Numenera is a science fantasy role playing game with a focus on story over game mechanics. Their goal was to raise $20,000, but the project soon shot past that raising close to $400,000 (20 times their original goal). Creator of Numenera, Monte Cook, tells us about Numenera, and how he ran the campaign.
What is Numanera? What makes it unique?
Numenera is a science fantasy tabletop roleplaying game set in the far distant future. Tabletop roleplaying games are games like Dungeons & Dragons, where much of the game exists in the imagination of the players. In the fictional world of Numenera, humanity lives amid the remnants of eight great civilizations that have risen and fallen on Earth. This new world is filled with remnants of all the former worlds: bits of nanotechnology, the dataweb threaded among still-orbiting satellites, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange and wondrous devices. These remnants have become known as the numenera.
Player characters explore this world of mystery and danger to find these leftover artifacts of the past, not to dwell upon the old ways, but to help forge their new destinies, utilizing the so-called “magic” of the past to create a promising future.
It's unique in its setting and the game's mechanics, which are designed to be very simple and intuitive, so that players can focus on the story.
Numanera's goal was originally $20,000 and yet your campaign raced past that to over $370,000. Why do you think that happened?
Well, frankly, the $20,000 goal was a minimum of what we needed. I had planned and hoped to go higher. Once we reached our initial goal, we layered in a lot of stretch goals which added more value to the project.
Pledges came in fast, even from the beginning. What preparation did you do to ensure a successful launch?
I basically set aside the entire period of the campaign to do nothing but manage it. I also traveled to game- and sci-fi-related conventions, like GenCon and DragonCon during that time to promote it. People seriously underestimate how much time Kickstarter will take. Just answering backer (and potential backer) questions, managing stretch goals, and so on can take many, many hours out of your day.
How and where were you promoting your Numanera Kickstarter campaign?
Primarily social media sites. We have been fortunate enough to be mentioned on "geek-related" media sites like MTVGeek, iO9, and so forth.
Now you're approaching the end of a campaign that wildly exceeded its original goal, what have you learned along the way? What would you do differently next time?
There is certainly such a thing as too many backer levels. Managing them (particularly if you are updating the rewards with stretch goals) can be difficult and ultimately confusing for backers. Plus, Kickstarter doesn't allow you to edit your backer level rewards after the fact. I'd come up with a way to handle them very differently if I could do it again.
What advice haven't you heard elsewhere that you would give to people just starting out with Kickstarter?
A lot of Kickstarter is customer service. Be prepared for a lot of questions, comments, suggestions (solicited and not), making updates and clarifications, and so on. It's all about communication directly with the people who are buying and will ultimately be using or enjoying your product. It's time consuming and challenging, but it can also be rewarding.
What's next for you and Monte Cook games, and where's the best place for people to follow your work?
With all the stretch goals that have added follow-up products to support Numenera, we'll be busy through 2014. Please check out montecook.com or numenera.com for updates and information.