Adventures in Toonaria Part 3

roboto

Hi all, and welcome to the Toonaria Campaign Setting! Toonaria is the backdrop of many stories I’ve written, but even more importantly, it is the backdrop of a large number of board and card games I’ve developed over the years, and is the official setting of the Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game currently under construction.

If you missed part 1 or part 2, it’s probably a good idea to go back and read those first. I’ll wait!

Ahem . . . okay, I’m assuming you’ve done that, so let’s forge ahead. I know I said I would give some examples of what characters can do in the setting today, but I think it would be best to tackle that next week. I think it would be interesting and certainly chronological to give some backstory first. Hope you don’t mind. I’ll be sure to give examples next week!

When I first sat down to create Toonaria, it was for the purpose of fleshing out the backgrounds for my board game designs (I love to play games with rich backstories). At the time, I was working on a game called Minotaur Madness. it featured 28 monsters (you formed teams and then selected one of 5 objectives and went head to head on a mountaintop that included hilly terrain, a tower, river, bridges and more. I think the original 3D mold I made weighed around 30 pounds.

Minotaur-Madness-©qtgames.jpg

My second version of the board was far lighter and prettier. My third was prettier still, but was flat, not 3 dimensional.) I’ve always been a real workhorse, designing like a mad man. Just wish I’d have pursued publishing and sorted out how to do it sooner (and I wish Kickstarter had been around back then!) On second thought, perhaps Kickstarter’s absence was for the best. Lacking money allowed me to mature as a writer/game designer/artist.

I still love those games and feel they hold up well even after all these years. Even so, I’ll give the best of them a critical eye, revamp them and polish them till they shine. Then I’ll take them through many playtesting phases, polish them some more until they’re ready to roll and the time is right. I’ve already started revamping one of my favorites, and it is exceeding all my expectations. Can’t wait to share the best with you!)

Backing up a bit again, I made a partial map of Toonaria and began writing short stories about the creatures in Minotaur Madness and about the great mountain top where the board game took place, as well as about the surrounding kingdoms. I didn’t know I’d keep going, but I think I was enjoying myself too much.

My next game design, Where The Grimmits Live, added a couple new stories and expanded the realm a little further. it is one of my favorite games, and will be the first (under the name Freeze Or Burn) that I will publish, likely. After that, I immediately began designing Color Confusion and blew the doors off the realms, expanding Toonaria considerably with a bunch of new creatures and a hard-hitting storyline. That’s when I knew that I had an epic realm, one that I could not stop thinking and writing about!

Yet, simultaneously, I was also designing the vast Cosmoverse and the Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game. As I was doing a ton of roleplaying in those days (when you’re young, you have time to burn), my focus shifted to the Cosmoverse. I kept writing about Toonaria here and there, and kept making game after game set in Toonaria, but the bulk of my time was invested in the Cosmoverse. That was in part because I wasn’t sure how to get board and card games on the market, and was broke.

I submitted Minotaur Madness (which was played on a 3 dimensional board and was therefore costly to make) to TSR around 1982 (they were the original publishers of Dungeons & Dragons). They liked it enough to go a few rounds with me for about a year and a half over possible publication. It was a really big game, included loads of art and stories. They kept requesting changes (mostly to the board), and tried to get the cost down. They were hurting really bad financially at the time, and weren’t prepared for a costly gamble. Ultimately, we parted ways.

I’m sure the game was rough around the edges. Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things about game design and finances over the years. With your help and Kickstarter, hopefully we’ll see some cool games hit your shelves in the days ahead!

I’ll be revisiting and revamping the very best of the two dozen plus games I’ve made over the past nearly 4 decades as I find time and money. You’ll likely see Freeze Or Burn on Kickstarter once it’s ready to roll.)

There’s more to tell, but this post has grown very long (sorry!)

Oh, and that lil fella above is called a Roboto, it is just one of many creatures you will be able to run in Epic Destinies when that rpg is ready. The roboto may appear harmless, but there’s a lot going on under the hood and it has a rich backstory as well. As with all of the core creatures you can run, it will come with a load of cool talent options.

I’ll be back next week to provide those adventure examples I promised. Like the blog if you do, and be sure to let me know your thoughts. Have you designed a game? I’d love to hear from you! Have a great week, friends. Cheers!

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Adventures in Toonaria Part 2

Adventures in Toonaria the Blended-Genre Campaign Setting, by design, vary wildly depending on where you are in the universe. So what. That’s the case to some degree, on any given world in any universe. True, but we’re talking about Toonaria, and in Toonaria, I kicked that concept up several degrees. Both the sorts of adventures and tone are affected by strange phenomenon. For example, if you want light-hearted adventures, as for young, budding gamers and those looking to focus on something other than heavy combat, that’s built in. The rose-colored glasses syndrome has been cranked up so far off the charts in certain regions, but not at the expense of cool adventures. It’s part of a major storyline. Something is keeping layers of Toonaria from learning the truth about just how messed up life is and can be.

When Neo is told by the Oracle in The Matrix some bad news, she said, “Here, take a cookie. I promise, by the time you’re done eating it, you’ll feel right as rain.” There are events and philosophies that can make you forget anything painful. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times, it can be quite dangerous. Had Neo not taken the red pill, he would have lived oblivious to the truth. Just as the Matrix movies explored (often inefficiently, getting lost in all the cool fights), the concept of truth and what to do about it when you find it, such concepts are a part of Toonarian life. Neo could have chosen to go on being a zombie, living in denial or ignorance like most everyone else in the Matrix. That sort of blessing/curse is very much a part of life in Toonaria— depending on where you live. People don’t realize what’s really going on.

There is a secret, rebel organization in Toonaria called “The Awakened” and they spread a message of misery and conspiracies. They claim they are being hunted and there are those who wish to silence them. Why? Because they insist that the wool is being pulled over the eyes of millions of Toonarians.

Those that spend a lot of time above ground in the sun have a very different view of life in Toonaria than those who live below the magical Storm Garden or deep in caves. Of course, rose-colored glasses isn’t the only concept we’ll be exploring, but it’s a cool one.

As mentioned previously, dreams and VR are also big concepts in this Science Fantasy + a bajillion genres (blended-genre) setting. Many hard-hitting concepts pop up for a setting that on the surface looks all candy and tea parties, at least above the Storm Garden.

Toonaria is a complex universe of happy go-lucky adventures, dark agendas, extremely advanced technology, arena combat, grand and gritty quests and epic magic. I’ll continue to write stories about Toonaria and the Cosmoverse too in the days ahead.

In Part 3, I’ll provide examples of a few of the sorts of adventures one might find themselves on, to help give you a better idea for what goes on in Toonaria and the Epic Destinies RPG. Got a question/comment? As always, I’m all ears!
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QT Games: Adventures in Toonaria

gubblingAs I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve decided to start giving The Toonaria Campaign Setting some time in the spotlight. So far, QT Games has been focusing almost exclusively on our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, but as Toonaria is linked to the Cosmoverse in several ways, it has popped up in some of our fiction as well. (Yes, it’s possible to crossover between the two distinct universes, however doing so does have its consequences—more on that in a future post!)

I’ve written a lot about Toonaria over the decades, including many short stories and even a few children’s books—picture books if you will—essentially short stories with pictures for both adults and children alike. And as I’ve said before, I’ve made tons of board and card games based on Toonaria, the best of which I will begin to start publishing before long. As some time has passed since designing them, I want to revisit them, polish them up some more, redo all the art, and do some more playtesting to ensure you’ll have a blast!

Toonaria is a special place with unusual creatures, all of them infused with magic, thanks to an epic arcane storm called appropriately “The GodStorm”. The “gubbling” pictured above is a magical creature with numerous abilities, one of which is the ability to talk their way out of trouble. There are plenty of opportunities for combat in Toonaria (and I’m not talking silly combat, though it will be cinematic), Gubblings are able to defend themselves with more than mere words, but they do have a gift for gab. When done right, social conflict can be just as exciting as physical combat!

Gubblings, like all of the core species that will appear in the initial release of the Epic Destinies RPG can focus on their species talents, if desired and find loads of options there to make their heroes exactly the way they want. They can continue to customize their heroes and add new species talents and other talents over the course of their lives.

I wanted to touch on a couple important concepts in adventuring in Toonaria. In most tabletop rpgs, the only way to improve your character mechanically is to kill lots of monsters and take their loot. There will be plenty of opportunities to take on the bad guys, no doubt, but as in real life, true personal growth will come through hardships, even more so than successes. You can learn far more from losing than winning, and it is when times are rough that people and monsters alike have the greatest potential for change. As such, we won’t just be rewarding characters for winning, but losing too.

There are many dangers in Toonaria, but death itself is less common. The bad guys are more interested in other sorts of consequences, most of which result in new adventures (such as escaping the dark lord’s prison or trying to get out of being forced to marrying his raving mad daughter.) Death itself is called The Great Sleep, but it’s pretty final for most, and those that push their luck too far will indeed reach The Great Sleep.

In Toonaria, you can actually go on exciting virtual reality adventures, dream adventures and physical adventures, and all of them equally rewarding. I once ran an entire game session in the Cosmoverse in which the characters were all asleep around the camp fire. The players had a blast, but sadly received no leveling benefits because it was just a dream. Dreams work very differently in Toonaria and sometimes you can even walk away with real treasure and you are always rewarded for such adventures. Of course most of their adventures will be in the “real” world. More on how all that works later.

If you like creative options . . . if you enjoy blending genres together, don’t limit your adventures to playing in a campaign setting that is too narrowly focused.

If you’re in the genre box, climb out, step off the beaten path, and check out our upcoming campaign settings. Chomping at the bit for blended-genre adventure right now? You can read fantastic blended-genre fiction over at QT Games. Some of it’s free, even! Questions? Throw ’em at me, folks! Thanks, and see you in a week!

Oh, and don’t forget you can get a FREE fiction novella set in our Cosmoverse just for
joining our newsletter! Cheers!

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QT Games: Toonaria Campaign Setting

Welcome to Toonaria, friends! What is Toonaria? Step off the beaten path and go down the rabbit’s hole . . . step through a certain gate or just let yourself dream a little, and you’re sure to find it!

Toonaria is a realm of epic magic, advanced technology, superheroes, skyships, fallen gods, secret agendas, secret societies, adorable, but dangerous monsters, towering kaiju, sky pirates, and much, much more.

Wait . . . that sounds like a lot of different genres! Yep, but when done right, genres go together like peanut butter and chocolate or bacon and eggs! I don’t just stick characters into one genre and have them stumble upon other distant lands where the genres are different. I don’t just toss the concepts into a blender. I’ve spent many years blending them together carefully and with much thought to get them just right. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I take my blended-genre seriously, and will do my best to continue to serve up memorable entertainment.

I’ve been writing blended-genre stories and creating blended-genre worlds for nearly 40 years. I do let things inspire me and sneak in easter eggs and homages at times—always with a twist. Toonaria isn’t some generic mash up. Everything in the setting has been carefully sculpted, the stories woven together smoothly (well, I’m not done—one is never done creating a campaign setting, but if you’re patient with me—I have a day job— I’ll release some fun stuff before long.)

In Toonaria, you can go off on epic adventures, either in the “real” fantasy world, or using virtual reality—and even dive into dream adventures. They are all equally valid, and equally fun experiences. Most of Toonaria is low tech/high magic, but there are pockets of modern and advanced civilizations here and there, post-apocalyptic expanses and isolated, dystopian empires. Caches of advanced technology and bizarre machines left behind by the AI gods ensure technology is a real, if mysterious, part of everyday life for those that want it.

All of the creatures in Toonaria are infused with magic, thanks to the mysterious GodStorm. Arcane accidents and secret lab experiments, morphing pits and other oddities further ensure life is never dull or “normal”. Anyone can do something epic, if they are in the right place at the right time. Magic is powerful, but corrupt, and the concepts of Light and Dark are very strong. Combat is never the only answer, but it is very cinematic.

There are 7 great chains of floating islands, stacked one on top of the other, forming the core of Toonaria, and numerous and strange dimensions just beyond mundane reach. In this odd realm of larger than life, epic landscapes, tiny and titanic heroes, the Sun literally never sets and the Moon never rises. Think Alice in Wonderland, Matrix, Avatar, Sherlock, Incredibles, Pokemon, Godzilla, The Truman Show and Lord of the Rings all rolled into one. No. I’m not joking, there is a coherent storyline throughout and you can run characters as silly or as serious as you like.

***
Think Alice in Wonderland, Matrix, Incredibles, Pokemon, Godzilla,
The Truman Show, and Lord of the Rings all rolled into one.

***

I’ve been writing stories and creating board games set in Toonaria (and my Cosmoverse Campaign Setting) since I was a kid. Over the past several months, I’ve been feverishly revamping Toonaria from the ground up, expanding it (I’m older and a little wiser now, but still a kid at heart, like many of you). Toonaria has a strange and wonderful connection with my equally epic and old Cosmoverse, as those of you who have read between the lines in some of my fiction know.

Toonaria is unlike any place you’ve ever been, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of it down the road. The Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game is under works to do Toonaria justice, but there will be fiction as well and board and card games set in Toonaria using the core Epic Destinies rules. (I’ve designed over two dozen board and card games in twice that many or so years.)

Our first official board game is called Freeze Or Burn. As you can imagine, both Epic Destinies and my board games will be easy to learn and fairly fast to play, but they are not simple, little kid games with no depth. There’s some really cool concepts in Toonaria and I’m very pleased with the game mechanics behind Epic Destinies. More development and art are needed, but they will be getting it, along with playtesting, of course, before release.

QT Games doesn’t cut corners on quality and spends extra to get good editing and art, and invests the time needed, so you should like what you see and enjoy playing them and reading more about Toonaria! More on our creative projects in upcoming blog posts.

Have I piqued your interest? I hope so! Got any questions or comments? I’m all ears!

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QT Games: Turning a Corner

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I’ve given the future a lot of thought. Trust me when I say that I did not turn corners and take on a new roleplaying game design and add on another campaign setting lightly. I loved the direction Cosmothea was going and the Cosmoverse has been near and dear to my heart for nearly 40 years. It still is. Forty years of writing stories, designing and redesigning, expanding and polishing my dream.

I haven’t cast either IP’s aside (heck, I just finished writing a novel based on the Cosmoverse), nor has my love for them diminished. I’d still rather play Cosmothea than any other roleplaying game. After all, I designed both to assure I got my fix of blended-genre adventure.

For the uninitiated, by blended-genre I mean science fantasy—maybe with a bit more bite—certainly with a few more genres. Superheroes, zombies, western, horror—they are never far behind. When done right, genres blend together like peanut butter and chocolate.

I love how the Cosmoverse came together and I will probably always publish stories about it. I love how Cosmothea hit all the sweet spots of what I love in a tabletop rpg and so neatly worked together with the Cosmoverse to make cool things happen. But Cosmothea 5.0 is a big rpg and is still a long ways from completion. The Cosmoverse is enormous and loads of fun, but rpg materials don’t sell very well regardless of quality, especially for a small, largely unknown publishing company like QT Games.

Even the big gorilla has struggled, and only the top names in the industry tend to make any money worth mentioning. Nothing’s a sure thing. Some of the third party companies designing for the big IPs make some money, but those of us who are going down our own paths? Just breaking even is difficult. Making a living off rpgs is uber unlikely for most folks, and requires piles of money just for a chance at making a small amount of money.

When I think of the bigger picture . . . how much time I have to put together projects and how much time you have to play them . . . when I consider the size of my budget and the need to keep expanding it to put out more cool stuff, the size of the rpg industry and available gamers, and a host of other factors, I see that I need to tread very carefully with every hour and every dime I spend. I need to play it smart.

I still hope to publish Cosmothea in some form as well as put out some Cosmoverse source books down the road (I have several very cool projects in the works), but I think the corner I turned was an important one. While the Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game and Toonaria Campaign Setting (Itself nearly 40 years old and fairly well developed) still require a lot of work, I think they will help me move forward with QT Games more effectively for now.

I’ll start unveiling the roadmap and talk more about these latest projects in the upcoming blog posts. Have an amazing week, my friends, and as always, I’d love to hear from you. Cheers!
Bob
P.s. Don’t forget I have a free fiction ebook for you just for joining our newsletter! The Train Less Traveled is an exciting, epic tale that will give you a taste of the Cosmoverse and our unusual magic system.

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Going Epic!

I’ve been blogging about our fiction and games for quite awhile. After taking a step back and reviewing the path ahead, I decided the vision for QT Games and our roadmap needed a bit of tweaking. We’re going in an epic new direction with a new budget, so, I thought I’d restart this blog now that I’ve finish the editing phase on my latest novel, The Shadow Reaper.

Shadow-Reaper_promo

Wait, before you go all epic on us, who are you again, and why should we care? 

QT Games LLC is a Las Vegas-based publishing company created to publish blended-genre (fantasy blended with sci-fi, etc.) fiction, board, card and roleplaying games for a discerning gaming community.

Our Mission:
Never publish junk. Never waste people’s time. Publish only high-quality fiction and games. ‘Nuff said.

Overview:
We ran a successful fiction Kickstarter for Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology in 2014 and have since published that big anthology.(Read an excerpt by clicking here.)

 

Arcane_synthesis_promo2

You can get our ebook: The Train Less Traveled FREE just for joining our newsletter, btw! The Shadow Reaper will be out later this year along with The Sea Of Worms, with more to come, including that “epic” thing I alluded to.

Unlike most small press, we have very strict standards: Only pro writing, pro editing and pro art. That means that if we can’t get it right, we find someone who can. We pay well for what we don’t do in-house. We don’t cut corners on quality. This means we stand to make less money than other small publishers, but that’s okay with us. We value your time and money, so we’re willing to take the bullet. Your reviews and spreading the word will go a long way toward helping make up for our sacrifice (not that we’re complaining. We insist on doing our best, and that means running QT Games in a pro manner).

We’ve designed a large number of games and wrote an even larger pile of blended-genre stories. Now we’re polishing some of them and getting them out the door. ‘Bout time, we know. Good stuff ahead!

Okay, okay, but what’s all this about going epic?
After designing the Cosmothea Roleplaying Game and Cosmoverse Blended-Genre Campaign Setting decades ago and tirelessly updating and expanding them ever since, we’ve taken a big turn. We didn’t have the budget to publish such big projects, which is why we went down the path of publishing fiction about them (well, that and we thought we had some pretty killer stories to share). Yeah, I know, I switch between “we” and “I” regularly. That’s because QT Games is a business, not just an individual, and “we” work with other pros to get things done as needed. With some cool new products, a bit more money in our pockets to get things rolling again and the help of our fans via Kickstarter, we should be able to accomplish even more epic goodies!

Last year after much consideration, I decided to create a simpler, faster, card-based roleplaying game based loosely on Cosmothea. After months of brainstorming, I nailed the concepts and went to work on a new game I call Epic Destinies. Rather than just water down Cosmothea, I decided to build a new tabletop roleplaying game from the ground up and just use the very best and relevant concepts and mechanics from Cosmothea, make them even better, and go from there.

Epic Destinies is about epic heroes (some very, very small, and others titanic in size) doing cinematic, epic stuff.  It’s still under heavy construction, but so far it’s exceeding all of my expectations. I’m on the right path. Things are looking up! Further, we plan to simultaneously release board games and adventures based on Epic Destinies (all using the same rules set). I took a very old campaign setting design of mine (No not my beloved Cosmoverse Campaign Setting), but one you may not have heard much about before. One that has also been near and dear to my heart for over 3 decades, and blew the doors off of it with cool new twists. I couldn’t be more excited about it. QT Games will continue to publish fiction and setting material for our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, but Epic Destinies will be married to the old made new and improved Toonaria Blended-Genre Campaign Setting. They’re a perfect fit for epic, cinematic adventures.

We have more goodies in store for these latest two product lines than you can shake a stick at! Our first adventure/board game will be Freeze Or Burn.

More on our new direction in the blog posts ahead. I’ll try to post at least a little something every week or two, less often when we’re in crunch time on a project.

That’s all for this post. Don’t forget to snag your free ebook just for joining our monthly newsletter so you can stay up to date on everything QT Games! Have an amazing rest of the weekend, all, and remember: Every day’s a gift. If you have a dream worth pursuing, never give up, but brainstorm on how you’re going to make it happen and then go for it! Questions and comments? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

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Kickstarter Wants My Firstborn!

baby-kickstarter

Today I’d like to talk about some of the trials and tribulations of both running Kickstarter campaigns and backing them. I often encourage people to invest in others—to back worthy Kickstarters campaigns (at least those they have an interest in). I sometimes back Indiegogo campaigns and other crowdfunding outlets, but not too often.Indiegogo would be my second go-to and it slows down after that.

I primarily focus on Kickstarter, since I can only do so much, and only have so much time to research worthy campaigns. I trust Kickstarter more than the others and like some of their philosophies. They aren’t perfect, of course, but this post will focus on what not to do when running a campaign, and those looking to back a campaign might find some useful reminders here as well.

Invest in others!
I’ve posted numerous times that we ought to be there for each other, especially if you have an interest in what the Creator is doing. but also to help support your own industry—those with like minds and dreams. I don’t mind backing my competition, and do, when I like what they are doing. Authors should stand together and see how they can lighten one another’s loads. And of course readers should back authors. Game designers and gamers should back each other as well—again, if they see something they like. But we should all be trying to back each other’s dreams in some way or another on or off crowdfunding, because it makes life more meaningful, giving is as much a blessing to the giver as the receiver. Because it’s helping people, and that’s a good thing. One shouldn’t just back blindly, however.

Iron sharpens iron!
We all need each other. We all have something we can contribute to brighten another’s day, to help along another’s dream, or simply to be an ear or provide an encouraging word. I’ve spent countless hours consulting with Kickstarter Creators, trying to help them understand Kickstarter better, uncover some of the holes in their campaigns (not in an arrogant “I’m the expert and know everything” sort of way. I’m not an expert, but I have some experience and have also made some of my own mistakes, have done a great deal of research, and have a bit of common sense. I can usually spot some problems and try to help when I can find the time.)

Sometimes it’s just easier to spot issues because you aren’t so close to the project. My sons aren’t game designers, but they both know how to read, are sharp and creative, and can spot confusing language and design flaws. When we stand together, we can accomplish so much more than we ever could on our own, but I’ve discussed this numerous times on previous blog posts. And there are plenty of Kickstarter Creators out there with far more intel on this topic than me, which is why I’m just doing a brief overview. That and I just don’t have much time.

Everyone has a dream!
Frankly, I’m tired of all the mediocre dreams out there. If you believe in your dream, do your homework and give it your best shot! Help me to believe in your dream too. I want to believe. I want to root for you. I want you to succeed! I’ve been on the other side, needing the help (and still do, frankly as my finances are still tight and I have piles of cool projects to publish). I look for ways to help people when I have time. Now, I can’t help everyone, and I’m not expecting everyone to help me.

With the help of 76 people, I was able to bring my first kickstarter, Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology to life back in 2014. Sadly, not only do some not try to invest in others, but they try to hurt others. I had a couple of those in my campaign, who only came on board to hurt rather than help. There are spammers and criminals both among the Backers and Creators, unfortunately. I can only assume that helping people is far more fun and that’s what I like to do.

So far, I’ve backed 63 projects. I’m not boasting, I just enjoy doing it, knowing I’m making a difference and sometimes even walk away with a decent reward. I hope to find many more that appeal to me, to back in the days ahead. Some I only give a few dollars to, others quite a bit more. I actually look fairly often, somtimes tossing a little money in their pot, other times quite a bit more.

I can’t back everyone, and I’m not even interested in every project. Others, I feel were done poorly, had unrealistic goals, terrible rewards, or were unprofessional in other ways. Some projects I couldn’t throw money at fast enough, because I liked what they were doing, even though I couldn’t afford what it was they were offering.

As more and more people find out that I like to hand money out (to projects I’m both interested in and feel were done right), I have with increasing measure, received messages from strangers asking me to back their Kickstarter. Sometimes I do, but they often forget what I said above and don’t even bother to look at my account to see if I’m likely even interested in backing a new hedge trimmer, watch (I don’t wear ’em) or the latest speedo (I don’t invest in clothes on Kickstarter). Just as an employer can’t hire everyone and so often makes special criteria to cut the number of applicants down, I insist on a few things.

Invest in others!
I rarely back a project in which the Creator hasn’t already invested in someone else’s Kickstarter. And the more they are asking for, the more generous I expect them to be. Seeing how many and who they are backing is easy. It’s right there on their account what they’ve backed. I figure if they aren’t willing to help others out, why should I help them? Now I get it, some people are even poorer than I am, but you can sometimes tell a little about the person running the campaign by reading it. Being a Backer is just one of my special criteria (I really, really don’t have piles of money, but I do love helping others, especially those who seem like decent people and in which it looks like they did their homework and have a cool project in my interest area and back others, as I said). So, if you want my money, you need to both impress me and show that you also invest in others, not just yourself.

I’ve backed a wide variety of projects and would have backed many more, but some days I just can’t find anything that pops out at me. I tend to back roleplaying, board and card games (and settings) and fiction that appeals to me (If you don’t even mention editing in your fiction Kickstarter, I seriously doubt I’ll back you—it never ceases to amaze me how many self publishers think it’s okay to skip pro editing). I rarely back books and games that appear to need an editor badly, unless that’s part of what the funding was for. If they don’t talk about editing, I usually move along, assuming they don’t know what they are doing. If I see a horrible book cover, I almost always click out. If you aren’t an artist, don’t do your own book cover! I’m a pro commercial artist with over 30 years experience and I still hire artists when I need them, because I insist on uber high-quality, and when I can’t deliver, I find someone who can. Get a pro when you need one. Can’t afford it? Build it into your Kickstarter, take a part-time job, sell lemonaid, whatever. Just do what you need to do!

If I see a game with shoddy art, unless they have already invested in a picture or two that demonstrates what they are shooting for, and talk about art as part of the funding, I usually don’t back it. Yeah, art is that important to a game. I don’t want to see scribbles, I want you to give me the confidence to think you will provide a pro product.

There are so many mistakes I’m catching every time I go on Kickstarter. There are a lot of ways of doing a Kickstarter wrong, and not that many ways to do one right. If a Kickstarter has little funding after a few days, I take a look at it, but assume they screwed up somewhere. There’s just way too many Kickstarters done wrong for me to waste my time. If they can’t be bothered to do their homework, than I usually don’t back them. This kills me, because I might even like the idea, but sometimes it’s so obvious they weren’t even trying or didn’t know what they were doing.

Kickstarters are very hard work!
I’m in no hurry to run another. I will, but not soon if I can help it. They are exhausting, and can be expensive (yes they cost money – at least you ought to spend some money to do your campaign right and get the project as far along and as pro as you can BEFORE you ask for money). They are also time-consuming and are not always the best option. Sure, if you are a big name in your industry, it’s a lot easier, but it’s never easy. I’m not lazy by any stretch, but I want to be even more prepared before I run my next, and I’m working on building a bigger fan base first.

Nobody wants to pay for your “eternal gratefulness”!
Even though I’ve backed plenty of campaigns without asking for a reward, I do like getting rewards if I’m interested, but so many Kickstarters have horrible rewards or rewards that are great, but are priced wrong. You want to reward those who are backing you more than some joe off the street. Your Backer is doing so much more for you than some future, potential consumer. I’ve seen people charge $5-10 just to credit the Backer in their product as a contributor. That is absurd! They can’t think of something to give at a price point or are being arrogant and set up credit as its own reward. It’s insulting, and all too common. I made it free on my Kickstarter. Why? Because I was grateful to my backers. They DID contribute, so I DID credit them! You should too!

Kickstarter isn’t a charity. Give potential backers something they can sink their teeth into! Backers should feel appreciated, not “lucky to get in on the ground floor of my awesome product”. Rarely will a thank you note or the realization that you will be “forever grateful” ever make me want to give you a dime. I want to give money because I believe in what you are doing and think it’s cool, and maybe because I think I might like you and like what you’ll do the next time.

I’m a dreamer and love backing dreams—not just any dreams, but dreams that were followed up with a battleplan, lots of thought and elbow grease. I want to give money because you’ve shown me that you are not only passionate about what you are doing, but you know what you’re doing, can do it, do it well and impressed me.

Just as people shouldn’t rush into launching a campaign, people shouldn’t rush into backing a project. I’m seeing people invest money in Kickstarters that don’t deserve it, and I’m seeing some Kickstarters that deserve more than they are getting and are not properly supported. I know, we’re all busy. We’re all short on cash. Most of you probably didn’t even know I was running a Kickstarter back in 2014. I’ve missed more than a few I would have loved to back somehow, despite my frequent visits to Kickstarter to see what’s new.

It bums me out when I go to Kickstarter looking for a cool project to toss some money at and I can’t find a single one in my interest area that looks like they cared enough to do their homework. I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes on my Kickstarter. I’m still learning, but I worked my tail off, read piles of articles, studied for well over a year, I did my homework. I did make mistakes, but I did a lot right too. There have also been some projects in which they did so much right and I’d love to back them, but find red flags that turn me off, like some of those I’ve mentioned above.

Make actual friends and fans, not just followers!
Likes are cheap and thrown around. Followers come and go and may not even like you (they may have randomly followed you. Some of them are spammers, others followed you on a whim). Those of you who have cultivated numerous followers on Twitter and Facebook, please understand that the conversion rate of likes and followers is extremely bad. There’s a difference between a follower and a friend. Sometimes they are the same thing. More often than not, they are not the same. Anyone can hit like and do so casually, but most will not take the time to back you. Even relatives may not take the time to back you, will get confused how to back, will forget to back, and that includes real friends too. If you get 2 in 100 twitter followers to back you, that’s not half bad. I haven’t looked up the conversion rate lately, but it’s better to have a few true friends than a stadium full of strangers.

I had some generous friends and family as some of my Backers. But I also had both friends and family who completely forgot I was running a Kickstarter, despite talking about it frequently. People live busy lives, so you have to make your campaign rock and spread the word. Talk about your project often, but don’t spam people.

Get involved in what other people are doing. Invest in their lives—show that you care, don’t just try to hit them up for money. That gets annoying quick. Sometimes I can’t back someone because my money’s just too tight that week, but if I believe in what they are doing and it is in my interest area, I’m much more likely to spread the word on social media for them and am also more likely to squeeze some money out of my pocket even though I really can’t afford it. Some people forget about spreading the word and would if you let them know. Others don’t want to be bothered. Be a real friend and you might get some real friends back. Start now. Friendship takes time, but you won’t regret it!

This blog post wasn’t meant to be a rant, though I know at times it came off as one. It’s just that I want you to succeed and take this seriously. It was long, but far from exhaustive. Hopefully it will help someone avoid a bum campaign and another to run a better campaign. As always, I covet your comments. Cheers!

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