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Tim Schafer

Broken Age release plan

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Tim, if you ever happen to stumble upon this post (which I'm pretty sure will never happen), I want you to know why I started supporting Double Fine: I owe my life to Grim Fandango. That's a long (and boring) story, but the thing is - I'm absolutely sure that Broken Age will be awesome no matter the circumstances simply because you're working on it.

I don't mind waiting longer because I already got much more than I expected from this game in the form of commentary, I don't mind a short or a split game because length has nothing to do with whether or not the game will be enjoyable. I'm just going to trust you. ^_^

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Every Kickstarter project has a chance of delivering nothing at all and we already got the amazing documentation so everything in addition to this is a plus. That was more or less the premise Tim Schafer gave at the beginning of it.

If anyone thinks he bought a game by donating on KS he is kidding himself. That's not how KS works. If this game gets done while staying in the spirit of the KS that will be a huge success and it sounds like this might be a probable outcome now. I think more than anything else this whole endevour is a great eye opener - at least for me - in regards to the amount of work necessary even after all that has already been done (and shown in the documentation.) It's probably just worth it if you give us the Bagel designs as wallpapers.

Also, I rather have the first working half of a passion project than a full but broken half assed game. But anyway I will probably wait until you release the whole game or give up on developing it further until I check it out.

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Tim and the team, do what needs to be done to give us that Double Fine offspring that makes us turn to our own and say, "why can't you be more like him."

I'd ask my fellow backers, those that can afford it, to throw some of that backer love in the ole DF tip jar....if you know what I mean. This is our game too, let's do what we can from our end; we've now had 10 episodes, a myriad of updates, awesome backer forums, and Double Fine's ear. We're near or are 100,000 strong and our contributions are magnified when given en masse.

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I know many people won't read this opinion and I'm pretty sure it won't even make a dent to anybody at Double Fine but this is hugely disappointing news.

Self-publishing is a really awesome thing that's starting to crop up in the Indie scene that has a real possibility because of the cool places like GOG, GMG, Steam, and even releasing DRM-Free on your own website. To the point where Consoles are playing catch up as Nintendo and Sony are both allowing self-publishing on their newest consoles (Microsoft still requires a publisher)

The issue has always been getting funding for the games and crowd-funding sort of got a huge boost because a legitimate game company that was sick of dealing with publishers was able to successfully fund a game (not just 'a' game anymore, but two now since Massive Chalice has been funded) and it seemed like the AAA budget-bubble that was looming over the gaming industry wasn't going to burst into small studios.

I understand that you can't expect the best when it comes to Game Development. That there will always be hiccups and delays and stuff that you end up getting experience in over the years. I'm still months away from any sort of playable prototype for my own idiotic ambitions, but this delay is not setting an example on how crowd funding can be a viable alternative to publishers. A lot of the positive press has been able to keep your ideas original and not having to cut out ideas and bend to the will of the publisher and while the plan is fine and for the most part probably supported by the majority of the backers. It doesn't sit well in terms of what is at stake here.

I backed DFA hours after the kickstarter went up because I love Tim and his works. I backed Massive Chalice hours after it's own kickstarter went up because I have faith in the company (and I've enjoyed everything about Mr Moo Ear so far and feel that he can continue his awesome work after Trenched) so I don't want to seem like I'm being a negative nancy or non-supportive of the company and decisions of those running the whole thing.

Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

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I know many people won't read this opinion and I'm pretty sure it won't even make a dent to anybody at Double Fine but this is hugely disappointing news.

Self-publishing is a really awesome thing that's starting to crop up in the Indie scene that has a real possibility because of the cool places like GOG, GMG, Steam, and even releasing DRM-Free on your own website. To the point where Consoles are playing catch up as Nintendo and Sony are both allowing self-publishing on their newest consoles (Microsoft still requires a publisher)

The issue has always been getting funding for the games and crowd-funding sort of got a huge boost because a legitimate game company that was sick of dealing with publishers was able to successfully fund a game (not just 'a' game anymore, but two now since Massive Chalice has been funded) and it seemed like the AAA budget-bubble that was looming over the gaming industry wasn't going to burst into small studios.

I understand that you can't expect the best when it comes to Game Development. That there will always be hiccups and delays and stuff that you end up getting experience in over the years. I'm still months away from any sort of playable prototype for my own idiotic ambitions, but this delay is not setting an example on how crowd funding can be a viable alternative to publishers. A lot of the positive press has been able to keep your ideas original and not having to cut out ideas and bend to the will of the publisher and while the plan is fine and for the most part probably supported by the majority of the backers. It doesn't sit well in terms of what is at stake here.

I backed DFA hours after the kickstarter went up because I love Tim and his works. I backed Massive Chalice hours after it's own kickstarter went up because I have faith in the company (and I've enjoyed everything about Mr Moo Ear so far and feel that he can continue his awesome work after Trenched) so I don't want to seem like I'm being a negative nancy or non-supportive of the company and decisions of those running the whole thing.

Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

+1

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Personally I think its a pretty good idea and I'm all for it. As seen by some replies here, its not to everyone's liking. But hey I'd rather have a nice shiny complete first half of the game, wait a couple of months and play the next shiny complete half than a mere shadow of what the game could have been. My only question is what will be in the first Act? Will it be a combination of both Shay and Vella's worlds? Or simply Shay's in Act I and Vella in Act II? I remember a while ago, Greg asking how the two worlds will be connected during the game and I don't think this was ever clarified to us since. The fact the discussion took place at all leads me to believe that it will hopefully be a combination of both worlds. I want to explore both, what can I say, I'm greedy ;)

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Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

I don't quite understand the point... this game doesn't have an AAA budget (not even close, even with the increased funding), and it still doesn't have a publisher. They're just releasing it in 2 bursts, for one up-front price, so that they can start seeing the profit from the release of the game at an earlier point than they otherwise would, which should help get it finished. Seems fine.

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I know many people won't read this opinion and I'm pretty sure it won't even make a dent to anybody at Double Fine but this is hugely disappointing news.

Self-publishing is a really awesome thing that's starting to crop up in the Indie scene that has a real possibility because of the cool places like GOG, GMG, Steam, and even releasing DRM-Free on your own website. To the point where Consoles are playing catch up as Nintendo and Sony are both allowing self-publishing on their newest consoles (Microsoft still requires a publisher)

The issue has always been getting funding for the games and crowd-funding sort of got a huge boost because a legitimate game company that was sick of dealing with publishers was able to successfully fund a game (not just 'a' game anymore, but two now since Massive Chalice has been funded) and it seemed like the AAA budget-bubble that was looming over the gaming industry wasn't going to burst into small studios.

I understand that you can't expect the best when it comes to Game Development. That there will always be hiccups and delays and stuff that you end up getting experience in over the years. I'm still months away from any sort of playable prototype for my own idiotic ambitions, but this delay is not setting an example on how crowd funding can be a viable alternative to publishers. A lot of the positive press has been able to keep your ideas original and not having to cut out ideas and bend to the will of the publisher and while the plan is fine and for the most part probably supported by the majority of the backers. It doesn't sit well in terms of what is at stake here.

I backed DFA hours after the kickstarter went up because I love Tim and his works. I backed Massive Chalice hours after it's own kickstarter went up because I have faith in the company (and I've enjoyed everything about Mr Moo Ear so far and feel that he can continue his awesome work after Trenched) so I don't want to seem like I'm being a negative nancy or non-supportive of the company and decisions of those running the whole thing.

Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

+1

I think what mostly needs to change in us, the gamer public, if we really intend to embrace the crowdfunded game market, is that we need to understand that we pay for a game that will be released months or years from the time we paid for it, and that it's a game design that will change over time. That is something that is totally different form a game developer that gets a budget upfront and releases something complete that people buy as is.

This won't hurt people's view of crowdfunded games as a whole. This will teach people how crowdfunded games actually work. The documentary is an amazing part of that as well.

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Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

I don't quite understand the point... this game doesn't have an AAA budget (not even close, even with the increased funding), and it still doesn't have a publisher. They're just releasing it in 2 bursts, for one up-front price, so that they can start seeing the profit from the release of the game at an earlier point than they otherwise would, which should help get it finished. Seems fine.

The point is that there is an actual issue in the industry right now with AAA budgets. Tomb Raider sold 4 million copies and was considered a "failure" and the development team went through layoffs and don't know if they would be able to make a sequel. I could go through and list other articles or explain what happened with THQ but it's mostly the expectations of the publishers to blame.

A lot of people backed Double Fine due to the ideology that it could push Publishers to be more realistic with their actual AAA budgets while at the same time that people wanted more than just covered shoot man edition. It had a real good shot of being a viable alternative to going the publisher route, and if it did that it would open a lot more creative control back to the developers.

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You got my blessing to go multi game. Having ambitions makes stuff great in general, so I'm actually happy about this. Also video games happen :D !

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Honestly, I went in on this project without expecting anything in return. It may sound strange, but I knew it was almost imposible for a game with this scope to be made with so little amount of money. I just funded the project because it seemed right. It was a message sent to publishers: Adventure Game are not dead! And nothing more.

I'm still impressed that the project is going on, and that DF is trying to find a way to deliver a game that, to me, was just a lovely idea and good intentions. Kudos to Tim for what he's doing. That's what I call determination.

I've already forgot that I payed for this, and the small money invested has already been payed with all the journey we've had so far (in a way, I enjoy more the journey than the destination, the story being told than the end).

Whatever DF wants to do, it will have my support.

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Not sure how to sum up my feelings on this because as long as I'm getting the game eventually I'll be happy. I've always been fine with developers/publishers taking more time to polish a project rather than put it out early. So waiting a little while longer for a game I'm sure is going to be fantastic is fine.

However...

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded is already out and I've already played through it twice and almost done with a third playthrough to hopefully get the last of the achievements. But the scope of that one was a lot (and I mean a LOT) smaller than Broken Age, not to mention it's a remake of a game that was already designed and written and only had to have the script updated so the jokes are more up-to-date and aren't stale and of course it has a new graphical style etc.. So, that's not weird that they were done first out of all the Kickstarters from last year. (Great game by the way, though the achievements seem to be a little buggy at the moment.)

And at the other end of the scope spectrum, it seems at this point that Wasteland 2 is coming out before Broken Age. That's a project with a pretty hefty scope: post-apocalyptic RPG with a heavy choice/consequence. I'm not sure about the size of the team but I assume it's bigger than the team Tim has working for him, but as I don't work for either company I'm just pulling guesses out of my butt. But for the sake of argument let's say their team is bigger. But who knows, maybe they'll have to delay as well. We'll see...

So, it's just weird, I guess, is my feeling. I'm disappointed yes, but I am getting a game that I think is going to be great...nay, that I KNOW is going to be GREAT! And whatever you guys have to do to make it as GREAT as possible, I'm all behind you. But at the same time, I think I felt the same way Greg did in the new episode. I could tell all this was really disappointing to him and I couldn't help but empathize.

Anyway, good luck to you guys. I know you have a great team and I know you'll make a great final product. :)

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Basically the realm of publishers needs to change, the working conditions along with what gets green-lights is running into a bubble that is going to end up bursting. The AAA budget needs to change (and it's not the used game market as some loud-mouthed 'industry insiders' want you to believe) and people were excited about the potential idea that crowd funding would help push the publishers back into place. It seems that it's going to take an actual burst of that bubble for things to change and that's not what anybody wanted.

I don't quite understand the point... this game doesn't have an AAA budget (not even close, even with the increased funding), and it still doesn't have a publisher. They're just releasing it in 2 bursts, for one up-front price, so that they can start seeing the profit from the release of the game at an earlier point than they otherwise would, which should help get it finished. Seems fine.

The point is that there is an actual issue in the industry right now with AAA budgets. Tomb Raider sold 4 million copies and was considered a "failure" and the development team went through layoffs and don't know if they would be able to make a sequel. I could go through and list other articles or explain what happened with THQ but it's mostly the expectations of the publishers to blame.

A lot of people backed Double Fine due to the ideology that it could push Publishers to be more realistic with their actual AAA budgets while at the same time that people wanted more than just covered shoot man edition. It had a real good shot of being a viable alternative to going the publisher route, and if it did that it would open a lot more creative control back to the developers.

Seems to me that it still is viable. It's just that as with every funding model, there's no silver bullet. We still get our game, and it sounds like we're getting quite a big one too - it's just that in order to deliver that, they're having to try a new release model.

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I'm still kind of shaking my head at the fact that Double Fine started another project (on Kickstarter no less), when they are so behind on Broken Age... But I think splitting up the game is the right thing to do if it means getting a better game in the end.

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Yeah, I'm probably not the only person who is a little disappointed that the whole game is still so far away...

but basically this ->

Take as long as you need to make it right.

I'd rather wait another year for a kick-arse game than get a crappy one now.

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Maybe you do need a publisher. There seems to be a real lack of project management here.

Actually I think what would be really useful if all the backers started being armchair project managers on the forum. That would be the best.

::rolls eyes::

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Just watched the episode to get more context for this release plan. I'm still totally for it, but here's a more detailed response.

While I am totally supportive of DF taking this approach to the release schedule, Greg's not totally wrong to be concerned with the image. The hardcore Double Fine fans are probably going to be 100% behind you guys no matter what. But when you consider the various kinds of consumers that are out there with their distinct frames of reference, it's a bit more complicated.

Probably the vast majority of the people who are here and posting in this thread/forum are the super fans. Rather than being mere fans or enjoyers of this game or that game, they just love Double Fine, so this will probably fly well enough for them.

And then there are the people who are just going to hate whatever Double Fine does because haters gonna hate. Probably there are a lot of people leaning back, smug little smiles on their faces, waiting for any opportunity to toss out a smarty pants comment. Ignore those guys.

Those are like the locked-in votes of a political campaign. You know you've got this % of people who are going to approve of you no matter what, and you know you've got this other % who are going to disapprove no matter what. Just like in a political campaign, the most important thing to consider is the size of the pool of swing voters and how your actions will make them swing toward the positive press/comments or the negative press/comments, which they are surely being influenced by.

So how you spin this decision is pretty important. Anticipate the kinds of things people are likely to say and think about ways you can frame this decision to show that it helps them instead of hurts them. (Or at least it does not hurt them.)

I would probably avoid saying you are releasing "half of the game" as much as possible. Even though that IS essentially what you are doing, the connotation some people are going to pick up is that you are planning to charge people money for an unfinished product. By way of analogy, they will think of it sort of like, "Pay full price for the car now and we promise we'll stop by in six months and install the wheels and steering column. TRUST US." I'd be very careful to explain that this is more like releasing Act 1 and then later releasing Act 2. It is a deliberate release plan.

Although it is actually very similar to releasing individual episodes at first and then selling the entire season once all episodes are released, I might be careful about comparisons to "episodes" as well, since episodic adventure games (e.g. TellTale) can have as many as 5+ episodes a season. If you try to compare it too much to an episodic adventure, people will perhaps judge that it is too short for an episodic season, and might then jump to the conclusion that the "season" is perfunctory.

I think it is better to stick to the analogy of two acts. Even Waiting For Godot had two acts, and that play is super famous!

Some grumps are probably gonna say some stuff like "I guess Double Fine can't easily make a game without publisher money after all." *smug* *smug* To that I would say to bear in mind that Double fine originally pitched a game that was much, much smaller with a budget less than a million. Double Fine could have made that game. They could have made a game on just 3 million if they wanted to. But Double Fine intentionally decided to make an even better game than the backers paid them for. When the backers said, "I love Double Fine times 3 million," Double Fine replied, "Oh yeah? Well we love our fans times 12 million." That wasn't an accident. Double Fine did that on purpose.

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Just to chime in: I have to say that I'm all for this solution. I think it's the best way to make as many people happy.

First of all, Double Fine doesn't have to cut a lot of content to make the game financially viable. I think this is very important to anyone that follows this project. Broken Age will be a special game that should be as close to perfection as possible. It would be a shame if financial stuff gets in the way of this.

Secondly, backers still get the full game. I think splitting off a sequel and selling it independently would be a very bad move. Not because we won't have gotten our money's worth, but simply because it's not what was promised before. This has nothing to do with being over-demanding. With this Kickstarter project, the goal was to directly give gamers what they want, without the intervention of a publisher. This requires trust from the backers. For this reason, I think they should be treated with a lot of respect - they make this project happen in the end.

Finally, I think splitting the game up into two acts is a very elegant solution. It allows to raise more funds and to raise more awareness of the project, as well as get people excited after the cliffhanger. I've bought some Telltale games before, and I was really pleasantly surprised at how much fun it is to discuss with others what will happen in the next episode of a game. I can't wait for the same to happen with Broken Age.

Keep up the great work! I'm looking forward to playing the first act!

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I hope you really manage to pull this together in the end, and I'm really enjoying the documentary so far. That being said, this sounds pretty dramatic. I don't know what the main issues are that needs to be fixed to allow for more effecient development, but you guys really need to take an analytical view on this and make sure you don't go in way over your heads with future projects (Massive Chalice being an obvious candiate).

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I backed this project because I love Tim Schafer's adventure games and I trust him. Just give me the best and most complete work you can. Don't care at all how you do it. I am definitely ok with this plan

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Maybe you do need a publisher. There seems to be a real lack of project management here.

Actually I think what would be really useful if all the backers started being armchair project managers on the forum. That would be the best.

::rolls eyes::

Being arm chair project managers would involve talking about Psychonauts and Brutal Legend's issues with time and budget while also bringing up the fact that this information was delayed until after Massive Chalice was funded.

Criticism can be constructive and have a good open debate without resorting to name calling.

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Maybe you do need a publisher. There seems to be a real lack of project management here.

Actually I think what would be really useful if all the backers started being armchair project managers on the forum. That would be the best.

::rolls eyes::

Being arm chair project managers would involve talking about Psychonauts and Brutal Legend's issues with time and budget while also bringing up the fact that this information was delayed until after Massive Chalice was funded.

Criticism can be constructive and have a good open debate without resorting to name calling.

All games have trouble with time and budget. You're kinda ignoring the thesis statement of those conversations.

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Maybe you do need a publisher. There seems to be a real lack of project management here.

Actually I think what would be really useful if all the backers started being armchair project managers on the forum. That would be the best.

::rolls eyes::

Being arm chair project managers would involve talking about Psychonauts and Brutal Legend's issues with time and budget while also bringing up the fact that this information was delayed until after Massive Chalice was funded.

Criticism can be constructive and have a good open debate without resorting to name calling.

I don't get how that criticism was constructive, though. It's like people are surprised that plans change over the course of a game's development, and put it down to a 'lack of project management' when in fact that's what a huge part of project management IS - to manage the project through change.

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@AnAnemoneInAnonymity - I agree with what you said. I think gamers have been conditioned to react certain ways because of years of abuse from publishers. It's easy to forget that Double Fine's first priority is with the game (as it should be.) I'm willing to believe that they are doing what's necessary to release the best game they can. Still, I can understand some people being skeptical too... But if the game is awesome - nobody's going to care about what it took to make it happen...

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Well, I'm really looking forward to the game, from what is visible now, it should be great! Good games take time to make, that's fine. I do like how you go out of your way to explain why and how the decisions are made and that you still aim at making a great game without too much sacrifice, which I guess was the reason why most if not all of us backers came here in the first place. Now that everybody sees how the sausage is made, there might be some complaining (already seems to be) but I guess that's part of the experiment.

My impression really is that nothing is lost by going Steam Early Access with BA, so that's also fine. I hope it plays out and you can actually get the money needed this way.

I played Leisure Suit Larry reloaded this weekend which I also backed, and it became a really good game. That just shows it will come to an end eventually. It will be done. BUT that was a much smaller game and it is a remake, not completely built from the ground up. So naturally they got it done in less time and with less money. What DF does still seems very much like breaking new ground to me, so that is completely different imho. Please keep going! Still believe it's going to be amazing. :-)

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All games have trouble with time and budget. You're kinda ignoring the thesis statement of those conversations.

I don't get how that criticism was constructive, though. It's like people are surprised that plans change over the course of a game's development, and put it down to a 'lack of project management' when in fact that's what a huge part of project management IS - to manage the project through change.

I feel that both of you just skimmed over my post when I was talking about expecting delays and the bumps in the road and are instead arguing about what you think my post meant in the first place instead of what it actually was.

No shit that games hit bumps in the road and have delays. I'm not arguing that. I'm not naive enough to believe that the start of production to release is just one cherry awesome experience with no issues.

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