Broken Age Needs More Money

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Broken Age Needs More Money

broken age concept

Tim Schafer has revealed that Broken Age will be split into two chapters, so the first half can be sold through Steam Early Access in order to fund the development of the second half.

When Broken Age hit Kickstarter as the Double Fine Adventure in early 2012, it had what appeared to be a hefty funding goal of $400,000. A month later, it had brought in more than eight times that amount from adventure fans eager for something new from Tim Schafer - over $3.3 million. Yet somehow, that now isn't enough; Schafer said in a message to backers today that blowing away the original funding target "didn't stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money."

A long, hard look at the numbers made it clear that the only way the team would be able to get the game out the door more or less on time - it was on track to be fully release-ready sometime in 2015 - and within budget would be to cut the content by roughly 75 percent. "What would be left?" Schafer wrote. "How would we even cut it down that far? Just polish up the rooms we had and ship those? Reboot the art style with a dramatically simpler look? Remove the Boy or Girl from the story? Yikes! Sad faces all around."

Schafer said going to a publisher for funding was out of the question "because it would violate the spirit of the Kickstarter," and another Kickstarter round didn't seem right either. Thus the current plan to make some "modest" cuts to the game to have the first half ready by January, and then release it through Steam Early Access.

"We were always planning to release the beta on Steam, but in addition to that we now have Steam Early Access, which is a new opportunity that actually lets you charge money for pre-release content. That means we could actually sell this early access version of the game to the public at large, and use that money to fund the remaining game development. The second part of the game would come in a free update a few months down the road, closer to April-May," Schafer explained.

"So, everybody gets to play the game sooner, and we don't have to cut the game down drastically. Backers still get the whole game this way - nobody has to pay again for the second half," he wrote. "And whatever date we start selling the early release, backers still have exclusive beta access before that, as promised in the Kickstarter."

I don't know much about game development and hey, things happen, but no matter how you frame it, this looks a little dodgy. It's not as though Double Fine just barely made its goal; it earned more than eight times what it said it needed to make its game. And yet now it needs more - a lot more - to get it across the finish line. That just does not look good.

Schafer's message was originally sent only to Double Fine Adventure backers, but you can read it in full at Gamasutra.

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I gave you the money you asked for in the belief that I wouldn't need to provide more. Considering all the money the Kickstarter made it should have been enough. Now I'm supposed to give you more money for only half of the game (that's only in, essentially, beta) so the other half can get made and all because you got kind of full of yourself and spent more money making a game bigger than it should have been thereby stretching yourself too thin all because of your "big ideas"? Tim, you've done some amazing work, but, respectfully "(bleep) you."

Uh, dude, you got your budget, work within it. It seems a bit silly to get 8 times your original goal and still not have enough. It reaks of bad management.

So, anyone else immediately think that this is anecdotal evidence that maybe it's not actually the publishers that are artificially inflating game development costs?

Is it really that hard to work within a given budget? Especially when said budget was 800% the size of what you originally expected to get?

Great, here we go. A great opportunity for internet inhabitants to criticize someone as a fashion statement. Nothing quite like a bit of cheap mud-slinging to make you feel witty. Ignore the fact that a small developer has stretched themselves a bit thin simply because they're thinking big, and trying to deliver a better game. Never mind that the whole situation is actually being handled quite tastefully, and the details are freely given to you in a transparent manner. Turn a blind eye to the reasonable explanations behind this mistake, and overlook the fact that things are in fact being rectified here. No, don't bother taking any of this into consideration. Make your seething, incendiary comments because they make you cool. Keep talking crap, because it builds your reputation. Disparage and belittle others for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Enjoy it.

Agayek:
So, anyone else immediately think that this is anecdotal evidence that maybe it's not actually the publishers that are artificially inflating game development costs?

Is it really that hard to work within a given budget? Especially when said budget was 800% the size of what you originally expected to get?

I think it's probably natural that left to themselves developers would almost always increase the cost of their budget. Especially since budget basically means paying people to work for them, no developer would ever want to cut their budget because that means firing people and I imagine most people like the idea of hiring even more people and spreading the work around even more. It's one of the useful job a publisher can do is having the motivation and business acumen to tell the developers to be more practical (along with pushing some of the bad companies to actually do their friggin' jobs, I'm looking at you Gearbox). But some of the publishers are probably terrible at their jobs and not able to constrain people (Or constrain people too much)

roguewriter:
I gave you the money you asked for in the belief that I wouldn't need to provide more. Considering all the money the Kickstarter made it should have been enough. Now I'm supposed to give you more money for only half of the game (that's only in, essentially, beta) so the other half can get made and all because you got kind of full of yourself and spent more money making a game bigger than it should have been thereby stretching yourself too thin all because of your "big ideas"? Tim, you've done some amazing work, but, respectfully "(bleep) you."

Well, it explicitly says that you do not have to give more money.

"Backers still get the whole game this way - nobody has to pay again for the second half"

Your respectful "(bleep) you" is still entirely warranted, but you won't have to pay for the second half. It's kinda sad to see them get so high on success that their budget went entirely out of control. I'm hoping they'll use this as an object lesson for Massive Chalice, which I did actually back. Although, that's an entirely different situation seeing how Broken Age was made so expensive by making all these new art assets for everything, whereas Massive Chalice should, by its very nature of being a tactical rpg, reuse much of what they create quite often.

Budget and scope. You have to scale one to the other. They want to get the budget to match the scope instead of scaling the scope to match the budget....

They need a better financial manager who knows when to tell the creative team they've gone too far. I hope this works out well for them but I feel this will negatively affect later kickstarters they are a part of as a result.

MasterProcrastinator:
Great, here we go. A great opportunity for internet inhabitants to criticize someone as a fashion statement. Nothing quite like a bit of cheap mud-slinging to make you feel witty. Ignore the fact that a small developer has stretched themselves a bit thin simply because they're thinking big, and trying to deliver a better game. Never mind that the whole situation is actually being handled quite tastefully, and the details are freely given to you in a transparent manner. Turn a blind eye to the reasonable explanations behind this mistake, and overlook the fact that things are in fact being rectified here. No, don't bother taking any of this into consideration. Make your seething, incendiary comments because they make you cool. Keep talking crap, because it builds your reputation. Disparage and belittle others for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Enjoy it.

What?

No one is complaining to "look cool".

People are complaining because they wanted $400,000 to fund this game, they got 8 times that, and yet it still isn't enough?

Get off your high horse, there is no reason to defend someone who got 8 times the funding, and decided to let it all go to his head, and work outside of that budget.

Furbyz:

roguewriter:
I gave you the money you asked for in the belief that I wouldn't need to provide more. Considering all the money the Kickstarter made it should have been enough. Now I'm supposed to give you more money for only half of the game (that's only in, essentially, beta) so the other half can get made and all because you got kind of full of yourself and spent more money making a game bigger than it should have been thereby stretching yourself too thin all because of your "big ideas"? Tim, you've done some amazing work, but, respectfully "(bleep) you."

Well, it explicitly says that you do not have to give more money.

"Backers still get the whole game this way - nobody has to pay again for the second half"

Your respectful "(bleep) you" is still entirely warranted, but you won't have to pay for the second half. It's kinda sad to see them get so high on success that their budget went entirely out of control. I'm hoping they'll use this as an object lesson for Massive Chalice, which I did actually back. Although, that's an entirely different situation seeing how Broken Age was made so expensive by making all these new art assets for everything, whereas Massive Chalice should, by its very nature of being a tactical rpg, reuse much of what they create quite often.

from the way i read it, the statement sounded more like, 'By charging for the first half of the game for new customers of the game, backers do not have to pay for the second half.' in that case, yeah they messed up big time. remember, the purpose of the founding is for them to create the product within the budget. to go far out of budget is to bring distrust. and my best wishes on you recieving your product in time and functional.

Having backed Broken Age and followed the process, I remember that they ran into financial trouble pretty quickly. Especially in the early phase, Tim seemed to basically go "I have INFINITE money, let's do it!" The news is a bit distressing, but I guess we should have seen it coming.

On the other hand, I think the way they handled it is quite good. They didn't try to back out of their commitment to the backers, and aren't going to charge anyone for the second part. Maybe they initially hoped that Slacker Backers would balance the books.

But one question... The video updates had quite a bit of complaining about the poor state of DoubleFine's finances. Tim saying that things were looking pretty bleak before the Kickstarter success. The project manager, I forget the name, often underlines how they are stretching their budget thin... Why then are they still based in San Francisco? They mention a few times that it's expensive to keep offices in SF, wouldn't it help to move to a cheaper place?

Anyway, here's hoping Brad Muir is better at planning than Tim Schafer.

dumbseizure:
What?

No one is complaining to "look cool".

People are complaining because they wanted $400,000 to fund this game, they got 8 times that, and yet it still isn't enough?

Get off your high horse, there is no reason to defend someone who got 8 times the funding, and decided to let it all go to his head, and work outside of that budget.

Just so you know, my post wasn't a response to any particular comment that's been made so far; it was made in advance, because based on how news like this is generally received, I can predict a lot of harsh, misinformed criticism to come.

Also, yes, Double Fine did indeed get eight times their goal, but don't you think that Tim's plans for the game might have changed in accordance with that? I don't think it's a matter of it 'going to his head'; it was a matter of him scaling everything up, and shooting much higher. Unfortunately for him, he shot a little too high, and now has to rethink and re-evaluate the whole project and its structure.

But I'm going to defend his intent on this one. I know that people will label him arrogant, careless, and ungrateful, but I highly doubt that was the case at all. Sure, this was a bit of a cock-up, but it was an honest cock-up. Things like this happen quite often with developers, especially the smaller ones. Heck, look at what happened during the development process of 'Amnesia'; Frictional Games cut it very fine on that occasion. These things just happen, and it's not worth getting angry over. It's occasionally the price one has to pay for having a set idea and an unwillingness to compromise it. It can cause budget complications, regardless of the amount of cash in the tank or where it came from.

How did no one see this coming? Sad thing is if you would replace the name Schafer w/ Molyneaux you would practically have people jumping for joy. But because it is Schafer and that automatically bestows a wealth of undue cred of course this will get played up like some sort of tragedy.

Well I feel sorry for those who funded, but hope you can find a means to be satisfied with the half of game that will be delivered for your full investment.

Captcha: Hear hear!

MasterProcrastinator:
Great, here we go. A great opportunity for internet inhabitants to criticize someone as a fashion statement. Nothing quite like a bit of cheap mud-slinging to make you feel witty. Ignore the fact that a small developer has stretched themselves a bit thin simply because they're thinking big, and trying to deliver a better game. Never mind that the whole situation is actually being handled quite tastefully, and the details are freely given to you in a transparent manner. Turn a blind eye to the reasonable explanations behind this mistake, and overlook the fact that things are in fact being rectified here. No, don't bother taking any of this into consideration. Make your seething, incendiary comments because they make you cool. Keep talking crap, because it builds your reputation. Disparage and belittle others for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Enjoy it.

No one is talking "crap", per se. Stop overreacting.

I hope you're not trying to excuse him managing to blow a terrifying amount of money that he raised without even finishing his project. Because that's not excusable, regardless of transparency. Transparency has a downside: We can see flaws such as "Tim Schafer is a bad financial manager".

If I collect money to, say, invest in a promising stock, and then tell my investors "I'm gonna be transparent, I need more money to invest your investments in a better stock", I'd be arrested.

Tim done goofed, and no amount of reasonable explanations will change that. So no, I'm not gonna talk crap, but I AM going to hold him accountable for his bad planning.

Real life doesn't go easy on my financial mistakes, why should I go easy on a freaking project manager for his?

I'm a backer of this project, am I going to get the full game?

Evil Smurf:
I'm a backer of this project, am I going to get the full game?

Yes - kickstarter backers will still get the second half in a free update

As far as I'm concerned, I got my kickstarter moneys worth just from the documentary videos showing the development process over the last year.

Evil Smurf:
I'm a backer of this project, am I going to get the full game?

If he gets enough Early Access cash to finish it, yes.

lacktheknack:

MasterProcrastinator:
Great, here we go. A great opportunity for internet inhabitants to criticize someone as a fashion statement. Nothing quite like a bit of cheap mud-slinging to make you feel witty. Ignore the fact that a small developer has stretched themselves a bit thin simply because they're thinking big, and trying to deliver a better game. Never mind that the whole situation is actually being handled quite tastefully, and the details are freely given to you in a transparent manner. Turn a blind eye to the reasonable explanations behind this mistake, and overlook the fact that things are in fact being rectified here. No, don't bother taking any of this into consideration. Make your seething, incendiary comments because they make you cool. Keep talking crap, because it builds your reputation. Disparage and belittle others for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Enjoy it.

No one is talking "crap", per se. Stop overreacting.

I hope you're not trying to excuse him managing to blow a terrifying amount of money that he raised without even finishing his project. Because that's not excusable, regardless of transparency. Transparency has a downside: We can see flaws such as "Tim Schafer is a bad financial manager".

If I collect money to, say, invest in a promising stock, and then tell my investors "I'm gonna be transparent, I need more money to invest your investments in a better stock", I'd be arrested.

Tim done goofed, and no amount of reasonable explanations will change that. So no, I'm not gonna talk crap, but I AM going to hold him accountable for his bad planning.

Real life doesn't go easy on my financial mistakes, why should I go easy on a freaking project manager for his?

This. I backed the project for a pretty hefty sum, so I am glad that DF is not asking for more from the backers themselves, but the fact that they blew through the massive chunk of cash they already had is just so irresponsible it hurts.

I am fine with this project going a little over budget, as I am most things as long as the end result is worth it, but the fact that they made tons more money than they supposedly had budgeted for...and they still went over budget, is completely inexcusable. It reminds me of the people who win the lottery and end up in worse financial shape than they started in because they bought a new house and a Maserati and didn't think to budget for taxes.

Evil Smurf:
I'm a backer of this project, am I going to get the full game?

According to the article:
"Backers still get the whole game this way - nobody has to pay again for the second half," he wrote."
the answer should be yes you get the full game, their just looking at how to get some extra funds by doing the early access option steam now has to bring in some extra funds.

Oy... that's 3 million dollars+ however much you've gotten from humble bundles (which I think went over a million) and from other sales. I get you dont' want to dip into dangerous levels but thats quite a bit. And you only got 1.3 million for Massive Chalice? How the hell are you going to fund that if potentially 4 million isn't enough? though who am I to judge, I'll probably get it anyway if it isn't too expensive.

dragongit:
Oy... that's 3 million dollars+ however much you've gotten from humble bundles (which I think went over a million) and from other sales. I get you dont' want to dip into dangerous levels but thats quite a bit. And you only got 1.3 million for Massive Chalice? How the hell are you going to fund that if potentially 4 million isn't enough?

Well, among other things...

Furbyz:
[...]Broken Age was made so expensive by making all these new art assets for everything, whereas Massive Chalice should, by its very nature of being a tactical rpg, reuse much of what they create quite often.

I'm starting to feel concerned about my Massive Chalice kickstarter backing.

This reminds me of those people who win the lottery then find themselves 6 years later in a worse financial situation than they were before they won the lottery.

MasterProcrastinator:

dragongit:
Oy... that's 3 million dollars+ however much you've gotten from humble bundles (which I think went over a million) and from other sales. I get you dont' want to dip into dangerous levels but thats quite a bit. And you only got 1.3 million for Massive Chalice? How the hell are you going to fund that if potentially 4 million isn't enough?

Well, among other things...

Furbyz:
[...]Broken Age was made so expensive by making all these new art assets for everything, whereas Massive Chalice should, by its very nature of being a tactical rpg, reuse much of what they create quite often.

Well ok, but it's still a matter of art assets to be made and the writing. I could imagine Massive Chalice costing a whole lot more then 1 million. The article even stated that to release by 2015 and be on budget they would have to cut 75% of the game out, or reduce the art assets. That means the game would need well over 10 million to reach the vision they desire (I assume that means a massive amount of hiring) . Thats quite a lot more then their original vision of 400K. I just hope they aren't trying to bite off more then they can chew to the point where the project might collapse in upon itself. I still will have faith this project can be awesome. I didn't kickstart it sadly at the time, but I'll hopefully contribute if it does come to early access.

I'm sure they'll learn from this experience. I can't see this happening twice; they'll be trying to avoid it at all cost. Even for this to happen once is a huge blow to the company's reputation.

The problem with the artsy types, they have no idea how to use a calculator...

I'm pretty sure if "double fine" wasn't on the title, people right now would be screaming bloody murder. That your company has made some awesome imaginative games does not mean you get a free pass at this sort of bullshit. And yes, you original backers will get the full game IF they can get the funding for the second half, or at least that's what the small text seems to imply. And that brings the other question, how much do they need and how much will they actually end up using to finish their "vision"?

I mean, increasing scope is all nice and dandy but not when it ends up like this. And it seems they have gone waaay over the adapted budget too or they wouldn't be asking for more money out front.

Stuff like this happens all the time with software projects. The thing is that we never saw it happening before our eyes because publishers simply said to the press "release date for game X is delayed to date Y" and everyone accepts that. But no one really knows why the delay. In such a situation a developer would go to the publisher to ask for more money and more time, and the publisher could just cancel the project, force a reduction of scope or quality, or believe in the developer and give the extensions. Again, we never saw this happening before because it was "behind walls", but with Kickstarter wee see all this.

Yes, this was clearly a planning mistake from Double Fine and Tim Shafer. But these things happen even to experienced devs. This just serves to remind people that Kickstarter is always a risk.

I like what I've saw so far in the development videos. They have provided me with a lot more entertainment than my pledge money is worth. Of course I'm not thrilled with the news but I don't think it is necessary to be overly harsh with Double Fine.

EDIT: Oh, and the "they got 8x what they asked for!" complaint is not entirely reasonable. The game's scope and production also increased a lot from the original idea. The original pitch was for a simple and small adventure game, something that could be done with 300k (100k was for the documentary). The game they're developing now is much, much bigger, and with higher production values (more/better art, voice acting, etc). As I said it was a planning mistake and they ended up with a much more ambitious game than what was possible with 3M, but if they just delivered the originally-planned 300k simple adventure a lot of people would be pissed. It's hard to manage expectations and project scope when funding is so much bigger than expected.

So... what's the problem? He's coming out with the first half off the game so we can play something and they can start reaping revenue sooner. We all still get the game and we get part of it sooner.

I don't understand the hate.

Are you people getting dumber or just louder?

Had a feeling something like this is coming when they said money is getting thin months back and it was bound to happen that people see sometimes developments aren't finished on time which also means more bills need paying and more money needs spending.

Now we land at the awful predicament I warned about as they never defined what people will actually get for their money, there was a full game implied but what that now means is anyones guess.

Mr.K.:

Now we land at the awful predicament I warned about as they never defined what people will actually get for their money, there was a full game implied but what that now means is anyones guess.

It still means a full game. RTFA.

They make more money by selling the first half of the game on Early Access, but backers already have access to that.

He should have just gone "fuck it" and considered the extra funds as pre-orders. That way nobody gets pissed and he doesn't have to make a bigger game.

Dogstile:
He should have just gone "fuck it" and considered the extra funds as pre-orders. That way nobody gets pissed and he doesn't have to make a bigger game.

Making a bigger game isn't something that Tim 'had to do'; it's something Tim wanted to do, and something he probably would've jumped at as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Understandable but unfortunate

Agayek:
Is it really that hard to work within a given budget? Especially when said budget was 800% the size of what you originally expected to get?

It's actually harder that way. People get into trouble all the time because they have what appears to be more money than they know what to do with and manage to spend it all.

Agayek:
So, anyone else immediately think that this is anecdotal evidence that maybe it's not actually the publishers that are artificially inflating game development costs?

Is it really that hard to work within a given budget? Especially when said budget was 800% the size of what you originally expected to get?

It was never JUST the publishers. The majority of those in game development have never been able to work within a budget, because your average game developer is not good enough with money to understand when it's time to scale back on their own. Hell, just look at Duke Nukem Forever, which took 12 years to release crap because they had a ton of money that was all their own and they didn't know how to use it properly, and just kept adding things non-stop and/or restarting the whole project from scratch.

The issue why publishers get so much of the blame is that, just as developers don't understand how to spend money wisely, your average publisher doesn't understand how to make a game properly. Their lack of knowledge causes them to either be incapable of properly reigning in a bloated development team at all, or, in their attempt to control the reigns and keep costs manageble, they'll forcibly steer the developers in a bad direction that results in a worse game, which is often how we get shitty clones of popular games instead of new ones.

The problem is that both publishers AND developers are incredibly shitty at money management. There needs to be more developers who know how to properly allocate resources, and more publishers who actually have experience making games personally and know wtf to do.

While I can understand the devs situation, I can't really condone the practice. This particular kickstarter may have to serve as a warning to others to be sensible with their spending, since obviously Tim wasn't, regardless of how it goes.

Still, I do hope they'll finish & release the game as promised. It'd be very damaging to this business model if one of the kickstarters that popularized it all crashed and burned.

roguewriter:
I gave you the money you asked for in the belief that I wouldn't need to provide more. Considering all the money the Kickstarter made it should have been enough. Now I'm supposed to give you more money for only half of the game (that's only in, essentially, beta) so the other half can get made and all because you got kind of full of yourself and spent more money making a game bigger than it should have been thereby stretching yourself too thin all because of your "big ideas"? Tim, you've done some amazing work, but, respectfully "(bleep) you."

If you already backed it you don't have to pay anything more. The people paying will be those that did not back it.

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