Broken Age Catch-All

MeatMan wrote:

For those interested, I'd suggested reading the message from Tim in full at Kickstarter.

Oddly the update is backers only. I'm sure I cut some details to keep the post short

MeatMan wrote:

I'm not bothered at all that Tim "designed too much game," but what I am concerned about is his/their expectation to receive enough revenue from Steam early access to essentially fund development of the second half of the game's content. That seems like a tall order based on how Tim describes things in his message.

Didn't they say they were looking at external funding for the project instead of going back to Kickstarter to complete the project? My guess is Dracogen is helping them but going Early Access certainly isn't going to hurt, and that seems to be the overall strategy many projects are going with now.

shoptroll wrote:

This is a bit of an apples to orange comparison, but if Planetary Annihilation can crack the Steam top sellers list at $90 I can't imagine Broken Age is going to have trouble.

Good point. I knew PA early access was $90, but I didn't know that many people were actually buying it for that price.

Another thought: With Double Fine spending all the money from the KS, plus revenue from the PC port of Brutal Legend, the Humble Bundle, and Steam early access, I wonder how many people will be left to buy the full game (e.g. the actual profit) when it's finished. Maybe I'm not being optimistic enough, but I really like DF, and I want them and this game to be successful.

SuperDave wrote:
WipEout wrote:

You know, the more I think about it, the more I wonder why they didn't do episodic releases. Telltale has proved out the model for adventure games, at least. And while the content for Broken Age isn't as "plug-n-play" for the dialog/puzzles/assets as Telltale made out their engine to be, I would think that having the overall game roadmapped would have made turning it into episodes a little easier.

They can't do episodic because they wrote a whole new engine. From the looks of things, the tech isn't 100% yet, and they can't release until it, let alone put a rubber stamp on any of the content, until it is.

All the more reason to release in episodes, I'd think-- Ep.1 might be buggy on release day, but they'd get the game out, satisfy backers (mostly), and be able to debug and patch it as well as Ep.2 and so on.

Fun episode! I'm cool with whatever they want to do. I got my money's worth out of the documentary already.

Tim clarifies that DF is using their own money to pay for the continued development of the game when they run out of money from the Kickstarter.

I feel bad about posting details from a backer only update if the intent of that update was as a follow up to the earlier episode where they talked about budget concerns. On the other hand I think most people reading this thread are backers which explains why there hasn't been nearly as much furor as other sites...

EDIT: Companion op-ed at USGamer.

In the latest KS update for The Banner Saga, after listing progress that had been made on their game, the dev posted a somewhat "inside baseball" discussion about the Broken Age situtation that I thought was interesting and worth sharing here.

Even though this was posted in a backers-only update, I don't mind reposting it here, as it isn't just about their game, but more about kickstarter games that get much more funding than they asked for.

Alex from Stoic wrote:

Lots of stuff has been going on in the Kickstarter community lately. I'm sure many of you have noticed Double Fine's announcement about splitting up their game into two parts. They've gotten some serious heat for this. Backers of Shadowrun have heard similar things about the content in that game, with the DLC being released much later.

First of all, I want to be clear that we do not intend to do something like this for The Banner Saga. When it releases it will be a complete product. We don't have plans for DLC at this time, and we will continue to support the multiplayer component. We also intend to continue on the sequels (chapter 2 and 3) just as planned.

I would also like to talk about my personal opinion on this, and I'd love to be open and talk like a normal person instead of a PR person in damage control mode. Can we do this? Without freaking out? You can disagree with me of course, just be nice about it.

This is hard. Like, way WAY hard. When we pitched the game we were hoping for enough money to get extra animations, maybe increase the length of the game. We thought we'd get, like, 2000 backers, not 20,000. A fine problem to have, right? Haha! Except that it's actually a huge problem. The hardest problem I've ever dealt with in my life. Now I know.

We thought now we could do everything we ever wanted for the game, and got too ambitious. We thought we could make the game in six months, and I'm still not sure what we were thinking. That was stupid. I wish I could take that back, all we needed to do was put a different date there and nobody would be complaining. Whoops. We ARE still doing everything we want, and it's taking a long time. I don't feel bad about that. That was the POINT, right? To dream as big as we could?

It's interesting to think of it from someone else's point of view. For many people, letting a dev shoot for the moon is NOT the point. For a lot of people the point is I BOUGHT A GAME, WHERE IS IT? They want the biggest, best game ever made, on time, for their $10 contribution. I can see that, too. I don't really agree... but I suppose it's a matter of perspective.

If nothing else, I think the gaming community is finally getting a good picture about real game development. What would really shock people is that there is nothing unusual about any of this, except that you are finally seeing it. This is every game development story that has ever existed, except instead of the publisher dealing with it, YOU are.

Budgets of 1 to 4 million are small-to-medium sized. Our budget of $650k (in actual funding) is relatively small, half a year of production for a small team. Budgets of kickstarter projects asking for $20k... that's not enough to make a game, that's just some content. Surprise! Games you've come to expect as "standard" like Call of Duty: maybe 150 million to make, rough guess. You know how much Old Republic cost? I'm not legally allowed to tell you, actually. It's that much. Now you know.

Games take 1 year to make... if it's a casual iOS game, or an annual sequel. Medium sized games take 2-3 years. Large games take 4-5 years. Believe it or not, lots of games fall in a nebulous space between AAA and "indie", whatever that means. The Old Republic took over 6 years. Yeah, you started hearing about it 1 year before it released. It started production five years before that. For five years hundreds of people toiled on it 12 hours a day and you had no idea! Now you know! 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.

Delays, content cuts, pushed back dates, plans to make revenue sooner- this is how games are developed. Bioshock Infinite, the biggest game of 2013, got delayed for half a year, AFTER pre-orders were sold. Journey took 3 years to make a 3 hour game and had to go back for more funding from Sony TWICE. That's how game development goes. They didn't know they'd need to do it. Humans are not good at estimating creative endeavors, no matter how "professional" they are.

We released a truly free demo hoping to make some extra cash for development, and got brutalized for it. But without that income and development time our single-player game wouldn't be as good. Some people will never understand this.

I've worked in games for about a decade. Some companies I worked for had their stuff together better than others. Some were a huge, hundred-million dollar, extremely delayed nightmares. Every company had delays and went over-budget. You know what a release date is? A guess. We're just guessing.

Essentially, I hope people don't freak out too much about what's happening with Kickstarter right now. It's not deceitful or underhanded. It's not a conspiracy. It's normal stuff, whether you like it or not. If Broken Age wasn't a Kickstarter game the first time you would have heard about it would be a couple months from ship, and that it was a two-part adventure game. And you would have been fine with that.

This kickstarter for a Roguelike called Cataclysm shows an interesting way to do it. Here's a link to the update where he talks about it. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...

He's attaching additional project time to each stretch goal. It's only fair to add time with additional work, something more projects should think about.

Another thing I think projects should think about is not adding stretch goals that increase the actual development of the game. Instead, maybe convert to higher quality t-shirts, upgrade existing tiers to incrementally better rewards. Improve things for backers without bloating the game out of control.

It's a delicate thing, I can see when you add features to the base game that may bloat the initial schedule from your un-stretch-goaled schedule, because all that extra stuff has to go into the base rather than being expansions after the base.

I hope Double Fine does whatever they think is best, but it's not an oversimplification that they made about $2.5 Million after fees and rewards and Tim's quoted budget for this game is $10 Million; about 4 times what was provided.

If they had the funds themselves to push the project through, that's one thing, but it's unreasonable to run a project for quite a while only to realize too late that you need 4 times the amount of money you have and double what you can reasonably scrounge up quickly (through their other projects). As a studio, they've been creating smaller games for years now and should have enough experience managing a project for this not to happen.

Maybe Tim is unable to build the game in a scale-able way, but they had 'working' tech and art assets built early enough that they should have had a reasonable estimate of how long it would take and this project with it's limitations should have been cut in half. 1/2 the art, 1/2 the puzzles, 1/2 the whatever.

I can wait for it to come out and hopefully it will be better, but I think it's clear that Double Fine without publisher management will push for holding onto their full vision even when they don't have the resources.

I won't link it, because it gets a bit rambly, but I enjoyed Videogamer's podcast discussion on this. I had been perturbed and negative about the situation, but didn't have the words for it. Basically, in business sh*t happens. You then do the right thing, correct yourself, and move on. Which I hope they're doing. They can have the excuse of GDC, PAX, E3, and Massive Chalice, but they didn't come forward with their scheduling mishap until days after their last Kickstarter. Is it really too much to expect a +20 yr industry professional to not over-budget a product by at least another year?

I'd say it's fair to expect some risk management, perhaps listing some contingencies you preparing for when you ask for the money.

A lot of this 'internet going off on one' does seem to be down to the difference between treating kickstarter as pledging to a project (and all it entails) and a pre-order. I wish more people would just take the approach that they need to wait until there's a product ready so they can make a clear purchase as they seem to want.

If I give money to a bunch of guys (and I have) who don't have industry experience, I'm trying to make their project a reality and if it fails miserably, so be it.

If I give money to a business that's done this a bunch of times before and they so grossly mismanage the project that they are only able to finish 1/4 of it and choose not to course correct, it's a little disappointing.

Double fine hasn't ruined my opinion of their products and I think their personalities and work is great, but I don't trust them to run projects well themselves and if they can't do that, they should go work with publishers.

polypusher wrote:

He's attaching additional project time to each stretch goal. It's only fair to add time with additional work, something more projects should think about.

I think it's a great idea they're showing how much time each stretch goal adds to the project. I suspect a lot of backers don't really make that association.

The mistake DF made was that when the project budget ballooned to 10x, they didn't communicate that the game's scope and development time frame was also scaling up. There's people out there who still think they're building a $30k flash game that was supposed to be out in late 2012.

I also think that the project was a bit more ethereal than most KS projects, and I think it was done before "stretch goals" were even a thing. Having concrete stretch goals would've helped people understand what the additional funds were going to add to the game.

Another thing I think projects should think about is not adding stretch goals that increase the actual development of the game. Instead, maybe convert to higher quality t-shirts, upgrade existing tiers to incrementally better rewards. Improve things for backers without bloating the game out of control.

That's a good point, but I think the issue with that is you run into budgetary issues due to the amount of money going into the rewards themselves instead of the final product. Especially because the reward tiers pricing is locked in once the project page is live.

cyrax wrote:

They can have the excuse of GDC, PAX, E3, and Massive Chalice, but they didn't come forward with their scheduling mishap until days after their last Kickstarter.

Weren't the budget issues brought up months ago in one of the documentary episodes?

Is it really too much to expect a +20 yr industry professional to not over-budget a product by at least another year?

Yes, because this happens constantly in the industry.

PandaEskimo wrote:

If I give money to a business that's done this a bunch of times before and they so grossly mismanage the project that they are only able to finish 1/4 of it and choose not to course correct, it's a little disappointing.

Wait... where did DF say they were gutting 75% of the project? I thought they said they would have to drop that much content in order to finish the game under the current budget.

PandaEskimo wrote:

they should go work with publishers.

They ran into this same problem with Brutal Legend. Activision wasn't going to keep funding it after the Vivendi merger so EA stepped in. Working for a publisher wouldn't solve this problem.

I didn't read it all, it's late.

shoptroll wrote:
cyrax wrote:

They can have the excuse of GDC, PAX, E3, and Massive Chalice, but they didn't come forward with their scheduling mishap until days after their last Kickstarter.

Weren't the budget issues brought up months ago in one of the documentary episodes?

The scheduling was in reference to design, which budget is used for, but not the only thing.

shoptroll wrote:
cyrax wrote:
Is it really too much to expect a +20 yr industry professional to not over-budget a product by at least another year?

Yes, because this happens constantly in the industry.

Oh, well if it's normal, then it must be OK. Wait...

New episode of the documentary is finally up, along with other updates.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...

Also, they recently (publicly) revealed the cast:

Jack Black? seriously?

awesome

I love that he only has a bit part, too-- I think almost any publisher would force the developer to put him front-and-center as a main selling point.

WipEout wrote:

I love that he only has a bit part, too-- I think almost any publisher would force the developer to put him front-and-center as a main selling point.

Same here, it's great.

1) new episode: yay!
2) soopar seekrit news tidbit thing they told backers not to leak so I won't: double yay!

I cut the cord years ago, so I have almost zero interest in "the secret", but the new episode is great.

Dats a sweeet secret.

How long has it been since I've thought Vimeo was terrible? Today.

Nice!

But first, today's big news. As usual, we're giving you a bit of an early heads up on this, so please do keep this news quiet until it's officially announced on Friday. So far we haven't had any leaks with these casting announcements, which is awesome!

*deleted*

Crap.

I bet you're feeling super embarrassed right about now, Tuffalo!

*REDACTED*

Hyetal wrote:

I bet you're feeling super embarrassed right about now, Tuffalo!

Meh. Not really. If I'm the one who spoiled that big "secret" to the internet or if anyone here is really bothered by it, I'll gladly apologize. Thanks for the heads up. I mostly just skim those emails to see if there's a new episode of the documentary and saw the name.

Well now my post looks rather odd, doesn't it? And I'm going to leave it that way.

I wonder how many non-backers actually pay attention to this thread, among our relatively small community compared to the entire internet.