Tell us a bit about yourself and The Stonebound saga.
I’m Eric Bittermann the owner of Sky Kingdom Games, and the designer of The Stonebound Saga. I’ve been working on this project at various stages for the last 15 years. It started as a tabletop miniature game very similar to D&D, but with our own battle system. The game evolved into a tactical card game, and we added new mechanics for deeper, more strategic play. After years of play-testing only the base stats for each class in order to ensure excellent balance, we began developing the various abilities used in the game. The core balance fused with exciting abilities makes The Stonebound Saga a truly exciting game to play. After all of these years we feel we have created a perfect harmony of strategy and fun, and we can’t wait to share The Stonebound Saga with gamers everywhere!
The Stonebound Saga is a great mix of unit positioning and strategy requiring each player to carefully plan their turns and manage their resources to achieve victory against their opponent. With a large number of character cards to fit many play styles, each match is always a unique experience.
This is actually the third time you launch a campaign for this project. What happened the first time?
We originally launched this game as Land of Zion – which was a TCG (trading card game). We found out quickly that the gaming community didn’t want that format anymore, and would rather have a game that was non-collectable. Everything needed to come in the box. We cancelled that first campaign after just 5 days and started to make that change.
What did you learn from the first attempt?
We learned to listen and be open to ideas from the gaming community. Failing was the best thing to happen to this project – it only motivated us to continue innovating and make the project better.
Then you relaunched the project. How did that go?
The second time we launched back in January 2017 we received much more support, but a few aspects still needed to be tweaked. We ran the campaign until the last day, and then cancelled it. During that time we interacted with our backer group and various gaming communities both online and locally. People told us they loved the art style and gameplay mechanics, but the old school use of paper and pen stat keeping was holding us back. People also mentioned the name of the game as something that could be holding people back. We considered all of this feedback, and appreciated everyone’s input. We wanted to make this game as great as possible for the players and the game itself.
When you failed the second time, did you want to give up?
It was discouraging to see the project not fund, but at the same time we knew we had something special. After developing this game for many years, and seeing people enjoy themselves when we would share it at various stores and gaming conventions we knew we had to continue.
So you relaunched again and now you have passed your funding goal!!! What did you do different this time?
We took that feedback and designed a brand-new character dashboard with moving sliders and pegs to track character abilities to replace the paper and pen system we used before. We changed the name of the game, and added new lore and storyline to the cards used in the game. We also cut the amount of character cards used in the base game so we could drastically reduce our funding goal, and make it easier for the project to fund.
You lowered your funding goal quite a bit each time you launched a new version. What was your funding goal strategy?
Each time we decreased the amount of character cards included in the base game. We had an ambitious original amount for the total which was 140 characters! As you can tell from our art quality – good art requires more funding, and artists should be paid well for their work. Replacing paper and pen with the character dashboards did increase our funding goal, but we knew it was a must for the game. Lowering our goal down to $35k ensured a quicker funding and room for us to fund back up to our original vision of more characters in the game and more content.
Why did you change the name of the game?
The original name ‘Land of Zion’ kept many way because of the politically loaded word Zion. We didn’t want a name decision to keep gamers away from taking a look at the project so that’s what made us choose to change it. Ultimately ‘The Stonebound Saga’ ended up fitting the storyline and lore better for the game so we are very happy with how it turned out.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched your campaign the first time, what would it be?
If we could go back we would listen more, and be open to feedback before we launch. We thought we had everything set, but we were wrong and we listened and learned. This is something we will be doing more of as we continue to produce expansions and new titles this coming year.
What do you want to say to others that have failed their campaign?
Seek professional advice and helpful critique, and be open for honest answers. Then be prepared to change. Those that have succeeded before you have learned this themselves.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
Be part of the gaming community both locally and online – someone who gives back. Be someone who invests in others. Relationships are your best asset – having those around you who want to see you succeed.
What’s the best Kickstarter advice you ever received?
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
Outstanding art elements, and a good explanation of the gameplay both with pictures, text, and video.
What is your favorite board game at the moment and why?
Our gaming group has been recently enjoying Red Raven’s Near and Far for its storytelling aspect and the continuing campaign mode.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
As stated above Jamey Stegmaier has been a great resource, and James Hudson from Druid City games has also been a great resource. Both have shown how to be successful and innovators in the industry.
Where can people reach you?