In 2000, Don Lloyd, a software developer by day, moved up a level in the world of board games that delighted and challenged him since childhood. He established his game company, Knight Works, in Colorado Springs, Colorado and for the next few years he worked with family and a few close friends on game ideas in his spare time.
Their first game, Shadow Wars, was released in 2001. It was a self-published effort that was painstakingly produced by hand through the efforts of his “home team.” It had been in development in various incarnations for 20 years. Funding was an issue all those years. Now, with experience and a larger team plus the support of gamers in the area came another game concept and a project proposal on Kickstarter—the online funding site—for an infusion of money to get it done right and professionally.
Kickstarter is the largest funding platform in the world and works through direct outreach to a diverse and global ‘crowd’ by creative people in fields that include music, film, art, photography, theater, publishing, and more.
“The project became a steam roller,” said Lloyd of the time and production pressure. “You turn in your project description to be sure it fits the Kickstarter mold. You do get some feedback and control from the review committee, but if it’s a ‘yes’ to fit, then you start and you are on your own. There are help pages to look at but nothing prepared me for the work ahead, not even 10 years of online marketing.”
The project was a game called Dark Horse, their first professionally printed game for Knight Works. Incredible graphics, game rules, and unique cards and strategies can be seen in detail on their original Kickstarter proposal page .
Kickstarter’s ‘all or nothing’ fundraising policy meant that once the clock starts ticking, all the funds stated in the goal must be raised or none are awarded to the project creators. Lloyd and his team chose $8,000 as their goal. “This meant that we could skip the manual cutting and assembly of all the pieces and take our work to a proper printer and run or publish 500 copies. We got more than we had hoped for and so had enough to run 1,000 copies of the game.”
Backers do not have a financial stake or any ownership of the project. What they get in return for their supportive faith and funding is a reward to match the dollars donated. Lloyd said that he “studied other entries and went through project campaigns” in great detail to understand what needed to be done and what expectations were to be met to get a community of both known and new supporters to take action and move onto the critical support positions of his board game.
Next time, we’ll look at who backed Don Lloyd’s dream and we’ll find out what he would have done differently. Lloyd also has updates on Dark Horse and future Knight Works projects as well as some advice for other game designers in the market about the community they must connect with to succeed.