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Interview With Fox Rogers – Life After Kickstarter

Fox Rogers is a designer who launched a Kickstarter Campaign last year. The campaign was for a promising looking game called Refuge. It was a concept I immediately fell in love with and supported as best I could. Unfortunately, Refuge didn’t reach its Kickstarter goal. Despite that I often find myself wondering about the game. It is a Kickstarter that did everything right. So I decided to chase down Fox Rogers one more time. I wanted to ask him what life after Kickstarter was like. Luckily for me, Fox consented:

An Interview With A Real Fox… Fox Rogers!

Refuge Kickstarter Fox Rogers

How has your work on Refuge progressed since the end of your Kickstarter Campaign?

Fox’s last Kickstarter update seemed hopeful despite Refuge not meeting its goal. Reading that update is a little inspiring to me. It speaks volumes about Fox’s positive attitude and personality. The update left the impression in my mind that he planned to continue working on Refuge. While I’m sure it would be possible I remember thinking how difficult that would be. I asked Fox about his progress on the game.

For some time I continued work on Refuge – it was a massive learning curve for me, it was a chance for me to try something new and an attempt to understand the core drivers of a different industry. That said, Refuge was halted when I went back to being a designer. Being a game developer takes 120% and I didn’t have the time to give to make any significant progress without rolling out a sleeping bag at work every night, so I had to make the decision to halt Refuge with the look to continue working on it in the future.

People often do not realise just how much work goes into designing a game. I can’t imagine working on one while holding down a job that pays the bills.

Was it hard to stay motivated without the pressure of the Kickstarter Campaign?

I imagine that Kickstarters must be quite the motivator. I’ve seen them cause developers a lot of stress in the past. Where there is money there are expectations. A bit like how my Patreons keep me writing on a regular basis. Kickstarters must be fantastic motivators. Without that pressure, it must be difficult to stay disciplined enough to work at a project. This is Fox’s opinion:

“Kickstarter was a huge motivator, but I never felt too pressured by the campaign – for so many others, it was a make-or-break moment to win (or lose) their campaign, but for me, it was simply about understanding and learning what it takes to try and make a game, or at least to make a desirable concept. I feel I achieved the latter, and it definitely spurred me into creating new things.”

It seems like every cloud has a silver lining. Kickstarter Campaigns can be a pretty big learning curve for anyone. The success rates of campaigns are slim at best and a lot of expectation is thrown on creators. In the past, I have seen creators despair when they’ve had to deal with new backers who think Kickstarter is a store. I’m glad Fox had a mostly positive experience.

What are your personal highlights/favourite moments from your Kickstarter Campaign while it was active?

Kickstarters are exhilarating at times. Creators put their hopes on the line and sometimes it goes right and sometimes it doesn’t. Refuge was a campaign that got a lot of attention. Fox’s positive attitude toward his Kickstarter Campaign is infectious! It leaves me wondering what his favourite moments in the campaign were.

Fox Rogers Kickstarter Refuge

“I had the most fun on Kickstarter – but my crowning moment was actually driven by a post I made on Imgur – I posted to the site and less than a day later I’d amassed over 250,000 views – so many well wishers found my project on Kickstarter and backed it, too. That was not only humbling but a huge boost to my confidence. Another of my favourite Kickstarter moments was seeing a neighbouring campaign, for the game ‘IRA’ by Ore Creative, reach its goal and see their game through to production – that was awesome, and those guys really deserved it, we supported each others’ campaigns and it’s ace to see the things they are achieving today.”

Fox’s Imgur post was quite impressive. I used to write exclusively about Kickstarters I couldn’t help but admire Fox Rogers. As a designer, he obviously has a lot of talent with visuals. By using Imgur he really plays to his own strengths and captures the perfect audience. Before Fox did it, it is something I never considered. I think future Kickstarters should learn from Fox Rogers. Find a platform that accentuates your skills and use it.

What Was The Worst Part Of The Experience?

After asking about the good times it only seems natural to ask about the bad. Besides, Fox was so positive up till now I was starting to wonder if he had any regrets at all. Kickstarter campaigns can take a lot out of a person, but do some people just bounce back like Fox Rogers?

“I don’t really think there is a ‘worst’ part – Everything is an experience and I take things lightly and look at all the good things that happened rather than to dwell on the bad. The only thing I find mildly upsetting is to watch my old campaign video and to see how tired I looked – It’s important to look after yourself and at that time, I was more invested in working on the game than I was about getting enough rest. Trust me, It did more harm than good!”

I think at this point we can all agree that Fox is some sort of Shinto Monk of Kickstarters. In all seriousness, some people do allow Kickstarter to run them into the ground. A year ago I was reporting on the Dr.McNinja Kickstarter. The couple behind it became homeless over the course of development. They were publically shamed by Kotaku when they couldn’t deliver the game. Some Kickstarter Campaigns can end quite painfully.

Has anything you learned during the Kickstarter Campaign been of benefit to you since?

As Fox Rogers mentions himself, Kickstarters are great learning opportunities. I know that everyone developer comes away with something after a campaign. It doesn’t matter if they succeed or fail, there’s always room to grow from the experience. What did Fox learn from Refuge?

Fox Rogers Kickstarter Refuge

“Lots has been of benefit since, mostly, I have a massive appreciation for those working in the gaming industry – I still find it massively inspiring to see people making new and inspiring things. I actually had someone wanting to fully fund the game, but it wasn’t the right choice to make for me.”

It is nice that the Kickstarter gave Fox perspective on the difficulty of the industry. It is easy to underestimate the work that goes into creating games when you have no experience. I’m sure the campaign also gave Fox’s work a lot of exposure. In hindsight, I find it amusing that such a positive man chose to make such a gloomy atmosphere for his game.

What have you been working on since the campaigns end?

It has been a year since the Refuge Kickstarter. That’s a lot of time to fill. What has Fox Rogers been up to in that time? A designer by trade I’m sure Fox is always busy. I was always half hoping that Refuge would make a great return to Kickstarter. It is still a game that I would be excited to see in the Steam Store.
Fox Rogers Kickstarter Refuge

“Since the campaign ended, I’ve worked on a number of things; I was asked to do concept work for a few games, did a lot of motion graphic / 3D work, and most prominently, I started working lightly with a bunch of awesome friends on some new game ideas – yes, there is something new in the works. It’s a long way off and I’m going to stay quiet on this new project because it has a lot of promise and I don’t want to jinx it.”

How exciting. After Refuge I have no reason to doubt anything that Fox creates in future. I’d be keen to cover it! Nudge nudge wink wink. I’m glad we have something to look forward to and I hope that Fox Rogers does eventually put out a game.

In Hindsight, Are You Glad That Your Kickstarter Project Did Not Reach Its Goal?

There’s an expression that goes “Whenever one door closes another opens”. At the time, not reaching a Kickstarter goal can be demoralising. Yet, often the people developers meet and the contacts they made lead them forward anyway. Kickstarter can be a bit of a curse when you have a backpack filled with everyone’s expectations. At least without Kickstarter you can operate on your own terms and at your own speed. Even more importantly, you have the freedom to stop working on the project if need be. So I asked Fox Rogers if he felt lucky that the Kickstarter wasn’t funded.
 

 

“It always confuses people when I tell them it was a relief for me when the Kickstarter failed – I was very new to the game dev space and I had a lot of accumulative pressure over the course of the campaign to produce something great. Being new and creating something great is a nigh impossible expectation to have for yourself, and had it succeeded, the clock to delivery would have started ticking, too. In hindsight, it would have a been a huge project – I would rather have failed the campaign than to have failed the backers

.”

 
A very true statement there. There is a certain childlike naivety about new developers. Everyone wants to create something amazing, but if it were that easy then everyone would be doing it. Hopefully, with a little more experience behind him Fox will come back swinging.
 
I have one more question for Fox:

What Regrets Do You Have Surrounding The Project?

 

No regrets, whatsoever! I enjoyed almost everything about the ideation and creation of the project. I only wish I’d had some more experienced people on board to help me in my shortcomings – the concept was too big on vision and too light on gameplay to really sell the idea, but these are more observations than regrets, and i’m almost prouder to have said, “I did that”.

And there you have it. I would like to thank Fox Rogers for joining us here on Indie Thoughts. His words have been inspiring and I think people considering Kickstarter can learn from him. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours (of which I hope to hear about in great detail in future). You’ll always have a soapbox here at Indie Thoughts.

After Notes

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