Littlewood was developed alone, much like Stardew Valley. Sean Young, the man behind the game has attempt four games in total on Kickstarter prior to Littlewood – three were successfully funded and one was not. This shows the philosophy applied by Sean is one of risk mitigation, which make sense for him personally. Increasingly, indie developers turn to crowdfunding to support their games and Sean is not new to the development scene as evidenced by his experience.
This is a particular type of funding strategy, as many development teams will avoid continuing development of titles that are not funded. In fact, very studios now are willing to put personal income into the development of games in general and Kickstarter is a way to test if there is interest in the game that is being proposed. However, this can be difficult as usually Kickstarter games are very early in development its development cycle and can be difficult to showcase compelling content in them for this reason.
However, Littlewood is very simple in terms of aesthetic design such that it can be rapidly prototyped by a single developer. For indie games, what most may not realise is that the vast majority of the time is actually spent on art and animations – not the programming or game design. Many believe that making a game is about programming and while true, the amount of code involved in indie games is fairly simple in comparison to the artwork, animations and soundtrack.
The simplistic graphic design of Littlewood suggests that Sean grasps the understanding that consistency is more important than complexity and gameplay is more important than big promises when it comes to indie projects. This most likely stems from his prior experience in his various Kickstarters such that there is now an understanding of the game development workflow by Sean. It is very common for new game developers to jump into large projects that will never be finished from day one. I have lost count of the number of developers who have been in the industry for ten or more years and have not published a single title to date. Quintessentially, it is far better to have a single completed, simple but fun game than 0% of 20 different highly ambitious titles.
I do believe that Kickstarter also is a function of developer popularity as well. Most games after release have the advantage of time should it be continuously updated (assuming funding allows). However, Kickstarter campaigns, given their short nature of a maximum of 60 days do not have this privilege. This means that the more popular or already well known the franchise or developer is, the more likely they will get funded. Obviously, the other consideration if whether the game is actually well designed and compelling to the supporters.
I think Littlewood is a great example of a solo success story, with a great scope that came about due to experience rather than a one hit wonder. Basically Eric Barone, but a significantly toned down version.