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Crowdfunding in practice

Rex Crowle and Moo Yu from Foam Sword talk about funding their game Knights and Bikes via Kickstarter.
I guess the major stage really next was actually getting some funding so that we could keep going with it, and it wasn’t just like a hobby. You know, it actually became a real project, which is where we decided to go for Kickstarter funding because it felt that we’d been in the industry for long enough and had sort of a reputation that, hopefully, some people might feel like giving us some money. It’s so crazy that anyone would really. I mean, it blows my mind that anyone will take a chance on a project that doesn’t exist yet.
A lot of that stage was creating enough prototype areas and a breadth of content that then I could cut a trailer out of and show the broad scope of what we were hoping to create with the game. At that early stage, there wasn’t any story, not really a sense of the island setting that it takes place on. It wasn’t like a cohesive space. It was like lots of little scenes, lots of little vignettes. But, through a lot of editing, we were able to bring together something that looked like a final game. I mean, that’s always the frustrating thing. If you do it right, everyone is like, well, the game already looks done.
And it’s like, well, yeah, well, there’s only 10 minutes of game. And you saw all of it in the trailer, but carefully cut together. All of the asset requirements that we would have for a Kickstarter, we spent a lot of time like figuring out what the campaign would be like, how the page would look, how it would just very clearly, immediately like grab people’s attention. Having a little bit of like the pop culture influence of The Goonies was like a useful thing of just so that people could like straight away understand what kind of experience this was.
Trying to figure out all of the different rewards and working out like postage costs around the world of how much it was going to cost to send posters to Fiji or somewhere, just in case anyone backed from there, so that was- you know, there was a lot of work going on at that time that wasn’t so much like actually in the game, but we knew that, if we managed to pull it off, then we would actually get to make the game. So it was getting that balance really. Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a lot of time and with marketing hats on, business hats on.
I mean, I think we leveraged a lot of our industry experience, but also a lot of our industry connections, whether it was people that would help us promote the campaign, but also people that could give us advice that had run Kickstarter campaigns before. So it definitely was a time of putting on a lot of non-development hats and community management. I remember we were trying to reply to like every single comment as it came in and like tried to stay up for like when America is up because, obviously, a lot of funding comes from there as well. So, yeah, it was a very, very interesting and stressful month. Yeah, it was a crazy month.
We got into a good rhythm where we set ourselves the goal of always doing an update to our backers on the first of the month every month. And some Kickstarter projects, to be honest, they don’t really update their backers that often, but it felt really good for us because it created like a series of milestones really. Because I think a tricky thing, sometimes, I think a lot of indie developers sometimes struggle with is that, if you’ve sort of got infinite time, you can just sort of tap away at your game project forever and like never release it or never like make huge progress.
From the Kickstarter campaign, a lot of publishers came to us and said they wanted to fund in addition to the Kickstarter money. And I think a lot of them were like, oh yeah, we’re really interested. Just send us a build. And like we didn’t really have a build. We had like three vignettes. So I think that sort of did force us to say or force us to think about like, OK, let’s get these three vignettes and put them into something coherent that we could send to them and be like here’s a little example of a microcosm of the game coherently.
I think that was a really nice step for us because, once you have something that works as a whole, you can just keep adding more and more. And you know when it’s not working anymore or when it is working.
But then there’s also things like managing the business side and cash flow. Like one of the big things that helped us along was the Video Games Tax Relief scheme, so being able to know how to do the accounting to optimise your tax benefits of the game to make sure there’s money to pay the salaries to make the game. There is a lot of things like that, even I think being able to read contracts. We licenced our IP to two different companies. And that is a skill set that must be acquired and is very expensive to acquire otherwise.
And, yeah, I’m glad that, on a lot of things, either one of us has just been able to pick it up, or one of us has had someone who’s willing to help us out along in the process. When you’re a small team, having that attitude of just trying whatever you can to help the game, it’s the only way it’s ever going to get done really.

Rex Crowle and Moo Yu from Foam Sword talk about funding their game Knights and Bikes via Kickstarter.

Crowdfunding in the indie games scene is one of the ways creators can bring their game projects to life. Here you’ll learn more about:

  • How Rex and Moo conducted their Kickstarter campaign, plus the skills they learned along the way
  • How they created a prototype
  • What else they had to do in terms of marketing, reading up on IP licensing and learning about contracts
  • How the Video Games Tax Relief scheme helped
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Introduction to Indie Games

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