Pillars of Eternity Catch-All

Certis wrote:

Interesting to note that a lot of companies (especially larger ones) are using Kickstarter to generate interest in games publishers won't normally go for and using their success as leverage to secure publisher funding.

So you make a couple million on Kickstarter and then get another ten from a publisher. Having your own capital up front helps do things like keep your own IP and work out an equitable deal. As far as systems for publisher/developer relations, it's a pretty good one.

Have there been any games that have been picked up by a publisher after a successful kickstarter? If so, which ones? I always figured this was part of the appeal of kickstarter for larger companies but I haven't followed closely enough.

Vector wrote:
Certis wrote:

Interesting to note that a lot of companies (especially larger ones) are using Kickstarter to generate interest in games publishers won't normally go for and using their success as leverage to secure publisher funding.

So you make a couple million on Kickstarter and then get another ten from a publisher. Having your own capital up front helps do things like keep your own IP and work out an equitable deal. As far as systems for publisher/developer relations, it's a pretty good one.

Have there been any games that have been picked up by a publisher after a successful kickstarter? If so, which ones? I always figured this was part of the appeal of kickstarter for larger companies but I haven't followed closely enough.

Something I'd note is that most of the big success kickstarters have come from companies that have some unpleasant history with publishers or haven't produced their best owing to publisher influence in some way.

Perhaps another way of looking at it is it's six of one, half a dozen of the other, that for some studios working under a publisher isn't the best way for them. Perhaps there needs to be more support and co-dependence between independent developers and publishers, that monolithic publishers acquiring and integrating everything, or pulling all the strings isn't the way to go. Perhaps kickstarter isn't a massive counterweight on the balance of power between publishers and independent developers, but a weight towards the middle to give them a bit more bargaining power.

All that said, for the big name/success projects, it's still early-days, and few have completed yet.

Vector wrote:
Certis wrote:

Interesting to note that a lot of companies (especially larger ones) are using Kickstarter to generate interest in games publishers won't normally go for and using their success as leverage to secure publisher funding.

So you make a couple million on Kickstarter and then get another ten from a publisher. Having your own capital up front helps do things like keep your own IP and work out an equitable deal. As far as systems for publisher/developer relations, it's a pretty good one.

Have there been any games that have been picked up by a publisher after a successful kickstarter? If so, which ones? I always figured this was part of the appeal of kickstarter for larger companies but I haven't followed closely enough.

Give it time, when I say "publishers" I'm not picking my words well. "Investors" might be a better fit.

Certis wrote:
Vector wrote:
Certis wrote:

Interesting to note that a lot of companies (especially larger ones) are using Kickstarter to generate interest in games publishers won't normally go for and using their success as leverage to secure publisher funding.

So you make a couple million on Kickstarter and then get another ten from a publisher. Having your own capital up front helps do things like keep your own IP and work out an equitable deal. As far as systems for publisher/developer relations, it's a pretty good one.

Have there been any games that have been picked up by a publisher after a successful kickstarter? If so, which ones? I always figured this was part of the appeal of kickstarter for larger companies but I haven't followed closely enough.

Give it time, when I say "publishers" I'm not picking my words well. "Investors" might be a better fit.

Wasn't sure if the publisher aspect had happened yet that I wasn't aware of. I wonder if a significant investment is obtained for a kickstarted project if the company would announced it. Regardless, I look forward to the inevitable gamer outrage.

I think if you look at a game like Project Eternity with an estimated release date of April 2014, even if they pull 4 million they can't necessarily pay everyone their salary based solely on that. It can be as simple as securing bank financing based on the "pre-order" numbers that were essentially paid in advance on Kickstarter.

No Kickstarter = no financial support to make the game so I doubt fans would know/care.

Certis wrote:

I think if you look at a game like Project Eternity with an estimated release date of April 2014, even if they pull 4 million they can't necessarily pay everyone their salary based solely on that. It can be as simple as securing bank financing based on the "pre-order" numbers that were essentially paid in advance on Kickstarter.

No Kickstarter = no financial support to make the game so I doubt fans would know/care.

Definitely. I just think internet people are massive entitled whiners. They shouldn't care, though. If Kickstarter proves to be an excellent way of proving interest in a product then I am more for it. That's how I treat it.

One thing I don't understand is how companies expect to make money off of the games. If the 2-4m raised goes towards production then I guess everything after that is profit? Is there much of an audience base outside of those that Kickstarted the project?

I'm just waiting for the day when one of these major Kickstarter games gets co-opted by a publisher that comes in after the fact and ends up ruining it, which ultimately creates a major backlash against all of it.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

I'm just waiting for the day when one of these major Kickstarter games gets co-opted by a publisher that comes in after the fact and ends up ruining it, which ultimately creates a major backlash against all of it.

Isn't that what sequels are, in a round-about way?

Could this be what we've all been waiting for? Isometric, party based fantasy game like Baldur's Gate? Hope so. I really do.

Certis wrote:

I think if you look at a game like Project Eternity with an estimated release date of April 2014, even if they pull 4 million they can't necessarily pay everyone their salary based solely on that.

Why not? As stated in the GameBanshee interview, there are currently four named people and "a few other people" working on Project Eternity, not to mention that Obsidian is also working on the South Park RPG and co-developing The Wheel of Time game. Obsidian's CEO also said:

The ultimate size of the development team is going to be dependent on how the Kickstarter campaign goes – the more money we get in, the more people we are going to bring over onto the team.

So I don't see why they can't pay everyone (who's working on PE) their salary based solely on the money raised by the kickstarter campaign. Based on the statement of their CEO, that seems to be exactly how they're planning to handle it.

There it went past the first stretch goal at $1.4 million: "New playable race, class, and companion!" The project is slowing down after the opening rush, so I imagine it will be a few days before the next stretch goal is hit, a little bit of breathing room.

I think thats my biggest curiosity with these "larger" KS games...how many units will they sell after the initial preorders.. I.e. are these niche "feed my family and keep the lights on" projects or is there real potential for profit and eventual growth for companies like DoubleFine.

TheGameguru wrote:

I think thats my biggest curiosity with these "larger" KS games...how many units will they sell after the initial preorders.. I.e. are these niche "feed my family and keep the lights on" projects or is there real potential for profit and eventual growth for companies like DoubleFine.

Personally I haven't backed any project yet, but I figure it's not as though they won't sell to me when a project completes and I can see the end result.

On the long term, I guess it comes down to a successful pitch. 'Traditionally' I assume a developer would pitch to a publisher for funds, and then towards the end of development they would pitch to the public to buy it. On a simplistic level it would seem that to use it sustainably you would need to have a good process for the conception of the idea and enough pre-production for the pitch, but perhaps aiming that pitch a different type of audience.

So you make a couple million on Kickstarter and then get another ten from a publisher. Having your own capital up front helps do things like keep your own IP and work out an equitable deal.

Hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense. To whatever degree we can keep control of gaming out of the hands of big companies, I suspect, our fortunes as gamers will improve. The last entity you want in control of a universe or environment you love is a corporation that thinks of you as a source for monetization.

TheGameguru wrote:

I think thats my biggest curiosity with these "larger" KS games...how many units will they sell after the initial preorders.. I.e. are these niche "feed my family and keep the lights on" projects or is there real potential for profit and eventual growth for companies like DoubleFine.

I'm glad I'm not the only one wondering about that. It's part of the reason I am skeptical about how people (fans and companies) treat Kickstarter. I think at the very least it can give a known developer a temporary shot in the arm.

Scratched wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

I think thats my biggest curiosity with these "larger" KS games...how many units will they sell after the initial preorders.. I.e. are these niche "feed my family and keep the lights on" projects or is there real potential for profit and eventual growth for companies like DoubleFine.

Personally I haven't backed any project yet, but I figure it's not as though they won't sell to me when a project completes and I can see the end result.

I'm like that with everything else, but Project Eternity did good job of offering $20 price for first backers. (That tier is probably sold out already.) With European Steam prices for all big new titles being €40-€50 that's a steal.

Malor wrote:
Icewind Dale 1&2 were pretty solid as far as bugs go.

They were probably the best of the Infinity Engine games, but a lot of that was because there wasn't much plot -- the Icewind Dales are tactical combat simulators, the Fallout Tactics of D&D. They have just enough of a plot to move you from challenging fight to challenging fight. Without the insane complexity of Baldur's Gate, there was less to go wrong.

That's fair to say. My problem has been, after completing both IWD's then going back to Baldur's Gate I, BG seems very slow paced.

But anyway, I'd like to see a stretch goal like what DoubleFine did as a joke, at $2.5 million add anthropomorphic pandas as a playable race, and at $3 million take them out

Vector wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

I think thats my biggest curiosity with these "larger" KS games...how many units will they sell after the initial preorders.. I.e. are these niche "feed my family and keep the lights on" projects or is there real potential for profit and eventual growth for companies like DoubleFine.

I'm glad I'm not the only one wondering about that. It's part of the reason I am skeptical about how people (fans and companies) treat Kickstarter. I think at the very least it can give a known developer a temporary shot in the arm.

Its one thing to essentially fund on a project by project basis.. but to me (as a business man) I wouldn't consider a KS "successful" unless I make enough profit off the project to essentially not have to KS my next project. You basically replace the Publisher with the "community" for your funding if your not creating projects that are successful enough to sell above and beyond (in a significant way) your initial KS "orders"

In theory the Publisher/Developer relationship makes sense.. in so much the Publishers creates a security blanket that allows the developer to grow when needed..reward key employees..grow in a manageable and intelligent fashion all the time continuing to learn and develop better and better games. The reality though is that the Publisher essentially treats Developers very much in a what have you done for me lately fashion and will kill quickly any and all nonperforming assets.

TheGameguru wrote:

Its one thing to essentially fund on a project by project basis.. but to me (as a business man) I wouldn't consider a KS "successful" unless I make enough profit off the project to essentially not have to KS my next project. You basically replace the Publisher with the "community" for your funding if your not creating projects that are successful enough to sell above and beyond (in a significant way) your initial KS "orders"

I'll agree that it's probably not for the best if a company becomes reliant upon kickstarter, but I'd say it has one big benefit over the dev/pub relationship in that you're dealing with your end-customers, and hopefully the projects that get kickstarted are commercially viable because of this.

Something I think will be interesting is if a company puts all their chips on one pitch, and if/when they don't successfully kickstart do they throw their hands in the air and moan about it, or do they change focus and work on a new pitch. I think the Republique project was going down that road, they had fully committed themselves behind their project, and almost didn't make it.

Scratched wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

Its one thing to essentially fund on a project by project basis.. but to me (as a business man) I wouldn't consider a KS "successful" unless I make enough profit off the project to essentially not have to KS my next project. You basically replace the Publisher with the "community" for your funding if your not creating projects that are successful enough to sell above and beyond (in a significant way) your initial KS "orders"

I'll agree that it's probably not for the best if a company becomes reliant upon kickstarter, but I'd say it has one big benefit over the dev/pub relationship in that you're dealing with your end-customers, and hopefully the projects that get kickstarted are commercially viable because of this.

Something I think will be interesting is if a company puts all their chips on one pitch, and if/when they don't successfully kickstart do they throw their hands in the air and moan about it, or do they change focus and work on a new pitch. I think the Republique project was going down that road, they had fully committed themselves behind their project, and almost didn't make it.

I agree its a great and disrupting way for developers to essentially make games that their fans want.. what I'm not convinced is will that translate to a successfully run developer? Profits matter.. and essentially all your money from the KS is "spoken for" unless that developer is savy enough to both accurately budget their development (in both time and dollars something that my experience tells me is difficult for developers) and be smart with their KS requests to allow for some profit before any "real" units are sold. Cash flow is huge for a developer and the few months it takes for a recently launched title to get sold to new customers and for the developer to get the cash can be "scary".

As well its great for the few developers who are passionate about gaming in so much they don't really want growth or options.. but employees of that developer will want raises and training and growth.. I'm hesitant to the long term life of these developers if they do really live check to check.

I'm kind of floored that individual people contribute thousands of dollars to project like this (11 people have paid up $3000 or more so far). I mean, it isn't an investment where you get a return on your money.

Kinda odd, but one of the things I'm most excited about is that they're going back to the Baldur's Gate/Planescape system of having specific histories for epic weapons. It was always kind of neat to take a break and read up on the sweet artifact level dagger you just picked up.

I was thinking about BG2 items a bit when they've announced Project Eternity. My biggest pet peeve in current RPGs like Skyrim are item sellers (and drops) randomized and algorithmically fit ever so well to your progress curve. BG2 is a directly opposite approach - *first* indoors location that many players will visit after completing prologue is Adventurer's Mart, full of powerful, exciting, unique items that give them some incentive to start earning some money and also make them think about which way build their characters.

When I look at the April 2014 proposed release date I wonder if they are shooting themselves in the foot already. It appears they are trying to recreate the epicness of a DA:O or Baldur's gate yet only giving themselves a year and a half to complete it? I am sure there has been some work on it but these things usually take at least another year of focused work to get out the door.

I am pretty sure that 4 year dev cycles are par for the course for these types of games.

fangblackbone wrote:

When I look at the April 2014 proposed release date I wonder if they are shooting themselves in the foot already. It appears they are trying to recreate the epicness of a DA:O or Baldur's gate yet only giving themselves a year and a half to complete it? I am sure there has been some work on it but these things usually take at least another year of focused work to get out the door.

I am pretty sure that 4 year dev cycles are par for the course for these types of games.

DA2 was done in 11 months, with no reuse from DA:O apparently.

Baldur's Gate 2 took 21 months from start to finish. They had the engine and working formula, but I'm assuming that groundwork that Obsidian did so far and improved content production tools easily give them enough of a headstart.

UCRC wrote:

Baldur's Gate 2 took 21 months from start to finish. They had the engine and working formula, but I'm assuming that groundwork that Obsidian did so far and improved content production tools easily give them enough of a headstart.

Probably helps that they don't have to shoehorn the D&D system into a CRPG format.

I'm kind of floored that individual people contribute thousands of dollars to project like this (11 people have paid up $3000 or more so far). I mean, it isn't an investment where you get a return on your money.

It's being a patron of the arts, for the digital age. It's like buying the box seat at the theater, in a sense. These games meant a great deal to many of us, growing up, and now that we've gotten older and richer, some of us have lots of disposable income with which to say 'thanks, your work has really inspired me.'

Its one thing to essentially fund on a project by project basis.. but to me (as a business man) I wouldn't consider a KS "successful" unless I make enough profit off the project to essentially not have to KS my next project.

That's because, as you say, you are a businessman. It doesn't have to be about business, and going from Kickstarter to Kickstarter would be a perfectly reasonable way to make a living, if people's willingness to be patrons continues. (an open question). If the goal is to make great art in a computer, then even if you don't sell one copy beyond the Kickstarter, you still did fine -- the bills got paid, and you got to work on something you really enjoyed.

If your backers are happy, and are willing to back you again, that's all that matters.

That's because, as you say, you are a businessman. It doesn't have to be about business, and going from Kickstarter to Kickstarter would be a perfectly reasonable way to make a living, if people's willingness to be patrons continues. (an open question). If the goal is to make great art in a computer, then even if you don't sell one copy beyond the Kickstarter, you still did fine -- the bills got paid, and you got to work on something you really enjoyed.

If your backers are happy, and are willing to back you again, that's all that matters.

I mean thats all great in the land of Fairies and Gumdrops but running any small business that way will produce a great deal of strain and pressure on the owners. Unless you create almost the perfect storm where you are all employee owners and find enough people to essentially say we are going to work in the exact same way for the foreseeable future with no savings, no growth, and no possible expansion/promotion. Given that most of the games require at least a small team it will be stressful to keep everyone happy.. and if not.. stressful to constantly find new talent to combat the churn.

DA2 was done in 11 months, with no reuse from DA:O apparently.

Yeah, and practically the first thing anyone says about it is that it was obviously rushed. It needed at least another six months, and a year would have been better.

I'm pretty amazed that they finished BG2 in just 21 months. But I wonder how much staff and money they threw at it?

edit to add:

Probably helps that they don't have to shoehorn the D&D system into a CRPG format.

I'm sure implementing all those zillions of spells and special abilities and magic items took a TON of time. Being set in AD&D must have been both a blessing (incredibly rich and diverse content) and a curse (incredibly rich and diverse content, much of which HAD to be there, or it wasn't AD&D.)

Skipping all that could save these guys a ton of time, but then they need something else to replace it, and like it or hate it, D&D had, jeeze, hundreds of thousands of hours of collective thinking time invested? Gonna be hard to match that.

Fallout was pretty successful, but I've never overwhelmingly liked the SPECIAL system, in any of its incarnations. I certainly don't hate it, but it's pretty thin gruel compared to, say, GURPS. (which the game was originally going to use.)