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Kickstarting your project with Kickstarter

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You have an idea for a game. You think it's a good one, of course you do. Now you need money to fund your project. Going to the bank manager isn't generally a plan that meets with a lot of success. You could try your close friends, but begging best mates for cash tends to leave you with a little more money and fewer best mates, especially if the game doesn't turn out to be the genre-busting Collectible Vegetable game you thought it was.

That's where Kickstarter comes in.

If you've been visiting our site regularly over the last few weeks, you've probably spotted adverts for Ocho, which is currently appealing for financing over at Kickstarter. We chatted with the creator of Ocho, Rian Fike, who began by telling us a little about the game itself.

Rian Fike: Ocho The Game is a six year labor of love. We thoroughly enjoyed our days on the Vs. System Pro Circuit, but most collectible games are too math/strategy intensive for casual fun with the wife and family. So we created an alternative. We wanted a game that we could teach in five minutes that would be fun for everyone. We started with a philosophical/educational base with four lower levels and four upper levels. Then we added a few of the most entertaining mechanics from the collectible games. We struck gaming gold. We are teachers in the Miami public schools and we tested the game with our students, our friends around the world, and our family members until it was a competitive gem that maintained its casual fun factor.

What gave you the idea for the game?

Rian: We love to play Uno and Gin Rummy and Poker, but we dwell in a world of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The game is actually a subliminal symbol of the theory of self-actualization combined with the thrill of a good card game. The possibilities for creating lesson plans of enlightenment based on Ocho The Game are endless.

People won't necessarily know much about the costs associated in making a game. What are they / why do you need the amount you do?

Rian: We are immersed in the reality of business right now, for the first time in our lives. Leaving out all the costs associated with development, the one thing prospective game developers need to plan for is a large initial printing cost. Our game has 69 cards per deck, in varying ratios. That demands an odd sized box and an expensive intitial production number. Most companies do not want to print less than 5,000 decks. If a company agrees to print only 1,000 decks, the cost is around $8 dollars per deck. The costs drop drastically with each additional 1,000 decks, but we are working with a measly teacher's salary and it was an eye-opener to realize how much it would cost to get started.

Why use Kickstarter? How did you come across it?

Rian: There was a spectacularly successful hard cover comic book called Womanthology this summer that raised $109,000 on Kickstarter. It was done by some friends, and it put stars in our eyes. We loved the idea of a community funding project, so we dove in. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

How does Kickstarter work?

Rian: Anyone can start a Kickstarter project, but it must be approved by the home office in Manhattan. Each project is created from scratch, with "rewards" for each level of sponsorship. The originator of the project picks a goal amount and a time period for pledges to be collected. All payments are done through Amazon. If the project does not reach its goal amount, no one is charged and the project is unsuccessful in its funding. If the goal is reached, all donors are charged on the deadline date.

You've got a lot of 'sponsorship' levels. It looks like you had a ton of fun developing those...

Rian: That was one of the best parts. Especially the $6,000 ultimate level where a donor can name the World Championship trophy after themselves! We tried to offer all the most entertaining aspects of game designing, including Organized Play and the chance to get your face on a card. Those were the things we loved most about the Vs. System experience.

How far have you got? What will you do if you don't get all the way?

Rian: We only have one week left, and we seem to be stuck just under $3,000. Our goal was set with a budget that includes full Organized Play, cool tee-shirts, custom art from amazing Marvel artists, and a full print run. It looks like we could have reached $5,000 or so, but we could not have accomplished all our dreams. People tend to pledge more to Kickstarter projects that are going to reach their goal and it looks like we aimed too high. We could start another Kickstarter with a lower goal, or we could turn to a more traditional funding source.

We will continue developing the game, and it is only a matter of time until we find the right funding to make it work. The Kickstarter project forced us to learn a great deal and create connections that would have never existed without it. Just today I spoke with Eric Poses, the creator of Loaded Questions, who gave me some tremendous leads for printing and distributing in the future. Last Sunday we got to meet Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy, who liked the look of our game. Each day has opened a new door. Eventually Ocho The Game will be on kitchen tables and tournament halls worldwide. It is a chance for everyone to participate, even offering gamers a rare opportunity to play with girls!


There are still a few days left for you to help Rian reach his Kickstarter goal, and there are lots of interesting/wacky/spectacular (your call) projects crying out for your support. It's a treasure trove of creativity, and a great place to explore. Twenty years ago, Kickstarter didn't exist for Richard Garfield to come along with Magic: The Gathering, but now the next Richard Garfield could be right there waiting for you to find and support. Go take a look at the official Kickstarter page for Ocho The Game.


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