Dreamfall KS Wraps, Barely Misses Bonus Side-Game

By Nathan Grayson on March 12th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Was there really ever any doubt that a Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter would fly past the finish line on beams of glorious rainbow sun and cyberlightning? Perhaps in some dismal, alternate future of implausibly constant sadness, but not in this one. So at this stage, it’s a matter of just how rabidly fans frothed dollars into Ragnar Tørnquist’s clinking cup, and – as a result – what sorts of dreamy extras we’re in for. Unsurprisingly, we’re getting quite a lot, given that Dreamfall made nearly double its initial Kickstarter goal. Sadly, however, it narrowly missed accruing the funds necessary for a second, entirely separate game starring The Longest Journey heroine April Ryan.

Chapters’ not-so-long journey to Kickstarter success saw it cross the finish line with $1,538,425 in its mighty monetary maw. The complimentary 2D point ‘n’ click adventure – set to be titled The Longest Journey Home – would’ve been given the greenlight at $2 million. But even though it’s outside the realm of possibility for now, Tørnquist and co have no intention of leaving it on the cutting room floor. So they wrote in a recent update:

“We hope to some day still be able to tell this story. April’s story, all of it. All that remains of it. Because it needs to be told. And you all deserve to hear it. And we would love to share it with you.”

Even so, Dreamfall’s now got plenty of gas in its tank, which means it’s expanding beyond its original vision with two major chunks of extra content: A Longer Journey and the Director’s Cut. “With a bigger budget, we can hire more people and we can bring back the locations, characters, puzzles and conversations that were left on the cutting room floor,” said Red Thread. Specifically, that includes the House of All Worlds, the House of Dreams, and a whole host of characters to inhabit them – among many other things, which you can read about here.

For our (and, I suppose, thousands of other people’s) troubles, we’re also getting a vastly better soundtrack, additional language tracks, and a digital comic that’ll fill in story gaps for people (Jim) who didn’t play the originals.

So yes, that’s a lot of things. Also, let’s not forget that all of this comes in addition to, you know, a new TLJ, which is kind of the best news ever. Bless you, Kickstarter demi-deities. You might be incredibly fickle and given to bouts of feast-or-famine that’d make fully cooked turkeys evaporate into locusts, but sometimes you’re pretty all right.

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40 Comments »

  1. MuscleHorse says:

    Y’know, I played the second game (was it just called Dreamfall?) and I remember it just being an incredibly linear A – B walking simulator with admittedly arresting locations. Maybe I should start from the beginning and reassess.

    • ShadowNate says:

      Yes, Dreamfall is quite linear. It also gives the player less freedom in terms of exploration and open environments in comparison to the original TLJ, and it has numerous plot threads left dangling after its ending. And it’s got a horrible control system. But it has a very good story, a few good characters, and interesting locations. Dreamfall Chapters is supposed to provide a conclusion to Dreamfall’s story (for Zoe at least), and it seems that this time around they went with more open environments, and a more intuitive control system.

      The Longest Journey Home is supposed to be the conclusion of the story of April, but it would be an entirely separate and full game, not a bonus side-game. I don’t even know why they put it as a stretch goal for dreamfall chapters, but then again I am puzzled (and disappointed) about many of their decisions for stretch goals and bonus stuff added to tiers…

      • mouton says:

        Dreamfall also has significantly worse – and unfinished – story and worse gameplay. Namely, it replaced playable adventure mechanics with combat comparable to poor mobile titles.

        That is why I haven’t kickstarted this one. It was never in any danger of not being funded and I’d rather wait and see the final product before paying.

        • The First Door says:

          I don’t agree with you on the story, I think it was in some ways much more mature in Dreamfall. The first time two of the characters meet is one of my favourite conversations I’ve had in a game like that. Plus there is the bit near the end where you discover what is going on which is brilliant. Sorry if I’m being vague, I’m just trying to avoid as many spoilers as possible.

          I do agree, however, that the first couple of chapters of Dreamfall are a bit dodgy. I found that after about chapter five (I think) the puzzles get more interesting.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Absolutely. Dreamfall is one of my favourite games on story and characters alone, even with the minus points from the terrible combat.

        • yeastcapp says:

          Agreed with TheFirstDoor, story in Dreamfall was stronger. What was good about TLJ’s story wasn’t so much the big picture (which was pretty standard stuff) but seeing the journey through the lens of April’s character. Dreamfall had stronger themes and so long as you are thinking about it in terms of character development and not answers to questions you’ll love it.

        • Turambar29 says:

          I completely agree: I love TLJ, but was horrified at what seemed to be a half-finished, significantly inferior game in Dreamfall. When the credits rolled, I thought it was a trick. I was incredibly angry when I figured out that they just… stopped.

          • Triplanetary says:

            I wouldn’t say Dreamfall “horrified” me, but it certainly disappointed me. For a long time after playing Dreamfall, I was scared that maybe TLJ was a fluke and Tornquist didn’t really understand what it was that had drawn people to TLJ.

            Based on everything he’s said about Chapters, however, my fears are largely allayed. I do think he knows what he’s doing, although I still think Dreamfall was a bit of a misstep.

      • Chizu says:

        The “stretch goal” was basically just to fund pre-production on it. It wasn’t to fund the entire thing, and it wouldn’t start proper production until dreamfall chapters was done.

    • Mogster says:

      The original TLJ was very different to Dreamfall. It’s a traditional point & click with proper puzzles and everything. It’s also very long, fittingly, and the story is fantastic.

      I loved Dreamfall too, but it was very much a story first and a game second. It was also a lot shorter. Chapters seems to fall somewhere between the two in terms of the experience, which seems perfect to me.

    • int says:

      I was more annoyed at the gameplay. I get the feeling it suffered from the same syndrome as Broken Sword 3. Consolitis.

      Seriously, that damn “look far beam”. And the fighting? If you really need to have fighting in a game, make it good otherwise just cut-scene it.

      • Triplanetary says:

        I get the feeling it suffered from the same syndrome as Broken Sword 3. Consolitis

        Bingo. Dreamfall was simultaneously published on Xbox, and even on a PC it plays better with a controller. In truth it felt kind of insulting, to have the platform that made TLJ a success have to make sacrifices so that the game can be played by people who probably don’t want it anyway.

  2. Ansob says:

    When did half a million dollars (25 percent of the stretch goal target) become “narrowly missed,” exactly? That’s more like missed by a mile.

  3. McDan says:

    Devastated that I missed out funding this, it’s actually ruined my morning. Very upsetting.

  4. Calneon says:

    Anyone else feel like stretch goals in Kickstarters are completely arbitrary and don’t make any sense? For example, they’re suggesting that to port the game from the PC to Android and iOS platforms will cost $250,000. That’s absurd! That’s a reasonable salary for 5 people for a month, ignoring all other costs. There’s a lot of work in porting a PC game (big screen, more powerful, different input methods) to both iOS and Android, even if they are using Unity.

    A whole other game for another $250,000? Even if it is 2D you’d need much more than that. Hell, I’m ignoring the fact that they’re planning to make the actual game for only $850,000.

    The whole ordeal seems bizarre to me.

    EDIT: Oh and a lot of that money goes to producing and sending out physical rewards to everyone who pledged over a specific amount.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      You are better posing these questions to the developers themselves. In fact, as a backer you are more than entitled to ask such questions and expect an answer.

      In any case, stretch goals may not always reflect a 1:1 relationship between costs and funding. Much like the main goal rarely does. From a pure business perspective, once a top goal is reached, I may want to set a stretch goal that does not completely reflect the costs involved. The main goal may have carried with it a financial gain which risk assessment tells me it is safe to put some of the burden on my business instead of on the investor. Or I’m playing my cards to draw more money from investors without alienating them.

    • ShadowNate says:

      Yep. And also exclusive more costumes and hairstyles for Zoe in higher tiers! Are you not excited?

    • ChromeBallz says:

      Please tell me where i can make $50,000 a month because i’d go there in a heartbeat 0-o

      250k for porting seems like a pretty reasonable amount, given the work involved. It’s 5-10 people for a year, or more people for less time.

      • Premium User Badge

        Illessa says:

        Well my mother’s half-brother’s cousin’s girlfriend makes that much working part-time on her apple laptop.

        $250 000 seems pretty reasonable to me too, going by the commonly cited $100 000 = one developer for one year, and the fact that they’re using Unity. Yes there are always a bunch of unique issues with a port no matter how cross-platform your engine is, but it should still cut the process down to a few months.

    • MattM says:

      When the game is finished they will be able to sell it. Expecting a kickstarter campaign to cover 100% of costs and salaries would be a bit greedy I think. They would be taking no risk and every post launch sale would represent pure profit for the owner.
      This all depends on how you count costs though. If the development team is all working for little or no pay and a share of the sales then kickstarting 100% of the equipment and outside contractors might be fine.

      • Panda Powered says:

        Thats just projecting moral values on it. There is no rule against greed on kickstarters as far as I know.
        A team may cover 100% of the dev costs with KS money and have some to spare.
        They may strike gold with the IP and become filthy rich on post-release sales and may even sell all rights to EA after that.

        • MattM says:

          I agree that there is nothing wrong with trying to make a profit. When buying a finished game, I don’t worry about development costs. But when considering backing a KS I consider if they are being realistic with their budget and goals. If I thought a company was trying to completely fund all development costs for a near AAA multiplatform game on a $1,000,000 budget I wouldn’t back it since I believe that they would never be able to finish the game.

  5. MeestaNob says:

    I didn’t back this because I forgot, however that’s not the whole story.

    I didn’t back it when the first screen grabs and videos came out because I really don’t want to play a semi-3D adventure game, I just want the traditional point and click experience and it seemed they were still deciding on which way they’d go with that. I don’t know if a decision has been made on it, but I guess it’s too late now.

    Also, the (final) stretch goal of an entire new game is just ridiculous. The ‘ambition’ of these Kickstarter projects are dumb – JUST FINISH ONE GAME PLEASE.

    My biggest gripe however, is the notion that more funding will result in a bigger game. This is a story-driven adventure, with dialogue and plot and story/character arc. How important are these extra scenes that they see them as optional, that they could be dropped if the money isn’t there? It doesn’t feel like there is much of a plan behind this.

    I have no doubt that they will create something of quality, but frankly I thought this campaign could have been done much better.

    • Premium User Badge

      welverin says:

      They’ve said it’s a free roaming 3D game, but with the old school point and click gameplay, i.e. when you come upon a puzzle or other interactive bit it will be like the old school games.

      As for that final stretch goal, that would have only been for greenlighting it, so to speak. It would not have been to fund the whole game.

      • ShadowNate says:

        It still was there mostly for encouraging more pledges, because otherwise it was vague and I think they knew that it was also infeasible. It also caused some confusion to the backers.

        To be frank, knowing that TLJ went overbudget and Dreamfall was incomplete (not due to budget constraint according to Ragnar, but come on, really does he expect people to believe that?), how can you add a second game target in your kickstarter?

    • Triplanetary says:

      My biggest gripe however, is the notion that more funding will result in a bigger game. This is a story-driven adventure, with dialogue and plot and story/character arc. How important are these extra scenes that they see them as optional, that they could be dropped if the money isn’t there? It doesn’t feel like there is much of a plan behind this.

      Virtually every game and movie out there has dropped scenes or entire subplots for budgetary or other reasons. How “optional” those scenes or subplots were is largely a matter of perspective. Point is, it’s a lot easier to write ideas down on paper than it is to actually implement them. You can write as long, detailed, and involved a story for a game as you want, but the amount of that story you’re going to be able to execute is necessarily going to be finite. Choices have to be made, ideas have to be cut. It’s the nature of the craft.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I backed this and am looking forward to playing it, but I’m not sure about this trend of 2 games in 1 kickstarters. I thought it was a bad idea when Broken Sword did it and Red Thread specifically mentioned them as an example of a good campaign… This one worked better because at least it’s something in the same universe and a continuation of the story (so people who want one will likely want both), but it’s not a good trend.

    They should really just put all the extra cash into Chapters and then do a new Kickstarter for Journey Home if necessary, just as Revolution should’ve kept Broken Sword and Beneath a Steal Sky separate.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Agreed. I would gladly back a separate Kickstarter for TLJ Home, and I’m hopeful that, once Chapters is out the door, they’ll do exactly that. TLJ Home sounds fantastic and I don’t want the idea to die just because Chapters didn’t make its final stretch goal.

  7. Chizu says:

    “outside the realm of possibility” ?
    They’ve said they are going to continue taking paypal pledges, and will add those into the total and stuff. With the goal of hitting that 2 million mark.
    It may not be within the kickstarter campaign, but its certainly still possible for them to reach it.
    Don’t even know how much they’ve already taken in paypal pledges.

    And it was hardly a bonus side-game, as its going to be a full title that they won’t make untill after dreamfall chapters is finished. The stretch goal was just so they could start pre-production on it.

    • povu says:

      They said on the livestream what the total amount of pledged money was, from the kickstarter and paypal together. I forgot the exact amount of the paypal pledges was, but the total together was below 1.6 million.

  8. Noburu says:

    Not gonna lie. I clicked on the story solely because of the rather attractive computer animated person of the female persuasion.

  9. Jimbo says:

    Staring Eyes

  10. Triplanetary says:

    I backed this, and I’m super excited for it, but honestly in some ways the prospect of The Longest Journey Home excites me more. In his description of TLJH, Tornquist said that it would be more slow-paced and talky than Dreamfall or Dreamfall Chapters, and that’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

    I remember back when Dreamfall was in development, I read an interview in which Tornquist said that he was addressing criticisms that TLJ was too talky and was going to trim the dialogue down a lot. Frankly I was disappointed. My fears were mostly unfounded, as Dreamfall is hardly light on story, but still, I kind of balked at the idea that TLJ is too talky. At any rate, I’m glad to see Tornquist acknowledging that TLJ’s slower pace isn’t a bad thing.

  11. mutopia says:

    Would’ve backed this if the Great PC Gaming Renaissance™ and the Global Financial Meltdown™ and Personal Failure™ hadn’t left me flat broke and trying to learn game development on a less-than-no-shoestring budget, but I suppose I could always just buy the game when it comes out.