Ghosts 'N Goblins Kickstarter

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Ghosts 'N Goblins - Demon World - On Hold (Pending approval of developer license from CAPCOM)

Thank you so much for your incredible enthusiasm and support on the beginning of our journey. I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of encouragement from our supporters.

The genesis of Phantasm Studios was because of the OUYA contest. Three months ago, our company didn’t exist. The money looked like it was going to be gone in December, so I started sprinting as soon as Capcom’s licensing department said I could submit a Ghosts ‘N Goblins game for their review. Capcom’s legal department recently stopped our Kickstarter, because we didn’t have a developer license. A promise of review was not enough. This is the chicken or the egg problem startups constantly face.

What’s great about Kickstarter, is it can be about almost anything. Our Kickstarter was for an attempt  to secure a developer license from Capcom. It was to manifest an idea. This is a new way to think of game development. Activision Blizzard embraces this new Kickstarter ethos as they recently supported a similar effort by indie studio Upheavel Artsand their StarCraft Universe Kickstarter.Ironically, our Kickstarter was already failing because we clearly stated we had no prototype and no developer license. We were trying to sprint a marathon and this was a bad strategy.

Your passion about our mission to reimagine arcade classics taught me an incredible lesson however. The contest doesn’t matter. With a year’s worth of preparation, we can be successful. So, here’s the plan:

We will re-launch Ghosts ‘N Goblins – Demon World as soon we can secure a developer license. This may require starting with the 1% instead of the 99% for funding. Demon World is just the beginning of this adventure. We have dozens of ideas, so we will be coming back in 2014 with a new 80s classic, a license, and a prototype. We will come back twice as strong with much better execution. Two of my favorite philosophies are: Failure is just another steptowards success and ideas are only as good as their execution.

As a small thank you for joining us early, we’ve included some exclusive high-res in-game concept art showing Arthur battling in the Skull Caverns. This is currently just fan art, so feel free to do whatever you would like with it.

Have a great Thanksgiving and see you in 2014!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 7 - OUYA vs. Kickstarter

Day 7
Kickstarter success, 50%. OUYA success? Less than 10%

The majority of people have been cheering me on in the "David wants to work for Goliath" story. I'm getting so many "Don't give up!" and "Sell your idea to them for a million dollars!" followed by "Kick some ass I know you will overcome this obstacle and will laugh at it down the road!" This is why I'm here. Because retro-gamers are awesome. People who were complete strangers a month ago feel like the greatest friends right now. We are obsessed with the golden age of video games and stick together. The community here is incredible and embracing, and I'm not leaving. I'm just getting started. This movement is much bigger than Ghosts 'N Goblins. The children of the 80s are taking the reigns, and we aren't going to let die what made the 80s incredible. It's just a matter of who is going to come with us on this journey.

I was certain the OUYA Free The Games contest would be over in December. Since they are "only" giving out a million dollars, that's only ten games raising $100,000. There has been a lot of games raising $70,000-$100,000 in the contest. However, OUYA changed the rules where you have to have 100 backers for every $10,000 raised. That's the hard part. Currently, there are only two winners, and dozens of games have failed. Not because of funding, but because of backers. Today, OUYA finally added a "Successful Projects" section. I was keeping track mentally before but since the rules changed during the contest it was hard to know who won, who lost, and how much money was left. Hopefully they will post a "Remaining Funds" area too. I love this contest because nobody has done this before, so of course it's going to evolve. The last project I was watching was Speed Rush, and they raised $70,000 on Kickstarter which means they succeeded on Kickstarter, but failed the OUYA contest. They only had 200 backers, so that means they were 500 short! That is massive. They basically had their rich friends and family save them at the end. But, OUYA knows this, which is why they aren't in the "Successful Projects" area. The OUYA contest isn't about money, it's about building a community. 

Getting 700 backers is insanely hard. I didn't realize this when I started. I had to stay wired to my computer for 20 hours a day just to get 160 backers. I was going for 5,000 backers! A backer every ten minutes. HA! I was so naive. Just the amount of exhaustion and stress on my family (since I was jacked into the Matrix) to get 160 backers is insane. Of course, with a year of planning followed by a massive 30 day attack I think it can be done. Because of the contest, I only gave myself three months, not nearly enough time. Runway is too short. Also, I finally realized the majority of Kickstarter backers are Twitter users. If they don't use twitter, you have to explain Kickstarter to them and....good luck! Twitter users understand Kickstarter culture and that is crucial. Do you know 700 active twitter users that are interested in your project? If not, you better have a lot of rich friends and family and don't count on a double-backing from OUYA.  I recently heard about a family that actually setup a laptop on their demo/promotion table at a convention. They would walk people through backing them on Kickstarter. That's a great idea. 

Highlights Of The Day

2:00ish: My youngest called me "Dada" for the first time today. By far the most important event during this entire campaign. 

9:00pm. My oldest did his first Bill Cosby impression and it was awesome.

Good to be unplugged from the Matrix.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Day 8
11:56am. "This can't be good" is an email I get from a friend. I immediately get a notice from Kickstarter that "Ghosts 'N Goblins - Demon World" is under copyright dispute. I post updates everywhere. Twitter, Facebook, etc. to let people know I'm aware and on top of the issue.
A few people canceled their pledge which I find strange because the campaign is frozen. If this infringement is legitimate, nobody gets charged. So, why cancel the pledge? Even better, are major backers that adjust their pledge from $300 to $25. Why? Because now they don't trust me and they want me to know it! Great. I let them down.
I have been 100% transparent throughout this campaign. We are a brand new company with a big idea. We started this big idea because of a contest. If we get funded we have industry veterans ready to work for us. CAPCOM said we could submit a game to them for their review but they promised nothing. All of this is in the video, all of this is in the Kickstarter risks area. Kickstarter is about manifesting an idea to reality. To give the little guy a chance. David trying to work with Goliath though? Now you have a conflict of cultures and business models.
You see, many of the major publishers are still thinking like it's 1982. In 1982, one man, Trip Hawkins met with Sequoia Capital to secure 2 million of venture capital for his less-than-a-year old company Amazin’ Software. All he had was a marketing background and a vision. Now, this company is called Electronic Arts and is worth 8 billion dollars. Now, I live minutes away from Goldman Sachs. If instead of going to Kickstarter, I went to Goldman and said "CAPCOM isn't promising anything, but if we create a great Ghosts 'N Goblins game they said they would review it. If they like it, they'll publish it! Can I have hundred grand?" that would be business as usual and nobody would think twice. But, this is 2013 and this is the era of Kickstarter. This project has caused waves at CAPCOM so now I'm working with their licensing department to figure out what they want to do. This is CAPCOM's IP, I never claimed it was mine. Phantasm Studios wants to develop Demon World for CAPCOM, not publish it. We discussed this with their licensing department before we launched. This has always been 100% clear.
But, with CAPCOM freezing the campaign now, it looks like I'm lying to the masses. Running a campaign is basically being interviewed by world and everyone is looking at you going "Can this team deliver on what they are promising?" Very similar to what it would be like running for political office I would imagine. What's ironic to me is Kickstarter isn't easy. I'm basically working a full week every 2 days. I've invested thousands in this project already and if you include all the previous investments to actually make this project happen, tens of thousands. I'm not lighting money on fire and sleeping four hours a day to waste people's time or money. I want to make a great game for CAPCOM, period.
This will be an interesting side-note in Phantasm Studio's history. Reimagining arcade classics is how I will be spending the next 30 years, it's just a matter of which classics. Eventually, people will understand and embrace Kickstarter. I've been going back and forth with CAPCOM's licensing department today to figure out what the next move is and I'll be hopefully sending out an announcement soon. Obviously, this is very political. Stay tuned!


Day 9 - Compounding

Day 9

"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." - Einstein

I'm finally getting into the groove of a promotional strategy that is working. Of course, we are nearing the end of the campaign. I really wish I would have figured this out 21 days ago! Over the past two weeks, we have doubled our backers from 69 to 139. Some great compounding! But, we only have 9 days left! Will it be enough time? Thankfully, many of our backers are huge cheerleaders and will be shouting our message through the streets about re-imagining retro games. Hopefully it will be an interesting last 9 days and the momentum will continue. But, I'm not leaving this up to fate. More announcements this week.

Good night!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 10 - Find Your Mental Mickey

Day 10
Final Third Pep Talk From My Mental Mickey

Kickstalking is starting to work. However, it has to be done with extreme care otherwise I quickly become a car salesman smelling like I hadn't showered for a decade. Not a used car salesman, but a car salesman. We are in the era of Tesla now and people hate being sold to now more than ever. 

Basically, the strategy is this. Imagine walking around wearing a t-shirt that says "Join us on our mission to re-imagining arcade classics" at a video game Kickstarting convention. You don't say a word. You only talk to someone if they talk to you first.  Not easy. But if it works, it really works, one person a time.

One thing that's interesting about people who are familiar with Kickstarter, is they are from the East or West Coast. Right now, many people think we are going to fail. This is because the Kickstarter group is such a niche market, their patterns are somewhat predictable. They only pay attention at the beginning and the end of a campaign. But, you want to ignore these trends. Every hour I don't get a pledge I a panic a little. You should be the same way. You want to spread the message of your campaign and awareness to Kickstarter so it's not tied simply to the predictable pattern of the coasts. There's no reason to have a "slow period" in the campaign. That just means you aren't working hard enough and are waiting for the coast pledgers to swing back in at the end. 

Every hour there is a person out there that would be interested in your campaign if they simply knew about it. You need to find them. Don't buy into the statistics because they don't apply to someone who is doing their first Kickstarter. Anything is possible.

I'm writing this to you because if you are reading this, you are probably thinking about launching your own campaign or you might be in the middle of one. I'm also writing this to me as a personal pep talk to not give up. Finding my mental Mickey from the 1976 classic, Rocky. I'm in the final third, and it's almost time to use all my energy to pound Apollo Creed with thunder and lightening and see if we can convince the judges that we are ready to deliver the best Ghosts 'N Goblins game ever.

Highlights Of The Day:

7:00am. Rob, of the NES video game documentary "The NES Club" gave us a nice shout out on the Retro-Junkies podcast. Thanks Rob! 



Day 11 - KickStalker

Day 11

11 days left and we are sitting at 9% funding. We are at 126 backers which is actually quite good for a first-time Kickstarter, however, it's not going to take us to our goal. People are actually getting annoyed/angry we aren't doing better. I love this passion and am so glad they want to see this campaign succeed. So, my focus today has been to stalk people in the gaming press and introduce myself to them without spamming them. This takes a lot of research as many of these people are not easy to find. We really need to get a mention on the front page of a high profile blog. But, without a prototype, this is very difficult to do. 

Highlights of the day

8:08am. Now you're playing with power! One cool thing about spending 20 hours a day talking to retro-gamers, is you find a lot of cool projects going on. Read Nintendo Power growing up? Nintendo power started in July 1988 and lasted until last Christmas, December 2012. It was one of the longest-running video game magazines in the United States and Canada, and was Nintendo's official magazine in North America.

The retro gaming community is so incredible, that the world's most well-known Nintendo writers are carrying on the torch, and created Nintendo Force Magazine. Their debut issue was the most popular single issue ever sold through What's MagCloud? These guys know what decade they are in, so the magazine is printed on-demand through HP MagCloud. This basically means the magazine will probably be around forever as the number of subscribers doesn't matter. Or, you can get it digitally of course. Amazing!

5:00pm. Arkonviox writes about Demon World on Destructoid and the mission of Phantasm Studios. Arkonviox has been an incredible supporter and I can't think him enough for all of his help.