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KestrelPi

The Broken Age Development Timeline

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You can dismiss them as 'uninformed internet angrymen' if you want, but the bottom line is... well, just compare DF's recent fortunes with InXile's. They Kickstarted a game and managed to put it out in reasonable time, and are already well into their second Kickstarter game that was even more successful, and with the minimum of drama along the way. Are their rpgs really less ambitious in scope than a 2D adventure that, if we're being honest, is not drastically more sophisticated than the kind of games that can be done in the likes of AGS?

Again, if Double Fine launched another adventure Kickstarter now would you expect it to match or exceed what the first one did? This is the danger of trading on audience goodwill - it's once bitten twice shy. Why the need for all this damage control regarding the project at the moment, if everyone's perfectly happy?

I'm glad Broken Age is being finished the way they want it, but ultimately unless it turns out to be a masterpiece I'm not convinced they wouldn't have been better served by scaling down on some inessentials for the sake of getting a finished product out.

But there IS audience goodwill, among the actual backers. That's what you're ignoring. There's just not really any evidence that backers feel burned by this project in any big numbers, and it's not really DF's fault that misreporting of the story has made the situation sound a lot worse than it is. Backers largely don't feel 'bitten,' at all. Feedback on Act 1 wasn't spotless, but it was very good.

Also, no, the engine that Broken Age is made in is, in fact, DRASTICALLY more sophisticated than what is possible in AGS, and also having developed the tools has already enabled them to develop other 2D games.

And it's extremely, extremely naive to compare what one studio did with their project to another. There are too many variables. Besides, even if you do compare them inXile's record is nowhere near as spotless as you suggest. Wasteland 2 was delayed by around a year, and required additional publisher funding from Deep Silver. Did you forget that? So let's not pretend it was some incredibly smooth project in comparison. Broken Age, meanwhile, has managed to reach the end of development without publisher involvement (only a distribution deal)

What happened with Broken Age is nothing unusual, development wise. What's unusual is how much scrutiny the game came under, and how successfully DF managed to obtain extra funds without resorting to publishers.

As a backer I got to say do do feel ,not burned, but just disappointed that Double Fine's recurring problem of cost overruns, and projects ballooning in scoop were not publishers in the end because of publishers but simply because Double Fine is bad about underestimating costs and letting project scope increase beyond the teams grasp. All those things I tried to blame on publishers in previous DF games in the end where mostly DF problems and not those of publishers. I am going through the same thing with Oblivion and the mass of bugs that I have been encountering in Pillars of Eternity.

Mind you I love both these games I am weary of kickstarting another project from either company unless it really hits something I am dieing for. I gave both of them a chance to shine without a publisher and what I got was the same quality of game I would have gotten from them under a publisher in a sub-genera that no publisher would have touched. It is honestly what I should have expected but Publishers as short sighted and evil 100% of the time has been thrown around by gamers so much that that brain bug got me to. Though I am more weary of Double Fine after Spacebace DF-9 as while not kickstarted it showed that DF both is willing and simply doesn't have pockets deep enough to finish a game if their reach exceeds their grasp.

I'm still going to keep buying double fine games but super, ultra pre orders for support and then hoping I like what comes out at the end is something I am not going to do again. DF publishes some great games and continues to do so but I will support them by buying finished games. Then again I have sworn off early access and kickstarter for games along with my never preordering a game so not like it is just Double Fine I am focusing on with that.

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I don't think it's at all accurate to say that budget overruns etc. have been blamed on publishers. Rather, the developer-publisher relationship tends to compound the problems that overruns bring. So, for example, if Broken Age had been publisher funded it probably would have been released earlier, but be a significantly smaller game over all.

But anyway, what does it matter so long as you liked the game and didn't have to pay any extra for it. In the end what's important is that the team found a way to finish the game - at more expense than they wanted, but at a level of quality and quantity that wouldn't have been easy to achieve by any other method.

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I don't think it's at all accurate to say that budget overruns etc. have been blamed on publishers. Rather, the developer-publisher relationship tends to compound the problems that overruns bring. So, for example, if Broken Age had been publisher funded it probably would have been released earlier, but be a significantly smaller game over all.

But anyway, what does it matter so long as you liked the game and didn't have to pay any extra for it. In the end what's important is that the team found a way to finish the game - at more expense than they wanted, but at a level of quality and quantity that wouldn't have been easy to achieve by any other method.

I have no problem if Broken Age had been a smaller game as what I pitched my money to was a vastly smaller game. All I expected was good but unknown voice actors, simple artwork, and a fun storyline. It is a bigger game then I thought it would be but a simpler art style and not having well known voice actors and actor actors would not have hurt the game any.

As for why it matter, it matter because in a game that was more system heavy then an adventure game it all would have fallen apart very easily. You can cut a story into two part but you can't cut systems into two parts. One just as to look at Spacebase DF-9 as to what happens when you run out of money on a system heavy game. Remember I am talking about DF as a whole not simply Broken Age.

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As a backer I got to say do do feel ,not burned, but just disappointed that Double Fine's recurring problem of cost overruns, and projects ballooning in scoop were not publishers in the end because of publishers but simply because Double Fine is bad about underestimating costs and letting project scope increase beyond the teams grasp.

"Cost overruns and projects ballooning out of scope" are a usual thing in this industry. The difference here is that we get to watch it happen rather than hearing about the game right before it comes out, or never hearing about it at all when it's cancelled. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened to over half of our favorite games, but we weren't there to see it. We can judge the way they run their business all we want, but in the end all we should really be worrying about is the games they produce. They've had a hiccup or two, but most of their games are good.

DF-9, I admit, was a mess, but only because it was done with Kickstarter. I believe it might've been canceled if it had been done the traditional way. We would have never known it existed, just like so many other games that never see the light of day. But since it had already been partially paid for by backers, the only thing they could do was release the incomplete game. It was a lose-lose situation.

Broken Age, on the other hand, is a very different situation, in my opinion. DF-9 just wasn't earning enough money while Broken Age had earned far more than they had anticipated, but they expanded scope too far. With DF-9, maybe they could have found more money, but what would be the point? People weren't very excited about it. There wasn't enough demand. Broken Age, on the other hand, had alot of hype, and it would have been a huge downer if they'd rushed it. People would have called it another DF-9, and they would've been right. Instead, double fine fanagled a way to get more money and actually complete the game.

It's not a crime to use more than the Kickstarter money for a project. The crime is when they spend less and pocket the rest. Think of the name, "Kickstarter". It gets things started. It's not necessarily supposed to pay for everything up to the very end. Double fine could have easily gotten the money they needed if they had finally decided to go to a publisher, but they bit the bullet and found other ways to fund it. That way, they could have the creative freedom they needed to make the best game possible. I personally think the way they handled Broken Age was pretty darn awesome in comparison to DF-9.

For the same price that backers paid, they're getting a much much bigger game. I don't think that's a valid reason for complaint.

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As for why it matter, it matter because in a game that was more system heavy then an adventure game it all would have fallen apart very easily. You can cut a story into two part but you can't cut systems into two parts. One just as to look at Spacebase DF-9 as to what happens when you run out of money on a system heavy game. Remember I am talking about DF as a whole not simply Broken Age.

Well if we're talking about DF as a whole... MASSIVE CHALICE?

Kickstarted for a little over a million

System heavy game

Being released on-budget

So perhaps your assumptions are a little mistaken? Double Fine are actually pretty good at releasing games. They've done it LOT now, in general with no more hiccups than you would ordinarily expect in development

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DF-9, I admit, was a mess, but only because it was done with Kickstarter. I believe it might've been canceled if it had been done the traditional way. We would have never known it existed, just like so many other games that never see the light of day. But since it had already been partially paid for by backers, the only thing they could do was release the incomplete game. It was a lose-lose situation.

Just a small correction, Spacebase was NOT Kickstarted. It was funded by Indie Fund and initially sold as "Early Access" on Steam. It was updated frequently with new features and eventually a 1.0 official release build was created.

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For the same price that backers paid, they're getting a much much bigger game. I don't think that's a valid reason for complaint.

Indeed. I personally got way more than I was expecting for my money. Thanks DF!

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My bad. I mean early access. But it's the same principle. People had already paid for it when it was decided that the development couldn't continue as hoped.

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DF-9, I admit, was a mess, but only because it was done with Kickstarter. I believe it might've been canceled if it had been done the traditional way. We would have never known it existed, just like so many other games that never see the light of day. But since it had already been partially paid for by backers, the only thing they could do was release the incomplete game. It was a lose-lose situation.

Just a small correction, Spacebase was NOT Kickstarted. It was funded by Indie Fund and initially sold as "Early Access" on Steam. It was updated frequently with new features and eventually a 1.0 official release build was created.

Come on now.

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DF-9, I admit, was a mess, but only because it was done with Kickstarter. I believe it might've been canceled if it had been done the traditional way. We would have never known it existed, just like so many other games that never see the light of day. But since it had already been partially paid for by backers, the only thing they could do was release the incomplete game. It was a lose-lose situation.

Just a small correction, Spacebase was NOT Kickstarted. It was funded by Indie Fund and initially sold as "Early Access" on Steam. It was updated frequently with new features and eventually a 1.0 official release build was created.

Come on now.

You can check out this blog for all the features and fixes that went into the game as it was being developed:

http://blog.spacebasedf9.com/

There's also info there about the 1.0 release (and the updates since, to support the modding community).

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Anna, you're assuming that crazyman is going to be reasonable. Nothing you've stated is untrue, but some people aren't interested in reason.

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Just finished Memoria and I have to say its probably one of the best adventure games in last 10 years, its absolutely brilliant. Maybe its me being naive but i dont understand how Daedalic Entertainment can create brilliant games for a fraction of the money DF got. It's all really disappointing to me. To be honest i wished now that i used my $100 to buy most of Daedalic Entertainment games instead of this.

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Just finished Memoria and I have to say its probably one of the best adventure games in last 10 years, its absolutely brilliant. Maybe its me being naive but i dont understand how Daedalic Entertainment can create brilliant games for a fraction of the money DF got. It's all really disappointing to me. To be honest i wished now that i used my $100 to buy most of Daedalic Entertainment games instead of this.

People have brought this up on the forums several times now. What I just don't understand is that you fail to see how hugely different those games are in terms of production values. Had Double Fine opted to use Adventure Game Studio, static images with only some lip synch animation, synths for music and the absolute cheapest voice actors available (man, the voice acting in those Daedalic Games is absolutely horrendous), instead of developing their own engine, creating very dynamic visuals, animating each dialogue sequence as a cutscene, recording a fully orchestral soundtrack and topnotch voiceactors, they probably would have been able to develop three adventure games on that budget. Apart from that, several people have mentioned that Daedalic primarly relies on interns, whereas Double Fine hires professionals to do their job.

In a way it is similar to saying something like, why did Firaxis need millions and millions of dollars to develop XCOM, while Double Fine made Massive Chalice on a small Kickstarter budget. You just can't compare those games, because of their different production values. What you can do is give your opinion that you liked one of those games better, but that is different for everyone and the budget doesn't necessarily have anything to do with that.

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Just finished Memoria and I have to say its probably one of the best adventure games in last 10 years, its absolutely brilliant. Maybe its me being naive but i dont understand how Daedalic Entertainment can create brilliant games for a fraction of the money DF got. It's all really disappointing to me. To be honest i wished now that i used my $100 to buy most of Daedalic Entertainment games instead of this.

This old canard?

Well, anyway, the answer is quite simple:

1) Use a cheap off the shelf solution like Visionaire designed specifically for making adventure games and nothing else.

2) Live in Germany

3) Use a ton of interns

4) be a studio that pretty much only makes adventure games

5) Release it on PC and Mac only

Next time you play a Daedelic game, have a look at the credit roll and consider how much the game's budget and the number of people involved and do the math.

This is not necessarily a criticism of Daedelic, it's just fairly clear to me that it's a futile exercise to compare the way two entirely different studios with different histories in different countries with different hiring policies using different engines with different art requirements on different platforms etc etc etc.

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The 'this is their first adventure game and they had to make tools for it' angle is not to be underestimated either. If DF now made another adventure game using the tool chain they've developed they could probably do it in 2/3 of the time because they wouldn't need the initial months of engine development, the team would have figured out a lot of work flow efficiencies, and many of the technical bug fixes for this game will apply to any other game they make in the same engine. And that's just ONE of many reasons why this game is more expensive.

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Just finished Memoria and I have to say its probably one of the best adventure games in last 10 years, its absolutely brilliant. Maybe its me being naive but i dont understand how Daedalic Entertainment can create brilliant games for a fraction of the money DF got. It's all really disappointing to me. To be honest i wished now that i used my $100 to buy most of Daedalic Entertainment games instead of this.

People have brought this up on the forums several times now. What I just don't understand is that you fail to see how hugely different those games are in terms of production values. Had Double Fine opted to use Adventure Game Studio, static images with only some lip synch animation, synths for music and the absolute cheapest voice actors available (man, the voice acting in those Daedalic Games is absolutely horrendous), instead of developing their own engine, creating very dynamic visuals, animating each dialogue sequence as a cutscene, recording a fully orchestral soundtrack and topnotch voiceactors, they probably would have been able to develop three adventure games on that budget. Apart from that, several people have mentioned that Daedalic primarly relies on interns, whereas Double Fine hires professionals to do their job.

In a way it is similar to saying something like, why did Firaxis need millions and millions of dollars to develop XCOM, while Double Fine made Massive Chalice on a small Kickstarter budget. You just can't compare those games, because of their different production values. What you can do is give your opinion that you liked one of those games better, but that is different for everyone and the budget doesn't necessarily have anything to do with that.

christ..i was just pondering on it,dont need to be defensive. I just expressing my disappoinment after playing Act 1. Like you said they Daedalic may make cheapo adventure games but they still better than Broken Age in my opinion, better production values doesnt always mean a better quality game.

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christ..i was just pondering on it,dont need to be defensive.

The thing is, you're not the first person to mention something like this. Within the context of people elsewhere on the Internet expressing negative opinions (often disguised as fact) and sometimes outright vitriol regarding the production of this game, I felt it was important to clear up some of that stuff (which I think was also KestrelPi's intention with this thread). I'm obviously fine with you (or anyone else) saying that you liked Daedalic's games better than Broken Age, although I personally wouldn't agree, but I just don't see what the budget of the project has to do with it.

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Well, let's talk about budgets for a bit, since we're on the subject.

Anyway, to calculate the ordinary costs of making a game in a professional dev studio then the very rough calculation is:

A) Take the average salary of a single full-time employee on the project.

B) Double A. That's about how much it costs to employ that person with all the other costs taken into account.

C) Take the average number of full-time equivalent employees working on the game and being paid a proportionate salary and multiply that by B.

D) Multiply C by the number of months it takes to make your game

E) Take D and add any non-employee costs like costs of attending promotional events, costs of paying for voice talent and music performers, cost of any outsourced work, etc. etc.

Then you've got a ballpark budget for your game. There's no real getting around that above calculation, if you're paying your employees a wage then it's going to cost at least that much.

Tim mentioned that it takes about 10k per month to hire a game developer in San Francisco (that's B), but it was mentioned that this is a fairly modest estimate so let's make it 14k.

So if B is 14k, and the average team size across the project was about, say, 11, and it took 3 years, that's about 5.5 million in pure employee costs. We've got no real way of estimating how much the rest of it cost, but let's slap a cool million on top of it to account for all the voice, orchestra and outsource animation work and event costs. it might even be more than that, but that gives us a super-ballpark costing of 6.5 million.

Then add about 15% to the top of that because there are almost always costs you didn't think of. So that puts us about 7.5 million for both acts.

To calculate whether that budget is realistic, we can estimate where that money came from:

about 2.5 million came from kickstarter (minus rewards and documentary costs)

About 1 million came from sales of Brutal Legend PC (source: doc)

About 1 million came from humble bundle sales. (source: doc)

We're on 4.5 million so far

To date, according to SteamSpy, about 250k sales of act 1 have been made. Double Fine sees about $17.50 of each sale before tax, but many of the sales were probably discounted quite heavily so let's be conservative and say that they made an average of $8 per sale. So that's another 2 million, to date.

6.5 million.

Sales to other platforms aside from Steam and the deals with Sony and the boxed publisher probably take us the rest of the way.

So it seems like my ballpark budget was probably an okay-ish estimate.

---

Anyway, the point is, if someone is making a game for less money, they're either

a) Doing it in less time, somehow (pure efficiency or scope)

b) Doing it with fewer full-time equivelent, somehow (e.g. fewer programmers needed because fewer platforms, working with existing tools, etc.)

c) Not having to spend as much on people, somehow (e.g. paying employees less, relying on interns)

Daedelic is almost certainly doing a). They've made dozens of adventure games and have probably got very good at scoping an executing an adventure game project in the most efficient way possible.

It's difficult to say with b). Their credits suggest very large teams, but we don't know how many full-time equivalents that means. But it's certainly true that their programmer overhead must be less as they didn't need to develop their own tools, they are using an out of the box adventure game creator - very expertly, but it's still a very different proposition. Judging from their work they also probably have much less of a workforce behind the animations.

c) is almost certainly happening. We know they use a lot of interns, and we are pretty sure their cost-per-full-time-employee is significantly less, so there's that.

So there, in full, are all the reasons that Double Fine's game cost as much as it did, and some of the possible reasons why a Daedelic game might cost less.

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Also worth considering is that Act 2 of Broken Age is supposed to be about twice as long as Act 1. HowLongToBeat puts Memoria at about 8.5 hours long based on about 30 people polled. Broken Age Act 1 takes about 3.5-4 hours to beat on average, first time. If act 2 takes 6-8 hours to finish that would put the full game at 9.5-12 hours.

I don't mean to labour the point. Just to say that.. it's possible to figure stuff out without resorting to guesswork.

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