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ThunderPeel

How much say should backers have?

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I have to say that I'm somewhat concerned that so many people want to be able to contribute to DFA (at least based on another poll going on around here). I trust Tim Schafer, I trust Ron Gilbert, I trust the rest of the Double Fine team to deliver an awesome adventure game. I don't trust any of my fellow backers to do the same (and I wouldn't expect them to trust ME to create one, either).

Anyone who works in creative areas knows just how much damage designing by committee can do to a project. TV shows and films are often dumbed down and, well, just plain ruined, by well intentioned executives trying to please everybody. I don't want that to happen here.

The simple fact of the matter is that you can't please everybody.

Speaking about the recent changes that BioWare have announced for their ending to Mass Effect 3, Dave Grossman had the following to say. It seems largely relevant:

"My brain now insists on traveling back to 1991, when my comrades and I released Monkey Island 2. That game had a fairly bizarre ending, for which I personally bear some responsibility, and about which a significant portion of the audience expressed displeasure. During development there was a lot of discussion over whether the ending was a good idea, and I have to say that in retrospect it’s not my favorite, but I was into it at the time. If we made that game today it would be easy to revise the ending after release—but I still wouldn’t. We had our reasons for including it, and I wouldn’t change it, never have wanted to, and I suspect Ron and Tim would both say the same. Frankly, a great game with a contentious or unpopular ending is not necessarily a bad thing.

But I’m also moved to consider The Curse of Monkey Island, made by my friends Larry and Jonathan a few (okay, six) years later. Here again there were complaints about the ending, in this case because it was absurdly short. I happen to know that they had planned a much more elaborate end, but ran out of budget (a good example of how reality sometimes prevents you from doing the best thing). I’m pretty sure that, given the chance, they would revise that—but not just because the audience raised its voice, because it would be a genuine improvement on their vision for the game.

And in the end, I think that’s where I land: Listening to the audience is important, but it’s when you agree with them that you should make changes. If you’re going to revise stuff, by all means go ahead, but be sure you’re doing it because you want to, not because you think you should."

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I think that's the normal way good creative people operate. They take in what they can, process it, and produce their own vision. They do listen, they just don't take the advice as gospel.

In this sense I think it's not a problem for backers to say whatever the want. I think some of these things are silly (like what objects you'd like to see in the game), but it doesn't hurt. I trust DF to filter out the nonsense and take away anything useful.

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I completely agree with what Grossman says in that quote. I believe people should have a say, but should not make demands or even expect that their suggestions should be followed even if they are part of the majority.

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I agree with Grossman on listening but not flipflopping. I trust all of Double Fine to create something great. I'd never want someone to demand anything from something I created.

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None. When you have 90,000+ cooks in the kitchen, you're going to have a pretty terrible meal. Any 'say' should be based on being presented with plans, ideas, images, samples, etc that DF needs/wants feedback on. And even then it should, and probably only will be used as a guide towards a final decision or choice. Otherwise you end up with what happened to planetside. You try to please everyone, you add giant robots, everyone quits.

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Yeah, none would be the best. There are over 80000 backers, that means in the worst case over 80000 opinions.

That doesn't mean we have no right to say what we think of certain things. I think for a good game it's important to see the things of as many points of views as possible. 160000 eyes see more potential mistakes than perhaps 50 (don't know how many people are actually working on this game).

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The best way is to make polls, because Double Fine isn't going to listen to a single person's opinion over 80,000.

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There's a difference between having a say and speaking an opinion.

If Tim comes up with the idea of say a "huge red and green monkey who screams "narghlphat" and rips off your head every time you solve a puzzle wrong" and the backer community says "Please, don't"...

I would really hope that Tim wouldn't say "Oh they just don't know what they want... I'm Vince McMahon and if I say The Great Khali wins every tile and beats everyone no matter what fans want, than than Great Khali does it and Hornswoggle next and then I'll rehire Chris Masters for the same deal... oh wait, I mean Tim Mother#@%*ING Schaefer and if I want red monkeys who kill, space hornets who poop clowns and gummi bears who are prositutes in this game there will be, fans and backers can go to hell"

Actually, that Gummi Bear Prostitutes idea is good... where can that go?

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I'm not really worried about it. Double Fine will do what it feels is the right thing to do. They'll listen to what we say but make the game that they feel is the best game to make.

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I backed this because I want to play a game made by Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert (and their small team of developers) and watch them doing it.

The less influence the backers have on this the better, and I'm glad that the consensus here seems to be just that.

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There's nothing wrong with letting backers have a say in the games. They don't need to direct where the story will go or how the game will be played. Backers getting a say could be as simple as, "Pick which character model you like best!" or, "Which piece of music should we use in this room?" They are choices that won't make or break the game, but that many backers would like having a hand in picking. Also, if the developers are borderline on an idea they can ask the backers what they think, like a 90k member focus group.

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I agree with those who say none at all. That's not what the Kickstarter thing was supposed to be. It's more like an extended pre-order.

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Only things that are asked from the community. Polls could be nice and ideas should be asked for. If community gets to decide a lot of things, it probably will turn in to a opinion war

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We should have a say in that the developers should read the forums and incorporate ideas if they think they are good. However, I funded the project because I want a Schafer/Gilbert/Doublefine adventure, not because I want a Schafer/Gilbert/Doublefine adventure that has been constrained by the whims of 80,000 random people who I don't know anything about.

Having said that, the Monkey Island 2 ending really was painfully awful and if I could have got them to change it at the time I would have. Fortunately the excellent Curse sorted that out, but that was one heck of a wait.

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None whatsoever.

We're funding it, to have anything more than a say on a few ancillary things or a very very general feedback level would dilute what I feel these kinds of projects are about.

I gave money to see the team make a game. Nothing more and nothing less. Whatever comes out the other end will be an interesting experience whether good or bad, and while I don't have 30 years of development experience under my belt I do know I've seen projects fall apart because two people can't agree on something, let alone eighty thousand.

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Not much. Double Fine should make a game, and when they want feedback on something, they should ask us. But I don't want nor expect the backers to author the game.

This means I don't really agree with any thread that roughly fits one of the following patterns:

"Here's an idea you could put in the game"

"In this thread, let's think of ideas DF could put in the game"

"What kind of stuff should DF ask our opinions on so that we can tell them what to put in the game?"

I don't think backers should assume they are telling DF what kind of game to make. I paid for a game by Tim, Ron, and DF; not for a game by the backers.

In short: the backers merely provide constructive criticism which DF may or may not take into consideration as they see fit.

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None, none, none.

We will all express our opinions but this is someone else's game, not ours.

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Agreed, I'm finding it really weird to see how some people are talking in here, it seems like as soon as the backers' forums opened a lot of folks thought 'right, let's roll up our sleeves and get started designing this game'.

When the project first started out on kickstarter, as far as I could tell the idea was to make an old school adventure game that would be funded by those interested in seeing one, without the need for a publisher, an experiment in crowd funding for game development in a genre publishers were no longer interested in supporting in any case. Since then, it seems that some people have gotten the idea that the 'experiment' is in crowd sourcing design, which is a very different things and as far as I know was never even hinted at by Double Fine. It seems counter-intuitive to be getting out from the pressure of pleasing a publisher (and therefore a few meddling executives demanding changes) only to replace that with close on 90,000 people all seemingly wanting to have their say.

As far as I can tell, the initial idea was that as backers we would have a look behind the curtain, seeing what goes into the development, and also be involved in a beta and therefore allowed to give feedback. I don't think at any point we were being offered the chance to design the game, and as many have already said, that would be a horrible idea. I can't even imagine what a train wreck we'd end up with if all of the backers had direct input into this, but the 'too many cooks', 'design by committee' and 'homer's car' references that many have made seem extremely likely.

To put it another way, I think most would agree that Tim and Ron are pretty much the best writers in the genre; that being the case, does anyone seriously believe that they're qualifed to tell these guys how they should write an adventure game?

I would like to point out that I don't think there's any problem with suggestions or ideas being thrown around in here by the way, and I'm sure that this kind of stuff will be useful for Double Fine to get an idea of the kind of things we'd like to see, or maybe in some cases even bring ideas to their attention that they may not have thought of. It just seems that some posts are starting to sound a little more like demands.

I think that Tim has been clear enough along the way but seeing the messages in here the last couple of days it might be a good idea to have a little extra clarification from the source before imaginations start running too wild; I'm a little concerned that there will be a lot of people feeling let down or getting angry further down the line if it's not spelled out pretty soon that this is Double Fine's game and we're funding it, not telling them how to do their jobs...

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I'd say none, but have a few character designs or other artwork the backers could vote on.

therefore DFA still makes it, with community feedback

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I trust Double Fine to have enough faith in their own vision/ability not to bend to backer whims that might hurt the project or damage the integrity of the thing while remaining open to possibilities/insights.

Basically, I picture DF as a sailboat drifting toward different Finish Line markers. Backers on shore are aiming Huge Honking Wind Machines at the sails in an attempt to steer them where they please. If it looks like backer efforts are going to stall things or drive them to a finish they don't fancy, DF has the ability to bring their Supa'-Amazink-Jet-Fueled-Über-Motor into play. At some point they'll batten down the hatches, lower sails, and furiously motor their way to the destination they feel is best. Still, their overall journey will have been influenced by our HHWMs. Maybe we will have helped them find something they would otherwise have missed- maybe not. Either way, the race will have been fun, meaningful, and a one of a kind experience.

/butchering sailing metaphors

Edit: Also, my personal take on the threads where people are talking about protagonists/game mechanics/etc is best summed up by Steve_T: "Right now we are just hearing the garbled ambience of an excited crowd before the curtains open." I don't think there are too many among us with delusions o' grandeur- just a lot of excited people in a "room", chatting about what they'd like to see in the future or have enjoyed seeing in the past.

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There's a difference between having a say and speaking an opinion.

If Tim comes up with the idea of say a "huge red and green monkey who screams "narghlphat" and rips off your head every time you solve a puzzle wrong" and the backer community says "Please, don't"...

I would really hope that Tim wouldn't say "Oh they just don't know what they want... I'm Vince McMahon and if I say The Great Khali wins every tile and beats everyone no matter what fans want, than than Great Khali does it and Hornswoggle next and then I'll rehire Chris Masters for the same deal... oh wait, I mean Tim Mother#@%*ING Schaefer and if I want red monkeys who kill, space hornets who poop clowns and gummi bears who are prositutes in this game there will be, fans and backers can go to hell"

Actually, that Gummi Bear Prostitutes idea is good... where can that go?

Well, except I doubt that they're going to make any decisions so ridiculous that the fans are going to actively fight against it. They've been in this industry for longer than some people around here have been alive. They're going back to their roots. In Double Fine we trust etc. I don't necessarily think they need us to do well on this. That said, I think we'll have as much input as Tim originally said: when the design team has trouble deciding between two things, they'll ask us our opinion. And I doubt these will be major things either, probably small things. It will be nice of them to get us involved, but I don't expect or want us to have too much involvement.

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Having a legion of 80,000 drones is great for finding bugs. So that's what I think the backers should be used for. Bug reports.

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Yeah, it's kind of strange watching the setting/protagonist/items threads. Some seem to be under the impression that they are going to be designing the game by vote. Mentions of feedback in the pitch may have contributed to this, but obviously the idea is that Double Fine makes the game they want to make and if we give useful feedback they may use it, but we are not entitled to anything beyond the documentary and the finished game (plus rewards).

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About 5 says.

Having a legion of 80,000 drones is great for finding bugs. So that's what I think the backers should be used for. Bug reports.
And if this is the case, not only do they not have to pay us, but we paid them for the opportunity to work for them. Those clever fiends!

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It's impossible to give backers too much say in the design as if everyone voices his/hers opinion only thing we are going to get is a shouting match, that doesn't help anyone.

I think there could be polls considering some features of the game, but the main line should be drawn by the designer.

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I agree 100% with everyone who says "none."

As a software developer, I've been on many teams where there have been too many opinions on how something is done, which ends up ruining a project. Also, I didn't back a community-designed game, I backed a Double Fine game, which is the quality I think we all expect at the end of this thing.

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I like the benevolent dictatorship approach that seems to work quite well for free software projects. I'd like to just pretend to be useful by giving my opinion and then let the experts do whatever the hell they want to do (of course, they can pretend to be listening to me too, that usually makes me happy).

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Backers should have a say but there should be a balance. I think with anything there should be a balance between what that fans want and what the creators want. I think there should be a tossing back and forth of ideas between Double Fine and the backers. Although it will be up to Double Fine to make the final decisions on anything. I think that what backers have to say should be taken into consideration when making decisions. I don't think us backers having a say is such a bad idea as some are suggesting. I don't think having a say is the same as telling Double Fine how to do their job.

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