Today Graphite Lab gave me the pleasure to ask the team some questions regarding their latest Kickstarter campaign for Hive Jump. I would describe the game as a combination between Contra and Starship Troopers. In the game you’ll get dropped into an alien hive where your objective is to blast your way through hordes of alien bugs to find the queen and take her out. Aside from the game looking incredibly fun, I’ve found the Kickstarter campaign to be quite aggressive with goals and rewards spanning various social media platforms on top of the base Kickstarter stretch goals and backer rewards which leads me into my first question.
Q. How did you come up with your Kickstarter campaign strategy and how long did it take you to plan it?
It’s been a long process! We first brought Hive Jump to Kickstarter in February but quickly discovered that we were much less prepared than we needed to be. Kickstarter is a great tool, but requires a TON of work! So we cancelled our first campaign about two weeks in and set a goal for returning to Kickstarter in April. Well, April came and went and we realized we still weren’t ready to relaunch so we pushed the return until we felt everything was perfect.
We worked as a team to draft the current campaign which had a wider marketing outreach, a more robust art style, more features, and a lower goal. All in all, I would say we spent several months on developing our current campaign.
Q. As you mentioned, earlier this year Hive Jump had another Kickstarter which got cancelled. What lessons would you say you’ve learned from that campaign?
Our number one “lesson learned” is that your Kickstarter announcement SHOULD NOT be your product announcement. Aside from a slow funding start, the biggest criticism of our old campaign was that the game “came out of nowhere” and not in a good way. There was literally NO press about the game when we launched our old campaign because we used the Kickstarter launch to announce the thing – rookie mistake.
Q. The new campaign’s base funding goal has been reduced by $25,000 to $50,000, what lead to such a large reduction in funding requirements?
We spent 6 months doing contract work which allowed us to spend our off hours (nights, weekends and everything in-between) developing the game further. We added local co-op, integrated Sprite Lamp, created new tilesets, polished controls, added new AI systems and several other things on our own dollar. We did this to help bring down that goal, as well as make a very clear statement that we are serious about making Hive Jump a reality.
Q. You have an interesting social media campaign that unlocks more weapons and relics depending how many likes and followers you get on your Facebook and Twitter account, how has that campaign played out to your initial expectations.
Its been really incredible! We’ve had over 700 new followers on Facebook and over 1,000 join us on twitter in just 15 days. They both had the same goal of getting to 1000 followers each, so it was fun and interesting to see the two audiences react to see which network brought in the most support. In the end, we’ve added 6 new RELICS to the game, and 1 new WEAPON thanks to this support and the fans got to be included on the decision making processes for those items.
Q. If you were only able to share 2 pieces of advice to a new indie developer what would it be?
Follow the fun. If you aren’t having fun making games, then there are MUCH better ways to make a better living. You have to find your niche where you can strike that balance because excitement and positive feelings show through in your work. Unless you want to make a horror game.. then you should lock yourself in an abandoned house away from friends and family and only work at night.
It’s dangerous to go alone… Having an official team to work with or even just some friends that can be your play testers goes a long way when you face the hard times or the setbacks. Get connected on forums and online communities. Network and find fellow game devs to share stories with and learn from.
Q. Finally you’ve chosen the Wii U as the only console to release your game on initially (not including stretch goals), is there a reason for that?
We picked the Wii U because we’re Nintendo fans at heart. Most of us grew up on the NES or SNES with a few of our younger team members starting on the N64. Beyond that, we’ve made a handful of games for the Wii already, so we know the ins and outs of the Nintendo hardware and certification process. Nintendo has also made an aggressive play by covering the Unity license fees for developers (saving us a serious dollar or two). But more importantly, we see that platform as having the most unique hardware right now – which will allow us to use the tablet controller to, say, give one player the control over the aliens while the other players control Jumpers – or similar scenario. It just sounds like a lot of fun to design for.
Thank you once again to Graphite Lab for sharing their experience with us today. The team will be showing off Hive Jump at PAX so if you’re in the area drop in to try out a demo of the game. Also the Kickstarter ends September 6 so be sure to support the project and help Graphite Lab fund their project! For convenience here’s a link to the Hive Jump Kickstarter.