Kylotonn Games - WRC 5

On this day two years ago, I started working on WRC 5 as a Game Designer at Kylotonn Games. Calendar coincidence, this is also today that the game is finally released, after two long years of level design processes, design writing, trials and errors, data gathering, research, documentation...
A game I am really proud of even if it wasn't 730days of endless fun. 

From the application form to the last tweak in the localisation files, the team did a lot and some people worked their ass out to have this game released. And so I take this occasion to thanks them.

Official website

The game won the "best console game for 2015" Ping Award:


Gantz - Alien Invasion

Started in March 2010 has as hobby on my spare time, Gantz: Alien Invasion is a video game adaptation of the manga of the same name: Gantz. But don't get mad or what, it's just a game design document describing the game as I see it.
And yeah, I know what you're going to say you know! There's already few games adapted from Gantz, but I pretend to think that they do not catch the very concept of the manga, what he can really offer in terms of video game. And then it was a way of working a game design with a specifications sheet to meet - the universe and the mechanics of the manga - rather than writing without constraints and totally free on the first thing that would come to my mind (which I don't deprive myself to, however).

Unlike the Konami's game on PS2, this adaptation has no form of narration, scenario or story, none of it! Alien Invasion is an action game conceived as a Monster Hunter with the speed and dynamism of Vanquish, the violence of Ninja Gaiden and in which players have to help each others like in Left4Dead.
For the remains, I tried to respect the original manga as much as I could, digging details in the existing adaptations (animés and movies).

I have not the vainglory to sign the budget and the rights to develop the game tomorrow, like I said in introduction it's just an exercise in style. The irony is that I entered Kylotonn Games as a Game Designer in the meantime, so this kind of document is basically my all-day job now. But hey, I don't regret it because it was a good exercise and I found myself facing many issues, the overall playability of the project has changed three times to give you an idea. So, in the end this was interesting!

The result of this work is a (almost) 70 pages PDF document which took me about 250h of work and that you could read by clicking RIGHT HERE (or you can download it if you want a clean and convenient PDF). I know this will never become the bedside book of anyone, but it wouldn't have been very useful to write an article about that doc' without a link to download and read it.

It goes without saying that the resulting doc' is a massive spoiler of everything that has been published on the license until now, you now have been warned about this!

Oh! Almost forgot, the document itself is in french because I started it like that three years ago as said in the header, sorry if you're not a french reader.
But I could make the translation if you're (really) interested in the project : D


The Binding of Isaac: dossier+interview

Hey, I just realized that I haven't talked yet about the dossier that I made on The Binding of Isaac for the website Gameweb.fr!

I'm not a journalist, though Isaac mesmerized me during many months and I know the (weird) people of Gameweb since a pretty long time now.

And above all I like a lot their work, so it was very cool to be able to publish something about that game from Edmund McMillen on this website.

Actually the really big part was an interview of McMillen himself, realized on Skype about a year ago. Thanks again to Ed' for his time, his patience and kindness.
And thanks to my sister and her ex-boyfriend for helping me on the transcript.

The dossier : http://gameweb.fr/articles/papier-21-welcome-to-my-nightmare-page-1.html
The interview : http://gameweb.fr/articles/sujet-star-92-lechelle-disaac-page-1.html


How to kickstart a game (english version)

Not a game project this time, but an article written during a little more than a year which gathers all of my observations about a hot topic: crowdfunding. See this paper as a modest guide on the question, and I apologize for the very poor english, translating all of this was exhausting.

You need to know that the very principle of crowdfunding is based on one thing: TRUST.
Launch a project on KickstarterIndieGoGoLookAtMyGame, Ulule or even KissKissBankBank, this is not like selling a finished product to the gamers with crap marketing promises they usually read and hear everywhere. This is an attempt to arouse their curiosity and make them confident enough so they throw their money into a well, although they do not know what will come out of it.
Be aware that, willy-nilly, you have to erase this kind of example from the donors' mind and prove that your project is serious and is going to result in something good.

Trust. It's the key-word that a project should inspire to donors.

For the choice of the crowdfunding platform, this will of course depend on the one you have the right to use depending on your country of residency. But it goes without a saying that Kickstarter must be your number one choice if possible, even the developers of Gods Will Be Watching, however happy winner of a successful campaign on IndieGoGo, will tell you so.
Take a look to funded projects on the different websites and think about featured titles to make you an opinion on the best choice for your project, this is something we're going to talk again quickly.


  1. Your project
  2. Your budget
  3. Your campaign
  4. Your visibility
  5. Your failure?

        I.            Your project

1.       A catchy name (and a catchy logo to go with if possible)

Your game should have its own identity. Brands are everywhere these days, we see thousands of them every day, to not have a clear and distinct name comes to not exist at all.

Brenda Romero unfortunately paid the price for it by launching its campaign for an "Old-school RPG" with almost no visual or baptismal name at launch, so to say nothing for the majority of gamers. The synopsis just told "Hey old-school gamers, do you want an old-school RPG?!", what the platform has always teemed.
As the campaign smelled the scorched, these gaps were identified by its instigators, who made some efforts to fill those problems with the addition of a real title and some artworks. But it was to late, in the minds of the potential donors (the target audience) the promise was too vague, the project too blurry and, in a way, too snooty, since it was almost only based on the names of Brenda Romero and Tom Hall.

The possibility of a name change in production is not to be excluded, but be aware that it adds blur to the promise, some players will simply lose sight of the project.

Thousands of games are available, hundreds are present on the mediatic scene, to exist as a name and a concept in the gamers' minds is a difficult enough task to not mix up the cards oneself. In addition, changing of title, of direction, team ou whatever what are usually perceived as instability factors of the project ("Those guys don't seem to know themselves where they go.") which can easily hamper the confidence of donors.

2.       The concept must be clear and (very) well illustrated

The player must have a very clear vision of the project in which he plans to put money. If the very concept of the game is blurry in his mind, he'll leave the page. The crowdfunding websites are not short of projects who're seeking some donors.

Lexis Numérique experienced this reality with Taxi Journey. Just say that we will mix adventure and platform is far too vague, these are genres that have branches and sub-branches in shambles in our time. So, in the absence of a video or a demo, players simply have not "seen" in which direction the project tried to go. Unable to throw themselves in without extrapolate on some key words highlighted, and if they must make an effort of extrapolation to understand what are you're trying to sell, this mean that there's gaps in communication.
It was only during a second campaign that a very rudimentary prototype was shown, but this second campaign was launched in almost exactly the same conditions as the first one, its fate was similar.

Closer to us, the developers of Planets³ decided to show something during their campaign, which allowed it to gain visibility, as the promise became more concrete.

Opposite example: Hyper Light Drifter showed nothing else than gameplay in its video (and gameplay sequences which seem damn good in addition) which explains the huge and quick success of this campaign.

As my friend Tristan says: "Coherence and sincerity are the first two most important steps when I'm reading a project. When I see inconsistency between the idea and the description, for me it means that it's not clear in the minds of the developers and I'm not sure that my money will help them to put back in order their concept.".

3.       What is the status of your project at the time of launching the campaign?

There are no rules imposed on the progress of projects thrown into the arena of Kickstarter.

Whether you're starting from scratch with just a pitch and some sketches, or your game is practically finished, in fine you'll have to finish it and release it to the players who backed enough to obtain the game.

Many analysts have often said that a good compromise is in a very advanced project that you previously funded with your own money. This shows that you also are invested in the financial loop and that you don't bet all the risks on Kickstarter. And it allows you not to ask for a pharaonic sum to the backers, just what you need to complete the development (and a little more to process any certifications and all that).
Naturally, the less your project is advanced, the more you must be rigorous in its budgeting, anticipate hazards and surprises.
Once the amount collected, no excuse... sorry, NO EXCUSE will pass with the donors, even if this is really your dog who ate the hard drive containing the data of the game. The backers have paid, they're are waiting for the game. End of story.
I'll talk about the after-campaign later...

Note that you can always implement alpha and beta phases reserved for certain donors (it's even common) what is a good way to reduce the amount requested over playtests that you could consider organizing. I am not saying that you should not organize some playtests by saying that donors will do the job for you, but consider smartly all the possibilities available to you about it!

It is likely that you have friends who will clear some big issues, some outermost circles who'll give you a more honest opinion than your friends, there's the family and specificaly the non-gamers to make up a fresh idea of the ergonomics, legibility and basic understanding of your game. Then some backers who have accepted the most meticulous work of playtests can intervene. There is no need to look on the other side of the world to find useful feedbacks...

4.       Does your game can be sold to the "Kickstarter public"?

The question may seem obvious, but if there's a point that the general trend had proven, it's that some genres are well sellers and others aren't at all.

If Tim Schafer has sold his old-school adventure game, this is because since Grim Fandango there was almost no more, and even less with the LucasArts' touch of the '90s.
Telltale makes cinematographic adventure games, Pendulo now makes adventure games that aims to be modern and relatively serious, Amanita Design has his own niche of weird and cute adventure games... Long story short, adventure games like we have known it in the '90s almost doesn't exist any longer, so the project spoke to all who think with nostalgia to this era of their gaming lifes (and those whom are ready to give everything to Tim Schafer).

If your project is a clone (or looks like a clone) of games that teem on Steam, do not even try. Gamers would prefer to put 3€ in those games at the next Steam sales rather than putting $10 right now for a game that maybe would not tempts their desire anymore six months or a year after, when your development will be complete.

However, there are not only the retro revivals which sell (sometimes it's the oppositebold mix of popular genres can also generate interest. Actually, the question is generally to know if your game fills an empty space in the videogame landscape. Whether this is a void left by a genre into disuse, or a vacuum that just did not exist previously, or not in this form...

5.       Kickstarting a game, is better

This may seem foolish, but the Kickstarter pages asking the community to fund the development of a prototype are not so rare. The teams announcing more or less openly that they intend to sell the product in a second time to a publisher, when it's not another fundraising campaign that is planned in order to develop the "real" game from this prototype.

With very little exception, those campaigns failed. Because the Kickstarter's promise is to put some money right now to get something later. If there's one or two conditionnal steps before the player can put this hands on the game, that's too many uncertainty, it does not put into confidence.
This is already to use the conditional making his project financed by the community, if the community itself is facing several steps depending on external factors, the equation becomes too complex to inspire confidence.

From my knowledge, the only one who reached out with this promise was Takedown, a tactical-shooter whose creator failed a first campaign (poorly designed on many points) and who therefore returned in a second time with this campaign. The promise this time was not to make finance a prototype for a possible full game later, but to finance a part of the game by the community and the other one by a investment fund, who waited actually the success of the campaign in order to grant its financial assistance. The idea was that if the community was there, there should be a potential for subsequent sale...
At last, the project was deeply remade on the visual communication between the first and the second campaign (ie. first section), the second campaign succeeded and the game was published by 505 Games, for a result that I will qualify of "strongly mixed".

Another point, even if we know that financing a project is in fact financing the studio and the people who are going to work on this project, ask in concrete terms to pay for tables and chairs is not the greatest idea ever, Jane Jensen has almost lost some feathers in this.

The Gabriel Knight's author launched a Kickstarter campaign asking the player to pay for the installation of its new studio, with whom she would have developed an adventure game in the vein of what has made her famous. Fortunately, she had the intelligence to quickly change the approach angle of the campaign by linking its potential success directly with the financing of the project, and the goal was reached.
Needless to say that her own fame and this quick change are for many in this rescue.

6.       What about a playable demo?

Of course this is not inherent at all types of game, but give away a playable demo to the players at the launch of the campaign, it's taking the risk that the demo will not be convincing enough or will have too much content, making obsolete the necessity for the player to put some money to obtain... the same thing (or substantially the same).

So, if you make available a playable version, make sure that the demo of your game is REALLY representing the potential of your game. Something like 99%, not less. Because you can say as much blahblah as you want to explain that it's all placeholder but once funded it will be better, the vast majority of players will see the finished game and nothing else.
See how players react to alpha or beta phases on public forums: most of the time they judge the version as a finished game. This is a finished game in their minds. And they rarely forgive a broken or bugged beta, while it is the very principle of a beta to identify problems in order to correct them. But it is so, and none of us can change that, it only remains to take this reality into account.

Pay attention if your demo is publicly available! If a player who is not a donor falls over it, he must have to be aware of the fundraising campaign in progress at one time or another, and the quality of the demo have to makes him want to put money on the project. If he's bored to death, he'll quickly forget the existence of the game, and the word-of-mouth that you are looking to produce around your campaign will be as effective as the reproduction of pandas.

Finally, in terms of offering too much content, I think that you see the idea: a demo that is not limited in any way and lets the player the opportunity to play your game ad vitam eternam. Yes it's not finished, yes it's a little buggy, not very pretty, but if the player is having fun all day long on the demo, despite the fact that you can be satisfied of having made a good game, you will be far less when your campaign will take a wall in the face.
Because the majority of players will not ask anything more to have fun.
There's only on very small projects or very small communities that this can work, because the circle of interested players is still "acceptable", and these players can then directly be some kind of playtesters for you, depending on the current level of progress of your project.

      II.            Budget vs. Wallet

7.       Have the measure of its ambitions

Kickstarter has grabbed the spotlight in 2012, and has established itself a public that continues to follow its news in 2013it remains that even the largest projects do not exceed the 100.000 donors.

Project Eternity for instance, one of the biggest project in terms of money raised counts a little more than 70.000 backers. Star Citizen, almost 35.000 backers on its Kickstarter page.
This may seem like a lot, but be aware that the budget will be divided between all the backers and the sum THEY're willing to put in your project. You should therefore carefully calculate the sum that you're going to ask to the community, because asking too much could induce a sense of pride (but most importantly, it's taking the risk to not succeed and getting nothing at all) while not asking enough is take the risk to be short of the finances for the project, not finishing it and upset all the people who have participated in the funding campaign. Suffice to say that this is automatic blacklisting, and unless a change of identity and face...

The example of Star Command is often cited about too short financing objectives, but which nevertheless delivered a game. For those for whom doesn't ring a bell on that, a quick reminder:
A small team launches a Kickstarter campaign for an iOS game called Star Command and easily crushes the money goal. The problem was, this amount of money was calculated lightly, and the promised goodies as far as the development cost and the taxes couldn't be covered by the sum collected.
The team floundered during many months in excuses messages to the community, finding a solution in a SECOND Kickstarter campaign - of the same project - officially for the port of the game on PC and Mac, informally to finish the iOS and Android game and try as good as possible to continue with the porting on computers, to get back on their feets.

You have to be fully aware that this is really an exception among thousands of projects, the devs' were forced to cancel some rewards promised to get to refloat, and a considerable number of features were removed. And it is only recently that the game was released on iOS, a year and a half after the end of the first campaign.

Be very careful on what you ask for, how it will be used and the multiple contingencies that may arise along the way and with whom you would have to count.

    III.            The campaign

8.       Determine the most appropriate date and well manage your time

Launch a campaign whenever, is like released a game whenever: it's nonsense.

Be aware that crowdfunding isn't the focus of interest of anyone on Earth, and for the players who love the concept it's usually a sideline, an "optional" part of their budget. So you need to focus on a period of low expense! But, as we live in a hyper-consumer society, the formula must probably be: bet on a hollow between two periods of significant spending.
That is to say: avoid the sales (particularly Steam sales actually), avoid the important game releases which could monopolize the news and the attention, avoid the biggest trade fairs and game exhibitions like E3, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show who fully cannibalize the news, and finally avoid being in a face-to-face with a very mediatic Kickstarter campaign "competitor" who could engulf the donors.
On this last point, I can only urge you to follow extremely closely videogame news, tidibits and other Internet rumors. The web is generally aware of the imminence of a campaign a few days before its launch.

And I say it for the form: avoid the holiday season because Thanksgiving + Christmas + New Year Eve, avoid the Summer season because the whole gaming news are dormant and people spend their cash on beaches.

About the timing now: on most of the crowdfunding websites, you can adjust the time of campaigning at your will, from one day to sixty days at max.
A good 95% of the projects that I have followed have opted for a 30-day campaign, the campaigns at 60 are downright rare. But in both cases it's a very short period of time for you, but very quick in the media jungle on the Internet. It is not uncommon to learn about a great project after the end of his campaign. Be heard on the net is not a easy things to achieve.

Do not think that 60 days is a good thing because it leaves you more time gather donations!
On the contrary, in the mind of the guys who are gonna pass on your page, seeing "57 days to go" will make him think that he has plenty of time to come back, nothing's in hurry. And a guy who thinks about that + another one + another one... equal a campaign that drags, which is not a good thing when you're going to approach the end of the campaign and that everyone will have forgotten the existence of your game, while you will still not reached your goal.

From my personal point of view, it is even counterproductive because your campaign will have the image of long and slow death. Such as the Shadow of the Eternals one:

About this, made like everyone else, goes for 30 days, urgency, and makes the length!

Oh by the way! Don't forget the "time lag" between the launch of the campaign and its end!
When you start a Kickstarter, your donors promise  throughout all the backing period, but Kickstarter does not debit all of that until the counter hits zero (provided that the objective has been reached of course).
This means that the wallet of your donors shouldn't be stranded when Kickstarter cashes the donations, in which case the pledges of these people will simply be canceled. Thus reducing the final savings (on average, 10% of the final amount is not recovered).
To be complete, note that on IndieGogo it works differently because the site uses Paypal, you are debited at the moment of your donation (and refunded in case of failure of the campaign). 'Gogo also has the distinction of offering the choice between a fixed goal to achieve or a simple "hoped" objective, while gaining every promised / acquired penny.
Ulule doesn't automatically pay back in case of failure, the site puts your donation on a "wallet" for you to back something else, you have to manually ask for a refund if you want the money back on your bank account.
Anyway, each site has its own policy, take a good look!

However, don't be afraid, Kickstarter does not negate the success of the campaign if you have reached your goal, you are not responsible for the deadbeats, it's just that you will be paid what they actually collected, minus 5% for Amazon and their own commission.
Immediately after the success of your campaign, you can still contact those for whom the payment is stuck, in case it wouldn't be voluntary (obsolete payment information, lack of cash...).

And then you can always implement a second phase of crowdfunding for slacker backers.

9.       Be and/or seems to be professionnal

According to the Kickstarter managers, when they arrive on the page of a project, the first action being done by the vast majority of the Internet users is to click on the video to watch it. Add to that about 50% of projects funded within the ones with a video, while this number drops to 30% when this is not the case, and you understand its importance.
Addendum: I invite you to take a look at this interesting article by Thomas Bidaux, published on Gamasutra and which gives good economic vision of video games on Kickstarter.

You could think that a strong concept is enough to raise the millions, yet I repeat, trust is the most important factor and even the greatest game concept ever must be in the hands of people competent enough to make it a good game, so, the people who present the project must seem to be pro in what they do.
You should therefore not hesitate to use all the financial means available in a professional quality video, properly cut, involving serious people, speaking with poise and motivation about the project on the table, if possible interspersed with everything which may be a state of progress of the game, without telling your life nevertheless. Think efficiency, if you can sell the concept and explain your goal in two minutes, no need to take ten and losing the viewer's attention. You and I are quick to fast-forward on Youtube since the bandwidth allows us to do so.
Visual concepts and a pitch is a good beginning, a video of the prototype is better, a vertical slice demo is almost the best. The best card for you to play to sell a project is to show it and explain how the baby looks like on ultrasound and that you just need a little time and money in order to deliver it.

More nebulous the concept is, the less it will  inspire trust to the potential backer. You can completely forget this principle of secrecy that is law in the video game, the fact of not showing a lot in order to doesn't be robbed of your ideas, keep marketing cartridges for a later time while teasing the players over a period of time while gradually revealing videos and screenshots.
No. There, you must seduce the player IMMEDIATELY, so that any element of your project must be there, in front of the payer, in less than five minutes. Because it's not when your campaign will fail that you're going to show the player what they missed, they'll totaly don't care, and anyway it will be too late for you.

Forget the hesitant speech filmed on webcam with two dead beers in the background, all the seriousness of the production lies in its presentation and the trust it inspires.

Same thing for the biography displayed on the page, the image of illustration, the header of your project, do not neglect anything! If you didn't take two minutes to put a nice pic or an attractive description of your company, it will be difficult for the backer to imagine that you will grant him the properly finished game that you pretend to make.

10.   "Anyway, I'm internationally known in the neighborhood!"

The biggest false-truth about Kickstarter is that if you are not famous you will not succeed. Nay! The handle of celebrity who own the news since 2012 is the tree hiding the forest!

At the moment of writing this, more than 6.000 game projects were posted on Kickstarter, and nearly 35% have achieved their goals. Needless to draw you a picture about the percentage that 10 or 15 celebrities represent on the site, especially as some have failed despite their VIP status.

What celebrity change is just the scale of the sum. Where you are in need to 40.000€ for a project that you feel ambitious, Chris Avellone requires more than a million dollars to operate a part of Obsidian, a studio of around 150 people.

You don't need to be known and recognized as your project as your project stands right, and tell yourself that there is even a kind of aversion phenomenon for the developers that the public think rich.
How many times have I read "This is the height! Tim Schafer ask us some money, where does he spent everything we gave him for the Monkey Island?!" or "Given the size of their places, I believe they will not need the $5 that I could have put into the project. Gonna crack it at the release."

In short, enjoy your anonymous status and make a name for yourself!

11.   The question about the DRM... isn't one.

Crowdfunding is a financial solution for developers that publishers don't want. The public participating in this financing has, in some way, a certain idea of creative independance that studios must have, as opposed to the chains that sometimes keep them in purely monetary practices.

In fact, ask the financing of a game that will be distributed with protections is like shoot a shotgun cartridge in each of your two feet. And this is probably the point that comes up in most FAQ projects: "Will there be a DRM-free version?".

This is prohibitive for many players to say they support a game without giving money to a publisher but this game will end on a digital platform or another with a wagon of constraints.
Offer the download of a DRM-free version is an obligation, even if done in parallel of good old Steam or Desura download keys. Both is ideal, but only the Steam key does not always go well with the extremists of the e-Freedom.

Even Brian Fargo, who associated with Deep Silver for the DISTRIBUTION of Wasteland 2 has taken some not-so-fresh tomatoes when this announcement was made. Needless to say, the people who have throw them haven't read half of the public release, Deep Silver did not become the publisher of W2, InXile hasn't betrayed anyone, they just use this publisher to take care of the retail version of the game, and put it on shelves. Backers will have their DRM-free versions, nothing changed on this point and it's just economic pragmatism to wanting to see his game on shelves, just to sell the game to people outside of the little Kickstarter bubble.

All of this to say: pay attention to how you are using words in your communication, Internet is a place where people come with the forks first and then, maybe, listen to you. So be particularly clear about the questions related to the distribution of the game that you're looking to finance.

12.   Rewards are the sinews of war 

The first rule of a good Kickstarter campaign is the rewards.
The second rule of a good Kickstarter campaign is... THE REWARDS.

Players do not fund a project for the simple goodness of soul, ask yourself the question "HOW MANY a player can consider putting in every rewards tier available?".

The digital version of the game must be available for $10 to $15 maximum, even if you intend to sell the game twice that price once it is completed and sold.

Then, it all depends on what you are offering, and the cost that it will generate to put it all available to the player. Do not underestimate the cost to manufacture some t-shirts, posters and physical versions of your game. Do not underestimate the time and cost it takes to produce limited editions, or even the time for a digital content to be worked.

Find out well BEFORE promise all that (the Mighty No. 9 team for instance, announced from the very beginning of their campaign that they were associated with Humble Store for keys distribution and with FanGamer for the physical elements) and make sure EVERY backers tiers remains profitable for you and for the player. If you offer a $100 tier containing the digital game and a poster that cost you 2€ to produce, you are certainly the winner, but who wants to put that kind of money for a poster?
Because this is in these terms that the players think, very few seem to realize that this is actually to pay employees working on a game. For them this is a shop shelf with different packages and they just select the one they find the most attractive.

The very principle of crowdfunding may well be an outright gift of money, if it works at the moment this is because the players are winners too in this, it's almost a pre-order on your game that they do.

EACH tier should be interesting for the player in terms of "obtained content", but also for you in terms of money that will fall into your pocket in the end.
Actually, a good building of your rewards tree will encourage the player to select the highest tier in relation to its budget. Because he will tell himself for each level that putting A LITTLE BIT MORE is going to grant him this or that, and that he wishes to be able to.
Your reward tree should respond as best as possible to the equation: "Profitability for you PLUS profitability for the player DIVIDED by the objective you need to achieve success".

Take note that on most crowdfunding platforms, it is impossible to modify the tiers content after launching the campaign, for obvious reasons of fairness vis-à-vis of what donors undertake. You can add others afterwards on Kickstarter, but mostly it sounds like a patch and it does not help to ease the understanding of your "offer".
I repeat it again, think carefully about how you build your rewards tree! Take inspiration if necessary from other campaigns, look particularly at the number of donors in each of the slots, you will find that some are favored while others are shunned, it's just that what they offered at the rate they posted worth the cost or not at all.
You can optionally create scarcity by limiting the maximum number of donors in certain tiers. During the Planetary Annihilation campaign for example, the first tier was a discount on the price of the dematerialized game: a boon for the interested players and a welcome boost that has probably contributed to the impression of a flying start. That was the case or not without the limited tiers.

Last detail, don't neglect the dematerialized fans nor the boxed editions' fetishists.
There are players ready to put $150 for the full range of goodies (OST, artbook, eBook, exclusive badges, exclusive items, awards...) but don't want to hear about physical objects. This is why most of the recent campaign I followed had both physical / dematerialized parallel offer, with similar money amounts but offering rewards tailored for both profiles. You can always consider an hybrid tier with a bit of both, but they are often shunned by the public in favor of the other two.

Always pay a close attention to the fact that you are asking for money to fund the development of a game, not to become a goodies seller. Whatever you propose to players, you need to make a profit and the money you raise will go, in the best or the worst case, allow you to complete the development of the game.

You know well that Tim Schafer has collected nearly three and a half million dollars for Broken Age (which was called Double Fine Adventure at the time), but do you know how much money has actually been put into the development of the game? A little over two million dollars. Because he had to pay intermediaries and rewards:

Each investment tier must be worth bearing what it promises, while being profitable for you.

In terms of large sums, it's more exotic.
Depending on your game, you can propose to include the names of your donors in the credits or outright in the game, picture of the players, suggest they "participate" in development although this is subject to debate (between seek advice from players, taking into account their ideas, and leaving the whole design on the initiative of donors, there is a gap that must be handled with care in my humble opinion).

And for the really high sums, when it starts to run into thousands of EuroDollars, generally there's specific events that are offered. Insofar as there are no more than a dozen people who will be able to potentially put a four digits amounts (or more) in your project, you can offer to host them in the studio for a day or two, a dinner with the team, regular conference-calls...
Most campaigns have this kind of stuff anyway.

Do not neglect them, because they can be a significant support to the success of your campaign, but keep in mind that it is still restricted to a few fortunate. Consider what can be a plus for those people, to the extent they are likely to have the means to afford all the equipment they want, what is the little extra that will make them draw the Mastercard?

Finally, don't go crazy thinking there is still a freak of two to put $10.000 on your project and complete his goal after just saw your video. They're present on mediatic campaigns because they are rich persons who grew up with games of past glories. It is some kind of tradition to offer mega-levels, but I would advise trying to act as if they were not there.

Oh by the way! One last thing, some developers sometimes offer exclusive in-game items for certain levels of donations, this is something I would avoid personnally. Perhaps this is related to my dislike for games sold in self-assembly kit and the idea that some players "deserve" some parts and not others although there is just a difference in the amount of money given. It's a very capitalist idea in my opinion...

13.   Updates, a difficult balance to find

It is fashionable to keep abreast your donors on the project's progress, developments and potential changes as the countdown slips away.
On Kickstarter, these updates take the form of newsletters automatically sent to donors, and there is as much political about it that there are studios launching fundraisers.

During the campaign, of course, the updates are very regular because the timing is tight and it is not uncommon for developers to extend thanks as the jackpot increases. I don't denigrate anything in that practice, on the contrary! Learn how to be humble and grateful to the people who support you, donors are often very involved people, real fans that will power your words on social networks and online forums.
I've seen people be thanked namely by developers in their newsletters, imagine the influence these people have had on the campaign. Think for a second at the idea that an illustrious stranger with whom you have taken the time to chat via messages, suddenly become real VRP of your project and which significantly increase the curve of your donations...

Once the campaign is over and the money collected, there those who communicate very little, only for development milestone, those who communicate on a regular basis (every month is somewhat the average for the campaigns that I followed) to those who communicate clearly too much, like twice or thrice a month. No need to say that on a weekly basis, there is very little advance from on newsletter to the next one, so the interest is quickly lost for the readers.

In my view, it is better to have interesting things to say and that your donors are happy to read you from time to time. You keep the attention, you please your contributors, everyone's happy.

Some developers are regularly making video updates, for the milestones and to speak directly to donors, even sometimes to show something interesting. This is of course a plus! But this has a cost since once again there MUST be professional quality filming, editing, inlays, logos, special effects, explosions, lens flare...

Do not forget any details in your updates, keep track of various aspects of development AND of the campaign because people want to know almost everything about how things are progressing and at all levels. Most of the newsletters I received and that I continue to receive are almost chaptered with a short word with an overview of the state of production and the different points of the game development, news about the studio if it's appropriate, the progress of te production of physical reward, the schedule for the coming weeks...

And now you must think for yourself 'damn, someone needs to work full time on all of this', and you would be right! In most of studios, it's some kind of a community manager who is managing the newsletters, and it's almost a full time job. Especially if you have online forums or this kind of stuff. Here you're dead, don't even think a single second that you could handle this in a few minutes in the evening, just before returning home.

Well mention the important updates! When it's about Steam keys, or to ask for informations or whatever important things, you need to it let know.

Important reminder in direct link: have a database of your donors in reinforced concrete and secured as Fort Knox. They should not have to chase their rewards.
Putting in place a website allowing the player to manage their donations and the rewards which go with isn't a luxury, you could trust me on this. And all of this is going to need a watchmaker's logistic, except if you think about managing your hundreds (maybe thousands) of backers only with a paperpen and a little notebook.

Be aware that you will have to send to this little world their download keys, do not make any mistake between the different tiers and the rewards going with, and managing any physical rewards will not be a cakewalk either.

Last note on this subject, but it's more for yourself: communicate as being aware of the sense of time between the start of your campaign and the release of the actual game. Players are used to the mediatic cycle of games, we all know that the announcement of a game precedes a longer or shorter period from its release depending on the game in question.
Except that crowdfunding is an announcement of a game before it's even developped (where a "classic" developement is announced after the game is well-advanced (usually at least...)) so the time could seem very long for the backers. And two years after the beginning of the explosion of the phenomenon, many people are starting to find the time long compared to investments they have done, then there is nothing wrong in terms of actual time production.
Even the gaming Press has hard time to get used to it, for example Jeuxvideo.com (biggest French videogame website) who published an alarming news about the development of République, up to imply the cancellation of the project, even though the update page provides regularly news and that the eve of the publication of this news, the team announced the beta of the game!

I'm saying it again, communication needs to be adapted! Do not monkey the big name of the sector, imagine that you keep informed a bunch of friends about how the development of your little project is progressing. No need to email the whole planet about each new sprite you have made, but a little update giving some news from time to time, that's good.

14.   Being transparent, it is above all being honest

Do not hide your potential problems to your donors.
They're not publishers in white collars who only think by the money, they're passionate gamers excited by your concept. They can perfectly understand that you've screwed up a detail or two, if you're honest they may even be a great deal of help.
If you try to hide something and that one way or another you're put against the wall because people got doubts about what you're saying, it's over. Like I have repeatedly said, trust is central, it's difficult to acquire it, betray it and you're dead.

Double Fine has mismanaged its budget on developing Broken Age, Schafer saw too big when writing his game. Where a publisher would have required cuts in the design (or cancel the project all along depending on its mood) the backers, for the majority, they welcomed the decision of the team to split the project in two parts to make the least possible cutting.

Yes, some press-gang websites had fun to burn the Kickstarter witch on the altar of "stealing" the players, but why get rid of publishers and time constraints if it's to reproduce the same damn thing on Kickstarter?
This is the very reason why the principle provides greater freedom for developers.

15.   Stretch-goals, a carrot that you should not stretch too far

If the concept of your game is good enough and that the budget is reasonable, you can hope that the donations are going to exceed your initial budget. This is not a rarity, and some even crush the ceiling. This can be well simply explained by this idea of a form a pre-order of the game when you back it, and so even if your goal is reached, players will continue to donate in order to "buy" a copy of the game.

So, what are you doing with the excess money (Kickstarter paradox)? Well this is here that the concept of stretch-goals appears. Additional tiers, beyond the necessary amount of money for the development of the game, that you set as you see fit the best and in exchange of which you are offering more features, more content, more language for the location, some additional game modes or even "guests" supposed to bring an added value to your game (an illustrator or a renowned composer, a famous writer for your fantasy scenario, everything depend on what you are doing naturally ...).

This concept is a good alternative to reduce the burden of your development for what's peripheral to the game (the locaton in ten languages for example) while being interesting to make it more complete or better polished in the event of a great success for your campaign. Similarly, it can be an incentive for players to increase their participation or share the word to their friends, hoping to "unlock" additional content.

Though! Beware of too distant goals that could become frustrating!
Some developers put online at the very beginning of their campaign a huge table describing what could be added as the amount is growing. Sometimes up to several millions with plans to double the game content, pay a large orchestra and make sick goodies. What I think is frustrating is for the player, because it's not "what I get if we reach this level" but rather "what we won't get if it's not achieved". This happened to me on three projects or so, I see features' promises that are frankly cool, but the goal is not reached and it remains only to say goodbye to this feature.

But the solution is quite simple actually: tease the next goals, but never reveal them all (because of course you've all planned, costed and budgeted BEFORE the start of the campaign).
Just reveal the next two or three stretch-goals in relation with the accumulated amount at a T time, and you'll progressively reveal more of those additional levels as they're reached.

This creates an interest in unlocking these levels, some surprise, and it keeps the attention of the players and the Press throughout the campaign. Without being frustating if a specific feature's tier is not reached.

Directly linked with what I said earlier about the importance of calculating the initial budget and all that, it's obvious that the stretch-goals must be calculated with intelligence and stays "plausible" for the average Joe. The amount requested should be consistent with what the game will benefit.

Finally, do not forget the idea of NOT doing additional tiers. This is what some have openly decided to do, considering that this is a parasite in the original vision of the game.

Think well about the real contribution for your game and especially, ESPECIALLY the realistic budgeting that you might be tempted to add. Do not put up stretch goals isn't a bad thing you know, once the funding target is reached, the fact that people continue to inject funds is not your responsibility and ain't forced you to anything. You've requested a sum X, if you're given X+1 at the end of the day, you do what you want with that +1.

Keep your head straight, ask yourself about the relevance of possible changes.

16.   Tracking your campaign

Beyond the mere thought, there are statistical tools to have a projection of donations over the time of your campaign remaining to achieve its objective. This is thanks / due to  these tools that some campaigns were canceled en route, sometimes just days after their launches.

The number one tool is: http://www.kicktraq.com/
You put in the name of your project, and it draws a curve donations and a projection of where the curve should be at the end of the campaign, if things continue to run as they run. It's that simple and it provides a great view of the progress of the campaign as a whole, but also potential impacts of actions taken.

For instance, if you managed to get a good paper on a popular news site, and that donations were pouring in following this paper, it will show a peak in the donations. Beyond the fact that it looks cool on your screen, this will allow you to estimate the impact on the donations on your curve and thus adapt the various "tools" of communication that you have in order to reach your goal before the end of the dance.
To see the most effective actions among all those that you took and perhaps redirect the shot on some points, maybe even downright abandon some useless methods.

And if curiosity takes you, there's also the statistics of the site itself that may be worth the glance depending on the nature of the information you are seeking.

   IV.            Visibility

17.   How to come out of anonymity?

Good question! There's no magic method to ensure that your page will be visited by millions of players across the planet, and that you earn billions of dollars for your development. That would come out. However, there are things about which some developers have expressed regret after unsuccessful campaigns:
  1. Do not neglect preparations. With all that I have explained so far, needless to make you a drawing: a crowdfunding campaign has to be prepared well in advance. Calculating the budget, formatting the concept, the video presentation, all of this has to be prepared well before your launch and you should NEVER launch your campaign before EVERY of those details are well anticipated. Crowdfunding is both a marathon and a sprint, you need to start very fast and keep the distance till the end. Even repeating myself: your Kickstarter page is the facade that reflects your professionalism.
  2. Do not neglect the communication. Publish the link to your Kickstarter page on your Facebook wall is not enough to rally thousands of people needed to finance your project. When you start your funding campaign, the link must be in the hands of as many contacts in the Press and from people that you know who will be good megaphones. Do not hesitate to communicate about game itself BEFORE you launch your campaign, not only that you will take the temperature on the excitement raised by your game, but in addition it will resonate in the minds of players who have been a minimum interested with this idea.
  3. Support the campaign. Tell half the Internet planet about the launch of your campaign is only the beginning, it remains to inform the other half now! There are thousands of specialized game websites, write to them explaining how your game is better than the others, have the right words to catch the reader's curiosity, do not swing a generic email such as a press release, take the time to write to each of the websites in relation to their editorial lines. Continue to stir the fire as much as possible, inform your donors about the progress of the campaign and involve the most enthusiastic ones to share the word as widely as possible.
When you have done all this: DO IT AGAIN.
Because it's likely that your game is still in the anonymous yard...

Some advices for the beginners :

As well as a quick analysis of the campaign lived by the Finish duo of Theory Interactive about funding their game Resethttp://reset-game.net/?p=569

     V.            Encore?

18.   Try again?

Something you should consider when establishing your budget: collecting money via Kickstarter will mathematically deprive you from a part of the post-launch revenue. Because you had gathered money before or during your development, coming from potential clients, those people will get the game at launch "for free", meaning no additional income from them.

I'll take a concrete (but rough) example to explain myself: we're living in an era where the rumors said that a point & click game can sell between 100.000 and 250.000 copies, roughly. So, when 90.000 people are giving money to Double Fine for Broken Age, we can consider that the game will sell 90.000 copies less than those expected numbers. Because those people already paid for their game.

Do the math, 250.000 copies minus 90.000 backers equal "only" 160.000 people will buy the game at launch.

And the point here is that this is those 160.000 excepted copies sold that are going to pay salaries for the next months or years of your studio. Your future cash rely on those sales. Except if you launch an another Kickstarter campaigns for your next games of course...

You need to be careful with that, because your first campaign is going to pay for the next ones if you launch some. It is too early to know if a studio can be funded "for a lifetime" again and again on Kickstarter, but I'm pretty sure your success will erode itself with time.

19.   Game over?

A less joyful chapter: to fail a campaign.

The failure of a campaign isn't an end in itself, it exists some examples of teams who failed the first time and succeeded in a second attempt, after learning from their mistakes (ie. everything explained above, for a part at least).
Think about what could have sinned, what could have missed, how your message have been got and by whom...

Not and end in itself, there are examples of teams who failed on a first attempt but achieved a second one after learning from their mistakes (it's "relatively" common, but it is rare to see a third, fourth, fifth campaign for the same game...). And failing a Kickstarter won't prevent you from finding other funding sources, your campaign can even draw some attention.

Make an overview of what went wrong, what missed, what was wrongly explained and how your message have been catch and by whom. Think twice before launching a new funding, Kickstarter is not the kind of platform where you need to insist until it passes...

Nicolas Wartelle-Mathieu
Thanks to Tristan R. and Sylvain B. for their valuable feedbacks
And a huge thank you to Stéphen B. for having patiently re-read this article