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Tim Schafer

Tim answers questions on v1.0

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Along with my comment above, I have to respond to this quote by Tim Schafer off of the Steam forums (where he seems to be answering questions, but ignoring his own forum on his own website):

"I have to take issue with your tearm, "taking the money and running." We took the money and invested it back into Spacebase. And then we invested more. We will not make money, or even break even, on this game."

THAT'S THE POINT, TIM!!! You're not supposed to "make money, or even break even" on an unreleased, unfinished game! Don't you understand that? Don't you understand that there were a lot of people like me that were just waiting for you guys to finish a relatively feature complete version of the game to buy? Isn't this how games and business in general works? You invest money in what hopefully will be a good game, release it, and then make the money back? Tim's logic is completely backwards on this subject. As much as I love Tim...and I do still love Tim...he seems to have now forgotten that DF is not supposed to make money until AFTER they have already invested a lot of money and time into a GOOD and FINISHED product.

I'm sorry Tim and DF, but with this fiasco and your poor logic behind this fiasco, it is going to be REALLY hard to trust any Kickstarter or Early Access games from you in the future. I'll still buy your games because I think you guys make original, awesome games. But yea, I'll wait till you guys actually complete those games from here on out. I don't want to hear you guys make more excuses about how you haven't broken even on a game you haven't even released yet. That's not how business works.

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Obviously, spending more money than we were making isn’t something we can afford to do

Once upon a time, this was called "development." I get that there aren't infinite resources, but I feel like DF should have planned to get this to a point further than it is, even if it didn't do everything they hoped. There's always things that get cut from a product, but I just don't feel like this was anywhere near "complete."

In addition to what early access buyers contributed, I believe the game received investment from Indie Fund and others like Morgan Webb of $400,000 (apparently they got their money back and presumably a profit within two weeks).

http://indie-fund.com/2013/11/spacebase-df-9-recoups-investment-in-two-weeks/

Spacebase DF-9 went into open alpha last month and recouped the entire $400k investment two weeks from that date. 85% of the revenue came in via Steam Early Access, and the other 15% via direct sales by Double Fine.

$400,000+ goes quick. Also assuming sales, tapered off pretty quick after that

I don't understand it when people talk about the early access sales tapering off. Yea...they tapered off because it's early access and the game is far from complete. The early access sales were probably something like 10% of the sales you would have actually seen if you had actually finished the game and released it. There are a lot of people like me that were just waiting for DF to release a decent final product. Again, isn't this what game development is? Isn't this was business is? You're not supposed to make a bunch of money BEFORE a game is finished. You're supposed to make a bunch of money AFTER a GOOD game is released. It appears by Tim's response that he and DF have forgotten this important fact.

You seem have misunderstood the model here.

Early Access is the funding for the development of the game plus whatever investment the developer can secure outside that. Without the funding, there is no game at the end to profit from. The money DF was accumulating was not profit, it was to fund development, that's how Early Access works.

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That's how THIS Early Access project apparently worked, although the argument is that apparently consumers weren't aware they would only get the hyped updates if new people kept dropping $20-30 for 2 hours of buggy content.

Wasteland 2, for example, had a long Early Access period, and there was no sense that it would just disappear without half the much-hyped final game if not enough people coughed up retail prices to beta test.

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Obviously, spending more money than we were making isn’t something we can afford to do

Once upon a time, this was called "development." I get that there aren't infinite resources, but I feel like DF should have planned to get this to a point further than it is, even if it didn't do everything they hoped. There's always things that get cut from a product, but I just don't feel like this was anywhere near "complete."

In addition to what early access buyers contributed, I believe the game received investment from Indie Fund and others like Morgan Webb of $400,000 (apparently they got their money back and presumably a profit within two weeks).

http://indie-fund.com/2013/11/spacebase-df-9-recoups-investment-in-two-weeks/

Spacebase DF-9 went into open alpha last month and recouped the entire $400k investment two weeks from that date. 85% of the revenue came in via Steam Early Access, and the other 15% via direct sales by Double Fine.

$400,000+ goes quick. Also assuming sales, tapered off pretty quick after that

I don't understand it when people talk about the early access sales tapering off. Yea...they tapered off because it's early access and the game is far from complete. The early access sales were probably something like 10% of the sales you would have actually seen if you had actually finished the game and released it. There are a lot of people like me that were just waiting for DF to release a decent final product. Again, isn't this what game development is? Isn't this was business is? You're not supposed to make a bunch of money BEFORE a game is finished. You're supposed to make a bunch of money AFTER a GOOD game is released. It appears by Tim's response that he and DF have forgotten this important fact.

You seem have misunderstood the model here.

Early Access is the funding for the development of the game plus whatever investment the developer can secure outside that. Without the funding, there is no game at the end to profit from. The money DF was accumulating was not profit, it was to fund development, that's how Early Access works.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

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(He's probably going to refer to the Steam Early Access FAQ now, as though the problems of developer communication are solved by a generic terms statement.)

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(Then we'll just kindly refer him to the hundreds of negative reviews on Steam -- literally, I could not find a single positive review of Spacebase on Steam no matter how much I scrolled down -- and the outrage all over the internet. The point is not what a FAQ might say. The point is social capital and social perception.)

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You seem have misunderstood the model here.

Early Access is the funding for the development of the game plus whatever investment the developer can secure outside that. Without the funding, there is no game at the end to profit from. The money DF was accumulating was not profit, it was to fund development, that's how Early Access works.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

I share Nerdy Suit's understanding of the Early Access model, and am wondering whether you can point us to some sort of documentation or, say, the Steam FAQ on Early Access, where it explains to you how Early Access is meant to work some other way. Because I can't seem to figure out what all you "that's not how EA works" people are referring to, or where you got your ideas.

Genuinely, I would like to know.

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@Suejak I didn't say there was nothing to criticize about the handling or communication, but misconceptions about what buying in to an Early Access game means is not something DF is responsible for. Well, unless you think someone needs to hold your hand every time you make a purchase to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. Caveat Emptor.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

So are you then saying DF stole the money from people and is sitting on it rather than continuing the development?

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You seem have misunderstood the model here.

Early Access is the funding for the development of the game plus whatever investment the developer can secure outside that. Without the funding, there is no game at the end to profit from. The money DF was accumulating was not profit, it was to fund development, that's how Early Access works.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

I share Nerdy Suit's understanding of the Early Access model, and am wondering whether you can point us to some sort of documentation or, say, the Steam FAQ on Early Access, where it explains to you how Early Access is meant to work some other way. Because I can't seem to figure out what all you "that's not how EA works" people are referring to, or where you got your ideas.

Genuinely, I would like to know.

http://store.steampowered.com/earlyaccessfaq/

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(I completely agree. I hope he doesn't overhear this conversation. Remember, if anybody asks, it never happened.)

Lol, damn phone. Anyway, it seems as though, intuitively, this ought to have been called Pay As We Go, rather than Early Access, which implies you're just getting an early peek at a full game in the pipe for later.

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BTW, I am not here because I am some upset consumer who bought into Spacebase's early access. As I said before, I never bought into early access and was waiting to buy the relatively finished product. I'm here taking time to comment on this forum because I am absolutely shocked and appalled that my favorite developer (DF) and my favorite person in games (Tim) have taken such an action that I would have never guessed in a million years they would take. To say that I'm disappointed their actions is an understatement.

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@Suejak I didn't say there was nothing to criticize about the handling or communication, but misconceptions about what buying in to an Early Access game means is not something DF is responsible for. Well, unless you think someone needs to hold your hand every time you make a purchase to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. Caveat Emptor.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

So are you then saying DF stole the money from people and is sitting on it rather than continuing the development?

Good luck running a business if you're going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, "Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!"

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

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@Suejak I didn't say there was nothing to criticize about the handling or communication, but misconceptions about what buying in to an Early Access game means is not something DF is responsible for. Well, unless you think someone needs to hold your hand every time you make a purchase to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. Caveat Emptor.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

So are you then saying DF stole the money from people and is sitting on it rather than continuing the development?

I'm saying that they have completely twisted what it means to run a business. If you read my previous posts, you would understand that. You’re not supposed to “make money, or even break even” on an unreleased, unfinished game. You invest money in what hopefully will be a good game, release it, and then make the money back and hopefully more. DF is not supposed to make money until AFTER they have already invested a lot of money and time into a GOOD and FINISHED product.

So by selling a game that they are no longer willing to finish because they're not "breaking even" on a game they haven't even released yet (that logic sounds crazier every time I write it) -- in a way, yes, they are stealing money from those that bought into early access. I don't think they're sitting on it. I believe they spent it on development. But they wrongfully took money to try out this "experiment" that they should probably refund. The idea that they shouldn't lose/invest money on a game until it's released is so silly, counter-intuitive, and just plain backwards that it's insanity this is used as the excuse.

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You seem have misunderstood the model here.

Early Access is the funding for the development of the game plus whatever investment the developer can secure outside that. Without the funding, there is no game at the end to profit from. The money DF was accumulating was not profit, it was to fund development, that's how Early Access works.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

I share Nerdy Suit's understanding of the Early Access model, and am wondering whether you can point us to some sort of documentation or, say, the Steam FAQ on Early Access, where it explains to you how Early Access is meant to work some other way. Because I can't seem to figure out what all you "that's not how EA works" people are referring to, or where you got your ideas.

Genuinely, I would like to know.

http://store.steampowered.com/earlyaccessfaq/

See, and here's where miscommunication can clearly be said to be a 2-way street, because I mention the EA FAQ (having already read it in detail, and hoping you would read it, too) and when I read it, it describes my understanding of EA and doesn't jibe with yours—whereas you presumably read what you were linking before linking it, and got the opposite information out of the same words.

And it seems the same has been true of the "miscommunications" between the Spacebase DF-9 developers and the public: They say one thing, mean one thing, but different people read it to mean ... multiple things. Different things, depending on their perspectives, biases, and backgrounds.

So I got an email this weekend telling me Spacebase DF-9 was going to be reaching v1.0 next month and thought something like, "that seems like good news, they've implemented most of the features they'd planned on, and if they focus on bugs from here on, should be golden", whereas you see the news that Spacebase DF-9 is going to be reaching v1.0 next month and think something like "they've abandoned the game" or "they've taken our money and run!" Same experience, same reality, wholly different interpretations.

Isn't life rich and interesting?

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@Suejak I didn't say there was nothing to criticize about the handling or communication, but misconceptions about what buying in to an Early Access game means is not something DF is responsible for. Well, unless you think someone needs to hold your hand every time you make a purchase to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. Caveat Emptor.

Wow. That might be your definition of early access. But your perception is definitely not one that is widely held. It seems that you are the one that has misunderstood the model.

So are you then saying DF stole the money from people and is sitting on it rather than continuing the development?

Good luck running a business if you're going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, "Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!"

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

Exactly. That's my point. They can quote and post the link to the FAQ all they want. I don't care. Tim shouldn't care. DF shouldn't care. The only thing they should care about is how will this action be perceived. What is the *right* thing to do. The only thing they should care about is the social capital that this company had once upon a time and how they've completely squandered it.

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Good luck running a business if you’re going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, “Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!”

Regardless how you feel about it, you really should read it.

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

I don't know you can agree to quite a bit in a contract. Though if you want protection when you fund games invest the traditional route, that type of investment has legal protections etc, Early Access does not. When you buy an Early Access game, you pretty much get whatever the developer decides to put out, unless Valve intervenes like they did with Dinosaur adventure The Stomping Land.

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I don't know if you can call that a miscommunication, when you explicitly ask for it.

I share Nerdy Suit’s understanding of the Early Access model, and am wondering whether you can point us to some sort of documentation or, say, the Steam FAQ on Early Access, where it explains to you how Early Access is meant to work some other way. Because I can’t seem to figure out what all you “that’s not how EA works” people are referring to, or where you got your ideas.

Genuinely, I would like to know.

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I've got a question for you, Tim. There seems to be a pattern in large amounts of money managing to be misspent or otherwise spent inefficiently. How are you going to prevent these money issues in the future?

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Good luck running a business if you’re going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, “Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!”

Regardless how you feel about it, you really should read it.

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

I don't know you can agree to quite a bit in a contract. Though if you want protection when you fund games invest the traditional route, that type of investment has legal protections etc, Early Access does not. When you buy an Early Access game, you pretty much get whatever the developer decides to put out, unless Valve intervenes like they did with Dinosaur adventure The Stomping Land.

Wow. I mean, the entire point of this whole issue is going completely over your head. No legal arguments are being argued. No one is accusing DF of a crime. All we're basically saying is good luck ever getting anyone to fund future early access or Kickstarters because we don't trust you anymore. We look forward to purchasing your completed, feature complete, fully released games in the future.

Here -- Since you like posting links, here's one for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_capital

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I'm trying to summarise where we are here.

We've been talking a lot about communication and so I and I think we all agree that at least in some ways they should have been better at communicating the wind down if the project, even if we don't agree on the details. It's obviously the case because with the best of intentions, if a large chunk of your audience didn't get the message, then it has been miscommunicated almost by definition, so the only real question is how much of that was avoidable by DF. (My answer: I don't know, some, probably?)

I'd like to talk about the project itself. The numbers surrounding it and what that means for development.

I still think that the scale of the success Double Fine were probably looking for is poorly understood. Let's try even more pessimistic figures.

Average cost to employ: $14000 per month (Tim's upper estimate)

Full time Team size: 5 (I've invented a bigger team)

Average money Double Fine sees per sale: $5 (I have halved my original estimate)

At those kinds of figures, development for twice as long I.e 2 years after Early Access launch would have been $1.68 million, or in other words it would have cost them a little less than their projects like Stacking and Iron Brigade.

It would have needed to sell 336000 copies over that time. That's in the region of a very well received indie game. It's about 2/3 of what their higher end hopes for Broken Age were. Optimistic, yes, but not crazy.

Of course, these numbers are silly and they would have been unwise to develop based on them. The team is smaller, the average salary is probably a touch lower and they're probably making more off each sale, so we can probably cut that figure in half, perhaps more, before we even get anywhere close to what was really needed.

So, to get more development time than they actually did in Early Access (i.e. 1 year), to double that dev time, the success would have had to be pretty modest. That they probably weren't recklessly relying on an unrealistic level of of success to keep the game in development for well over a year, but rather they were projecting a modest success to keep the game in development for a couple of years, and just hoping for a slightly bigger success to get the game to 'escape velocity' where it becomes self sustaining for a number of years.

It becomes clear that sales weren't simply low. Not Broken Age "kinda low but still on target" low but "If we don't turn this around the game won't see more than a year of early access" low (which is where some of the communication stuff starts to come in). To be more precise, it seems that the very early sales were in line with what they wanted, but it failed to maintain any sort of momentum.

So the next question is why, and what does the why tell us?

Popular reasons which all might be true to a greater or lesser extent:

1) Price point too high. It clearly wasn't too high to prevent encouraging sales at the start, but it might have been a little above the sweet spot. Plausible.

2) Not enough time in the oven Pre-Early Access. It may just be that the indie fund funding wasn't enough to get the game where it needed to be to provide the sort of momentum that keeps people playing.

3) updates not fast/substantial enough. If there had been more there to start with, they probably could have gotten away with updates at the rate they were doing. But since the updates were being relied upon to sustain an interesting game experience, there was never room for the perception to grow that there were many cool things you could do in the game already.

I think those are the main ones. To me, that's not a story of terrible management, those all read like understandable mistakes one might make when embarking on one's first Alpha Funded venture, even as professionals. They're easy to pick on in hindsight, but there you go. They certainly don't appear to me to speak of a pattern of incompetence.

The biggest mistake was probably price, which I suspect has always felt a little high to everyone from the start (discount sales notwithstanding) but I don't think it would have saved the development on its own.

So, a great shame all around and I definitely think there are some hard lessons to learn both for DF and buyers. But probably not the dramatic apocalypse level misjudgement some people are alluding to.

And there IS still a game here, despite what people say. I already got some enjoyment out of Alpha 1. I'm looking forward to 1.0, even knowing the game I hoped for, that we all hoped for would have been in development for longer. Despite all this talk of failures, I'm excited to jump back in knowing I'll get a proper tutorial, and knowing that I'll be given objectives to pursue (because I think that could be a significant feature that should help provide some bigger variation between plays, and besides, I like the idea of being given 'serving suggestions' of things to do in a game like this.

tl;dr: I think where we are is

*yeah, I guess they did mess up communication in some ways,

*no, I don't think that numbers-wise the project was misjudged as much as people are assuming

*it's a shame we won't get that fully expanded version of the game we all hoped for

*I still want the game they described in 1.0. YMMV.

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[...]

The biggest mistake was probably price

[...]

You know, this might actually be one of the key problems with DF, not only with SBDF9, but also with BA: I still think BA on iOS is priced too high, and even the price for BA on Steam (which includes both Acts, unlike iOS) is too high.

I think price should reflect that the game is not finished; that's why Minecraft went from 10 to 15 to 20 bucks for going from alpha to beta to final. Should have been the same for SBDF9 Alpha, or BA Act 1.

I know quite some people who were interested in both games, but who thought the price was too high.

That's totally no guarantee that revenue would have been higher, but perhaps more people would have resulted in more word of mouth, which would have resulted in more revenue. Alas, too late now to find out.

It will be interesting to see how they price Massive Chalice...

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[...]

The biggest mistake was probably price

[...]

You know, this might actually be one of the key problems with DF, not only with SBDF9, but also with BA: I still think BA on iOS is priced too high, and even the price for BA on Steam (which includes both Acts, unlike iOS) is too high.

I think price should reflect that the game is not finished; that's why Minecraft went from 10 to 15 to 20 bucks for going from alpha to beta to final. Should have been the same for SBDF9 Alpha, or BA Act 1.

I know quite some people who were interested in both games, but who thought the price was too high.

That's totally no guarantee that revenue would have been higher, but perhaps more people would have resulted in more word of mouth, which would have resulted in more revenue. Alas, too late now to find out.

It will be interesting to see how they price Massive Chalice...

And the problem with both prices (Broken Age ande SBDF9) is that neither game has been fully released. $25 would be perfect for BA if the complete game was actually released. But why would someone pay that much for only half a game right now? And $25 for SB would be fine if they released the game with most of the features they originally said they would include. But again, who would pay $25 for what is reportedly just a few hours of gameplay?

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[...]

The biggest mistake was probably price

[...]

You know, this might actually be one of the key problems with DF, not only with SBDF9, but also with BA: I still think BA on iOS is priced too high, and even the price for BA on Steam (which includes both Acts, unlike iOS) is too high.

I think price should reflect that the game is not finished; that's why Minecraft went from 10 to 15 to 20 bucks for going from alpha to beta to final. Should have been the same for SBDF9 Alpha, or BA Act 1.

I know quite some people who were interested in both games, but who thought the price was too high.

That's totally no guarantee that revenue would have been higher, but perhaps more people would have resulted in more word of mouth, which would have resulted in more revenue. Alas, too late now to find out.

It will be interesting to see how they price Massive Chalice...

And the problem with both prices (Broken Age ande SBDF9) is that neither game has been fully released. $25 would be perfect for BA if the complete game was actually released. But why would someone pay that much for only half a game right now? And $25 for SB would be fine if they released the game with most of the features they originally said they would include. But again, who would pay $25 for what is reportedly just a few hours of gameplay?

With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

While there was certainly a case for pricing DF-9 lower (as I say, I think this was probably the biggest error in all this), it would have been a bad move to essentially give away half of Broken Age for free by only charging for Act 1, until Act 2 was released, then raising the price. I sincerely doubt that would have doubled sales, which it would have needed to, at the very least, to be a worthwhile exercise.

What might have been a good move would have been to sell Act 1 and 2 seperately (and give both free to backers, of course) - but that would been similarly risky (they'd have to sell much more of Act 1 as part of the plan to top up the Act 2 fund, etc). Ultimately there are pros and cons to each approach, but the bottom line is that Broken Age is making its numbers - not spectacularly, but it's doing it.

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Hello,

I have followed the game development for some time now and I am glad it will soon hit shelves.

In the faq you posted on the website, you deal with the issue of DRM.

Is a DRM-free build of this game available?

There are other possible futures, including one in which we start implementing aspects of Steamworks like cloud saves and other requested features, in which case Steam would become a more intrinsic part of the game. I can also imagine a future in which we released a version that downloads directly through Humble! We can’t promise either of these futures 100%, because then we will look like fools if they do not come to pass.

Have you decided what the distribution channels will be? Steam only? DRM free and Steam free build?

Thanks

Gilou

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Good luck running a business if you’re going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, “Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!”

Regardless how you feel about it, you really should read it.

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

I don't know you can agree to quite a bit in a contract. Though if you want protection when you fund games invest the traditional route, that type of investment has legal protections etc, Early Access does not. When you buy an Early Access game, you pretty much get whatever the developer decides to put out, unless Valve intervenes like they did with Dinosaur adventure The Stomping Land.

Wow. I mean, the entire point of this whole issue is going completely over your head. No legal arguments are being argued. No one is accusing DF of a crime. All we're basically saying is good luck ever getting anyone to fund future early access or Kickstarters because we don't trust you anymore. We look forward to purchasing your completed, feature complete, fully released games in the future.

Here -- Since you like posting links, here's one for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_capital

Did you not read the quote in my post?

The social capital, wasn't in dispute. If you don't trust DF, that's your prerogative. However,

I don’t understand it when people talk about the early access sales tapering off. Yea…they tapered off because it’s early access and the game is far from complete. The early access sales were probably something like 10% of the sales you would have actually seen if you had actually finished the game and released it. There are a lot of people like me that were just waiting for DF to release a decent final product. Again, isn’t this what game development is? Isn’t this was business is? You’re not supposed to make a bunch of money BEFORE a game is finished. You’re supposed to make a bunch of money AFTER a GOOD game is released. It appears by Tim’s response that he and DF have forgotten this important fact.

what was in dispute was whether you understood what early access was. I took the above as a not.

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Hello,

I have followed the game development for some time now and I am glad it will soon hit shelves.

In the faq you posted on the website, you deal with the issue of DRM.

Is a DRM-free build of this game available?

There are other possible futures, including one in which we start implementing aspects of Steamworks like cloud saves and other requested features, in which case Steam would become a more intrinsic part of the game. I can also imagine a future in which we released a version that downloads directly through Humble! We can’t promise either of these futures 100%, because then we will look like fools if they do not come to pass.

Have you decided what the distribution channels will be? Steam only? DRM free and Steam free build?

Thanks

Gilou

DoubleFine have themselves said the following:
The Steam Alpha build is actually DRM-free. It downloads through Steam of course but you don’t need to be running Steam to run the game. In this case Steam serves purely as a download and auto-patching mechanism, not as a DRM solution. (We have actually used Steam in this way for a number of our games.)
Whether this will carry over to the 1.0 version or not, I cannot say, though I certainly hope it does.

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Sadly, since Steam only offers "subscriptions" to games rather than ownership of a licence that's not time limited, that makes it inherently a DRM platform in my book. Sure, the game doesn't have any built in DRM, but that doesn't undermine the legitimacy of requesting non-Steam builds to avoid DRM.

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Good luck running a business if you’re going to fall back on legal terms, throwing up your hands and saying, “Shoulda read the fine print, sucker!”

Regardless how you feel about it, you really should read it.

Again, that is a very lawyerly way to look at things, and not something that even the law necessarily agrees with.

I don't know you can agree to quite a bit in a contract. Though if you want protection when you fund games invest the traditional route, that type of investment has legal protections etc, Early Access does not. When you buy an Early Access game, you pretty much get whatever the developer decides to put out, unless Valve intervenes like they did with Dinosaur adventure The Stomping Land.

Wow. I mean, the entire point of this whole issue is going completely over your head. No legal arguments are being argued. No one is accusing DF of a crime. All we're basically saying is good luck ever getting anyone to fund future early access or Kickstarters because we don't trust you anymore. We look forward to purchasing your completed, feature complete, fully released games in the future.

Here -- Since you like posting links, here's one for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_capital

Did you not read the quote in my post?

The social capital, wasn't in dispute. If you don't trust DF, that's your prerogative. However,

I don’t understand it when people talk about the early access sales tapering off. Yea…they tapered off because it’s early access and the game is far from complete. The early access sales were probably something like 10% of the sales you would have actually seen if you had actually finished the game and released it. There are a lot of people like me that were just waiting for DF to release a decent final product. Again, isn’t this what game development is? Isn’t this was business is? You’re not supposed to make a bunch of money BEFORE a game is finished. You’re supposed to make a bunch of money AFTER a GOOD game is released. It appears by Tim’s response that he and DF have forgotten this important fact.

what was in dispute was whether you understood what early access was. I took the above as a not.

I perfectly understand what early access is. The difference is that you're looking at it solely from a legalistic point of view. I'm looking at it from a moral and social point of view. Legally, DF does not owe anybody anything with SB. Morally and socially, DF went against the core of what early access is supposed to be about.

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I'm saying that they have completely twisted what it means to run a business. If you read my previous posts, you would understand that. You’re not supposed to “make money, or even break even” on an unreleased, unfinished game. You invest money in what hopefully will be a good game, release it, and then make the money back and hopefully more. DF is not supposed to make money until AFTER they have already invested a lot of money and time into a GOOD and FINISHED product.

So by selling a game that they are no longer willing to finish because they're not "breaking even" on a game they haven't even released yet (that logic sounds crazier every time I write it) -- in a way, yes, they are stealing money from those that bought into early access. I don't think they're sitting on it. I believe they spent it on development. But they wrongfully took money to try out this "experiment" that they should probably refund. The idea that they shouldn't lose/invest money on a game until it's released is so silly, counter-intuitive, and just plain backwards that it's insanity this is used as the excuse.

Just a disclaimer, I do not own Spacebase.

Here I think is the heart of the issue. Some folks like myself always viewed Kickstarter and Early Access as a kind of speculative experiment where you take a gamble on helping to fund a game and whatever you get is what you get. Obviously a lot of other folks like Nerdy Suit took a very different view, feeling that Early Access was more of a way for the developer to recoup some costs, but not as a sole funding source. I don't think anyone is 'right' about this because the model has been used differently by different developers. I mean hell, Hack N' Slash did exactly the thing Nerdy Suit expected that Spacebase was doing.

My question is, how was DoubleFine supposed to know what people were expecting? Nerdy Suit later talks about what the perception is and what the 'right' thing to do is. I'm pretty confused about all this. I know there wasn't some flashing banner at the top of the Spacebase page saying 'we'll only keep developing as long as we hit out sales numbers.' Clearly DoubleFine didn't think they needed that banner because of the comments they made about nothing being promised and the Early Access FAQ and all the stuff KestrelPi has pointed out. So, I hear you Nerdy Suit about having to manage your social capital and perceptions, but it seems like you're implying that DoubleFine knew that most players shared your expectations and actually I think quite the opposite is true. I think they felt that most people's perception was closer to mine that this was a speculative pay-as-you-go sort of deal. Clearly they were wrong and now that this has happened we all know, but I'm really unsure how they could've known beforehand. Sure, they could've asked, but if you don't already know that you NEED to ask then you probably wouldn't bother doing it.

Nerdy Suit, let me just try and explain why a developer would attempt these other funding models. What you're talking about where someone invests a lot of money into a game and then attempts to recoup those costs through finished sales in just the traditional game development model. Whether that money comes from a publisher or a private investor or from the company itself it's all invest now for profits later. The problem for Doublefine is that they're relatively small and their games aren't huge commercial hits. Usually they make back their development costs plus a little extra years down the road, but that's about it. So, they don't have a million dollars sitting in the bank account to invest in development, especially because as an indie studio you have to be working on multiple projects to mitigate risk and ensure constant revenue streams post-release. Getting a major publishing deal for a game like Spacebase seems basically impossible. It's never going to make enough money to attract the attention of EA or Activision or Ubisoft... etc. So that's where this new funding model comes from. Are they twisting what it means to run a game development business? Yea that's kinda the point because the old way wasn't working for them. The studio was constantly in financial trouble AND they had to give up the IP to all their games. This was an attempt to mitigate the risks of game development and if it weren't for the serious consumer backlash, it actually worked! If DoubleFine had spent only their own money on this game and waited longer to release it, it seems like they would've lost even more money. I just want you to appreciate, Nerdy Suit, that on the model you're advocating, Double Fine either never would've been able to make their several most recent games at all, and if they had done it by pouring all of their available cash into the games, they'd probably be bankrupt.

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With regards to Broken Age:

I think this is a red herring! :) You'd better ask the 90k backers who paid an average of $35 for a game that didn't even exist yet in concept. Or the people who bought Act 1 on release (since it is, after all, hitting its low-end target sales figures, according to the last doc.)

Once again Broken Age proves to be a poor comparison in these discussions, because it's a game that obviously did sell what they needed it to.

You could get BA (the full game) for $15 during the Kickstarter; and that included access to the beta, access to the 2PP documentary, access to the private backer forum. So if you'd sell BA Act 1 now for $15 or $20, and raise its price to $25 once Act 2 is out, no backer should have felt betrayed by anything.

As for "making its numbers": it is hitting the absolut minimum, the pessimistic estimate. It is by no means hitting the numbers that DF hoped for: You could see the disappointment in the doc. It really looks like Adventure Games are dead.

BTW, is there a way to see how many times a game is on Steam Wishlists? (Like, "1.234 people have this on their wish list"?)

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