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Double Fine Adventure (kickstarter.com)
150 points by cliff 1841 days ago | hide | past | web | 61 comments | favorite

One interesting response in the reddit thread about this was someone saying "...now you can fund the shit that nobody still wants to play?", followed by "20.000 is nothing", when another poster pointed out that over 20.000 people were already backing this project.

This seems to be exactly the publisher's point of view. If you consider marketing, development costs, console licensing fees, ... paying everyone involved in the project and to make sure that there's still profit left over for everyone involved, then 20.000 people buying your game is not that much.

However, for me this kickstarter project is kind of the opposite of pirating, where the developer gets the money before the development process has even started and they don't need to worry if they will break even, since the original goal has already been reached anyway. Plus, as already mentioned several times, they cut out the middle-man with this approach, so that this could definitely open doors for new & interesting projects.

Even though 20.000 is not much for a publisher of a AAA title, I am pretty sure that the final amount will turn heads in the gaming industry and might spawn some new developer <-> customer relationships similar to this kickstarter funding.

"kickstarter project is kind of the opposite of pirating". I love it.

Maybe even Kickstarter is the dual(1) of pirating?

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duality

Some analysis here:

1. The publisher in this case has a track record, so there is less risk involved.

2. $15 for an adventure game sounds "well priced"

3. There is a bit of risk reversal on the pledgers since the game might turn out to be awful. This is compared to buying a game after it has been reviewed.

4. However, the risk is only $15

5. There is much nostalgia, and even if $15 is wasted, it would have been a nice way to thank Tim for the good times in the past.

6. Presumably the game might cost a little bit more when it is released.

7. What happens if the publishers blow out their budget? It is a sizeable team.

And like he states in the video:

8. If the game does blow up in their faces, there will be video evidence of it for all the backers to enjoy.

Thankyou for your analysis.



I didn't have time to expand on the ideas.

What makes a project like this succeed so spectacularly on kickstarter? Is it because the video is so well done? Or because Tim Schafer is behind it? Or because a lot of people want to play an adventure game? Or the perfect storm of all of the above? Just trying to wrap my brain around it.

I woke my pregnant wife up 10 minutes ago to tell her that I'm sending Kickstarter $15 to back a project because they are the ones who made the games we played together years ago and will make the same type of game with the money. She almost danced to the news. We live in some city you never heard of, in Turkey.

I know reddit has a "cool story bro" meme, which means the opposite. But this IS a cool story!

Tim Shafer has had great critical but not commercial success in recent years. Double Fine is a legit company that has shipped games both large and small. In fact they've shipped 5 smallish titles in the past 2 years so you know they can do this one. There is a huge nostalgia factor as many people, such as myself, grew up on Tim Shafer adventure games in the early 90s.

On top of that this is an old school adventure game being made by Tim Shafer and Ron Gilbert - the two people who INVENTED the genre. It's a perfect storm of success.

Thats the reason to be a backer and i hope they will produce something that is able to bring back memories. I spent so much time in my youth with games made by them.

I just remembered how i was sitting in my room in front of my Amiga 500 and 12 floppy disks to play Monkey Island 2 - good times !

It's Tim Schafer going back to a game genre where he produced games that people (rightly) have an undying love for.

The only surprise with this is that you wonder why he didn't do it already.

No surprise really; no publisher will support an adventure game. If it's not an FPS/Action/Sports game no one will touch it. It's the reason Schafer started doing "indie" games in the first place.

That much is easy to explain: no-one will invest the money needed to fund it. That's where kickstarter wins (in this case, at least).

marketing -- schafer has built up sizable good will so he can bring a lot of attention + third-party passion to his kickstarter project.

The giant spotlight that Notch (Minecraft) brought to the project and to Tim via the Psychonauts 2 funding "offer" helped a lot too. Must admit, I'd never heard of Tim's name before despite being familiar with his games until Notch was going on about it.

You don't have to put "offer" in quotes; apparently there are Serious Talks going on:

http://twitter.com/TimOfLegend/status/167413887082311682 http://twitter.com/TimOfLegend/status/167414243858202624

Scare quotes are tricky :-) But they indicate something "does not signify its literal or conventional meaning" and while Notch mentioned it and they might be talking, I didn't see an "offer" per se, hence my quotes (but admittedly I was thinking of "offer" from a contractual point of view at the time).

I'm actually quite shocked that game publishers aren't lining up to give Tim Schafer all the money he wants. But I don't really know what's going on in that industry.

Tim Schafer is a reinvent-the-wheel kind of guy, and most of the giant publishers prefer to polish their existing wheels. They run very risk-averse business models -- preferring to milk big, cash cow franchises for all they're worth before being dragged, kicking and screaming, into new IP. They'd much rather invest hundreds of millions into Sequel #235 of Big Franchise X than invest even a fraction of that budget across a spectrum of innovative, but less self-evidently commercial titles. It's not at all dissimilar to the way the big-studio movie business works.

Schafer is the kind of guy who wins awards and accolades, but doesn't move as many millions as, say, "Call of Duty 45: Modern Ware 38: Future Warfare." His stuff is wildly inventive, but it's quirky and plays to a (relatively) niche audience.

But I'd argue that Schafer and Kickstarter are a great pair, precisely because of that dynamic. He's got his fanbase. While that fanbase is smaller than the Big Studio Franchise customer base, it's much more devoted. And if he can work directly with his loyal fanbase, ideally even growing it in the process, then he can do well financially and operate with greater creative freedom.

Industry insiders correct me if I'm wrong, but Grim Fandango was pretty much the final nail in the coffin (no pun intended) of the pure adventure genre, because it had terrible sales. Simultaneously, it was a true masterpiece - one of the best in the genre. So it's not surprising that lots of people grew up loving adventure games and now have the disposable income and the nostalgia to fund a Kickstarter project, while at the same time making this a risky project for a game publisher.

> Grim Fandango was pretty much the final nail in the coffin (no pun intended) of the pure adventure genre, because it had terrible sales.

Not precisely since it was followed by Escape from Monkey Island, but yeah Grim basically shuttered LucasArts adventure games, which in turn shuttered the adventure games genre until its revival starting ~2007 (Zack & Wiki, Broken Sword, Sam&Max Save the World, Strong Bad, Tales of Monkey Island, Machinarium, ...)

Interesting that the Wiki entry continually calls out a commercial failure and goes on to say:

Total cumulative worldwide sales are estimated

between 100,000 and 500,000 units. [61] The game is commonly considered a commercial

failure, [62][63][64] even though LucasArts has stated that "Grim Fandango met domestic expectations and exceeded them worldwide".

I wonder if it's the Radio Shack problem. Why make only a little money selling electronics components when you can make a lot more money with the same resources selling cell phones? See also adventure games based on new IP vs. FPSes based on Star Wars IP.

I once spent an incredibly frustrating period trying to sell a game demo to a number of publishers, all of whom thought it looked and played great, but didn't have a slot for it because their slate was full of licenses and franchises.

Publishers are ever-increasingly risk-averse - particularly when modern console games cost as much as they do to produce (eg. >$50MM). Movie licenses and sequels tend to do well, so that's where bulk of the money goes.

More innovative/creative games, (and Double Fine's are definitely in this category), are often critical successes, but perform poorly in financial terms. (We could argue as to whether this is due to people simply not wanting those kind of games, or whether it's due to publishers not committing to really pushing them).

I'm really glad to see Tim trying something like this, and really, really hope it works out. I'd love to see another viable mechanism for indie game development.

I believe that its because his games typically don't sell as well as the publishers' other games. Psychonauts, for example, was a critically acclaimed game, but flopped commercially.

People like to chalk this up to the publishers being stupid or conservative, and there may be some elements of that. But I doubt a publisher would leave money on the table if it was as sure of a bet as the internet community makes it out to be.

For all the talk of folks crying out, "bring back adventure games". The simple fact is that many many times more people queue up to buy the latest Call of Duty than will ever buy any adventure game.

No different than the movie business. Publisher's want $100M hits, not $10M hits.

They're currently $300k over their goal. Amazing.

Can we get a Kickstarter project going for an open-engine, updated graphics, Grim Fandango?

Do you think there is ever a risk to being "over-funded"? I know it sounds stupid, but it's an honest question.

'course there is, but Schafer and Gilbert have been in the industry for some 40 years combined, and Double Fine seems to be nicely run as a pretty tight ship.

I think that's a case where it shouldn't be too much of a risk.


It's a pretty big risk too. But for a digital project like this with a limited number of physical rewards that risk is pretty small.

For a project that's about physical production there are serious risks that smart folks should be wary of. It's one thing to produce a limited run of products (say, a few hundred) it's another thing to have to produce tens of thousands in order to satisfy pre-orders. For example, you might have a small team manufacturing stuff and you might be able to stretch out your production run from a minimum of a few days or weeks up to a year or so and that'll buy you a factor of 10 in production output, but if you get 100x or 1,000x pre-orders you may have to go to a dramatically different production system and hire staff, which could be enormously risky.

For games, yes I think there is. If you have too much money, you can drag it out, always adding new things, etc. If you are making a new OS (or web broweser, or something), then with more money you can develop more/better software. Linux has been under active development for 20 years, and will likely continue for many more years, Linux will probably never be "done", but a game can be "done".

At this rate, this adventure game will also be ported to MS-DOS

All I really wish for is non-Steam and possibly Linux.

A Mac port, whether throughout Steam or the App Store seems likely as well.

There are actually more donation tiers, but they're not listed on that page because KS only goes up to $10,000. http://www.doublefine.com/news/comments/the_double_fine_adve...

It's really amazing he raised that much money so quickly, with so many in the higher tiers as well, especially since the higher tiers of funding are still a donation and do not provide any equity in the project. I suppose the original art wouldn't be worthless though!

What better use of one's money than to change the world? To help get something created that you will enjoy?

Imagine if the world didn't have ice cream or steak? How much money would you pay to live in a world with those things?

This project may exceed the previous highest donation record on kickstarter, which that record was awarded yesterday to that iPhone dock. Kickstarter is really starting to make some money I see.

Elevation dock: $1,052,809 w/ 43 hours to go Double Fine Adventure: $1,026,265 w/ 32 DAYS to go

There is no doubt in my mind that Double Fine will obliterate the record.

Would love to see the graphs for these.

Sigh. PC game. I'm not sure how long it's been since I've even seen a PC. I suppose I could kick in some money and hope it works under Virtualbox.

"PC" these days is often a general name for "desktop or laptop computer" - it doesn't mean it won't have a mac version.

In the FAQ, they mention additional release platforms would be one of the first things they would add should they raise enough money.

I think chances are good then since they've quite surpassed their initial goal!

I think you're confused sir. The Apple ads told us that PCs are old and unfashionable. PC's are about personal computing, not lifestyle like Macs are. Macs can't be PCs.

The gaming audience on windows is still far bigger than osx.

Read the FAQ first. In there they state that their top-of-the-list priority if they exceed the initial 400 000 dollar is supporting other platforms.

Maybe in a couple of years somebody will talk them into adding it to a Humble Bundle. I donated, on the off chance of it someday running on a platform I own, because hey, at least I can get a neat game soundtrack and documentary.

On the kickstarter page, when Tim talks about what they're going to do with the extra money they've gotten he say:

"Additional money means it can appear on more platforms, be translated into more languages, have more music and voice..."

So if money keeps rolling in like it has, chances are good they'll have the cash to make the game multi platform.

And right after this adventure he should create a sequel to BrĂ¼tal Legend!

On a tangent, is there anything as well designed and with as many features as Kickstarter but that can support projects from outside of the US?

I'm not sure if it's a match featurewise, but http://indiegogo.com looks and feels very similar.

Nikodemus Siivola used it to fund SBCL threading improvements: http://www.indiegogo.com/SBCL-Threading-Improvements-1

Could this work for a project that ended up free for everyone? What would the rewards be?

  limited-edition t-shirts
  limited-edition action figures
  dinner with the devs
  cool gold-colored cd/dvd/usbkey/etc with the software
  your likeness as a minor character
  limited-edition plush toys
Basically any kind of promotional tchotchke you can think of. It would have little intrinsic worth but it would be RARE which means that if the product became well-loved it would be worth something down the line when you decided you no longer had room for it - and until then it's an item that tells people something about you. "Oh man is that the commemorative bong for Psychonauts 2? Holy cow I loved that game."

Wow, I've never even heard of kickstarter. This is a space I'll be looking at!

Please be Maniac Mansion III.

Funny headline allusion error. It was a nice surprise to see that they were 100% funded in just 8 hours. I guess Notch's push made a big difference.

As far as I'm aware, this is a completely different project from Psychonauts 2. I don't think Notch had any real significant involvement in this Kickstarter campaign.

Notch tweeted this and got them some attention. Oh, and he pledged $10,000 to this project. https://twitter.com/#!/notch/status/167551424396394496

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