Kim Brebach
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To cover the money required to properly pay for 220 – 240 card illustrations I need for ARCHON (working title) my dark fantasy 2 – 4 player empire building card game, my publisher and I are looking at kickstarting it.

Some key info first so this thread doesn’t get derailed:
1. The game is NOT a CCG or LCG. I’m ambitious but I’m not crazy.
2. We know that’s a high volume of illustration, but it’s a key part of the game that should help it sell (internal variability and replayability).
3. We will have the graphic design (icons, card templates etc) done pre KS.
4. I’m aware that Archon is a somewhat contentious name in the eyes of some here given the old computer game, but please lets not go into that here.

The game is dripping with theme; Factional leaders – Archons – rebuilding a fallen empire while struggling with / or using the horrific magic that wrecked it. We want high quality and evocative dark fantasy art with a gritty feel (and no chain mail bikinis sorry, move along) to be a key drawcard in the kickstarter campaign and beyond, along with gameplay, theme and mechanics.

The kickstarter campaign is intended to help raise the funds for the volume of high quality art we need. This wouldn’t be an issue if I were making eg a standard deckbuilder with 25 – 50 illustrations, or another Libertalia where 30 beautiful illustrations are heavily recycled. The volume of illustrations is the main complexity here.

Here’s the puzzle. Help with funding the expensive bits is what Kickstarter is for right? But the more art we have done upfront, the better it will tend to fund. This is known. So how much finished art is enough and how much is ideal? (please don’t say all of it).

I have 6 ‘types’ of cards to show in the video and in promo pics, and I’d like to show a round of gameplay in a video during the campaign – to do that I’m going to effectively need between 30 – 40 high quality illustrations done pre-kickstarter I think. So if you liked what you saw, but understood that we were raising $ to pay for the remaining art, would that be enough for you to back it or would it be a barrier to you backing? If it were a barrier, where is the tipping point for you?

Looking forward to your thoughts.
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Greg
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For myself, I'd like to see enough art to know how the final game will look, I don't need to see every card. 'Enough' could be six cards if it shows off the style and the artist's ability. If the art isn't done I'd like to be reasonably sure that it will be done, so the artist being involved in the kickstarter or otherwise showing their committment and the numbers adding up (the asking price isn't too low for the art to be comissioned and the delivery schedule isn't unrealistic given that it's not been done yet).

That'd be a minimum to avoid me refusing to back on the basis of the artwork, to *actually* get me to back I'd need to be sold on the game play.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Get enough art to represent every type of card at least once.
IE: A character card, an item card, a spell card a terrain card, a monster card, and NPC card, etc.

Enough a prospective buyer has a good idea where the game is headed art and design-wise and layout-wise too.
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Original Dibbler
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I card is the absolute minimum. One of each type should be enough to launch the campaign.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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As above, 1 of each class is the bare minimum. More is nice, of course, especially over a long campaign so that you have more to reveal over time to maintain interest and generate new backers. Anything that's going to be a stretch goal should have some art. A wordmark for the title of the game is obviously important as well as is a company logo/brand.
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Pablo Schulman
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I agree with one of each type, but if you have more than one artist everyone should draw them, to show all the different styles.
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Nate K
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Since I don't think anyone mentioned it, yet: Having some rough black-and-white sketches of planned art pieces can supplement the finished art. You can show people how you INTEND for the game to look without having to shell out for 12+ full pieces of art.

Obviously, you will want SOME completed pieces. The point is that you can also use artist sketches to further show off the look and feel of the game.
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Kim Brebach
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Thanks very much guys.

I have a two pronged strategy of deep and intriguing gameplay AND great art to promote the game.

Greg the game concept evolved from trying to solve some gameplay and other 'problems' I saw in games in the same broad market space eg in some CCGs / LCGs (downtime, lack of good multiplayer options, between game construction requirements, collectibility etc) and other tableau and deck building games (lack of interaction / multiplayer solitaire, tedious setup time, lack of thematic logic; how do multiple players each have that dude in their decks? etc etc). So I'm hoping the depth of gameplay will be a key drawcard. More on this later.

Since I need to show a single round gameplay video either at the KS campaigns commencement or during it to really prove its gameplay credentials, I think I need at least;

4 strategy cards
6 location cards
18 Hero cards
1 Creature card
1 Relic card
2 Taint cards

32 cards - 13% of the the probable total. From what you all have said these cards should be enough to persuade you that the art reflects the expected product. But I'm also wondering how far great art can be used like great miniatures are in all those miniatures games that do so well in KS? Or is that sheer folly? I know I've been guilty of backing the odd game primarily because of great art... how much does great art draw you to a project?

If I add a few (12?) others during the campaign eg as faction hero highlights, key strategic pathway location cards or some of our double edged 'taint' cards to keep some news flowing I can use these to expand on some key card mechanics and gameplay themes too. I feel thats important because one of my design objectives is that theme (conveyed through art and story) is integrated as far as possible with mechanics.

I'll certainly make sure the artists we are using are well represented across the illustrations. Our website will also likely link to artists profile sites and spruik their talents.

I like the idea of sketches used occasionally, specially to highlight the game dev process to the KS and game dev community.

On that front, we have developed a broad art brief document which explains the setting and theme in detail and some briefing notes that outline narrative and cultural / factional thematic elements. I could make that available on the website as part of some designer diaries too. Would that help demonstrate the seriousness of the approach? Or is that overkill or of little interest to most?

With using art in stretch goals I'm unsure how to go about that yet. Single pieces of art as stretch goals are pretty lame IMHO, and to expand the game I realistically have to do it in 54 card blocks. Stretch goals feel like they should occur in between those 2 points. I need to do more research in the field here but ideas are always welcome!

We will of course be recycling the art in KS graphics (eg videos and section headers), advertising banners, the game website, BGG image galleries, maybe pinterest etc etc. We will have graphic design of the game name, box cover, KS and other icons etc done prior.

Any other ideas for how to make great art we are investing in translate into KS and ongoing sales success?
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Kim Brebach
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I’d like your opinions on another art and kickstarter backer related question.

Obviously the key cost in making a card game is the illustrations - anywhere between $50 and $500 per illustration. I am of the view that illustration quality, along with gameplay quality are the two core elements that will make or break a card game Kickstarter success and ongoing sales wise. of course the more money spent on art the better the quality should typically be. But like any project we have finite budgets. I’m wondering if kickstarter gives us some flexibility.

So my question is whether stretch goals that pay artists more money for the artwork they have contributed might be a tipping factor for you personally to pledge, if you were already interested.

I’m also interested if you think this would influence general backer willingness to pledge, given the community minded nature of kickstarter.

This loosely equates to a profit sharing model for artistic project collaborators. Not sure if this has been done before. Would appreciate any experience in this area.

Oh and this all assumes we can find 4 or 5 artists that are willing to work under these arrangements of course. That is not a given.

This whole idea may be naively stupid or not. What do you think?
 
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Louise McCully
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Just checking if you are aware of recently Kickstarter game called Archon: Glory & Machination? I wouldn't want you to be caught unaware meeple
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Adam Trzonkowski
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kbrebach wrote:

This loosely equates to a profit sharing model for artistic project collaborators. Not sure if this has been done before. Would appreciate any experience in this area.

Oh and this all assumes we can find 4 or 5 artists that are willing to work under these arrangements of course. That is not a given.


A backer may like the idea of "supporting the artist" but I can't say for certain. Art is a big part of any game produced but so is the game. That is what you're trying to support via your Kickstarter. You may want to reserve your stretch goals for things that add value to the backer versus add value to the artist.

For artists, I've used pledge levels to increase their profit share. As an example, in my last campaign I didn't directly commission any art in advance (mind you this is for a book, not a game). You'll obviously have to do some but you could come up with some "extra" or "alternate" art cards. You then create a high pledge level where the backer gets to put their own character/item/etc idea forward and the artist draws it.

For this pledge level you guarantee the artist a set amount of it. So if it is $200, the project gets $100 and the artist gets $100. Some artists will be up for that. Others won't. Just an idea.
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Kim Brebach
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rhianna_ wrote:
Just checking if you are aware of recently Kickstarter game called Archon: Glory & Machination? I wouldn't want you to be caught unaware meeple


Thanks Louise yes I'm aware of both that and the original computer game.

Any thoughts on extra artist payments as stretch goals? Or do you guys think most people are more motivated by whats in it for them?

Adam your suggestion is good, and its one we are considering.
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Liam
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I don't think extra artist pay is a tangible enough reward for the backers - it also might come across a bit odd. Pay them fairly and leave it at that.

I'd simply offer extra cards of expansion. Increasing the number of players might be the big one, if it doesn't impinge upon your design.

Quote:
(and no chain mail bikinis sorry, move along)


Consider using this line. It plays well with me so long as it's friendly/playful and not condescending.
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Robert Beachler
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kbrebach wrote:
Any thoughts on extra artist payments as stretch goals? Or do you guys think most people are more motivated by whats in it for them?


I'd love to be able to tell you that everyone will have as much passion for your project as you do but artists are regular people who have bills to pay so yes in many ways they are motivated by what is in it for them. The saying time is money exists for a reason. Speaking as an artist if you're not willing to pay then you're not really looking to make something that matters to you anyway. So really backers paying for extra artist payment isn't likely to motivate them but you should think about perhaps giving your artist some money percentage out of the funds raised past the goal. That would at least be something beyond the regular payment.
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Kim Brebach
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I meant whether backers were motivated more by whats in it for them, sorry if that wasn't clear. yep i would intend the bonuses to be over and above what we consider fair pay for the art, although perhaps also a little incentive to take a little more care

I'm very aware from threads here and other work i do as a web developer that graphic design and illustration is job that needs paying for, no matter what the artists love is for the game itself.

Just exploring potentially interesting options in kickstarter motivations. i may be reading too much into the community minded nature of the KS community. When you get involved in comments as projects near completion it all gets pretty exciting... but that may reflect just a microcosm of the most engaged and community minded backers.
 
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