By Érico Benseñor Lotufo
BU News Service
Boston-area indie game developer 2HandsomeGames is at the center of the latest Kickstarter success story.
Stay Out of My Dungeon!, a tabletop game for four to six players, was funded in just five hours and has already quadrupled the original goal of $5,000 a week after its launch.
“I was pleased, but I fully realized that was just the first hurdle,” said Paul Giangregorio, the game’s main designer. “Success isn’t getting funded in five hours, to me it would be reaching 1,500 backers.”
The game has more than 500 people pledging money to the project.
Giangregorio’s hesitation is understandable: For him, making games is a hobby. His day job is working with capital modeling insurance at a local firm. Even with the sudden success, the 32-year-old can still lose a lot of money on the project.
“Anything south of $40,000 raised, we lose money. Worst-case scenario? I lose $3,000 to $4,000,” he says.
Stay Out of My Dungeon! mixes cooperative play with hidden identity games: Every player has to work together to stop a raid in his or her dungeon, but, at the same time, everyone has a certain “loyalty” to follow. “Loyal” players need only to stop the raid, while the “Spy” secretly wants the invasion to succeed.
Adding to that, some “Loyal” players are branded as “Selfish Jerks,”, who win by taking nearly everything for themselves. “Anarchists,” on the other hand, profit out of the growing mistrust between other players.
This is the second Kickstarter for the game. The original campaign failed earlier this year, but Giangregorio took it as an opportunity to learn and improve the game mechanics.
“There were a few flaws with the first game,” he remembers. “We had about 85 to 90 backers, so we communicated with them and asked for feedback.”
Giangregorio said after the first Kickstarter, the team went back to the drawing board and added more “classes” and players as a response to feedback from contributors.
Another change was a difference in approach. Giangregorio saw that the game wouldn’t sell itself, so the team decided on a heavier marketing plan.
“Idealistically, you want to say ‘Here’s my product, World, I hope you like it,’” he said. “But what it really comes down to is ‘Here’s how I marketed my product. Now that I have people liking my product because I told them to, I can show them what it is.’ It’s this backwards thing.”
2HandsomeGames began when Giangregorio and his partner, “Joe” (who asked to not have his full name disclosed), decided to take their tabletop-gaming hobby more seriously. The team has released Ready Check, a satire of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games’ (MMORPGs) player tropes, and Gossip, a game based on the politics of office drama. Neither game has reached the success of Stay Out of My Dungeon!
However, the success of the team’s latest game doesn’t make Giangregorio question his future. He said gaming is still just a hobby.
“If it doesn’t (make money), I can always make games by myself. I still get that satisfaction out of it,” he explains. “The joy comes from making the game. It’s nice to get validation, but I don’t really care about that.”