AKA How to create a Kickstarter video when your game has no graphics and you’re an awkward penguin.

I always knew the video was going to be a tough ask for me. I had no fancy visuals to fall back on, and I have a strong aversion to cameras. Unfortunately, I had a nagging belief that backers might actually want to see my face and get to know me a bit before pledging so I decided to go for a fairly simple, straight-to-camera pitch.

Naturally, I made a few mistakes and learnt some things along the way.

Filming slate

Don’t write a script

I had a script for my initial filming and it was a big mistake. My logic went like this:

- I need to make sure I include points X, Y, and Z for the game to make sense
- I need to do this within two minutes
- A tight script will allow me to do this in a slick, efficient way

Wrong!

Unless you’re a gifted actor, a memorised script always comes across as forced, unnatural, and worse, dull. I didn’t even intend to use the script verbatim, but my fickle mind kept falling into the same prepared phrases I’d laboured over in advance.

In the end, the footage was so bad, I had to start filming from scratch.

Bullet points are the way to go.

Choose an environment where you’ll be comfortable

The abilities to create and to pitch don’t always come hand in hand. Many brilliant game developers are living proof of this. If you’re not a natural in front of a camera, the most important thing is to film in an environment where you are totally comfortable.

I learnt this lesson the hard way.

Initially, I hired a professional to film my pitch. She was really lovely and had all the gear for great lighting and sound. Unfortunately the giant camera, lights, and a stranger staring at my face caused me to tense up. I was robotic, and none of my enthusiasm and excitement for the game came across. In the end, I couldn’t use any of the footage and was out of pocket.

My solution was to film in an empty house with a laptop webcam. This way I could be relaxed and natural. I’m still not going to win any presenting awards, but I’m much happier with how it turned out.

Don’t do 20 takes and hope one turns out ok

Ok, so you have your bullet points, you feel comfortable and you’re ready to go. Just film each bullet point twenty times and choose the best when editing right?

Wrong.

Unless you’re experienced at filming, you need to review the footage as you film it. Talking about the same point multiple times can quickly sap your energy and result in the same tired, scripted performance you were trying to avoid. Maybe your stressing or phrasing doesn’t work on camera and you don’t realise it? Maybe you’re using too much energy? Maybe too little? If you’re filming on location, or with a certain setup, you don’t want to have do retakes later!

Fewer takes with immediate reviewing of the footage will serve you better. You don’t want to have to go through thirty plus versions of everything in post production, trust me.

Wrap-up

If your game does have sexy graphics and/or you are great at presenting, feel free to ignore everything I’ve said, and bask safe in the knowledge that your video will be infinitely better than mine.

But, if you’re in a similar boat as me, I hope you found my advice somewhat useful.

Thanks for reading.

James

PS. If you’re wondering how my final video turned out, you’ll have to wait for the Kickstarter! ;)


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