Interview with Joe Pilkus (game designer)

by Nathan Stout (of

As apart of our 60 day board game Kickstarter Project: Rise of the Rock Star we have lined up a few interviews with some people who are near and dear to our hearts… those from the gaming community.

Today I am ‘sitting down’ with Joe Pilkus (aka The Professor), a game component designer who was kind enough to answer some questions for us. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few.

What got you into game design?
Having played Arkham Horror for several years and with all of the expansions, I found that my OCD was kicking-in and I needed to organize all of the cards (nearly 2,000!) and fiddly-bits. I asked a friend of 30 years to assist me in creating these things for my game table, and discovered by talking to other gamers that there may be a market, albeit limited, for these items.

What got you into Kickstarter?
When we started to get the “buzz” from other gamers, I first thought about a website and creating the pieces for an on-line store. But, as I started running the numbers, it became overwhelming from the start-up costs to the production to managing an inventory. Two different friends both brought to my attention this site called Kickstarter. Over the weekend, I developed the skeleton for our project and within a few months, we were ready to launch our first campaign. Kickstarter made it easy and it dramatically reduced my concerns regarding costs and inventory. Kickstarter allows creators to focus on their creation. It serves as a generator for funds and a place for pre-ordering your product.

Can you tell us about your projects/products?
We design thematic card holders and component trays for horror-themed games already on the market using standard-sized cards. Even Magic: The Gathering players eyed our products at a convention last year. For those who want to see our products, please check-out our Kickstarter site, titled Crafthulhu.

Did you experience any failed Kickstarters, if so how many?
Yes, our first Kickstarter Project started-off really well and consistent with the information I had read on-line, it performed beautifully. We had well over 30% of our goal within the first two weeks, but then we never had the big surge to carry us to the end. We reached slightly less than 50% of our Goal, which forced me, as the Marketing individual, to take a step back, see what worked, what didn’t, poll the Backers and those who showed interest but didn’t back the project and try again. We launched exactly one month after the first one ended and 45 days later, with a more realistic focus, we surged to nearly 300% of our Goal!

What do feel worked the best for your Kickstarter?
The single biggest thing is “preparing the battlefield” as we say in the military. Before you launch, make sure people out on BGG know about it, get the ‘buzz’ going, and respond to all inquiries in a positive manner. Unlike a faceless company, you are the individual handling the administrative, financial, creative, and marketing issues. Above all, remain passionate about your project even in the face of failure.

What do you feel didn’t work at all?
Unlike other industries, Kickstarter projects need to be seen before people commit funding, and no amount of direct communication will necessarily bring them to the table. Before we launched, I sent over 100 discreet Geek-Mails to members of the BGG community, based on their interest and “thumbs-up” provided on myriad posts over a multi-month period. Less than 5% became Backers. It’s not that they didn’t find the idea “great” or “cool” it’s just that I had confused their positive acknowledgment of the project as interest in or endorsement for the project. Never confuse the two ideas.

What are your favourite games?
I’m a Role-playing game fan for over 35 years and regularly have played Traveller, D&D (almost all editions, up through 3.5), and most recently have been running a Serenity campaign via ooVoo with a friend in Pennsylvania and one in Florida. Additionally, I love Chess, one of the few truly strategic games. Finally, for the past four years, I’ve played Arkham Horror, a truly unique game and one of the most fascinating things about it ~ it can be played as a solo-player co-op…brilliant.

Anything else you’d like to add?
For those that missed our first campaign, we’re re-launching it via Indiegogo next month for a 45 day period. I know there are other gamers out there that want to get our pieces, and we’re happy to oblige. Thanks for the opportnity to share our Kickstarter experience with you and your followers.

Thanks so much for your time and good luck with all your crowd funding endeavors!

Thank you for reading our blog interview. If you would like to be interviewed for this blog just drop me a note and I will be glad to give you some publicity!  Please back our Kickstarter too at:

Thank you!

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