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American McGee defends Double Fine's bid for more funding

American McGee defends Double Fine's bid for more funding

Thu 04 Jul 2013 7:49am GMT / 3:49am EDT / 12:49am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

Spicy Horse founder urges community to embrace the honesty of Schafer's request

American McGee has defended Double Fine's attempts to raise more money for the production of its Kickstarter-funded adventure game, Broken Age.

In a post on his blog, the Spicy Horse founder addressed his own potential need to seek additional funding for Ozombie, which is currently live on Kickstarter. According to McGee, the events at Double Fine have already started to colour the public perception of a decision that many developers might be forced to take to complete their games.

"Just want to say to all the press, public and others who are gnashing their fangs at Kickstarter, Double Fine and anyone they think look "fishy," you can't have it both ways," he said.

"You can't complain about big publishers and their bad business models - highlighting all the times they've pushed overpriced, buggy, unfinished product onto the shelves in hopes of a quick buck. Then when an indie developer lays bare their business model and struggles, crucify them for taking risks and being honest.

"In both cases the hyperbole is through the roof and completely unproductive."

Double Fine was one of the early success stories of Kickstarter, raising $3.3 million despite initially asking for just $400,000. It sparked a wave of interest in crowd-funding among developers, pushing the Kickstarter category for games to more than $50 million in donations for 2012 - a huge leap over the $3.6 million pledged in 2011.

However, while crowd-funding seemed capable of liberating smaller developers from the restrictive publisher model, a number of important questions remained unanswered - many of them around the quality and timely release of the products, and whether the public would ultimately see their donations as worthwhile.

For better or worse, Double Fine's need for more development funding may have become a focal point for these lingering concerns. However, according to McGee, this is just one of many ways in which the gaming community assumes a greater understanding of how the industry works than it really possesses.

"The games you play cost huge amounts of money to develop and market. Productions are insanely complex, which means there are many places where they can breakdown or fail. Outcomes aren't predictable, so that money to fund these things is nearly impossible to come by. Simply put, this shit is hard," he said.

"Things are going to go sideways and sometimes horribly wrong. Instead of wanting to murder someone when they level with you about these facts, embrace them. The choice is yours - support transparency, honesty and constructive involvement... or don't complain when the industry shrugs and shifts back to a model dominated by monolithic, uncaring publishers."

10 Comments

Chung-wei Kerr
SEO Account Manager

8 11 1.4
Man's got a point. I'm personally happy they're struggling with making SO MUCH GAME for me to play when they do inevitably release, I'm really not bothered if it means they've got to slow down and secure more funding in order to do so.

Seriously, good things come to those who wait. It's not as if there's absolutely nothing else for me to play in the meantime.

Posted:9 months ago

#1

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 410 0.6
Popular Comment
Yep.

"You can't complain about big publishers and their bad business models - highlighting all the times they've pushed overpriced, buggy, unfinished product onto the shelves in hopes of a quick buck. Then when an indie developer lays bare their business model and struggles, crucify them for taking risks and being honest.

DF promised to throw open their process for all and sundry to see (via the documentary). They stated right at the beginning that this was an experiment and that the outcome may be good or it may be bad but at least we'd all learn something and be (hopefully) entertained.

I think they're fulfilling that promise so far.

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
I am a criminal. I'm going to beat you over the head and rob you.

That's me safely out of jail, I love this argument.

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Tyler Moore
Game Designer & Unity Developer

51 14 0.3
Great Article, wholeheartedly agree.

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Sergio Rosa
"Somewhat-Creative Director"

59 20 0.3
Still this wouldn't have happened if Tim Schafer hadn't "designed too much game" just because he believes an adventure game has to either be big or nonexistent. I am perfectly fine with pushing launch dates because things don't quite work as expected, but not because your ambitions were way larger than your pockets.

Posted:9 months ago

#5

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 410 0.6
@ Paul: Don't be facetious.

This is not illegal behaviour and to equate the two situations and the seriousness of the consequences and effects is silly.

@ Sergio:

Maybe I'm reading the email and statements incorrectly but to my knowledge they haven't run out of money (I'm not saying you said this just that there are a lot of people saying this and it's a core part of the argument) yet but their predictions are that they don't have enough in the bank to cover the full cost of development as per the design doc.

So they had two choices - rip out content and go in "on-budget" or try and get a little extra money through a paid-beta and complete the game according to the design doc.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 5th July 2013 9:23am

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
@James. I read a quote that basically said something like "He's being honest so should be let off". Can't find it now though.

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Ruud Van De Moosdijk
VP of Development

40 45 1.1
Although I appreciate his point, and there is definitely something to say about being honest about your needs and status. Then again, if you asked for US$ 400,000 and you got $3,300,000 and now you are asking for more...that kind of shows me the problem with Kickstarter and 'indie' developers working without a publisher. What makes you qualified to handle that kind of money? Apparently nothing cause you blew through the 800%(!!!) of your budget you were presented with. That is simply ridiculous and underlines my biggest concern: not having a pbulisher does not mean not needing management. I am sure Tim upscaled his project after the huge success of his Kickstarter campaign, but I guess there was no reality check on just how much.

@James: I do realize they have not quite run out of money, but my point remains the same. Before I make a game based on a design document I am 90% accurate as to what kind of budget is needed. And yes, we go over budget quite a lot of times, which is why you calculate for that in the budget and adjust your design doc accordingly. It is not something you find out half-way through production, unless you are not fit for the job.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ruud Van De Moosdijk on 5th July 2013 3:47pm

Posted:9 months ago

#8

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,162 1.2
@ Ruud But they aren't making the same game they were going to make for that original $400,000. It's not like they were just oging to make a $400,000 game with that budget. They attempted to adjust the scope of the project up to match the new funding (as is only fair to your backers) with stretch goals and more game. They overreached. This happens. It's not GOOD but that doesn't make what's happening anything but a massive overreaction.

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Aaron Brown
BA Computer Science Student

59 22 0.4
He clearly didn't have the management know-how required to properly budget/allocate the resources and time required for his game.

The fact that the campaign was 800% funded, and he is asking for additional funding is terrible. But that's the risk you are taking when you back a kick-starter project.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aaron Brown on 6th July 2013 3:43pm

Posted:9 months ago

#10

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