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KestrelPi

Some misconceptions about the campaign I've heard

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Some people still seem to be a little bit doubtful, in many cases on the basis of accusations of shady behaviour by people who, frankly, don't have any idea what they are talking about. So I thought I'd address a couple of these here just so that there's one place for it.

Claim: Double Fine changed the end date of the campaign, which is somehow shady

According to Double Fine and Fig, the end date displayed incorrectly due to a bug. It was, apparently, always supposed to be Jan 12th to account for the campaign running through December and give it more time in the new year. This makes sense.

But let's say they're lying liars and did this because of being worried it wouldn't hit the goal. This would have been strange, because at the time the date changed, it was getting funded at a rate twice as fast as the original Double Fine Adventure. But even so, so what?

They can decide to change the date if they want. If they wanted to continue running it for the rest of the month, that would also be fine. Weird, but ... whatever?

Finally there's the related claim: if the date hadn't changed, the campaign would have failed now. This is simply untrue. The date was extended by 5 days and the game was funded more than 5 days before the end. Even if it were true, the claim only works if you ignore the usual end of campaign ramp up in pledges.

Claim: Behind the scenes Double Fine are asking you to invest in Fig, not Psychonauts, which is somehow shady

The investment money goes straight through to Fig Grasslands (grasslands has long been DF's codename for Psychonauts 2). Fig Grasslands is the entity that has been set up in order to collect investment to produce Grasslands, or Psychonauts 2.

As someone who works in this area, this is set up much like many movie production houses. A company gets set up specifically concerned with the funding of a particular project. There's nothing unusual about this model except for the new unaccredited investment angle, and its not a shell company set up to obscure the flow of funds.

Claim: Fig's investment terms don't require the funds to be used for Psychonauts 2, which is shady.

This is untrue. The contracts require Double Fine to use 90% of the funds directly for Psychonauts 2 or otherwise be in breach of contract. The 10% is presumably to account for related expenses not directly to do with development, quite standard practice. Since the money goes straight to Double Fine via Grasslands, there's no chance for the money to get used for anything else.

Claim: Double Fine have bad form on previous crowdfunded projects, and are somehow shady in this area

DF have 2 projects funded by Kickstarter: Broken Age and Massive Chalice. Both games released to generally positive reviews, with some of the special physical awards still being finished.

Broken Age was split into 2 parts, with the 2nd part being funded by Double Fine (a small amount through sales of Act 1), and never asked backers for more money.

The documented reason for this, which can be seen by watching the extensive documentary on YouTube, is not 'Whoops, we ran out of money and now we're in trouble' but rather a decision had to be made about finishing and releasing a smaller game than they wanted to make, or using their own money to make a bigger game but in 2 parts to make the funding work. They did the 2nd one.

'But this shouldn't have happened with 3.3 million!'

It is probable that at some stage, almost every game you have ever loved has had to make cuts or change tack midway through development because of similar problem. Full Throttle, for example, had a whole third of the game cut and is now considered a classic. Only two things make Broken Age unique:

1) This has been one of the most transparent game development processes ever. We heard about the budget concerns at the time, instead of in retrospectives years later.

2) The solution they came up with was quite unusual, deciding to opt for a 2 stage release instead of making big cuts.

The vast majority of backers were very understanding of the decision and satisfied with what they got in the end. Act 2 reviewed about as well as Act 1, despite a few reviewers disliking it.

Finally on Broken Age, the oft-cited 400k goal is irrelevant. The point of the campaign was to make a game from scratch, and the 400k version of that disappeared as soon as the campaign exploded. If they'd released a 400k game on 3.3 million, people would have been furious. They planned on making a 3.3 million game (actually about 2.5, after Kickstarter fees, rewards and 2 Player Productions' cut) and ended up making something more. That's the whole story in a nutshell.

Massive Chalice released pretty much on time and on budget. It took a little longer than the initial projection, but that's true of most Kickstarter games (heck, it's true of most games). The amount of extra time it took was in proportion with the extra funding they got above the goal. Money is time.

They released the beta on Early Access for a few months, but made it clear that the game was fully funded already up until the game was released, and as I said above, the arithmetic does work out for that. At this point the game was done except for one major feature, some compatibility tweaks and some balancing - it was a true beta. It was released at the expected time.

Claim: But Spacebase DF-9! Shady!

Spacebase DF-9 was, if we're honest, a failed experiment. Not completely. A diminished version of the game is out (and had patch support for quite a few months post-launch, contrary to some reports). A team of fans has been hard at work modding the game, so the source code release wasn't entirely in vain. But it clearly wasn't the game they wanted to release.

They put something out onto Early Access because they wanted to follow the Prison Architect model of using that to keep development going as long as possible. But what they had to start with probably wasn't substantial enough to maintain interest. If you look at the size of the team and how much it would cost to stay viable, it's evident that their goals weren't that ambitious. The game would have only have had to do a fraction as well as the most popular Early Access titles of the time, to stay afloat, but it didn't even get there, and they had to pull the plug on development after a year. If it hadn't been Early Access we probably would never have heard of the game, it would have been quietly cancelled, most likely.

As it is, they felt obliged to release something, and people felt understandably burned. The biggest failure was communication. If people had understood the project was in trouble then the reaction would have been calmer, but it came somewhat as a surprise even to fans, accustomed to DF being pretty open. The way in which they suddenly announced the move to 1.0 of what many people felt was still a rather unfinished game was pretty tone deaf.

Most people here agree that Double Fine made mistakes with this project. But one botched project doesn't point to a pattern of shady or incompetent behaviour. As an entire case against Double Fine's business practices, it's flimsy. Especially when you consider that we're only talking about a fraction of the games have produced. At this point Double Fine has shipped I think over a dozen games since they started, a big chunk of those in the last few years, and when they are criticised, people always point to Broken Age (which I've gone through above) and this one.

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I thought you were exaggerating about how often the anti-DF people use the word "shady", but I'm not too knowledgeable with that crowd either, so I just googled "double fine shady" and had a good laugh at some of the results that came up. Also it turned out you weren't exaggerating.

(Also someone wrote "schaffer" and someone else wrote "Psyconaughts", but I'm going off-topic now...)

Anyway, this is a great set of points, and it's nice to have them all in one place. :) I don't even know how changing the campaign end date managed to upset people; it feels like they were just trying too hard to find something to be angry about. As for the "investment in Fig" claim... again I never saw that as a problem, but maybe like you already pointed out it's because some people misunderstood what it meant.

The claim about them having a bad rep when it comes to crowdfunded projects is something that I think I'd understand more if there was more... truth to it. I haven't played Massive Chalice myself, but the reviews are good. Broken Age is fantastic and deserves the praise it gets, and most of the negativity I've seen regarding this game seems to be about people not enjoying act 2 as much as act 1. And I like that they actually put the money they made from the kickstarter to use (like you said, if they'd made a $400k game when we knew they had $3.3mil, that would have really gone down badly).

I haven't played Spacebase, but the claim behind that game seems like the most valid reason to be cautious about their current campaign (not a great reason, just the most valid). From what I've heard about it (from genuine DF fans too) it sounds exactly as you worded it - a "failed experiment". It was brave of them to try doing an early access game, and things obviously didn't go as well as they'd hoped. It's cool that they released the source code though for modding purposes; gives the fans some control and doesn't take up DF's time when they want to get on with other projects.

And even though Spacebase didn't go well, it is only one of many games released by the company. To be fair, I think I'd have been disappointed if I'd invested in this game made by a company I trust, only for it to be a flop, but it doesn't diminish the quality of their other projects, past or future. I'd be disappointed but I wouldn't take it out on all their work or their company as a whole.

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I'm always amused when Broken Age is dragged out as an example. It was a game that was successfully released. Was graphically beautiful, sounded great, and was fun to play. It did miss its deadline, but it also had a much greater scope than originally planned. If that's an example of bad management, then we could probably do with more of it.

Of course, now that Double Fine have some experience under their belts with regard to crowd funding, they're practically old hats at this game. All the more reason to trust them. Though, it's still unrealistic to expect that the game will go exactly to plan. That's the nature of the creative process. Alas, you cannot easily timetable creativity.

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They also keep trotting out a quote about Tim Schafer by Kotick, without the context that that's the guy that tried to sue Double Fine for selling Brutal Legend to EA when Activision dropped it, and had to settle when they counter-sued.

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They also keep trotting out a quote about Tim Schafer by Kotick, without the context that that's the guy that tried to sue Double Fine for selling Brutal Legend to EA when Activision dropped it, and had to settle when they counter-sued.

It strikes me as kind of funny that a bunch of gamers are trying to slam an indie studio by quoting a guy who refuses to make games unless they "have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of over time becoming $100 million plus franchises," and who has commented that a corporate goal was "to take all the fun out of making video games."

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Sometimes I wish Double Fine WOULD just close the chocolate factory from the public eye, shut the gates and occasionally we'd just get a cool game we didn't know anything about. At least that would leave nothing to be poorly interpreted by know-nothings with a chip on their shoulder.

But I wish I didn't feel that way because I love following what they do, and how open they've been, and how much they've learned in the last few years about how to be open and how not to be, it would be such a shame if they ever felt the need to become Valve-like in their secrecy just because it's easier to spread misconceptions than it is to debunk them.

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The other side of the openness is that some fans, like me, who watched the documentaries and then participated in AF have a deeper emotional connection the company and their games as a result. I'm not sure how much it helped or hurt them overall to "show how the sausage is made", but I can say that in my case it's made a life-long fan happy to be along for the ride, even if I am critical of certain things. It's also provided a context for the delays and production issues that can be used as a response to the broad attacks.

I'm also not entirely sure that the backlash is due to their openness although I understand that it provided ammunition.

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I'm also not entirely sure that the backlash is due to their openness although I understand that it provided ammunition.

Well, a backlash doesn't really spread without ammunition. But it doesn't matter what the ammunition is, it can be anything. A quote taken out of context. A misleading statistic. A small delay. Repetition of a misreported fact. It really doesn't matter, as long as it has enough of a veneer of plausibility to use. And as someone who follows this stuff on twitter, you really wouldn't believe what people manage to spin into a negative point. I wrote a post about it a year or so ago that I can't find, at a time when people were highlighting literally everything that could possibly be passed off as some sort of shady behaviour if you squinted at it through a hall of mirrors.

Notice how Costume Quest 2 was developed largely in secrecy, released amid several other titles to generally good reception, basically on time (in the US) and yet nobody ever mentions it? Same for Hack 'n' Slash. It went into early access, was never developed with public updates in mind, and had the full version released a bit later. It didn't sell too well but was fine (actually one of my favourite releases of last year). Nobody talks about that one while talking about how Double Fine can't be trusted with managing projects. And nobody's ragging on Double Fine because Headlander. They don't care, because they've got nothing to go on.

I think in these people's eyes, anything that they can't pick at basically doesn't exist.

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Thanks for this.

One thing about the campaign extension is that that was a bug on figs end. A representative confirmed it in an exchange with a backer in the comments section:

tumblr_inline_o069a0gceN1rshc8y_540.png

Its alsoin the faq at the bottom of the about page. And anyway, the extension was like 4 days, so you have to be a special kind of petty to bring it up

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They also keep trotting out a quote about Tim Schafer by Kotick, without the context that that's the guy that tried to sue Double Fine for selling Brutal Legend to EA when Activision dropped it, and had to settle when they counter-sued.

It strikes me as kind of funny that a bunch of gamers are trying to slam an indie studio by quoting a guy who refuses to make games unless they "have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of over time becoming $100 million plus franchises," and who has commented that a corporate goal was "to take all the fun out of making video games."

Wow, I didn't know about that. Some hero.

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I'm also not entirely sure that the backlash is due to their openness although I understand that it provided ammunition.

Well, a backlash doesn't really spread without ammunition. But it doesn't matter what the ammunition is, it can be anything. A quote taken out of context. A misleading statistic. A small delay. Repetition of a misreported fact. It really doesn't matter, as long as it has enough of a veneer of plausibility to use. And as someone who follows this stuff on twitter, you really wouldn't believe what people manage to spin into a negative point. I wrote a post about it a year or so ago that I can't find, at a time when people were highlighting literally everything that could possibly be passed off as some sort of shady behaviour if you squinted at it through a hall of mirrors.

Notice how Costume Quest 2 was developed largely in secrecy, released amid several other titles to generally good reception, basically on time (in the US) and yet nobody ever mentions it? Same for Hack 'n' Slash. It went into early access, was never developed with public updates in mind, and had the full version released a bit later. It didn't sell too well but was fine (actually one of my favourite releases of last year). Nobody talks about that one while talking about how Double Fine can't be trusted with managing projects. And nobody's ragging on Double Fine because Headlander. They don't care, because they've got nothing to go on.

I think in these people's eyes, anything that they can't pick at basically doesn't exist.

I think it's kind of all or nothing. Massive Chalice was all, Costume Quest 2 was nothing, both came out fine. The biggest problem was Broken Age sharing development progress semi-secretly, leaving poor quality journos to spread news stories that people couldn't verify for themselves.

But yeah, it seems doing everything secretly is a safe way to go... but then you possibly miss on building hype and interest.

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"Yay, we get to see how the sausage is made!!!"

...6 minutes later...

"Ewwww, so THAT'S what goes into it, REALLY!?!?!"

*barfs*

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<3 it's so hard fighting through all this nonsense and misinformation, thanks for putting this together :)

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I'm so glad that there are people like you, Kestrel and Darth, who are willing to write out these paragraphs of clarity in a world of bad information. I salute you two and all others who tread this path of the righteous!

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I'm OK with criticism levelled at the "investment" part of the fig campaign. It does indeed seem like it's aimed at rich DF fans instead of actual investors calculating risk vs. gain. But do go out and try to find a balanced criticism of these pledge mechanics: It doesn't seem to exist.

That one video from the supposed accountant that's being shared a lot in gamergate circles right now is an especially sad example, because all observations that may have some worth individually are all gathered only to strengthen a conspiracy faith. What these people desperately want to arrive at in their conclusion is bad faith business practices, i.e. illegal proceedings. And that's where it becomes silly, because that's just not happening.

From the "Psychofraud" pun to the deeply misunderstood "Ponzi scheme" allegation, this isn't in any way investigative journalism or consumer oriented explanation, it's just politically charged mudslinging.

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I'm OK with criticism levelled at the "investment" part of the fig campaign. It does indeed seem like it's aimed at rich DF fans instead of actual investors calculating risk vs. gain. But do go out and try to find a balanced criticism of these pledge mechanics: It doesn't seem to exist.

That one video from the supposed accountant that's being shared a lot in gamergate circles right now is an especially sad example, because all observations that may have some worth individually are all gathered only to strengthen a conspiracy faith. What these people desperately want to arrive at in their conclusion is bad faith business practices, i.e. illegal proceedings. And that's where it becomes silly, because that's just not happening.

From the "Psychofraud" pun to the deeply misunderstood "Ponzi scheme" allegation, this isn't in any way investigative journalism or consumer oriented explanation, it's just politically charged mudslinging.

The main Problem is, that exactly thats they way Business works today...

I am also not happy with the Setup of all those companies, but the Point is i have a different conclusion for it. They just make sure that the Money will stay within the Company who produces the game. So if anything goes wrong, the Investors lose there Money and have no Chance to get it back. But again thats the scheme for those kinds of Investments anyhow and the risk you take when you are investing.

The Problem is that the author says always he is objective, but he had is final Statement or meaning before he started digging. So everything is Setup to serve this Goal. He is explictically denying this in his comments, but after i heard the first two sentences the Goal of the Video was clear... This is anything else then objective.

There is a good article at games informer which is quite objective and brings everything in a good perspective..

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Man I love you guys. Our fans are truly the best.

We cannot, for obvious reasons, respond to the hurtful and uneducated comments out there. I try to educate if I sense there will not be a flame war, but that is not often.

Cannot express to you all how much we appreciate your words and actions. We bleed for these games and to see someone tear it down without knowing what really happened or just make stuff up....it is not a great feeling to say the least.

I will say if we are scam artists, we are terrible ones. None of us are wealthy. Only in love with games. :)

Thank you guys. So much. *wipes tear* humph....lot of pollen in the air today...sniff

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They also keep trotting out a quote about Tim Schafer by Kotick, without the context that that's the guy that tried to sue Double Fine for selling Brutal Legend to EA when Activision dropped it, and had to settle when they counter-sued.

That's a really fun one that. There is a quote, that he might have said or not have said, that we have very little knowledge about, and even lesser knowledge about the milestones the quote were about. Yet people uses it as a fact.

Everyone want's to be an expert, few want to learn.

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I'm OK with criticism levelled at the "investment" part of the fig campaign. It does indeed seem like it's aimed at rich DF fans instead of actual investors calculating risk vs. gain. But do go out and try to find a balanced criticism of these pledge mechanics: It doesn't seem to exist.

That one video from the supposed accountant that's being shared a lot in gamergate circles right now is an especially sad example, because all observations that may have some worth individually are all gathered only to strengthen a conspiracy faith. What these people desperately want to arrive at in their conclusion is bad faith business practices, i.e. illegal proceedings. And that's where it becomes silly, because that's just not happening.

From the "Psychofraud" pun to the deeply misunderstood "Ponzi scheme" allegation, this isn't in any way investigative journalism or consumer oriented explanation, it's just politically charged mudslinging.

I begrudgingly watched that video after a friend kept insisting for his own selfish reasons and all through it I'm just thinking to myself "they just want to make a game that people have been asking for for 10 years. What is he talking about?" I'm guessing the world inside his brain looks similar to The Milkman Conspiracy. :P

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Man I love you guys. Our fans are truly the best.

We cannot, for obvious reasons, respond to the hurtful and uneducated comments out there. I try to educate if I sense there will not be a flame war, but that is not often.

Cannot express to you all how much we appreciate your words and actions. We bleed for these games and to see someone tear it down without knowing what really happened or just make stuff up....it is not a great feeling to say the least.

I will say if we are scam artists, we are terrible ones. None of us are wealthy. Only in love with games. :)

Thank you guys. So much. *wipes tear* humph....lot of pollen in the air today...sniff

HI Camden,

we know that you guys love making games and always doing your best. We saw all episodes of Double Fine Adventure :)

But maybe you are good actors ;)

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My approach to people being unsure about the campaign has been to copy-paste or link to the "Psychonauts in the media" linkspam. Even a casual perusal is enough for the love and dedication going into the project to be readily apparent.

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Cannot express to you all how much we appreciate your words and actions. We bleed for these games and to see someone tear it down without knowing what really happened or just make stuff up....it is not a great feeling to say the least.

Hey Camden. If there's one message we want to say to everyone at Double Fine, it's this: we have faith in you guys.

Keep on doing what you're doing! We think it's awesome. While there'll always be Schaters out there, they're a vocal minority. You only have to see the result of this campaign to know that. The people have spoken.

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Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think these gamergate types are dying out anyways (or maybe getting kicked out of their moms' basements and made to go get jobs. They're almost exclusively teenage boys, after all) Nobody outside their own group is really listening to them or taking them seriously anymore, and they no longer have the confidence to invade Double-Fine friendly spaces to spread their hate; they just make a few dumb youtube videos then circle- err I mean, "congratulate" each other a lot over them.

I say all we need to do to combat this is leave a dislike on every one of those videos they put up. Nearly 20,000 people backed the Psychonauts 2 campaign. 20,000! Judging from the like counts on those hate videos, there are less than 1000 people left in Gamergate, maybe far less than that. If even a PORTION of the people who support Double Fine would just take two seconds to dislike those slanderous hate videos when we see them, we would humiliate those kids so badly they would never show their faces again.

I was thinking reporting the videos, since defamation/slander/libel are all very real and very serious business, but I don't think a third party reporting those charges accomplishes anything, it probably has to be someone FROM Double Fine (especially Tim himself) or their official legal counsel who does that.

But we can still click "dislike" ;)

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^Well, there is power in numbers.

And you DF people keep up the awesomeness. <3 Just wanted to drop by with some positive vibes, because you guys deserve it.

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Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think these gamergate types are dying out anyways (or maybe getting kicked out of their moms' basements and made to go get jobs. They're almost exclusively teenage boys, after all) Nobody outside their own group is really listening to them or taking them seriously anymore, and they no longer have the confidence to invade Double-Fine friendly spaces to spread their hate; they just make a few dumb youtube videos then circle- err I mean, "congratulate" each other a lot over them.

They've quieted down a lot since their huge explosion of haphazardly organized horribleness all those months ago, but all of those people and their scary beliefs existed before GG was a thing, and they still exist now, among us, like Voldemort's death eaters.

It makes me *especially* sad when people on this very forum support and agree with GG's rhetoric against DF. Not just passing trolls, but actual members. It makes me even more sad when I read the comments on sites like Gamasutra, and I see actual game developers, who are IN THE BUSINESS, reposting those shtty GG conspiracy theory videos and spewing lies that have been debunked a million times. *ESPECIALLY* annoying on Gamasutra since you have to have some kinda game industry credentials to comment, so a lot of times those comments just go unaddressed. I guess what I mean is that it's sad to know that the cancer is so often within.

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