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Rough Month for the BHAG

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I’m 5.5 months in and just 4 Kickstarters down. On the good side, all of them have funded, 2 of them have already shipped, and the last one went much better than I had hoped. Bam!

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On the bad side, I’m 5.5 months in and I’ve only got 4 Kickstarters going.

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The KS I had planned to be next had the creator back out. I had some big plans for some socially interesting projects, but those will take a longish time to cue up – they can’t be rushed. The time taken up by shipping has left me with a pretty tough decision that gets to the core of what I was trying to accomplish with the BHAG. Was it to do 12 Kickstarters just to hit that number, or was the real goal to do 12 Kickstarters that create an arc, a story, and that leave me with a greater insight into what is possible with crowdsourcing?

I know one thing I won’t do, and that’s rush a project so that it ends up as something that I’m not proud of. Product mistakes live with you forever – there is zero point in doing that just to hit a magic number. Bad things happen…

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So, do I re-scope my projects so that I can get 12 done or do I reduce the number and try to more “relevant and interesting” projects. Tough call. Going to have to think about this for a while.

Luckily, I’ve got a project that I am putting time on now that I think has great potential (a partnership project with a good friend of mine). I’m thinking this one could be ready for KS fairly quickly, and if I can do some parallel development on another idea in the meantime, I can get back on track to 12… maybe…

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Update on Existing Campaigns

Meelpe Deck – All shipping done.

How to Human – All shipping done.

Holiday Break – All artwork in-house. Time for heavy word-editing.

More Castles – Campaign closed very strongly, particularly for an expansion. Over 150 copies of the base game sold through this campaign, which portents well for retail sales going forward (it also means Fun to 11 isn’t doing a good job at getting the product into retail stores, but it’s not like we try that hard…).

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Update on Shopstarter

I have a love/hate thing going on with Shopstarter right now. There are a few UI quirks that drive me nuts. But what it does well, it does  well. I’ve already logged over $2K in add-ons and store sales. That said, the amount of time it’s taken me to work with the odd UI and data entry issues has been kind of extreme…

Diners, Dives, and PAX – No Rest When Kickstarting Dangerously

With the goal of 12 Kickstarters in a single year, certain things had to give. On the work side for instance, relationship building trips I would normally take, are off the calendar now. On the “life” side of things, I’ll need to drop certain commitments as well as a BHAG just takes a lot of time. However, certain life and work things can’t be put-off or cancelled. Since my last post, two of these non-negotiatables hit.

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On the work side of things, the PAX East trade show was last weekend. It slammed right up against the launch of my next Kickstarter – the one for Holiday Break, the MIskatonic School for Girls (MSfG) expansion. Gearing up for a consumer show takes time and doing that while gearing up for a Kickstarter launch is stressful to say the least. In the end, I ended up launching the campaign from a hotel room in Boston. Normally, I spend the three days after launching a Kickstarter going bonkers with social media to support the campaign, but I had work to do in Boston. And PAX is serious work – the board game area is open 14 hours a day – and that’s where our booth was.

PAX turned out to be a blessing though, as we got the chance to demo MSfG for three solid days along with Castle Dice, Flame War, and Fairy Mischief. Playing MSfG with that many people really pumped me up about the expansion – that game is just FUN. The game does something pretty unique as it creates a real feeling of losing control, which is exactly what the game is about in its own humorous way. Table after table demoed MSfG, had a great time, then bought the game. We actually sold out early on day 3 after accidentally bringing MORE product that I had planned. Towards the end of the day, we had to tell people we were sold out “but you can go on to Kickstarter and get a copy through the expansion campaign.” And it looks like that had a positive effect on the campaign. So I lucked out. The work thing that interfered with my BHAG seems to have been a blessing in disguise.

I was actually very worried about this campaign before it launched. It’s for an expansion to an existing game, which means the target audience is limited to people who already own the main game. That is a small target. With all the options available on Kickstarter, reaching that small target was going to be tough. I could send people who backed the original Kickstarter program, but those people have probably long ago turned off their updates (or they get so many from all their previously backed campaigns, that they just ignore them). MOST people who own MSfG, bought it at retail and I have no idea where those folks are.

The family interruption, while distracting was pure awesome.

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My youngest daughter is a budding chef who won a magazine cooking contest last year and on a whim applied to be on a TV show on the Food Network (Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off). She filled out the form on-line Sunday, and amazingly got a call back on Monday!  Wednesday we had a Skype interview with the casting agency, then on Thursday and Friday we had to put together a video submission complete with B-roll, her cooking something, and interview questions being answered by both of us. It was quite a rush and a super fun thing to do together, but it shot 3+ days to hell as far as the BHAG goes.

The odds of her making the show are still very small, but if it happens, I will have to go to CA for 2-3 weeks of shooting in June. I’ll cross that bridge happily when/if we get there.

The important lesson of the last two weeks for the BHAG is that I need to be ready for more of these interruptions during the year. The only way to lessen their effects is to make the absolute most of the time I do have. If I have any chance of making it, the only way to do it will be focus, focus, focus.

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Update on campaigns

Meeple Deck – No change since last time. Waiting my turn for press, way ahead of schedule

How to Human – Cards in hand! That doesn’t mean it’s done though. We still need to finalize the rulebook layout and get that printed/folded locally. Then we need to assemble the packages, do the survey and ship. Still way ahead of schedule though

Holiday Break – Ran a short campaign – just 19 days. $12,500 goal, 13 days left and we’re at $9,500. Looking good, but I need to do some real marketing this week as I think I’ve got the easiest to reach people already.

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More Castles – Castle Dice expansion. Very happy with design, doing more artwork now. Need to work on the campaign this week so that it will be ready to launch right after the MSfG one ends.

Zombie/Princess – Art in process. Designer is tough to get in touch with due to his very busy schedule. Starting to worry that we won’t be ready to launch this one when the Castle Dice one ends.

Next Project Alpha – I only want to do 1 more “normal” game-type project this year, then on to some more radical ideas hopefully. I’ve got two options in front of me for the “normal” one – both involve working with other people, so it will likely come down to their schedules. Need to nail it down soon though.