The English Poet William Cowper once wrote: “Not to understand a treasure’s worth till time has stole away the slighted good, is cause of half the poverty we feel, and makes the world the wilderness it is.” GDO is a game that differentiates and improves upon all other games of the same genre, in the same market. Our failure was to successfully communicate that to the public in a way that would attract the attention of those with the power to draw eyes and the minds behind them to our project. We had less than 2,000 views. As an example, Planetary Annihilation had over 44,000 backers. I wonder how many views they had to achieve that many supporters? Many games gave been cancelled during development by studios and production companies in industry history, often after having millions pumped into them. But this one is ours. It never had funding. It subsisted on belief, desire, determination, and effort. We understood the potential for greatness. This quote laments the probable mothballing of our flagship Cool Queue Studios.
There are many inspirational quotes about not giving up, trying again. Dale Carnegie once said “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” Winston Churchill said “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” I found both of these to be fitting. I have mentioned this before in articles and interviews: building a game company and making games is a lifelong dream of mine. It is one that I have perhaps not pursued ardently enough. The creation of CQS and the GDO Kickstarter project was a great effort towards accomplishing those goals. I remain steadfastly confident that GDO is a both a great game and a solid business product. I think about it constantly, and despite this setback of hope, I recognize that should it find its way to the right person, the financial lifeblood needed could be infused and off we would go.
I was discussing the whole thing with a friend. He said “what are you going to do now that you’ve failed? You’ve been talking about doing this since I’ve known you. Isn’t it time you moved on from this (dream)?”
My answer was “Harry Potter was rejected nine or ten times before it was accepted. Hell, Mark Twain was rejected many times before he was published.”
“Do you believe you are the Mark Twain of games?”
I laughed. “What I believe in is myself. And my ideas. This game wasn’t designed without a hell of a lot of research. I know I can do better than what’s out there. This is a real opportunity, not a fantasy.”
There are other ways to succeed. My original idea of recruiting “project partners” to work for equity in the product wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t sustainable for the amount of work that needed to be done. “Free time” work is extremely taxing. I have a connection to a group of young people coming out of school and looking to build a resume. I will look into what we can accomplish with some help from them. Whether or not crowdfunding is the way to make this happen, I have made a list of five things that would need to be accomplished before another attempt could be made.
1) A playable demo must be made. To get the attention of game industry writers, as well as inspire more gamers to believe in GDO, we need to do more showing and less telling. It’s a proof that we can do it as much as it will create excitement. It’s no guarantee they’ll write about you, but the work you do should advance you in your development anyway.
2) A much larger up-front community must be built. There are many ways to do this, but it needs to be in place for a crowdfunding attempt, as well as a game launch with (immediate) expected returns. Numbers will affect the writers inclination to give you their time as well as increase your potential for “virality”.
3) A budget for marketing the game and/or crowdfunding project. Even with the support of game writers, you’ve got to draw eyes to your project. Purchasing targeted promotions and well placed fiscally responsible ads is now a requirement for the non-famous.
4) Get celebrity backing. This is a hard one. I threw tweets and emails at as many celebrities as I could find contact information for, in the gaming, entertainment, and writing industries that I could think of with nary a response. One tweet or comment from a Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Chris Taylor, Chris Roberts… etc. can bring in a million views and make all the difference.
5) Get champions with influence. This is similar to #4, but these people are not known… however, they may have built a twitter following of 100,00k + or a Facebook fan page with as many “likes”. A (frequently repeated) tweet, update or influential message board post supporting your project can also get you the views you need.
Money is one way to secure some of these things. A good sized seed funding can move you a long way. The rest is a lot of tap-dancing… networking, hard work, and constant effort. Time.
The Kickstarter is over but you can still help. Do you know potential investors? Send them our way. Are you a developer or artist who’d like to contribute? Drop us a note (any number of ways) and we can talk. Cool Queue Studios will live on. Galactic Domination Online is still a design waiting to be built.
Are you an employer? I need a AAA title under my belt I can point to. Hire me. You can find me HERE on Linked In.
There are many thank you’s to give. My wife for tolerating the many, many hours I’ve spent on this. Bob and Phil for the work they’ve done. Sean, who gave us some great artwork for nothing but the credits and a couple of lunches. Michael Steven Gregory, a true professional filmmaker, who made our video “at risk”. Our skit actors Kirk, Melody, Alex, and Brittany. Trey Caraway @ GulfWebDev for help with our website. Clu and Peter, Mom and Deb for actively promoting us. Miles Beauchamp at the Asian Journal, Jeff Murray at the Star Gazette, and Thomas Luke at Unigamsity for the press they’ve given. All the folks at the San Diego Writers Haven Writers for their support. And everyone who backed us: Jeff King, Gary Tancock, Chris Miller, Jeffrey Kass, john s swalec, Phillip Demaray, Jim_DiGriz, Comes Frederic, Kassim Babika, Mary Quiggle, Samtiger, Katie, Maikel, Bryan T Starr, Kerri Guillet, David Baity, Robert Warren, Phillip Zeto, Miles Beauchamp, Cricket Abbott, Simon Mayeski, Jean Jenkins, Eric Z., William H. Martinez, Erica Kretsch, Sean Kennedy, Betty Jurus, J. LeBlanc, Greg Levick, Edward F. Fitzgerald, eric Hansen, David Nielsen, Barbara Sack, Stella Wu, Deb Shultis, Jerry Luke, Dain Jones, www.gnut.co.uk, Garret, Markley, Seumas, Stephen Hadwin.