關於Kickstarter上的衆籌活動的失敗案例(二)

作者:Peter Cardwell-Gardner

我記得我們在2015年初的Kickstarter活動時還樂觀滿滿。那時候我不僅獲得了一些喘息的空間去爭取一份待遇優厚的合同,同時這也像一扇爲《Cadence》所開啓的大門。在某種程度上看來,Kickstarter將開啓我作爲遊戲開發者這一角色今後的生活。之後我們開始獲得一些獎項提名,並進一步明確我們將面對的正確方向。總之,所有的一切都以一種明朗的狀態而發展着。

我之所以提到這個是因爲我們必須承認高漲的情緒有可能創造出一種具有破壞性的行爲,即將可能導致最終的情緒倦怠。與傳統的集資方法不同的是,Kickstarter的成功是既定的。不管你是獲得資金還是什麼,所有人可能會以爲你什麼都未得到。從心理上來看,這更有助於具有較高風險性的遊戲。我還記得當我看到其它失敗的Kickstarter時曾想過:“謝天謝地這種情況未發生在我們身上。”但也許這只是一種故作姿態的情緒,因爲我仍然會擔心自己的活動的結果。

結果便是這讓我很容易掉進“讓我們更加努力去做好這個”的模式中。當然了,如果你投入更多努力,最終可能會出現“消耗過猛”的情況,而這時候唯一能夠起到推進作用的便是讓自己好好睡一覺。因爲我已經學會如何去識別這種問題,所以我不會讓這種情況再次發生,而我主要是受到這種簡單的想法所啓發:“想象之後的生活會有多美好。”

同時,與一些基於同樣目標的小型優秀團隊合作將會創造一種很棒的感受。就像我們爲了最後幾天的趕工而來到我們的視頻製作者的家庭辦公室以方便彼此間的交流。因爲不斷逼近的截止日期,我們與合作伙伴之間更是建立起一種親密的兄弟關係—-我還記得我們的開發夥伴Rodain說過之前他從未感受過這種來自獨立開發者的友誼。同時這也會鼓勵你更加努力地工作,因爲你並不希望讓周圍的人感到失望。

最終當我們竭盡全力完成所有工作時,我真的已經精疲力盡了。我覺得自己從未像那時候一樣迫切想要睡覺。同時我也知道自己的電話伴隨着通知信息不斷響着。

24個小時後,也就是在補充了一些睡眠後我的意識開始恢復了。來自朋友和當地社區的支持真的讓我感到非常驚訝。當看到一些朋友和家人開始資助我們的Kickstarter活動時我簡直措手不及。那時候我的第一反應便是滿滿的內疚,因爲我所在乎的這些人正在爲我那愚蠢的遊戲而花錢—-但之後我也意識到這也是他們在表達相信我的一種方法。因爲遊戲開發中總是充滿自我懷疑與焦慮,所以看到自己所喜歡的人的這些做法真的讓我非常感動。

但是我沒有太多喘息的時間了,因爲我馬上就要搭上前往舊金山參加GDC的飛機。在這點上我還是有點小聰明的,因爲我讓自己提前前往舊金山從而可以留出幾天時間倒倒時差。但是我並未擁有平和的休息時間,因爲我發現我們的Kickstarter活動很快便失去了活力,而擺在我們面前的道路也變得更加崎嶇。

GDC是一場重量級會議:在這裏每分鐘便會出現數千個參與者,羣組,活動,以及你所崇拜的偶像—-而所有的這一切都足以支撐你的首次亮相。你之所以會花那麼多錢並飛躍大半個地球去參加這樣的會議是因爲在這樣噪雜的環境中你能夠認識一些之前沒有機會認識的人。當然了,沒有人會主動向你伸出橄欖枝,你需要做的便是讓自己變成一個積極主動的人,並不斷去推銷自己的作品,因爲你永遠都不知道有誰在真正認真聽你講話。

如果你是一個內向的人,這一任務可能對你來說非常艱鉅,就像我便一直很羨慕那些可以大膽地做着這些事的人。而因爲Kickstarter活動的衰敗,創造“奇蹟”的壓力變得更加迫切。在這種環境下,你需要表現得足夠友善且足夠積極,如此所有人才會相信你所分享的內容能夠讓他們的生活變得更加美好。

同時,如果我的表現過於誇張,別人可能會覺得我動機不良。即我是在分散他們本來面向自己真正關心的內容的注意力。當我非常欣賞並尊敬的人產生這種想法時,我便會非常受傷。我甚至曾經躺在旅館的地板上好幾分鐘以嘗試着找回原本的自己。

儘管他們不清楚我正在經歷什麼,但還是很感謝在GDC上所遇到的新老朋友。僅僅只是圍在我身邊並詢問我的工作近況便足以調動我的情緒,我也儘量讓自己能夠擁有有趣的GDC經歷。而在這裏我覺得失敗感是最致命的因素:這會讓你想要找個地方躲起來—-你將不會看到任何機遇,因爲你總是認爲自己沒有這樣的運氣。

我們餘下的Kickstarter活動將只是慢慢走向盡頭,而我也並未花太多時間去接受這一結果。因爲我已經耗盡權利且沒有多餘的經歷去抵抗這樣的結果。似乎舔舔傷口並儲存好精力去應對下一次挑戰是更加明智的做法。然後事後反省卻不是一件容易的事。我記得有些人出於好意嘗試着去提供給我們一些具有建設性的意見,但是對於我們來說平靜地去聽取這些意見是根本不可能的事。幸好我已經不是年輕人了,所以我知道如何去調節自己的心態,但同時我也認爲這裏存在其它需要掌握的內容。

顯然在經過漫長的工作後我已經耗盡體力。這意味着當活動不能實現目標時,我便會覺得自己遭遇了失敗。此外,當人們在分析活動時,我會覺得他們是在批評我的行動並攻擊我的動機。但我還是會盡可能維持一種正確的心態,記得活動所創造的一些積極面,同時也嘗試着將這一失敗當初一種經驗教訓。

在接下來幾個月裏我更是注意到其它連鎖效應。就像你是否認識一些本來很喜歡一家餐館,但是在吃到一次不好吃的菜品後突然不喜歡它的朋友?這便是一種“分離”心理,即將保護你避開一些不開心的事。而我也發現自己曾嘗試着創造與Kickstarter的心理距離。這並不是說我將放棄Kickstarter這一平臺,而是這將導致我們更難去進行其它Kickstarter活動。

讓人驚訝的是,這種影響力也蔓延到了《Cadence》上。我發現自己不再那麼熱衷於這款遊戲了,儘管我們在Kickstarter活動期間與之後都收到許多正面反饋。這也引出了信任危機讓我們很難去把握這種半成機會。競爭不再像表面看來那樣值得參與進去。確保粉絲們一直熱衷於更新內容就像你永遠都忙活不來的家庭雜務一般。你的生產力會開始下降,並且你將很難再專注於任何任務,因爲這時候的你已經不確定自己是否還能走向正確的道路了。

indie(from gamedev)

indie(from gamedev)

最後我問了自己一個有價值的問題:我們是否真的失敗了?《Cadence》的故事非常長,所以誰會知道如果我們使用來之不易的經驗先在Steam上發行遊戲或進行完整的遊戲發行會是怎樣的結果。這是我一直在學習的有關成功與失敗之間的關係的有趣問題—-在兩年間我一直致力於《Cadence》,我的失敗率也顯著上升了。比起我在理論上的實踐或者作爲一名僱員,我在此遭遇了更頻繁的拒絕與失望。但同時我們也獲得了一些難能可貴的經歷,並遇到了那些只有選擇這條道路才能夠遇到的機遇。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough: A Tale of Failure (Part II)

By Peter Cardwell-Gardner

I remember the lead-up to our Kickstarter campaign (early 2015) as being a time alive with optimism. Not only was I earning some welcome breathing room on a well-paid contract gig, but it felt like doors were finally starting to open for Cadence. In a way, it felt like the Kickstarter was going to be the thing that would break the dam wall and be the beginning of the rest of my life as game developer. Along the way we started to pick up a few award nominations, bolstering the sense we were pointing in the right direction. In short, I was flourishing and things were bright.

I mention this because it’s important to acknowledge how feeling emotionally high enabled a destructive behaviour that paved the road to emotional burnout. Unlike traditional methods of funding, Kickstarter success is cut and dry. Either you get the money, or else everyone very publicly sees you get nothing. Psychologically speaking, this makes for a very high stakes game. In fact I can remember looking at other failed Kickstarters and thinking: “thank god that isn’t going to happen to us”. But perhaps this sentiment is best described as posturing, because I was still deeply anxious about how things would pan out.

Consequently this made it was very easy for me to slip into a pattern of “let’s work just a little bit harder on this, you know, to make sure”. Of course, if you keep working just a little bit harder here and there, you eventually end up in a situation where you’re horrendously overcommitted, and the only fuel left for the fire is your sleep and physical well-being. As much as I’ve learnt to recognise the symptoms and swore I’d never let it happen again, I was undone by that very simple thought: “imagine how much better life will be afterwards”.

In the same breath, collaborating with a small team of awesome people with a common goal can be a wonderful feeling. In this case we’d camped out in our video guys’ home office for the final days of the lead-up to optimise communication time. The looming deadline for something we cared about created a bold sense of camaraderie and brotherhood – in fact I can remember Rodain, my development partner, saying he’d never felt indie fellowship as fiercely before. But this can seductively encourage you to push even harder, because now you don’t want to let down those around you.

When we eventually, exhaustedly, flicked the switch to go live I was totally shattered. The following hours were a hazy blur that could fit right into a drug-addled Johnny Depp biopic. I can’t remember another time I’ve so desperately wanted to sleep, only to be denied by an adrenaline hangover pushing thoughts around my head. It couldn’t help that I knew my silenced phone was simultaneously blowing up with notifications.

24 hours later, a modicum of sleep acquired, the gravity of what happened started to dawn on me. The support from friends and the local community was amazing. But I was caught off guard when some friends and family started making very sizeable contributions to our Kickstarter. My first reaction was pang of guilt, that people I care about were spending so much on my silly game – but then I realised that actually this was their way of showing me that they really believe in me. Considering game development is so often filled with self doubt and anxiety, this was an overwhelming feeling that bought more than a tear to my eye.

There wasn’t much time to catch my breath however, as I was soon on a plane off to San Francisco for Game Developers Conference (GDC). I was at least smart enough to plan in a few days to recover from jet lag once I arrived (I may have also nabbed an airport-priced massage during my layover that was money gladly spent). I can’t say my rest was peaceful though, as it was rapidly becoming apparent our Kickstarter was losing momentum and the path forward started to look increasingly steeper. My stomach was in double and triple knots.

GDC is a massive conference: thousands of people, parties, events and meeting personal heroes by the minute – more than enough to make your first time completely overwhelming. But conferences are also what you make of them, the reason you spend so much money and travel halfway around the world is because this chaotic environment has the ability to create connections and introduce you to people you might never otherwise have access to. Of course, no one is going to hand this to you – you must be open to possibilities, network like a demon, and always be selling because you never know who is listening.

As a recovered introvert, this is already a tough ask, and I’m always envious of anyone who could shamelessly perform in this manner. But against the backdrop of a flagging Kickstarter, the pressure to create some “magic” was immense. Besides, I’d come too far to not give it my all, so time and again I’d throw myself into the fray and pitch Cadence to people I’d only just met. Ideally in such situations you want to be friendly, energetic, and most of all believe you’re making the other person’s life better by sharing your awesome thing with them.

But instead, being so emotionally depleted, it always felt like I was operating with a very obvious ulterior motive. That I was the noise distracting them from what he or she actually cared about. This felt particularly brutal when that someone was a person I deeply admired and respected. Often I left an interaction feeling like my psyche had been raked over a bed of hot coals. At its worst I remember taking a few minutes to lay spread-eagled on my hostel dorm-room floor, just trying to recapture a little bit of myself.

Even though they didn’t know exactly what I was going through, I was immensely grateful to have friends, both new and old, at GDC. By simply being around and caring about my cause they lifted my mood and I managed to leave GDC having had a good time. But I think this points to one of the most insidious things about feeling unsuccessful: it tends to make you cower, to want to hide yourself – to not see opportunities where before there were none and sabotage your own luck.

The remainder of our Kickstarter campaign was a slow death, but it didn’t take me long to accept the outcome. I was exhausted and simply had no more fight left in me. It seemed far wiser to simply lick our wounds and save our energy for the next scrap. Nevertheless the post mortem was really difficult. I remember people, with the best of intentions, trying to give constructive criticism – but it was almost impossible to hear it without getting very upset. Thankfully, I’m old enough to know when it’s time to go for a walk, but I think here lies another clue.

Clearly, over the hours of hard graft I had invested countless little pieces of myself. This meant that when the campaign failed to meet its goal, it felt like I had failed. Additionally, when people analysed the campaign, it felt like they were picking apart my actions and personally attacking my motivations. But I tried my best to keep the right perspective, to remember the many positives of the campaign and to try and frame the failure as a learning experience.

In the months that followed I noticed another knock-on effect. Do you know any friends who love a particular restaurant but then after a bad experience suddenly it’s the worst? The psychological term for this is ‘splitting’, which acts as a defence mechanism to protect you from unpleasantness by writing it off wholesale. In this case I found myself trying to get as much psychological distance from the Kickstarter as possible. This isn’t to say I went around trashing Kickstarter as a platform, but it made it very difficult to look at our own page or to back any other Kickstarters.

Alarmingly, this effect spilled over into Cadence as well. I found myself far less enthused about the game, despite all of positive feedback we received during and after the campaign. This points to a crisis of confidence that makes it hard to take those half chances. Competitions don’t seem like they are worth entering anymore. Keeping your followers engaged with regular updates is a chore you can’t manage. Your productivity wavers, and it becomes hard to put your head down and focus on any one task because it’s hard to believe you’re still heading in the right direction.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself a valuable question: did we actually fail? The story of Cadence is a long way from done, so who knows what might happen when we use our hard won experiences to launch on Steam early access or do a full release. This is a curious thing I’m learning about the relationship between success and failure – in the two years I’ve been working on Cadence, my failure rate has gone up significantly. I’ve been rejected and fallen short of expectations more times than I ever did academically or as an employee. But in between, we’ve also had amazing experiences and been presented with opportunities that could only be won by walking this path.

One perfect example happened during that crazy GDC week. One of my hostel dorm mates innocuously mentioned Stugan – a non-profit accelerator for indie developers to work on their game in Swedish country side. And now, four months later, I’m thrilled to be writing this article from a lakeside cabin, one week into my two month long stay. Being surrounded by 22 other indies so far has been an incredible boost to morale. Maybe it was a mistake to try and promote a Kickstarter during GDC? But then again I wouldn’t be here, and right now the view is pretty great!(source:gamedev)