Once upon a time in Prior Age 2013, you might remember that Tim Schafer garnered some Internet scorn by confessing that Broken Age had broken Double Fine’s bank. This despite a Kickstarter so successful that it kickstarted the notion of using Kickstarter for games (Kickstarter). But then Schafer and co, those clever jesters, they hatched a scheme: break the game into two parts (WORDPLAY) and then use the first to fund the second. So, did it work? It’s a multilayered question, a nigh-ineffable series of concepts, a seemingly simple binary that explodes into mind-boggling complexity, and the answer is yes.
Schafer gave an update on the situation to GamesIndustry International:
“We’ve made enough that we can make the second half of the game for sure.”
“We’ve shipped enough that people can see we weren’t kidding, and that’s a big relief. Because I think there’s a lot of pressure on Kickstarter projects, especially the really big Kickstarter projects, to just not screw it up for everybody else.”
He also confessed that Double Fine could’ve handled the cruel reality of Broken Age’s ballooning budget much better. Foremost, he admitted it was a big mistake to only keep backers in the loop as the game’s development scaled up, which made the episodic announcement something of a bombshell for everyone else. The solution? Be as transparent as possible with future games like Massive Chalice, whose forums and livestreams are open to the public.
So that’s good news. Obviously, it would’ve been much better if Double Fine had maintained its game’s scope better and planned more realistically, but a) they originally set out to make a documentary of a very small game and b) the end result we got instead is rather delightful (though hardly Schafer’s finest work), if you ask me. The bigger issue is that Kickstarter backers paid for one thing upfront and got something rather different when all was said and done, but Double Fine was also the first gaming company to strike gold, oil, and a vein of just, like, infinite chocolate on Kickstarter. Uncharted territory often begets unpleasant surprises.
I’m glad that Double Fine’s trying to address those issues on its second crowdfunding excursion. As for Broken Age Act II, well, it’s now officially a go for later this year. Here’s hoping it’s got a bit more meat on its bones and also, you know, an ending.