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Greg Rice

Episode 16: This Time it's Just for Love

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HI! We're back with a fun video-filled update for you! First off, it's time for your first peek at Broken Age Act 2 development! In this episode we explore the aftermath of Act 1's release, the work the team put into the iPad version, and pre-production for the second half of the game...

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Project Update

As always, the team is actually quite a bit ahead of the documentary due to 2 Player’s production cycle, so it seemed like a good time to catch you up on where things are. We are currently in our final sprint for Shay’s half of Act 2. At the end of next week his section of Act 2 will be playable from start to finish with blocked animation!

Then it’s off to the studio for another voice recording session with Khris Brown and our amazing cast. This will allow us to get our friends at SuperGenius back on the project to start working on final animations for Shay’s half of Act 2 while the team rolls on to blocking out Vella’s section.

And because it deserves a closer look, I’ll just leave this render of everyone’s favorite hipster lumberjack showing off his new style right here...

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We’re bringing Grim back!

Double Fine is pleased to announce that, along with the console exclusive PlayStation 4 and Vita versions of Grim Fandango, Manny will also reap once again on PC, Mac, and Linux!

And that’s not all, folks! All versions will be launching simultaneously, so everyone can play on day one and not have to worry about those spoilers you’ve been successfully avoiding for the past fifteen years. (Pro-tip: stay off Twitter.)

But hopefully, after all those years of patience, you can hold out just a BIT longer. Until then, here’s a retrospective on the game from 2 Player Productions!:

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SIDEQUEST: My Seat Only Goes Back so Far

After exploring the members of the Broken Age development team, we thought it would be nice to switch gears and cover the business side of the project. Justin Bailey just celebrated his two year anniversary with the company and since he's been featured so prominently in the Double Fine Adventure documentary, we thought it was time to have a chat with him…

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Good New Games

Mountain

In case you missed it, last week we announced our third Double Fine Presents title, Mountain, from David OReilly. You may know David’s work from his amazing animated short films, his crazytown Adventure Time episode, or most recently the incredible hologram video game sequences in Spike Jonze’s film Her.

Mountain is David’s first step into the interactive world and it’s beautiful, relaxing, and most definitely unlike anything you’ve played before. It is a completely procedural terrarium of sorts that provides an ambient, minimalist, zen-like experience full of secrets and mysteries. It’s something that is begging to live in a small window of your desktop at all times and be taken in passively over time.

The game is now available on iOS and PC, Mac, and Linux for $.99.

...and now for a trio of Kickstarter games!:

Sunset

Tale of Tales has been making games for over 10 years, and is best known for artistic and experimental games like The Path, The Endless Forest, and The Graveyard. Sunset is an atmospheric first-person thriller that follows a housekeeper named Angela Burnes as she discovers a fictional 1972 South American Republic at the brink of war by intimately exploring the house of the wealthy eccentric Gabriel Ortega. There's beauty, mystery, and even romance, as you decide where you stand in the conflict, rather that’s a lover, a traitor, a spy or an ally. Their Kickstarter is live and knocking down stretch goals as we speak right here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/taleoftales/sunset-a-first-person-videogame-thriller

TerraTech

TerraTech lets you design, construct, and organise a fleet of unique vehicles to lead to victory as you battle your way across the lawless frontiers of new alien worlds in a quest for glory and profit. In the distant future, Earth's natural resources have finally been depleted, and as an off-world prospector it's your job to travel to alien planets, gather up all the good stuff and blast it back home to get paid. With harvesting, crafting, building, and physics this one seems to be pressing all the right buttons. There’s still a few weeks left in their campaign so head on over and let’s give them a push towards that goal!:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/payloadstudios/terratech-physics-based-vehicle-construction-and-c

Shovel Knight

These guys killed it on Kickstarter last year and the game is finally here! There have been a ton of words written about how great it is, so I’m not sure what else to say other than THEY’RE ALL RIGHT! This truly is the greatest love letter to the NES age that you could wish for, and it’s got a nice thick coat of modern game design right on top of it.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/250760/

That’s it for now! Thanks for the patience as we work to make Act 2 the best it can be!

DFA Episode 16 Show Notes:

00:16 -- Go way back to DFA episode 2 if you want a refresher on Tim’s notebook and his approach to writing.

03:41 -- This piece of Camden’s interview is from DFA episode 14, on the eve of the backer beta release.

04:16 -- Stick around after the credits to see exact sales numbers for Broken Age (as of July 8th).

04:33 -- Hard to believe but the Double Fine Adventure kickstarter ended two and a half years ago.

07:30 -- The giant painting behind Tim is what gives that specific conference room the nickname “Granny”. Other pet names for various Double Fine rooms include Lola and Cold Room.

8:00 -- Oliver is obviously remembering some past trauma involving tinkle fairies.

09:40 -- The yarn pals were made by a generous fan and gifted to Tim.

12:45 -- A Johnny-Come-Lately is a newcomer or a novice. A Johnny-Leave-Early seems to be someone who doesn’t stick it out til the end of something.

23:01 -- Amnesia Fortnight fans will note the Little Pink Best Buds shirt Tim is wearing.

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JUHU ... thanks double fine and 2 Player Productions .... always a highlight for me those new episodes and sidequests.

EDIT: Did my part and bought the iPad Version ... played through Act I now for the third time ... i'm really looking forward to part 2 :).

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this episode makes me really sad, because you all sound disappointed about the sales :/

I remember a thing that Joss Whedon once said: "I prefer to do great stuff, that some people REALLY love and care about to mediocre stuff, that many people consume but never think of it again".. rest assured, that there are a bunch (many ;) ) people who really love what you do! :)

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Heart wrenching to see the subdued reaction to unit sales. I think it's definitely true this game needs some more marketing behind it as Tim said "to reach an audience that has never played adventure games before." Plus, at some point I think all of the backer videos should go public, they are a treasure on their own.

I am reaching out to all of my friends on social media trying to find the ones who have never experienced an adventure game before. With 90,000 backers out there, we ought to be able to reach a big audience if only some effort is made to mobilize the base.

You built this game for the fans, now ask them to help grow the base!

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Hi thanks again for this great episode :)

I hope the working atmosphere is much better then the tone of this episode. Please be aware that the general reception of the game was quite good and zo you generated a really good game. You also have the chance to improve the game and make it as a whole game even better. And that's what you should think of. With a better game, press coverage and good word of mouth, sales should go up significantly.

I would prefer to have a good and well balanced game rather then a schedule driven game to hit the December launch day. But another aspect would be the Christmas sales which are in generally much higher then to other times. I think Broken Age sales would also be better around this time, but will Broken Age the game be the best experience???

Key for me that the Act 2 should improve the whole game!!!

Regarding cost I would hope that you cut down on the animations in cutscenes. I felt they where to hectic and way too much especially as the game as in general a more relaxed and stress free mood.

Its so crazy that people get stuck on this train puzzle... It was way too obvious how it works.... Anyhow please make the second half still a little bit harder. Maybe you should bring in more detailed hints if someone cannot guess a puzzle. This hints should be related to how often the player tries something and a kind of a time counter.

The problem with the difficulty is at the end the target audience. You have to find a the right balance between hardcore players and casual gamers. Maybe the only option is to include two difficulties for casual players and hardcore gamers. This will for sure cost some extra money, which is obviously not there, but would ease down this issue.

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this episode makes me really sad, because you all sound disappointed about the sales :/

I remember a thing that Joss Whedon once said: "I prefer to do great stuff, that some people REALLY love and care about to mediocre stuff, that many people consume but never think of it again".. rest assured, that there are a bunch (many ;) ) people who really love what you do! :)

I think the reality of creative work is, that it's hard to finance and sales will sometime dissappoint.

Personally I loved Broken Age part 1. No other company could have done it, so I am greatly appreciative of the effort of everyone from Double Fine.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will get that massive hit. I do my part by buying all those awesome, interesting games. :-)

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Tim, I have a solution to make act 2 financially more successful AND please the hardcore fans: In-game puzzle purchases! if someone wants a higher difficulty he can buy additional harder puzzles!

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Justin Bailey programmed in assembly in 2nd grade? Wow.

Great pair of videos, thanks.

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Great stuff, but man, the disappointment was palpable, as honest as the rest of the series and poignant to watch. :( It looks like you're breaking even with BA at least! Gratuitous cheerful exclamation point!

My thoughts on what was discussed for Act 2 are as follows (and probably a little late by now): the game should be about "two to three times" as hard (however you can measure that). I should be stuck much more often than I was (which was hardly at all).

The game has such great rewards in place for making progress -- gorgeous art, awesome cut scenes, amazing VO - that you should *not* be afraid of halting the player in ther tracks.

A denser inventory would be advisable. It is difficulty-by-obfuscation but that seems to be at least part of the charm of beloved adventures so why not? More items equals more jokes as well.

The entire game, as in its whole raft of rooms, needs to be heavily utilised by the puzzle structure. Get the player backtracking. We don't mind, honest. If I have to go back to Shay's bedroom to solve a puzzle in Vella's house, so be it.

Don't allow the player to finish with one character before moving onto the other. Gate progress with tandem puzzles which must be solved before proceeding.

And most, most, most of all, do not allow a puzzle to be solved before it's discovered. That happened probably three or more times for me in Act 1, and just takes the wind out of your sails, like it's content you've accidentally cheat-coded through.

Looking forward to the next episode, and good luck for the next few months guys!

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I would love it from a student of game design perspective if after the game shipped you'd share those game/puzzle flowcharts that you're currently obfuscating in the videos. Maybe some of the pages from the notebooks with Tim explaining how his mind worked when he was coming up with that specific stuff.

Anyway, good episode.

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Well there goes all my plans for tonight. Not complaining! :)

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I'm feeling some special camaraderie with Justin Bailey. I, too, was in the Sierra camp.

The recounting of his software piracy days brings back memories. I remember feeling so smart when I figured out how to compress Star Control II's star chart copy protection into a simple table and formula. I expended much undue effort to break or subvert copy protection as a minor.

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Really sobering episode, but an essential part of the game development process.

Hopefully Act 2 can finish and ship on time to boost sales!

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Justin Bailey programmed in assembly in 2nd grade? Wow.

Great pair of videos, thanks.

Be wary of us 70's/80's kids who claim we were programming in assembly before we were out of short trousers... Lots of us did, technically, but it was pretty basic stuff, mostly copying code listings out of magazines and stuff like that. /Technically/, I can say I programmed our C64 in assembly as a kid, but in reality, it wasn't anything special. It did sow the seed though, and I did grow up to be a Real Programmer™ eventually :)

As for the sombre atmosphere in this video that some people have mentioned, I really felt it too. It reminded me of that one episode halfway through Act 1 where everybody got down about money and time and stuff (probably the episode around where they announced it'd be two parts). I guess the post-ship slump was a bit inevitable (massive push, only to be starting from the beginning again and with some of the team going off to do other stuff would be quite mentally tough for anybody), though AF probably helped in that regard. Hopefully they're feeling way more positive now that things are moving along nicely, and a ship-date in December would be really, really cool. Wonder if that's at all feasible? Can't wait for the next 2PP episode :)

Also can't wait to re-buy Grim Fandango when that ships! So much better than running it on Win95 in VMWare! Bring it on! That's one game I never actually finished and really regret (I grew up and had kids at exactly the time it came out, and I abandoned in the casino area. I also abandoned Monkey Island 4, but I don't regret that. WindWaker too, collecting those stupid shards in the sea). The music from Grm in particular will be with me until I die -- the festival music outside, the bonewagon track, the music in the hallway. All of it, permanently burned in to my musical brain -- those songs pop in to my head at the most random times. You should release the sound track on bandcamp if you can!

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I've got to say, I enjoy watching the process of game genesis, the amazing documentary and the whole community feel more than I actually enjoyed playing Broken Age. Don't get me wrong, the game is beautiful. But this experience makes it so much more than just a game.

I don't mean any schadenfreude here, but i _love_ the fact that the documentary is often a bit on the sad side. Sorry for the guys at DF of course, but this nitty gritty just makes it really intimate, and like the "90,000 of closest friends" DF has, I feel like I too have a dozen of "closest friends I've never met" at DF just from watching the documentary.

Keep up the good work! (DF and 2PP, both of you!)

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Both were very good. The Justin Bailey sidequest was really good though. Enlightening to hear more about the business side of the industry.

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You guys are awesome! Keep up the good work, and don't work too hard! I want you guys to remain friends so you can make more awesome games for us! Financial success is just that, but what you're doing is more than just that. (Although it does seem like you're doing pretty good, really.)

And here is what I posted in the Justin Sidequest thread:

Justin - You not only get to do what you like, but you’ve also made an impact on the gaming industry as a whole, even with the short time you’ve been here! You were a big part of the financial planning for DFA, which is a milestone in game development history. And you’ve helped re-release Grim Fandango, which is a classic and milestone in its own right in video game history. Great Job so far! Keep doing the things you love, and thanks for making sure the things we love get done for many more years to come!

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Can't seem to play the video. It's saying: Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here. :C

Edits: Whoops. It's fixed, I just needed to switch the player. :D

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Really great episode. Almost made me feel bad for saying Act I was too easy. Almost! Even though it was. Easy, that is. :P

One other thing to keep in mind re: the train puzzle: it might just be a puzzle that has an obvious solution for adventure game veterans vs people who are not. IIRC, from previous episodes of the documentary, most of your play-testers for Act I that got stuck on the train were people (including some developers at other game studios) who admitted to not being well-versed in the adventure game genre. Not sure if that's the case for everybody who gets stuck on it, but there might be some correlation there.

In regards to release date, make sure it doesn't come out in October or November. There's so many other releases during that time period that Act II might get lost in the morass of games released in those months. December seems fine as it's just in time for the Steam Holiday Sale and a lot of people wait till the Holiday sale to buy their games on Steam.

One more thing about sales: I think it's possible that a lot of people (though I'm not sure it's a significant amount) are waiting for both parts to be released prior to purchasing the game. I have at least 2 friends who are doing this. So, maybe there might be a silver lining to the dark cloud presented in this episode?

And on a side note, was that an Intron Depot book I saw on the shelf behind Oliver at 23'30? Mmmmmmmmmm...Masamune Shirow artwork. <3 <3 <3

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The struggle is real.

-Justin Bailey

Great episode, as always. I like many others enjoy, besides seeing you guys happy, to also see the warts and all. Made me really want to place act2 though.

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Great to see an update after all this time, but so sad to see how dejected everyone looked. I think perhaps the lesson Double Fine can take away from this is doing lots of play testing result in a far too easy, dumbed down game (when I think of the countless examples in film where classic films or TV shows would have been ruined, if they listened to pre-screen viewers Twelve Monkey is a classic example, where the viewers hated it and if the director Terry Gilliam hadnt stuck to his guns the film would have been ruined)...

I get they wanted to get the casual game market, but I just dont think that demographic is interested in Adventure games.. So they kind of alienated the hardcore adventure market and the countless others who loved adventure games back in the day and who would have gone for it, if the people who did buy it werent so critical on how easy the game was.

Having said all that Broken Sword 5 sales were pitiful and I felt they did a much better job with manging the balance between hardcore and casual (with the hint system), so maybe its simply there isn't the market anymore for adventure games?

I think Tim talking about story over puzzle.. may struggle... I think the puzzles need to be king and story a far behind second. The reason I say this is because Lets Play videos and the internet means that if a game is mostly story and simple puzzles (like act one)... then you may as well just watch the video of someone else playing it as opposed buying the game. This is why games like Professor Layton does so well as people love the puzzles in that game. This is why I think adventure games today either needs to be...

A - Good strong puzzles (The old Lucas Art adventures, Professor Layton)

B - A detailed world you can get lost in (Gone Home)

C - An Action RPG mixing in adventure elements (Zelda etc)

Act One followed B the closest, but I feel failed because of the streamlined approach to interactive items and connected dialogue. I think Act One would have benefited greatly for the back art bringing up text descriptions or audio narration, giving more back story to the world we find ourselves.. Things like the old warrior photos going into a narration of how the world used to be.

I can't help but feel all the funds was eaten up by the amazing graphics and polish and as a result not bringing any depth to the game. Tim you are the greatest dialogue and puzzle writers around and you genuinely dont need smooth animations or stunning graphics... becasue your artist could draw some squares with a smily face and your dialogue and puzzles would make it just as much an enjoyable game at much less cost.. it would even be a better game in my opinion, because more time can be spent on more interactable objects and puzzles.. that probably have to get cut, due to the spiraling art budget that needs to accompany each thing.

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Thanks, Double Fine and 2PP! You'll always have my love! That sounds a little weird, but I don't care!

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Don't forget this was a huge success for all backers, who are getting a great game and an unique documentary (all the difficulties just make it more and more valuable). Thanks for everything, I hope part 2 will surprise you on sales, because you deserve it... you made many people happy.

About Grim Fandango... are you launching it with the dubbing? The Brazilian version is a masterpiece!

One thing that got me frustrated with Broken Age was I couldn't get my young sister, or my nephews to play the game... they don't understand english yet.

Do you consider Brazil a big market for this genre? Maybe after part 2 you could partner up with some company here and release it in portuguese.

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Just noticed Tim has Dumbland on DVD.

I want a Dumbland adventure game, get on to David Lynch right now.

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