Friday, 25 May 2012

Hello? Is This Thing On?

I am the Warden!!

I said... I am the Warden!!!

Anybody? Hello?

As much as I like to think I'm an independent person, there's that human need for acceptance and participation. Online, that means having followers and people posting comments on your blog, responding to emails, and inundating you with replies upon replies upon replies. When you're developing a new game, reading these text-based representations of human contact can be a huge boost to both your work and your confidence.

But it's been really quite around here. Especially with the backers.

(Before going any further, I want to make something perfectly clear. My intent is not to throw a tantrum, but to express and verbalize in an effort to gain an understanding and clarity on the topic, much in the same way blogging about game design issues gives me greater vision to tackle the task and complete it.)

Just over half of the Director-level backers for the Kickstarter project have responded with details - vague or in depth - for their marks and not a single one has sent in any legitimate playtest comments other than "looks good after a quick read-through." The deadline for playtest comments has come and gone and there's less than a week left until the deadline for the Director's submissions. (Note: This deadline is more of a request rather than an absolute so I can have a leg up on the workload ahead.) Now that Killshot has entered its last three months of production before the scheduled release in August, this has become a huge concern for me.

It's the exact opposite of the feedback and response to the original Kickstarter bid, leaving me in a bizarre state of confusion. During my researching into Kickstarter projects and a helpful chat with Richard Bliss (from the Game Whisperer podcast), I learned projects that provide active participation in the game's development stand a greater chance of success. And those backer levels offering such participation were the first ones to sell, but few actual responses have come in.

One idea I've heard is the time between the project and the final product's launch may be too long (6 months). Possible as it may be, it does seem a bit insulting to the backers to insinuate they have the attention span of a fruit fly with bright lights.

My confidence in Killshot has not waned; everyone I've spoken to personally has offered nothing but positive comments and everyone I've played with has thoroughly enjoyed the game. That's the optimistic side. The pessimist in me is concerned how the game will connect with audiences without my direct involvement. It's one of the strange requests that I almost want to hear some negative comments as assurance. Almost.

It's an issue which has bothered me for the past couple of weeks and has become augmented by the D&D Next download struggles of late. Watching all these people jumping up and down to get a hold of their material while I'm practically screaming for even one vote of thumbs up or down has me worried and makes me wonder if my attention should turn to another angle to best promote the game on its release. Obviously, anything I come up with cannot and should not compete with D&D, but the polar opposites really brings the issue home right now. That and the fact that I'm not even able to download the new D&D playtest because of some bullshit account problems on the Wizards site. Not the designers' fault, but site management's.

As of today, I have another Killshot playtest tonight wrapping up the third and final job, Final Justice. Edits for the first book, Assassin's Journal, are on their way and the artwork is looking sweet. Everything about the game and production on the book are going exactly as I had planned and then some. Perhaps I need to evaluate what has worked so far and re-evaluate my promotional strategy to suit the strengths of the game thus far.