Codename: Morningstar

With seven hours to go this kicstarter seems very much doomed to fail. Trapdoor Technologies  was seeking $425,000 dollars to produces a RPG application that would eventually put every aspect of running a RPG game in the palm of you and your players hands. Sounds to good to be true ? Well it seems that was what Wizards of the Coast thought as well. Because Project Morningstar was originally Dungonscape. That was going to be the Flagship to launch D&D 5E into the digital age. But over 1.2 million dollars had been pumped into the project WOTC canceled the project.
My thoughts and I am no expert in any way on the subject but are many. I can only imagine that WOTC expected far more done and ready to roll out with dungonscape and that was why they stepped away from the project. In reading many of the Betas reviews I saw that most people saw the potential of this product to be awesome. But everyone often asserted that it was far from done in any way.
Trapdoor set their goal for this kickstater at $425,000 to convert their engine into a pathfinder SRD setting and finish the project. That’s a ton of money for an application when you add to the realization that SRD is a free web product already. So we know there is no license issues in that cost. I would point out as an avid user of digital apps at my game table there is not a ton of competition out there.  But there are some great Apps if you take your time and look for them.. That said none of them go to the extent of what Trapdoor Tech was proposing.

So some my  thoughts of where the Kick might have gone wrong. First and foremost they set their goal too high. Could they have made the project for under $425,000 I imagine so. If they had set a goal of $150,000 could they still have produced a quality app ? Probably but it would not have been the same as what they wanted to bring to the table at $425,000. Still coming to the kickstarter community for nearly half a million when you are already 1.2 million into a project is a pretty lofty goal.

Second Early Bird specials are great when you have a low price point goal to hit. They drive fast sales and get your numbers trending upward fast. The intent being often to say “Hey look ! were hours in and 10% of the way to our goal. I find it confusing to set up an early level entry and then set it up to not even generate a 5-10% of your funding goal. With only $425,000 goal and knowing your player level will be the majority of your players that will pick this up. Codename: Morningstar would have needed roughly 15-17,000 backers.  15 thousand if they could convince 2 thousand backers to back at least at the Game Master Level of $50.

Now Just at a glance with the numbers I have seen on other kickstarters I would say this was far to big of a price tag. It is not hard to see when looking at other RPG related kicstarters in a similar vein as this that the numbers were unlikely to be there for this project. Just a few examples would be Realm Works and the huge hit Roll20.  Roll20 met nearly 800% of their goal and they only hit 1,580 backers. Realm Works the closest thing to what Morningstar had proposed only garnered 1,836 backers. Also I would note that they made $170,000 on their kickstarter. At a tremendously lower goal of 100,000. The only RPG related kickstarter at a glance that has garnered 17,000 backers would be the Reaper bones line.

Codename: Morningstar at the time of this blog has 4 hours to go and 1,245 backers. Yet they will fill short of their intended goal by over $350,000. That’s huge. Yet the backer number is what I would like to point too.  The backer numbers are comparable to other electronic RPG tools out there that have kicked their projects with much lower goals.  Only being off by a few hundred of what looks to be the average of 1,500 or so backers for Electronic RPG tools. I would also like to make an interesting observation to Trapdoor Tech team. When looking at the numbers for these kicks by comparison.  I can tell you that I know the interest was there and the goal was where your kickstarter failed.

What would I have done different? A few things.
I would not offer up a subscription model even a yearly one. People do not like the thought that they will have to keep paying to get content that they already payed for. OR might be locked out of content that they payed for once and can no longer afford. Even more so when the app is costing GM’s 50 bucks out the gate.
I would have looked at the other kicstarters out there in the vein of my project and thought to scale my goals back to something that would land in the region something more realistic.
I also would have set my early bird numbers and costs to hit 10% of my total goal. To generate buzz for my product.
Last I would have shown more content more walkthroughs.. Opened up the beta again for added buzz ! Gotten the product back in eager peoples hands.

I will close with what for me was a nail in coffin of the whole thing is this. You had 1.2 million dollars. And then for Chris Matney to make this statement on the end of his DEC 21 post.

Not pledging is telling the industry that you are happy with the status quo.

This is rude to the RPG community as a whole. And I would think you should apologize to them for it. Pathfinder much like D&D 5E is not the only game system in existence. There are literally Dozens of game systems that are out there that are wildly popular that would have ZERO use for this application NONE.  To go on further and say that if after spending 1.2 million dollars on a project that you need an additional $425,000 to convert this system to pathfinder makes me feel that it would not easily be ported to other sytesms such as Numenera, or Savage worlds, Shadowrun or GURPS the list goes on 1st D&D ,Mousegaurd. Mutants and Masterminds, Star Wars and so on.
Do not blame your failure to launch on the gaming community if it fails. As I have said above the numbers were there.  Your goals were not.


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