Thursday, January 9, 2014

Proof-of-Concept

Kickstarter is a tricky thing. People want to be able to see, or at least get a sense of, the whole grand sweep of your project. The nature of crowdfunding is that one is presenting an idea that's finished, but one they need help executing. Trying to demonstrate a full idea without full execution is a tightrope walk--you need enough content to communicate the premise, but that also means you have to focus your efforts and resources, and really prioritize which parts of the project you will put your limited time, money, and energy into demonstrating.

When building our campaign, we put a lot of thought into where we were going to direct our resources. When it came down to it, we decided that showing out proof of concept meant demonstrating three main things:

1. The UI



The idea for customization is all well and good, but in order for people to confidently back us, we knew we had to show a functioning UI, even in a rough form, to prove we had more than just an idea. We ended up putting a lot of time and thought into how we could best show the type of customization we'd be able to offer, and showing the web app was right at the top of the list. Though the final version of the will be more feature-rich and probably look a heck of a lot fancier than our pre-alpha early-build, we think it does a lot of the footwork when it comes to showing we can do what we say we will!

2. Cool looking miniatures




Believe it or not, of the few other projects that have proposed custom miniatures, practically none of them had real, interesting, appealing miniatures to show as part of their campaign. Whether there weren't enough, or they were too low detail, it was quite a downer to see people pitching the idea of customized miniatures without showing, you know, miniatures. This falls into the category of "well, anyone can have the idea." We knew we needed to show a selection of macro shots of cool-looking minis. I think we've succeeded pretty well in that respect. Even now, a few days until launch, we are still receiving boxes of prints and madly snapping photos.

3. A team that people will actually trust to get the job done

Ultimately, when it comes to crowdfunding, people are backing other people. It takes a lot of confidence to click that pledge button, and you need to provide that in any way you can. Our team is, unquestionably, one of our big selling points. Every member has really proven themselves in their own industries, whether that be video games, tech, or art. They are consummate professionals, and I hope that comes through. I really believe this project couldn't be in better hands.


On the flip side: of course when you prioritize some things, you have to put others on the back burner. Here are three things I wish we could have demonstrated for the Kickstarter--things that are coming, but we just didn't have the early resources or time to show right off the bat:

1. Body variety

At the moment, we are just demoing our baseline male and female human model, letting people extrapolate how things will work with other races or body types. We know some people want to role-play an overweight elf bard, or an impossibly muscular halfling fighter. We absolutely plan to accommodate. It is a shame we couldn't show that variety this early on.

2. Facial variety and expressions

Even though the face on a miniature is absolutely tiny, we think people will still find the ability to customize it, and to choose different expressions a very important and powerful step in the building process. The fact of the matter is that, while we could have sculpted some additional faces, we decided our modeler's time was best spent on armor pieces. We decided that would have a greater effect on the sense of variety than anything else.

3. More Parts

It would have been pretty cool to have twenty or a hundred armor sets to show Kickstarter, but the truth is, if we could have done that we wouldn't have needed to do a Kickstarter campaign at all. Between funding and launch, we are going to spend the entire time feverishly modeling and sculpting parts. I am especially excited to see the more outlandish and exaggerated armor pieces, especially. Even after the limited selection of armor pieces and weapons we've produced already, we are getting a keener understanding of how to make something that looks awesome in miniature. So really, the best is yet to come!

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