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  1. #1
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    Double Fine Adventure Game Is Running Over Budget

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    At 800% funded, it's a bit weird, but it seems like they think they're going to run over budget midway through development.

    For one of the first big Kickstarter-funded games, this is a really, really bad sign, at least in my opinion, and it shows that Kickstarter might not be the magic pot of dreams it was meant to be.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    It's Tim Schafer. I'd be surprised if this didn't happen!
    I don't think anyone will freak out over this - at least those who were around when he was delaying and blowing the budget on games that ended up being Full Throttle and Grim Fandango. You know it's not a Tim Schafer game if either of these things didn't happen.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    So how is he going to finish up those games if he run's out of budger,and have no publisher ? :D

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaftPunk View Post
    So how is he going to finish up those games if he run's out of budger,and have no publisher ? :D
    They're planning on going to a publisher to get money for the game.
    Last edited by R-F; 10-02-2013 at 09:24 PM.

  5. #5
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    You're misinterpreting what's going on. They've run the numbers and realized that if they keep spending at the rate they are, they will run over budget, they're not over budget yet. So they're reducing the scope of the game slightly (because the 800% over-funding allowed them to expand the scope of the game dramatically, they just went a bit too far), and they're looking into some additional funding, but trying to avoid going to a publisher (the recent Ouya deal is part of that).

    The only lesson to be learned here about Kickstarters is that a more solid design doc should be in place before asking for people's money.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave L. View Post
    The only lesson to be learned here about Kickstarters is that a more solid design doc should be in place before asking for people's money.
    The big lesson is that crowd funded games are susceptible to the same development problems as traditionally published games.

    Kickstarter is a great idea and hopefully it will lead to some games that wouldn't have been made otherwise, but I think kickstarter backers may gain some appreciation of how a publishing company views risky games. Double Fine will probably have no problems securing a publisher for their game when development is already partially funded and well underway, but others may not. How will you respond if a Kickstarter project you've backed comes back in 6 months and asks you for more money?

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone realistically thought Kickstarter wouldn't have issues (even if some may have tried to sell things that way). There's going to be games that need additional funding (even over and above any they may have already planned). There's going to be games that just plain don't get finished. These sort of things happen.

    Specifically in Double Fine's case as Dave L pointed out they are currently projected to go over budget (and are already taking measures to reduce by how much) and from watching the documentaries this isn't the only issue they've had (there was a bit of tension over the role of the lead artist in terms of concept work vs rendering work). Certainly the documentary gives the impression they've been in these positions before and deal with them (obviously it's not in their interests to say otherwise but I do get the impression the documentary is an honest reflection of where they are at - they certainly haven't shied away from showing people's worries and so on).

    Yes they are seeking other funding but they do say that they intend to avoid seeking a publisher as control over the project is why they went to Kickstarter in the first place.

  8. #8
    Network Hub buemba's Avatar
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    The problem with the Double Fine game is that when they did the kickstarter the entire design document for it seemed to be a post-it with "Make a point and click adventure game. Signed, Tim" written on it (Which makes sense since the documentary's pitch was always see us make a game from scratch). It's possible that most projects are like that and we just don't see because there isn't a documentary crew following it and releasing monthly videos, but my impression is that Banner Saga, Republique and Dreamfall Chapters for example were farther along in development before they started asking for money, which let them plan their budgets more carefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelron View Post
    How will you respond if a Kickstarter project you've backed comes back in 6 months and asks you for more money?
    While I don't think that's ever happened, I'm pretty sure Indie Game: The Movie had to create a second kickstarter after they spent all the money from the first one, and Star Command came up with a pitch for a PC port months after the IOS kickstarter succeeded to get more cash.
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  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lambchops View Post
    I don't think anyone realistically thought Kickstarter wouldn't have issues (even if some may have tried to sell things that way).
    I disagree, I think a lot of people backed projects with the idea that its the same as pre-ordering the game.

  10. #10
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
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    ...and so the Internet was reminded why those evil publishers who push devs and make them meet tight deadlines and cut features aren't always so evil after all.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelron View Post
    The big lesson is that crowd funded games are susceptible to the same development problems as traditionally published games.
    This. This times a billion burning suns. If anyone thought that it was going to be a utopia with no publishers and devs getting everything right and on track they were blind. Reading over dev diaries for any title reveals that devs screw up and make mistakes too, it isn't always the fault of the publishers for pushing too hard or demanding X or Y changes. Given how low accountability really is with Kickstarter titles (for some Kickstarters we have no idea where the money actually goes, it could be a John Romero Ion Storm free for all for all we know) it's not inconceivable that they're spending too much and going too far over budget.

    The question this raises is why Schafer has let it get this bad. They know how much money they have, there's no ambiguity here. They asked for so much and got way more than it. If they were prepared to develop a game for their original KS amount, they should have had no trouble with budgeting to deliver within their expanded budget with extras. It demonstrates a lack of budgeting, something that no business (and all game developers are businesses) should screw up.

    Quote Originally Posted by buemba View Post
    The problem with the Double Fine game is that when they did the kickstarter the entire design document for it seemed to be a post-it with "Make a point and click adventure game. Signed, Tim" written on it (Which makes sense since the documentary's pitch was always see us make a game from scratch).
    It only makes sense from a marketing perspective. "I'm Tim Schafer. I did some games you liked. I'm going to make some sort of point and click adventure game, FEED ME YOUR WALLETS." He basically collected funds on his name and the promise to make an adventure game. There seemed to be such little planning in this that I'm surprised it got off the ground so quickly. Oh wait, no I'm not, it's Tim Schafer. I liked Grim Fandango as much as the next guy, but even for an industry vet I still expect a bit more than what was posted. Obviously it's enough for other people to take the risk though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelron View Post
    I disagree, I think a lot of people backed projects with the idea that its the same as pre-ordering the game.
    Everyone will jump on your back and say that it's not a preorder but by and large I think you're right in how people backed some of these games. Nobody really wants the tiers that don't give you a copy of the finished game, people want the finished game presumably because they want to play it and that's why they backed it. I think it's fair to suggest that most backers expect the game to be delivered as promised when they throw their money down and that it'd be delivered within a suitable timeframe. Some of them may have treated it like a preorder in that regard.

  12. #12
    Network Hub SirDavies's Avatar
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    I'm a backer and from what I've seen I'm pretty sure they'll figure it out without the need of a publisher.

  13. #13
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    Not really a surprise to me, the amounts of money getting thrown around on Kickstarter really are very small, especially if your objective is to release a AAA quality product with a multi-year development cycle. I remember the Darkfall devs taking out a very large loan, possibly 20mil in order to finish off and release their game after a long development period.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirDavies View Post
    I'm a backer and from what I've seen I'm pretty sure they'll figure it out without the need of a publisher.
    Wasn't the point of Kickstarter to free devs from publishers, creating an unmitigated orgy of innovation and creativity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Utnac View Post
    Not really a surprise to me, the amounts of money getting thrown around on Kickstarter really are very small, especially if your objective is to release a AAA quality product with a multi-year development cycle.
    Were we expecting AAA titles to come out of Kickstarter?

  15. #15
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    I think there was a post on RPS a few weeks back discussing the issues with KS stretch goals, which I think might be what's coming into play here. I can imagine that it would be quite easy for a lot of projects to make a decent estimate of their budget, then just throw stretch goals in at certain points because they sound nice without thinking about the real cost of implementing them.

    Regardless, I'm not invested in this game, so I don't have much of an opinion here, though if they do go to a publisher to get more money as some people have suggested then I consider that to be a serious breach of trust. Isn't part of the point of Kickstarter that the game isn't going to have a publisher breathing down the dev teams necks?

  16. #16
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    There seemed to be such little planning in this that I'm surprised it got off the ground so quickly.
    The first episode of the documentary is almost entirely Tim and Ron sitting at a table talking about how they would make the game for their original $300k ask (which, remember, they had doubts they were going to get because that was the largest amount of money anybody had asked for for a game Kickstarter) before launching the campaign. After it launched and they got ALL OF THE MONIES their scope ballooned, as it does.

    I'd rather game creators dream big in pre-production like this and then cut back the scope to meet their budget than keep their dreams small to meet the budget right at the beginning.

    And they're not going to a publisher. They said so in the last episode of the doc and Tim's re-iterated it in backer updates. They don't want to cede creative control, and they do view it as breaking their promise to the backers. They're looking to get additional funds through distribution deals (Ouya) and possibly earmarking some of the residuals from Psychonauts and Brutal Legend for DFA. In the last episode of the doc they flat out say that going to a publisher pretty much means Double Fine will have to give up being an independent studio altogether.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave L. View Post
    I'd rather game creators dream big in pre-production like this and then cut back the scope to meet their budget than keep their dreams small to meet the budget right at the beginning.
    Provided it's caught early, it probably doesn't do any harm. Maybe I'm just more cautious, but it seems to me that you should have an idea of what you can accomplish with your funds and lock down your core instead of promising the moon and delivering a moon rock. Think of Peter Molyneux - he dreams big and hypes it and cuts it until you get nothing.

  18. #18
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    Some Kickstarter projects kickstart with the goal to show some private funds or publisher there is enough interest for the game and that it will be half funded already.

    Double Fine launched before the idea of stretch goals came about. Sure they said the game would just evolve, but just made a game, stop adding to it.

    Over a six-to-eight month period, a small team under Tim Schafer's supervision will develop Double Fine's next game, a classic point-and-click adventure.
    Righttt...long eight months.

    There is nothing wrong with being under budget. Just because you got backed for that amount does not mean you have to plan to use it all, which ends up delaying it and making it over budget.

  19. #19
    Lesser Hivemind Node internetonsetadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Wasn't the point of Kickstarter to free devs from publishers, creating an unmitigated orgy of innovation and creativity?
    Not exactly the point of Kickstarter, but that's certainly the expectation that developed post-DFA, at least where gaming is concerned. Although the model doesn't interest me much, I don't have a problem with devs using Kickstarter to raise part of the necessary capital and then turning to a publisher, but I think that's something they should be clear on up front, not something they fall back on when they've exhausted a budget that was supposed to be sufficient.

    If other projects go over budget and this becomes a thing, are some of the IPs Kickstarter is helping to create simply going to end up in the hands of publishers anyway? Should I look forward to a Wasteland 2 sequel in the Creation 2 engine? Perhaps Kickstarter will give devs more bargaining power, but I can't see publishers putting up a lot of cash without wanting a lot in return.

    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Were we expecting AAA titles to come out of Kickstarter?
    Star Citizen? The promises sound fairly AAA at least. Also a lot of others, if you put them in a time machine and send them back to the late 90s/early 2000s.

    And speaking of Star Citizen, I was never thrilled with the idea that the crowdfunds were basically investor bait. Still, I prefer this to the funds being publisher bait. Maybe Kickstarter tipped the balance just enough that developers can go on seeking investors rather than IP eaters. That's change I can (almost... not really) believe in.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by internetonsetadd View Post
    Not exactly the point of Kickstarter
    Oh come on, the most lauded point of Kickstarter was that it would free developers from publishers pandering to shareholders, making them accountable to... well, nobody I guess, because it sure as hell won't be the people funding the game. Kickstarter was a shining beacon of possibility to drag us out of the dark ages of EA drone-devs making the same thing again and again, ushering in a new era of innovation! Or 90s remakes, apparently.

    Quote Originally Posted by internetonsetadd View Post
    Perhaps Kickstarter will give devs more bargaining power, but I can't see publishers putting up a lot of cash without wanting a lot in return.
    If they can't finish without publisher funding, how does that give them more bargaining power? "Oh I see you've run out of money and want to finish that game. Allow us to fund that for you! But we're going to make a couple of changes before release, since we now have an interest in this project..."

    Quote Originally Posted by internetonsetadd View Post
    Star Citizen? The promises sound fairly AAA at least. Also a lot of others, if you put them in a time machine and send them back to the late 90s/early 2000s.
    Time machine is largely irrelevant since standards change, so a AAA title by 90s standards doesn't really mean much. Although since indie devs seem to be going back to the past far too often maybe it doesn't matter. I guess it raises the question of what is AAA. But given that most games that are considered "AAA" have multi-million dollar budgets with massive teams, I don't think we can hold many of these studios to the same standards.

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