20 April 2015 | 16 Comments
A few weeks ago (coincidentally as I was preparing for the launch of my new treasure chest Kickstarter project), I wrote KS lesson about an intriguing achievement system I had seen on some recent projects. The system seemed like a good fit to test out on my new project, so I gave it a try.
The basic idea is that you still have stretch goals, but you have to reach several achievements in a variety of categories before unlocking a new stretch goal. Thus you’re able to reward various types of support and interaction, and you can maintain the feeling of forward progress instead of waiting to close big gaps in traditional stretch goal funding.
I’ll talk about how this system has worked out so far in the section below the graphic below. This is the current state of our achievement chart:
Overall, my impressions of this system have been very positive. Here’s the good and the bad:
- I was worried that the new system would be confusing (as is the case when introducing a new concept), but that hasn’t been a problem at all.
- The theory of forward progress has worked out in practice. We had a very strong Day 1, but unlike previous strong Day 1s, we didn’t blow through a ton of stretch goals that end up getting overlooked. Instead we reached several achievements and unlocked 1 stretch goal, and we’ve continued unlocking a new stretch goal every few days since then (we’ve been live for about a week).
- I like the way the social media/participatory aspects have worked out. We decided not to have achievements tied directly to number of followers or Likes for reasons I discussed on the original blog post, and that was a good call.
- Several of the achievements are still tied to total funds, like stretch goals, which is important because of the economies of scale involved in adding more tokens (each stretch goal adds a total of 18 tokens to all three chests). But the split between total funds and percentage of funding has proven to be a visually appealing way to show forward progress.
- The achievement system has encouraged backer participation and interaction, particularly with the polls and #treasureup photos.
- Reaching a new achievement feels good–like I said, it feels like forward progress–but it is a little weird that there’s no new stuff to celebrate when the achievement is reached. In a more varied project, I think I might have a very small item tied to each achievement (like, add 1 card to the game) and have bigger additions linked to sets of achievements.
- I wish I had added a set of achievements that were based on time (I’m always looking for alternatives to early birds to get people to back now instead of later). For example, there could be a row on the chart that lists different funding amounts for the first 5 days of the project: $40k on Day 1, $60k by Day 2, $70k by Day 3, and so on. Thus the achievements would encourage people on the fence to pledge their support right away, because once those days pass, those achievements become unattainable.
- The feeling of acceleration is important, so in the future I would decrease the increments within each achievement category. For example, the first achievement might be 1000 backers, then then next 1500 backers, then the next 1900 backers, then 2200, and so on.
- Just like with any stretch goal system you announce in full up front, you might greatly over- or under-estimate the numbers associated with the achievements. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–like, for my project, the funding levels listed in the chart are necessary for us to financially justify putting 30 of each token type in each chest. But some projects might have more flexibility, and setting achievements too high or too low might hurt them.
- Just because an achievement is “easy” doesn’t mean it will be accomplished. For example, there is no reason we shouldn’t already have reached all #treasureup photo achievement and one more poll achievement. As a result–at least with the photos–only a small number of passionate backers have posted all of the photos so far. Perhaps there’s a better way to incorporate those “fun” achievements?
- In the future, I’d like to have many more achievements. Why have an achievement every 500 backers when you could have one every 200 backers, for example? Stretch goals might take more achievements to unlock–I think the key might be around 5 achievements per stretch goal.
- This is more for the future, but an astute advisory board member pointed out that the novelty of these achievement systems might wear off. Like, I used it here, but if I try to use it for Scythe, would people prefer for us to just go back to the regular stretch goal system?
Overall, though, I’m very pleased with the system, and I’m looking forward to other creators putting their own spin on it.
What do you think? What are some ways this system could be improved in the future? If you want to experience the system in action, you can check out our treasure chest Kickstarter project (ends on April 29).