Tell us a bit about yourself and your company Shades of Vengeance.
My name is Ed Jowett and Shades of Vengeance is a small but growing company which makes games because we love doing it! That’s very much our core mission: we create the games we want to play ourselves and bring them out into the world.
We focus our efforts on creating the best quality we can – full colour, good bindings, good quality printed cards, and some of the best writers and artists out there.
We’ve created seven tabletop RPGs so far (with several more in development at the moment), two card games and ten comics based in the RPG universes. You can check everything we have made out on our website, www.shadesofvengeance.com.
Your current game on Kickstarter is Evil Overlord. What is the game about?
Quite simply, taking over the world!
The aim of the game is to trade the cards you are dealt with the other players (“Evil Masterminds”) until you believe you have the best army.
Once everyone is finished trading, there is a face-off: if one army can beat all of the others, that person takes over the world and becomes the Evil Overlord… at least until they are replaced by a challenger in the next round!
It’s a fast game – 5-10 minutes per hand – which can be played multiple times in a row with the large deck provided. It works with anywhere from 2 to 10 people, although it’s best with 3 or more.
What did you do to create a following for Evil Overlord before you launched?
I’ve been running Kickstarters for a few years now, and I’ve built up an audience through that. We’ve also been demonstrating it at conventions for almost a year. Of course, we’ve also been putting posts up about it for a long time on our blog (http://www.shadesofvengeance.com/blog/)… and, as a sort of sequel game to Champion of Earth, there were those people as well!
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact time?
I launched on 23rd May. I chose that because the last weekend of May and the first weekend of June are two major conventions in the UK – MCM Comicon in London and then the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. As I was trying to promote the game even further, I decided to have it running at that point.
The campaign is running for 40 days in total. Why such a high number?
This is quite an unusual choice for me, but I wanted the length of time that some of the reviewers need to be available. In the card game world, there are people who will only review something after a campaign is funded and still have a 5-week waiting list!
I wanted to be sure the word was spread as far as possible, so a longer timescale seemed sensible. I was also very aware that I would have less time than I would like to manage the campaign while doing conventions, so I felt that the extra couple of weeks would give me the time to make up for that.
This is actually your 22nd kickstarter campaign! Most of them are quite small but none the less it is quite impressive. Can you say something about how you run your campaigns?
Well, actually, it’s not, it’s my 31st. I have a second, resonably large, Kickstarter account under the name of SoV Comics, which runs our comic Kickstarters and has produced 7, and I have also run a few other campaigns for people who came to us to help publish their game ideas.
While many of them might be quite small relative to the hundreds of thousands some games bring in (they range between the thousands and tens of thousands), they usually pay for the development of the game, and that’s the primary aim for me!
I run Kickstarter campaigns to introduce the product into the market, get a proper print run and finish any artwork I need – that’s always the aim. As a game creator, I do it more for love of games than for money.
How I run my campaigns? As efficiently as possible. I try to spread the word to the places where it matters and encourage backers to do the same.
Do you wish you had more backers or are you satisfied with having small backer numbers?
Of course I’d rather have more backers! The reality is that licenses attract very large numbers, as do well-known creators, and I’m not well-known yet, as well as having a lot more of my own creations to build.
As I said earlier, we work to create the games that we want to play. While we could make something that had mass appeal and no substance, we don’t have much interest in that, to be honest – we pride ourselves on making great, original games.
The audience size is changing over time: we’re growing, but it’s not a fast process, and patience is a virtue we have learned well!
Do you have a lot of returning backers or are they mostly new each time?
It’s about 50/50. A lot of people buy multiple games, but not every game appeals to everyone, and sometimes people don’t have money to hand when we run the campaign.
You do a lot of campaigns for RPGs. what is the main difference in doing a KS for a board game and a RPG?
I’d say the audience is different and things have to be explained in quite a different way. The wording for the Kickstarter “Campaign” section usually differs significantly from what I would say in a Roleplaying Game Kickstarter. I also very seldom need to do a full game demo for something that is not a card game, so that was different.
What’s the best kickstarter advice you ever received?
“Never forget that these people have paid you money to make your dream happen. You owe your dream to them.”
That’s why we always deliver and usually well ahead of the deadline.
Secondarily, “Use the Dashboard to create custom links”.
There’s nothing better than knowing exactly where 90% of your backers come from for saying thank you to reviewers and people who have spread the word!
If you could change one thing with Kickstarter. What would it be?
There are a few small things that annoy me – inconsistent ways of dealing with inserted whitespace being particularly irritating – but the primary thing, I think, would be that projects which already have a big following tend to move a long way up the list so everyone sees them… when they don’t need the help.
I think Kickstarter should highlight smaller projects which have something to give and perhaps a smaller audience share, rather than the “Batman”s of the world!
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The title image, without a doubt. If the title image doesn’t grab, you can forget your project – it’s like the cover of a Roleplaying Game book – if it doesn’t make someone want to take it off the shelf when there are hundreds of others there, probably with better-known names, then you’re not going to be able to sell it very well.
Anything else you want to add?
I’d like to thank anyone who read this far through my ramble. I’d also like to thank anyone who chooses to back Evil Overlord – I think it’s a fantastic game and that you will enjoy it, so I hope you will check it out!
Where can people reach you?
Our website – www.shadesofvengeance.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/shadesofvengeance/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Shades_of_Venge