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Op Ed

The Game Designer - Kickstarter and Feature Creep.
I have supported Kickstarter projects in the past, and I have never had an expectation that the scope of a project would increase if the funding exceeded expectations (unless this is explicitly specified with stretch goals). For me personally, I wouldn't have gotten mad if Double Fine had simply delivered what they promised and "pocketed" the extra money. If they are getting paid accordingly to do what they love, without having to work for a big evil publisher, they will almost certainly make more games. So any "extra" money is just going into those future products.

My logic on this is that the crowd-funding paradigm looks to me an awful like the "pre-ordering" paradigm. You pay ahead of time for a product, in exchange for some positive benefit. In software, this benefit might be a lower price or a bonus game level, or even just the assurance that you will get the game on launch day instead of having to waiting in line. This is the customer/publisher relationship. If a traditional game publisher has more pre-orders than planned, they don't expand their scope accordingly. In fact, the very idea is silly. If EA projects that Madden pre-sales will be 250K and they hit 300K, the development team doesn't run back to the studio and try to squeeze in an extra feature before launch.

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17. Re: Op Ed Jul 16, 2013, 07:41 InBlack
 
This is going to be one of the first large Kickstarter fiascos. I doubt that this game will even see the light of day, if Flatline's numbers are correct. What a shame, but this is the risk of Kickstarter.  
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16. Re: Op Ed Jul 16, 2013, 00:35 Flatline
 
Cutter wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 19:29:
Flatline wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 18:17:
Cutter wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 15:45:
Like most everyone else I would have ZERO interest in backing a company if all the extra money just mean they were going to go out and do hookers and blow with it.

Profit? Why the fuck should a company have the audacity to make a PROFIT off of the product they're selling? How fucking insulting can you get?

Because it isn't an investment. You want to give your money to someone so they can go party with it that's your business. I'd prefer a return on my investment. This why publishers already exist. They gamble that the game will sell well and both the developer and publisher profit by it. And that money is generated by investors and sales. That's not what Kickstarter is for. And where the fuck did anyone - myself included - ever say we begrudge them EARNING a profit. That's a major fucking difference from it just being handed to you for doing sweet FA. Whenever you take you car into the shop do you give your mechanic double for no reason? No, of course not, so don't be an ass.



Dude it's not like in this scenario they'd be skipping out on delivering a product to you.

Board games do this all the time in Kickstarter. Yeah they'll have stretch goals for better dice or shit like that, but the difference really isn't 20k to upgrade 200 backers to speckled dice. If 1000 people order the game, suddenly they can order on a larger scale of economy and pay less. Nobody demands *more game*. In fact, there's a general cheer that the developer gets to actually make a bit of money off of things, since margins are razor thin to begin with.

So on a 60 dollar board game it may cost 35 dollars to produce and ship to the developer, and generally speaking, they eat shipping at that point too. If they raise an extra 20k and include a sexy dice pouch *and* manage to drop the cost of production to 33 dollars a unit, nobody expects that extra cost to be passed onto the game components or more rules or more game.

If someone pitches a video game to me on kickstarter, and they triple their KS pledge limit, it's downright fucked of me to assume that their budget automatically went up 300%. Most devs will do just that because they love games and I appreciate it. But if they said "fuck it you're getting the game you paid 30 bucks for" and didn't triple the budget, as long as they met their original goals and expectations who am I to bitch that they pocket the money?

And your analogy is fucked too. If you take your car into the shop and he says it's going to cost 100 bucks, but then another twenty people bring their car in with the exact same problem and he can buy in bulk and drop his cost from 50 bucks for the part down to say 40 (and an extra 50 in labor), you're saying he needs to provide you for 10 dollars worth of extra service, and that just plain doesn't happen in the real world.

Now, if the devs say 100% of the money will go to development of the project, then I'm all with you that blowing past their initial request and blowing the surplus on hookers & blow is a bad thing.

The problem with DFA is that Schafer got 300% of the money he was expecting and created 600% of the game he originally envisioned. And he created it without keeping the budget in mind. Apparently the money's gone and the game's not even half finished. So now he's going to pre-orders and steam orders and is screwing up what he promised to do (delivery times aside) to the original backers. *THAT* is what I have a problem with personally.

The other lesson here is that Tim Schafer is a terrible f*cking project manager without someone over him cracking a whip.

Edit: I went back and looked at the "Frank assessment" that was discussed, and the game is, as it stands right now, around 25% finished. On 3 million dollars. Two more years to get the game out the door at 3 mil a year makes a 9+ million dollar budget game. To put that into perspective, the budget for Witcher 2 was 8 million. The idea that they can generate another six million off of beta access is fucking idiotic. Remember, this is a niche old school adventure game that got HUGE press pimping when it was announced. Odds are most of the market has already bought in.

There are only three outcomes I can think of here: Double Fine releases Broken Age Act 1 and then walks away when they can't raise the further six million, or the game is going to get butchered at the choping block to fit it down to the budget, or Double Fine will stick to the project and go down in a blaze. I guess they could decide to whack it up into multiple episodes to get it out the door, but even that I don't see as palatable. I also suppose that they could push other projects out to generate some operating capital as well, but still, this is a pretty effed up situation for the company.

This comment was edited on Jul 16, 2013, 00:45.
 
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15. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 23:48 fujiJuice
 
NKD wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 17:00:
What would people do anyway? Set modest goals and hamstring themselves? Set ambitious goals and not get funded? It just makes running the whole Kickstarter too much of a ridiculous gamble instead of a simple clean proposition like it is now.

They should set the goal at what they realistically need to do the project, with a buffer for any unexpected problem. Which in my understanding is supposed to be the point of Kickstarter.

As they are so keen to remind people, it is not a store. You are pitching me plan that you have, and how much time and money you will need and why. I am giving you my money because I like your idea and have confidence in your ability to get it done, and would like to help. Just because lots of people want to help doesn't mean you should rape your original objectives.

I would disagree that it is a simple clean proposition the way it currently is. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Also, almost every single project that I have pledged that exceeded its original goal by a large margin and added a plethora of stretch goals, ends in a mass of confusion among backers once the funding is complete. This is made obvious by the numerous project updates I receive trying to sort it all out.
 
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14. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 20:15 Sepharo
 
With Broken Age it wasn't really so much the "stretch goals" that added the time but it was Tim's story. Even with proper stretch goal planning it would've been the same problem because he wasn't going to have goals like "I'll add a new arc to the plot" or "We'll make 5 more zones".  
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13. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 19:29 Cutter
 
Flatline wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 18:17:
Cutter wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 15:45:
Like most everyone else I would have ZERO interest in backing a company if all the extra money just mean they were going to go out and do hookers and blow with it.

Profit? Why the fuck should a company have the audacity to make a PROFIT off of the product they're selling? How fucking insulting can you get?

Because it isn't an investment. You want to give your money to someone so they can go party with it that's your business. I'd prefer a return on my investment. This why publishers already exist. They gamble that the game will sell well and both the developer and publisher profit by it. And that money is generated by investors and sales. That's not what Kickstarter is for. And where the fuck did anyone - myself included - ever say we begrudge them EARNING a profit. That's a major fucking difference from it just being handed to you for doing sweet FA. Whenever you take you car into the shop do you give your mechanic double for no reason? No, of course not, so don't be an ass.

 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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12. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 19:24 eRe4s3r
 
A good artist never gives a deadline to begin with since you can't rush perfection.. but you also most likely can't sell it. ^^

And hey, if the game ends up being good.. who cares how it came to be.
 
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11. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 19:19 Optional Nickname!
 
None of us know the actual reason(s) why DFA is delayed, unless you are on the development team. But from a non fanatic point of view, merely as a customer, you don't really care why DFA is late.

The game is long past its release by date and with little recourse you simply wait. In this instance, you might choose to look at this transaction as sponsorship, rather than pre-ordering.

Tim Schafer is an artist and you can not rush art. Double Fine is a studio, not a factory, you simply can't speed up the production line.

Commissioning an interactive work of art, which is what all backers have collectively done (not me, I avoided this mess like you avoid a coal-pile in a ball-room) is more complex and demanding than most modern projects and will go over budget and past deadlines.

I'll bet Tim Schafer's reputation DFA will be a great success.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 18:36 Asmo
 
Cutter wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 15:45:
Like most everyone else I would have ZERO interest in backing a company if all the extra money just mean they were going to go out and do hookers and blow with it.

Well, unless we were all invited to the party right?!? /wipes nose

The argument from the article is specious, most KS's aim for what they think is an achievable goal, but I'm sure they have aspirations for the extra cool shit they could put in their game if funding were available. After all, a lot of KS's are dream games for these guys, the sort of stuff big production houses won't touch.

Some have obviously been completely overwhelmed by the response from the community. They want to build a bigger and better game, we came to the party, so they get to make a better product (hopefully

As for using the extra funds as reinvestment for another title, I think that writer forgets that KS =\= total revenue for a game. Games go retail on completion. If the game happens to have a wildly successful KS and ends up jammed packed with cool features, it will probably do better at retail afterwards than it would have in a vanilla state...
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 18:17 Flatline
 
Cutter wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 15:45:
Like most everyone else I would have ZERO interest in backing a company if all the extra money just mean they were going to go out and do hookers and blow with it.

Profit? Why the fuck should a company have the audacity to make a PROFIT off of the product they're selling? How fucking insulting can you get?

Double Fine's issues stem from there not being a development plan/stretch goal ladder already in place. In other words, nobody knew how much each bit they were adding was going to end up costing. If you look at Torment, they had calculated out how much money was required to do each step. Is it going to stay in budget? Hard to tell really, but with Double Fine they said "give us money and we'll make something old school and awesome!" then went with the money they had and created a game design. Which is the old way of doing gaming budget. In crowd-sourcing there's no chance to go back to the publisher and ask for more money- that's it. Budgets have to be spot on. Feature creep is your enemy.

It'll be interesting to see if other folks make the same mistake DF did. Shadowrun already went over-budget for example, but not enough to put Hairbrained into dire straights.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 18:13 Prez
 
Most kickstarter projects don't have this "problem", so it is by and large a moot point I think. When it's an established name like Double Fine, yeah, it'll happen, but those are outlier cases. Double Fine obviously decided to go bigger when they say how much extra they got, and when the game comes I doubt anyone who pledged money will be complaining that they got a bigger and better game than was first promised.  
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7. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 17:19 HorrorScope
 
NKD wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 17:00:
Over-regulated nonsense. The second Kickstarter did something like that, everyone would just go to a site that didn't. Who the fuck is Kickstarter to tell me who has enough money and who doesn't? Fuck that.

You are correct, but then perhaps the people will not fund other places that have unlimited funding. We don't know that either way. There is totally an argument here for both sides and since this is in its infancy I'd like to see everyone walk before they run. In this case means limit what you promise and thus limit what you can run over by. I feel I have seen abuses and some of those that volunteered earlier didn't know of all these additions and delays, they would be quite happy with the original plan and promised time frames. Next thing these turn into bloated pseudo AAA games and we find out the DEV teams are even more to blame than the publishers, which we have belittled publishers being the wrong part of the equation up to this point.
 
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6. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 17:00 NKD
 
fujiJuice wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 13:03:
I agree with him. Kickstarter needs to limit over-funding. Anything added in stretch goals that is important to the core game should have been there in the first place. Sure they are getting more money to add 'extra' frills to the game, but they aren't being pledged with more development time in tandem with the money.

I used to be of the mind that Kickstarter should just cut off funding options at about 130% the original goal. However I heard Adam Sessler mention a good idea, pro-rate all the early pledges once the goal is met. Now I don't mean the developer should start losing money, but it could be an incentive to pledge early. Then once more people pledge past the goal reduce the early birds pledge by $5-$10 then stop before they start losing money.

Over-regulated nonsense. The second Kickstarter did something like that, everyone would just go to a site that didn't. Who the fuck is Kickstarter to tell me who has enough money and who doesn't? Fuck that.

What would people do anyway? Set modest goals and hamstring themselves? Set ambitious goals and not get funded? It just makes running the whole Kickstarter too much of a ridiculous gamble instead of a simple clean proposition like it is now.

This comment was edited on Jul 15, 2013, 17:09.
 
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5. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 15:45 Cutter
 
Like most everyone else I would have ZERO interest in backing a company if all the extra money just mean they were going to go out and do hookers and blow with it.
 
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4. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 15:44 briktal
 
Creston wrote on Jul 15, 2013, 11:03:
For me personally, I wouldn't have gotten mad if Double Fine had simply delivered what they promised and "pocketed" the extra money.

Sure, you could do that. Then, next time you try to do a Kickstarter, once you hit your goal, people will stop giving. Because what are they really getting, after all? You can already make your game, why should I give you MORE money?

The finished game in all of its awesome glory DRM free on PC, Mac, and Linux, or via Steam for PC and Mac, exclusive access to the Beta on Steam, access to the video series, and access the private discussion community.

HD download of the documentary series with extras, Digital game soundtrack, Digital documentary soundtrack

PDF version of the Double Fine Adventure Book (filled with 100+ full color pages of concept art, original photos, developer bios, excerpts from the game’s script, deep dark secrets, and more!)

Special edition box containing both the game disc and a DVD or Blu-Ray of the documentary, Double Fine Adventure Backer T-shirt, original "Double Fine Adventure" poster (suitable for framing), special thanks in the game’s credits

"Double Fine Adventure" Poster autographed by Tim Schafer, Ron Gilbert, and the rest of the design team

Hardcover Double Fine Adventure Book (filled with 100+ full color pages of concept art, original photos, developer bios, excerpts from the game’s script, deep dark secrets, and more!) signed by Tim Schafer himself

Mini portrait of YOU, painted by the game's artist

Larger original painting of art used in the final game

Lunch with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, a tour of the Double Fine offices

and more.
 
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3. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 13:03 fujiJuice
 
I agree with him. Kickstarter needs to limit over-funding. Anything added in stretch goals that is important to the core game should have been there in the first place. Sure they are getting more money to add 'extra' frills to the game, but they aren't being pledged with more development time in tandem with the money.

I used to be of the mind that Kickstarter should just cut off funding options at about 130% the original goal. However I heard Adam Sessler mention a good idea, pro-rate all the early pledges once the goal is met. Now I don't mean the developer should start losing money, but it could be an incentive to pledge early. Then once more people pledge past the goal reduce the early birds pledge by $5-$10 then stop before they start losing money.

This comment was edited on Jul 15, 2013, 13:31.
 
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2. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 12:00 Slashman
 
Is this guy a nutjob?

Of course EA won't run back and add more stuff to a game. This is EA we are talking about. That's the entire reason people want to back Kickstarters. It's because big publishers would never do stuff like that. They'd add it in as DLC.

Kickstarters are about goodwill and rewarding people for backing something that would otherwise not have a chance to be created. There's always going to be another Madden or CoD or Battlefield.

You can't say the same about Wasteland or Shadowrun or Planetary Annihilation.
 
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1. Re: Op Ed Jul 15, 2013, 11:03 Creston
 
For me personally, I wouldn't have gotten mad if Double Fine had simply delivered what they promised and "pocketed" the extra money.

Sure, you could do that. Then, next time you try to do a Kickstarter, once you hit your goal, people will stop giving. Because what are they really getting, after all? You can already make your game, why should I give you MORE money?

The drive to get more cool stuff into the game is the PRIME motivator for people to continue to give and help you obtain a bigger development budget.

Creston
 
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