Many times along the way, in the lead up to and a few times after the event I have talked about the project 'Purgatory' that we brought to Kickstarter way back in October 2016. I promised many people, along the way, that I would pen some closing thoughts, a review of sorts that describes our experience of designing, launching, completing and ultimately fulfilling a Kickstarter.
I guess a good place to start is to re-affirm what we set out to achieve. In the first instance, having recognised that the 'market' responded kindly to our products, we realised that we wanted to 'exist' in a greater vein than we did at the time. Secondly to that, we wanted to create a world that was fresh, different and full of possibilities. Coupled with a game that brought successful mechanisms together to give people a familiar yet fresh game to play, that was neither costly if you didn't want it to be but flexible enough so that each game, or experience was different. Finally we wanted to something that had longevity, where we could add new characters, scenarios and approaches to it, so to maintain a 'pulse'. It wasn't supposed to be a box it, play a handful and shelve. It is designed to create a community, where people can talk about their 'load-out', their optimised 'deck' and their reasons behind why they 'run' with whoever they run with.
We also made a very bold statement to ourselves at the start, which said that the kickstarter would be non-profit. It was designed to break-even because we desperately wanted to give value for money.
That's what we wanted to do. So we went to Kickstarter....
The Kickstarter itself was difficult. I can only liken it to watching your favourite sporting team. One minute you are beating your nearest rival 5-0, the next week you lose 3-1 to a 3rd tier team in the cup. Maybe foolishly we set our stool out too early, we figured letting folk know was the right thing, after all we wanted you to part with your hard earned pennies, but more importantly I guess we wanted to be punctual and deliver as we promised and not be fly by night and disappear if things looked less favourable.
We launched at a time when massive games like Star Saga and Deep Madness went live and we noticed the pull of those fantastic products. When one of these launched, we lost a huge amount of followers and well, we never really recovered to that level. We know why of course, and it's not just about value, it's also about trust. We had never done anything like this before, we had no pedigree if you like, so we were risky to some folk.
We thought we were unlucky. Truth be told, we've been told many times since that actually we were very lucky. There were many projects that failed in the wake of these large projects, some more experienced and with a greater history than we did, but yet we succeeded and as we have been told to have funded in amongst that is quite the achievement.
With the kickstarter being a success and funding, we immediately set to work, talking to our backers and letting people know what was going on, what pleases me in particular greatly post completion is the compliments we have had on the communication, we had to make some decisions along the way and well our backers were amazingly understanding
Problems in paradise.
We experienced a few issues along the way that forced us to make changes, or ask backers for some patience or assistance.
In the first instance we didn't get all of the funds in from the kickstarter itself. This wasn't a mistake, just quite a few bounced payments. This is something we didn't consider and perhaps should have done, but if you need a figure to complete something and get less, often it makes it hard.
We offset this by retailing 30 of each item that was made, this allowed us to recover some funds to make sure that the project remained on track at the key points.
Brexit was tough on us, all of a sudden the cost of masters and casts became that bit more expensive. When you talk about a few models its ok, but when you are talking thousands of casts, it's a bit different and the little increases really do make it more painful. This was something unforeseen.
Moloch was very tough on us. We estimated the casting cost and even with experienced hands on board, giving us support and guidance, we all got it wrong and this proved costly.
The box was also an issue. The company that we had lined up got busy all of a sudden and couldn't make the boxes anywhere near the time frames required. This was quite frustrating and we paid a much higher premium for the boxes you got as a result.
There were other, notable problems as well but these aren't worth dwelling on. Ultimately when you think about a small project and how it will run, you look and think, "you know what, we think we have allowed for every eventuality" but actually, in truth, only now do we know where the pinch points can be and what the impact is.
We won't say just how much, but we invested more into Purgatory than we would have liked. We made a promise to deliver this to our backers and come hell or high water we were going to do it, and we did. We had heard of people waiting for months and years with still no sign or any communication on their investment and that wasn't going to be us.
Whats the worst that can happen....
The problems, extra expenses and everything else ultimately led to one thing and one thing only.
I was pretty down about being late. In fact, as this is an honest, laid bare account, I f'ing furious. Which I suspect any backer reading this will be pleased to hear. Honestly, I was so cross. It was down to one organisation just giving us the shaft, which meant that every penny we chucked in to overcome early obstacles was for nought, because control was out of our hands.
Now, it was only recently when a group of kind people pointed out something quite remarkable which was to say that yes we were late. But only by 4 months. Other large companies experience bigger more wholesale delays apparently, which according to our backers is more frustrating. That we have delivered, albeit 4 months late, is apparently not 'that bad' a reflection on our project, especially given our size and our first go at it.
Then we looked at it properly and the numbers looked a whole lot better.
56% of our Kickstarter was delivered early. Which is not something many folk can say.
13% was delivered on time and 31% was late.
It's easy to focus on the negative and forget the good work done before that. But that's a personal thing and it comes from being a perfectionist.
Does Purgatory Exist?
Did we achieve success in our three goals? I think we have. How can I tell? Feedback I guess.
The story that underpins the world itself has been highly praised. To yet, we have not seen or heard any person, organisation or other, criticise the content of the book. We have been told it is immersive and received feedback to say that people can't wait for the next part of the story and want to know what is coming next.
The game works. I have it on good authority that Purgatory was one of the most popular demo tables at Dragonmeet in December 2017, the table was full all day long people thoroughly enjoyed the game, in fact people were even waiting to grab a seat on the next game. For those of you that attended and have been reading what we have been saying, you may have been smart enough to put two and two together to realise that the rest vs. Moloch approach was in fact enlisting guinea pigs to play test on our behalf... we have hinted at a solo or co-op mode after all...
We've also received compliments on people playing the game at other events but more importantly at home, which is really great if you are a game designer. Yes there are a few mistakes (2 at current count) in the rulebook which is acceptable for a first time, but not anything as much as a broken mechanic or unworkable aspect, which is really great.
People have really responded to the mix and match approach of building factions and decks which is great as well and there appears to be a community building slowly on the Fans of Purgatory facebook page, which is great if I am honest. Some lovely models have been painted and showcased by the people buying them and people have excitedly put up their pictures of receiving their pledges which is really great.
One of the comments that really sits nicely with us is that we offered great value. Asking a bunch of strangers for some stuff that isn't quite made yet, is quite tough to do. So you question the value in things, especially when some of the board games cram in so much. But we have to respect our size, liquidity and capability and to hear that people have been pleased or even overwhelmed in some cases with the quality and character of the models has been great, that alongside the content in terms of rules, story and particularly the art helps us to feel that value was offered, something we were worried about from the start.
We think that Purgatory exists as a result of this, which is why we will be going again.
28th February 2018
The Kickstarter was a challenge, but like anything that was hard work, you look back and you feel a true sense of achievement. Not only that, but on a daily, weekly basis I speak to a great many backers who I seek out to meet or vice a versa or contact on social media for all sorts, not all Purgatory related.
Because of the enthusiasm that we have had, we will be going back to Kickstarter in 2018. In fact it's quite early, simply because whatever momentum we do have, we want to make sure it carries, as part of our commitment to not be consigned to the shelf so to speak. We genuinely want Purgatory to become something common place and whilst mainstream might be too much of an ask, we want to it at least be recognised and known. This is part of the reason we invested in Cyan, to release another model into the game which can act as progress towards our goals. Along with the Christmas cards and the other Gods cards we have released.
We made a decision to release the Refugees of Religion and we have listened to our backers as well as other community people, which as formed a change in decision as this faction will have a common theme, they will have a uniformity to them, which is unlike the first two factions and the fourth faction, which will be Gangbangers.
The Kickstarter itself will be very basic on this occasion. It will be two options. Rulebook and Faction or Faction alone. The prices are set. Faction of 7, with inserts and all the cards will be £55. the Rules and faction option will be £65. Simple really.
All of the current models will be available for a less than retail price in the pledge manager as well.
The 'value' is in the stretch goals. But so is the respect for our previous backers. The purpose of the stretch goals is to grant each backer a free model, with each unlock, the 'price per figure' goes down. If you stretch all the way to 14 models, each model will cost you £3.92. Which with the quality of the models is really quite good, I am sure you agree.
We chose the RoR first up, because we respected that most of our previous backers already had St. Peter, Godmother and to a lesser extent, Cyan. So, we decided that as even fewer had Faith, that we would make these model free, alongside that of the other Gangbangers, meaning that for your £55, you aren't paying for something you might already have.
It will be a 2 week thing though, so you might want to get in quick...
We are nice like that....
What else is coming in 2018
In terms of events, we are back at Salute 2018, where we are hoping for a good show. If the Kickstarter goes well and funds, we plan to open the late backers / pledge manager at Salute with some unique offers at the show and online.
We are also hoping of doing our first trip to Essen in Germany, something we are looking into now and hopefully this can be something great for us as of our following, a large portion of it is from the German market.
We will be back at Dragonmeet, SELWG and maybe some new shows as well as we try to get out on the road to play some demo games near you.
Tomes are in progress at the moment. A Tome is a book that details a factions background and will give you the rules for the characters in any faction. It will also have unreleased characters that models don't exist for yet, that will be coming at some point in the future. These will give you much more for you to get your teeth into whilst having a place for all of your characters in one easy to get to book.
These Tomes will be made available in the pledge manager and it is likely that one, maybe even two will be ready by then. We shall see.
The reason why, I guess, we included 2018, the next kickstarter and tomes to this BLOG is because, despite the challenges, the road blocks and the issues experienced along the way, Purgatory does in fact exist. Not only that, it's 'pulse' for want of a better word, is becoming easier to detect with each fresh fulfilment or paint job.
We are now seasoned veterans. We completed our first Kickstarter, with at times, honest and sincere apologies as to our progress, but despite all of that we have one under our belt and whereas 12 months ago if you'd have asked: "would you do it again?" I'd most likely of chased you off, now the skin is thicker, the mind sharpened again and more importantly the energy and willingness to bring the next chapter to you is at the very front our minds.
We owe thanks however to many of our backers that are now very much part of the Purgatory family, some of which in particular just helped in ways that they either do already, or will never know.
We are ready.....
...... are you?