Working on the Kickstarter process for The Rocky Horror Show: Touch Me has been an incredible ride. Probably the most stress I’ve experienced in my career; but because it mattered more personally than anything else I’ve done. We were very prepared for the process to be difficult and Ella was brilliant in insisting we created a huge amount of content so we could update the page at least once per day with something interesting.
We were also delighted to have brilliant support from the David, Stephanie, Larry and Jim who between them run the largest collection of Rocky Horror fan sites in the world. That support was incredibly important, not just because it meant we could communicate out to the real fans of the show, but also because we had their expert eye to make sure the game we are making would appeal to the audience. On top of that to have the cast of the current tour including Kristian Lavercombe, Dominic Andersen and Richard Meek merrily engaging with us – showing off the Tshirts and stickers we sent off to them during the Kickstarter process definitely helped raise our profile and the awareness amongst the fan community.
We even had huge support from our peers in the game industry, with some brilliant people and teams sharing our tweets, posts and updates as well as putting their own money in to back us. We were also delighted to have the support of Luke and Anya on the Kickstarter team who added us to their ‘Projects we love’ and giving us a feature in their Game section.
However, converting this incredible awareness of the game into actual money going into Kickstarter pledges was proving very difficult. Indeed there was a point about 2 weeks in where we were convinced we would never make the goal and seriously considered cancelling the process entirely. That goodness that our investors told us to stick with it!
We tried to understand what the problem may be. Was it that the game concept wasn’t exciting enough? Well no. The feedback we have had from everything we have shown off in person or online has been so much more positive than any project we have worked on. Was it that there isn’t enough interest in Rocky Horror? Well clearly given the awareness of the new film, the UK tour and the amazing levels of engagement we were seeing in Social Media that wasn’t the case. Was it Kickstarter? Well perhaps. Kickstarter can be amazing. The Dark Souls Board game which raised over $3.7m in the same time frame as us; but Blackroom, the new shooter game from games industry legends John Carmack and John Romero, was pulled.
As we were coming into the last week we had used almost all of our tricks to tantalise Gamers and Rocky fans alike into giving us their money; but there was one new item we still had to offer. We had been in discussion with Mick Rock, the iconic music photographer who famously captured the definitive images of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and of course the cast of the 1975 production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Being able to release a limited edition print of an image of Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff was fantastic (I’ve ordered one myself!) However, more importantly the pledges for that level helped push us over the edge.
We managed to pass the $35k goal and I thought that would be the end of it. We had pushed every friend, contact and fan we could, personally asking them for money. We were exhausted by the process. But then the money kept on coming. So much so we even managed to raise enough to allow us to give something back to our backers – an extra character in the launch package that everyone who backed us for $15 or more. We even let them decide which one and over 60% of the vote when for our sweet transvestite and alien scientist. Frank’N’Furter (of course!).
But its taken us more than a week to recover from the sheer exhaustion of the process. Personally, I’ve only just stopped checking Twitter at 5am! But now we have to get back to the job at hand. Kicking development back into full swing.
There are a lot of things to get ready – first we have to make sure we get peoples rewards out to them. We’ll talk about that process in more detail in another post here on the blog. After that we need to get on with making the game and that means updating our production plans, fulfil our promise to get you (our backers) involved in the design process, work out how to streamline the creation of characters and stage-sets, work to make sure the rest of the Live tracks are mapped to dance timing, etc. As the designer I have a lot of other details I also want to revisit starting deciding if we should keep the current look or adjust it based on the feedback we have; I also want to add a ‘half-move’ to increase the range of expression you can put into your dances and… well the list goes on! But of course we also have to decide if those adjustments are affordable and important enough to make them a priority.
We are going to have a lot to talk to you all about in the coming months!