Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
Airship Ambassador: What kind of attention has Scrapyard Empire generated before and because of the Kickstarter campaign?
Dennis Consorte: We started generating some buzz about the game a few different ways. Organically, play testers and team members naturally discussed the game with their friends. Proactively, we started talking about Scrapyard Empire with the backers from our deck of cards, and we sent prototypes to numerous reviewers and gaming groups. We’re also reaching out to the Steampunk community as well as some crowdfunding forums. The Kickstarter campaign and the support of so many backers has validated our project, and it is a bit easier now to find people who are interested in learning about the game.
AA: Every author, artist, and creative person I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their work come to fruition. What was this experience like?
DC: It’s been a fantastic journey so far and every day brings us new adventures! I will say that this project has been easier than our first Kickstarter, because we learned from many of the mistakes we made the first time around, and we prepared in advance as much as we could.
AA: For the aspiring game creator, what lessons did you and your team learn along the way?
DC: Developing a game may sound simple and fun, but there is a lot of work involved with doing it right. In terms of the game mechanics, make sure that you test it as much as possible, and recruit play-testers early, so that they can help you find bugs in the design. When you’re ready to begin the production process, do lots of research and know your numbers; spreadsheets are your friend. Watch your budgets and timelines, and be ready to adapt when the unexpected happens. Be sure to get estimates on component weights so that you can project your shipping costs and factor those into your pricing.
AA: You are a pretty busy person – you started Steampunkgoggles.com as your first foray into the world of steampunk. How did business opportunity come about?
DC: It started as a marketing experiment, but a lot of research went into selecting the niche. We analyzed the media and used tools like Google Trends to spot potential niches. I noticed that Steampunk was a growing niche, and the numbers made sense. Plus it just looked like something fun that I would enjoy exploring and learning about.
AA: From there came your previous Kickstarter campaign – what can you share about Steampunk Goggles: the Deck?
DC: It was an adventure! I have a lot of experience with project management, but this one really beat me up. We only had about half of the artwork done at the onset of the campaign, so time was divided between managing the artist and the rest of the team, and marketing the campaign. I made the dreadful error in judgment of running my campaign right smack in the middle of the holidays, and we had virtually no movement around Christmas and New Year’s. I also set an ambitious goal for that project, in order to produce not one, but two decks of cards. That campaign was riddled with challenges but I will say that each day I set a goal to accomplish one thing, and each of those small goals contributed to the overall success of the campaign.
AA: I really liked the creativity that Jenelle Sosa, the team’s creative consultant, infused the deck with, especially assigning a steampunk archetypes to each of the suits, and personalities to the members of the court. What was the process in brainstorming and selecting those choices?
DC: When it comes to Steampunk and even real history, Jenelle is a fountain of knowledge. It made sense to take 4 suits and divide them into 4 archetypes. Part of the goal of that campaign was to promote our goggles, and so the challenge became looking at our inventory and aligning the attributes of certain lines to each archetype. For example, the Industrials (Spades) were aligned with the heaviest goggles we carry, made from solid brass and leather, while the Aviators (Clubs) included goggles that already had aeronautical names on our website. Once each suit was assigned a theme, the next step was for Jenelle to think of unique characters that matched those themes. Kings, Queens and Jacks were given steampunk personalities that brought them to life.
AA: What are some of your favorite cards in the deck and why?
DC: The Ace of Hearts, dubbed the Corseted Heart, is probably my favorite card in the deck. The heart could be restricted by the corset, but it instead embraces its fate and the corset actually enhances it. The King of Spades (The Tinker) is also among my favorites. Mike Lees did a spectacular job of creating expression in his face, and adding detail to every nook and cranny. I also enjoy the Escheresque feel to the design.
AA: The photo shoot for the Kickstarter promotion seemed successful, especially with the tag line, “What’s YOUR suit?” As Ambassador, mine is probably Diamonds/Glitterati. What’s yours?
DC: Definitely Spades/The Industrials, as it matches my real-life interests in science and technology.
AA: Are there any great artwork pieces which were considered but didn’t make it into this project?
DC: Mike did an amazing, full-width card for the Queen of Clubs. It had an Amelia Earhart meets Frida Kahlo vibe to it and it just had a wonderful composition. Unfortunately, it didn’t match the majority of cards in the deck, because it had a full background scene, with heavy imagery extending all the way to the edge of the card. In the end it was a usability decision to drop the card and replace it with something more in line with the overall design of the deck. At some point, I would love to do another deck in the future with full-width designs for every card.
We’ll take our last break here in this four part interview with Dennis Consorte.
Join us for the conclusion where Dennis talks about motivation and influences.