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$22,381 pledged of $192,105 goal
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$22,381 pledged of $192,105 goal
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About

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT is a documentary series featuring human stories about real people whose lives have been changed by video games. Some of them make games. Some of them play games. All of them are helping make the video game community one of the most vibrant and exciting collections of humans on Earth.

I made this video with Christian Cicerone over four days of shooting and five days of editing. Imagine what we could do with your backing and support!

I can't wait to show you what these people are really like, what drives them and how they do what they do.

We've begun production on the following two episodes:

  • Episode 01: FOX, BIRD, BEAR. Spry Fox just released the clever word game "Alphabear". Before that, its "Triple Town" made waves (and attracted controversy). With less than a dozen developers working form all over the world, this mid-sized indie studio is trying to turn modest successes into long term survival. Their next game, "Steambirds" could be the breakout they need. 
  • Episode 02: FAMILY BUSINESS. John Romero created "Doom". Brenda Romero has worked for decades as a game developer. Now they're working with young Donovan on "Gunman Taco Truck" and helping others learn the joy of game making. This is the story of the Romero's "Family Business".

Additional episodes will include the stories of:

 

And if we're funded to our second stretch goal (way less than twice our original goal), we'll be able to make six more episodes — and you can help decide whose stories we tell next!

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT is the next major webseries from my company, Flying Saucer Media. I've worked for 25 years in media production. I was the head writer and producer of TechTV's "The Screen Savers"; editor-in-chief of the six-time Webby Award winning escapistmagazine.com; co-founder of Polygon.com; and creator Polygon's "Human Angle" webseries, short documentaries about people in video games.

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT is picking up where Human Angle left off, with an entirely new 6-episode series chronicling the real human stories of video games. And to ensure that no one can pull the plug, call the shots or change the course, I'm asking for your help to fund this series.

Production of STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT has already begun. I've spent my own money shooting the first two episodes of this series. And pre-production has begun on several additional episodes. 

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT will be six episodes. We're asking for your help to raise $192,105. That's a very precise figure, and one we're confident in. We're experienced video professionals with over 25 years experience making high-quality video. We know how much it costs, how hidden costs can stack up, and how to avoid surprises up-front. We've provided a detailed breakdown of why we're asking for what we're asking below. I think after reading and hearing more about what we're trying to accomplish you'll agree we're aiming for a reasonable goal.

Each 7-10 minute episode of STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT tells a new story about an interesting, exceptional or revolutionary personality in the video game community. What is it like to be an indie developer working with a dozen other people around the world? What kind of child grows up raised by some of the most famous game developers in the world? How do you make a game better than your first game, when your first game was one of the best reviewed games out there? And what kind of person has millions of fans just for making videos on YouTube? STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT will answer all of these questions and more.

The first episode will publish the same day this Kickstarter closes, whether or not the series is funded. New episodes will then follow every month.

At Flying Saucer Media, we run very small crews. For STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT, we'll be working with freelance contributors for almost every shoot, but the core team will be:

Producing six, separate short documentary films covering subjects all over the world is no easy task. I know. I've done it before. I know exactly how much that will cost, how long it will take and (most importantly) how to do it right.

I'm asking for a lot of money. I'm asking for a lot of trust. I hope you agree that telling these amazing stories is worth a little of both.

Crew fees and travel are the biggest expenses. The second biggest expense is backer rewards, that's the stuff we're making and shipping to you for backing this project. I'm borrowing Robert Khoo's excellent analysis of how much that sort of thing costs. I also borrowed Robert's math on how much Kickstarter and credit card companies will charge me for the privilege of taking your money. It's a lot! 

Stage of Development is going to cost us $138,650 to produce (rounded to the nearest dollar). That includes crew fees, travel, contingency (in case something breaks) and fees for music composition and licensing.

Adding in the cost to produce the awesome backer rewards ($38,406.05) and the amount Kickstarter will charge to raise the remaining sum ($15,049.76) we get to $192,105.

Or put another way:

The portion of this chart that looks like Pac-Man is how much we need in order to produce Stage of Development.

The rest is how much we need to spend in order to raise the amount we need to produce Stage of Development.

The first episode of Stage of Development will be available to backers as a digital download the same day this Kickstarter closes. No excuses.

  • Episode 1: September 16 (The day this Kickstarter closes)
  • Episodes 2-6: One per month, every month. 

That's not bluster. The episode been shot and is currently in the final stages of post-production.

We are planning to publish additional episodes every 3-4 weeks. Right now we have all of the six episodes booked and scheduled for production and post-production.

Fancy pledge chart.
Fancy pledge chart.

Risks and challenges

The only serious risk is that someone's schedule might change, forcing us to adjust our production schedule, possibly costing us more or affecting the amount of time it will take to finish an episode.

This is the sort of thing where experience leads to a much lower risk. I've done this before. I've run into these issues. And I know how to work around them and plan a schedule and a budget keeping in mind that things may change.

Realistically, there's a 100% chance that something will happen differently than we've planned it. But there's a statistically zero chance that a disruption will be so severe that it will impact our schedule or budget so severely that we can't adjust.

I don't want to say "never" but I've been managing schedules and budgets for decades. Both "Press Reset" and "Human Angle" came in on time and under budget. As has every production I've ever been a part of. If STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT were to run over budget or take longer than I expected, it would be the first.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    SAMARITAN

    REWARD: Our undying gratitude and a production credit.

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    FAN

    REWARD: All episodes of Stage of Development as a digital download, plus a production credit.

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    SOURCE

    REWARD: Access to backers-only podcasts about the making of Stage of Development, a digital download of the book "How Video Games Are Made" by Russ Pitts, plus all previous rewards.

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    GROUPIE

    REWARD:The Stage of Development Original Soundtrack album as a digital download (featuring Miracle of Sound and Ian Dorsch), plus all previous rewards.

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    HOME VIEWER

    REWARD: A physical blu-ray disc containing all episodes of Stage of Development, plus all previous rewards.

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    FOCUS TESTER ELITE

    REWARD: FOCUS TESTER

    REWARD: Access to exclusive Google Hangouts and live streams with the crew of Stage of Development, plus the opportunity to help pick the subject of one or more episodes, plus all digital rewards. (No shipping!)

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    STAND-IN

    REWARD: The official Stage of Development T-shirt, plus all previous rewards.

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    FOCUS TESTER

    REWARD: Access to exclusive Google Hangouts and live streams with the crew of Stage of Development, plus the opportunity to help pick the subject of one or more episodes, plus all previous rewards.

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    GRIP

    REWARD: Limited edition "CREW" T-shirt, plus all previous rewards.

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    WARDROBE ASSISTANT

    REWARD: A fetching, limited edition (and Russ Pitts approved) scarf, plus all previous rewards.

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    Pledge $95 or more About $95

    SCOUT

    REWARD: A digital copy of the yet-to-be released (and as-yet unannounced) video game journalism memoir "Pivot to Culture" by Russ Pitts, plus all previous rewards. (The memoir is complete and in final editing and design as of August 2015.)

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    COLLECTOR

    REWARD: The Stage of Development OSD in limited edition vinyl signed by the composers and crew, plus all previous rewards.

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    ARCHIVIST

    REWARD: Limited edition companion book to the series, with behind-the-scenes photos from the set(s), plus all previous rewards.

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    PLUS ONE PLUS ONE

    REWARD: A three-fer pack of all previous rewards, plus a signed, limited edition hardcopy of the book "How Video Games are Made by Russ Pitts.

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

    REWARD: Join our inner circle and see a draft of each episode before it's published. Give notes to the crew! Your feedback will help shape the show! Plus all previous rewards.

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    ENTOURAGE

    REWARD: Dinner with the director (and possibly crew)! Plus all previous rewards

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    PRODUCER

    REWARD: Visit the set of one of our episode shoots, plus all previous rewards.

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    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    REWARD: We will produce an episode of Stage of Development about the person, game, studio or other project of your choice (within reason). Plus all previous rewards

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Funding period

- (30 days)