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.