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DFA Funding and Massive Chalice?

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As a DFA backer I have to say I'm not overly concerned with the latest news regarding DFA funding, since it seems like a logical thing to do for an adventure game and what we've seen so far is looking lovely.

However as I'm also backing MC, I am concerned that given the MC Kickstarter raised considerably less than DFA, that something similar may happen regarding completing Massive Chalice. I realise these are two different beasts: an asset heavy adventure game versus a more strategic game with heavy asset re-use, so I'm hoping the nature of game itself means MC won't have funding issues in 2014...

Is anybody else concerned? Or am I being overly pessimistic and negative (I so badly want to play Massive Chalice...).

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I'm not really concerned. Hopefully there are budgeting lessons learned with DFA that will enable Massive Chalice to do more with less. I do believe that Double Fine will do what it takes to make this game practically awesome in every way.

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humm, i didnt get that email, but i am fine with them getting more money for broken age using early access on steam, and if massive chalice eventually does it aswell i would be fine with that to

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Perhaps all of this is another reason why Brad, John, and Co. didn't have stretch goals (outside of Team Stream)---so they didn't have to worry about the obligation of adding features and ideas to the game that might later need trimmed or reduced. :-)

Smiles

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I am not entirely concerned. Tim overreached. They've been open about it. Lesson learned, and in response they have developed a good alternate route for development that works. Its not what I would call 100% ideal, but it works for almost everyone involved.

Also, I'm sure Brad's team has no doubt learned some things about managing KS funds from watching BA development.

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All excellent points, something else occurs to me too, DFA was built on a new engine - a modified version of MOAI, whereas Massive Chalice is being built with Double Fine's pre-existing 'Buddha' engine which one assumes they already have a streamlined tool set for as well as a bunch of people who know those tools inside out.

Deep cleansing breaths...don't panic, they'll do fine...

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Also, I'm sure Brad's team has no doubt learned some things about managing KS funds from watching BA development.

Totally - Greg, Chris, and Tim shared a lot with us about their learnings from the Broken Age Kickstarter. Many of the choices behind the MASSIVE CHALICE campaign stemmed directly from those lessons - as Smiles pointed out, we didn't do feature-based stretch goals because we need to be able to scope and cut in the best interest of the game to keep it tight and timely! We also didn't include a ton of physical tiers and they were priced slightly higher for similar reasons - not because we don't want you guys to have cool stuff, but because it is a burden on scoping and developing the game!

We're stoked to have a successful Kickstarter because of you guys and gals and we want to be great stewards of your trust and funds. We know how much money and time we have to make MASSIVE CHALICE, we have a mature set of tools for this one, and are focusing on building a core-gameplay-driven game.

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I'm not... worried per say, but I hope you guys are prepared to have the gaming world's focus on you, now. I backed because MC sounds like the kind of game I've always wanted, but there was a lot of suspicion of Double Fine doing a SECOND KS before the first project's complete. Now... well, this has proven the doubters correct and the believers look foolish. Its also hard to ignore the knowledge that it sounds like this was known interlly while the MC KS was in full drive. Sadly, thus is a real blow to both Double Fine AND Kickstarter, and is going to show badly on both in he future. I just hope this doesn't implode back into your team at all :/

I guess, in the end, I'm saying don't let the pressure get you! I'm still hyped for MC!

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Glad to read this.

I'm not on DFA nor MC but its been rough today reading about various assumptions from non-backers and especially the negative hatering regarding our integrity. It is something we as a studio had to accept when we went open dev, even those who arent on those specific teams. When one decides to open one's doors to the public, one is vulnerable to being criticized out of context as being (insert negative adjective) even if one is literally trying to be as open and honest about the whole process as possible, esp the difficult parts.

Could DF have done things differently? Sure. Could DF have made different decisions? Sure. Could DF have done anything better? OF course!! Are we sad to upset and disappoint some fans? You bet your freak'n cats we are. Criticisms and concerns along those lines are all great, imo. It is part of the two-way street of open development.

It's tough making games. It is even tougher making original IP games. It is extra tough on top of that doing it all in the open. It is, however, also tremendously rewarding because we get to hang out with supporters like you who respect what we are trying very hard to do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank you backers. We sincerely don't take your support and trust for granted.

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humm, i didnt get that email, but i am fine with them getting more money for broken age using early access on steam, and if massive chalice eventually does it aswell i would be fine with that to
That might actually work better with Massive Chalice than with Broken Age. A randomized game could be released early and have features added as they go without worrying about people not playing it months later (see Minecraft).

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to me this is just a pattern (a good one) that has been emerging for crowd funded games, and it goes something like: first you have a kickstarter, then you sell access on your website and once there is some kind of playable versions of the game (broken age seems like it will be one of the more polished ones) you get it onto steam early access or have some playable version backers can download, then once it is finished you sell it as the final product

and that is great in my opinion, i like the idea of a crowd funded future and there is no reason it should all be funded in one place at one time, as long as it gets made its all good

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The overly negative attitudes displayed on the internet are a little sad. The gamasutra article I linked to seems to have a surprising amount of that sort of thing. I guess that's the painful side of the double edged sword of project transparency.

Personally I'm thinking about funding questions not because I think DF have been irresponsible with backer money or anything so obviously bogus as that, but simply because I want to see these games finished and playable on my laptop (yay self interest). It will be interesting to follow the MC updates as we go along and compare them to what we've seen with DFA, as we'll have been party to the development of two quite different games by Double Fine.

Reading between the lines somewhat it seems like Broken Age might also have been used as an exercise in creating a new, more lightweight 2d/3d toolkit to allow DF to target tablet and/or mobile games in the future. MOAI being 'the mobile platform for pro game developers' after all? Add to this Tim's understandable desire to create an excellent adventure game and I have to admit the extended deadline and costs are not surprisingly at all. Thinking about it I don't think a single KS game I've funded has arrived on the stated time anyway and all of them have been excellent (The Banner Saga for instance... which has slipped quite a bit, and been released in two parts: multi-player then the single player campaign)!

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I'm not... worried per say, but I hope you guys are prepared to have the gaming world's focus on you, now. I backed because MC sounds like the kind of game I've always wanted, but there was a lot of suspicion of Double Fine doing a SECOND KS before the first project's complete. Now... well, this has proven the doubters correct and the believers look foolish. Its also hard to ignore the knowledge that it sounds like this was known interlly while the MC KS was in full drive. Sadly, thus is a real blow to both Double Fine AND Kickstarter, and is going to show badly on both in he future. I just hope this doesn't implode back into your team at all :/

I guess, in the end, I'm saying don't let the pressure get you! I'm still hyped for MC!

Are you somehow suggesting that MC money would be used for Broken Age's developing? I might have read too far into what you said but that's what I gathered from your post. AFIK that would break some accounting laws but I'm not sure and I don't think it will be an issue.

I do think in the near future that a lot of the big gaming kickstarters are going to face the same issue Broken Age faces. Too many of these companies simply promised too much with stretch goals and they really didn't raise enough to fund a medium sized team(say 15 people) with just salary, benefits, and resources for the developing period. Kickstarter seemed so perfect for games like Broken Age because it was a niche game but the second the scope changed from a small adventure game to something on par with Grim Fandango it was inevitable that some serious external funding was needed. I think it's great in the long run because it means the difference between something that is a fun concept but boring gameplay like Costume Quest and something that is an entire package like Psychonauts. But a lot of this is the idea of stretch goals just being a bit hard to figure out the actual implementation of. I think the idea of promising anything but the product initially asking for funding with stretch goals almost inevitably will end up in the project going over budget because the cost of those features aren't thoroughly thought out until real implementation comes around, and then it bites you in the ass like it has Broken Age.

With MC I think expectations were much more grounded and I think a game roughly of the scale and scope of Stacking can be made with the KS money and steam early access. The most important thing is to prevent feature creep and to not always listen to us even though we are your investors in a very real way. We will always be asking for more features and faster completion but unlike traditional investors we don't suffer if you overdo it and go too big and are required to take out loans or cut employees as long as we get a product roughly like what we imagined.

Also I think the fact that double fine of all companies hit budgeting problems does not bode well for the more indie developers with 5person teams who promised absurd stretch goals like making persistent online worlds. They simply have not thought their projects through and will now be able to either go massively into debt and hope to recoup their losses with a huge release, good luck advertising without industry clout, or gutting features until they can accomplish what they can and just forget the project ever existed. For a kickstarter example of this the OUYA is the perfect example of something that was simply in feasible at the asking price. They got extremely lucky in getting way more funding than they asked for but the end result is still shoddy slapped together hardware and software released solely to placate the people who ordered if. He

Just recently Bioware encountered a very similar problem with ToR where they had completely unrealistic expectations on what they could get done in a reasonable time with a huge budget. Instead of making a very good core game with bug free gameplay they instead opted for silly but expensive features that most people will only see once(entire game being voice acted) and ended up losing hundreds of millions of dollars and the respect of the company and brands they own. Both ToR and ME3 were games where massive scope took place over gameplay and things players weren't incredibly vocal about until they realized those features were broken. I think DF saying right now they are over budget and managing their time better is a much better solution than fitting every stretch goal in but destroying the game in the process.

We all want to be a part of the revolutionary product that changes an industry we love, in this case games, but we need to accept that we are still dealing with massive risk. Small businesses fail regularly because the executives don't understand budgeting and realistic goals. The addition to risks and challenges to kickstarter is important, but I wish they would go a step further and require at least rough estimates of costs of employees, cost of production of prototypes/betas, costs of QA, and expected external funding so that we can see if this cool looking game is being made by someone with decent business sense along with a good idea because both are required to be successful. I think if kickstarter doesn't start making projects provide this sort of data then the list of failed kickstarters or ones that take 3x as long as they should and are nothing like the prototype(this deals more with hardware) will just increase. For example, a cool space mmo for phones is a great idea and would be fun, a 2 person development team that is asking for $10k for that project takes that good idea and makes it bound to fail. When you don't have to think your long term plan through you will almost always promise too much and be screwed, unless you have industry clout like double fine and can do something like steam early access.

Wow that turned into a big post, sorry the idea of random idea guys with no business plans thinking they are smarter than the titans of industry rubs me the wrong way and makes me ranty. Things like the OUYA, the elevation dock, and the pebble all frustrate me because they were all proposed as something great but since the people who designed them knew nothing about production they all turned out to be crap.

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I start thinking about things like "MVP" and iteration with these sorts of scenarios in mind. Although when making a game, MVP becomes a potentially absurd concept and can be the difference between a hit and a flop.

DF's approach with DFA seems to be what I would have done in a similar situation. Which is push for the quality, just not the quantity and get dollars coming in through regular sales of the product.

I think when that time comes, a proper promotional campaign would be a good idea - just to "get the buyers out". They don't need to know it's only half a game. Just that when they buy it, they will get more down the line.

Watch out for that feature/scope creep!

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Don't see what the fuss is about. Early Access is a very cool thing. I myself bought Prison Architect through this (you should check it out). That being said I obviously want every MC kickstarter buck go to MC. I backed DFA, but for story based stuff I really do not want to see how the sausage is made. I will play it when it is 100% done. I am battling my backlog as it is.

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Are you somehow suggesting that MC money would be used for Broken Age's developing? I might have read too far into what you said but that's what I gathered from your post. AFIK that would break some accounting laws but I'm not sure and I don't think it will be an issue.

No, though that idea IS one that's floating around right now. Personally, it doesn't sound like another mill would be enough anyway, so I'm not worried about that. I was just referring to the speculation that this news was somehow pushed back so as to not effect the Massive Chalice Kickstarter, which does seem more plausible.

As much as I wish this hadn't happened to Double Fine, this has ALWAYS been the danger to Kickstarter. That someone was going to see a huge pile of cash and go crazy, totally blowing the budget to make something beyond their original scope. Its notable here for a couple reasons, mostly stemming from the DFA KS being one of the first BIG successes, but now its gonna also go down as one of the bigger... well, not failures, but perhaps mismanagements. The second KS doesn't look so good with the first one stabbing its toe like this, either, and timed so close together. I can bet the KS people are feeling the heat too, as this is likely hitting them on some level too.

That said, I hope this works as a wake up call, like it sounds like it has for the MC team. Both backers and devs need to be careful, and just focus on making the best have they have with what they have.

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I am not going to lie. When I found out about this, I cringed. Not because I think BA or MC are doomed to failure, but because for the general public its seen as a dent in DF's credibility and the credibility of future KS funded games in general. I want DF to be successful with both BA and MC, not just because I backed both, but because I also want them to be shining examples of what KS can do. It would be awesome if devs never had to deal with publishers and only with gamers directly. However gamers might prove themselves to be just as fickle and brutal as publishers, and even more irrational. Tread carefully. There is a lot of talk of KS fatigue eventually setting in. I certainly hope not.

Over funding definitely has it pitfalls.

I think it would be in Kick-starters best interest, if they implement a cap on how much something can be funded over the goal.

Also, currently Planetary Annihilation (a kickstarter funded video game) is on many angry gamers' sh!t list. Not because of kickstarter, but because of steam. Their KS campaign was very successful, and their alpha is promising a very fun finished product. However Uber Entertainment made the mistake of later releasing the alpha on steam's early access. However they made access to alpha on the KS campaign at the $90 level, so they couldn't reduce it for steam users without upsetting their backers. So they made the ill-fated decision of releasing it on steam early access for $89.99. O.M.G. The amount of hate from irrational man babies was astonishing. I understood the initial shock outrage of a $90 alpha. But even once it was explained why they had to price it like that, the KS hate continued in a very childish manner. I wrote this to show how irrational and brutal gamers can be towards KS, and that PA is currently acting as a screen for DF from all the KS hate out there. If you guys ever release it on steam early access, be ready for some hate (although $50 is not too much, but for an alpha made by an indie dev it might be seen as milking). KS really needs some success stories on the video game side right about now. I know you can do it Double Fine!

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I am not going to lie. When I found out about this, I cringed. Not because I think BA or MC are doomed to failure, but because for the general public its seen as a dent in DF's credibility and the credibility of future KS funded games in general.

Agreed.

regardless of the ultimate quality of DFA, the general reaction is going to tarnish the exciting 'AAA indie game' future promised by the apparent success of the initial KS campaign.

I hope MC has a stricter project management approach, and can adhere to the budget limits.

I say all this with the deepest affection for DF.

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Are you somehow suggesting that MC money would be used for Broken Age's developing? I might have read too far into what you said but that's what I gathered from your post. AFIK that would break some accounting laws but I'm not sure and I don't think it will be an issue.

Wasn't Gearbox getting sued for exactly this under suspicion of Aliens: Colonial Marines money being used to develop Borderlands 2? It's not an accusation I'm about to throw around lightly, but it's a legitimate risk. And I have no idea what the legal standing of it would be, especially since crowdfunding like this is sort of a new thing in the US.

***

I had a huge rambling post written up about the situation, but frankly most of it's just me being an old man on my rocking chair. The whole situation is being handled as gracefully as I think Double Fine could reasonably manage, but it's still ultimately a black eye for them, and it's important to recognize that. (And a bigger black eye for the non-DF devs I've seen tweeting about how Project Management Doesn't Work For Games Because We're Special So Stop Nagging Me Jeeeeeez.)

Having said that, it'd be a great confidence booster for Massive Chalice to show an overall management plan ASAP. It doesn't need to be a huge, elaborate Gantt Chart, but a quick outline of something like (1) how many people will be on the team, (2) their roles and responsibilities, (3) when the overarching design will be generally settled on, and (4) when the main build will be generally complete. I've been involved with enough project management work to know that we likely aren't going to link specific deliverable items to target dates right now, but there's no reason not to have ballparks of this stuff given where we are.

The gaming industry -- and Double Fine is getting a reputation for this in particular -- has never seemed to be gung-ho on strongly-defined Plan-Design-Build-Test phases for their work. And that can be fine! I've seen that work in the right environment, and there are very good reasons to not isolate those too strictly when dealing with games! But it's becoming more and more critical that we see some of this very soon. We can't just plod along until next summer and suddenly go "Whoa, today was supposed to be release day and we're not done! How weird!"

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People should have some more faith. You Double Fine guys keep working hard and release an awesome game and all will be forgiven.

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People should have some more faith. You Double Fine guys keep working hard and release an awesome game and all will be forgiven.

Damn right, this is Double Fine. The company that managed to complete Psychonauts after having the publishing deal fall through half-way. The company that bounced back from Brutal Legend; more publishing deals falling through, lawsuits and misrepresentation of the game. The company that turned itself around from producing AAA titles and focused on creating smaller budget titles without having to "down-size" and lay off it's employees. It's Double Fine; every single game that they've produced has been amazing and these will be no different.

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Just to be clear and reiterate what has been said elsewhere - MASSIVE CHALICE funds are not being and will not be used for Broken Age. They are two separate teams with completely separate financing.

Thanks for the continued support! Both of these games are going to rock and make you :D

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Having said that, it'd be a great confidence booster for Massive Chalice to show an overall management plan ASAP. It doesn't need to be a huge, elaborate Gantt Chart, but a quick outline of something like (1) how many people will be on the team, (2) their roles and responsibilities, (3) when the overarching design will be generally settled on, and (4) when the main build will be generally complete. I've been involved with enough project management work to know that we likely aren't going to link specific deliverable items to target dates right now, but there's no reason not to have ballparks of this stuff given where we are.
On the Team Stream today, they said that most of that stuff will have to be decided after the pre-production is wrapped up, which they said will happen around August-October (Brad then said "around Halloween" after that, but maybe it will wrap up early). With the Team Streams and other things happening every couple weeks though, it will be easier to get more information out about the game. These aren't limited to just backers either. I think public opinion on Massive Chalice will be very positive once the controversy with Broken Age blows over.

Also, with Broken Age, it's harder for them to get into the more in depth details of design since they're trying to avoid spoilers. That won't be a problem with Broken Age since it's not very plot based.

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