Paul Nicholas talks Highway Hustle cancellation

Posted by Matthew on April 16th, 2014

Paul Nicholas

Yesterday saw the cancellation of the Highway Hustle Kickstarter. Paul Nicholas, Game Designer at Blue Room, answered our questions about the Kickstarter campaign and where the game is headed now.


Has the Kickstarter campaign been cancelled because you didn’t think you would reach your funding goal, or is there another reason?

Kickstarter campaigns are all about momentum. When ours screeched to a halt after just one week we knew something was wrong, so I sought advice from the online board game community. They gave us a long detailed (and somewhat painful) list of everything faulted our campaign, and at that point we knew we weren’t going to make it and why.

Where did the feedback come from? Was it mostly from backers, people who had expressed interest in the campaign but didn’t like it enough to commit, or from another source?

The Board Game Geek community mostly. Anyone who’s been a gamer long enough will have at least heard of them. They have an incredibly strong (and opinionated) presence online that can’t be ignored. They have the power to make or break a game’s success, and if you get on their bad side (trust us, you don’t want to get on their bad side)…

But although they were very critical with their feedback, they still expressed interest in the game and our displayed passion to make it. They gave us a lot of good worthwhile advice, and with that advice we hope to create something the entire gaming community will be proud to praise.

Why rework and relaunch the game and not abandon it entirely?

We know the basic mechanics are really enjoyable. It has a universal appeal that both casual and serious gamers appreciate. Although the gameplay is easy to pick up, the game has incredible depth to it. As one of the designers, I can attest to this. I’d say I’ve played this game at least 100 times (probably more) since it was first conceived. And every time I play it I find a new level of depth. Maybe I’m just a slow learner? But one thing I do know – I rarely ask people to play anymore, they always ask me. And that alone is a sign we’re onto something. It’s just a matter of conveying that virtually.

Will the core gameplay and mechanics change, or will the relaunch focus more on a conceptual and visual overhaul?

Whenever you re-theme a game, you’re going to end up changing things. Unless you’re just pasting on another theme, which is just lazy design. We’re keeping the draft format and all the same tiles (so the core is still there), but we’ll be implementing a ton of changes to make sure our new theme aligns perfectly with the mechanics. Everything will have a reason for why it’s included, not just because ‘it was in the last one’.

Highway Hustle

Do you think cancelling the project will discourage those who already backed Highway Hustle from backing the relaunch?

Quiet the opposite. I think it will encourage them. If they liked our previous inception I can almost guarantee they will love our current. We don’t want to alienate or lose any of the amazing people who already pledged to our cause. Hopefully they see how serious we take our game design, and that our goal is to put out the best game we possibly can.

When do you think we will see the relaunched game? Will you be running a Kickstarter campaign for this, or look at utilising another crowdfunding source?

That depends on a number of factors. One of the problems our campaign faced was that we didn’t have any credence from prominent reviewers. So our schedule will be hostage to theirs. If they can’t review our game until the end of the year, there’s not much we can do about it. Our goal is to have it ready to go within a few months, but we will not make the same mistake of rushing things, and will only re-launch when we’re fully ready. We plan on returning to Kickstarter when we do. They weren’t the problem, our campaign was.

How will you ensure that you don’t encounter this circumstance again?
We learned a lot from the feedback we received (albeit a little late). Sometimes you have to fall on your face before others are willing to help you up. But now we’re back on our feet, we’re taking things slow, and won’t be re-launching until we are 100% sure our campaign will succeed.

Do you see the development and Kickstarter campaign time as wasted? Why? 

Not at all. Life is all one giant learning process. We’re taught lessons every day, the difference of whether we learn or not depends how well we listen. Mistakes help us grow. The quicker we make them, the faster we grow. You learn nothing from getting it right the first time. But you learn everything from getting it wrong.



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