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  1. #21
    Obscure Node calabi's Avatar
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    Its pretty easy to predict the budget for a game. Its also easier to stick to a budget. Games can be scaled up or or down more easily than movies. You can remove sections and cut back features.

  2. #22
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    If they were easy to predict and stick to, then no game would ever go over budget or over time. But there are dozens of examples of games doing exactly that in just the past couple of years.

  3. #23
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Malawi Frontier Guard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    The transparent development meant backers had a solid idea of what was expected in the 'full' game.
    I haven't spent any money on the kickstarter so I don't know how informed the backers are, but did they? From what I have seen so far it all seems kind of vague, or at least vague enough to reduce scope massively without anyone being any the wiser.

    Edit: This line is great and true:

    Isn't knowing about production right from the start wonderful? No, it's not. It's annoying. It takes FOREVER. That's why you usually don't hear anything until it's almost ready to ship.
    Last edited by Malawi Frontier Guard; 06-07-2013 at 11:36 PM.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by calabi View Post
    Its pretty easy to predict the budget for a game. Its also easier to stick to a budget. Games can be scaled up or or down more easily than movies. You can remove sections and cut back features.
    You still have to prototype a bunch of shit to know what to add and what to get rid of. If the assets from the prototype can't be used then that's completely wasted time and money. My favorite example is continuous beam lasers in Fallout NV. They had a bunch of them and bugfixed and bugfixed, but eventually they couldn't figure out where they were all coming from and had to drop them. That's all completely wasted money. If a programmer spent 2 months trying to fix them and an artist spent a week creating them, that's $13k down the drain.

    I suspect the issue is much simpler than that. Doublefine had done no preproduction on the kickstarter. Doublefine doesn't fire staff in between projects. Since February of 2012, Doublefine has made Middle Manager of Justice, the Amnesia Fortnight stuff, Kinect Party, and The Cave. None of those have exactly set the charts on fire. So I doubt they had much of a slush fund to keep employees busy / fed (and it's possible that firing and hiring people would take even more money for a small company without much overhead). Who knows how sophisticated their accounting, etc. is to actually tell them this is going on? So they spend two months doing preproduction, make maybe $50k in income, Schaefer's too busy doing the preproduction stuff so he lets his admin stuff slide, and suddenly they realize that scope has shrunk by a 1/6. They try to do everything at once, make deals to fill in the hole, but that only makes things worse by piling more work on, they don't get the residuals they expect from the Cave (which is decent but needed more content), and suddenly they're in real trouble. That's how it goes wrong with no serious malfeasance.
    Last edited by Internet; 07-07-2013 at 12:35 AM.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    They're paying with their reputation. It won't work again.
    As long as the game delivers and is good, I think they'll be fine. As a backer, this is a net gain for me, as we basically put money up to get a game with a budget of the sum total of what we backed. Now DF are throwing a whole bunch of their money in along with pre-order money, to fund a far bigger game, that's not costing me any extra.

    One thing I'm curious about is the pre-order and final pricing for the game. $15 got you the buy in for the KS, but that was when it was expected to be a fairly small game. So the launch price would likely have been $15-$20. Now the game is so much larger, a launch price of $30 or even more seems perfectly reasonable, which makes it an even better deal for backers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malawi Frontier Guard View Post
    I haven't spent any money on the kickstarter so I don't know how informed the backers are, but did they?
    There's about 20 hours of documentary footage we've seen detailing the scoping and design process, so I'll say 'yes'.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    There's about 20 hours of documentary footage we've seen detailing the scoping and design process, so I'll say 'yes'.
    I'm waiting to watch all the documentry stuff as a series with my fiancee, so I really haven't checked it out. But, the text updates have been quite explicit about everything that's going on for a while now. I really think that about half the fuss comes from a misconception, many people have been expecting a $400k game and are bewildered that they could spend eight times that amount of money. Just as many people are upset that the possibility of a huge game taken away and replaced by a smaller one with a sequel attached. And some people saying that it looks embarrassing (which is true), some people saying that they should have announced this before Massive Chalice (which is also true), and some people that don't understand how much estimation is involved in the software process.

    I think a lot of this hubub could have been avoided if they had quietly cut the scope pretty drastically, and people would have been more satisfied even if the resulting game was worse.

  7. #27
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Casimir Effect's Avatar
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    This is where part of Kickstarter needs to require being entirely open about costs, i.e. where the money has gone*. There's been no real marketing so far so that hasn't been sucking up the cash like it usually can, and I can't see there being any other ridiculous expenses for an adventure game. The cynic in me wonders what kind of wage people are getting at Double Fine Studios. The Witcher 2 cost around $10m to make, and while that was from a company based on Poland (where I'm assuming costs are lower than US), I'm pretty sure it's leagues ahead in terms of production values.

  8. #28
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    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.
    Doesn't that only apply to physical goods and not to the game itself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave L. View Post
    And TIME. [...] It's not shocking new research, but in many ways it's much more unpredictable to budget in advance.
    I might be inclined to agree but this time they knew exactly how much money they had and were going to build a game within the confines of it. They had no plan for the Kickstarter pitch except to make a classic point and click adventure game within the scope of the funding they received. And then they failed by a significant margin - 75% of the content needing to be cut is a huge chunk of the game which goes beyond unpredictability into the realm of bad planning. I think all of us understand that things can go wrong, and predicting budgets with creative endeavours like this one isn't easy, but that excuse only holds up for so long. To suddenly not be able to fund 75% of your game from your starting budget isn't a simple case of things running over budget.

    This is why publishers aren't all bad - they can at least hold developers accountable for screw-ups. With Kickstarter, not only are they accountable to nobody, but the community will split into two as people alternatively crucify and defend them to the death.
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  9. #29
    Lesser Hivemind Node SirDavies's Avatar
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    Average monthly salary in Poland : 3510 Polish Zloty = $1046

    Average American monthly salary: $3,769

    Yeah I'd say it's pretty significant.


    Also, as someone who has seen the documentary, reading all this wild accusations and speculation gets on my nerves, so good day to y'all.
    Last edited by SirDavies; 07-07-2013 at 01:56 AM.

  10. #30
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    To the people rambling about predicting development time:

    No, it is not possible to get the exact development time until the end. Stuff comes up.
    But it IS possible to make a pretty good estimate of development time, ignoring bugs and general "not getting it right, let's redo X" stuff.

    And there are many schools of thought as to how to account for that. A good rule of thumb is "Take your estimated development time, double it. Better to be done early than late", but that is also, obviously, not always a smart idea. Especially when your financial backers are a bunch of incompetent and assholish jerks who are looking for any excuse they can find to bitch and moan about how much they hate you and how you betrayed them (so.. gamers). And even that can fall through

    That being said: if the problem really WAS "we planned too much game", then yeah, that is a screw-up. But people tend to like Double Fine as they are "visionaries", and visionaries aren't really known for making reasonable plans and sticking to them.
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  11. #31
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    But people tend to like Double Fine as they are "visionaries", and visionaries aren't really known for making reasonable plans and sticking to them.
    So... what, they're Steve Jobs now or something?

    Really, are DF that 'visionary' anymore? I mean their most recent attempts haven't been much to write home about, nothing that holds a candle to some of Schafer's previous work like Grim Fandango, which is a fucking masterpiece. Even Psychonauts is only really good because of its setting and characters, not because it's a decent game.
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  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirDavies View Post
    Average monthly salary in Poland : 3510 Polish Zloty = $1046

    Average American monthly salary: $3,769

    Yeah I'd say it's pretty significant.


    Also, as someone who has seen the documentary, reading all this wild accusations and speculation gets on my nerves, so good day to y'all.
    Average game dev salary in US, $7028 a month. I assume that Doublefine is lower since their teams are allowed greater creative freedom, which frequently translates to a lower salary. Also, there might not be as much middle management. Even at $6000 a month, that's 11% of the kickstarter to fund the whole company (which is not working on this) a month in salaries alone.

    If I had to guess, (and I really should watch the movies now) I'd say that they probably were planning to use side project money on the game to make it bigger and that money didn't really appear.

    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    So... what, they're Steve Jobs now or something?

    Really, are DF that 'visionary' anymore? I mean their most recent attempts haven't been much to write home about, nothing that holds a candle to some of Schafer's previous work like Grim Fandango, which is a fucking masterpiece. Even Psychonauts is only really good because of its setting and characters, not because it's a decent game.
    Mechanically, Stacking makes a great leap forward in the Adventure genre. It solves all the greatest problems. No pixel hunting. Very Transparent UI. Walking around to add greater verisimilitude than switching screens. Far less arbitrary limitations due to circuitous game dev logic. It makes the inventory a puzzle in and of itself. The only real flaw was the overly long movies.

    Costume Quest is cute and adequate, nothing more. The Cave was decent, not great but I'm certainly glad I got it. Haven't played Trenched or Brutal Legend. Psychonauts has some very fun gameplay moments like the lungfish level, Sasha's mind, any time you could use levitate, and the milkman. Those were fun gameplay, but the game also had awesome visual style, and surprisingly good writing in the secret rooms. The gameplay really only wore thin during the Meat Circus.
    Last edited by Internet; 07-07-2013 at 02:38 PM.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by calabi View Post
    Its pretty easy to predict the budget for a game. Its also easier to stick to a budget. Games can be scaled up or or down more easily than movies. You can remove sections and cut back features.
    If that's the case I'd suggest looking for a job as a project manager. I'm sure any company would spend good money for someone who can magically prevent the inevitable over-budget, over-time and under-scope situation the vast majority of software engineering projects end up in.

  14. #34
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirDavies View Post
    Average monthly salary in Poland : 3510 Polish Zloty = $1046

    Average American monthly salary: $3,769

    Yeah I'd say it's pretty significant.
    Indeed. I've seen a lot of this 'CDProjekt are some competitive' thing of late, but very few people seem to understand that $10 million goes a lot further in Poland than the US, especially compared to somewhere like San Francisco.
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  15. #35
    Lesser Hivemind Node Oshada's Avatar
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    Stacking fast became one of my favourite games this past week. An hour or two each night and I finished the whole game yesterday with everything done/found. Then again, Schafer let Lee Petty take over as Lead Designer for Stacking, which I feel was a great move (in hindsight of course).

    I did back Broken Age, and while I'm a bit perturbed at the extent of the miscalculation in scope I'm still confident they'll put out a good game. If it's anywhere near as good as Stacking I would've had my money's worth.

  16. #36
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    All this Kickstarter talk is silly.

    People just don't understand what Kickstarter or crowdfunding is. Therefore they should stop talking.

    First of all, going to Kickstarter doesn't entail getting money only from Kickstarter. Very few go exclusively to one place for funding. Shopping for investors (plural), is a circle of trying to get money so you can make something to show to potential investors. Budgeting for something like a computer game, that is developed in a traditional fashion, and not like it was a car, is an ongoing process.

    Again, Kickstarter is just one source of money. It is never the only source of money when a company of a certain size creates a game. You (as a developer) crowdfund because you're asking a lot of investors for a very small individual investment. It's a win/win for both parties, as investors don't need to be as knowledgeable about the product (being that the investment is economically insignificant for them), and the developer therefore doesn't need to be as aggressive or concrete when selling the idea (which, of course, is only a negative when doing something creative).

    Somewhere along the line people have gotten confused. Somewhere along the line people started thinking the developer owed them something, and even worse, they started thinking they owed them something specific.

    Well, that's just silly, and everyone should stop thinking that.

    Your investment is minuscule, and you don't have a say in this project at all, and that is, of course, how it should be. The developers are being absolute angels for considering your contribution as worthy of even a mention.

    Not to mention that you didn't buy anything. You invested in an idea.

    Let me say that again. You did not buy a game. You invested in the development of it. The potential best case scenario for a return on that investment is getting to download a high quality game. That is all.

    When a publisher invests in a game, they pretty much pay for the whole thing. That's why they expect some form of control over the return on their investment.

    You paid for the toilet paper Tim Schafer uses in a fortnight. You can't expect any form of control over anything.

    ... and it gets even better.

    I've been talking about all of this as if you had some sort of legal contract with the developer. That you actually invested in an idea. Well, you didn't. You donated money to it. You gave that idea a kick start.

    What Double Fine is doing now is obviously not optimal. It very much is a case of poor planning. But that doesn't involve you. Double Fine are acting like they are, because they're good guys, and they understand that a lot of backers are bellyaching jerks in need of comforting.

    The whole project was made on the promise that no publishers were to be involved in the development process. The point was to retain full creative control, and self-publish an adventure game. That was the premise for your donation, not getting a specific game at a specific point in time. Double Fine is doing everything they can to deliver on that promise.

    Doing this is quite the endeavour for a company their size, and it was always going to be hard. That they got caught up on economical snags isn't at all surprising.

    What is surprising is all the people donating money in their direction acting like Double Fine pissed in their cornflakes. Surprising because they really didn't. Double Fine has been completely and utterly open about their project from day one, and they've given full access to budget meetings that has exposed continual economic hardships.

    So, yeah, the grumbling around here and other gaming sites is pretty embarrassing. We should be having Double Fines back, we should be supporting them in trying to go through with their insane project. We should be celebrating independent development and economical independence for developers.

    Instead we are grumbling.
    Last edited by Sic; 07-07-2013 at 03:49 PM.

  17. #37
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    So... what, they're Steve Jobs now or something?

    Really, are DF that 'visionary' anymore? I mean their most recent attempts haven't been much to write home about, nothing that holds a candle to some of Schafer's previous work like Grim Fandango, which is a fucking masterpiece. Even Psychonauts is only really good because of its setting and characters, not because it's a decent game.
    Honestly, I am inclined to agree with you. I really don't get the big deal, and most of their good will dried up after Jack Black: The Video Game in my eyes. But people have a tendency to show loyalty to the devs whose games they have to say "Well, the game isn't great, but..." for.


    On a related note: Why the hell am I supposed to give a crap about American McGee? In the dude's entire career, he did one game that wasn't outright bad. And that was 13 years ago.
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  18. #38
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    Scrapland was better than that one game.

  19. #39
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparkasaurusmex View Post
    Scrapland was better than that one game.
    I enjoyed the first hour or two of Scrapland, but the gameplay was awkward and I always got a vibe of "So... budget title that could have actually been good"
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  20. #40
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sic View Post
    People just don't understand what Kickstarter or crowdfunding is. Therefore they should stop talking.
    Alternatively, Kickstarter is poorly explained and people have become so caught up in "Throw money at this project because advertising!" that nobody's sure what it should be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sic View Post
    Your investment is minuscule, and you don't have a say in this project at all, and that is, of course, how it should be. The developers are being absolute angels for considering your contribution as worthy of even a mention.
    So because your individual investment is small you have absolutely no interest in the project, nor should you? Utter rubbish.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sic View Post
    Let me say that again. You did not buy a game. You invested in the development of it. The potential best case scenario for a return on that investment is getting to download a high quality game. That is all.
    This is true, but that's no different from a publisher's perspective either - the entire thing is a risk, and we assume at least part of the financial burden if things go wrong for the developer. The only difference is that the publisher has a legally binding contract where the developer has to deliver a game. Kickstarter lacks any and all legal accountability save for physical products... though to my knowledge it's yet to be tested in court.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sic View Post
    You donated money to it. You gave that idea a kick start.
    Kickstarter is not a donation. It is not a charity. A donation is given without any sort of expectation. In anything you do with Kickstarter there is always an expectation of some kind of reward. That reward may never materialise, and it might be something ridiculously tiny like "Thanks for giving me your money! Here's a sticker!" but that's entirely different from a donation. And if Kickstarter was all about donations, I'd damn well want them to be tax deductible.


    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    On a related note: Why the hell am I supposed to give a crap about American McGee? In the dude's entire career, he did one game that wasn't outright bad. And that was 13 years ago.
    Because his name is American McGee. And he made Doom levels or something. Also I saw him dressed up in a rabbit suit once. Am I helping his case here?
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