THE VCG PODCAST

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How To Validate Your Table Top RPG Idea For Crowdsourcing

“Don’t put the cart before the horse”

Chances are you have probably heard that old cliche.

But like with all cliches, the above is a cliche because there is truth to the statement.  And the truth in that above cliche is something you need to keep in the front of your mind when you are considering crowdfunding for your RPG project.

Let’s face it - there are no new ideas.

Chances are that the idea that you have for the next great new shiny RPG thing is pretty similar to an idea that someone else has already had.

But that doesn’t mean that you should abandon your dream of bringing your idea to fruition.

Far from it.

What it does mean is that before you go through all the steps to create your RPG thingy and launch it on Kickstarter or crowdfunding site of choice, you should do your homework to make sure that your particular project has something unique that no one else is offering.

Researching Past Tabletop RPG Campaigns on Kickstarter


Let’s say that I have an idea for a superhero RPG.

I certainly wouldn’t be the first or last person to have an idea for this theme for an RPG.

But one of the keystones to success with  crowd sourcing - or any creative endeavor - is uniqueness.

How do we ensure we have a unique offering and crowd source campaign?

We do our research!

So let's jump onto Kickstarter to discover what has been created in the past in the way of superhero RPGs.

First Steps To Researching Your Tabletop RPG on Kickstarter


Kickstarter is a super popular crowd sourcing platform for tabletop RPGs. So I'm going to concentrate my efforts there for this article.

The first thing I'm going to do is to search for projects that fall into my general category.

So entering in the Keyword “Superhero” into the search and this turns up 1034 projects - a healthy number with that keyword in it.



Let’s tweak our search a little to see how many of these were successfully funded by adding the filter of successful projects.

This filter yields us 427 projects - which means that about 42% of these projects were funded at greater than their goal - which is pretty darn good.

While this is encouraging - the results are general. After all we were only searching for the general term “superhero” that fell across all categories.

Since we are looking to create a superhero RPG game we should do a little more tweaking to refine our search to better reflect our category and add a filter for tabletop games. Let’s take out the “successful” filter to see how many games come back for the search.



This search yields us 62 projects in total. If we add the “successful” filter back into the search that narrows our results to 38 - which means that 62% of superhero tabletop games are successful funded.

Tabletop games that have a superhero theme have nearly a 2 in 3 chance of getting funded!

Of course that doesn’t mean that your idea is guaranteed to be successfully funded.

We need to do some more research on the successful - and unsuccessful campaigns - to see if we can come up a unique selling point (USP) or angle to our game as just doing the same thing as everyone else will usually result in failure.

Finding Your Tabletop RPG Idea’s Unique Angle


One of the things you should do when trying to find your idea’s unique selling point or angle is to search your initial keyword - in this example “superheros” along with other keywords.

For instance you could search for the following to create a noir themed superheros game

  • Primary Keyword - Superheros
  • Secondary Keywords - dark, crime, underworld 
If you wanted to focus on horror:

  • Primary Keyword - Superheros
  • Secondary Keywords - zombies, apocalypse, horror

Or how about supers in a dystopian setting

  • Primary Keyword: supers
  • Secondary Keywords: dystopian, post-acpocalypse, cyber punk


The idea here is to see if you can turn up any projects with the keyword combinations you have listed to find out if anyone has done anything like this in the past and if they have, what success or failure did they experience with their project.

Try to come up with as many variations of your primary keyword as you can.

For instance, in my last example I changed the keyword to “supers”. This is one of a couple of variations on superheros which show up in the genre.

Variations for superhero names could include the following:

  • Supers
  • Vigilantes
  • Capes
  • Mutants
  • Masks

Riff a little and see what you come up with but don’t stress about it.

Avoid the trap of  “Paralysis by Analysis”.

A sample search of “supers” and the word cyberpunk turned up 3 successful table top game projects and one of them was a card game.



This isn’t to say that other supers games didn't have the cyberpunk element but these three were specifically focused on the cyberpunk/dystopian element as their main theme.

Looking closer at the RPGs that turned up one is a Pathfinder supplement and the other is a standalone RPG product and both were funded - one at 134% of its goal and one at 280% of its goal.

The card game was funded at 750% of its goal!

So at this point you can say that in general you have a good chance of funding a supers RPG on Kickstarter and there haven't been a lot in the way of cyberpunk/dystopian themed games but the ones that we have turned up were very successful.

Checking Out the Tabletop RPG Competition in Google


We aren’t done with our idea validation though - we still should do a quick Google search to see if there are other cyberpunk supers games out there that have not been funded via Kickstarter.

From the below screen capture you can see that I also modified the search a little adding the keyword “tabletop” this was to help narrow the results only to pen and paper RPGs.



The astute reader will also notice the sidebars to the the right of the screen capture that indicate related keywords, their search volume, CPC (cost per click) and Competition.

This information comes from a free Chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere, and is useful to help search for related keywords to your main set.

While our search doesn’t turn up anything too concerning on the first results page, you should always go a few pages deep and monkey a bit with the words you are using to make sure you have covered the bases for your idea (one of the reasons I use Keywords Everywhere).

This type of search is also useful in finding extra hooks and angles for your project and uncovering potential problems.

Validating Your Tabletop RPG Kickstarter Idea Conclusion


At this point you have the basics of how to validate your idea for a tabletop RPG.

You done some research on Kickstarter and Google and found that your idea looks sound and has a good chance of being successful.

You could launch right now if you wanted to…but I think there is just a little more work you can - and should do - before you launch.

I’ll cover that extra work in the next article.

Until then - may you always roll crits!

About the Author


Michael Harrington is a cybersecurity course designer and instructor by trade and an self-diagnosed RPG addict.

He first started playing TTRPGs with the original TSR Dungeons and Dragons back in elementary school (the 70's man).

He does freelance writing on the side and is the author of a book on using Google Earth in digital forensics. His Twitter account is @voidmarked

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Thank you to the VCG community.


I need to take a moment and say "thank you". Thank you to the VCG community and Clever Cow Designs for making this happen for Jordan Streeter and his cause Gamers Against Alzheimer's. Because of your generosity, yesterday we were able to present Jordan with a check for $200 dollars towards his fundraising goal for the Alzheimer's Association. Thank you for rallying around my friend as he continues to honor his father's memory with his Gamers Against Alzheimer's cause. You all are some of of the most generous people on the planet. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tiny Dungeon 2nd Edition campaign - Episode #8 "Just Hang in There" (Parental Advisory)

Tiny Dungeon 2e campaign - Episode #8 "Just Hang in There"

This month we're down a hero and we have a familiar face return - Shimmergloom! But this time his royal highness is called Glimmerdoom. Will our adventurers take heed of his warning to stay away from his rocks? Will Oberon reveal the weak point in a dragon's scales? We learn all this and more in this PARENTAL ADVISORY episode #8 - "Just Hang in There".
CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 8

You can get a copy of Tiny Dungeon Second Edition here:
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/230298/Tiny-Dungeon-Second-Edition

You can get your own "Do You Even..." shirt on the VCG webstore at http://clevercowdesigns.com/vcg


Check out our player's projects at:
Amanda - http://ageofnight.com
Ed - https://www.facebook.com/edsmithcartoonistatlarge
Jordan - https://www.facebook.com/GamersAgainstAlzheimers
Josh - https://www.youtube.com/Halloweenville
Alan - https://www.gallantknightgames.com

Monday, August 13, 2018

Understanding Kicktraq Project Pages - Part Three

In our first article on Kicktraq, we examined the top third of a project page and moved our way down to the middle third where all the data nerd chart goodness lives.

In the third and last article in our Kicktraq primer series we talk about the final third of the project page as well as some other interesting parts of Kicktraq.

Kicktraq Project Page Bottom Third

The bottom third of the Kicktraq page shows the “Latest News” from the project.

This latest news feed derives from updates posted on the Kickstarter project. A potential backer researching your project can see the updates for your project without having to be on the Kickstarter page.

Engagement with your community is a key component of running a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Don’t go too long without an update or making comments – even if its just to check in and let everyone know what is going on in the background.

Backers like to know what is going on with “their project”. Regular updates keep backers in the loop and build the excitement of bringing a project to life together.

Other Cool Kicktraq Page Features

Kickstarter News

Let’s turn our attention back to the landing page of Kicktraq.

The first thing you see front and center is a search box for finding projects. This search box is analogous to the search bar in the upper right of all the site pages.

The front page is split into three sections – a news section, a top ten list and the Kicktraq Twitter feed.

The front page of Kicktraq functions as a news aggregator for all things Kickstarter culled from blogs around the Interwebs.



Get your project reviewed and featured on review blogs like Victory Condition Gaming and raise your visibility on this page and others.

Not only is it good for your project – its good for your brand as well.

On the right side of the page there is the top ten projects for the day. This will reflect the category you have been searching – in the image below you can see my top ten is for table top games, the category I look at most, if not all times.


If you look at the bottom of the top ten list, you will see a link for all Hot List projects.

Just below the top ten Hot List items for your category is the Kicktraq Twitter feed.

The Twitter feed is another place to mine for great projects to back.

Note to creators: If you look at who Kicktraq follows you can mine their followers for influencers for your own campaigns!


Day One Listings – Project Owners

While Kicktraq does not require you to do anything to be listed on their site, if you go to their site the day you launch your project and use the search function to locate your project, Kicktraq will give you a little extra goodness.

Getting your project tracked by Kicktraq from day one allows more data and more accurate tracking. As a reward for this, Kicktraq will list your project on the "Day-1 Projects" page at the very top of the category navigation.

Day-1 Project tracking is useful for reassuring backers you will reach your goal throughout the life of your project.

Kicktraq also offers free graphics to show you are a Day-One project and helping to get your project listed on the Hot List on this page.



Browser Add-ons

Kicktraq does offer Browser add-ons for the Firefox, Chrome and Opera browsers.

Once you download and install the browser extension, you can visit your Kickstarter backed projects or just browse.

The browser extension will display one of the various charts located in the middle third of the project page above the Kickstarter project image or video. The charts rotate and below whatever chart displays are links to the projects Kicktraq page for Funding Progress, Daily Data and Project News.



The add-ons are a handy way to get a snapshot on the analytics of a project.

The only downside I see to them is that the Kicktraq analytics can take a little bit of time to load initially. Once they are loaded that initial time, subsequently building the charts takes a lot less time.

Kicktraq Primer Conclusion

So this concludes our three part primer series on Kicktraq. I sincerely hope that it has been of benefit to you.

In future articles, I plan to do some post-mortem analysis on both failed and successful Kickstarter projects, interviews with successful creators and much more.

Thanks for reading and all the best!

About the Author



Michael Harrington is a cybersecurity course designer and instructor by trade and an self-diagnosed RPG addict. He first started playing TTRPGs with the original TSR Dungeons and Dragons back in elementary school.


He does freelance writing on the side and is the author of a book on using Google Earth in digital forensics. His Twitter account is @voidmarked and he’s working on a new website - www.rpgbruh.com.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

VCG chats with... Jonathan Ying - Bargain Quest

Y'all as excited about @BargainQuest as much as I am? Such a great blend of art, theme and mechanics! No wonder the second printing is going crazy on Kickstarter!
Hear all about it here - https://youtu.be/zcITNyw_N9Q 
Then go back it here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bargainquest/bargain-quest-second-printing-the-black-market-exp

Monday, August 6, 2018

Understanding Kicktraq Project Pages - Part Two


In part one of my primer on using Kicktraq, I  explained the upper third of the Kicktraq project page and in another previous piece I also looked at the Kicktraq Hot List in relation to a Kickstarter project.

In this week’s article we’ll continue examining a project’s Kicktraq page, this time concentrating on the middle third of the page.

The Kicktraq Project Page Middle Third

The middle third of a Kicktraq project page contains five different tabs that contain more granular information about a particular Kickstarter project.

The information in these tabs is useful for both project backers and creators.

Let’s look at each of the tabs in a little more detail.

The Funding Progress Tab

The funding progress tab tracks a Kickstarter project’s progress toward its funding goal from the beginning date of the project to the ending date.

The Y access of the chart shows the pledged amount starting at zero. The amount shown on the Y axis increases in increments of 5k.

Along the X axis are the dates of the project is active.

The chart shows a blue dotted line across the graph for the funding goal. It will also show a green dotted line that adjusts for the project funding trend.

Kicktraq will plot a point at each day for the project’s funding.



We’ll cover the uses of this and other tabs in a bit. For now remember that when looking at the funding trend it is important to keep in mind that the trend is not 100% accurate.


Daily Data

The Daily Data tab contains three separate charts – Pledges Per Day, Backers Per Day, and Comments Per Day.

Pledges Per Day

This chart tracks the amount pledged by backers for each day of the Kickstarter project campaign. This chart shows a purple dotted line for the average amount pledged per day. This is summarized in the upper right of the chart.

Backers Per Day

This chart mimics the Pledges Per Day chart replacing pledge amount with the average amount of backers per day. Averages are shown as per the Pledges Per Day chart.

Comments Per Day

This charts the average comments per day on the Kickstarter project like the above two charts.


Projection (Experimental Build)

The Projection tab displays the current funding data for the project and gives a projection of the end funding.

Currently this project is called the “Project Cone”. Be aware that the way this tab displays as Kicktraq experiments with how to display and predict data will change.

The project’s goal is shown as a straight dashed horizontal blue line across the graph.

This projection is expressed as a high and low dollar range and summarized in the upper right of the chart and shown as a purple line.



As I stated before and has been mentioned by Kicktraq themselves, projection data is not 100% and depends on several factors.

However, Kicktraq gets about a 70-92% average correct prediction on many projects.

You should expect this to be a work in progress and while the projection is not a 100% guarantee, it never-the less is an important tool to use when adjusting your Kickstarter campaigns and pledges.

Trend (Beta)

While the X and Y axis are familiar – dollar amount on the x axis and date on they axis - the data presented on this tab can look confusing.

At the very top of the chart there is a dashed gray line indicating the initial funding trend. From the very top a green line with plotted points slopes down to meet the dashed green trending line.

Just below the trending line is the dashed blue goal line and beneath that the actual funding plotted over the days of the campaign.


Why is that green line curving down to meet the blue one and why did it start so high?

Well, the trend is based on daily data and a variety of different weighted metrics. If the project owner did a lot of pre-launch work and built anticipation a project and then launched with a huge surge the numbers will be high.

This huge surge can be very important to build momentum and drive toward funding and beyond. This is one of the keys to success to Kickstarter campaigns that we will discuss in future articles.

The green line should eventually begin to move in concert with the actual funding numbers

Mini-Chart

This tab provides a nice summary of the project stats as well as a chart of the last ten days of campaign funding (a subset of the projection), a “battery meter” chart as well of summaries of the total pledged amount, average pledges per day, the current daily pledge and time left in the campaign.

On the right-hand side of this tab you can find ways to embed the chart to share on websites, forums and Reddit.

This data is dynamic and updates from the Kicktraq site.


Using Middle Tier Information for Research

While an in-depth discussion of how to use Kicktraq’s middle third for working your Kickstarter campaign – or following one if you are a backer- is out of the scope of this article, I will cover this topic in further posts.

For now, here are a few suggestions on how to use the data on the Kicktraq project middle third to work a campaign or help promote it as a backer.

Research Successful and Failed Campaigns

Search for and research past projects that are similar to your campaign and go over the day by day funding and backer trends.

Then look at the Kickstarter campaign itself and correlate the data to the numbers.
Learn from the successes and failures.

Kickstarter Engagement

Use the data on the tabs to find out where the lulls are in your campaign.

You will want to encourage your backers and fans to share the Kicktraq page, suggest tags and post to forums and websites.

The more engagement you generate the better your numbers will be.

Social Media

Take screen caps of tabs and share across your social media networks. People love to see charts and summaries.

Not only will this build buzz on your project but it’s a great way to add content to social media feeds which in turn drives more organic traffic to project pages and your website.


Kicktraq’s Middle Page – Summary

The middle third of the Kicktraq project page is chock full of information that will help you adjust your Kickstarter campaigns in mid-flight.

You can also use the information in the tabs to help generate interest on forums and social media.

As a backer, you can track projects you are interested in and use the data to adjust your level of involvement.

In our next article we will talk about the final section of the Kicktraq project page.

Until then – Game On!

About the Author



Michael Harrington is a cybersecurity course designer and instructor by trade and an self-diagnosed RPG addict. He first started playing TTRPGs with the original TSR Dungeons and Dragons back in elementary school.


He does freelance writing on the side and is the author of a book on using Google Earth in digital forensics. His Twitter account is @voidmarked and he’s working on a new website - www.rpgbruh.com.

Monday, July 30, 2018