It’s been almost 1 month since the Kickstarter for Twin Souls: The Path of Shadows ended. We didn’t reach our goal, but we got 924 backers and $31,234.
First of all, we want to show our honest gratitude to all the people who put their trust in us, you are amazing!
After a month of ‘radio silence’ it’s time to talk about some topics. Specifically, about what went wrong with the Kickstarter and what’s the future of Twin Souls: The Path of Shadows.
What went wrong
The Kickstarter Video
This is the original Kickstarter video. Does it depict what’s the game about? Well, it doesn’t seem so. We made the mistake of creating a trailer focusing on the story. It takes about 1 minute for the gameplay sections to show up, and by then any watcher may have already lost interest and closed the video. Some days into the campaign we shortened the video so it’d start in a gameplay section but it was already too late.
We could argue that the project had been only 3 months into development when we created the video, so we couldn’t show gameplay footage, but this does not excuse the fact that we could have done a better job pitching the project with an approach more focused on gameplay and the Shadow Powers, maybe even record and talk about the team and the development process.
We wanted to bring Twin Souls to Kickstarter before August, and we could not have chosen a worst date for it. The Kickstarter launched just a few days after the E3 ended (in which every big company announces its games), so it’s no wonder we had a rough time contacting press and getting some attention for Twin Souls, as any news site was still writing about the E3 non-stop.
The Steam Summer Sale didn’t help also. Lasting more than a week, gamers were already spending their hard-earned money in the sales, so less budget to spend on Kickstarter projects.
Reward pricing and funding goal
Any gamer with some money left from the Steam Summer Sale found out that our lowest pledge tier was $20. Twin Souls is worth quite some more than $20 for us, but with so many Kickstarter projects out there (and so many fiascos) it’s understandable that users don’t want to invest on a game in early development.
Being Kickstarter a platform to fund projects and not a pre-sale site, it would have been wise to think about a lower tier price to encourage users to help us.
The same can be said about the funding goal. The budget to completely develop Twin Souls stands at $150,000 (and that’s with minimum wages in Spain and getting some help from family and friends); the Kickstarter funding goal of $70,000 would help us ‘kickstart’ the game and launch it on Steam Early Access to fund the rest of development.
Could we have put a lower funding goal? Yes. There are more traditional ways to kickstart a project (bank and government loans), which could help lower the funding goal. In the end, our trust on the project made us overconfident. Lesson learned: Never take anything for granted.
The first 48 hours of the campaign are crucial. Twin Souls got more than $10,000 the first 2 days, that’s 30% of the quantity reached!
We were featured or mentioned on Kotaku, IGN, PC Gamer, Destructoid, Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, Gamekult, GameStar, JeuxVideo, HobbyConsolas… but we couldn’t maintain the interest the rest of the campaign. We started with a bang, but lacked anything interesting to make some noise the next weeks.
Launching a Kickstarter campaign is a lot of work, and not just the first 48 hours. We should have planned for campaign updates, announcements and content to keep the press sites interested during all the campaign duration.
If you’ve played the free Path of Shadows student project (if not, go play it now) you’ll remember ‘Shadow’, a bluish assassin more creature than human. He had a really cool character design with lots of cloth pieces hanging from his attire, a stealthy pose and alien eyes.
With Twin Souls we wanted to create a more aggressive character, a shadow assassin, and so we designed our undead warrior, Aragami.
Aragami looked cool in concept but it didn’t work on 3D. The character features stylized body proportions making it difficult to animate with motion capture (in our experience); the silhouette of his head and hood mixed with ‘evil’ eyes and the fact that he has no face gave him an apathetic feel; the lack of details in his outfit (besides the scarf runes) made him uninteresting and plain.
The main character is the central pillar of most games, so if a character design doesn’t do the job you must iterate and try again (but all that takes time and effort).
The character animations were not good. Period.
Again, in 3 months of development there isn’t much time for polish, but there’s one mistake we could have avoided: the main walk animation was too confident and cocky for a stealthy assassin. We looked at the Batman Arkham games and the Assassin’s Creed series for walk animations, but Aragami is not an Italian noble, and Batman only walks that way when he’s not being sneaky.
The walk animation was only meant to be used when there were no enemies around, as the character has another (more sneaky) animation for moving around enemies, but in time for the Kickstarter the first walk animation was the one finished (and not really polished at that) so we went on with it even when it appeared in places it didn’t fit.
I don’t mean about the mood or ambient, I mean visually. It’s hard to show a beautiful scenario or a cool gameplay GIF if you can’t discern half of what’s being shown on screen. It’s a silly issue, really, but videos and screenshots we’ve shown so far are too dark and lack contrast.
The Kickstarter was unsuccessful and so we didn’t get any funds from it, but Lince Works (and Twin Souls) is still alive and kicking.
We are seeking private and public investment to keep us afloat until we can launch the game, and that means knocking at the door of banks and government financial branches. We are committed to develop and finish Twin Souls, so we won’t give in to the first obstacle in the way. There’s a hard road in front of us, but we are ready to do everything we can to reach the end of it.
One of the ways we have in order to get help is attending events and fairs. If you happen to be in Cologne this time of the year you can meet part of the Lince Works team at Gamescom, one of the largest trade fair and gaming industry event in Europe!
Thanks to your feedback, we are giving Aragami a new look! We are getting rid of the two scarfs, the character will now have a ‘face’ (covered with bandages), a different outfit and hood with many more details and contrasts.
You showed a lot of interest in the Assassins’ Masks, and those will definitely be a main element in the full game, affecting the Shadow Powers you can cast and the way you play.
While we work on the final design here’s the silhouette of Aragami’s new design. More details coming soon!
In the last month we’ve been busy working on Twin Souls. For a start, we’ve changed our art pipeline to fix the troubles with character animations. The characters skeletal systems are being redone as well as their animations to achieve a greater quality.
Also, we are using all your feedback to write down a final version of the game design document detailing the game progression, the definitive Shadow Powers (and their upgrades), unlockables, enemies, etc.
Besides that, there’s been a lot of work put into the level editor, and that’s what I’m going to detail now.
The Twin Souls Level Editor was originally a tool to playtest our level designs, but it grew into something much bigger we’ve called The Void.
The Void is a parallel world inside Aragami’s mind where he simulates his plan of action. It’s a mental training in a world of lights and shadows. The Void will act as a game mode where you’ll be able to play different challenge missions, created by developers and other users alike. We already have The Void integrated with Steam Workshop, and you will be able to download user missions, rate them, create your own custom levels and share them with your friends or other Twin Souls’ players.