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  1. #1
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    Double Fine Kickstater, Day One DLC and the notion of a 'complete' game

    You've probably seen the Double Fine Kickstarter controversy, but short story: they did the maths, found they only had enough money to make 25% of the game as scoped, so decided to make the other 75% by investing their own money and using Steam early access.

    Lots of people upset.

    What strikes me is people only get to feel that way because of how open they've been about development. See, had this been a regular game, they could have just cut 75% of it. No-one would be any the wiser, they wouldn't have known the game was conceived as much larger thing and had been drastically cut down. But that wasn't really an option for Double Fine. The transparent development meant backers had a solid idea of what was expected in the 'full' game. Had they just said "actually, we can't afford all this, we'll just do 25% of it" the internet would have been far more angry.

    As The Banner Saga update from today notes (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...3?ref=activity) this sort of thing is really, really common in games development, it's just that it usually happens behind closed doors.

    What I think it highlights though, is how fluid the notion of the 'complete' game really is, which is always the argument I make 'for' day-one DLC. I mean, I don't *like* it, but I acknowledge that there's a budget involved that's based on expected revenue, and I'd rather Bioware cut out a character and sold it to me on day one as DLC, than just cut out a character and left it to rot, never to see the light of day.

    Similarly as annoyed as people are with what Double Fine have done, I'd imagine most backers much prefer this approach to having 75% of the game cut. Because we had that notion of what the 'complete' game was, so we'd feel we were losing something if stuff was cut.

    Most Kickstarters since Double Fine have put themselves into a pretty dangerous position by committing to certain specific things as stretch goals, things that aren't really a core part of the game, but now have to be provided as they've committed to that. If say, Project Eternity, runs into trouble, any cuts will have to be made to the core game, rather than the stretch goals. The opposite of what you'd normally want to do. Again, because certain parts of the game are public in development, you then have to do them.

    The fact that DF, a fairly well respected developer, can scope a game 4x bigger than they meant to make just goes to show the sheer volume of stuff that gets thrown out onto the cutting room floor throughout development. Just we don't normally hear about it.

  2. #2
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    I'm not familliar with Kickstarter terms of use, but when you get for example 2x more money than your goal was you must spend all of it on your project or you can just keep it for yourself?

    And about stretch goals. I've made a game once with friend. We had to cut like 1/4 of content to make it in time (it was game for contest). I can bet that most of stretch goals are ideas that was dismissed earlier because they would be financial or technological problem. With additional money you can hire more people and/or make longer development process to overcome these obstacles.

    But there's other side of these stretch goals. Some ideas looks good only on a paper. But in a game it could be not as fun as it seems. And when you must keep these promises while they suck - your game is gonna be screwed, depends on what big impact on whole thing have certain stretch goals.

    Sorry for probably bad English, I'm not sure if I wrote everything as it should be.

  3. #3
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    As Otto von Bismarck once said, video games and sausages are two things you don't want to see getting made.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Backers of this kickstarter are now experiencing what it means to publish a Tim Schafer game.
    Kotick went on record:

    "Tim Schafer. The guy comes out and says I'm a prick. I've never met him in my life -- I've never had anything to do with him," explains the nefarious businessman. "I never had any involvement in the Vivendi project that they were doing, Brütal Legend, other than I was in one meeting where the guys looked at it and said, 'He's late, he's missed every milestone, he's overspent the budget and it doesn't seem like a good game. We're going to cancel it.
    "And do you know what? That seemed like a sensible thing to do. And it turns out, he was late, he missed every milestone, the game was not a particularly good game ..."
    "Vivendi had advanced him like 15 or 20 million dollars,"
    Kotick explained.
    Projects are deemed to likely not be successful when milestones are “repeatedly” missed, when directions are changed “multiple times”, and “where lots and lots of the folks who are involved in the game leave”, Kotick explained.

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus neema_t's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    You've probably seen the Double Fine Kickstarter controversy, but short story: they did the maths, found they only had enough money to make 25% of the game as scoped, so decided to make the other 75% by investing their own money and using Steam early access.

    Lots of people upset.
    I thought it was more like: They designed a game that would cost approximately the Kickstarter target amount to produce, got a fuckton more money, had to re-scope in order to not be ripping people off but got a bit carried away, now they need more money to make the game they want to make.

    Personally, as I didn't Kickstart it, I can't wait to see what they come up with, but I can see why people would be upset... Then again they'd probably be more upset if DF didn't use all the money they got on the game itself. Surely?

    But yeah, I guess the moral of the story here is that if you open game development up to the public, sooner or later they're going to find out what actually happens in game development. Just wait for the first Kickstarter equivalent to Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens: Colonial Marines, then the shit will really hit the fan. Or something.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think this is more a person who cannot budget properly sure he got more money then he was expecting but maybe instead of going i will spend all the money and have all my crazy ideas in there he should of thought ok what feasible way can I make a better game with this money I got but not going to far. Sorry I don't have any sympathy for this guy even though I like his games.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirKicksalot View Post
    Backers of this kickstarter are now experiencing what it means to publish a Tim Schafer game.
    Kotick went on record:

    "Tim Schafer. The guy comes out and says I'm a prick. I've never met him in my life -- I've never had anything to do with him," explains the nefarious businessman. "I never had any involvement in the Vivendi project that they were doing, Brütal Legend, other than I was in one meeting where the guys looked at it and said, 'He's late, he's missed every milestone, he's overspent the budget and it doesn't seem like a good game. We're going to cancel it.
    "And do you know what? That seemed like a sensible thing to do. And it turns out, he was late, he missed every milestone, the game was not a particularly good game ..."
    "Vivendi had advanced him like 15 or 20 million dollars,"
    Kotick explained.
    Projects are deemed to likely not be successful when milestones are “repeatedly” missed, when directions are changed “multiple times”, and “where lots and lots of the folks who are involved in the game leave”, Kotick explained.
    Ouch. But yeah. I think Schafer has talent, but he's a bit like a San Francisco Molyneux in that he's endlessly enthusiastic and that's probably where the problems lie when it comes to over promising and constantly changing direction.
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neema_t View Post
    I thought it was more like: They designed a game...
    And see, that's pretty much where everything went wrong. They didn't have a game designed at the time. They went to Kickstarter with Tim's face and said "Hey, remember Psychonauts and Grim Fandango? Well, if you give us money, we're going to make an adventure game! Now, deliver unto me your wallets!"

    You had no idea what you were funding besides that it was from Tim Schafer and it was an adventure game. It wasn't until much later when people realised what they'd funded. Instead of going "We want to make this game and this is how much we're asking for" they went "Give us money, and we'll figure out what to do with it later." Despite knowing exactly how much they had, they couldn't budget for a game to fit within it. It's not like they had some grand design initially, budgeted for that, and then later figured out it wouldn't be enough. They started with an absurdly vague promise which would have gotten anybody else laughed out of the room, and then failed to stick to a budget with their design.

    Sorry, no sympathy here. A brilliant and talented man Schafer may be (well, I loved Grim Fandango, can't say I liked Psychonauts or pretty much anything else Double Fine has done or touched) but as Kadayi says, that just makes him another Peter Molyneux albeit with more talent. I understand that sometimes things run over budget (and that's why publishers, despite being evil and mean according to everybody, are really around as well as to keep devs accountable) but the guy promised nothing except that they'd make an adventure game... and then failed to budget for it. The expectations couldn't get any lower!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by neema_t View Post
    I thought it was more like: They designed a game that would cost approximately the Kickstarter target amount to produce, got a fuckton more money, had to re-scope in order to not be ripping people off but got a bit carried away, now they need more money to make the game they want to make.
    They didn't have any design beyond 'short point and click adventure game' for the initial $400,000 goal. Which was kind of the point. They wanted the documentary to show all the stages of production, from design through to completion.

    After getting three million dollars they re-scoped not just because they got three million dollars, but because getting three million dollars made them realize that crowd funding and self-publishing had very real potential to be how they could make their games from now on. It went from 'we think this'll be fun' to 'we think this is the future of our company.'

    And as far as I've been able to tell, most the people who are upset about this whole thing are either non-backers, or backers who haven't really been following the project after backing it. Nobody on the backer forums was particularly surprised or upset about this, because watching every episode of the documentary made it pretty clear that something pretty drastic had to happen, but cutting 75% of the game was not it.

  10. #10
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    Where did they say "short point and click adventure game"? all i could see is "Classic point and click adventure game". if they had said "short" or "small" or "crappy, low budget, looks like flash, OMG MADE IN GAME MAKER" before they said "point and click adventure game" they wouldn't have received 3.3 millions.

    Was it said in the backers only videos or anywhere else for that matter what was the budget spent on up until now? how many people were working on the game full time?
    Last edited by burningpet; 06-07-2013 at 10:11 AM.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus bonkers's Avatar
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    I also though of Kickstarter as it is ment: more of a donation then a purchase. But despite that I never backed anything except DoubleFine Adventure that did not show some kind of origial content and at least some fledged out gameplay ideas and mechanics. That usually means a lot of reading, watching livestreams etc but in general I don't want to give my money to people who have no kind of "vision" that I can understand.
    The reason I decided otherwise for Kickstarter was that I somewhat trust DoubleFine. Although not always amazing I enjoyed every single one of their games and gave them the bucks in advance. But still I know that it is still a donation and not a purchase. They could take the money and run. So I really don't see the point why people are "upset". Did anyone loose money? Did they do anything against the Kickstarter Terms of Service? I don't think so. So what is the big deal everybody is now so upset about? The outrage feels like they stole the money to finance their own private African childrens guerillia (no offense to Africans).

    PS: Because that comes up all the time: from the 3.3 million only 2.2 million were/are available to finance the game. Doesnt change much, but still. At least poeple could get the numbers right.
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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burningpet View Post
    Where did they say "short point and click adventure game"?
    They didn't, but they did suggest that the project wouldn't be a super-massive 36 hour juggernaut:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kickstarter pitch
    Keeping the scale of the project this small accomplishes two things. First and foremost, Double Fine gets to make the game they want to make, promote it in whatever manner they deem appropriate, and release the finished product on their own terms. Secondly, since they’re only accountable to themselves, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what game development of this caliber looks like from the inside. Not the sanitized commercials-posing-as-interviews that marketing teams only value for their ability to boost sales, but an honest, in-depth insight into a modern art form that will both entertain and educate gamers and non-gamers alike.
    I also like how they state they're accountable only to themselves, and how they're proud to show what game development of "this caliber" looks like.

    It might be true that non-backers are only just now taking an interest, but that's because this is the first we've heard of it since updates are for backers only. And we are interested because this project was like the poster child for big Kickstarter gaming, so if it falls over it's going to introduce some much needed caution into the mix.
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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    Can only afford 25% ? It seems they are really, really bad at estimating. This is all the more surprising that it's a point&click adventure game, not some shocking new research. The requirements are well known - writers and artists.
    pass

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    People say "promise" too much in regards to these developers. As far as I know none have ever promised a single thing to any of us.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    Note the clever move for Massive Chalice funding campaign right before the bad news. I'm so happy I backed neither.
    pass

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    Oh man I forgot about that game. Yeah, good timing there ;)

  17. #17
    Moderator QuantaCat's Avatar
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    also note that kickstarter does not require kickstartees to sign a contract of any sort. there is no legal backup for shit that happens and you dont get your goods.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaCat View Post
    also note that kickstarter does not require kickstartees to sign a contract of any sort. there is no legal backup for shit that happens and you dont get your goods.
    Yes it does. There's a ToS you have to sign before creating your username (although it mostly says kickstarter is not responsible and creators are). Creators are open to lawsuit and have been sued before.
    Last edited by Internet; 06-07-2013 at 02:52 PM.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    They're paying with their reputation. It won't work again.
    pass

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    Can only afford 25% ? It seems they are really, really bad at estimating. This is all the more surprising that it's a point&click adventure game, not some shocking new research. The requirements are well known - writers and artists.
    And TIME. It takes time for artists to create the art. It takes time for the animators to animate it. It takes time for the writers to write the dialogue and the designers to design the puzzles. During this time, these people need to be paid.

    And the artists and animators have to create some assets and those have to get in-game in a finished state in order to take a look at how many more assets are required to finish the game, multiply that by how long it took to get the existing assets created, and end up with an estimate for how long it'll take to finish the game. Then multiply that by how much those people are paid per week to end up with what the final budget will likely be.

    It's not shocking new research, but in many ways it's much more unpredictable to budget in advance.

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