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Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support

A comment on reddit has follow up to comments made almost exactly one year ago by Markus "Notch" Persson about being willing to fund Psychonauts 2, a sequel to Double Fine's adventure game. Notch explains what's changed: "I somewhat naively thought 'a couple of million' was two million. I had no doubt in my mind that a Psychonauts 2 would earn that money back easily. Turns out they wanted 18 million dollars, haha. I don't have the time at the moment to even try to get educated enough to make an eighteen million dollar deal. Perhaps in some distant future when I'm no longer trying to make games, I could get into angel investing. I've made one private investment into a game so far, at 100k, and it's frankly a lot more work than I thought." Thanks VG247 via PCGamesN.

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58 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 2.
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38. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:55 Cutter
 
McSterls wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:55:
I think they saw Notch made $101 million last year and the costs skyrocketed. How bout not making the game int he Bay area or structuring peoples salaries so that they get less money upfront and a percentage on the back end. There are all sorts of creative ways to bring a project together, it's not like studios aren't collapsing all over the place and developers are letting their people go to a jobless future.

Exactly. Call it 10 guys at 50k each + points on sales. Why needlessly pay a premium to run an office in one of the most expensive cities in the world? Point I was making is they could do it for about 2 million or less, they simply choose not to.
 
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37. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:53 Beamer
 
Orphic Resonance wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:37:
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:26:
I agree that this is what Notch was thinking, but it's naive. The simple fact that it's a 3D with fairly open levels (not open world, but open levels) adds to the cost immensely.

And I don't think DoubleFine is set up to do this kind of work. So they'd have to hire people. A lot of people. And there are costs associated with that.

To do it cheaper much of the style would have to be altered, and the gameplay along with it. Which isn't to say it's impossible, but it would be a very different game.


but thats purely rampant overblown speculation on your part, much like that "budget" you dreamed up

you seem to put a great deal of faith in your speculations, but i dont share that faith with you at all

so i would consider all of this windbaggery fairly pointless.. maybe you get more traction with the other kids around here tho

We're spitballing. Jesus, dude, of COURSE it's speculation. That's what we're doing, right, speculating?

But fine, we can settle this easily - Mobygames probably has the credits for Psychonauts. You go and tell me which of these roles we can cut.

What's that? You're too lazy and lack any kind of knowledge to even speculate on costs?
Of course you are!
 
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36. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:50 Jivaro
 
Having lived in both cities (areas) for extended periods of time...the concept that someone from LA would refer to SF as a "clusterfuck" is hilarious.

Yeah, commuting is a bitch in the Bay Area but LA is the worst area in the country in that regard. I would think going just about anywhere, other then perhaps Mexico City, would feel like a dramatic improvement for a LA native.
 
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35. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:40 Flatline
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:28:
Flatline wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:21:
Verno wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:12:
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


The talent pool in the industry (in NA) tends to be concentrated in several areas and getting people to move or establishing a new location can be very costly. It's getting better but it takes time and people tend to hang around geographically to the big players as that's often where the jobs and projects are.

True be we are just now starting to limp out of 4 years of recession. It's an employer's market, and I know people would relocate all over NA for a steady job on their own time over the past few years.

Games industry however seems to have gotten bloated enough that they aren't fast-reacting like they used to be. Seems to me when dev studios can be planted just about anywhere and game sales are down, that getting some talent together in a place where cost of living is 1/3rd other parts of the country makes sense. Even if you don't cut pay correspondingly, your money goes a hell of a lot further.

Some people are willing to move. Some aren't. It's a lot to ask someone to sacrifice their family's home for a job, especially when others are available nearby. Plus, moving is expensive. It takes an enormous amount of money to move a company. Just to wind down or break your lease, find a new place, move all the equipment - enormous money. Then there are the employees. You lose some good ones. You have to replace them, which costs a lot. You have to pay to move others, because they almost definitely will not follow if you do not pay. They have to worry about selling their homes for more than the mortgage. They have to worry about finding new homes and putting down payments.
It's not a very easy thing.

Many companies went to Raleigh, NC or Austin, TX due to pricing, but ultimately LA and SF are the centers of North American game development.

SF is a clusterfuck (I've heard of 3 hour commutes one way just so that you can afford to work in SF), but I'm an LA native, and thankfully, usually within 60-90 minutes of wherever you work you can find fairly affordable housing. Cost of living is bullshit though.

I also wasn't talking about moving an established company, but rather someone like EA or UBI or whatever founding like EA: Misery... err... Missouri and pulling talent out to the middle of BFE. It was bad enough a few years ago that people would have done it.
 
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34. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:37 Orphic Resonance
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:26:
I agree that this is what Notch was thinking, but it's naive. The simple fact that it's a 3D with fairly open levels (not open world, but open levels) adds to the cost immensely.

And I don't think DoubleFine is set up to do this kind of work. So they'd have to hire people. A lot of people. And there are costs associated with that.

To do it cheaper much of the style would have to be altered, and the gameplay along with it. Which isn't to say it's impossible, but it would be a very different game.


but thats purely rampant overblown speculation on your part, much like that "budget" you dreamed up

you seem to put a great deal of faith in your speculations, but i dont share that faith with you at all

so i would consider all of this windbaggery fairly pointless.. maybe you get more traction with the other kids around here tho
 
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33. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:36 nin
 
Creston wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:23:
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


ding ding ding.

Creston


Infinity Ward used to be here in Tulsa, but I'm pretty sure they've moved...and Texas has dev houses springing up all the time.


 
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32. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:28 Beamer
 
Flatline wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:21:
Verno wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:12:
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


The talent pool in the industry (in NA) tends to be concentrated in several areas and getting people to move or establishing a new location can be very costly. It's getting better but it takes time and people tend to hang around geographically to the big players as that's often where the jobs and projects are.

True be we are just now starting to limp out of 4 years of recession. It's an employer's market, and I know people would relocate all over NA for a steady job on their own time over the past few years.

Games industry however seems to have gotten bloated enough that they aren't fast-reacting like they used to be. Seems to me when dev studios can be planted just about anywhere and game sales are down, that getting some talent together in a place where cost of living is 1/3rd other parts of the country makes sense. Even if you don't cut pay correspondingly, your money goes a hell of a lot further.

Some people are willing to move. Some aren't. It's a lot to ask someone to sacrifice their family's home for a job, especially when others are available nearby. Plus, moving is expensive. It takes an enormous amount of money to move a company. Just to wind down or break your lease, find a new place, move all the equipment - enormous money. Then there are the employees. You lose some good ones. You have to replace them, which costs a lot. You have to pay to move others, because they almost definitely will not follow if you do not pay. They have to worry about selling their homes for more than the mortgage. They have to worry about finding new homes and putting down payments.
It's not a very easy thing.

Many companies went to Raleigh, NC or Austin, TX due to pricing, but ultimately LA and SF are the centers of North American game development.
 
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http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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31. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:26 Beamer
 
Flatline wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:17:
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:01:
Also, any graphics intensive AAA game will cost you over 18 million.

Hell, a bog simple game licensing UE3 and making 0 engine modifications will likely have a baseline of 10 million. That's how much Epic has claimed Gears of War cost, and I'm guessing it was because their accounting put the engine build into the UE3 budget, not into the Gears budget.

Just think about it. Odds are you need:
- 2 engine guys. Figure $120k/year, round up to $150k to include benefits
- 1 lead developer. Same price
- 10 programmers. $85k
- 6 artists. $40k/year, round up to $50k
- 4 gameplay designers. $50k/year, round up to $65k
- 5 animators. $65k
- 10 map designers. $65k
- 2 sound guys. Same price as artists
- 1 music guy. $80k
- 1 writer. $120k
- 4 dedicated testing leads. $30k
- 10 additional testers. $20k

That's already $3.5 million. Figure $9 million for a 2.5 year development cycle. On top of that you need:
Cast. For Psychonauts you probably need at least 30-40 people, as it had a lot of characters. You need to pay them, pay their travel, pay for someone to record. $500,000
Occupancy. Rent for a place for 2.5 years, plus utilities? Given the juice they're running, figure $300k per year.
Equipment. You need a lot of good computers and expensive software. They already have a bunch, but we'll still take $500,000 on
Engine license. $1 million

We're already over $11 million, and we haven't taken a ton into account. There's the people not actually involved in the game development such as the IT team, the executives, the administrative staff, the HR people, the CFO, etc. It's ignoring taxes that need to be paid. It's ignoring the free food in the break room. And many of these numbers are lowballing.


I doubt that psychonauts 2 was ever intended to be a AAA title and more a labor of love though. Or at least, that's what Notch was probably figuring. DF apparently I guess figured on running the entire studio on it and not doing it as a side/indie project.

I agree that this is what Notch was thinking, but it's naive. The simple fact that it's a 3D with fairly open levels (not open world, but open levels) adds to the cost immensely.

And I don't think DoubleFine is set up to do this kind of work. So they'd have to hire people. A lot of people. And there are costs associated with that.

To do it cheaper much of the style would have to be altered, and the gameplay along with it. Which isn't to say it's impossible, but it would be a very different game.
 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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30. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:23 Creston
 
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


ding ding ding.

Creston
 
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29. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:21 Flatline
 
Verno wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:12:
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


The talent pool in the industry (in NA) tends to be concentrated in several areas and getting people to move or establishing a new location can be very costly. It's getting better but it takes time and people tend to hang around geographically to the big players as that's often where the jobs and projects are.

True be we are just now starting to limp out of 4 years of recession. It's an employer's market, and I know people would relocate all over NA for a steady job on their own time over the past few years.

Games industry however seems to have gotten bloated enough that they aren't fast-reacting like they used to be. Seems to me when dev studios can be planted just about anywhere and game sales are down, that getting some talent together in a place where cost of living is 1/3rd other parts of the country makes sense. Even if you don't cut pay correspondingly, your money goes a hell of a lot further.
 
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28. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:17 Flatline
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:01:
Also, any graphics intensive AAA game will cost you over 18 million.

Hell, a bog simple game licensing UE3 and making 0 engine modifications will likely have a baseline of 10 million. That's how much Epic has claimed Gears of War cost, and I'm guessing it was because their accounting put the engine build into the UE3 budget, not into the Gears budget.

Just think about it. Odds are you need:
- 2 engine guys. Figure $120k/year, round up to $150k to include benefits
- 1 lead developer. Same price
- 10 programmers. $85k
- 6 artists. $40k/year, round up to $50k
- 4 gameplay designers. $50k/year, round up to $65k
- 5 animators. $65k
- 10 map designers. $65k
- 2 sound guys. Same price as artists
- 1 music guy. $80k
- 1 writer. $120k
- 4 dedicated testing leads. $30k
- 10 additional testers. $20k

That's already $3.5 million. Figure $9 million for a 2.5 year development cycle. On top of that you need:
Cast. For Psychonauts you probably need at least 30-40 people, as it had a lot of characters. You need to pay them, pay their travel, pay for someone to record. $500,000
Occupancy. Rent for a place for 2.5 years, plus utilities? Given the juice they're running, figure $300k per year.
Equipment. You need a lot of good computers and expensive software. They already have a bunch, but we'll still take $500,000 on
Engine license. $1 million

We're already over $11 million, and we haven't taken a ton into account. There's the people not actually involved in the game development such as the IT team, the executives, the administrative staff, the HR people, the CFO, etc. It's ignoring taxes that need to be paid. It's ignoring the free food in the break room. And many of these numbers are lowballing.


I doubt that psychonauts 2 was ever intended to be a AAA title and more a labor of love though. Or at least, that's what Notch was probably figuring. DF apparently I guess figured on running the entire studio on it and not doing it as a side/indie project.
 
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27. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:12 Verno
 
rist3903 wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:59:
I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.


The talent pool in the industry (in NA) tends to be concentrated in several areas and getting people to move or establishing a new location can be very costly. It's getting better but it takes time and people tend to hang around geographically to the big players as that's often where the jobs and projects are.
 
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Watching: Spartan, Possible Worlds, The Changeling
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26. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:09 DrEvil
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:01:
...
We're already over $11 million, and we haven't taken a ton into account. There's the people not actually involved in the game development such as the IT team, the executives, the administrative staff, the HR people, the CFO, etc. It's ignoring taxes that need to be paid. It's ignoring the free food in the break room. And many of these numbers are lowballing.


Exactly! I think the indie game craze has lead people to believe that you can do games on the cheap. Some games can be, but not most of them.

I also find it a bit insulting that some people suggest that they game should then be made in a cheaper place so they can pay people less. The reality is that some of the most expensive areas to live are also the best places to find developer/artist talent.
 
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25. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 14:01 Beamer
 
Also, any graphics intensive AAA game will cost you over 18 million.

Hell, a bog simple game licensing UE3 and making 0 engine modifications will likely have a baseline of 10 million. That's how much Epic has claimed Gears of War cost, and I'm guessing it was because their accounting put the engine build into the UE3 budget, not into the Gears budget.

Just think about it. Odds are you need:
- 2 engine guys. Figure $120k/year, round up to $150k to include benefits
- 1 lead developer. Same price
- 10 programmers. $85k
- 6 artists. $40k/year, round up to $50k
- 4 gameplay designers. $50k/year, round up to $65k
- 5 animators. $65k
- 10 map designers. $65k
- 2 sound guys. Same price as artists
- 1 music guy. $80k
- 1 writer. $120k
- 4 dedicated testing leads. $30k
- 10 additional testers. $20k

That's already $3.5 million. Figure $9 million for a 2.5 year development cycle. On top of that you need:
Cast. For Psychonauts you probably need at least 30-40 people, as it had a lot of characters. You need to pay them, pay their travel, pay for someone to record. $500,000
Occupancy. Rent for a place for 2.5 years, plus utilities? Given the juice they're running, figure $300k per year.
Equipment. You need a lot of good computers and expensive software. They already have a bunch, but we'll still take $500,000 on
Engine license. $1 million

We're already over $11 million, and we haven't taken a ton into account. There's the people not actually involved in the game development such as the IT team, the executives, the administrative staff, the HR people, the CFO, etc. It's ignoring taxes that need to be paid. It's ignoring the free food in the break room. And many of these numbers are lowballing.

 
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Music for the discerning:
http://www.deathwishinc.com
http://www.hydrahead.com
http://www.painkillerrecords.com
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24. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:59 rist3903
 

I think not making games in one of the most expensive places to live might be a good start.

 
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23. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:55 McSterls
 
I think they saw Notch made $101 million last year and the costs skyrocketed. How bout not making the game int he Bay area or structuring peoples salaries so that they get less money upfront and a percentage on the back end. There are all sorts of creative ways to bring a project together, it's not like studios aren't collapsing all over the place and developers are letting their people go to a jobless future.  
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22. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:35 Fibrocyte
 
Verno wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:24:
Orphic Resonance wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 12:40:
Fibrocyte wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 12:36:
Grossly lowballing the estimate.

what? 18 mil is "grossly lowballing" a game dev cycle? dont think so

maybe if you include advertising.. but i wouldnt consider that part of the deal, if its privately funded to begin with

18 mil is easily a AAA dev budget if you dont include marketing

Nah I think he meant Cutter was lowballing it with the 3mil figure because you don't ship a sequel to Pyschonauts on anything less than 10mil IMHO.

Right-o.
 
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21. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:24 Verno
 
Orphic Resonance wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 12:40:
Fibrocyte wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 12:36:
Grossly lowballing the estimate.

what? 18 mil is "grossly lowballing" a game dev cycle? dont think so

maybe if you include advertising.. but i wouldnt consider that part of the deal, if its privately funded to begin with

18 mil is easily a AAA dev budget if you dont include marketing

Nah I think he meant Cutter was lowballing it with the 3mil figure because you don't ship a sequel to Pyschonauts on anything less than 10mil IMHO.
 
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20. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:21 Dev
 
Cutter wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 12:04:
I'd dearly LOVE to see how DF breaks down this 18 mil.
Probably similarly to how they break down the $3 mil for the adventure game. You can see how they break that number down in the documentaries and forums.
 
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19. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 13:17 Creston
 
Can't blame Notch for this. "A few million" is a substantially different amount from 18 million, and there's no way the game ever makes its money back if it costs that much.

Creston
 
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