How do you compete when someone else is running a project similar to yours?
The great thing about public domain intellectual property is that anyone can tap in and use it as they see fit. The bad thing about public domain intellectual property is that anyone….well you see where I’m going with this.
H.P. Lovecraft was an odd human being who wrote terribly awesome stories about indescribable horrors. His works are now public domain and freely available to anyone to do with what they please. I haven’t conducted an official study but there seems to always be at least two or three Lovecraft related projects on Kickstarter at any given time. Of course, Lovecraft is not the only public domain mine us writers like to hit. You also have Sherlock Holmes, Wizard of Oz, King Kong, and countless others. I thought it would be fun to go through a couple of these projects with hilariously similar names and see which ones stand out and why! It’s a Shadows of Kickstarter battle royal! The goal? Why to help you with your next project of course!!!
The Projects are listed below. When I first glanced and decided to write this article I noticed three projects all with shadow in the title. I thought that was funny but when I started kicking over rocks I discovered 11 live projects directly related to or partially relating to Lovecraft and his works. Some are great projects worthy of some serious dollars (Steamcrow I’m looking at you!) and some seem like half hearted attempts to tap into the Lovecraft fan base. So which is which?
SHADOWS OVER NORMANDIE (tabletop game)
When Heroes of Normandie & Achtung! Cthulhu meet for a boardgame, it gives you Shadows over Normandie, a new epic tale of World War 2.
• Great video
• Oddly small goal, this always makes me suspicious
• Fantastic art!
• 20 page rule book?! This isn’t an RPG! Is it?
• With two pledges this looks like a simple project but with a heavy connection to a previous board game campaign this is anything but simple. A quick read through the comments shows a lot of complicated currency exchange questions.
• A confusing attempt to expand the Achtung! Cthuthlu world. Why are they paying for that license? WWII Lovecraft fiction is public domain, right? I guess they did reach their goal so they must be doing something right.
VERDICT: With some great game art I wanted to like this project. I really did. Oh well, 8 more projects to look at!
SHADOWS OF ARKHAM (tabletop game)
Help defend Arkham from Lovecraftian nightmares in our new 2-4 player co-op maxi-micro ameritrash board game!
• Umm, there’s something confusing going on behind the scenes here. This project creator just wrapped a project in March that had 6,138 backers pledge for almost $50,000. That’s about $8 per person pledged. So they didn’t get rich off their previous game. But they did have potentially 6 thousand fans to draw from for their next project. Yet their latest project has only 522 backers for 17K with 7 days to go. Where did those 6 thousand fans go??
• Game looks ok, kind of simple but probably enjoyable
VERDICT: I wonder what they did to disappoint 6 thousand backers? Probably nothing but with two other shadow games on the market it’s enough to send me clicking on another project for my shadowy Lovecraft fix.
THE SHADOW OVER WESTMINSTER: CO-OP HORROR BOARD GAME (tabletop game)
A co-operative horror adventure set in modern day London. Battle ancient horrors, uncover artifacts, and prevent the Cataclysm!
• Weak project image compared to the other shadow brothers in the tabletop game category
• Looks pretty cool, wish there were some more overhead shots of the board during the gameplay video, from the pictures it looks kind of large for no reason. Does this game really need a quad fold board?
• $45 is a high price point, are the minis really necessary?
VERDICT: It’s a competitive world out there in Lovecraft land, let’s bring that price down or justify the cost a little more.
THE SUM OF LIGHT ISSUE #2 A LOVECRAFT INSPIRED HORROR COMIC (comic book)
Dave’s last best hope couldn’t care less. The Sum of Light is back for Issue #2, and this time, we’re all SoL.
• I was pleasantly surprised here by the rich content
• Interesting premise, nice art
• Second in a four part series
• Reasonable goal
VERDICT: Interesting premise deserving of a closer look
WHISPERS FROM THE ABYSS ANTHOLOGY (book)
The WHISPERS FROM THE ABYSS ANTHOLOGY is the first ever H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection created specifically for readers on the go.
• Project seems great.
• Terribly long pledge descriptions. Who has time to read the book after reading those?
• No downloadable excerpt? If it’s there, I missed it!
• Great reviews but something seems to be lacking on this page
VERDICT: There are a lot of words on this project page, just not the right ones.
LEGENDS OF CTHULHU RETRO ACTION FIGURE TOY LINE (toys)
A collectible 3.75″ action figure line based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft that look identical to their 1970’s/80’s retro counterparts
• Hilarious main pic
• Top 10 KS videos I’ve ever seen
• Already past six figures
• Great product that sells itself
• Great design that probably could have sold any theme, not just Lovecraft
VERDICT: If you have any Lovecraft in your heart at all you won’t be able to pass on this one
GAMER SPORTSWEAR-CTHULHU GEAR (CLOTHING?)
Sportswear featuring games and themes from popular geek culture.
• 3 Cthulhu projects created, one funded.
• Very confusing page with no video and it says nothing about why this person chose Cthulhu, plenty of information on why they love sports though
• Attempt at turning Cthulhu into a sports team like mascot and putting his logo on jerseys, hats, and letterman jackets
VERDICT: This project is giving me nightmares, I’m moving on
MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (animation)
“Mountains of Madness” will be an animated feature film based on H.P. Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness”
• Great experience listed for creators
• $50 before you get a copy of the finished DVD?!
• No previous projects delivered? Zero other projects backed?!
• A cyclopian goal of $$175k
VERDICT: Eh, I’ll just read the book again
ALTERED EGOS: RASPUTIN, POE, TESLA & LOVECRAFT T-SHIRTS (shirts)
Vintage style t-shirt designs inspired by the alterative lives of Nikola Tesla, Edgar Allan Poe, Grigory Rasputin, and HP Lovecraft.
• Clear and reasonable goal, great project, already delivered one project
• Lovecraft is one of four historical people in the project
• The designs look awesome, very unique
VERDICT: Great project from a great creator!
FEED THE SHOGGOTH! CARD GAME (tabletop game)
A deliciously evil Lovecraftian card game in which you attempt to win by sacrificing your cultist minions to a very hungry Shoggoth!
• A few random add on items
• One of the few items here with a sense of humor
• Looks like fun
• Could use more images from the game on the page
VERDICT: If you’re looking for a fun light hearted Lovecraft option this might be your only option right now on KS.
In this Lovecraftian Horror story, can you tell what secrets lie beyond the Cellar Door?
VERDICT: Not worth doing bullet points for…
11 projects all with some kind of Lovecraft theme. That’s kind of an eye-opening number. The best of these projects seem like they could be working just as well without Lovecraft attached to them. I guess that tells you something right there. If you’re going to create a themed product based on an existing I.P. then make sure it can stand on it’s own. Don’t use the theme as a crutch! Ask yourself a couple questions.
What am I bringing to this world that others haven’t already?
Are people going to like my product only because of the IP attached?
So if you have a Lovecraft project on your to do list you need to ask yourself those questions. A great H.P. related project can still bring in some serious money as the Retro Action Figure campaign shows, but it really needs to be an awesome project, not just a familiar name you’re trying to sell. May Nyarlathotep bless your next project!