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Default Obsidian Entertainment - Crowd-funding Fever

February 10th, 2012, 22:21
First, some quick background. As you probably know, the biggest news on the 'net is Double Fine / Tim Schaefer raising $1.4M in a bit over a day on Kickstarter for a proposed old-school point-and-click adventure (seriously, the number just keeps going up in realtime). While some people have erroneously called the phenomenon "the death of publishers", it's an exciting prospect - at least if you've got some celebrity power to drive the demand.
Chris Avellone answered a question on twitter about Obsidian trying a similar thing:
Hmmmm. I admit, I’ve got Kickstarter fever now. I feel like a bunch of doors suddenly appeared in game development.
On his Formspring, J.E. Sawyer also had this to say:
What do you think of DoubleFine's success on Kickstarter? Do you think that you could replicate it at Obsidian with a budget isometric title?
I'm not sure. I know we've discussed it internally in the past.
Then Chris Avellone tests the water further, posting on his blog on the Obsidian forums:
If Obsidian + Kickstarter = ?
All of Double Fine’s success from Kickstarter has been inspiring.

I GUESS PEOPLE LOVE THOSE CLASSIC ADVENTURE GAMES AFTER ALL.*

The idea of player-supported funding is… well, it’s proof certain genres aren’t dead and sequels may have more legs than they seem. And the idea of not having to argue that with a publisher is appealing.

Out of curiosity, if Obsidian did Kickstart a project, what would you want to see funded? (You can respond in comments or to @ChrisAvellone on Twitter, whichever you prefer.)

* I only use all caps for sarcasm and shouting. And for the Think Tank in Old World Blues for comedy value.
Hmmm…
More information.
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February 10th, 2012, 22:21
Planescape: Torment 2, but that would get shut down by Wizards of the Sword Coast I'm afraid.

I'd pay to see that one get made though, no doubt about it.
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February 10th, 2012, 22:38
This funding scheme has great potential to reinvigorate the RPG genre.

In order of preference for an Obsidian Kickstart IP:
1) Game set in the Planescape universe
2) If Hasbro are assholes and won't budge on allowing the (now defunct) Planescape setting to be licensed, then Arcanum 2.
3) Icewind Dale III? I would hate anything but D&D 3/3.5 rules though.
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February 10th, 2012, 22:48
Oh yeah, I completely forgot Tim Cain is currently working at Obsidian. I'd definitely pay to see Arcanum 2.
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February 10th, 2012, 22:48
I don't mean to be negative but I can't imagine why a developer would crowd-source funds then do a game beholden to a publisher. Arcanum is owned by Activision.

I'd like to see them so a classic isometric, turn-based cRPG but they'd be nuts not to either develop their own IP or something they could purchase and own relatively cheaply.

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February 10th, 2012, 22:50
You know, it saddens me a bit. Developers ask what they should do if they had creative freedom and what do people answer? Sequel this, sequel that.

Look, I get it. You liked those games. But ask yourself this. Was Planescape: Torment great because it was planescape or because of what the developers did with it?

personally I'd rather see them try something new. But most importantly, something that they are truly passionate about (and if that happens to be a sequel then so be it). Because think of it like this. If all they did was make sequels of established games then you wouldn't have your Planescape: Torment or Arcanum or anything like that.

That's my thoughts at least.
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February 10th, 2012, 22:59
A sequel recommendation quickly sums up what you personally would like in an independent game.

In my case, and to be [overly] concise:
Torment 2 ==> very strong narrative, quirky setting
Arcanum 2 ==> steampunk, technology/magic mix
Icewind Dale 3 ==> Hack & slash, group combat

Avellone isn't going to read a paragraph from each user on what facets the game should have. He'll know from "sequel" recommendations and therein be able to see which style of game is most wanted.
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February 10th, 2012, 23:04
How about VTMB 2
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February 10th, 2012, 23:08
@Drithius

That might be the intention (though I suspect that most people truly mean straight sequels because that's the closest to what they know), but it's also confusing. Because games are more than the parts you lift out.

I mean, look at your example list; in two cases you point out the setting and in one the gameplay. But what if they take the gameplay from the one where you pointed out the setting and the setting from the one where you pointed out the gameplay?

It's a lot less confusing to just say "I would like something with a strong narrative, a quirky setting perhaps leaning towards Steampunk, with a lot of group combat". That's hardly longer and a lot clearer while still leaving ample directions to go in.

because I think that people continually using sequels to point out what games they want is one of the reasons why all we get is sequels. Particularly in cases like these where one is asked: "ok, so what do you want then?"
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February 10th, 2012, 23:29
Originally Posted by Ayane View Post
You know, it saddens me a bit. Developers ask what they should do if they had creative freedom and what do people answer? Sequel this, sequel that.

Look, I get it. You liked those games. But ask yourself this. Was Planescape: Torment great because it was planescape or because of what the developers did with it?
A combination. Yes, I obviously liked what they did with it, but the setting is certainly part of the reason why I love Arcanum and Planescape: Torment. Both settings have a very unique feeling that I honestly can't imagine in a classic fantasy setting no matter how good the writing and story focus is.

Of course, if they're able to create an equally original setting from scratch, I'd also be willing to pay up-front, but as long as it's just another fantasy title I honestly don't care too much.
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February 10th, 2012, 23:31
Doing an adventure game ??? Now THAT's something which makes me curious … I'd really like to find out how and what (and what theme) Obsidian would do an adventure game …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 10th, 2012, 23:59
They never said anything about doing an adventure game, they're simply inspired by the funding that Tim Schaefer managed to get for his adventure game.

Of course, since they're taking suggestions, there's nothing wrong with suggesting an adventure game.
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February 11th, 2012, 00:05
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I don't mean to be negative but I can't imagine why a developer would crowd-source funds then do a game beholden to a publisher. Arcanum is owned by Activision.

I'd like to see them so a classic isometric, turn-based cRPG but they'd be nuts not to either develop their own IP or something they could purchase and own relatively cheaply.
Originally Posted by Ayane View Post
You know, it saddens me a bit. Developers ask what they should do if they had creative freedom and what do people answer? Sequel this, sequel that.

Look, I get it. You liked those games. But ask yourself this. Was Planescape: Torment great because it was planescape or because of what the developers did with it?

personally I'd rather see them try something new. But most importantly, something that they are truly passionate about (and if that happens to be a sequel then so be it). Because think of it like this. If all they did was make sequels of established games then you wouldn't have your Planescape: Torment or Arcanum or anything like that.

That's my thoughts at least.
I agree with these two posts. Why would they become independent from publisher funding, with the help of crowd sourcing, just to be locked up again in a licensing deal for a publisher owned brand? This only makes sense if they can buy the brand for cheap.
Yes, it's really disappointing that most people suggest they do a sequel to their old stuff. It's boring, they have already done it! Maybe it would be more supportive to say "Make an old school party RPG and give it your best shot."
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February 11th, 2012, 00:46
I'm still playing new adventure games, the genre isn't dead, it just isn't producing AAA games that get covers on magazines, or sell for over 50 euros because they don't have nor need that kind of budget.

I call shenanigans on the whole thing, no wonder MCA is excited, he can't wait to whore out his name.
Last edited by KapitanUnterhosen; February 11th, 2012 at 01:06.
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February 11th, 2012, 00:55
I'm a bit confused about the whole "Kickstarter" thing…I get that the funding goal has to be met within a certain time period, but who exactly pays this money, and what happens if a project gets the funding and then never completes the project? Basically, is there anything in place to prevent "projects" from taking the money and running?
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February 11th, 2012, 01:24
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
I agree with these two posts. Why would they become independent from publisher funding, with the help of crowd sourcing, just to be locked up again in a licensing deal for a publisher owned brand? This only makes sense if they can buy the brand for cheap.
Yes, it's really disappointing that most people suggest they do a sequel to their old stuff. It's boring, they have already done it! Maybe it would be more supportive to say "Make an old school party RPG and give it your best shot."
The idea here is to have a concept that's so attractive people will actually dish out cash *years* in advance, something that's merely interesting or could potentially be half decent doesn't cut it.

I would not even consider splashing the cash years in advance for the average concept "make an old school party RPG and give it your best shot". I'd probably buy it once it was released, sure, but donating money to such a project? No, not even close. It has to be far more interesting than that, for example with a few good innovations, a very original setting or some such thing.

Bottom line: It has to be something that makes me, and many others, go "ooh I can't resist, that sounds fantastic!". It can't simply be "meh, it could turn out okay I suppose".

Edit: I'm not actually saying it has to be a sequel, all I'm saying is the concept must be very attractive. That being said, I have yet to see any suggestions beyond Arcanum 2 or PST2 that I'd actually donate money to. If the concept is good enough, I'll pay up, absolutely.
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February 11th, 2012, 01:30
If they would make a TB, iso view, party based game with a controllable party and great combat like ToEE I would give them lots of money. Nobody other than Spiderweb is doing that any more.

If they made it RTwP I wouldn't give them a dime.
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February 11th, 2012, 03:08
Originally Posted by Nerevarine View Post
I'm a bit confused about the whole "Kickstarter" thing…I get that the funding goal has to be met within a certain time period, but who exactly pays this money, and what happens if a project gets the funding and then never completes the project? Basically, is there anything in place to prevent "projects" from taking the money and running?
Who? You, me, anyone interested. You put in your payment details and Kickstarter release the funds if the target $$ is reach within the timeframe.

What happens if they don't complete the project? You live to make a different choice next time, as far as I know. This concept doesn't suit someone who says "prove what I get for my $5 and I'm going to the Better Business Bureau if I don't get it". This is for someone who says, "you know, that's a cool idea and I'm prepared to risk $5 for the dream".

There's no point in putting stipulations on this concept - if developers were forced to complete projects (somehow) they could always push out a piece of crap just to meet the conditions. You take a gamble for the potential - simple as that.

Originally Posted by Maylander
The idea here is to have a concept that's so attractive people will actually dish out cash *years* in advance, something that's merely interesting or could potentially be half decent doesn't cut it.
And yet people have given well over $1M for nothing more than Schaefer promising a point-and-click adventure made with a small team under his supervision. No specific details whatsoever.

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February 11th, 2012, 03:20
Ah, thanks for the explanation Dhruin, I think i understand now. So it's basically more of a "donation" thing rather than being driven by the principles of full-on "investments" where you seek a monetary return. It is a bit of risk on the side of donors, but it makes sense - especially if a donation is a reasonable amount. I could potentially see myself donating $10-20 on a project if it seemed like it had solid potential. Thanks for clearing that up.
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February 11th, 2012, 03:52
Originally Posted by Ayane View Post
@Drithius

That might be the intention (though I suspect that most people truly mean straight sequels because that's the closest to what they know), but it's also confusing. Because games are more than the parts you lift out.

I mean, look at your example list; in two cases you point out the setting and in one the gameplay. But what if they take the gameplay from the one where you pointed out the setting and the setting from the one where you pointed out the gameplay?

It's a lot less confusing to just say "I would like something with a strong narrative, a quirky setting perhaps leaning towards Steampunk, with a lot of group combat". That's hardly longer and a lot clearer while still leaving ample directions to go in.

because I think that people continually using sequels to point out what games they want is one of the reasons why all we get is sequels. Particularly in cases like these where one is asked: "ok, so what do you want then?"
I don't think someone would ever pitch they were going to make a game with a 'weak narrative' or with a 'boring average setting'.
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