Auditorium 2 Sings For Its Supper

By Alec Meer on March 27th, 2012 at 11:04 pm.

It takes two, baby

Remember atmospheric, reflection-based music game curio Auditorium? Presumably, despite being received with hugs and even awards the world over, it didn’t rake in quite all the readies it could have done, otherwise sequel Auditorum Duet perhaps wouldn’t be Kickstarter-funded.

With three days left to go on its crowdsourcing, it’s at $51,000 of its $60,000 goal, so odds of pulling it off are reasonable at this stage.

It’s this sort of project which is particularly fascinating in a business sense in the wake of the Schafer’n'Fargo show: on the one hand, it’s a far lesser-known name that can’t rely on celebrity or nostalgia to bring in the cash, but on the other it’s a smaller-scale project that needs fewer funds and therefore is more realistic on that basis. $60k means, for Auditorium Duet, a team of four working crazily for three to four months, with their own other incomes apparently able to cough up for whatever else may be required.

The game itself promises to add co-op multiplayer to the light-bending fold, with each player’s actions affecting what’s displayed (and sounded) on their companion’s screen. With a minimum pledge of $15 required to snag a copy of the game (though $1 gets you a copy of another Cipher Prime game, Fractal), I suspect Auditorium Duet is relying heavily on existing Auditorium fans donating, as that relatively high (at least for a not too widely-known game/team) price is arguably unlikely to pick up much floating traffic.

More details (and explanatory diagrams) over here. Or in the below video, featuring a series of men sat astride a tiny motorcycle. They’d better not spend their Kickstarter earnings on more tiny motorcycles, or this whole crowdsourcing thing is off.

Oh, and devs Cipher Prime have signed up for Brian Fargo’s proposed Kicking It Forward scheme, whereby they’ll kindly lob 5% of their eventual profits from the game back into other Kickstarter projects. We have a word for that kind of thing round here, you know. COMMUNISM.

So 2011 was bundles and 2012 is Kickstarter. 2013 is going to see developers sleeping on the street outside your house and looking at you sadly whenever you walk by, presumably.

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28 Comments »

  1. trjp says:

    I’m a bit suspicious of this – Kickstartering a sequel suggests the develop hasn’t much confidence in it and after their cheap attempt to make people who bought the original on iOS pay for it twice, I’d steer a bit clear…

    • heyandrei says:

      Hi trjp! One of the Cipher Prime devs here. If you are referring to us selling the game via the web, and then having a separate iOS version with microtransactions, we had no choice. EA was our publisher for the iOS port, and they chose their own pricing model. That’s exactly the sort of thing we’re trying to avoid with this crowd-funding attempt. We could make the sequel to Auditorium if we made several more games and they all sold well, or we could give fans what they want sooner by doing the Kickstarter.

    • Eolirin says:

      How do you figure? 60k is enough to keep the studio afloat for 3-4 months, and their estimates for how long it’ll take to finish is double that. They’re expecting it to succeed well enough to cover the rest of their expenses, at least. They don’t have stacks of money sitting around that they can just finance their projects with, that has to come from *somewhere*, so the options are Kickstarter + whatever assets they still have, or finding a publisher.

      And there are many many reasons to not want to have to deal with going through a publisher.

    • trjp says:

      The ‘reselling on iOS’ thing was just a bit ‘off’ really. I realise the problem you had (I’ve been in a similar position myself) but going from asking people to buy it again to giving it away for free inside 24 hours showed poor judgement and a missed opportunity to bring in loads of new customers with a ‘free’ promotion (we all know giving things away for free actually increases sales now – yes?) :)

      I also see Kickstarter as a route to making something which would be impossible otherwise – not really a way of funding a sequel (which should be relatively self-explanatory for a dev – either the original did really well and deserves one, or not)

      I think Kickstarters have limited scope before people tire of them – I’d like to see them not get overused – is my 10p, really…

      You have to try tho, I guess, being polite never made anyone successful :)

      • heyandrei says:

        Ah, you’re talking about what happened with Fractal and our publisher? That actually became free within the hour of rerelease. There’s actually a lot of arguing that goes on behind the scenes, because we’re a small team and we don’t always agree on pricing or business decisions. If compromising to do one thing and then deciding it was a mistake and changing tack reflects poor business judgment, then we are guilty as charged! ;) Unfortunately, we’re game developers whose only business consultants are the mistakes we’ve made!

        We actually think that Kickstarter best serves as a route for making something that people want. If enough people want an idea to happen, it will be given the means, if not, it won’t. Whether its a sequel or an original or brilliant or stupid. This is just our personal opinion, and we think yours is totally valid as well!

        Frankly, we don’t see Kickstarter getting overused. We’ve spent a lot of time on the site this past month, and there is just so much cool stuff there! At least our company will keep donating to those sorts of projects as long as we can!

        And we’ll keep trying! (And being polite!)

  2. des0lar says:

    15$ is a bit too steep for my tastes, especially when I would need to buy 2 copies to play with my friends. But I’m glad it will probably succeed so I can buy it sometime later for cheap :)

  3. Hoaxfish says:

    I’m already backing 4 kickstarters, and preorder for Grimrock… I should really stop reading RPS for a year… Still cheaper than my dentist’s appointment today, and a lot less painful.

  4. dsch says:

    “Hello ladies.” :)

  5. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Looks like the reward levels might have errors in them. There are 3 $30 levels and one is the same as the $15 level?

    • heyandrei says:

      Some of the reward tiers were shifted around early on in the Kickstarter, but so long as people have backed a tier you can’t edit them. So generally we gave people who bought in at the original tier extra stuff.

  6. Kamikaze_Tutor says:

    So the original one didn’t sell enough to cover the costs of a sequel? And if that is true, why make a sequel if the original wasn’t a commercial success?

    • Bork Titflopsen says:

      Because they are passionate about their work, perhaps?

      • Kamikaze_Tutor says:

        Yes. but the passion isn’t enough to keep a studio alive, if they’re going to spend time and money developing a game, they can’t just break even, or they’re back to where they started.

        • Levanon says:

          Passion may not be enough to keep a studio alive*. But I have to say that, as a musician, if I could have enough people tell me that they want me to record this album, or compose this piece, to know that I’d at least break even, that would be wonderful. Worst case scenario, I break even, and I get to do it again, all while doing something I’m highly passionate about, and knowing there are at least some people who like the things I do.

          When it comes to art, or game development, you’re never back to where you started. As long as you get to keep doing it, you’re successful. If you get to keep doing it with works that both you and your fans love… well I can’t think of anything more ideal.

          *I feel this is debatable, especially in today’s world of digital distribution and kickstarter.

          • Kamikaze_Tutor says:

            I understand, but imagine that you’ll have to resort to Kickstarter every time you want to make a new project. People will begin to doubt of the potential of your ideas, and not just the previous backers, publishers too.

            Unless, of course, you plan to go indie forever. Therefore you’ll need to think about other types of backing before you expire your welcome on KS.

    • heyandrei says:

      Cipher Prime dev here.

      There’s success and then there’s wild success. Unfortunately, for a lot of game companies our size, success will only allow you to break even and often you still have to find other means of covering your expenses. (Contract work, for instance.)

      I’ll counter your other question with another. Are there any games you’ve played that you absolutely loved and you wished there were sequels to them? Yet there aren’t sequels because the originals weren’t commercially successful enough to warrant a sequel?

      Auditorium wasn’t a wild success, but it was a success, and it does have its fan base. If there are enough people interested in a sequel, why shouldn’t they get that? If our Kickstarter succeeds, those people get what they want (and we get to transform a game we loved making).

      • Kamikaze_Tutor says:

        I understand, mostly everyone wants sequels for their favorite games, but for a indie studio, it’s a risk to spend time developing a game that might not sell enough to fund another project. And most of your current funds come from your own customers, you already sold those copies. But yes, when you’re in a pinch, you have to search for some contract work.

        There have been games that didn’t sell well, but if it had great scores, they put money down for a sequel or even a trilogy, to make up for the original’s sales, since the whole ground work is already done.

        Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge are two examples of this, the first was critically acclaimed, the second one, not so much.

        Anyway, congrats on reaching your goal.

      • El_Emmental says:

        well, the saddest thing with small companies making small products is the selling price they can afford : since they can’t reach as much people as big companies, they have a limited audience ; and since they are rather small, they can’t make a game “worth” (for most people) $50 alone.

        For Auditorium 2, in my case, $15 for a music-based game is a little bit too much (I know it sounds horrible and terrible to say such thing about such a lovely game, but I already got 4 or 5 of these and I barely play them).

        Then, with a $10 price (even if it’s coming with its own limitations, like no planned DLCs or no access to beta or custom levels/level editor), I would totally get it. Then, if the game feels right/funny, might get a second license for multiplayer (to play with a friend/close relatives, even though I never find the time for that since none of them are really into video games) and/or the rest of the game for the missing $5.

        The problem is, first most indie games are somewhat similar to other old-so-bargained publisher-backed game or recent-but-cheap indie game, so they have to compete with all these titles ; second, most people buying indie games already bought other indie and non-indie games in the last 3 months and already have something to play. => Saturation.

        In my case, my already-acquired-a-legal-license backlog is approximately 150-entries long (30 being indie games), while my planned backlog is a little over 200 entries. Each entry is a full video game, requiring a minimum of 10 hours (average) to be completed (or at least “played”). That’s enough to last more 4 years with an average of 1 hour per day – and this is not taking into account multiplayer games. => Backlogs.

        With all the love and appreciation I have for good and indie games, as a student with a rather small available budget (nb: I’m not spending it on fancy clothes, booze and expensive gadgets – there’s no room for such extras), so I can’t really throw too much money around on games that I won’t probably play more than 2 hours in the next 6 months. => Limited budget.

        That’s why I’ll probably get Auditorium 2 on sale later, sorry Cipher Prime :x (I would have added $15 if the goal wasn’t going to reached in time though, it would be a shame to see such a nice project stopped in its track for a few hundreds bucks)

        ps: I just checked, I have yet to play any of the games included the indie bundle you made several months ago…

        ps 2: something like three days ago, I actually had a dream during which I was buying The Indie Bundle 2 (on the Cipher Prime store) and I was explaining the concept of indie bundles to a younger sibling. I think I should quit the Internet for a month or two, for sanity’s sake

    • eks says:

      You mean like Wasteland? What about [game you really like that never got a sequel]?

      If commercial success was the defining factor in what makes a ~good game~ then kickstarter wouldn’t exist, the incredible indie communities wouldn’t exist and everyone would be perfectly happy buying Manshooter 26: Kill all the men.

      Your comment makes it sound like you think profit should be the sole motivator for creating.

      • Kamikaze_Tutor says:

        I didn’t say that. But like I said in a reply above, it’s not healthy for a studio to just break even on each project. The idea that I got from this Kickstarter is that first Auditorium wasn’t enough to fund a sequel. Will the sequel be enough to fund another project? Hopefully.

        And Wasteland was a commercial success in its time. A couple of spiritual sequels were released, the Fallout games. ;)

        Publishers are pretty much driven by masses nowadays, so they see some types of genres as not viable for today’s demands.

        And even if you catch some wild gooses running around, it’s because they’ve been tweaked to warrant their return to the market. Look at how different Fallout 3 and Dungeon Siege 3 are from their previous games.

  7. wu wei says:

    I’d love to read just one Kickstarter story that didn’t have some cynical criticism attached. Why is trying a successful new mechanism “clambering aboard the bandwagon”? Why can’t it just be a new approach to patronage?

  8. anna.nolla says:

    As project backer, it’s sad to see the kickstarter not succeding, it was sooo close :(

  9. CMaster says:

    “Presumably, despite being received with hugs and even awards the world over, it didn’t rake in quite all the readies it could have done, otherwise sequel Auditorum Duet perhaps wouldn’t be Kickstarter-funded. ”

    That doesn’t follow at all. With the way that Kickstarter is (no need to provide a Return on Investment, no obligation to deliver anything), then “creative” companies are incentivised to create a kickstarter for every project they begin. Whether they could afford to fund it themselves or not is irrelevant – why take that risk, when you can get other people to fund it without requiring anything back? In fact, it probably gets easier to kickstart follow ups as you gain brand recognition.

  10. jalf says:

    Such a lot of cynicism here.

    Auditorium was luvverly, and kickstartererering new projects is the latest fad, so I can’t really blame the developers for wanting to use it to fund more Auditorium goodness.

    • heyandrei says:

      Totally unrelated to the Kickstarter or anything, but my wife and I use luvverly all the time. It’s one of our favorite pseudo-words!