Kickstarter Experience: A Look Back Through My Succesfully Pledged Projects

My Kickstarter experience began with backing my friend Fritz Donnelly’s film “I Like You”, it was then followed by throwing in with a graffiti/streetart gallery project. After those two it quited down although I seemed to star projects once and awhile and then one day I just stopped. That is until the project that actually brought so many people to Kickstarter in the first place brought me back and not just back, but falling into a trap of kickstarterolism. That project was Double Fine Adventure and it has steamrolled from there. While I have actually only backed 22 projects in my time I have kept track of, promoted, helped support, etc. many in that time. Here I thought I would look at those projects I actually supported to receive something in return through my pledge and see where they are in development. Kickstarter itself doesn’t have a section for backers to actually report on the success of project other than comments. Nothing to say that your pledge resulted in so and so, and while they in one hand say they aren’t a preorder site and don’t check the background on their project creators, they also have a system in place to help pledgers fight to get their money back if the project creator seems to never actually make any progress towards their project with the pledged money.

If I could do this for any project creator, especially creators who start new Kickstarter’s before fulfilling their previous Kickstarter or people who just keep recreating a project changing basically nothing trying to get funding as Kickstarter gets bigger I would. I can’t though, so at least this article will serve as a an experience of how projects can go and what they can lead to for my personal story.

I LIKE YOU – A Hi Christina Movie: I could write essays galore on my life with Fritz Donnely and Christina Clare-Ewald over the last 3-4 years since we became acquainted and then became close friends. Their film project was something that I had to do be a part of as soon as I could. They had an absolutely awesome countdown party at a loft, then after funding they had an excellent post funding party where they showed a very early cut of various scenes. Since ending I have actually helped out on a scene and according to Fritz I even have a speaking role. At that after party I mentioned I received a hand-made shirt from Christina. The film would be ready now, BUT Fritz and Christina went itno another major product… a child. That baby is named Keats and he is the most wonderful thing ever. For those who joined in on I LIKE YOU who don’t have a closeknit relationship with them I could see frustration that as we approach February 2013, the film has not come out officially yet, but this is the year. Fritz’ creative juices have been flowing like mad since starting his project Secret Door and I have faith that that project is fueling his energy to make his first full length feature to come to fruition completely.

THE PANTHEON PROJECT: This project found complete production with an exhibit in the windows at the former library located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit featured some amazing pieces on display for anyone and everyone to appreciate the gallery style, it was accompanied by a large exhibit catalog which is now completely sold out. The website is no longer up, but there are images on Flickr.

DOUBLE FINE ADVENTURE: Anyone who followed video gaming news or Kickstarter knows that this project brought a ton of attention to the site. It ended up with quadruple + it’s initial funding and instead of being a small little adventure game/documentary it has balooned into a full fledged project with a current release date not to be seen yet. That is not to say a lot has not been happening. While updates have been less frequent that liked by a portion of backers I have been very satisfied. If one includes the episodes of the documentary titled SIDE QUESTS which either feature indepth bios of creatuve members or show Tim Schaefer playing his old games there have in total been 15 episodes of the documentary feature. In terms of the game the backer forums have featured some amazing programming updates, concept art updates, story updates and more. They have been more than forthcoming in letting us see the full development of this game, warts and all, more than any studio has ever dared try. From a rewards standpoint, Fangamer in a timely, efficient and sexy manner sent out amazing shirts & posters with secret extra buttons and stickers. Of course if you only pledged at the $15 level and don’t take advantage of the fourms at Double Fine you’re just waiting for a game you thought would be out by now. To you I say… that’s your fault, not theirs. If you didn’t actually get in on the ground floor of DFA and would like to see this documentary in real time and see amazing forum posts, go check the program DFA Pay, which allows you to join in the fun early for $30 anytime before release.

CARL’S LARGE STORY: Marcos Perez’ comic appealed to me greatly. When I first found the Kickstarter I noticed he didn’t have an option for all the swag, including the new book, the one of a kind drawing, the original collection and the handmade crochet. I requested it, he made it, and then I almost missed out on actually getting to pledge at this level. Almost is the operative word here. This was also one of the most exciting packages I’ve received from all my Kickstarters so far. Of course what it was going to contain meant it would. If you don’t already have a copy of Carl’s Large Story, head over to the website and grab one. Here’s images!

GAME OVER INSERT MORE QUARTERS ANTHOLOGY: I’m not completely what made this be the next thing I kickstarted. I think looking back it was a combination of the art, the passion, and the energy shown. Somewhere in this apartment of a treaure trove library this book sits happily. Equally a year later the books organizer Nicky Soh, has an excellent illustration project titled SIXTY SHADES OF BLUE. At the same time Nicky’s sister Jen who was also in Game Over is kickstarting her own anthology titled PLAYLIST. Both these projects look fascinating. My pockets need to be much larger, these are books you should look at and own, especially if you’re looking comics and artbooks to add to your collection. I am kneedeep in projects right now, but I am supporting these two projects as much as I can, spiritually, and hopefully financially if that arises.

GODS OF THE FLIES: This short film using awesome animation came out great! In the mail I received some seriously amazing stickers, a great note and even a little finger puppet fly. I’ve watched and rewatched the hi def film on repeat and keep track of the maker Danger Charles has been up to. While this might be the only short narrative film I’ve backed, I am very happy about this once and glad to always have it been part of my collection.

BOY: I had pledged this at the minimum simply because I wanted to be able to read the backer updates and have them saved in my email box forever. I did get to see the film at the special screening in Brooklyn where I also got to meet Taika. Based on comments, American fans have yet to receive their Crazy Horses patches and there seems to be no USA DVD release on the horizon. Still, great movie.

YUMIKO-CURSE OF THE MERCH GIRL: This is a gorgeous package. The comic by Josh Blaylock and Jose Garcia is amazing. The album by Murs is stellar. After the successful Kickstarter, Devil’s Due as a publisher has been back in full swing, continuing to use the platform to prefund their efforts.Yumiko is now available on their website in various packages. I personally recommend the one you can get by clicking Buy Now on the project’s official site.

GASTROPHOBIA VOL. 2: Comics looked to becoming the trend, unsurprisingly, they had proven to be the most reliable of projects and tend to bring me my largest entertainment value. In this case I had already owned Vol. 1 that I had purcahsed directly from David McGuire via a convention and felt it best to assure my copy and also get some special Kickstarter combo editions such as high quality PDFs of both books and a special pin as well! The book is availble for purchase right now if you missed the Kickstarter and can be read online as well as GastroPhobia.com

SPIKE – A LOVE STORY TOO: The first version of Matzerath’s different thinking style of pixel art game was absolutely some of the most fun I’d ever had on a computer. When he announced his desire to make it bigger and better, I had to be a part of it. So far he has made a new version of the game that is available to play for free on New Grounds. A bigger version with expanded story, amazing modes and much more are on the horizon.

EDIT: While working on this article Houser added an update to the backer version of the game where you play as Red Haired Guy. It’s rad!

CAVEGIRL FUDGE: This was easily the most successul projects I was involved in personally. They kept us appraised of their efforts along the way and then out of nowhere, the product arrived. I loved every morself of it. It was just amazing and to die for. I loved it so much that the minute they made it available on their Etsy I ordered it. I know in the future I’ll order more. If I could I order lots and lots more, but I also know this isn’t a mass production, but a lovingly handmade product to be enjoyed while you have and miss while it’s gone so that when you can get it again, you fall in love all over again. The girls behind it have also be super kind and gracious. I’d asked for an extra sticker of their awesome label for my collection and they provided it gratis. I still also have my thank you note personally signed from the original Kickstarter order.

RIDDIKULUS! 2012: We come to my first pledged Kickstarter that hasn’t completely fulfilled their pledge rewards. They did end up doing their full tour and they got the shirts done. I even got to hit one of the spots on the tour and recorded the majority of it and posted it on Youtube. Go check it out, it was a great concert and since it was free I don’t feel bad about my donation. Yet I am frustrated that the special compilation has not yet been made available. Via Facebook on Januarary 28th I was assured it was still happening though and that when it was done it’ll be all worth the wait.

The following Kickstarters are ones that have yet to finish their rewards, in some cases they have provided half of them with promises of completion still to come.

DETECTIVE GRIMOIRE ADVENTURE GAME: This game is greatly delayed as they keep finding snags in development for making it ready for OS. I’m now wishing they focused surely on a standalone PC Version and that when I had the chance to pledge towards that version I did. Although right now it doesn’t matter, there’s still no game. It does look like their physical rewards of T-shirts and plushies are going out though. A few months back they also got the wallpapers out and gave all backers three free ones and higher tirered backers a few extras. Still at this point I’d really like my digital soundtrack and/or digital art book. They are probably holding onto sending those with the game itself though, feeling like out of context they won’t make much sense. I’ve replayed the demo like a hundred times and it still makes me excited for the final product though. I even replay the original version sometimes which has artwork that is not that great and no voiceover, BUT the storytelling, puzzles and mechanics are all in place. This big Swampy’s case version is just basically that game but better. I’m hoping once they have all these programming bugs done there’s a plan to eventually redraw the original game too though, it was a fun mystery.

JOHN K’S “CANS WITHOUT LABELS”: John Kricfalusi’s short authobiographical toon is actually coming along really nicely. I don’t think that he’ll actually end up getting the cartoon available by the end of this month though. I know he hoped he would, but based on the toons blog, we aren’t there yet. A Backer Only Clip showed us we aren’t THAT far off. Maybe by the end of March we’ll get our downloadable version. I’m pretty satisfied here. I didn’t pledge towards any of the crazy doodle or toys so I can’t really complain about the progress on those and the cartoon really has developed a lot.

SCIENCE FICTION LAND: This documentary is going to be bonkers. Especially with all the awards ARGO has received it’ll only help in making the final product of this even larger and more expansive. Packages with most of the pledge rewards other than the film itself have all gone out. I got my package with stickers, pin, postcard, laminated pass, CD (which I already owned because I love the band, so I need to figure out who to give my old copy to) and a thank you note. These extras are really fun and add to the entire thing. Swag is great, but this is one where it’s being to download and watch that final documentary with any extras that it comes with that I’m really awaiting.

THE LAST DOOR: This game hasn’t launched yet, but the updates have been happening. They just finished their third sprint of development and the BETA launch is for Feb 25. At that time I assume I’ll finally see my pixar avatar as well. That might not be till March though on official launch. The ARG they have put together has been extremely immersive. I think I’m now in the home stretch. I may or may not have to learn morse code backwards and forwards to pass it. That might not even be the answer. Luckily though the ARG I have become friends a young man in Croatia of all places. If anything else comes out of this game of that kind of experience it shall be all worth it. Yet, I still really want to get emerged in this 8 bit poink n click adventure and then listen to some classical music.

EDIT: They have pushed BETA back till March 1, with launch for March 11th to refine and perfect everything.  They are on top of us keeping us updated very well, so no complaints.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE: What convinced me to grab this what should be amazing book was Ryan North’s Choose Your Own Adventure comic of Adventure Time. The final product should be super exciting with illustrations from some of my favorite independent comic artists going today. Stretch goals on this got so insane it offered the most amazingly tangible package for the lowest physical tier. This is going to be one kickass book. It’ll take years to read and re-read. It’s just… so much awesome. I can’t wait for this to come out. It’s not scheduled till May. If you missed out on the Kickstarter I’m sure breadpig will be publishing plenty more to go to bookstores, comic shops, etc., etc. It’s going to be an amazing worthwhile book at any price.

Michale Graves-Lost Skeleton Returns: Scheduled for a June release, I’m very happy this music album got funded and that I put myself into a position to guarantee a special edition exclusive version of the pressing. There’s not much more to say as June is far away.

THE WHOLE STORY-WINTER 2013: Never have I seen a Kickstarter that started releasing it’s material DURING the pledge drive. Backing meant you got access to many of the books offered, but the more you backed the more you got, as is the case with most things. This was a case of seriously getting more if you packed and still getting more if you didn’t though. Some of the most impressive stretch goals that provided tons and tons of comics. On the day AFTER pleding Ryan Estrada unleashed about 75% of the promised content and 100% of the original content the project planned to present. I pledged at a very high level here impressed so much with what Ryan was going I felt he deserved it and knowing what I’ll be getting in return will be worth it.

EARTHWARD: I jumped in on the physical version of this book by Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara at the last few hours. I’m thinking of it more like when I do my monthly Previews Order. When it finally arrives in my mailbox it’ll just be a lovingy read graphic novel like my many others which will be read, then lost in a pile till one day it is found again and read again. I feel in love with Miller on his Batgirl run and Takara on his The Incredibles work with Mark Waid and then Landry Walker so I expect the two of them to do big things!

My Two Current Pledges, due to close over the next three days!

VERY NEAR MINT VOL.3: I purchased both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at comic conventions and somehow completely missed the Kickstarters for them. That isn’t happening this time. I chose the Baby Variant and am super excited about the entire package being created for this with all the stretch goals, including swag, prints, stickers, buttons and a new comic. This is one of two comics I am in at a major level for personal artwork and I can’t wait for it.

LEGEND OF RICKY THUNDER: Professional wrestling meets comics in an amazing crazy way. This beaty also hits it’s super stretch goals. Come in at $25 and get not only Ricky Thunder, but stickers, trading cards (inclduing one that will feature ME as a pro wrestler) and a collection featuring Kyle Starks other awesome comics (and that means his super hit This Is… Wildog). You really shouldn’t miss this while you still can! I don’t think he’ll be offering it like a package at this level after the Kickstarter. The same probably goes for Very Near Mint. The comic, lanyards and prints MIGHT be available but all at extra costs to recoup the investment.

I am also ALWAYS looking for new Kickstarters that really grab my eye. I’m kneedeep right now especially waiting on my The Whole Story package and then for my Ricky Thunder and VNM packages, but the right project will pull right into pledging and promoting the heck out of it.

On Thursday I’m actually getting to visit the Kickstarter offices and this week I became the process of being serious about my own Kickstarter projects so it’s all coming together and this is the perfect time for this reflection.

In a year or so from now I’ll probably revisit this all too. Maybe I’ll make a Kickstarter to make something about Kickstarter even!

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