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Controversial Opinions and Backing (de)Motivation - the case of Armikrog

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I guess most people around these parts know about the spiritual successor to The Neverhood running on Kickstarter these days.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1949537745/armikrog

(Yes, I know about the sticky topic with all the Kickstarter projects)

Looks like they are about halfway through the funding. I'm wondering why it hasn't been easier for them. Is it just not enough exposure? The Neverhood touched so many people, and left a huge impression on so many gamers (and artists and musicians) that it's hard to believe this wasn't picked up by the masses within days. It's hard to believe that The Neverhood franchise is not stronger than something like Tex Murphy games (which I personally never even heard of before the Kickstarter campaign).

Anyway, I'm wondering if the reason that I'm not backing the project is also why some other people are not backing: TenNapel's bad history of blog posts and remarks on the subject of gay marriage (and other subjects).

I'm not telling people to support or not support his project. But personally, I was surprised myself, that I found it hard to separate the person from the product. And with the Double Fine documentary, you just get a sense of the team being just .. great people (and if that's an illusion and they're all dicks, praise 2 Player Productions). I really feel that if Tim Schafer would be an outspoken critic of something I am for, it would be hard for me to support a project by him.

(Yes I also know that Tim Schafer endorses Armikrog)

Does this resonate with anyone?

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Interesting idea.

I don't think anyone can say for certain. (I haven't heard the remarks in question - so I can't speak to whether they were "negative" or not.) I will say that I think tolerance works both ways... Not everyone is going to agree with you on every issue. That doesn't make them the devil... and I don't think you have to agree with someone on gay marriage to enjoy their game... Especially if said game has nothing to do with marriage of any sort.

I think artists/developers/writers should be free to do whatever they want... regardless of politics or popular consensus. If people like it - great. If people don't - that's OK too.

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Doug Tennapel has made religiously fanatic, jingoistic, homophobic statements in the past so is hardly surprising that people haven’t flocked to this campaign despite how well loved Neverhood was.

They are also asking for a whole lot of money for a project like that, though I understand the expenses behind stop motion animation, it would be more realistic for them to have asked for 500k (which they reached), regardless they still have 14 days left so who knows, they may make it.

At the end of the day, Kickstarter is yet another way to hold a popularity contest, which is why developers like Denis Dyack recently found out that if you act like a twat for a good part of a decade it will eventually come bite you in the ass.

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They are also asking for a whole lot of money for a project like that, though I understand the expenses behind stop motion animation, it would be more realistic for them to have asked for 500k (which they reached), regardless they still have 14 days left so who knows, they may make it.

I agree with this. It's VERY hard to get a million dollars on Kickstarter! And I think people are less likely to donate, if they don't feel the project will be successful... The more it looks like it's not going to reach it's goal - the less inclined people are to back it...

It's kind of a weird phenomenon (and I might just be imagining it) but it seems like if they'd asked $500K - they would have likely ended up with a million.

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I think this has little to do with it. It's just that few projects can reach $900K. If Jane Jensen got to $435k after a hard struggle, the Two Guys From Andromeda got to $540k and Project Fedora was under $600k, why would anyone feel that this project is underperforming in any way? It's actually doing very well by these standards.

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It's hard to believe that The Neverhood franchise is not stronger than something like Tex Murphy games (which I personally never even heard of before the Kickstarter campaign).

I don't think it's a valid comparison. TM asked for 450.000, half of the budget for armikrog, also had far less backers (almost 7000 vs 11500), but the amount that people donated was extremely high (and the updates and pitches were great). Also the "get the game" tier was $15, quite low for a game so packed with content like TM games and FMV.

They just asked for a lot of money for an underdog game genre, also the was a boom of kickstarter projects after DFA and that everyone was excited, now not so much.

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I already said when the project started that it's within range but it's also brave asking for almost 1 million dollars for an adventure game which isn't this well known outside of its genre, compared to an adventure like Monkey Island. The unknown factor are the people who also enjoyed Earthworm Jim and admire the game more for Tennaple's style.

I once asked a question regarding the funding, primary because i was interested how big the assets of all the clay and stop-motion work are, secondary because i wanted to test how communicative and open they are. Well, i never got an answer to this question. I backed the project but i don't check it on a regular basis (i spend enough time here already) but whenever i visited the site, it was a hardcore group trying to push the project over the line instead of that the devs were available. It also doesn't help when they say that they are on E3 as Kickstarter for most campaigns is a full time job.

I have no idea how Tennaple thinks about certain topics and i also don't care. You should be able to differentiate between a person and his work. This might not work out if things get too extreme but it should be feasible to a certain degree. There exist artists who aren't people you want to hang around with (just like with any other profession) but you still can admire their work and personally i like his drawing style.

What i generally dislike and think isn't helpful here either is that they offer a limited tier at the entry level. 7000 backers can access the $20 tier and then they need to pay $25. What's the logic behind this? The $20 users, if they can afford it, are primary those you want to pledge in big volumes, the curious ones, those who think this might be interesting but aren't hardcore fans as well. Now as these free slots are all gone, they need to be interested enough to pay $25 which is less attractive and hey if the game gets done and if it turns out to be good they still might buy it in a Steam sale afterwards. To get those people it needs already existing backers stepping up and freeing these slots again. Of course that's only a part of the cake but it's one aspect which lowers their potential funding.

And so on ... *time out*

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Honestly, I'm growing more and more convinced that there are two things that generate success on KS. They are not exclusive and can totally mix. But essentially:

1) The one everyone knows about and tries to make happen: Design a product and pitch that is so cool and exciting that it gets everybody talking about it, and so positive via word-of-mouth that spreads like a wildfire, people flock to your kickstarter page.

2) You ALREADY have a lot of people paying attention to you in a positive way, including both general consumers/fans as well as people in the press.

When just a general dev posts a kickstarter, probably a lot of times what that means is that they are relying solely on the people who stumble onto their KS by browsing the kickstarter site or by being linked to it from a short report at a news site.

But Double Fine has a lot of good contacts in the press, and they've spent years developing a good relationship with fans which is now only getting better. When Brad posted his Kickstarter, from the very SECOND he pressed the button, his kickstarter had 100 times the escape velocity than just any old dev starting up their kickstarter. Escape velocity is important, because people wandering over and seeing those numbers rising insanely fast at first get that sense of momentum, and they feel like the project WILL be successful, so they are more likely to back the project than if they feel like the project probably will not get funded.

For KS to work, it's good to mobilize an army of friends in advance to give you that first huge push. Double Fine had the great fortune of already having a lot of friends to provide them with great launches for their projects.

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I separate the art from the artist when it comes to TenNapel's work (at least, I have an easier time doing so with TenNapel than I do with, say, Orson Scott Card). I don't agree with his views at all, but I do like his stuff.

I'd love to see Armikrog get made, and while there's still a chance it might make it, I think they simply aimed too high. $900k is a lot to ask for.

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I think it has less to do with his opinions on things and just more to do with what the project is. If you go to the Kickstarter page you see a weird clay character with a weird name. So as a potential customer who doesn't really play adventure games when I look at something like DFA it looks inviting and when I look at Armikrog it just looks... weird. Now I know there are some people who are really into things like this, all I'm saying is that it's niche by being an adventure game and even more niche by being weird-looking. It's harder for it to attract those who don't already know what it's about and just pledge based on looks.

Conclusion: the first image on their campaign page should have been a picture of a photorealistic Tommynaut looking badass as he walks away from an explosion while holding a big gun.

RfaraIq.jpg

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Conclusion: the first image on their campaign page should have been a picture of a photorealistic Tommynaut looking badass as he walks away from an explosion while holding a big gun.

Don't forget an orange/blue contrast. That's essential.

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Separating the artist from the art is all good in theory... but if the artist is using their money/fame to actively work against what I believe in? I'm sorry. I can't. I don't begrudge anyone who does back him though.

Sidenote: I never played Neverhood, so I wouldn't have back Armikrog anyway.

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I never had a computer good enough to play Neverhood at the time it was out, and when I did have one good enough for it, it was no longer widely available.

$900k is just a really big target for an adventure game on Kickstarter. He doesn't have the cred, and continuous stream of new games over the years that DF has to have stayed as relevant. Only Broken Age, Dreamfall Chapters and (Homestruck Adventure?) have raised at least that much money so far in the adventure game genre.

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Whether it's for that reason or anything else, as far as separating the art from the artist goes, it's all about personal comfort level. I think you don't have to be a hypocrite to draw the line in some cases and not others. Everyone has to pick their battles, and if I find out someone is bigoted about an issue that's close to me... yeah, I'm more likely to reconsider before giving them money. I don't know the views of everyone I give money to, of course, but where I do, I can make a choice.

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Whether it's for that reason or anything else, as far as separating the art from the artist goes, it's all about personal comfort level. I think you don't have to be a hypocrite to draw the line in some cases and not others. Everyone has to pick their battles, and if I find out someone is bigoted about an issue that's close to me... yeah, I'm more likely to reconsider before giving them money. I don't know the views of everyone I give money to, of course, but where I do, I can make a choice.

I think what makes the difference for me is whether or not the person will be using the money I give him/her to further their agenda. Is Doug Tennapel the kind of guy who just runs his mouth on a blog but will spend his profits paying off his mortgage or buying a big screen TV? Or is he the kind of guy who would take a hefty chunk of his profits from this and pass them on to Focus on the Family or the GOP? Maybe someone who follows him more could tell us which camp he's more likely to fall into.

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Ignorance is bliss?

I still hope the project gets funded as i like unique art/projects.

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I loved the Neverhood; the goofy twang of the place with all the shenanigans. I want to re-visit that kind of game world. That was my soul motivation for backing the project. I hope they hit their goal.

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I really admire Doug TenNapel's work, so I've backed Armikrog with what little I can afford. It looks like a fantastic idea, and I think it'll be a shame if it doesn't get made.

I've seen quite a few people say they're not supporting the project because of things Doug has said, and that's their prerogative - I'm not fond of his opinions either. I don't think this is why the project isn't on track to get funded, though. As others have said, that is just a lot of money they're asking for. I understand why they ask for so much - stop-motion is very expensive. Still, I can't help but compare it to other projects which bring back nostalgic names for a new adventure game - Leisure Suit Larry, for example. That successful project raised $655,182. Armikrog has $531,523 right now and 11 days left, so it could certainly get to around that level of support (which is an impressive level) but it wouldn't be nearly enough. We're seeing the limitations of the funding model here - Doug and The Neverhood clearly have a lot of support, like franchises like Larry, but stop-motion is more expensive.

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Making of Neverhood:

"I'm a recovering programmer and i'm proud of it. I worked on the engine, i worked on resource compilers and pixels and bits and pixn and pixel and bits and i programmed and slept a little bit once in a while but mostly i programmed."

Playthrough of the Neverhood:

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My suggestion for those who won't back because of TenNapel's opinions is that for every dollar they pledge to the project they should donate a dollar to a gay rights movement..

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I find the whole idea of separating the art from the artist very strange.

If someone expresses an opinion, how can they expect this won't have impact on their work? When is it right to separate the art from the artist and when does it stop? Suppose an artist expressed hate towards some kind of ethnic group, would it still be ok to separate these opinions from the art? What if money earned went towards advocating and promoting those opinions?

Yes, Amikrog is creative and most likely will not touch these aspects (although you don't really know that until it's finished), but supporting the game does support in some way TenNapel. So if you don't agree with him on that, ignoring those certain aspects is more than just ignoring, it's a choice that these particular opinions are not important enough for you. That's legit of course, but let's not fool ourselves the art and the artist are totally separable.

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I've been watching the Armikrog Kickstarter, but don't intend to back it. The character design, atmosphere, and music of the game all look like they'll be fantastic, but I'm not sure it's a game I'd really enjoy playing. I agree with hot's assessment that Armikrog is a niche within a niche. As cool as claymation is, it seems pretty limiting as an interactive medium. This is also the first I've heard of TenNaple's political views, but they're not helping the cause. I think if I were really excited about the project, I might be willing to overlook something like politics, but if I don't like the creator of a project I'm certainly going to be much less willing to throw money at them.

All that aside, I think that the Armikrog Kickstarter is an interesting counter-point to a lot of the concerns that people have about the way Double Fine runs their campaigns. Regarding reward tiers, there's been some discussion here about whether DF should add more rewards, or add-on items, or more physical goods. Well, Armikrog has add-ons and physical items galore, but there are some backer complaints that the system is confusing and that a simpler system would help the campaign. Armikrog also has three add-ons (totaling $45) to give backers: a 2 hour video of the team discussing game development, a one hour audio commentary, and a live stream of animation. The MASSIVE CHALICE campaign has basically already provided all of these things for free as part of the funding campaign (and with the expectation of much more content to come) -- despite all the comments about it not providing enough details or solid updates.

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I just think it's sad that we've all become so uptight that we can't enjoy something - just because the person who made it doesn't agree with us on every issue. TenNapel is in no position to harm anyone with his point of view, one way or another. Why not let him have it? It seems to me that his detractors want him to fail because he's not thinking or saying the right things... and that's kind of crappy in my opinion. Wishing harm on someone because they have different values or opinions than you is not right.

And a few words about art and artists. Let's say a gay man paints a beautiful wilderness scene. Is that painting gay? Does a viewer have to be gay in order to truly appreciate it? Is sexual orientation all we are? Do we not have anything else to say to one another?

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I think there's a pretty significant different between wanting something to fail because of someone's views and not being willing to actively send them money for a project that's in early pre-production because of their views. And yeah, it's kind of sad that a political issue with the creator of a game could detract from someone's enjoyment of the game, but it's even more sad that a political issue could prevent two people in a relationship from having visitation rights, so there's that.

But then again, as I said above, I think there are other reasons this particular Kickstarter isn't doing so well. I also think that it will eventually hit its funding goal and I think that if it does hit the goal, it will be well deserved.

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Hey, two people threw in $10k, maybe a gay couple with humour.

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I find the whole idea of separating the art from the artist very strange.

If someone expresses an opinion, how can they expect this won't have impact on their work? When is it right to separate the art from the artist and when does it stop? Suppose an artist expressed hate towards some kind of ethnic group, would it still be ok to separate these opinions from the art? What if money earned went towards advocating and promoting those opinions?

Yes, Amikrog is creative and most likely will not touch these aspects (although you don't really know that until it's finished), but supporting the game does support in some way TenNapel. So if you don't agree with him on that, ignoring those certain aspects is more than just ignoring, it's a choice that these particular opinions are not important enough for you. That's legit of course, but let's not fool ourselves the art and the artist are totally separable.

Generally speaking, and of course, depending on the extent of the artist's active involvement in promoting things like this, it can sometimes be hard to separate artist from art. But I think that more than not it relates to discovering new artists, where a negative aspect of their personality might mean you aren't willing to invest time into figuring out more about them and their art.

I think a really good example is Roman Polanski. Yes, he is a pedophile and a rapist, but it doesn't change the fact that he is (for the most part) a great filmmaker. I won't change what I think about his films just because I know what he did. I know some people do, but that is really a form of bigotry. In the reverse direction, I won't change my opinions on him and his past just because of his films. The two sit separately with little crossover.

In a way I think that is what makes a really good artist -- that you in fact CAN separate him from the art. True art goes above and beyond, and isn't just a blanket expression of the artist's opinion.

I really like TenNapel's work (a majority of it) and personally never felt he was forcing his views on his audience. There were some blog posts, as mentioned, but as far as I am aware, it didn't go further. First and foremost he is a talented artist. And incidentally, he also blogs about his opinions, with which you don't have to agree. But as long as he doesn't force them on others, it feels weird to judge him for it. Because if you do, you are essentially doing the same thing you are judging him for.

So I think that is where you draw the line -- does the person use the money for promoting his bigoted opinions? If he does, then it is absolutely clear you cannot support him and his work. But if he doesn't use the money for that and yet you still judge him for his opinions, you are as bigoted as he is.

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Art and the artists opinions are completely different things. E.g. Buying Fez does not make you hate modern Japanese games, and the same goes for Armikrog. (Please don't start hating on Phil Fish in this thread, it's just an example).

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In a way I think that is what makes a really good artist -- that you in fact CAN separate him from the art. True art goes above and beyond, and isn't just a blanket expression of the artist's opinion.

So I think that is where you draw the line -- does the person use the money for promoting his bigoted opinions? If he does, then it is absolutely clear you cannot support him and his work. But if he doesn't use the money for that and yet you still judge him for his opinions, you are as bigoted as he is.

Any time "true art" is used, I am little suspect, but I think I get what you are saying. However, the art in this case (as other art often is in our current culture and time and economy) is a commodity in addition to the usual relationship, which means that natural law commerce and goods are at least partially in effect. Some people can divorce the product from the manufacturing, while others than cannot (or choose not).

So it seems entirely reasonable that some may take into account the totality of an artist while evaluating their work from this dual relationship-commodification stand point.

Smiles

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Separating the artist from the art is all good in theory... but if the artist is using their money/fame to actively work against what I believe in? I'm sorry. I can't. I don't begrudge anyone who does back him though.

Sidenote: I never played Neverhood, so I wouldn't have back Armikrog anyway.

Except in this case, he wants to use the money to just make a game. He's confirmed here (http://andrewdickman.deviantart.com/art/Armikrog-Awareness-376607283) that Armikrog itself is free of any elements that could be considered controversial.

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