Today at the Wisconsin Game Developers Summit in Milwaukee, the two developers that make up Flippfly gave an inspiring presentation. The presentation was based on how the development on their game, Race the Sun, was successful due to a failing kickstarter. The “endless runner” started off as a game on Kongregate.com. The brothers’ (Aaron and Forest San Filippo) goal for the game was for it to be a simple game that’s fast and gets the player’s adrenaline pumping. After getting over 80,000 plays on that domain, they wanted to widen their audience. They decided to put the game on Steam’s Greenlight service. The game was met with negative feedback as 69% of the voters said no to it. Through many months of developing, the resources for the two ran dry due to a lack of planning. With this obstacle, they were drawn to kickstarter to help with funds.

The financial goal for the Race the Sun kickstarter was $20,000. A short trailer that was originally used to promote the game for funding was presented to the audience. The trailer was bleak and didn’t really strike a chord in terms of shock value. The project was open for funding for a little over three weeks and only managed to receive roughly 20% of their goal. From this point on, they wondered what they were doing wrong and what they needed to fix.

The Kickstarter that failed

The two actually had great tips on receiving different types of feedback for not only developing a game, but for anything you are crafting. The reason for wanting critical feedback was explained briefly. It was explained that you do want feedback because you want to know who is playing your game and how they feel. Listening to this feedback can reveal where your shortcomings may lie. It can also help you come down from your high-horse and bring the situation back down to reality. The brothers continue to explain that not all feedback is helpful. Someone telling you how to design your game or even telling you what features to add isn’t the feedback to build from. Designing your game is your job. Getting your game out to the right audience is extremely vital to the development cycle of a game. Reddit and Greenlight are outlets they used to plug their game and get people playing and talking about it. A strong emphasis was placed on how to receive feedback properly. Take time to think before you reply to anything; the internet is public. As you are searching through feedback, look for patterns. If you see players having the same issues or suggesting the same thing, it’s probably something to look at. They suggested that you focus on what you excel at rather than trying to impress in an area where you have little talent. Being able to admit when something is broken or just doesn’t fit the vision of the game is key to moving forward and evolving your project.

Feedback is key in the development process

After listening to feedback and taking their own advice, they made major changes to the game. A new trailer was shown for Race the Sun and it was a vast improvement from the previously shown trailer. There were more dynamic animations, power-ups were made useful and worked in sync with the environment, and the game just looked and ran better than what was initially shown. The video that was played was the same video they used on their second attempt at a kickstarter for the title. After listening to feedback, fixing what was wrong and sticking to their vision, they revealed to the audience that their project met its goal and even went a little over.

The Filippo brothers stuck to what they knew and listened to the right feedback. With those steps, they were able to make an awesome game. The conference was named “Why A Failing Kickstarter Saved Our Game” and they showed us how. While that title was only half the story, it was great seeing how kickstarter success lead to theirs.