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Tim Schafer

Broken Age release plan

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I don't know how a company that's supposed to be a professional organisation designs a game that's ten times larger than the resources they have available, particularly one that was sold on getting an 'old hand' at adventure games to get one last crack at it. They've known there were scope problems since the beginning of the project - we were seeing videos about the scope problems back last year, and clearly that problem wasn't taken seriously or else we wouldn't be in this situation. What's worse, it's sucked up funds that other teams from Double Fine could have used to make new games.

I'd be glad that I at least got a documentary series out of it if 2PP hadn't gone to like a three-month release schedule, and it looks like I'm at least going to get half a game, but still. This is bullshit, and it reflects badly on Tim, Double Fine and the Kickstarter process. At least now we know why Psychonauts and Brutal Legend took so long and still released unfinished.

This is exactly what a professional game development looks like. It is not exact science, but a bunch of creative people realizing their vision with whatever means they could find. Tim promised a documentary showing warts and all - and this is exactly what you got.

Sure they could be more organized, but if that is the process that works for them - why not. I mean, no one would argue that Valve is "unprofessional" yet look at THEIR release schedule.. You can imagine what a mess HL3 documentary would be at this point if they went the same route with documenting their progress....

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Got the email – read Tim’s message, went to Kickstarter – read comments, came here – watched the episode. What a nightmare :(

First off – Broken Age will kick a**!! The little that was shown screams of high production value. Big thanks to every single person on the team!

Now to the thorny subject.

@Tim

I think you did yourself and DF a disservice with that message. The wording sends a negative and convoluted message to anyone that gets a chance to read it but not watch Episode #10.

Frankly, even after watching Episode #10, things are still not quite clear to me.

You talk about splitting the game into two parts and putting part one onto Steam Early Access – btw, I had to look up what that is.

It’s possible that I got things wrong, but here’s my take after putting together Tim’s message, the Episode and what Valve says about Steam Early Access.

1. Steam Early Access is about “immediate access to games that are being developed with the community's involvement” and “a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form and as it evolves up and through 'release'.”

If you’re sure about this move, it’s apparent that whatever you put up on Steam Early Access needs to be a “complete” game in and of itself that will see a final release. And that leads to the inevitable split of the game into two episodes or acts that will have to be sold separately to the public.

This approach has three major aspects to consider.

1. With the leak of this update and Tim’s message, it’s harder to do this in an elegantly marketable way – on the one side, it’s good that DF is being honest about the whole situation and they’ll have to stand by it, yet on the other it demonstrates poor business sense to have designed a game from the start to go over-budget. You need to start reintroducing Broken Age as a Tail in Two Acts in a positive light a.s.a.p. – consider adding a catchy tag line to each Act. The fans are already out doing their part, but you got to do some official smart damage control.

2. You have to come through with your latest EDT, otherwise I’m afraid you’re putting at risk not only the sustainability of this project but of the studio as well. So before any move, do the math right.

3. You need to come up with a fair asking price for each Act – fair as in to not piss off more people or the backers.

And while we’re talking about the business end of things, it would be a smart idea to have a backup plan or more than one plan in case this Steam Early Access approach falls short. Have you thought about this?

@Tim

As a side note, I admire your passion and your desire & ability to dream big (as a gamer, I can only benefit from them), but never forget that you also run a dev. studio/ company, i.e. a number of people depend on you to still have a job tomorrow. In other words, there needs to be at least one person with the absolute authority and capability to force-land the creative team into reality whenever necessary. Not saying you should dream small, but having someone to ring the alarm on a step by step basis may keep things more manageable. Just my two cents.

-----

And now that I’m done offering my “wisdom”, could someone shed some more clarity to the following?

1. How is it possible, even with Steam Early Access to move completion of development of the whole game from 2015 to 2014? Have you already cut down the original scope or have you worked some other kind of magic that makes this feasable?

2. Will backers get it in two parts or will there be a final one-piece release?

3. Will the completed game still be released DRM-free on DF and/ or other digital stores, like for example GOG, or will this new direction tie it exclusively to Steam?

4. Since the final release is taking a lot more time, what’s the plan for the documentary?

Now, stop avoiding meetings and go and make some smart decisions.

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I rather play the game in "episodes" than to wait much more for the final version. Early access for sale is a really good, sound strategy, and it damages no one (we get it even earlier)! Great!

EDIT: Just careful not to push it _even_ beyond January, that would be a disaster!!

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This is probably not going to be the most popular reply, but I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events. I pledged money to DoubleFine, because I thought they had demonstrated that they were a well run, professional studio and they had the ability to budget and plan their projects accordingly. Now that we're looking at a huge delay and the need to seek out more funding, I can't help but feel like I've been had. If you were originally going to make a game and documentary for $400,000, you got $3.2 million, and you're still hugely over-budget and behind schedule, I just don't know that I can trust you guys anymore.

This is why I didn't donate to Massive Chalice. You should finish the crowd funded project you already started before going back to the well for more.

As someone said on another board, "Now we know what it feels like to publish a Tim Schafer game"

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Ok so like, really? What are you spending the money on? I don't understand how you can go from $400,000 for a game to $6 million in less than a year, for a simple 2D point and click game.

I love you guys, I really do I've been a fan ever since I was a kid and I'm 22, but how do you add another 3 million when even many of the new AAA games that are coming out don't even cost that much? I'm really confused on how you can just overspend like that so fast when the game is literally being made in the same programs that one man indie devs are using and can make twice as much with no cash.

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So yah, the game looks great, and all the drama going on now is super-unfortunate. This information shouldn't have leaked and become a big news story and fodder for places like Neo-Gaf, especially without the videos for context. The kickstarter promised open development from the get-go, and each episode has been very honest about the problems with the game scope and the budget. They didn't have a full design until pretty recently, so it makes sense that they couldn't figure out an exact budget/time-scale and work it out from there.

I don't know if I like the idea of splitting the game in two like this, even temporarily, but I understand that it might be necessary if the company doesn't want to go to approach a publisher.

As for all the negativity, all it shows me is a lesson I learned long ago, people on the internet can really suck. I hate the constant negativity of the GAFs and REDDITS.

People said they wanted to see game development, warts and all, they wanted to see how the sausage is made, but it seems like they don't expect that to mean seeing the kind of problems most games have (tons of projects are cancelled each year, and many big games have had long and turbulent development cycle and that's with a publisher willing to funnel extra money into it). The weird conspiracy theorizing about Massive Chalice (which is a separate team and is utilized a tried and true engine at DF), and the accusation that this is a sign of incompetence is depressing.

People backed this project in part because Tim Schafer is a great idea guy. Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Psychonauts and Brutal Legend were all insanely ambitious games and had their own turbulent development cycle as a result. This game is also overly-ambitious.

The sad thing about the backlash is they are clearly trying to find a solution that won't cost the backers any more money and won't break their promise to them of making it entirely independently. That's admirable, not a sign of weakness.

It seems like people wanted this to be smoother so that it remained an up with the online-community story about the success of fans pulling together. We funded a game concept and the opportunity for Double Fine to be independent and have already received a terrific documentary, some physical merch, and will get a game out of it. Why does that have to be a bad thing?

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Hay DF Guys I am good with this approach I am enjoying the doco so much that I not worried about the delay and splitting the Game into two to help with funding.

With splitting the game into two I do like the idea of calling them ACT instead of episodes

What do you think about selling the doco for $50 bucks or so to non backers to help with funding?

Thanks Guys for keeping us backers informed about everything I am really loving the journey.

Lincoln

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This is probably not going to be the most popular reply, but I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events. I pledged money to DoubleFine, because I thought they had demonstrated that they were a well run, professional studio and they had the ability to budget and plan their projects accordingly. Now that we're looking at a huge delay and the need to seek out more funding, I can't help but feel like I've been had. If you were originally going to make a game and documentary for $400,000, you got $3.2 million, and you're still hugely over-budget and behind schedule, I just don't know that I can trust you guys anymore.

Original plan was to make a simple short mobile-quality adventure game.

Would you rather have that now (and no more documentary), or a proper adventure game with more documentary episodes later? Sure delays suck, but the more they delay release, the more content you will have for the SAME amount of money. They don't force anyone to pay more, you can view their money problems just as a bonus narrative to the game - these are THEIR problems, not yours. You will still get a much better game than you payed your money for.

ps. And seriously, DF have clearly demonstrated in the past that they miss deadlines all the time, not sure where you got the idea that they were like perfectly planning robots down there.

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Ok so like, really? What are you spending the money on? I don't understand how you can go from $400,000 for a game to $6 million in less than a year, for a simple 2D point and click game.

I love you guys, I really do I've been a fan ever since I was a kid and I'm 22, but how do you add another 3 million when even many of the new AAA games that are coming out don't even cost that much? I'm really confused on how you can just overspend like that so fast when the game is literally being made in the same programs that one man indie devs are using and can make twice as much with no cash.

A low price for a triple A game is about 20 million these days.

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Is it really that hard for people to understand that the $400K game evolves in scope and design when you have $3M?

Can we please at least stop with this nonsensical "you asked for $400K and got $3M and still went over-budget..." comparison?

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What do you think about selling the doco for $50 bucks or so to non backers to help with funding?

$30 already gets you the game and 'Backer Access' which includes the Documentary. They've raised about $150,000 from these 'Slacker Backers'. (http://www.doublefine.com/dfapay)

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This is probably not going to be the most popular reply, but I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events. I pledged money to DoubleFine, because I thought they had demonstrated that they were a well run, professional studio and they had the ability to budget and plan their projects accordingly. Now that we're looking at a huge delay and the need to seek out more funding, I can't help but feel like I've been had. If you were originally going to make a game and documentary for $400,000, you got $3.2 million, and you're still hugely over-budget and behind schedule, I just don't know that I can trust you guys anymore."

You feel like you've been had? Why? This turn of events stands to get you MORE game than you (we) paid for without having to put in any further investment.

It's not really elaborated in the Documentary, but I feel like the option to rescope was there. They COULD have released a $3.2M game on schedule (and probably an awesome one), but instead they're insisting on the Full Vision. That's not what usually happens. The Publisher says that there's a deadline and a budget and the game gets cut down to fit. What could be more in line with the spirit of the kickstarter than insisting on being great?

We weren't promised a timeline in the Kickstarter pitch. We weren't promised a scope. We were promised a Tim Schafer\Double Fine Adventure Game. We're going to get that. This course of action gets us the better game. (Provided the gamble pays off.)

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Ok so like, really? What are you spending the money on? I don't understand how you can go from $400,000 for a game to $6 million in less than a year, for a simple 2D point and click game.

I love you guys, I really do I've been a fan ever since I was a kid and I'm 22, but how do you add another 3 million when even many of the new AAA games that are coming out don't even cost that much? I'm really confused on how you can just overspend like that so fast when the game is literally being made in the same programs that one man indie devs are using and can make twice as much with no cash.

What dreamworld do you live in where AAA games have a 3 million dollar budget? At the very low end, you might find one with a dev budget of 20 million, but that's not even including the money spent on marketing. And most of those are sequels where they rehash an old engine and assets and just add a little polish. At the high end? Star Wars The Old Republic cost 200 million to make. And that also didn't include marketing. GTA V has supposedly cost 137 so far, not including marketing.

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All I want is a complete product that I'll enjoy playing. I gave my money to this Kickstarter because I trust DF to make a great game, whether it takes one year or five. I'd rather it sooner, but I know games take awhile and I'm fine with that. The only thing I won't be happy about is if there's a continuation that never gets finished or finishes in a half-assed way.

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Pretty messed up that they posted the entirety of Tim's message to backers.

Exactly. It doesn't matter if the content they posted is text or images, gameplay or story, good news or bad news. They copy pasted private forum content that we agreed at the start of this campaign would remain here on the forum. Granted, it was on an honor system and not under an NDA, but all that means is that what these journos did is not punishable, but it is pretty damn disgraceful. I hope the cheap journo points they scored are worth the bridges they burned.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195509/Double_Fine_splits_Broken_Age_in_half_to_fund_completion.php

https://twitter.com/KrisLigman

http://kotaku.com/somehow-tim-schafers-adventure-kickstarter-needs-more-652014092

https://twitter.com/LukePlunkett

+10,000 internet fame to the first journalist to publish a story about how these journalists are assholes.

Yeah i guess they didnt read this THE OFFICIAL DFAF "GUIDE TO DECENCY"

Do not Leak, or Promote Leakage. Our publishing contract states that the publisher controls the PR on our game. That means they, not Double Fine, decide what information is shared, and what is not. Posting a leak (i.e. Any unnannounced content about the game) on our forums, or even promoting someone else’s leak, puts us in violation of our publishing contract and could get us in big trouble. Please do not do that. We don’t like trouble, and we will ban any user who violates this rule. And also, leaking stuff about the game, or even drawing the public’s attention to a leak, is kind of a jerky move that only hurts the game makers. It lessons our ability to secure exclusives (like magazine covers) and makes it harder to get big news stories about our game in the press. The press isn’t interested in “old news.” So please don’t originate or promote leaks, even outside this forum!

I am fine with the decision of breaking up the game into two part. Im really looking forward to this game, keep up the good work! We should all be used to delays like this since we are all waiting for a game with a 3 in it.

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Not that I care about the few bucks that I put in this thing, but still, now we know what it feels like to publish a Tim Schafer game (just the annoyance, minus having to shell out millions of dollars). So much mismanagement both for the game and the documentary. I guess the thing that I'm disappointed the most is that the vibe of the game seems very different from what we were promised (old crazy cartoony comedy like Sam&Max; and DoTT).

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Not that I care about the few bucks that I put in this thing, but still, now we know what it feels like to publish a Tim Schafer game (just the annoyance, minus having to shell out millions of dollars). So much mismanagement both for the game and the documentary. I guess the thing that I'm disappointed the most is that the vibe of the game seems very different from what we were promised (old crazy cartoony comedy like Sam&Max; and DoTT).

We were NEVER promised a vibe like that. Hell, we were never really even promised a game, more of the chance to go along and see how game development works -- which we definitely have been doing. Tim said many times that he didn't have an idea going into this project, much less that it would be cartoony.

Seriously, you're still getting a game, not that you apparently even care about it.

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Reading through the posts, I saw many backers asking for an episodic like release pattern. Well my opinion is:

Do not do that!

Your options should be either:

1) Use some other means of funding. For example start a pre-order campaign at the end of the year, along with a demo of the game to support it and do the release when you should; that is when the game is completed.

2) Go for a pre-release, as Tim suggested, which in my eyes could be like a beta release. No need to have a full bug-free game at this point, and do the final release on May. I suppose that many will be attracted and pay in advance for this "beta" release, if it scores good in reviews.

3) Go for two seperate games, Broken Age 1 and Broken age 2, though I wouldn't like this to look like one continuous game. Because, from my experience, breaking a game in the middle with a release schedule of 5-6 months from the first to second part is not very good. Usually you would have forgotten what the first part was about, when thesecond comes out!

For me option 1 would have been the best, but....

PS: BROKEN Age, would the the title be symbolic of what to expect regarding release pattern as well? :-)

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Not happy with the "delay of game". The first part would be only availabl digital for download and my $100-box with the game and the documentary comes out late in 2014?

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You already have $100 from me on this, and if I could use Paypal (don't ask) I would certainly donate more to the tip jar.

Anyone know if we can donate money using any other payment system other than Paypal (I have some serious reserves about using Paypal, long story)

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This is disappointing because the quality of the second half will be determined by the additional sales of the first half.

Some of us pledged (slacker backers included) for this "Over a six-to-eight month period, a small team under Tim Schafer's supervision will develop Double Fine's next game, a classic point-and-click adventure."I wanted a small, bare-bones adventure game."Now we learn the first half will not be finished until early 2014 and the second half (quality and even it's very existence dependent on steam pre-sales) will be maybe mid 2014 possibly 2015.Despite their Kickstarer campaign ending with 8 times what was initially requested for funding we are being told we will receive half the product in an Alpha state five to six months past the original deadline (the one from the Kickstarter campaign).Regardless of the reasons to an outsider this looks like poor management (seriously 15 months to realize you're over budget?).

Ah well, you're Tim Schafer, people will give you more money. So Good Luck again.

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It's funny to think that nobody would be this angry if the game weren't being developed transparently and they had no idea what was going on. I guess that's one argument for development secrecy.

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Not that I care about the few bucks that I put in this thing, but still, now we know what it feels like to publish a Tim Schafer game (just the annoyance, minus having to shell out millions of dollars). So much mismanagement both for the game and the documentary. I guess the thing that I'm disappointed the most is that the vibe of the game seems very different from what we were promised (old crazy cartoony comedy like Sam&Max; and DoTT).

We were NEVER promised a vibe like that. Hell, we were never really even promised a game, more of the chance to go along and see how game development works -- which we definitely have been doing. Tim said many times that he didn't have an idea going into this project, much less that it would be cartoony.

Seriously, you're still getting a game, not that you apparently even care about it.

He said in the KS pitch he was making an old school point and click adventure (he also said Ron Gilbert was going to help, which turned out to be false), all the ones he has made are comedies. And I said don't care about the money, not that I don't care about the game

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It's funny to think that nobody would be this angry if the game weren't being developed transparently and they had no idea what was going on. I guess that's one argument for development secrecy.

Exactly. Stuff like this happens with every game, we just never hear about it. One of the initial goals was to document the process, good and bad, and now that they've seen the bad they are suddenly up in arms.

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He said in the KS pitch he was making an old school point and click adventure (he also said Ron Gilbert was going to help, which turned out to be false)

You're still getting an old-school point and click graphic adventure game. And Ron Gilbert has helped, and is still helping as was shown/mentioned in the previous episode.

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Not that I care about the few bucks that I put in this thing, but still, now we know what it feels like to publish a Tim Schafer game (just the annoyance, minus having to shell out millions of dollars). So much mismanagement both for the game and the documentary. I guess the thing that I'm disappointed the most is that the vibe of the game seems very different from what we were promised (old crazy cartoony comedy like Sam&Max; and DoTT).

We were NEVER promised a vibe like that. Hell, we were never really even promised a game, more of the chance to go along and see how game development works -- which we definitely have been doing. Tim said many times that he didn't have an idea going into this project, much less that it would be cartoony.

Seriously, you're still getting a game, not that you apparently even care about it.

He said in the KS pitch he was making an old school point and click adventure (he also said Ron Gilbert was going to help, which turned out to be false), all the ones he has made are comedies. And I said don't care about the money, not that I don't care about the game

This game is probably gonna be allot like full throttle or Grimm fandango.

Which are the real Tim Schafer games.

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The game looks sweet and awesome, so just keep going.

Just the available means - kickstarter, early access, indie fund, humble bundle to keep the studio going. As long as you´re honest and transparent, then most people shouldn´t have an issue with how you´re working.

Some of us pledged (slacker backers included) for this "Over a six-to-eight month period, a small team under Tim Schafer's supervision will develop Double Fine's next game, a classic point-and-click adventure."I wanted a small, bare-bones adventure game."Now we learn the first half will not be finished until early 2014 and the second half (quality and even it's very existence dependent on steam pre-sales) will be maybe mid 2014 possibly 2015.Despite their Kickstarer campaign ending with 8 times what was initially requested for funding we are being told we will receive half the product in an Alpha state five to six months past the original deadline (the one from the Kickstarter campaign).Regardless of the reasons to an outsider this looks like poor management (seriously 15 months to realize you're over budget?).

Ah well, you're Tim Schafer, people will give you more money. So Good Luck again.

Well, they have since before the kickstarter even ended being very open about that the orginal project plan had been scrapped. They aren´t doing $400k game, they never actually started doing that.

And the orginal plan was 3-4 people doing an iPhone game, you don´t think that would have dissapointed people?

But you do have good concerns regarding the second half. Double Fine should explain their plans for that a bit more.

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