View Full Version : My First Kickstarter: TBS

Slimsy Platypus
03-18-2013, 02:33 PM
I think anyone that frequents these forums knows I am beyond obsessed with The Banner Saga. A big majority of my spare time is consumed by reading anything and everything written about the game. As many of you probably know, there seems to be an invisible but evident line drawn in the sand with regards to the attention it’s getting; which is separated into positive praise, negativity regarding the Kickstarter “deception”, and concerns regarding the free-to-play model.

There are plenty of opinions from Kickstarter backers exclaiming why they feel this experience has been bad for them, but I haven’t come across much properly constructed positive Kickstarter reception (other than in comments sections of various sites). Because of this fact, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my Kickstarter experience:

Prior to being obsessed with The Banner Saga, I would often frequent the Gamefly news section of the phone app while burning time at work. Doing this, I came across a link to the Rock Paper Shotgun article “Heroic: The Banner Saga Funded in Just 48 Hours”. I see an image with a tiled grid of characters fighting on it; as they did in classic turn based strategies (one eyebrow raises). I see absolutely amazing 2D artwork (second eyebrow raises). Where do I click to see more… and what the heck is a Kickstarter?

So I mosey on over to the Kickstarter page. “A Mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in Viking culture, by three game industry veterans”… and commence watching of the Kickstarter video. My initial reaction was excitement, because Arnie, Alex, and John’s towards their game was absolutely infectious. I remember a few things resonating with me (and not like just striking a chord, but like shaking me by the foundation).

Arnie: “so we had to leave to form our own independent studio… and take a huge chance”

Alex: “If WE don’t make this game, nobody is going to make it”

John: “I can’t think of anything more boring, than doing something for the sole purpose of making money”

At this point I’m buying in. I glance over the rewards levels, everything seems cool, as long as I get a poster and a t-shirt I’m happy, but mostly I just want to support these guys. I pledge a value that is more than several times the cost of a full feature game. I don’t feel like these guys owe me anything now, I just want to help.

Time goes by. I ignore a couple e-mails regarding how to collect my prize, then later realize I probably shouldn’t do that and catch up (as I said before, I just wanted to help). When a Kickstarter update comes out, I stop doing everything and cling to every word. Some of them I reread multiple times. “These guys are awesome!”

An update comes out, Beta will be soon. “Cool, they’re making progress” I hate betas, so I’m going to wait for the full game. After reading another article that implies there is a very ambiguous aspect to the combat, I decide I’m ready to try it (at this point the beta had been going on for 1 to 2 months). In my head I’m thinking, “I hate betas, I hate online multiplayer, but I want to see what this is about. I’m going to try the combat, then put this down until the single player comes out”. I get my account setup on the website and get access to the game.

The first time I log into Factions the screen pans over Strand and I stare (this version had about half of the little details it does now such as guards, flame effects, fog effects, etc.). I get super excited and think “WOW they could make a game that just looks awesome ALL the time! The entire game could play out like an animated story… but we would be playing!” I think I might have been sold on Factions prior to even playing a match. Then I played. I lost a lot at first… but had a blast doing so! I remember being new and playing against one of the top players at the time (Flameberger), and I was just so excited to be playing him. I spewed out a bunch of text in a frantic excited manor; he casually responds “always happy to meet a fan”.

I think a lot of us know what happened next. I began posting on the forums (which I had never done before for any game). Arnie, Alex, and John would frequently discuss topics with players on the forums which was really cool. To me, they were (and still are) like celebrities, and I got to talk about this game I absolutely love with them! Ultimately, my time during the beta and involvement with Arnie, Alex, John, and the other beta players ends up being the best gaming experience I’ve had in my 26 years of life (which has been completely full of unhealthy levels of gaming). Stoic made me rethink my previous “I hate betas” and “I hate online multiplayer” stances, and raised the bar previously set by industry titans like Blizzard and Valve.

I’m still playing factions and absolutely loving it. I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the single player, and for once I don’t care when it gets released. In other games, you get these “developer blogs” or “blue posts” spewing off some very carefully construed but ultimately unclear reason why the next four month delay was happening, and I would think “ughhh just release it already”. But with Stoic this feeling is different, for once I actually trust the developers with their own game (sounds weird right?).

So my first Kickstarter experience couldn’t be any more of a success (and the full game hasn’t even been released yet!). I haven’t felt like I was conned into funding something I didn’t want to buy into. I haven’t felt like the free-to-play model was snuck in to greedily get a hand in my pocket (in honesty, I purchased every non-renown item in the Marketplace on day-one because I wanted to support Stoic wondering “how can I do more?”)

In my opinion, critics of the Kickstarter system are just confused about what it is at the core. I think if you think of your pledge as a pre-order or an investment (i.e. you’re going to get some type of monetary gain or deal) you are bound to be disappointed. When you pledge some money because someone has an epic idea, one that you want to support but can’t go out and do-it-yourself… well you only leave room to be pleased with the result (unless it goes belly-up). I find it beyond strange that people feel like because they gave you $10, you can’t spend any of your time doing anything other than what you explicitly stated you would do for the next couple of years. Oh, and if you dare do anything else… well we want our pledge back! That concept just… holds no merit with me. That’s not even mentioning if backers utilized all the materials given during The Banner Saga Kickstarter, they would realize that Stoic couldn’t have stuck to their guns any more, and has not deterred an inch from what was promised.

At this point I don’t even consider myself a fan of The Banner Saga. I AM a fan of Stoic (and I absolutely love what we’ve seen of the Saga!). Heck I’m a fan of Arnie; I’m a fan of Alex; and I’m a fan of John (and Mumm and Jeff too, I don’t know them as well but I’m a fan!).

So with that being said, I’m wondering if I’m in the minority here? What has your Kickstarter experience been like? What do you guys think of the negative free-to-play and anti Kickstarter criticisms? Is there anyone else out there that thinks these critics are overlooking possibly one of the best done free-to-play models (which is truly my opinion)? Is there anyone else out there that thinks Kickstarter is amazing because of what it has done for and with Stoic?

03-18-2013, 08:20 PM
Reserving spot for my own wall of text

03-19-2013, 11:19 AM
I can't speak for what the majority/minority is, but my experience has been very similar to Slimsy's. I was familiar with Kickstarter, and think that crowdfunding is a great new development for creative types everywhere to be able to get investment directly from end users in a way that allows great ideas like The Banner Saga to overcome start-up and production hurdles that previously would limit the opportunities for small businesses.

That being said, I had never actually contributed to a project prior to TBS. But, like Slimsy, I saw an article about it (I think on Gizmodo) and was intrigued, then interested, then excited. And I have never regretted my investment. In fact, based on my experience to date, I think I have far exceeded the value I expected to glean from my $50, and I am a guy who only has a chance to play a few games a week. But the community that has grown around this game is friendly and engaging, and the level of transparency that Stoic has put into their project is really remarkable. Not only is it amazing to see how these guys are bringing their dream to reality, but the gratitude and responsibility they have shown to their backers, beta testers, and involved fans is really above and beyond what anyone could have expected going in.

I have been playing video games since I was a kid, but I would never consider myself a "gamer." Heck, most of the games that get brought up for comparison to Factions I have never even heard of, let alone played. So I would never have pictured myself being involved in a beta test or being excited about an online multiplayer game. But, simply by their openness and earnestness, along with their infectious passion, Stoic has created a community of people dedicated to making this game more than it is. I think there can be no more positive feedback than to see how people contribute their own unique talents just to be a part of this experience. We have storytellers, artists, online teachers, volunteer moderators, designers, strategists, and even ersatz journalists (looking at you, netnazgul!) all eager to participate. And to me, that is special.

I think that any Kickstarter backer who is dissatisfied has simply missed the myriad opportunities to be involved and see what their money has done. It is not a pre-order, it is an investment in an idea. Sometimes I have to remind myself that there is still a deliverable waiting out there! Play a few rounds of Factions, then spend 15 minutes chatting with the guys that regularly haunt the chat-room, and explore the wealth of information out out by the developers in the forums, and if you don't feel like Stoic is making great progress in the spirit of the original proposal, then maybe you weren't really excited about the project in the first place. I, for one, am happy to wait for what I can only imagine to be a truly excellent Saga, and be distracted in the meantime by the enjoyable by-product of Factions.

03-19-2013, 04:17 PM
This is a dev’s mom’s SAGA. The probability is that I am anywhere from one to three generations apart in our ability to relate to one another. I now feel that we have at least one thing in common: TBS:F.

My learning experience began when my son introduced me to the Kickstarter campaign. I did at least understand that I could financially support this dream of my son and his fellow developers. I did some homework to learn about Kickstarter and discovered a wonderful alternative form of backing people and their projects that was totally out of the box of my generation’s experience (borrowing money from a bank).

My second epiphany happened as I became a part of the online community of The Banner Saga backers through chat. These witty, intelligent, encouraging people immediately grabbed my attention. I wanted to better understand what was happening in the world around me. I read Tom Chatfield’s Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century and Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

Between May of 2012 and The Banner Saga: Factions going public a few weeks ago (February 2013), I read every thread posted on this website and every chat archive (sometimes 20 to 40 pages) in order to try to understand the depth and breadth of this adventure of my first gaming experience. The beta (something else new to me) participants encouraged and nurtured me along to not only be knowledgeable about the game, but to jump in and fight the battles - these expert strategist and well versed gamers actually thought I could play this game.:eek:

In time, and over many months, I began to believe that I could do this! I have now played hundreds of battles, several of my units have over 100 kills and some nearly 200 kills. I know that I will never have a significant elo (also new to me), nor will I ever attain the incredible strategy about which I read in the threads, the chat box, and through the in game global chat plus the helpful comments given by my “opponents” during our games. Apart from Alex, Arnie, and John having this incredible desire to create, design, and implement this breathtakingly beautiful piece of artwork, enhancing it beyond words with the experience of the music, and offering so many different dynamic levels of play, I’d still be blankly staring at a tv screen while monotonously clicking through the channels as I experienced a great restlessness of unfulfillment.

My deepest appreciation to Alex, Arnie, John, the Stoic Team, the Moderators , the beta Vikings, the warriors I meet in the game, Austin Wintory, Chaille, Beth, my friends at stoicstudio.com, my friends in game – you have opened a new chapter in this grandmother’s life for which I am most grateful. My first gaming experience has been the BEST! gl and hf :D