I posted about my top 3 mistakes for Brass Empire and even though I learned a lot from that and am very proud of the Maximum Apocalypse campaign, but there are always mistakes. This is simply a post-mortem on the campaign as a whole and in the hopes that other game designers (and myself) can learn from it and avoid my mistakes in the future.
Mistake #3: Not doing a Live Stream
In the post about my 3 mistakes for Brass Empire, I mentioned that I planned to live stream play sessions of the game during the campaign, but I never got around to it. I had everything ready in tabletop simulator and Kickstarter Live existed this time around. My wife was very pregnant and I had my 2nd child during the campaign so I think this impacted my time to figure out the technological side of how to run a live stream effectively. Definitely something I still think would be fun for a future campaign.
Mistake #2: Shipping Costs ate up Profits
I was very aggressive with the pricing of Maximum Apocalypse and after all the stretch goals the game really should’ve been $55+ on Kickstarter. The bigger issue is that the wood upgrades and large quantity of bonus cards added substantial weight to the game which increased my per unit shipping cost substantially. This is not an uncommon mistake among Kickstarters… many creators will warn you about shipping rates and over stretching. I am lucky enough to have avoided the red on these mistakes but believe that I left a lot of money on the table.
I always try to learn from my mistakes though and for my current campaign, I am going to do a shipping subsidy rather than having people pay flat estimated shipping. I’m sure people look at the Maximum Apocalypse Kickstarter and think wow they made a ton of money… nope that’s not how this works…after all the fulfillment and bills come in I think we will have made just under $10k profits on Maximum Apocalypse’s Kickstarter. Hopefully the extra copies that we produced will sell and carry us more into the black.
Mistake #1: I launched about an hour before Gloomhaven
There are tons of Kickstarters that launch every day so you can’t expect to pick a date when you will be the sole new game launching… but it’s probably best to avoid launching on the same day as uber campaigns such as the 7th Continent or Gloomhaven. That’s right, Maximum Apocalypse launched less than 60 minutes before Gloomhaven’s 2nd Printing and it wasn’t long until our initial burst of excitement was usurped by Gloomhaven. In the end, we were lucky enough to have new people discover and pledge to our campaign every day and we had an amazing final 48 hours… but if I could do it again, I would definitely have picked a week/day earlier or later to avoid being so close to that launch. The funny thing about this is that I checked online calendars and schedules in groups on FB and didn’t see Gloomhaven listed. I’m not sure if I missed it or if Isaac just didn’t post the event/date on Facebook before launching.
Yes, I always think about launch dates. I don’t just think “wow I can’t wait for that game but what about these other 5 that seem cool, oh man, my poor wallet”. I also think about “wow this game is really good but it seems to be having trouble getting fully funded because CMON just launched their new campaign”. I essentially feel bad for some games as they’re good and deserve their shot but end up in the back never getting noticed because everyone wants that one game that’s super Uber.
I love deck builders and I missed your first campaign for Brass Empire. So when it came around the second time I had to get it. Oddly enough, I couldn’t afford the physical copy but I still scrapped up enough money to get the print and play. I’m looking forward to the PnP files but not the process of making everything. I love me a good PnP but sometimes putting it all together can take a lot of time. As a husband and father my free time always has a small window.
When maximum apocalypse launched though I happily had enough money to get myself a physical copy and I just received it a few days ago. I was super excited and I immediately opened it. One of my low-key favorite parts about board games is a new game still in shrink wrap. When you open a new game it has a unique smell that only board games have since almost every games use the same materials. The freshness is great. My daughter caught me one day opening a game and I always go for the cards first and tokens last. I have a weird habit of smelling fresh cards out of their wrapping. So when my daughter saw me smell a deck of cards she wanted to copy me and smell to, plus she has a naturally weird fetish for smelling everything so for her it wasn’t a surprise. Ever since then she also loves to open new games with me. I always tell her “Nadia, daddy’s got a new game”, her response is always “do they have cards and punchies (tokens)”? I of course say yes and she gets happy. She smells every new deck of cards with me and I let her punch every token a game comes with. When Maximum Apocalypse came in I told my daughter and we started unboxing everything. She even organized all the tokens in their respective piles without me asking her to. I got some baggies and she put all the tokens in their own bag. After my first play through this morning I can’t wait for the expansion. My daughters 4 but she does love board games which makes me happy because for her it was a natural interest, I never forced her to like games. I can’t wait until she’s a bit older so we can enjoy all the games in my collection.
Sorry for rambling, cool article. I enjoy reading about the insight or behind the scenes type things to projects.
I know you have a few games in progress at the moment but have you thought about taking some characters from your current games and putting them in a new game based on the universe that character comes from? Like maybe using the characters from Maximum Apocalypse and putting them in some other type of game like a deck builder of their own.