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Tim Schafer

Important question to backers about the DFA doc

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I appreciate that, but it's rather difficult to understand how making accusations of mismanagement is anything other than 'down' on the DF team. There are project managers on the other end, that read this, and are professionals who take pride in the work they do.

Why still use statements like 'This is an adventure game we're talking about'. Implying, what? That adventure games are easier to make than other sorts of games? I can promise you they aren't. It might be easier in some respects, but it's certainly not in others. As has been mentioned in the forums and in the doc (I think) one of the things that's difficult about adventure games is the small amount of content that is un-reusable. Like, for example, one nice thing about a shooter, say, is that you can design an enemy, or section of wall, or door, or sound effect and then keep using that enemy (etc, etc) over and over again in different configurations. Every enemy (etc etc) that you design goes a long way because you're likely to see it in a game in dozens of different ways before the end. But almost everything in adventure games is bespoke. This animation which applies to this particular dialogue in this room for this character who only appears here and nowhere else. This is an oversimplification, but you get the idea. This means that testing also becomes a real challenge, because there are so many unique ways that things can fall over. And so on and so forth.

It's far from 'pretty straightforward.'

It is true that they chose to take a more difficult path in development, but the reason for this, as explained very well in the doc, is that they were limiting the amount they had to cut scope and instead focusing on securing extra money to lengthen development. They could have released a smaller game, for less money, sure, and it would have been easier.

I think most backers are glad they didn't.

It's also kind of an exaggeration to suggest they are 'years' overdue. The original Kickstarter target was abandoned as soon as they had money for a bigger project, and we were never (as far as I remember) given a firm deadline for the game except that it was going to take much longer because of the increased budget. It did take much longer, and the first release date they announced (last January for Act 1) They hit. Act 2 slipped by a bit, but it's hardly like release dates slipping is some scandalous, unusual story in game dev. Happens all the time (see http://www.primagames.com/games/batman-arkham-knight/feature/biggest-video-games-delayed-2015 )

We're not talking Duke Nukem Forever, here. We're talking about an adventure game which they wanted to make in maybe 1 year 6 months (once you factor out pre-production and concept stage) and they actually made in something like 2 years 9 months (ish), after some changes in how they were going to structure the release.

I'm separating the team from the management. The team can only come in and give it their all everyday. Whether or not that effort results in a good, on budget game rests with the upper crust.

You're talking about modular design. And it saves time, but it's not a freebie. Each level still has to be designed, created, and staged. And you might be able to reuse enemies, but then you get into AI behavior which can suck up an incredible amount of programming time. And these days you can't get away with pure Modularity - unless you want your game to look cheap.

So yes. In my opinion, adventure games are 100% absolutely "easier" to make. What I mean is that adventure games are a lot easier to put together - not that it takes less talent or effort to make them. (Especially from a writing perspective.) That's not a slight on adventure games. (I've been playing them since you had to type in what you wanted to do...) A good adventure game can't be beat, in my opinion.

Anyway, we're kind of going around in circles. :) As I said before, I don't think it was the scope of the game that was the problem. It was development time. They weren't getting things done fast enough... Just looking at the first half of Broken Age, it's very hard for me to believe that it took so long (and thus cost that much) to put together. Which leads me to believe that it was the WAY the game was made, rather than HOW it was made that led to problems. And that's an problem at the top... not with the team.

Yeah! I'm glad they didn't make a smaller game too! Broken Age Act 1 had about as much game play as a single episode of a TellTale game (For about the same price as a whole season.) If they had made it shorter, there wouldn't have been anything there!

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I'm separating the team from the management. The team can only come in and give it their all everyday. Whether or not that effort results in a good, on budget game rests with the upper crust.

It's a small part of a medium sized studio. The management IS part of the team. Management, in this case, isn't some people in a back office somewhere with no idea about what's going on on the ground.

So yes. In my opinion, adventure games are 100% absolutely "easier" to make.

I don't know what to say other than you're just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's not like it's even fair to compare the complexity of making an adventure game with a game like some shooter with complex AI and engine stuff going on which is probably going to have a much bigger budget in the first place. It doesn't make any sense. What we should be doing is comparing how complex Broken Age is to make in comparison with games of a similar budget level.

Well anyway, I'm not highly experienced, but I've been making games on and off for a few years now, and I've long ago learned to throw away my assumptions about how complex a particular project 'ought' to be.The game I thought would be a quick stopgap project we've now been making for 3 years. And when I'm thinking about the next games we have in pre-production I have on my list a 3D exploration game, a 2D adventure game and a 2D strategy game as my main choices. They're very different projects, and I can see how every one is going to get very complex in different ways.

Finally, I recommend you find Anna Kipnis' talk on dialogue systems in Broken Age for an idea of how even a seemingly pretty basic system can blow up in complexity very fast when you consider all the factors. There's a link around somewhere in the forum.

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I'm separating the team from the management. The team can only come in and give it their all everyday. Whether or not that effort results in a good, on budget game rests with the upper crust.

It's a small part of a medium sized studio. The management IS part of the team. Management, in this case, isn't some people in a back office somewhere with no idea about what's going on on the ground.

So yes. In my opinion, adventure games are 100% absolutely "easier" to make.

I don't know what to say other than you're just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's not like it's even fair to compare the complexity of making an adventure game with a game like some shooter with complex AI and engine stuff going on which is probably going to have a much bigger budget in the first place. It doesn't make any sense. What we should be doing is comparing how complex Broken Age is to make in comparison with games of a similar budget level.

Well anyway, I'm not highly experienced, but I've been making games on and off for a few years now, and I've long ago learned to throw away my assumptions about how complex a particular project 'ought' to be.The game I thought would be a quick stopgap project we've now been making for 3 years. And when I'm thinking about the next games we have in pre-production I have on my list a 3D exploration game, a 2D adventure game and a 2D strategy game as my main choices. They're very different projects, and I can see how every one is going to get very complex in different ways.

Finally, I recommend you find Anna Kipnis' talk on dialogue systems in Broken Age for an idea of how even a seemingly pretty basic system can blow up in complexity very fast when you consider all the factors. There's a link around somewhere in the forum.

I'm not wrong wrong wrong and you're not wrong wrong wrong... We just have different opinions on the subject.

I've seen Anna's lecture. Complexity is yet another aspect of game development that needs to be managed. A game can be infinitely complex, but budgets are finite. Making a game isn't just about what you can do... It's so much more often about "what's the best we can do - with what we've got." Going so far over-budget is a sign of poor management. In this case, I believe that poor management led to things be cut out of the game and that's really sad.

Anyway, I enjoyed the conversation with everybody. Have a good one.

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In my opinion, coming in years overdue and unknown millions over budget on a point and click adventure game is a sign of mismanagement, plain and simple. This is an adventure game we're talking about. It should have been pretty straight forward. It was only "tricky" because they made it that way. It didn't need to be.

Pretty straight forward?

The situation was that:

1. Tim hadn't made a game like this at this company.

2. The team, as far as I know, had no previous experience of point&click; adventure games.

3. They hadn't the tools for it, had to build them, and had to make sure that the tools was suited for all the platforms that the backers had requested, and they had promised to deliver for.

4. They wanted to make a 2d point&click; game that felt relevant to day, and was not just done by following the standard template.

How is that "pretty straight forward"?

You can argue that DF should have made some other choices then what they did:

1. Less ambitious art style (making the game less relevant, and less charming?)

2. Promised less platforms, and used more "out of the box" tools (assuming that their were such tools available).

3. Tim maybe should have used another schedule for writing, tried to speed up the process (with whatever loss of quality that would have resulted in).

4. Skipped voice overs?

But to get anywhere with a project, you have start it with certain parameters, and then face the issues that those descision cause. To me that's really not mismanagement. They could have made a much more simplier game, true, but was that really what the expectations for the kickstarter was, after it raised the money it did. I really don't think people would have more satisfied with a much simpler game.

And btw, years overdue to what? There never was a publicly set release date for this game. The one on the kickstarter page was scrapped one day after the kickstarter launched.

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I'm separating the team from the management. The team can only come in and give it their all everyday. Whether or not that effort results in a good, on budget game rests with the upper crust.

It's a small part of a medium sized studio. The management IS part of the team. Management, in this case, isn't some people in a back office somewhere with no idea about what's going on on the ground.

So yes. In my opinion, adventure games are 100% absolutely "easier" to make.

I don't know what to say other than you're just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It's not like it's even fair to compare the complexity of making an adventure game with a game like some shooter with complex AI and engine stuff going on which is probably going to have a much bigger budget in the first place. It doesn't make any sense. What we should be doing is comparing how complex Broken Age is to make in comparison with games of a similar budget level.

Well anyway, I'm not highly experienced, but I've been making games on and off for a few years now, and I've long ago learned to throw away my assumptions about how complex a particular project 'ought' to be.The game I thought would be a quick stopgap project we've now been making for 3 years. And when I'm thinking about the next games we have in pre-production I have on my list a 3D exploration game, a 2D adventure game and a 2D strategy game as my main choices. They're very different projects, and I can see how every one is going to get very complex in different ways.

Finally, I recommend you find Anna Kipnis' talk on dialogue systems in Broken Age for an idea of how even a seemingly pretty basic system can blow up in complexity very fast when you consider all the factors. There's a link around somewhere in the forum.

I'm not wrong wrong wrong and you're not wrong wrong wrong... We just have different opinions on the subject.

I've seen Anna's lecture. Complexity is yet another aspect of game development that needs to be managed. A game can be infinitely complex, but budgets are finite. Making a game isn't just about what you can do... It's so much more often about "what's the best we can do - with what we've got." Going so far over-budget is a sign of poor management. In this case, I believe that poor management led to things be cut out of the game and that's really sad.

Anyway, I enjoyed the conversation with everybody. Have a good one.

OK. My last word on this here is that I still don't know know how you are still at the conclusion that they cut scope because they went over budget when everything we know suggests that the way they managed this enabled them to extend the scope beyond what would have been possible on the original budget.

They made some scope cuts early on but that's normal. MASSIVE CHALICE made scope cuts and it's on budget.

Later on (ep 10), the question was: how do we avoid scope cuts which would damage the game? And they managed to find a way of doing that, which to the best of our knowledge results in an act 2 which combined with act 1 is at least comparable to the sorts of playtime being bandied about by Greg.

This isn't a matter of opinion.

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What comes to cut content, I'd recommed everyone to give a glance on Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed blog. As he states many times in it, don't get attatched on anything you see, as during development things can, and will, get thrown away if needed.

http://blog.thimbleweedpark.com/

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I agree - we still got to watch it before the rest! Make it public - streaming only, lower res. I'm still getting it on disc with the game. It's educational for those who wish to be educated. Others may refuse it so they can continue to rant, but that's their problem!

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I think the documentary was valuable to us backers because we had updates as the game developed but now that it's almost finished I think it would be great if everyone could see the journey. I think the public need to understand the trials and tribulations of making a game. Before I backed this I had no idea about how games were made let alone one funded by kickstarter.

I suggest that you release one episode for free as a teaser!

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I think the documentary was valuable to us backers because we had updates as the game developed but now that it's almost finished I think it would be great if everyone could see the journey. I think the public need to understand the trials and tribulations of making a game. Before I backed this I had no idea about how games were made let alone one funded by kickstarter.

I suggest that you release one episode for free as a teaser!

Late to the party are we? Doublefine already released all the episodes on their Youtube channel

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I think the documentary was valuable to us backers because we had updates as the game developed but now that it's almost finished I think it would be great if everyone could see the journey. I think the public need to understand the trials and tribulations of making a game. Before I backed this I had no idea about how games were made let alone one funded by kickstarter.

I suggest that you release one episode for free as a teaser!

Late to the party are we? Doublefine already released all the episodes on their Youtube channel

yep my bad. I discovered that out shortly after I posted :P

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I've made it a point to moderate the comments so any criticism of that can be aimed towards me. Speaking of criticism, I don't think we get any that is valid and constructive through the Youtube comments.

Okay, now that most episodes are online I can say with absolute certainty that I was a big stupid poopy head and Paul absolutely made the right call. It seems that trolls and naysayers don't have the patience to be mad long enough, and/or don't care enough to downvote Doublefine's videos, and comments moderation didn't do any harm.

Good job!

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It is an old post, but I want to give my two cents... I backed the project because I believed in the concept... for me it is more like a donation. I don't mind the documentary being released for free as I wouldn't mind either if the game was given for free to everyone who wants to play it.

Um abraço,

Felipe

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