Yesterday we wrote about Star Command, a Kickstarter-funded game that will eventually come out for both your smartphone. Its teaser video looks awesome. However, that is not the real thrust of its current coverage. Instead of being written up for its in-game narrative, or impressive gameplay (which we assume will be great), the project is in the news for, well, being a project.
The team’s members wrote a very in-depth and fascinating update to its backers, with the provocative title of ‘What the hell did you do with our money?’ We called it a window into what it is like to land a pile of Kickstarter funds. The game’s builders incorporated, and spent the cash, as they should have, working on the app. However, as anyone who has built a company knows, doing so expensive.
The group gave a detailed list of its expenses, and noted that they had taken on five-figure debt to keep the project running. However, some people complained at their expenditures. Why did the team need iPads? Following the (unplanned) firestorm of coverage, Warballoon Games (Star Command’s parent company) gave an interview to PocketTactics. It’s revelatory. We’re going to work through part of it here, but recommend that you read the team’s original entry, our coverage, and the full interview as well.
On the subject of buying iPads:
We bought two iPads so that we could feel the product our game is gonna be on. There’s really no substitute. And we watched other people play our game on them at PAX, which was fantastic. Yes, we spent $1000 on iPads and soon enough we will spend more money on Android tablets and phones. Yes, we include those costs as development costs.
On an accidental media-tsunami:
This was totally unexpected. That little post we put up yesterday got as much attention as our trailer release. [...] All we wanted to do was give a little bit of an open book into how fast money can go in game development as well as some pitfalls we ran into and things other kickstarters should be wary of.
On sourcing music from the community, instead of professionally (what they ended up doing):
We considered soliciting music from the community. In your brain, you receive 20 submissions from composers and find someone out there that is a hidden talent waiting to break free. In reality, you get 100 submissions, and 95% of them are horrible or just not right for your game. We tested this market thoroughly – and were disappointed.
TNW made some notes on the company’s business practices. We were not trying to be critical, but instead wanted to leave notes for future projects and their founders. What follows might have been in response to our coverage:
[PocketTactics]: Some people called you naive. Said you were business novices that didn’t know what you were doing.
[Warballoon Games]: I disagree with that. First, we think were pretty business savvy, but for arguments sake lets assume that we are complete business morons. Is that a reason not to get into business? We also haven’t ever produced a game, so by that standard we probably shouldn’t have started on that path as well. No one would ever take any risks with that logic, having spent most of the time researching the environment so that by the time you actually get in, it has all changed.
I want to personally commend the Pocket Command team for being open, drop dead honest, and dedicated. I’m going to find the old iPhone, move the SIM card over, and buy Star Command when it comes out. You should as well.
And don’t forget: if you are going to Kickstart, raise more than you think you need. You will need it.