Constructive guideline to kickstarter

guideline to kickstarter

(In case you’re looking for a constructive guide to Rulebook writing Click here)

When people think of crowd funding, they think of Kickstarter. We have seen countless projects become thousand dollar hits with games like Exploding Kittens, and Lanterns The Harvest Festival. But is there ever a guideline to succeeding through crowd funding, or is it more along the lines of you hoping for the best? This is a guideline to kickstarter.

Here is our ‘table of contents’:

Project Video: ExampleExplained

About the Project: ExampleExplained

Overview: ExampleExplained

What’s in the Box: ExampleExplained

How to Play: ExampleExplained

Why Back This Game: ExampleExplained

What People Are Saying: ExampleExplained

pledge Levels: ExampleExplained

Stretch Levels: ExampleExplained

About Developers: ExampleExplained



I’ll be going over a few tips on running a successful campaign. I’ll begin by offering a rough guideline as a kick start for your campaign–this will detail the project from start to finish. After the outline I’ll begin breaking down each section and elaborating more on the subject. I’ll finish with a few closing subjects that could not fit into my mock campaign.

For this example, I’ll be using a mockup game–this game is a more light hearted, battle-it-out card game. So keep in mind if you have a heavier game, the tone of your campaign might differ from mine. Lighter games tend to reflect a lighter tone, whereas heavier games might choose to reflect a heavier voice throughout the campaign. Just be sure that the tone of your campaign suits the type of game you are trying to kick start. I will run you through the basic guideline with an example:


Project Video

*Animation: stringing my themes and game play together while quickly giving a brief of my game.

Ex.*Dark screen: explosion. Knight explaining the plot. Begins mentioning different cards and their actions. *Cuts to robot team. Explains the victory and how *knight in battle. Different gameplay strategies…

(Keep in mind: animations aren’t always necessary; however animations often translate to the amount of work you put into your campaign. Backers might not want to read a huge essay and might want the abridged version of your game–videos are a great way for backers to get a general idea of your game, a foot in the right direction, if you will. It is also noteworthy that videos on campaigns are the first thing you see as a backer when you visit the campaign page.)

About the project:

describe game (dictionary explanation)

Castle WARS is a highly strategic, all out brawl between castles and robots fighting for what’s theirs. Use cards, resources, and tactical movement to provide your team with an efficient drive. The deeper this war gets, the greater the chance of losing your castles…


Castle WARS was developed by ITTGAMES and delivers an action pact, electrifying, plague stricken, war that can only end one way… So if you have what it takes to stop the opposition. fork, knife, and laser beam your way to victory!

What’s in the Box

 component example  

layout components (images are best)

How to Play

 First player will always be sir. Knight, followed by… Start with the planning phase. This phase consists of…

  Card types

When pulling a card… look at the symbol in the bottom left corner..



  Matching phase

 This phase consist of this…



Why Back this Game

We wanted to develop a game that can be great for fillers. But we also think that this game will promise a lot of fun for both new and seasoned players….

What People are Saying

This is a slot for reviews.

Pledge Levels

$1 watch and receive thank you’s

$5 pnp print and thank you’s

$15 early bird copy of our game

$18 copy of our game

$30 two copies of our game

$100 six copies of the game (stores)

Stretch Goals

Reach 12k= cards to linen finish

Reach 20k= plastic resource cubes to wooden resource cubes

Reach 30k= We’ll add a brand new faction *aliens

About Developers

ITT developer #1. I live and breathe ITT so buy this game.

ITT developer #2. I too, live and breathe ITT so buy this game.


That was my outline, below I’ll elaborate on the topics listed earlier.

Project Video

Far too many times I have seen videos that just lack the quality and effort needed to sell me a product. If you plan on selling a game– at the very least convince me that you appreciate your work. I’ve seen videos of the developers telling us about themselves, or recording only themselves mumbling about the game. I don’t need a 10 minute lecture; I need a 2 minute seller. I’ve noticed animated videos with good composition and at par writing and have seen the success of their game. With the polar opposite, I’ve seen skits with actors sell their game. The key is to have fun; but to show us you love the game as much as we should. Keep in mind, out of roughly 250,000 projects, only 95,000 of them have seen success. With this many projects, you need to be able to reel us in; not steer us away.

Kickstarter is designed to emphasize this video. It’s the first, and hopefully not last, thing they see on your page. Keep in mind that if and when your campaign is shared through social media, the image of the video will be the image that is visible to the public at first glance.  The thumbnail picture that is used for your video is also a noteworthy factor: select an image that really represents your game, not an image of you and whoever else might be in the video. You are not what people are backing, the game or product is what people are backing.


About the Project

Now, with this section you want to provide the reader enough information to get an idea of what your game will be presenting to them. Don’t suffocate them with word vomit, just get your point across and continue on with the kickstarter.

I’ve seen kickstarter campaigns flooded with text over and over again. I personally have a huge attention problem so I’d excuse myself from your campaign before I even started. You want to be able to sell us your game with quality detail not quantity. Keep your campaign concise and to the point. Your campaign is not the place to ramble.

What’s in the Box

Personally, I’d like to see what would come inside the box. I like to be able to get a visual of what I’m actually getting for my pledge. If I see a game that is clearly worth less than the minimum pledge for one copy, you are selling the idea that I am pledging money to profit your wallet. The cost of making a game based on pieces can be found pretty easily if you do a basic search on board game manufacturing/printing websites. Far too many times I have been absolutely turned off by a game that has an expectation of a $45 pledge when all I’ll be receiving from the game are tiles and maybe a few other game components. Your kickstarter is not the place for you to make a huge profit, it’s a place for you to get the funds to begin making a huge profit.

How to Play

I enjoy knowing what I am getting myself into. For example, Castle WARS could seemingly play as DOMINION, or be heavy like 5 Tribes. But it’s in fact a quick fun game readily available to start and finish in about 15 minutes. If you let your viewers know the game play it will better help them decide if your game is what they are looking for. Keep in mind, not delivering on this won’t get you curious pledges, you’ll just lose the ones you could’ve had.

I also find that people want to know your game. Whether your rule book is final or not, people will be able to gauge whether or not it’s a game that they will be interested in playing. People want to know that a game works, a rulebook provides these potential backers a chance to know for themselves that the game works. No one wants a fluke.

Why Back this Game

The motivation behind the team, and the story can help drive a campaign. Your game could be made of diamonds, but your story could be the cherry on top of the experience. Why would this help you out? How can we ALL benefit from this game?

I find this can be anything really. I think knowing a bit of the motive behind the developer humbles them out. At least, that’s how I see this section.

What People are Saying

What if your campaign looks great but unfortunately, people are skeptical about how good of a game you have? Reviews will definitely offer viewers a second, third, or fourth opinion on your game. Backup claims help your credibility. Think of reviews as evidence to support the claim that people should back your game. There are endless reviewers on the internet, find the reviewers that suit your needs and have them play your game. (Seriously, I mean, you could always check out Indietabletop, I think their stuff is okay. Haha)

Reviews are golden to your game. They are not a mere option, they are a necessary part of your game in order to succeed. Reviews are a win-win situation for not only backers, but your campaign as a whole. Game reviewers have the ability to sell your game to all of their readers, making your work in selling your game at more ease. You are essentially allowing more foot traffic to your game in addition to earning credibility to your campaign by allowing people to review your game.

Pledge Levels

Pledge levels are crucial to whether or not your game will be funded. Remember that kickstarter is an all-or-none deal: if you cannot fully fund your campaign, backers will get their pledge money returned and your game will not be kickstarted. It doesn’t matter how good of a game plan you have for your campaign (publishing, manufacturing, delivery), having too large gaps in your pledge levels will turn people off from wanting to pledge. Keep in mind that money pledged by backers is pretty much money that backers are temporarily throwing away until you can hold your end of the bargain in delivering the game.

You need to be strategic when you are setting the pledge levels. This isn’t a game of profit, this is a matter of getting your game out there to the public. $40 for a card game is a nope quicker than a spider hanging in front of my face (before I burn my house down). Only you know the exact cost of making your game, but a backer can have an idea of what typical games with your given components would cost. So make sure that the expectation meets the demand for the product.

Also, you need to be careful to not confuse a potential pledge with too much information. This is Kickstarter not retail. Convoluting a simple pledge amount can turn someone off from wanting to purchase your game through Kickstarter.

You have a closing window of time at this point, keeping your pledges simple to understand can ease the pain of frustration and impatience. Less distraction equals a happy backer. Unless you have a “blow me out of the water” option that MUST come before buying a game, keep it simple and to the point. Don’t distract backers with more words.

I’d also like to touch up on “Early bird” options. I’ve opted out of purchasing a game because I’ve missed an early bird option that had a 20%+ discount tied with it. I could deal with 5 dollars. I don’t want to know that I am paying a 20% increase on a game that could potentially go for less. The perception that backers might get from this is that they’ve been ripped off simply because they didn’t glance at your kickstarter in time.

Stretch Goals

Stretch goals are subjective. So I’ll express my thoughts on the matter. I am a huge gamer (obviously) and for some reason, stretch goals get me excited, like I’m moments away from locking a Playstation trophy or a turn away from processing the most epic move to win the game. Stretch goals motivate me to want to unlock more. I feel that having exciting options for unlock really puts a drive into the viewers.

People enjoy  being a part of something big. Watching something unfold as they tune in and stay interested, but your stretch goals need to be well-thought out. Promise certainties not something that could hinder their experience. Better quality stock, resources, boxes are all great and safe. Expansions and new characters could be a recipe for disaster if you aren’t incorporating them in correctly.

About Developers

This section is similar to the “why back this” it feeds us more information about the developers. It tell us a story and it shows that you are a human being (for the most part) like all of us. It is your opportunity to show us why we should help you kickstart your campaign. This is the foundation of how crowd funding works, and glossing over this could weaken your campaign.


I’ve projected my feelings about my kickstarter guideline and will now offer a few informative topics I think are necessary to know.

Your Community

I can’t stress enough how important the community is to your kickstarter campaign. Your project isn’t just an outlet to get your game out there, it’s an outlet to get your game going. I’d suggest months in advance get crafty with social media, setting up a website, and pushing your game to the people. Get involved on Boardgamegeek, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and/or pretty much any social media outlet. You need to let people know what you are doing and when you are doing it. Immerse people into your vision and let the project sell itself before your kickstarter campaign even begins. This is a good time to start reaching out to potential game reviewers so they can help you build momentum for your game. You essentially want people to anticipate your kickstarter before it launches. Although games can get funded at a steady rate, campaigns that are funded in the first couple days or even hours are the ones that will be more successful for retail. Being funded within hours of your campaign launch is a huge brownie point for potential backers and buyers in the near future. (Take Exploding Kittens for example: they hit a Kickstarter record and have received HUGE coverage in media, making the general public more inclined to purchase the game once it hits retail)

The community that you are reaching in the months or perhaps year before your kickstarter launch date is likely the community that you will have as your backers. So, once you launch; make sure you are getting your kickstarter page out there. Get your community to support you early on, and get the community of readers from game reviewers to seek interest in your game before the launch even arrives. It’s all about building that momentum when you’re in the process of building a community.

Photos, Videos, and Art

Text does not sell as easily. I’ve mentioned earlier how harmful an ocean of text could be for a potential backer. Games are a visual medium and expect to be seen, not read. You have a limited time frame to sell your game, so show off what sells the game. Show us the art direction you chose, the themes acquainted with the game, the photos of what the game will look like as its propped up on a table.

You have less than 20 seconds to sell your product, and what better way to do this than to capture the attention of web viewers and spike their interest with every new image. You want to inspire, not bore. If you don’t have the ability to appeal to a backer, why should we back you? Many people back games based on the game’s visual appeal alone, so you want to be able to entice these backers by feeding them what they want.

Sure Enough, Thumbnails

I’ve definitely had my fair share of kickstarter drifting. I’d search up a few keywords and go shopping. I don’t even give a time of day to projects that used Microsoft paint to capture their game. I’m not saying you need to be a professional photographer with bright lights, and forged food.  But, at least station your game up and tidy it up, like you’re sending a photo to your family and you really want to impress.

If your thumbnail could find a professional look you’ll have the attention of a potential backer in no time. You’re better off with that foot in the door and a mediocre kickstarter than a vibrantly pleasant kickstarter and a sloppy thumbnail job. I’m not saying this will make or break your campaign, but for the lovely kickstarter stroll, you could create a nice pitch in just one picture.

Game Play Video

I think this section could rest alongside the review section but I feel like some backers, definitely including myself, would rather be taught a game than read a rulebook. I personally have a struggle with rulebooks and am peculiar about how they should be set up. Game play videos provide me a visual learning experience. This is a great way to have backers experience a few rounds of your game. That way they get a better experience and know what to expect.


Exclusives are something that I think aren’t happening enough. Kickstarter exclusive promise backers and experience they will not get anywhere else. Whether it be cards or components that add a nice flavor to the game, it is an incentive to choose your game now rather than later. Although I think that this isn’t as important as the rest of the things mentioned; however I do believe that this can add an extra push to your campaign.


We hope you enjoyed our guideline to kickstarter.


Joseph Nicholas

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Indietabletop. Communication major. Favorite mechanics include: Bluffing and Deduction, modular boards, and action point allowance. Favorite video game genres are Rpgs, Puzzles games, and Sim/Tycoons.

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