Monday, September 16, 2013

06: Managing a Budget With No Money

John and I knew from the beginning that the biggest hurdle to developing our own board game was going to be money.  John is a poor college student and I have been struggling to find work in this economy until only just recently.  Scrounging up what little money I could, I put forth about $250 and John generously matched that.  This represented my entertainment budget for about 3 months and I had to make many sacrifices, but with the greater goal of a completed Space Frontier, it was one I was willing to make.  Now, approximately 6 months later, that money has long since run out and we've once again scrounged together as much as we can in order to launch our Kickstarter.  And as it turns out, launching a Kickstarter is expensive.

We've got to get advertising.  We need printed prototypes, and we need them shipped to reviewers and we need to pay some of them to review our game in a timely fashion.  We need to continue to pay our artist so we have enough art to make Space Frontier look professionally done, even though we both know that we'll never have enough money or time to finish it all.  We also need money to develop websites, set up Amazon stores, forums, and contests to keep hype high.  There's a lot to do, and it all costs money that we don't have.

John and I talk constantly about financial decisions and how to spread out what thin funds we have in the best possible way.  Not only that but there's the cost of basic things.  Ink, paper, spray glue, and tape for all of our initial prototypes.  There's also hundreds of unpaid hours that John and I have dedicated to the game's development and rules.  Then if we get funded, there's taxes.

The final factor is of course, that neither of us want to over commit.  We both have to live with the very real potentiality that our Kickstarter could fail, and that all of our work could net us zero $0 in return.  I could certainly find more money if I dumped all of my savings into the game, borrowed from friends and relatives, and gotten John to do the same.  But what then if we fail?  Balancing the necessary precautions of potential failure with our strong desire to see Space frontier finished is a constant challenge.  It's hard not to want everything because you want your game to be the best.  Prioritizing between 2 things that you "need" when you can only afford one of them is difficult, but it has certainly narrowed my focus.  Nothing in Space Frontier's development has been wasted because we just can't afford it!

Also recently I have been running numbers (so many numbers) for the Kickstarter Campaign.  There's so much more to a game then figuring out how much production is going to cost.  And there's a lot of stuff to take into account when determining production too.  Shipping is huge, especially internationally.  But Amazon and Kickstarter both take fees.  Potential stretch goals all add different costs and are variables.  There are storage fees, import tariffs, and bar-codes to be bought.  This is on top of the money that has to go to our artist and for graphic design to be done.  Instruction Manuals, Boxes, Packaging and more, let alone game art. John and I can do some of it, but we certainly can't do it all.

So, right now I'm feeling pinched, stressed, and very, very focused.  I'm on go-mode right now and I'm getting a lot done.  The productivity is excellent but I'm not sure I can keep this pace for the next 7 weeks so I may have to tone it down and shift some of the responsibilities onto John for a bit.  I'll just have to see how I hold up.  As tried as I am, the work we're doing is very fulfilling and the excitement of Space Frontier being a reality is keeping me going strong.


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