For those who aren’t familiar with who you are, what’s your background? Where did you start, what do you do? Who are you?
Well, one day I was born and then it never really ended. I started by breathing and eating, and then I slowly moved on to watching Power Rangers, followed by watching Digimon and then FLCL at some point later. Near the middle of my life I figured out that it’s better to move forward and do what I want to do than stand still and take the piss they pour on you every day. So now I try to make my own stuff. I would rather be remembered for what I make than remembered for me, I think. I am a vehicle to create things cooler than me and not much more.
Digimon fucking rocks… just saying. What kind of stuff do you do you make?
I wanna make stuff that makes someone refer to it in an interview 10 years from now and, elicit a response of “that fucking rocks” – anything else, or lesser, is a waste of time. At the moment, I make board games but ultimately I would be happy working on any creative endeavor from comics to film to animation to games. I want to make the coolest stuff that makes the largest parts of my audience go “oh sweet!” and the smallest go “This is the coolest fucking thing. Wow.” and have those feelings remain in their heads for a long while. I want to make stuff that inspires others to create. My big deal right now is “AEGIS Combining Robots” which is a game that’s a tribute to a lot of the things I liked as a kid. It’s a tactics game about heroes doing combat with their teams of big robots, merging them together and pulling off big super attacks. It’s a big game and is finally coming out soon, early next year.
So you started a kickstarter not too long ago. It didn’t reach the goal but I’ve heard time and time again that not reaching your kickstarter goal will teach you more than passing it. Mind talking about that?
Absolutely. The first time we ran our Kickstarter, there was plenty wrong with it and it all came from inexperience and poor preparation and communication. However, even though the campaign was lacking in a few areas, we still got a good amount of money and interest in the game, making us very sure we’d succeed on round 2. Knowing there’s interest there is definitely the core of knowing whether you should run a KS at all.
We raised $30,000 or so the first time (our goal was $40,000), so for the second campaign we planned a lot around the assumption we would get at least that number. Our first campaign lacked good info on the game on day 1, such as a solid pitch and a rulebook for people to look at. So we fixed those low-hanging fruits. I commissioned a high quality video from Sheepshead Studios, who does Kickstarter videos for big name games like Sentinels of the Multiverse and Lazer Ryderz, and it was much better at showing what our game was about. We also made the game-play section of the campaign more clear, showing the basic mechanics in animated gifs, so people could quickly understand the gist of what our game even was. All these things were really valuable.
We had a great friend of ours, Dan Zayas, coach us a bit on how to structure our new campaign’s pricing and which manufacturer to go through. We would use a low goal, compute costs so we could offer free shipping, and organize our stretch goals so that we wouldn’t offer everything on day 1 and lose momentum. Our first campaign had a high goal and no apparent stretch goals from the get-go. So with high goals, a vague pitch and little to drive campaign momentum, it flopped.
Our second campaign made $52,500 with a goal of $16,500.
Running a failed campaign is always fine (as long as you don’t make an ass of yourself), it only serves as an advertisement for your next campaign. It is up to you to learn from your mistakes though.
It seems like you’ve been living with AEGIS for quite a while and probably will be for a little while longer. But what’s next on your list of shit to do?
We’re very excited to make more AEGIS of course. Now that the game has all this infrastructure set up and we have a lot of pipelines and experience, it would be nice to make more robots and content for the game.
Of course we also have several other games that we’ve developed alongside AEGIS over time. Really cool projects. We were working on “Florafiora” for a while, and that development is ongoing. We also have some card combat games in the works that use the knowledge we’ve learned from AEGIS. I’m hoping to shift some focus onto them soon, possibly finding a publisher outside for them.
A big part of creative projects is getting your team together. I think a lot of new creators in all mediums have problems accepting this fact and finding their people. How did you find your people?
Finding good people is really hard. Our team came together mostly at our game design college, with newer members being found later through job postings and recommendations from others. Having people who stay and are invested in a project is very important, so I’m lucky to be working with people like that. When recruiting new people to help out or do work for us, I really tend to look for if that “get” the vision of the product. It makes everything much easier if you can communicate and certain aspects can go unspoken.
Tell me about the Anime. Some believe it should be banned. What are your thoughts?
Anime was perhaps a mistake, in recent years “trash” has become a prevalent genre and there’s a good robot show once maybe every 3 years. Truly it is a dire time we live in. Maybe the threat of a ban would spur some creative passion for the industry.
What about JRPGs, do they need a ban too? Should we just ban Japan in general?
Banning JRPG’s would be like banning pangolins, there aren’t enough left for consideration.
Do you have any advice for young creators?
I would say to try to not compare your work to others and feel bad about what you’ve done. It will happen, but you have to remember that there are lots of creative pieces on the market and as long as you are making what you like, and listen to good feedback from those you want to appeal to, your work will absolutely be embraced by an audience somewhere. Finish what you start and know that the only failures are those that give up.
Is there anything else you want to say to the Aberrant Ink collective?
Watch Oban Star Racers, it’s a good show. Never stop hustling and moving forward. If you’re a dreamer, support the dreams of others. Pre-order our game at robotstrategygame.com and follow us at fb.com/projectaegis