The goals that refused to stretch: Why Night in the Woods said no to Kickstarter tradition
It’s one thing to plan for what happens if a Kickstarter fails, but it can take just as much planning to figure out how to handle success.
“With our original $50k goal we were actually lowballing the budget for the game a bit because we weren’t sure if we could even hit that. We definitely weren’t expecting to blow past it in under 26 hours,” Alec Holowka, co-designer of Night in the Woods, told the Report. “So at that point we were kind of freaking out, a combination of being really ecstatic and not being sure exactly what to do.”
They added a few stretch goals to the Kickstarter, including the hiring of an additional animator who would also add a new area to the game. Another goal was the creation of another game altogether, a roguelike that would be created by Cananbalt and Hundreds creator Adam Saltsman. This game will exist inside the main game, and will help flesh out the game’s world… while also being enjoyable to play.
They blew past the funding for these goals as well. “Massive surprise, then total freakout,” Scott Benson, the other co-designer, explained. “We had some stretch goal ideas and then we were just like ‘screw it, let’s just be honest.’”
And that honesty meant that they weren’t going to create any more stretch goals. This is the game they wanted to make, it was funded… sometimes it’s good to know when you’ve won.
They made a detailed announcement in the campaign and explained their thinking; it would be a bad move to increase the scope of the game as a response to funding success. This update went out on the 27th of October, and so far the funding has slowed, but they’re still adding at least a $1,000 a day or so in funding.
“I definitely think that if we had kept adding goals we’d in the end bring in more backers, but at what cost? It’s so tempting when you have the opportunity to bring in more funding to do whatever it takes to grab it, no matter what,” Benson said.
“But we’ve all seen where that can go, and frankly we want to be responsible with the game and the funding people have entrusted us with. We don’t want Kickstarter to change the game we wanted to kickstart in the first place,” he continued. “And for the most part the reaction has been appreciative and strangely relieved. I think people just expect KS successes to immediately start inflating their project until it nearly pops. Alec and I just aren’t interested in that kind of thing.”
They still made add a stretch goal if something makes sense, but right now they’re just letting it be.
So where IS the extra money going?
So if the game is funded, why continue to take extra money at all? Where is it going?
“We both live pretty modestly and I’m loathe to waste any money. Having funding means we can survive longer, being able to pay ourselves and the wonderful people who are helping us out a bit more reasonably,” Holowka explained. “We both have super talented and generous friends who would help us out at no cost, but being able to properly compensate them is very important to us. Supporting a particular artist usually means you’re supporting their immediate community as well, and potentially providing them with a safety buffer so that they can continue to create more unique projects in the future.”
So they’re going to make the same game, they can just live a little bit more like a human being while they do so.
“We’re not just interested in finding ways to squeeze people for cash, we’re interested in connecting with the people who want to support us and our crazy idea. Keeping it real and being transparent is a big part of that,” Benson finished. “They support us, we respect them.”
There is also the small fact that the game looks amazing. Disclosure: I'm about to back it myself.