Interview: Swedish “Crest” Successfully Crowdfunded

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Just recently, the Swedish studio “Eat Create Sleep” reached the Indiegogo crowdfunding goal for their newest game, Crest, a God game for PC in which you write commandments in order to influence your people.

 

Traditionally, “God games” have not had the largest mainstream appeal – something the Eat Create Sleep team has experienced numerous times throughout the development of Crest, as Producer and Art Director, Martin Greip explains,

“… we have had over 20 articles (on sites such as Rock, Paper, Shotgun) and about 20 “let’s play” videos. But we haven’t been able to get a huge crowd visiting us.”

Instead of the mainstream media, the team therefore found that working with niche-specific websites worked way better, as Martin Greip continues by explaining: “Crest is a niche title and I think we could’ve been more clear about that from the beginning. When we contacted smaller websites and talked about the afro-futuristic aspects and queer gender neutral representations, we got a lot of positive feedback. So focusing on the more fringe sites with specialized content seemed to work the best. I think we inspired people with the “why” of our game more on those sites.”

 

So what worked for Eat Create Sleep, and what were the challenges? Read Martin Greip’s answers to a couple of our questions in the interview below:

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You’re running a crowdfunding and a Greenlight campaign at the same time. What are your experiences with doing this, and did notice any synergies?

We can make no statistical conclusions since, according to Google Analytics, there hasn’t been a huge synergy between the crowdfunding and the Greenlight campaign.

That being said, it has been a boon content-wise. The updates about press roundups, behind the scenes etc. could easily be shared between Indiegogo and Steam Greenlight. So I think if you share them, you get part of your campaign “for free”. Some might vote yes on Greenlight because they see clearly that the studio needs that extra help (and a vote is free after all). But that is pure conjecture.

 

There are lots of games fighting for Crowdfunding money, so how did you try to create “hype” and excitement about your game? What worked, and what didn’t?

logoBeing “out there” in advance have been our biggest advantage, I’d say. We released our first game, Among Ripples, for free in the beginning of April this year to try and build a brand for ourselves. The game was released on platforms such as Game Jolt and Desura. We got some really nice reviews written about it and a few game journalists and “let’s players” started to follow us. During the coming months, we tried to reach out to the followers we had built up from those platforms and redirect them to the prototype we released in the middle of June. With the help of the early adopters we could get the message out and also got a “taste” for interacting with others about our game.

 

We also tried a lot of other things such as making a behind the scenes game during the campaign called “Eat Create Sleep Adventures” where you play as our producer to make the Crest prototype. As meta as it can get. Also, normal updates about press and “behind the scenes” seemed to work rather well since we usually got positive responses on Facebook, Twitter and on Steam (not so much on Indiegogo).

What needs to be said is that we probably wouldn’t have successfully achieved our first try at crowdfunding if it wasn’t because of our anonymous donor who funded a good portion of our campaign.

 

What has been the biggest challenge to overcome throughout the development of the game?

I wish I could say that our biggest challenge has been the game concept in itself, since those are the challenges we enjoy. But compared to having the time to work on the game and finding team mates, it was easy to develop the game concept. Even though we started to work on Crest in October, 2013, and released the prototype in June, 2014, a big problem was to dedicate ourselves fully to the development.

20140731051423-Concept-artWe all had work or university as our daily routine, so finding energy outside of that was hard. All of us had to sacrifice a lot, and personally I hit the wall when my body said stop and I had to calm down – I couldn’t work all the time. Finding people who fit the work ethic of Eat Create Sleep was also hard. We had interviews with numerous people before growing from a two-man band to the current five people. In summary, the biggest challenges has therefore been to keep the hope and motivation up, avoid getting burnt-out, and finding the right people for the job.

 

During the very last days of the Indiegogo campaign, you live-streamed a Q&A on Twitch. What have been your experiences with doing this, and do you have any advice for other game developers considering doing the same thing?

We have been pretty bad with communicating with our audience directly in the past. We did a Reddit AMA (Editorial: Ask me anything) earlier in September to test the waters. It proved to be a huge success from our perspective – apparently people liked to talk to us.

This gave us the confidence to make two Twitch live streams on a later date. We don’t know what the implications of the live-stream will be in the long run, but the initial response was positive, and we personally got a lot out of it as well. Getting good questions about the game can inspire us to think critically about where the game should go next. But more importantly, “being out there” gives us more of a human face, which I think is what indies needs to have. We have to be ourselves.

 

Anything else?

I want to give a shout-out to other fellow indies in general! It’s been very inspiring to talk with them all on Twitter, TIGSource and other places, some even backed us! I’ve realized that even though we might all participate in a free economy where we fight over the money, we can be so much more than competitors.

Authors
Sune Thorsen

Sune is not only a gamer and writer who wishes his keyboard-typing-speed would translate directly into Nintendo 64 controller agility, but also the co-founder and CEO of NordicGameBits.

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