It has become common for games to be funded with Kickstarter such as Undertale and Owlboy. With this trend becoming more typical, successful Kickstarter games are starting to form a rubric and develop standards. Other games should follow these standards if they want to be successful.
Night in the Woods
Developed by Infinite Fall, Night in the Woods is yet another example of a successful Kickstarter game. Funded for $200,000 in 2013, the Night in the Woods Kickstarter campaign reached over 400% of its intended goal.
Nearly four years later, Night in the Woods will be out on February 21, and the wait for it has been long. It’s very important for developers to maintain confidence in backers through updating them as they are the ones who helped bring the game to life. In addition, backers are the game’s biggest fans and will be playing the title on day one. Therefore, they will be the ones to spread word of the game after release, whether good or bad.
Kickstarter games usually have a very long development cycle. However, developers don’t want fans to forget about their games. They want to keep the hype up. Infinite Fall’s solution was to release multiple smaller supplementals. Both of them take place in the universe of Night in the Woods and show off what the final game will be like. However, they are not simply small portions of the game like most demos are. Instead, they’re side stories, different from anything in the main game. These supplementals act as a great appetizer for Night in the Woods prior to release offering a small taste of the game.
Released a month after the Kickstarter campaign was Longest Night, the first supplemental. A prequel, Longest Night is only fifteen minutes long, so it doesn’t encapsulate the entire game. What it does great, however, is introducing the world, characters, and feel of Night in the Woods. It also provides the player’s investment into Night in the Woods’ world and gives a compelling reason for them to play the full game.
About a year later, in December 2014, Infinite Fall released Lost Constellation. Deeper than Longest Night, Lost Constellation clocked in at about an hour of gameplay. It exists as a ghost story told in the world of Night in the Woods. This supplemental is more concrete as a game of its own. However, it’s purpose is to introduce players to Night in the Woods’ world.
Lost Constellation starts slow, with a somewhat eerie feel to it. It presents many mysteries from the beginning, with the player not really knowing where they are or what they are doing. However, as it goes on, things gradually pick up, and the player gains more knowledge. By the end, players will find themselves completely immersed in the intriguing world of Night in the Woods, utterly wanting more. In addition, they will have a good understanding of what the game will be like.
While these supplementals do a great job at sustaining hype, over two years have passed since the last one. This is likely because Infinite Fall originally planned Night in the Woods for release in 2015, so they did not expect that they needed another. A third supplemental would’ve been nice to fill the delay gaps. Releasing these small preludes to the game did help attract even more people since they weren’t backer exclusive, but were available for everyone.
Success of Supplementals
Other Kickstarter games have tried similar things, but most are one of two things. Some Kickstarter games release typical demos, such as the first thirty minutes of the game. Others, such as Yooka Laylee, release sandbox-esque toyboxes that let players test the gameplay. These experiences, however, lack the ability to portray what other parts of the game are like.
Supplementals that exist in the game’s universe but are separate from the game are the best option. Longest Night and Lost Constellation prove this. They give players not only a sense of the gameplay but of the story and atmosphere too. They also hook players on the game’s world, making them want to play it when it releases. Hopping into a game for no cost that one can play in a quick sitting is really fun, so they’re a great way to attract attention. Since these supplementals exist outside of the main game, they encourage people to play them more than if they were simple demos, as this way they do not spoil anything.
Furthermore, supplementals reinstate backer confidence in the main game, which is very important to do. After failures such as Mighty No. 9, Kickstarter backers are now warier than ever. They want to make sure that the game they back will be good. Providing a taste of the game is a great way to let backers do that, instilling confidence and promoting hype. Hopefully, supplementals become a staple for Kickstarter games and even become prevalent for video games in general.