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Default Kickstarter: call me paranoid

April 10th, 2012, 12:10
Originally Posted by TheSisko View Post
What about the pressure of finishing the game before the money runs out and you have to fire everyone?
True enough.

However, I'm not convinced this kickstarter model comes with strong leadership or capable project managment. I'm not sure the pressure will be felt with this kind of mutual/collective agreement.

Most publishers go for the ability to deliver when they greenlight something, more so than the artistic integrity of the people involved.

However, I could be wrong. I just sense that most Kickstarter teams have a stronger social bond than the average development house. As such, it can be hard to achieve a proper hierarchy and proper placement of deadline responsibility.

Makes sense?
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April 10th, 2012, 12:58
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
True enough.

However, I'm not convinced this kickstarter model comes with strong leadership or capable project managment. I'm not sure the pressure will be felt with this kind of mutual/collective agreement.

Most publishers go for the ability to deliver when they greenlight something, more so than the artistic integrity of the people involved.

However, I could be wrong. I just sense that most Kickstarter teams have a stronger social bond than the average development house. As such, it can be hard to achieve a proper hierarchy and proper placement of deadline responsibility.

Makes sense?
It does. Another thing I see is that of 'promises'. Most KSers I've seen promise things like 'If we get past $X we'll add Mac and Linux versions' (without checking if it's really wanted by the pledgers and by how many), and 'if we get past $Y we'll add an iPad version', etc. When most of these people have never programmed for any of these platforms. When you program for different platforms, you have to program for the least common denominator, besides each platform presenting a whole different technological challenge.
I'm thinking many of them will regret that.
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April 11th, 2012, 14:08
Ummm, it can be inferred that the additional money come from people who want those versions. If they reach a certain sum and later announce they push for another version, that is.

Ultimately, their fundraising method releases them from that concern. They are not concerned by sales or much less than when you have to sell to achieve balanced budgets.

They might start with a balanced budget from the beginning.

Cross platform developpment does not look like a roadblock if their project is middle ranged gaming.

Their way of raising funds release them too from the mandatory process of spreading the cost of developping a technology over several games. They might care about that, but no longer as a mandatory requirement.
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April 11th, 2012, 14:57
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
True enough.

However, I'm not convinced this kickstarter model comes with strong leadership or capable project managment. I'm not sure the pressure will be felt with this kind of mutual/collective agreement.

Most publishers go for the ability to deliver when they greenlight something, more so than the artistic integrity of the people involved.

However, I could be wrong. I just sense that most Kickstarter teams have a stronger social bond than the average development house. As such, it can be hard to achieve a proper hierarchy and proper placement of deadline responsibility.

Makes sense?
Makes a lot of sense. But I hope the loss of publisher rigor will be offset by a greater sense of "social bond" as you put it, a greater sense of freedom, increased morale from not being forced to work 85 hour weeks for 4 months in row, an increased feeling of "ownership" and "investment". Motivation by greater rewards on offer than just salary plus nominal bonus. In a game designed by gamers who enjoy their job, the increased sales should outweigh the cashflow loss from delayed release or reduction of other "overlord master" functions on the part of publishers. History's best generals rarely underestimated the influence of morale on the likelihood of success.
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April 12th, 2012, 03:58
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
Ummm, it can be inferred that the additional money come from people who want those versions. If they reach a certain sum and later announce they push for another version, that is.
Yes but that's not how it works. Because basically you're saying, if I have an iPad and the game needs $500k more for them to develop it, I'm not giving my $15 for maybe the chance of the game reaching that point (if it doesn't, you don't get the money back as far as I know)
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April 12th, 2012, 05:07
Any random Kickstarter project (or any random project anywhere for that matter) may be poorly organised. However…

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I just sense that most Kickstarter teams have a stronger social bond than the average development house. As such, it can be hard to achieve a proper hierarchy and proper placement of deadline responsibility.

Makes sense?
I don't think the "social" part has any basis. Most of our readers will be following the "big" projects, which are all by experienced teams or industry vets. For some random project from a new team…sure, they may be poorly organised - just like any random "average" development house. I'm confident most studios start from a nucleus of college mates or peers from an earlier company etc - in other words, most of them start with some sort of social bond.

Kickstarter is not relevant to that in any way. The removal of the publisher certainly removes a level of oversight, which is why pledgers need to do that due diligence themselves.

Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
When most of these people have never programmed for any of these platforms. When you program for different platforms, you have to program for the least common denominator, besides each platform presenting a whole different technological challenge.
I'm thinking many of them will regret that.
I think you're making a lot of presumptions. The projects I've looked at have been quite responsible, clearly responding to fan input and carefully evaluating their capabilities. For example, the latest Shadowrun update outlines why they wouldn't previously promise a Linux port and why that has now changed. Most of these will be "lo-fi" products - the "lowest common denominator" isn't like consoles holding back high-end PCs. And that's assuming the port isn't outsourced, anyway.

Can you give me an example of a successful Kickstarter that clearly jumped in on ports without checking their capabilities?

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April 12th, 2012, 05:10
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Yes but that's not how it works. Because basically you're saying, if I have an iPad and the game needs $500k more for them to develop it, I'm not giving my $15 for maybe the chance of the game reaching that point (if it doesn't, you don't get the money back as far as I know)
Then don't. You get to:

a) Wait for the project to pass that level before pledging
b) Do nothing. Let other people take the risk.

If you look at the pledges and comments, you'll see plenty of people do take the risk. I'm sure others don't. What does that prove?

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April 12th, 2012, 05:57
I do think supporting multiple platforms will be more trouble than anticipated but hopefully I'm wrong there. The sign of a well written project will be that its easy to port. Tim Cain indicated in a recent talk that the abstraction layer in Fallout allowed the Mac port to basically be done over a weekend. I'm sure that may have been <80% but still a good sign.

I'm currently invested in 6 kickstarters (5 funded) but not to a significant level where it would be really noticeable for me if I got nothing in return. I expect that at least one of those will either fold or be asking for more money in about a year because of bad management of funds. I'm ok with that but I hope if that happens they are open and honest about it. If I donated $500 or $1000 I really would be miffed if the project stalls or fails but I'm not ready for that level of investment for a game at least not for this round of developers. (If Sir-Tech reformed and announced JA3 it would be hard for me to resist a sizable donation/investment).
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April 12th, 2012, 07:29
I agree that some of these ports will be more trouble than they're worth - Dredmor, for example, said Linux was <1% of their user based IIRC. But I'm also pretty sure these Kickstarter developers (in general) believe the public is asking for those ports.

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April 12th, 2012, 09:43
I don't think the "social" part has any basis. Most of our readers will be following the "big" projects, which are all by experienced teams or industry vets. For some random project from a new team…sure, they may be poorly organised - just like any random "average" development house. I'm confident most studios start from a nucleus of college mates or peers from an earlier company etc - in other words, most of them start with some sort of social bond.

Kickstarter is not relevant to that in any way. The removal of the publisher certainly removes a level of oversight, which is why pledgers need to do that due diligence themselves.
Even when new teams start like you describe, they tend to grow bigger with a lot of "strangers" to fit whatever is required for development.

But the key difference between Kickstarter teams and traditional development houses - is that there's not a "big daddy" publisher making deadline demands in a blatantly clear way.

As such, there will naturally be less direct pressure of this sort - and though that might just be great for the development environment, it might not be so great for actually finishing what you're doing. If everyone is "all about the product" - then there's a danger of getting stuck trying to improve everything. It depends on how they structure their team. My "sense" as I said, is that the hierarchy is flat as opposed to tall moreso than is traditional. A flat structure is good for the social structure and sense of equality - but it's not good for delivery unless everyone is on the same page and respects the flat leadership model.

You can see this again and again in the course of history, and you need only look at what happened to Duke Forever or Daikatana - where the people in question were given too much freedom. I'm not saying this freedom alone is the only reason - and I'm not saying Kickstarter teams can't be fantastic and deliver on a deadline. I'm just saying it's something I worry about as an added risk.

If you don't see the added risk (the size of which can be argued) - then that's ok. We just disagree.
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April 12th, 2012, 10:16
Yes, you trade the risk of a 'big daddy' controlling everything to the point of getting a dry, neutral consumer product by an oppressed developer who isn't allowed to deliver better, with the risk of a developer who doesn't know how to do his job and motivate himself long enough to deliver the promised work.

The risk is always there, of course the big difference is that in the second case you have already paid, but then you trade the risk of wasting your money on an overpriced product because you got overexcited by intense advertising with the risk of wasting your money because you trusted someone that didn't deserve it.

Of course for anyone happy with the way the mainstream works and with the products it delivers the first risk is effectively negligible and kickstarter should not be considered.

But it seems to me that people are too quick to base their arguments on the idea that developers don't know how to do their jobs and need someone to tell them what it is and force them to do it. Maybe I'm too much of a romantic (which I seriously doubt) but it seems to me that doing something you care about instead of something you were forced to do plus high morale plus a few thousands of people that are already waiting for results (and will likely not support you - at least not blindly - again unless they get them) is good enough motivation.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
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Last edited by holeraw; April 12th, 2012 at 10:46.
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April 12th, 2012, 12:32
There's a difference between recognising a genuine downside based on simple human interaction, and then claiming they don't know what to do.

It's called being realistic about nothing ever being perfect.
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April 12th, 2012, 18:19
When someone's job is to make a game within a specific timeframe and you express your doubt that this person will make that game within that timeframe then you doubt that this person can do his job. I think it's pretty simple. My positivity is not based on thinking that something is 'perfect' but on the trust that the most experienced professionals of those that have kickstarter projects probably know how to do that job.

"I am not interested in good; I am interested in new, even if this includes the possibility of it's being evil"
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April 12th, 2012, 19:33
I only donated to one project, which I'm both interested in and I think the developers would actually deliver a quality game. I'm not expecting the best game ever, but for $10 I don't think I'm losing that much if I don't get what I'm expecting.

I would also only be slightly disappointed if I lose that money.

Like with anything, this is a gamble and the best advice with gambling is that you shouldn't gamble more than you can afford to lose.

I set priorities and while $10 isn't nothing, it doesn't even buy me dinner, so I'm losing less than I can afford. That's worst case scenario. Best case scenario, they release the game and it blows my mind.
Most likely case is that they release an OK game I enjoy for 10-15 hours, so that's less than a dollar an hour of enjoyment. I'd say that's good value for money.

Now you should add weightings to these cases, if you really want to act like an insurance guy. So let's assume that for this particular game (but this can be applied to anything) the chance of the game blowing my mind is a paltry 5%. The chance of the game coming out and turning out OK is 35%. Chance of game coming out and turning out bad is 35%. And chance of the game not coming out is 25%.
Now you add worth in terms of hours played for me. 50 hours if the game is great (3 replays). 15 hours for OK game (1 playthrough). 2 hours for bad game(tutorial and first part of game). 0 hours for no game.
5% * 50 + 35% * 15 + 35% * 2 + 0 = 2.5 + 5.25 + 0.7 = 8.45 hours of gaming.

So this means that on average this game is going to provide me with 8+ hours of gaming for $10. Of course, this is my own calculation, but you need to skew the numbers very badly to get less than 2 hours of gaming for $10, which is the price of a cinema ticket

The people who put in 1000 dollars, I don't understand, but to spend $50 or less on something you think might be amazing doesn't sound too bad.

My 2 cents, pennies and yens.
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April 13th, 2012, 08:22
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
When someone's job is to make a game within a specific timeframe and you express your doubt that this person will make that game within that timeframe then you doubt that this person can do his job. I think it's pretty simple. My positivity is not based on thinking that something is 'perfect' but on the trust that the most experienced professionals of those that have kickstarter projects probably know how to do that job.
I can be sceptical about deadlines without claiming they don't know what to do - and telling them what to do.

Which was your original claim.

If you're now saying I have doubts - then you're quite correct.
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April 13th, 2012, 18:29
I imagine that the devs that have a history of delivering on time and on budget will do fine on kickstarted projects. I'd stay away from devs that have a history of not delivering, or delivering late and/or overbudget.
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April 14th, 2012, 01:17
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Can you give me an example of a successful Kickstarter that clearly jumped in on ports without checking their capabilities?
Nah, but any kickstarter that adds an ipad version immediately lowers my expectation of the game. Mac and Linux support are doable without much compromising, but once they add tablets in the mix, I know things will not work as peachy as they think.
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April 16th, 2012, 19:19
here's the link to our newsforums on the debate for shadowrun giving exclusive content to backers.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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April 17th, 2012, 09:29
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Now you should add weightings to these cases, if you really want to act like an insurance guy. So let's assume that for this particular game (but this can be applied to anything) the chance of the game blowing my mind is a paltry 5%. The chance of the game coming out and turning out OK is 35%. Chance of game coming out and turning out bad is 35%. And chance of the game not coming out is 25%.
Now you add worth in terms of hours played for me. 50 hours if the game is great (3 replays). 15 hours for OK game (1 playthrough). 2 hours for bad game(tutorial and first part of game). 0 hours for no game.
5% * 50 + 35% * 15 + 35% * 2 + 0 = 2.5 + 5.25 + 0.7 = 8.45 hours of gaming.
Gaming hours can not be swapped.

If so, you should also include the hours you will spend reading press in case the game is not released.

None of the hours spent on an excellent game is equivalent to one hour spent on a poor game.

In the end, you'll have spent money to get excellent time or awful time. You'll have funded an endeavour to have an entertaining experience or an awful experience.
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April 17th, 2012, 19:32
to quote you from the news thread

Originally Posted by Dhruin
I'm talking from a sales potential perspective, where major publishers are looking for revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [b]I'm sure they have looked at this as a curiosity - but I'm also sure they have decided this has no relevance to their major markets[b]. These projects - almost by definition - are hardcore, niche products that will have limited production values. Attempts to go more mainstream with Kickstarter will mostly fail, because the mainstream has little reason to engage with Kickstarter.

Wasteland 2 won't sell millions of copies (in my opinion) and EA won't care that inXile may never approach them to develop a title again.

That doesn't make it any less exciting for the enthusiast - I think we're totally in a new world for niche games, which is hugely exciting but it doesn't send a message that major publishers will care about.
This is speculation on both our parts but I think they are standing up and saying , "What in blue blazes is going on here?" Not just the gaming industry but Music and Film are probably looking at this as well (remember Sundance?). The same thing happened with microbreweries and energy drinks - as much as people were looking for alternatives with independents the majors scrambled to get into the market and push/buy the independents out. But this is a gaming forum…

EA's purchase of KlickNation (now Bioware Sacramento) was a lunge into the Social Network Gaming that they missed the boat on. Hasbro still can't seem to get its market for Scrabble back from Zynga.

These three products on Kickstarter are the first "major" titles people are volunteering to throw FREE money at before there's even a product. There is no costs yet, only budgets. Its currently 100% profit. There is no internal investment.

When happens if Halo is a kickstarter or Elder Scrolls?

If these major titles get booed by the community remember that Wasteland is an EA property (for those people using kickstarter as a protest I would be shocked if EA doesn't get a cut) .

How many other products are they sitting on that people want? Its probably too late for Ultima as its already in production (depending on whom you believe if Bioware Austin is a major money maker or a major loser) but what about System Shock or Wing Commander or any other legacy title in their catalogue itching for a revival? What about a real Bard's Tale?

This effectively reduces costs to 0 so post production profits are 100%! It would be like insurance, stock, or selling IC chips or even Radio Shack selling diodes.

Even if Wasteland doesn't sell millions its still pure profit/free money.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
Last edited by Lucky Day; April 17th, 2012 at 19:48.
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