be strategic in my view of things).

Since I'm at it, here are two pages for the game manual I'm working on:


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