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randir14 07-02-2013 11:01 PM

Double Fine's Broken Age Runs Into Funding Trouble
 

The latest update on Double Fine's Kickstarter-funded Broken Age reveals that they've run into funding problems and are considering splitting the game into two parts.

Quote:

In a lengthy and honest message to backers sent earlier today, Double Fine boss Tim Schafer explains that, basically, he designed too much game. And that for the title - now known as Broken Age - to be finished, it's going to need more money.

It's worth noting that the project originally asked for a mere $400,000 in funding.
Read more at Kotaku

randir14 07-02-2013 11:05 PM

I'm glad I decided not to back Massive Chalice. It's very shitty to start another Kickstarter when they knew their first one was in trouble.

Evil Avatar 07-02-2013 11:21 PM

Hey, Kickstarter supporters! Screw you, here's half a game!

Hey, Everyone else! Screw you, please buy half a game!

What a bunch of colossal douchebags.

Netami 07-02-2013 11:44 PM

Of the 15 or so Kickstarters I have supported, I've only seen about five of them actually deliver. Maybe one of them actually delivered on time. Several more are on perpetual hiatus, and one of the hardware projects has lovingly pushed back its launch date three separate times. Better than getting a Stormfly with a faulty chip, I guess.

At least I can say I dodged a bullet on this particular project. Did they ever get the video crew to film them during development? Must have seemed like a waste of cash in retrospect.

Emabulator 07-03-2013 01:12 AM

Developers like Daedalic Entertainment, Frogwares, Deck 13 and Pendulo Studios are making good adventure games at reasonable prices, and they're not running to Kickstarter to do it.

There's no reason to give these guys an assload of money for half a game.

Sensei-X 07-03-2013 01:16 AM

He asked for 400k, he got 3 mill, and that's still not enough? The fuck.

Apex 07-03-2013 02:15 AM

What Sensei-X said.

Cut the game back, don't milk your supporters.

Arnage 07-03-2013 02:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Netami (Post 2226066)
Did they ever get the video crew to film them during development? Must have seemed like a waste of cash in retrospect.

As a backer: the documentary is actually what makes this project worth it. Sure it's sad that the game is delayed, but the documentary episodes are very well done and make it worth the money I gave them by themselves. That I might eventually get a game out of it is just a bonus at this point.

Emabulator 07-03-2013 02:50 AM

Quote:

Then we had a strange idea. What if we made some modest cuts in order to finish the first half of the game by January instead of July, and then released that finished, polished half of the game on Steam Early Access? Backers would still have the option of not looking at it, of course, but those who were sick of waiting wouldn’t have to wait any more. They could play the first half of the game in January!
That sounds like a plan a teenager would come up with when they're trying to get money out of their parents to buy a car.

Scherge 07-03-2013 02:52 AM

Remember when, a few days back, Obsidian's Chris Avellone mentioned that - all of a sudden - publishers were interested in games with Kickstarter-sized budgets? Well, duh.

If you ask a publisher for USD 4m in order to develop a point-and-click adventure game, of course they'll laugh at you. That game would have to sell half a million units just to break even! 400,000 (which is the going rate for a quality PC adventure game, as far as I know) though, and you stand a fair chance. However, everyone will probably agree that you can't run a big studio like Double Fine on a budget like that one.

What you CAN be sure of is that a publisher will sue the pants off you if you decide to ramp up the contractually agreed-on budget by, oh, let's say, 900 percent during production! On Kickstarter, you don't run that risk. Those poor slobs gave you their money voluntarily (and quite often, happily), no strings attached. Of course, there will be some bad blood, but in this case, I don't doubt that the finished game will be excellent. Most people will have forgotten and forgiven this little hickup in two years' time...

Double Fine will be, well, fine. But what about Kickstarter? Will gamers come to "hate" the business model per se, like they've come to "hate" publishers?

P.S.: If this post looks weird or turns up in a weird place, please bear with this old man. I'm posting for the first time on the internet, ever.

Chief Smash 07-03-2013 03:59 AM

This smacks of a big lack of discipline to me. If you wanted to make a game for $X but got $5x in backing, the smart thing to do is probably to design that $X anyway. After that, use the extra $4X in cash for polish and other "nice to haves" but not for the essential core game.

I've only backed one game and one comic so far. The comic came to me on time etc. But the game is Armikrog and I had my worries from the beginning that they would go over budget.

bean19 07-03-2013 05:01 AM

Edit: I actually read the letter in the post on Kotaku and it answered most of my questions.

Tim's Letter:

Quote:

Hello, Backers of Adventure!

Those of you who have been following along in the documentary know about the design vs. money tension we’ve had on this project since the early days. Even though we received much more money from our Kickstarter than we, or anybody anticipated, that didn’t stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money.

I think I just have an idea in my head about how big an adventure game should be, so it’s hard for me to design one that’s much smaller than Grim Fandango or Full Throttle. There’s just a certain amount of scope needed to create a complex puzzle space and to develop a real story. At least with my brain, there is.

So we have been looking for ways to improve our project’s efficiency while reducing scope where we could along the way. All while looking for additional funds from bundle revenue, ports, etc. But when we finished the final in-depth schedule recently it was clear that these opportunistic methods weren’t going to be enough.

We looked into what it would take to finish just first half of our game—Act 1. And the numbers showed it coming in July of next year. Not this July, but July 2014. For just the first half. The full game was looking like 2015! My jaw hit the floor.

This was a huge wake-up call for all of us. If this were true, we weren’t going to have to cut the game in half, we were going to have to cut it down by 75%! What would be left? How would we even cut it down that far? Just polish up the rooms we had and ship those? Reboot the art style with a dramatically simpler look? Remove the Boy or Girl from the story? Yikes! Sad faces all around.

Would we, instead, try to find more money? You guys have been been very generous in the tip jar (thanks!) but this is a larger sum of money we were talking about. Asking a publisher for the money was out of the question because it would violate the spirit of the Kickstarter, and also, publishers. Going back to Kickstarter for it seemed wrong. Clearly, any overages were going to have to be paid by Double Fine, with our own money from the sales of our other games. That actually makes a lot of sense and we feel good about it. We have been making more money since we began self-publishing our games, but unfortunately it still would not be enough.

Then we had a strange idea. What if we made some modest cuts in order to finish the first half of the game by January instead of July, and then released that finished, polished half of the game on Steam Early Access? Backers would still have the option of not looking at it, of course, but those who were sick of waiting wouldn’t have to wait any more. They could play the first half of the game in January!

We were always planning to release the beta on Steam, but in addition to that we now have Steam Early Access, which is a new opportunity that actually lets you charge money for pre-release content. That means we could actually sell this early access version of the game to the public at large, and use that money to fund the remaining game development. The second part of the game would come in a free update a few months down the road, closer to April-May.

So, everybody gets to play the game sooner, and we don’t have to cut the game down drastically. Backers still get the whole game this way—nobody has to pay again for the second half.

And whatever date we start selling the early release, backers still have exclusive beta access before that, as promised in the Kickstarter.

I want to point out that Broken Age’s schedule changes have nothing to do with the team working slowly. They have been kicking ass and the game looks, plays, and sounds amazing. It’s just taking a while because I designed too much game, as I pretty much always do. But we’re pulling it in, and the good news is that the game’s design is now 100% done, so most of the unknowns are now gone and it’s not going to get any bigger.

With this shipping solution I think we’re balancing the size of the game and the realities of funding it pretty well. We are still working out the details and exact dates, but we’d love to hear your thoughts. This project has always been something we go through together and the ultimate solution needs to be something we all feel good about.

In the meantime, I’m hoping you are enjoying the documentary and like the progress you’re seeing on Broken Age. I’m really exciting about how it’s coming together, I can’t wait for you to see more of it, and I feel good about finally having a solid plan on how to ship it!

Thanks for reading,

Tim

gillman 07-03-2013 05:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by randir14 (Post 2226059)
I'm glad I decided not to back Massive Chalice. It's very shitty to start another Kickstarter when they knew their first one was in trouble.

Different teams. It isn't fair to blame the Madden team for something that Bioware did or the other way around.

hurstshifter 07-03-2013 06:44 AM

As a backer of this project, as long as Tim does not ask me for more money, I really don't care how long it takes. In the letter, when he was astounded by the possibility of the 2015 completion date, I thought to myself "Is that a long time for game development?" It really doesn't seem like it.

When I hear about a new game being developed in its early stages, I usually expect 2-3 years before release. Just keep developing the game, DoubleFine!

(But seriously though, it is kind of hard to understand how a $3,000,000 budget wasn't enough. This better be the greatest point & click adventure game ever.)

Scherge 07-03-2013 06:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gillman (Post 2226111)
Different teams. It isn't fair to blame the Madden team for something that Bioware did or the other way around.

Wouldn't you say it's more akin to "Mass Effect", "Dragon Age" and "Star Wars: The Old Republic" being developed by different teams within the same company? If one of BioWare's projects was in trouble, I'd expect them to shift priorities internally, not run to EA for help and carry on with the others as if nothing had happened. With a "smaller", less bureaucratic studio like Double Fine, this kind of internal flexibility should be an even bigger priority.

I guess we'll see if the Early Access sales can bring in enough money to finance Tim's lofty goals. I haven't followed "Broken Age" that closely, but weren't there supposed to be two playable characters? Perfect opportunity to break up the game into two parts, right there (even if their stories intertwine, see "Resident Evil 2")!

However, if DF has spent 3 million dollars over the span of less than two years (March 2012 to January 2014), and if that "cut it down by 75%" remark was even remotely correct, will they really be able to raise another 2 million to finish the game properly? They'll have to polish the hell out of the first half to sell it at full price, or sell the two episodes separately - which nearly proved to be the downfall for Telltale games in the beginning ("Bone", anyone?).

Oh, and: Smaller than "Full Throttle"? Wasn't that game already a bit on the short side?

Rommel 07-03-2013 08:02 AM

*Ahem*

I told you all so! DF is using Kickstarter to fund its company and not its projects. Some disagreed it was unethical to balance multiple crowd-funded games at once and here we are. Seriously, this is a bigger budget than any adventure game since the Longest Journey and it's creator will not even need to pay back their financing. Now they are offering to only deliver half their project (Episodic gaming was so successful, wasn't it?) and are looking around for more cash. Here is how this is gonna go: Part I ends in cliff hanger, Kickstarter for Part II. Sales become net profit with no reinvest in future business. Also, Kickstarter for several other titles in the interim.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scherge (Post 2226097)
P.S.: If this post looks weird or turns up in a weird place, please bear with this old man. I'm posting for the first time on the internet, ever.

I am going to eat you and not metaphorically.

Scherge 07-03-2013 08:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rommel (Post 2226132)
I am going to eat you and not metaphorically.

Ewww, didn't I just tell you that I was an old man and extra-chewy? Then again, what else would I expect from the Wüstenfuchs but an insatiable craving for man-jerky?

:-g

Anyway, thanks for the welcome!

TUT 07-03-2013 08:27 AM

Gamers blamed the publishers for bad games/time lines etc, for the most part.

Gamers are now the publishers and are getting the same run around from devs.

Perhaps in the end we'll conclude the Devs were the biggest problem in the equation.

Zane 07-03-2013 08:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scherge (Post 2226121)
Oh, and: Smaller than "Full Throttle"? Wasn't that game already a bit on the short side?

I was thinking the same thing, Full Throttle wasn't that long.

I've backed 15 kickstarter games and so far only 1 has released (FTL), another has had an alpha available since day one and 2-3 others give regular updates and show progress.

The one that annoys me the most is FleetCOMM (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...neuver-warfare). They were supposed to release a beta in August last year, then some team members left and a few months ago they gave us an "alpha" which was basically just a menu system with nothing else. Getting an update from them is like pulling teeth as well. The last update was April 19th. It's only $15 and I wasn't really that excited about it anyway but I wish they'd give us realistic info/updates or just throw in the towel at this point.

randir14 07-03-2013 08:38 AM

I wonder how many other Kickstarters have run into money issues. I know Shadowrun Returns was rumored to run out months ago even though the company denied it.

InXile has apparently gone the opposite direction and actually made more money since the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter ended. In a thread on RPG Codex about this Double Fine news, InXile's community manager commented that his company has had "several windfalls" and were even able to upgrade their offices and hire more people.


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