Analyzing Yardmaster Express

I am studying a lot of Kickstarter campaign pages. To add some structure to my study I will be gathering stats and writing up my observations on some of them, starting with Yardmaster Express.

Countdown: 68 days. I have spent a lot of time studying Kickstarter pages, both as I prepared for Relic Expedition and now as I prepare for Lanterns. To help make my study time a little more structured, I’m gathering some stats and writing up my observations. I’m starting with small board game projects from tiny publishing companies that have been designed by a designer outside of the company. First up: Yardmaster Express.

Reward Tiers

This campaign has 5 reward tiers.

  • PnP
  • 1 Game (Yardmaster Backer)
  • 1 Game (New Backer)
  • 3 Games
  • 10 Games (Retailer)

International Shipping is not included in a separate tier; backers are asked to add that on separately. (I really wish Kickstarter had a way to handle this more elegantly. You have to do what Crash Games did, ask backers to add it on, or you have to have separate tiers for each of the shipping amounts.)

Backers of the Yardmaster campaign get a discount on Yardmaster Express. This required an extra reward tier, which could cause some confusion, but it was an incredible gesture from Crash Games to existing backers. All backers (even new backers) can get the discounted price if they buy three copies of the game. Very nice!

Video

The video is 0:34 seconds long and primarily focused on theme. (It mentions the mechanisms, but it doesn’t explain how to play. It does show a full train being built though.) It does not show anyone from Crash Games in person. It nicely sets the tone and atmosphere for the project. I was planning to aim for a 1:00 video focused primarily on the theme, and this feels in line with what Crash Games has done.

Shipping

The shipping chart is great. I would be inclined to leave out the second and third columns for simplicity, but that transparency no doubt helps people trust Crash Games a little bit more and understand exactly why the price is what it is. It can be especially for US shipping. People often forget that shipping is a real cost and that it is included. I wonder if adding a column for the cost of the game would be helpful. In this case $4 for the game and $5 for Shipping and Freight.

With Relic Expedition, this was not as big of an issue because the game was expensive enough that everyone would get free shipping from Amazon if they bought it retail. (Though you wouldn’t get free shipping for Relic Expedition if that’s all you bought at most board game websites!) But Lanterns will be cheap enough that you wouldn’t even get free shipping at Amazon. Highlighting our shipping costs in a chart like this could be good.

Game Designer

I expected to see more about the game designer; all I see mentioned is his name. I had planned to tell people more about Chris. I could see how it might cause confusion: people might think Chris is part of our company. But Kickstarter is about funding dreams, and Lanterns is as much his dream as Foxtrot Games is our dream.

Game Play Video

I was surprised that there was not a game play video created by Crash Games. (The short opening video mentions the mechanics, but you do not get to see the game in action. The rules and the PnP are available for download.) The Rahdo Runs Through It video shows how to play the game, and Richard’s enthusiasm (someone outside Crash Games) for the game makes the game play video way more compelling than something produced by Crash Games.

Avatars

I have seen the Yardmaster Express avatars around Kickstarter. It’s great that they can look like the components instead of the box cover: very classy. We will definitely create avatars for Lanterns. I think we could do seven avatars, one for each lantern color; I’m already using a sketch of the blue lanterns for the Twitter avatar.

PnP

The PnP of Yardmaster Express is available only on BGG. I wonder why that is? You can get comments, track downloads, upload new versions. That’s something worth considering. I had already planned to put it on BGG about a month before the campaign, and it could be good to have all the feedback and social interaction around it in one place. Is creating a BGG account too much friction for potential Kickstarter backers? I suppose the kinds of backers who want to read the rules and look at a PnP might have no trouble with that. (If it encourages people to create BGG accounts and thumb a picture or two, that can’t be a bad thing.)

Message, Promise, Thank You

This section is all very well done! I will definitely be looking back at this section for ideas. I am so grateful for our backers taking a chance on Foxtrot Games with Relic Expedition, and I need to make sure backers know that. I expect to a add a “Message From Chris” section because I know every backer will mean a lot to him, as well.

Screenshot

I will be taking full screenshots of the campaign pages I analyze, adding colored bars to the side to highlight the types of content on the pages. I will also be breaking down the types of content based on percentage of the total pixels. (This does not include the video or the Risks & Challenges section; this is specifically for the Details content in between those two.)

I have no idea what exactly I will do with this data. I will definitely NOT try to mimic the percentages in the Lanterns campaign. I have found in the past that spending the time thinking about a particular object from a new angle can provide new insights, and I’m hopeful that will happen here.

Percentage Pixels Description
20½ 2236 Red Game Overview
20½ 2239 Yellow Stretch Goals
10½ 1139 Green Shipping / International Backers
1000 Orange Avatars
19% 2062 Gray About Crash Games, Guarantee, Kickstarter Promise
674 White Add-Ons
13½ 1433 Purple Reviews and Downloads
100 10946   Total

Click the image to view it full size:

Crash Games

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4 thoughts on “Analyzing Yardmaster Express

  1. I personally really hate it when intro videos don’t include ANYthing about the game other than the theme. But I have limited internet and I can’t watch all videos on the page. I’d like to at least get some semblance of an idea as to whether I might like the game or not in the intro video. But Lanterns is a pretty simple game, and you can understand it easily by just reading the description you guys have come up with =)

  2. I completely agree. It’s a tricky balance. You want the video to be short because you want people to finish it excited about the project, not bored of it. But you definitely want them to have an idea of how the game plays!

    Our Relic Expedition video was in two pieces: (a) first 45 seconds focused on theme and (b) final 1:30 focused on game play. The game play part was probably too long: it didn’t explain everything (I ended up shooting a longer game play video in the middle of the campaign), and I think it could have communicated the idea of the game is about half the time.

    Did you see the very rough storyboard of our Lanterns video? [http://blog.lanternsgame.com/2014/08/29/script-for-introduction-video/] Would you say something like that works well to capture the theme and give you an idea of how the game works in a short enough amount of time?

  3. Yes, saw that after posting here. It just sounded like there wouldn’t be ANY description of game play, which I tend to not like (but particularly with Lanterns, it wouldn’t have kept me from learning about the game, since it is so simple =). When do I get to pledge finally? ;-)

    • Thank you for your enthusiasm! :-) If all keeps going according to plan, we should be ready in about three weeks or so. We’re working on the videos (I’m shooting the game play video tomorrow night at a local gaming event) and waiting for third-party reviews to come in.

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