26 February 2018
When I launched the Scythe Kickstarter campaign 2.5 years ago, I had a few concerns about stretch goals:
- I had no idea how the project would perform on Day 1. I wanted all backers to feel like their pledges contributed towards making the game bigger and better, but I also didn’t want to blow through all stretch goals out of the game if I underestimated Day 1 funding.
- I wanted to give each stretch goal the attention it deserved. I learned this the hard way on the Tuscany campaign, where we raced through almost 10 stretch goals on the first day. It greatly diminished the excitement for each of those goals because they were all lumped together as “achieved”.
- I wanted to sustain backer engagement and entertainment throughout the campaign. Without knowing the daily average in advance, I had no way of calculating the best way to spread out the stretch goal thresholds.
The method I tried using was that every day I would reveal a new stretch goal, and threshold would be based on the funding level at the time I announced the goal. Backers didn’t respond well to this method, so on Day 3 I converted to a traditional stretch goal system.
I regularly revisit the topic of stretch goals on this blog–including a post a few months ago–but I’ve never been able to figure out a functional iteration of this “daily goal” system. Fortunately, I believe that another creator has cracked the code.
Gavan Brown of Roxley Games recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Dice Throne Season 2. It uses a system he calls “funding quests,” and I think it addresses all of the concerns I mentioned above (and more).
The basic idea behind the funding quests is that Gavan reveals a new goal every day even if the previous quest is incomplete. This gives him an opportunity to spotlight each goal while always giving backers a sense of progression (the status bar under each incomplete goal helps with the progression). He also hints at the focus of upcoming quests.
This alone doesn’t solve the Day 1 problem. I talked to Gavan, and he indicated a preference for revealing new quests every few hours that day (instead of 1 per day for the rest of the campaign). Gavan also said that he likes to balance the goals between major and minor quests, even if the funding thresholds are out of order. That allows him to have consistent reveals while teaching backers that some elements cost a lot more to add than others:
Here’s how Gavan determines the quests and thresholds:
- He doesn’t have a preset list of funding quests with associated amounts. He has a list of things he would like to add to the game (and that he’s researched and budgeted), but the list is totally dynamic. He often chooses which quest he will run that day on that very morning.
- He analyzes every idea that he hears from backers and almost always discusses them. If he hears an idea for a funding quest that is better than one of the ones he has, he will add it to his list, which will often replace a different funding quest. He has done this several times during this campaign.
- Because the funding quests are dynamic, so are the costs and effort involved to fulfill them. As such, the funding required for each quest is set when the quest is launched. New quests always require some amount of funding to accomplish.
- He wants his backers to be able to complete the quests in a reasonable amount of time, so all funding quest goals must be attainable. When setting the amount required to complete the day’s Funding Quest, Gavan considers a variety of factors, including: the current state of the campaign, the number of days left in the campaign, the FQs that he still has on the docket & the one’s suggested by backers, as well as the labor and hard costs of executing any particular FQ.
It’s hard to pinpoint if this method has led to the campaign’s success, as there are many factors in play, but it would appear from the daily funding average ($24k/day on the “middle” days 3-13) and the daily comments average (182/day on the middle days) that funding quests are sustaining the excitement and engagement during a time when many campaigns flounder.
Overall, I love this concept, and I actually think it meshes well with the Root Method I discussed a few months ago.
What do you think about the concept of “funding quests”? Have you seen any other projects do something like this?