A few weeks ago I began researching Kickstarter and Indiegogo games. I was very intrguiged by the multitude of successfully funded campaigns on both sites, and the myriad of games coming out of these sites.
Recently, upon doing some deep digging into BoardGameGeek.com and "Crowdfunding" in general, I came across Pixel Lincoln. This game has an amazing story! It's a card game, turned video game, turned card game, and filled with everything that wreaks awesomeness!
But what about the man behind it all? Sure, there is, as always, a team of people who help create masterpieces like these, but in this case, I'd like to introduce you to the man behind the magic.
Through the power of social media and a friendly site named Twitter, where twits tweet, I made the acquaintance of one, Jason Tagmire, creator of Pixel Lincoln. He graciously accepted my offer to both pledge to his cause and be the subject of an interview for this site... what follows are presidential files sealed since Lincoln's day, unearthed for your viewing pleasure...
CH: What made you choose Kickstarter?
JT: The short answer is that there really was no other way to get the game made. I certainly don't have enough money to fund a release, and Island Officials has many other projects in the pipeline. The long answer is that I've been researching and following Kickstarter for a few years now. I've had 3 personal projects on there, and I've been a part of 2 more as a group. I run a column called "Kickstart the Week" at FruitlessPursuits.com and I'm the Philly IGDA Kickstarter Curator. You can say that I'm pretty obsessed with the site and really try to dissect every project I look at. After all of that, I'm still trying to figure out what makes one project huge and another project fail.
CH: What do you think are the main benefits for Game Developers utilizing Kickstarter as a means for distribution?
JT: It's shifted quite a bit over the past few years from being the place for the little guy who couldn't get funding in any other way, to a place for games of all shapes and sizes to get started. But along with that wave of bigger developers came more and more board game fans. So, while there is a lot more competition than there ever was, there are also a lot more consumers for board games. I can't think of another, more direct, and more accessible way to reach board gamers without putting out a lot of money upfront.
CH: What are some pitfalls other Kickstarter Game Developer hopefuls can avoid?:
JT: First of all, don't rush into it. I've heard about a lot of people jumping into launching a Kickstarter project just because it's hot right now and before things go downhill. I think that is the worst reason to launch your project. Second of all, make sure you have solid art and near complete design. Art will make or break a game, and many are weary of purchasing a game that is not complete, or near complete. Having reviews, and outside opinions of your game will really help anyone who is unsure.
And finally, make sure you have an audience. Realistically think about how many people you can reach. If it's just friends and family members that aren't so much interested in your game, and instead interested in you, then you should probably build yourself up first, or consider teaming up with someone who is established to do your project. Your friends and family may kick in a few dollars, but you need the support of people who are into games and talking about games. Without that support, I don't think we would have gotten anywhere.
CH: What have you learned through this adventure?:
JT: I have been so non-stop busy that hasn't even sunk in enough to realize exactly what's happened, but I learned that that you really need to put yourself out there. For years I would design games at home without a plan for anybody to ever play them, and as a result, nobody ever played them. This year, I decided to do every major convention that I could, meet people who are doing the same thing as me, and really stand behind my games.
On Pixel Lincoln:
CH: Some have seen the "it started with a penny" story, but did you ever give thought to shifting away from Lincoln as a main character? If so, or if not, why?
JT: I thought of it for the first time just this week. I was thinking that there are probably people out there who love retro video games, that might not love the crazy side to the game. But that's not what it's all about. It's all about the craziness, mixed in with the classic gaming feel. I'm curious how it would go over if I yanked out all of the puking turtles and went with a straightforward action hero.
CH: If I'm new to Kickstarter, why should I back Pixel Lincoln over the other games on there? Or in other words, why does Abe Lincoln kicking ass, well, kick so much ass?
JT: You shouldn't! You should back Pixel Lincoln along with the other games on there. :)
As for Pixel Lincoln, it's different than everything else out there. It's a card game that plays and looks like a video game. It side-scrolls! Plus there is a Beardarang and Sausage Link Whip. It's really something different.
CH: Where do you see Pixel Lincoln going on the table top, after the game's release? Can we expect expansions?
JT: Pixel Lincoln has consumed 4 years of my life, so I might as well not stop there. The deckbuilding game could naturally grow with expansions. I already have card types and mechanics that didn't make it into the current game, so I'd love to get them out there at some point. But it's all in the hands of the players! If there is interest, you know I'll be on board.
CH: What's your favorite card in the game, and why?
JT: The Muttonstar is a beast. Both the ridiculous image of a piece of meat on a chain, and it's massive power. It can do some serious damage.
CH: What got you into game design?
JT: My constant need to create things. I've always been more interested in making a game than playing a game. And in 2008 I found a print-on-demand card company and threw together a few quick games. The instant gratification of making a prototype that works is what will always keep me interested in game design. The feeling once everything clicks is unbelievable.
CH: If you could speak with Abe Lincoln right now, what one thing would you like to ask him?
JT: Knowing what I've done to him… I would probably ask him not to hurt me.
CH: Which Island are you retiring to with all your profits from Pixel Lincoln?
JT: Haha. The island of my real job. As many will say, there is not a lot of money to be made in straight-up game design. You'll need to do something drastically creative or cut out all the middlemen, which I haven't done on this project. Right now, my profit is that as of today, over 400 people will have this game, and some of those 400 people are very passionate about it. That makes me feel better than anything else.
I treat every project as the stepping stone towards the next one, which may or may not be a stepping stone towards making some money doing what that I love. But to get there, it'll take much more than just designing a game.
CH: After Pixel Lincoln the Table Top game and the video game, what's next?
JT: For Pixel Lincoln, who knows? Hopefully more games. For myself, I have a few games in the later stages of development. Sandwich City is my light semi-gateway resource management game where you build little wooden sandwiches with names like "Man Up" and "The Flufferclucker". I'm also working on ZombieZone, a head-to-head strategy board game of humans vs. zombies. I hope to get both to the tables at Gen Con in August.
Thank you Jason for your time, and thank you for being a passionate gamer, working to deliver the best thing possible, a great table top experience among friends and strangers! Viva el Lincoln!
If you would like to learn more about Pixel Lincoln, you can see more here:
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