Dizzy Probably Won’t Return, Admit Oliver Twins

By Alec Meer on December 12th, 2012 at 6:36 pm.

As a project met with cynicism from the start and denied the early rush of cash that characterise most big-name Kickstarters, things never looked terribly rosy for the Oliver twins’ £350,000 Dizzy Returns Kickstarter. With eight days left to go and just £24,000 pledged towards this yolk folk sequel, the veteran British devs have acknowledged that we very probably shouldn’t call this a comeback.

“Dizzy Returns in all likelihood won’t meet its funding target,” they stated in an update entitled ‘Facing The Inevitable’ earlier today. “In order to meet [our goal] we’d need over £40,000 pledged every day, and realistically that’s not going to happen.”

Commiserations, chaps. So, what went wrong? And what is going to happen to the egg-man now?

In the short term at least, probably nothing. The particular design they had in mind won’t happen if the Kickstarter does indeed fail. “We may revisit the possibility of another Dizzy game at a later date, but the vision of that game would need to be considerably different.”

They reckon there’s no shame in this plan not panning out, and feel they have gauged that there is interest in a new Dizzy game even if it’s not as high as they’d hoped. I must say, I won’t be surprised if this proves to be the last we hear of Dizzy, but perhaps even more of an absence will make cold hearts grow that much fonder.

The big question is what went wrong? From my point of view they were asking for far too much for a game/character that hasn’t retained as much resonance as some perhaps felt/hoped. I appreciate their development costs were legitimately the development costs of a sizeable studio with many employees, but, I think, with Kickstarter potential backers tend to weigh the asking price against what’s being offered rather than against true facts of dev costs (which the majority of backers can’t possibly know much about). In this case, what was being offered was a remake of/sequel to an old 2D puzzle game that hasn’t aged well, rather than something wildly ambitious. It was a lot to ask for what seemed like a known quantity (even if, potentially, it was not).

The Olivers feel something else was the main cause of this likely fizzle, however.

“When we started the Dizzy Returns campaign we were in the pre-development stage, concepting characters, locations and game mechanics. Many of you have asked to see a demo or some gameplay footage – unfortunately that doesn’t exist yet, because of the simple fact that we haven’t begun actually making the game.”

“The majority of video game Kickstarter projects have been in production for some time, with some having been literally years in the making, and of course this wasn’t the case with Dizzy Returns. As we have learnt all too well, starting the campaign this early in pre-development has made it much harder to communicate our vision of Dizzy Returns, and there’s no denying that we should and could have done this better.”

I can’t disagree, and we’ve seen similar issues with the Elite and Project GODUS Kickstarters too. Partly, I think, it’s that we want to see proof positive of what it is we’re paying for on spec, and partly perhaps there’s a concern in some quarters our affections are being gamed – that these Kickstarters hastily came about because someone sniffed an opportunity rather than because they were planned-out passion projects. Who knows the truth of it, and who knows what will happen with Elite or GODUS yet, but hard lessons are being taught to a lot of developers right now.

I do feel incredibly sorry for the Olivers even if I can’t help but feel the Dizzy Returns Kickstarter was seriously misjudged. It must be horrible enough to have development canned in private, let alone in the full, cruel gaze of the public eye. I sincerely hope they’ve not been hit too hard by this and can easily move on to new, exciting things.

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65 Comments »

  1. sinister agent says:

    Maybe it’s related to that thing where the Dizzy games and characters were crap.

    Still, twenty grand isn’t to be sniffed at. If they can focus their ideas somewhere else, they might fare a lot better.

    • simoroth says:

      Also didn’t help that they found themselves in the wake of a lot of bad blood over the Elite and to some extent the Godus Kickstarter campaign.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I think that’s it, isn’t it?

      I’m the audience for this, I played all the Dizzy games on my Spectrum and loved them as a kid, but trying to go back to them and they just don’t stand up today. And they didn’t do anything particularly interesting either, I’ve no desire to play a new one whatsoever. Maybe they always were kids games.

    • frostwyrm says:

      Come on, they were not bad, there is a reason they were/are popular. They just asked too much, they would never get 10,000 people. Why did they ask 350k anyway? Its their own fault.

      • MistyMike says:

        It was popular cause people didn’t have much else to play… that was before the times of Steam sales

        • Bloodloss says:

          Or maybe it’s because people actually liked them. Me for instance. No idea why some people have such unreserved hate for Dizzy.

          • sinister agent says:

            Who said anything about hating him? I liked the Dizzy games I had. They were still crap, and would be even worse today. A new Dizzy game would need to be very different to be anything but an embarasment, so you’d have to rely on the character, who was a white oval wearing boxing gloves. His character traits included being a white oval and wearing boxing gloves.

        • MasterDex says:

          Much else to play?! You crazy or just young? This was in the time of the spectrum, when games were a dime a dozen, often quite literally; where spending a couple of hours typing code from a magazine and saving it to a blank cassette gave you a new game to play. Also keep in mind that Dizzy came out near the end of the generation of systems it was on.

          So in conclusion, no, it wasn’t because people had nothing else to play. It’s because the Dizzy games were good…well, some of them at least.

      • malkav11 says:

        People have liked bad things throughout history. For example, the Da Vinci Code. I never played a Dizzy game (if they were even released in the US, it certainly wasn’t something I ever ran across), so I can’t say whether they’re bad, but popularity does not correlate with quality.

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      I couldn’t stand the Dizzy games, yet I loved the Magic Knight series. I’d happily back his return.

    • killuminati says:

      I must agree with you. Always tought Dizzy oval character was crap, so much I didn’t even came close to the originals when I was much younger.
      Today it would be even worst.

    • Groove says:

      The one Dizzy game I played/owned was pretty good fun, but objectively there was a tonne wrong with it. It really was a case that I played it a lot at the time because while I owned a lot of games, many of them were rotten and Dizzy looked pretty great by comparison.

      The key point is what would transfer over…which isn’t a huge amount. The world was pretty generic apart from talking eggs, and talking eggs aren’t really inspiring.

  2. Cooper says:

    That’s ok, because for 1/4 of what has been raised, and one 60th of the total amount they wanted we already have Spud’s Quest.

    • Inzimus says:

      my thoughts exactly

      also it doesn’t try to be “all brand-new/innovative/3 Dimensional revival of the century”, but rather sticks to the simplistic formulas that have worked in the past and merely refines them
      this was the main reason I chose to support Spud’s Quest over Dizzy

      • MadTinkerer says:

        The real problem is that the Twins were thinking something like a Super Mario 64 type overhaul, but their initial pitch didn’t communicate that very well and I assumed they were pitching a high def 2D game. Now if we’re comparing, say, Rayman Origins, a recent high def 2D platformer with great 2D animation, I’m pretty sure that game cost way more that what the Oliver Twins were asking for Dizzy Returns. And since they explained in a follow-up vid they were going for full 3D, that was when I got excited.

        3D Platformers used to be big on PC as well. Original Tomb Raider games, anyone? If they had succeeded in bringing a fully 3D Dizzy with revamped gameplay to the PC, and the sales had been successful, that would have been pretty significant.

        And I’m just so curious about what the final product would have looked like.

        But at least we’re getting Spud’s Quest.

  3. kevmscotland says:

    I think without any real content to show, the problem lay with asking for £350,000.

    • sinister agent says:

      Yeah, this is the thing. The Giana Sisters game did far better than I’d expected, but then it was almost finished. If they’d asked for 300 grand before they’d even got started, I think it would have suffered a similar fate.

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      I can’t agree that this is the entire story, though. Project Eternity is still in pre-production, too; it’ll probably be months before they show anything playable to the public. Yet their kickstarter asked for $1.1 million up front and ended with almost $4 Million. £350,000 is chump change next to that. While I agree that a kickstarter campaign that has gameplay to show off is always going to be more compelling than one that doesn’t, it’s hardly the only consideration people bring.

      Personally, I think the biggest mistake on the part of both the Oliver Twins and Elite was that they were banking on name recognition that they didn’t have. Honestly I had never heard of either Dizzy or Elite before their kickstarters happened, and yet both of them (especially Dizzy) seemed to act like I should be excited based solely on what they’ve done before.

      • Llewyn says:

        I think it’s a mistake to lump Dizzy and Elite together in terms of brand recognition. Yes, of course there are plenty of gamers who are too young to remember the originals’ heydays in the late 80s, but there are a pretty significant number of us old enough to remember both of them. The difference is that a lot of us who played Elite remember it as a seminal gaming experience which influenced our hopes for the new era of 3D gaming. We spent literally years playing it. On the other hand, many of us who played Dizzy remember it as “just another platform game”. Just another platform game isn’t something the gaming world really needs right now.

        There are entirely different reasons why some of us aren’t backing Braben.

  4. Bonedwarf says:

    Given I have LOATHED the Dizzy games since they were originally out, and the fact that the IP owners have been brutal at getting them pulled from archives like World of Spectrum when so many devs have granted permission to archive what amounts to our history, the fact this has fallen on its arse delights me no end.

  5. Craig Stern says:

    “Partly, I think, it’s that we want to see proof positive of what it is we’re paying for on spec”

    At the risk of sounding flippant: it severely reduces the effectiveness of Kickstarter as a means to fund the development of a game when you demand that the game be developed before you’ll fund it.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Of course. But this is an issue devs asking for large sums are going to have to come up with some way to overcome – the onus is not, after all, on backers to fund something on faith, but for devs to convince them it warrants it.

    • Tams80 says:

      It doesn’t have to be finished; far from it. If you’re going to ask for something like £350k and show next to nothing though… you really do need a terrible large amount of good faith and people with money. Asking for a fair amount of development to be done is necessary; you need to show you can make a game (or whatever other product you’re Kickstarting is) if you want the money. Even if you have made games in the past, we need evidence you can still make games, preferably to a higher quality and most importantly that you are passionate (which can be shown by developing game with no funding, in your spare time). I want to know my money won’t be wasted.

      Gaia for instance was far more realistic. Roth had a decent amount to show and his target wasn’t ridiculous.

      • WedgeJAntilles says:

        The problem is, “working on it in your spare time” is fine when it’s two dudes working on their laptops in a coffee shop, but it’s virtually impossible for a studio of 20-30 people. A company cannot simply decide to spend months working on a game that it doesn’t have finances for. So by necessity, these studios are always going to be pitching ideas based on a limited amount of pre-production in order to secure the funding they need for development, regardless of whether their pitching to a publisher or the general public via crowdfunding.

        One of the trends that has bothered me recently is the seeming disappearance of mid-tier development—studios that employ a few dozen people. AAA studios that employ hundreds of people require too much money to make a game, and so it’s become the risk-averse industry of rehashing the same games over and over again without trying anything new. On the other hand, we’ve had an amazing growth of very small developers (often just one or two people) making incredible games, but what a few people can do on a shoestring budget is still very limited.

        The problem is that large publishers don’t really care about this mid-tier anymore, because their entire business model is built around every title being an enormous blockbuster. Consequently, these mid-tier devs are turning to Kickstarter in the wake of Double Fine’s success. Is Kickstarter the right way for them to go about getting funding? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. So far, though, the only big games that have been successful (i.e., gotten more than about $1 Million in funding) have done so based at least somewhat on name recognition. I would like to think that there’s room for new players to enter the field and have a chance to make a name for themselves.

        • Llewyn says:

          I think it’s clear that Kickstarter isn’t the right way for them to go about raising those funds using the methods some of them are currently using. New players seeking to enter the field are going about it entirely the wrong way if they assemble a mid-sized team and then go looking for the funding to pay those people to start working, and seek to use crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional business development borrowing.

          Either they should be looking to traditional lending sources initially to get started or, preferably, should be looking to start smaller and build as they raise funding. It shouldn’t be a team of two dozen looking for money to start that project, it should be the two or three guys working out of a coffee shop to produce the ‘business plan’ (ie rough prototypes, concept art & models, story background etc) to justify raising the funds to hire the two dozen they need to complete the project.

          And then either they should be successful enough to have that little set aside to start the next project with a full team, and seek further funding with their initial work, or fall by the wayside.

          There are some KS projects which have come across as developers wanting a free ride. The contrast with those who want people to back projects that they are clearly committed to themselves is painfully obvious at times.

        • Groove says:

          The answer for mid-sized studios traditionally was either go with a publisher or bank enough money from game 1 that it funds the development of game 2. Kickstarter helps with this, since if you don’t have enough money to fund the entire development cycle then you can produce a tech demo/concept art/thorough design docs and put the pitch onto Kickstarter for the rest of the money. Additionally, if you do have enough money to design the whole game you could still put it onto Kickstarter to gague interest. If the Kickstarter fails then the game probably wouldn’t have sold terribly well anyway.

    • The First Door says:

      I don’t think that’s the issue, the issue is that some people (or perhaps just me) have stopped funding games on Kickstarter without any prototype footage. It honestly doesn’t have to be much, but if you are expecting people to take a risk on a project, you should be willing to take a risk and spend a couple of weeks or a month on it too.

      To be honest, as I’ve been watching the Amnesia Fortnight stuff, I’ve realise how much a decent team can get done in 2 weeks if they have faith in a project.

    • Hahaha says:

      Use real investors? oh wait they will have to pay them back…..

  6. wodin says:

    Does Dizzy really have that sort of pulling power? Not for me anyway..

  7. S Jay says:

    Never heard of this game.

  8. AmateurScience says:

    How international a thing was Dizzy anyway? I mean, I know about them, but I’m a Britsher of a certain age. Did they make the jump across the pond/channel?

    • Dark Nexus says:

      As a non-Britisher of a certain age, I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Dizzy before this Kickstarter.

      Though I also had a severe case of consolitis at that time.

      • Groove says:

        The only Dizzy game I ever played was on the NES.

        The cartridge was terrible, it needed turned on ~3 times before it would actually work.

    • benkc says:

      FWIW, the only reason I knew of Dizzy was Zero Punctuation’s occasional reference to it.

    • jrodman says:

      As a ‘murrican, I never heard of Dizzy until retrocomputing, when european demosceners and retrocomputers would mention it occasionally for its SID music or some such.

      We had other terrible-to-decent platformers on our side of the pond. My personal favourites were Montezuma’s Revenge (multiple remakes for good or for ill), Ultimate Wizard, which I still find fun to this day, if horribly clunky, and of course Jumpman.

  9. Durrok says:

    Yahtzee is going to be disappointed.

      • SuperTim says:

        I think that video says enough why I don’t want to support this new KS. Just look at how many times you can get killed in the game! I couldn’t play it back then without some proper pokes, and I certainly won’t support a game that I know I’m sure I will get hugely frustrated when playing. (and FWD was one of the less frustrated ones!)

        Well, and the fact its IP owners got so protective with those old games that I don’t even bother about it anymore.

  10. StingingVelvet says:

    All of this is nonsense. Many massive successes on KS had no footage of any kind, like arguably the biggest ones from Double Fine and Obsidian.

    And sometimes nostalgia wins, sometimes it doesn’t.

    The sole factor that repeatedly determines success is “do I trust these people to make an awesome game on time or not. It’s why Molyneux has a problem, it’s why these guys had a problem, it’s why the Quest for Glory one barely made it. Less name recognition, less reliable past, less excitement for the idea or their involvement.

    • Dominic White says:

      Double Fine and Obsidian are very active studios who have been churning out games pretty much constantly over the past decade. Obsidian might have a reputation for releasing games unfinished, but in just about every case, unreasonable publishers seem to be the reason, so Kickstarter-funding seems even more enticing.

      Nobody has seen anything from Dizzy in almost a full generation. Coming in and asking for several years development budget for something that would take many tiny indie outfits six months to produce? That’s just taking the piss.

      • Bloodloss says:

        inXile, one of the other most successful ones, has done barely anything of worth though. Other than, of course, Choplifter HD! Who could forget that?

        • Optimaximal says:

          inXile haven’t done much, per-say, but the people behind the company have made many big games, mostly under the Black Isle banner.

          • yoggesothothe says:

            That, and, you know… Brian Fargo and Wasteland. Maybe.

          • jrodman says:

            Apologies, but it is “per se”. per-say makes no sense. “per se” gets a by because it’s furriner speak (and dead ones at that).

  11. AngusPrune says:

    I love the Dizzy series, or at least most of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to pledge for this for a whole lot of reasons.

    1) The IP has been neglected for 20 years. I’d assumed it was just that Codemasters owned the rights and they just didn’t care. If the Oliver Twins wanted to make a new game, they could have done so any time in the last decade since digital distribution became a thing. You can’t even obtain the games that already exist legally. It’s ridiculous.

    2) The kickstarter didn’t seem to understand why people liked Dizzy. We played this thing on the spectrum back in the day. Do you really think we’re going to care that you have fancy graphics and voice acting? GTFO with that.

    3) It smelled of a vanity project. They wanted to make an indie 2D platformer. Under what circumstances could you expect that kind of game to make a third of a million quid in revenue? So why the hell were they looking to spend that much on developing the thing. Vanity publishing with other peoples’ money.

    4) They brought nothing to the table but the name. Talk about trading on past glories. They had absolutely nothing to show but some concept art that took maybe a day or two to bang together. Who knows what the hell they had planned.

    and of course now I know they aren’t really passionate about making this thing. It’s not like they have their hearts set on it, and now the kickstarter failed they’ll scale back their ambitions and self-fund. Nope, they’re just dropping the idea. I’m glad Spud’s Quest got my money, that guy got everything right that the Oliver twins got wrong.

  12. The Random One says:

    I saw this coming from the start. I’d say Dizzy’s only claims to fame are its apparent ubiquity and its tongue-in-cheek use as a Good Game by Yahtzee’s web series.

    If it’d been funded I’d be so surprised I’d feel like my head was spinning.

    Wait I think I did something wrong

  13. battles_atlas says:

    Would the real problem for Dizzy not be that platforming never really went away unlike the Kickstarters that have generated real excitement. Shadowrun and Wasteland 2 are both games that just haven’t been made in the last decade, and similar could be said of Elite and the other space one I can’t remember the name of. Platforming on the PC may have gone quiet for a bit but the last few years have had plenty of platform hits from the indie scene. Hits that have moved the bar on more than a bit. What does Dizzy have to offer a world of Braid and Limbo?

  14. strangeloup says:

    I initially read this as “Dizzy Returns in all likelihood won’t meet its fucking target,” possibly in the voice of a cynical dev fed up with Kickstarter.

    I remember getting a compilation of all the games (at that point) on the ST, and enjoying them quite a lot. On the other hand, I was about 12 at the time and I suspect my tastes have matured.

  15. dahools says:

    Its a shame I used to play Dizzy 20 odd years ago on my comodore 64 (seem to remember dizzy panic and dizzy down the rapids) , but as people have said its been neglected for that long no one knows what it is any more, especially if they have been active in removing it from archives and made the old games impossible to own now.

    They are also asking a lot of money.

    The biggest problem I can see is that Dizzy was/is aimed at children as a kids game full of puzzles, great fun, bit like Mario.
    Kids (core audience) nowadays have:
    1. never heard of it and
    2.probably cant pledge on Kickstarter (no credit card) and unlikely don’t have Paypal tied to their pocket money account ;) (they prefer cash in hand in my experience)
    so you are now asking the adults who just about remember it (but have now out grown it and probably wouldn’t play it any more) to fund it.

    Plus its nearly Christmas if I was thinking of raising £350k off people for any reason, December would not be the month I would choose to do it in, surely that’s common sense?

    Or is it just me?

    i think their solution should be to get some their old games redrawn in modern colours get then on Android / iOS and get then in the hands of kids and get people talking about dizzy again before trying raise mega bucks on something new!

  16. Snuffy the Evil says:

    In addition to the points above, I don’t think the project was able to generate much word-of-mouth either- this is the first time I’ve even heard of the project. Again, this is probably due to Dizzy’s own pop culture status- there aren’t a lot of people who will recognize (or care for) a 1980′s video game protagonist who isn’t named “Mario”.

  17. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Dizzy was great in its day; I remember the first one being marketed as a “cartoon adventure”, which was stretching things a bit. But at the time I was faintly dazzled by the combination of adventure game and platformer, which was fairly novel at the time.
    I’m not interested in playing another one now, though; while I liked the original, endured Treasure Island Dizzy (one life? seriously?) and loved Fantasy World Dizzy on the Spectrum, I was getting pretty bored of the games by the time Magicland Dizzy etc came around.
    However, Kwik Snax (an action-puzzler spin-off) was fucking brilliant.

  18. RodHope says:

    Out of interest, what gets a kickstarter onto your front page? I hadn’t heard anything about this until right now, maybe the lack of coverage that some kickstarters get contributed?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Dizzy got mentioned in the weekly Kickstarter Katchup article (first time it appeared in the 22nd Nov edition), which itself relies on a combined effort of Kickstarting people and people who follow Kickstarter, etc to bring those Kickstarters to RPS’ attention.

      Kickstarter projects getting specific articles to themselves depends on the whim of RPS believing it’s interesting enough as a turn of events.

  19. Jenks says:

    This reminds me of the spectacular failure that was the Pitfall Kickstarter, except I actually played Pitfall, whereas I’d never even heard of Dizzy.

    For reference:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jungleventure/david-cranes-jungle-adventure-0?ref=live

  20. drewski says:

    I think if you’re going to ask for a *lot* of money to make a videogame, you need a very strong development reputation; a very strong IP; or a very strong pitch – and preferably you want two or them. Or all three.

    Not having any means you’re pretty unlikely to succeed.

  21. ts061282 says:

    I don’t get it, if not for breathing life into old, inferior ideas, what’s kickstarter for?

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