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Default Wasteland 2 - Colin McComb on Kickstarter Fatigue

November 27th, 2012, 17:51
I've file this under Wasteland 2 because the comments come from designer Colin McComb but they really relate to Kickstarter. A few days back indie developer Cliff Harris wrote about his perception of Kickstarter's drawbacks…
Gamers say they hate in-game product placement and advertising. It compromises the game design for the sake of money. I agree. So why are we deciding that the best way to name our planets or design the appearance of our NPCís is to put that part of game design up for auction? Why should gamers who are wealthy get more influence over a game that those who flip burgers for a living? The cold hard economic reality of the real world is bad enough without shoehorning it into games too.
…and Colin McComb has responded with his thoughts:
3. TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER: Most traditional publishers wonít touch a game of the size Kickstarters generally fund. Brian Fargo got almost $3 million for his Kickstarter. 61,000 backers. How does this compare to Black Ops 2? 11,220,000 in the first week. Thereís just no comparison to that scale. There is no reason for a publisher to look at the numbers for WL2 Ė a non-console game Ė and think that they need to start considering funding similar games. This is a blip on their radar. Consider: Halo 4 had a budget of over $100 million. $3 million is practically an accounting error. Itís a few months of development time. Why would a publisher turn away from their lucrative franchises and blockbusters to develop an indie game?
4. CROWDFUNDING: That brings us to the last option: crowdfunding. While itís certainly admirable to want to open the gameís possibilities to all backers, no matter how much or how little they contribute, itís a simple fact of human behavior that people want to get value for what they put in. Telling someone who contributes $10,000 that they can have a downloadable copy and a special digital pet is not going to motivate themÖ especially if someone who contributes $20 gets exactly the same thing. Consider: if you back a project at $20, donít you want to know that youíre getting more bang for that than a $5 backer? I donít know how to incentivize a higher-level backer other than offering them something that is not available to the lower-contributing tiers.
Sure, it might be a little strange to see names in the game and know that they came from wealthier patrons Ė but is that worse than *not* knowing where design decisions came from? And more: the names in a game are hardly real design decisions. They are essentially window dressing. They are not dialogue structures. They are not combat mechanics. For the most part, they do not fundamentally alter gameplay.
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November 27th, 2012, 17:51
Okay, can someone with inside knowledge explain something for me? First, I worked as a mainframe computer programmer/analyst for about 17 years. The above excerpt states that Halo 4 cost $100 million to develop. Fine. What is the breakdown on where all that money went/goes? Salaries, PCs, voice actors, advertising, executive salaries, perks; where did it all go and how much went where?
I find it hard to believe that such an amount of money all went to programmers and graphic designers and work stations. Edumacate me.
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November 27th, 2012, 17:55
Cliff Harris: "Gamers say they hate in-game product placement and advertising. It compromises the game design for the sake of money. I agree. So why are we deciding that the best way to name our planets or design the appearance of our NPC’s is to put that part of game design up for auction? Why should gamers who are wealthy get more influence over a game that those who flip burgers for a living? The cold hard economic reality of the real world is bad enough without shoehorning it into games too."

As someone who contributed at a level which will allow me to design an item for PE, I have to say this is a fairly silly statement. Cliff clearly doesn't get it. Perhaps he thinks a mega company like Coke bought in and plans to create a "Coke is It Necromancer of Refreshmentville", I dunno…

I would doubt that a single person who contributed at the $1k+ level, at least for PE, has any intention of creating anything other than a relative, meaningful addition to a game genre they love. And if, for whatever reason, someone did try and advertise for their business/product, I would expect Obsidian to return their money.

I don't flip burgers, but I'm certainly not rich. $1k is a lot of money to me, but I felt donating at that level to help create a game that wouldn't be created otherwise— and have a small piece to contribute— was worth it. Cliff needs to remember that we're giving these funds away, with the only expectation that a game is made at some point. It is not an investment for us, as there is no return other than the game itself. Whether it flops, is broken or is never completed, we have no recourse.

If Cliff wants to reflect on the current state of world affairs, fine. But he's barking up the wrong tree here.
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November 27th, 2012, 18:04
I find it hard to believe that such an amount of money all went to programmers and graphic designers and work stations. Edumacate me.
I just think of it in terms of a movie production. Same kinds of costs and overhead.
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November 27th, 2012, 20:52
Telling someone who contributes $10,000 that they can have a downloadable copy and a special digital pet is not going to motivate them… especially if someone who contributes $20 gets exactly the same thing.
No. Someone who contributes $10K to a computer game is doing so because he wants to see it made, not so his name will be in it. Gimme a break. Not everything in the world is about money.

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November 27th, 2012, 21:24
Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
Okay, can someone with inside knowledge explain something for me? First, I worked as a mainframe computer programmer/analyst for about 17 years. The above excerpt states that Halo 4 cost $100 million to develop. Fine. What is the breakdown on where all that money went/goes? Salaries, PCs, voice actors, advertising, executive salaries, perks; where did it all go and how much went where?
I find it hard to believe that such an amount of money all went to programmers and graphic designers and work stations. Edumacate me.
Just take the credits roll of a game of this size, number the employees and make your own conclusions.
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November 27th, 2012, 22:26
Why would a publisher turn away from their lucrative franchises and blockbusters to develop an indie game?
Aren't there any smaller publishers, that don't have 100 million to invest and can't compete with these big guys who make all the blockbusters, that would still be willing to fund a smaller project if it will get them a small but reasonable profit?

Because I never expected crowdfunding to put EA out of business but I hoped it would encourage some of the smaller publishers to look into such games instead of trying to imitate what they can't possibly pull off.

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November 28th, 2012, 08:59
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
Aren't there any smaller publishers, that don't have 100 million to invest and can't compete with these big guys who make all the blockbusters, that would still be willing to fund a smaller project if it will get them a small but reasonable profit?

Because I never expected crowdfunding to put EA out of business but I hoped it would encourage some of the smaller publishers to look into such games instead of trying to imitate what they can't possibly pull off.
There were those publishers here in Germany and AFAIK in Eastern Europe and Russia. Those companies have been pushed out of business at least here in Germany (Frogster, CDV, JoWood), because the gaming press (offline and online) raged all over their products and nitpicked all the mistakes and bugs that they were more than willing to overlook in AAA games.

Small marketing budgets and bad press mostly killed the sales for these games and in the end killed the publishers, too.

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November 28th, 2012, 21:39
What does the fatigue part of the title have to do with anything that was posted above about the interview?
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November 28th, 2012, 22:18
Yeah, I was hoping for an explanation.
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November 28th, 2012, 23:45
Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
Okay, can someone with inside knowledge explain something for me? First, I worked as a mainframe computer programmer/analyst for about 17 years. The above excerpt states that Halo 4 cost $100 million to develop. Fine. What is the breakdown on where all that money went/goes? Salaries, PCs, voice actors, advertising, executive salaries, perks; where did it all go and how much went where?
I find it hard to believe that such an amount of money all went to programmers and graphic designers and work stations. Edumacate me.
Halo 4 is perhaps close to a record. Let see, well 3 years, average cost salary 33000 so cost for one salary, about 100k. So $100 million means 1000 people.
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November 29th, 2012, 01:56
Are programmers really that poorly paid? Not in my industry.
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