I think there's 2 things going on here. Alex is totally right to remind us that game development isn't easy and takes time. We didn't just "buy a game" we enabled its development and pledged to journey along with the team. Personally, I thought Factions was a brilliant idea. I've had so much fun playing it (and feeling good shelling out some more cash to get the single-player game done on time) and I actually feel like I'm getting 2 games for the price of one. Multiplayer tactical combat when I only thought I was getting Oregon Trail mixed with SP tactics and branching story? Yes please.
But I don't think what Alex says about backers simply replacing the company is really accurate. I think that what devs are finding out is that something like Kickstarter is actually different than just replacing companies with backers. Publishers have a completely different incentive for making games: to make money. Kickstarter backers are like shareholders except they aren't getting any money for the product, they just get the product itself (with some frills if you donate more money). Alex is right that it's a difference of perspective, but it's one that is ultimately understandable. Publishers are fine pushing back release dates. They don't really care about playing the game. They just want to increase profit motive. Backers on the other hand really want to play the game but they're not making money off of it, so one would expect them to get testy when things don't come out on time. Replacing your board of directors with 20,000 enthusiastic PC gamers sounds like a dream come true, but it's unsurprising that it's turned out to be a frightening prospect.
I think it all speaks to how crowdfunding is a brand new frontier with its own laws that we're only just discovering. Backers are learning that game development is a journey that is not A to B--especially when you're making something new and creative instead of the predictable tripe pumped out by big publishers--and devs are learning that despite their dream come true of being handed millions of dollars and complete creative control, well, they still work for someone, but the new "bosses" are a diffuse and often unreasonable lot that have a very different set of demands than what they're used to. It's a nice sentiment for any creative to say they work for the fans, but the realities of actually doing it have turned out to be not so nice.
That said I think those of us that pledged $10 (and that's most of us) can really stand to chill out. For most of us, this hasn't really been an "investment" in any meaningful sense of the word. It's a blip in the bank account over a year ago. Most of the unrest is probably due to self-generated hype. You're at work, bored, "when's that damn Viking game coming out???" you read some negative comments, get caught up in the drama and end up just throwing fuel on the fires of negativity. Stoic is obviously not the same as DFA or Warballoon, and Factions is, if anything, proof that the game really is shaping up to be incredible. I say we all just relax and be grateful that we get to live in a time when awesome games like this can even get made and that we can help devs do it.
"We released a truly free demo hoping to make some extra cash for development, and got brutalized for it. But without that income and development time our single-player game wouldn't be as good. Some people will never understand this."
You definitely pulled a bait-and-switch here. It doesn't bother me that the game is "late", rather it upsets me that you took a complete side trip and expended a lot of effort on something that wasn't even originally in the Kickstart pitch. I don't have a problem with the Banner Saga: Factions thing in general, I just have *zero* interest in it. It's no wonder you were "brutalized" for it, and in spite of that, even now, you're still trying to defend it. There's no way 100% of the effort involved in factions went towards the original game, so it reads to backers as needless delay.
Frankly, it's a lesson for other Kickstarters. Regardless of the level of funding you get DON'T EXPAND THE SCOPE UNTIL YOU FINISH WHAT YOU PROMISED.
While I mostly agree with you, Alex, I find it depressing that you say you can't make a game for 20k. You're a dev, come on, man. You know far better than that. Way to talk down to all the indies out there, JUST LIKE YOU.
Proving that you don't know why people are upset about DFA's current financial crisis.
NO ONE deserves to tell you what you are supposed to do, and when to do it by. Especially not for the measly amounts most of the complaining backers have donated. I'm sick to DEATH of the whiners bothering HBS and Doublefine. These are two great developers trying their damnedest to create a great experience and get it out on time for the backers, and, like most anyone, they ran into issues because their vision changed to fit the largest money pool. So what? You backers are getting more than you bargained for, you just gotta wait. It's not like us PC gamers are short on games. In fact, we're in the most busy time for old school style games since the late 90's. I just don't get these people. As for Stoic, you guys should take extra time if you need it. Don't let the BS happening force you to rush. Those of us that don't mind the wait OUTNUMBER the whining brats.
when i saw how much funding Banner Saga gathered,i expected development to last about 2 years.Main thing is not the delays,but what that delays allow to be putted in game.As long as quality is in terms with development time,it's all good.
The Double Fine Adventure debacle stems from some people not being able to operate big money numbers in their head, it becomes something mysterious and even magical. Like you put 300kk in black box,press a button,and voila, year from now on you get epic AAA game. So they put to much faith on release dates and then start worrying when their black box doesn't deliver. I thought developer diaries Double Fine were doing would alleviate that problem though.Guess not.
Hmm. I appreciate the frankness, the content of the message, but not the exasperation. A lot of the backers you're talking to already know about this. SO NOW YOU KNOW. See? Condescending. And I don't deserve that from you.
I back projects to have a chance to get games at less than what they cost retail, but I accept this is a risk, I may get nothing, and what I'm really doing here is backing a little guy to fulfill his/her dreams, rather than lining the pockets of a bloated conglomerate. So by my motivations I at least break even, even if I get nothing, because big business didn't get my money, and I supported a business model that believes in people and not a short term return for shareholders.
To me really doesn't matter how long is taking you (nor the delays). The important thing here is how awesome is making the vision of others come to life, and get to enjoy it at the end, AND through the development process.
I'm a programmer and if I ever get an estimation right, even once in my life, I'll be sure that the end of the time-space continuum will be near... lol
I agree with this. It's all about making the best decisions with the resources that you've got.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Alex. Great update.
With an Eyvind Earle art style, old school rotoscoping and awesome austin wintory, how could this honestly not be delayed? I expected this from the very beginning. These guys at stoic showed us they wanted to go full throttle (in their pitch) and we all quickly jumped onboard for the ride. So keep going and take the time you need. I'm here for the art and the game :D
It doesn't matter when the game comes out. I'd much rather have the inconvenience of having to wait for a good game that will give me hours and hours of enjoyment than have a rushed game that I put down after five minutes. People always complain about delays but there is nothing worse than spending money on a game that is rushed. Take your time and do it right! Thanks for the update!
I totally agree, Alex. I've now backed 28 projects (mostly to $50+), mostly gaming (without realising) and the only thing I could ask more of is to be more communicative for many of the projects, to bring us even more into the atmosphere of the development process.
You guys are great with the newsletters you send out through Kickstarter, but I really enjoy video updates, and for that I have to thank DoubleFine and 2Player for the great documentary videos along the way. To me those are worth the money, the game at the end is just the icing on the cake (even though I clearly backed it for both the videos and game).
About the changing goalposts. I find it hard to criticize when the order of magnitude of the backing is so disproportionate to the original targets set. If there was the desire of a 'contract' for what was being backed there should either be a cap on the backing amount (meaning people miss out on the project and you guys miss out on the funds), or people should still expect the original funding value to be the end result, and you guys pocket the rest of the money as profit for a job well done (as would any normal publisher).
I certainly appreciate the stretch goals, extended content, rich scores and dialogue, so personally I'm grateful that the additional money to all of these projects is generally being put to good use by extending the game, and as this is supposed to be a patronage system not a pre-ordering platform, that's the way in which I set myself out when backing... as long as something, anything is produced and delivered (even if it were an unfinished game if money ran out) then I'd still be happy that my individual money achieved something cool... Don't look at the end figure, just imagine that through the 'power of the crowd' you managed to fund the creation of an entire game for $50, and be satisfied whenever it comes out.
TL;DR, it's sounding great so far, looking forward to more news and the fruits of your effort, but more screenshots, art and videos wouldn't go amiss :o)
I like your text, Alex. I have all patience of the world, don´t panic with the haters. Keep your amazing work!
I quoting someone, they like this project but disagree about DF saying, "They should have made a game for the agreed orginal amount.". Let me address those separately.
First, what do you mean by "original amount", are you talking about $400k or $3.3m? The Banner Saga expanded its scope when it got more than expected, and you seem to love that, so I assume you mean the $3.3m figure. That's NOT the game that backers were pitched; we were pitched a $400k game, and that's what we backed. The same goes for The Banner Saga; we backed a $100k game and wound up with a $723k one. If you're going to say our expectations were betrayed, blame Stoic as much as Double Fine. There was never a promise to make a $3.3m game, or a $723k game. I don't consider this a problem.
Second, what agreement? Here's the important part. There was never an agreement like that. DF and Stoic never made any promises that they would make games ONLY with pledged funds and swear off all other sources of money. I don't know where you got that impression. DF didn't want to go to a publisher. That's all. There are clearly other ways of making money. Many Kickstarter projects are for games that are already completed to some extent; should we yell at their creators for using non-backer funds to get that far? Let me answer that for you just in case you are uncertain: no.
The thing to take away from this is that some people had a self-conceived idea of how long the games should take to make and what their budgets should be, both BA and TBS. When those expectations didn't line up with reality, instead of re-evaluating their own ideas in the face of news like, "It'll take a little longer than it would have if we had less money.", they lashed out at the project creators for violating an imagined contract. The backers made assumptions and reality failed to live up to them, and so they blame the project creators for making assumptions that don't match reality. I quote Wikipedia, "Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world."
I personally appreciate that you laid out the reasons for the delays, and I am not upset about it taking longer than "estimated." I work in IT, and know firsthand how estimates can be basically shots in the dark. Letting us know what's going on, and firmly sticking by making sure the product is good before releasing it goes a long way towards keeping me happy before we get the final product. I never expected it to be quick, and I can continue to wait for a good product.
Thank you for the update and to let your know what you think about all the process behind making a video game. Personally I'm not surprise by the delay I always know that your game like the double fine's game will have some delay. For me what is surprising is when in the beginning the goal was to make a retro click and point game why the majority of the backer and Tim choose the 3d approach and making a longer game. The answer a error of judgment put on enthusiasm. It's not a big deal only surprising that a company like that take a approach for realesing this game like working with a big funding company.
It'll be done when it's done. Rather have you take your time and do it right than meet some deadline and not give it your best.
Those who complain want to complain. On something like this, especially, ignore them.
I also wanted to say thank for this reasonable and mature expression of your experience and opinion.
From a non-game-development background, I have to say that most projects encounter very similar (if not identical) problems. And some are managed better than others, but the only ones I see which come in on time and on budget have used around 30% of their budget up-front on scope and specs, and allocated at least 20% budget on "contingency". Nobody who holds purse strings likes this, so most projects don't get percentages anywhere close to those and, almost inevitably, go off the rails.
Thank you for being so open and honest. That's all we, as a community, could realistically ask for at this point. I also appreciate your teams hard work to deliver on all our lofty expectations. Keep on rocking, and we'll see you on the other side. =)
Anything I have to say at this point would be redundant. Thanks for being honest and straightforward, I support your decisions 100%, and take as much time as you need to make a game you can be proud of. Now let's get back to hitting people in the head with maces.
Thanks for writing this, Alex. I find the entire attitude to far too "pre-order" minded and much less investment oriented. I think people should support games not because they want the game but because they like the idea and would like for people to be able to do what they love. Some will fail. Kickstarter is a dangerous thing were over-ambition and destroy you right out of the gate. You shouldn't spend your money here thinking you are guaranteed anything, but the best they can offer when it can be offered. Any of the games I back I am content to simply watch them evolve, even if nothing comes of them, the ability to watch people strive and toil to create something not only self-motivating but genuinely marvelous to behold.
Can't wait to see the trailer and thanks for the update!
*WTSH* *WTSH* HEYA HYEA... seriously though, I'm sure you're working hard to make deadline. Keep them nose nice and close to the grind stone and make a great game and make bank!
Take your time. I still don't have time to play the games I own as is. Although I want to play the game, that's not why I backed you guys. Here are the reasons why I backed this project:
1) I felt that you guy could make a good product and given the past updates I think I'm right.
2) Most importantly I really want to continue and grow the trend of freeing game developers from the big publishers, letting guys like your team make the games how you want them without the pressure or horrible limitations set from some random EA or Activision executive.
Just give us regular updates on progress and I'll be happy. Releasing BETA isn't bad either as long as you label it as such.
Thank you for talking to us about game dev like normal people. Personally, I like the infrequent-but-large updates. Fewer updates keep me from being reminded all the time that I'm waiting, but when we do get an update it shows a lot of progress. I'm also really excited for how the game is shaping up, thank you for not trying to rush it out the door before it reaches full potential.
@Celine That's because they're not investments, they're patronage. And you're right, judging the product is absolutely part of being a patron - but judging it with a very different attitude and mindset than that of an investor or even a consumer.
@Michael Haney Personally, I think that if enough Kickstarters acted like "investments" instead of "purchases" then people would stop Backing. Who on Earth wants to just keep tossing good money after bad?
So far, I've only had two bad experiences. One with a creator who proved unwilling to meet anyone half-way in the hours after launch, and another which has now passed two years mark since funding and has yet to produce anything.
There are other games that are close, where the creator dodges questions and such, but so long as you're kept up to date, and get what you did, in fact, pay for, then I'm happy with it.
Still unimpressed with the pay options in the multiplayer, but so long as I don't need to take part in that to take part in what I backed, which is the Saga, then that's gind.
I liked this update. Keep up the great work :-)
Well said Alex, keep up the great work.
I wouldn't take the critics too seriously. Sure they can be vocal, but IMO the silent majority understands the difference between an investment and a purchase, and that kickstarter is definitely the former.
Sometimes investments fail, sometimes they take longer to mature than we'd like, sometimes external factors come along and completely ruin or dramatically change the nature of the investment; hence the perennial advice: "diversify your portfolio".
Suffice it to say I want the biggest return possible on any investment I make, and am willing to be patient for said return. From the looks of things you guys are holding up your end quite well, keep up the good work!
I love you too, Alex!
Having your game be delayed, have problems, not meet deadlines, go overbudget, etc. etc. makes my pledge even more worthwhile. Not because I enjoy the drama or I feed off the suffering of others, but because it gives me a better look at the development process of video games, warts and all. It's incredibly fascinating.
So continue to work at the pace you feel necessary, for the time the project requires and the money allows. People who are patient will just enjoy the game once it is released.
Please rest asured that the silent majority will wait for a better game.
Even though I did not need it it was a great idea to bring out factions.
We all hope that you can realize your vision with the given budget.
And we will wait for it.
Don't let the naysayers put down what you are trying to do. Many of us, especially the ones who remain silent, support you and are gladly waiting while you work on your masterpiece. Take the time you need. In ten years, no one will remember that the game was delayed, they'll only remember that the game was/is amazing.
The 'Conversation' was one of the best Kickstarter updates I've ever read. Thank you, Alex.
I agree with Grenville Rob. Kickstarter is not a store, you are not buying a product, you are investing in an idea. Sometimes it works out on time and on budget, but like most things in life usually it does not.
Rob: Kickstarter might not be for you.
In summary: If you believed us, its your fault.
Got it. Please stop updating. Every time we get an update, it ends up making me sympathetic to publishers.
Kickstarter is not about meeting deadlines; it's about giving the backers what they supported you for. If that takes longer than planned, then so be it. You've been very open about the process and I've been impressed with everything you've done thus far, so I'm sure that will continue. Keep up the good work!
I think Stoic has been very professional about ks, it does not stop some people with limited information realizing that.
That said, I disagree concerning Double Fine. They should have made a game for the agreed orginal amount. Stretch goals imho is the tragedy of kickstarter = greed.
Thank you for sharing your opinion with us, and giving us additional insights into the development process.
That said, I don't really accept your argument that this is how it's always been in the industry. When you run a kickstarter project, you're also saying "I step up, I know what I'm doing and you should trust me". Being unbound by publishers and investors gives you the freedom to do what you want, but it also puts all the responsibility on your shoulders, which means you need to be a lot better then before. So saying that's how it's always been isn't relevant to this new situation.
I firmly believe that should take as much time as you need in order to produce the best game that you can, and I understand that mistakes and miscalculations happen. But double fine's argument that they just "designed too much game" is unacceptable to me in this new (and a lot of developers claimed to be better) process, especially right after funding a new project, and I would have been really angry if I've pledged to them.
All I have to say is keep up the good work. Consumers recently have been requiring 100% satisfaction of their expectations. The world doesn't work that way and neither does the gaming - or any other - industry. Can't wait for the game, but I have no problem waiting for the game.
Valery: If you saw that, then why was half your comment complaining about how this update is useless to you? Is your position that they should have waited and made one gigantic update, and that's what has you so angry?
Regardless, the attitude you're showing is appropriate for a consumer or investor - but it's not one that's conducive to being a micropatron (Kickstarter calls them backers). Patronage is about funding people who you admire or are impressed by, coaching and encouraging them, and ultimately judging them the next time they seek your patronage. Stoic knows they screwed up on the date and are sorry they screwed up on the date - but if you don't have constructive criticism or suggestions to offer, just berating them is unlikely to improve things.
Our relationship with Stoic isn't strictly a financial one, despite us functioning as capital. Multiple developers have gone on record stating that it's not the money that makes Kickstarter so special, but the direct connection to people who love your game (instead of just the money it might make) and the ability to communicate with them like human beings instead of through an impenetrable layer of PR bureaucracy. Keeping them on task about a Linux release and asking where they are on that is not only acceptable but encouraged - but there's a fine line between keeping someone on task and needling them, and tone helps a lot in staying on the right side.
That's fine, you can do that. Just keep in mind that Linux has been voted on rank 7/10 in the platform survey by the community, after Windows, iOS, Mac OS, XBLA, Android, PSN.
So, there is no actual reason why Linux should get prioritized. You could even argue that it should be considered lowest priority. This would be fair, right?
I think anyone who backs a project with goals that slip is entirely entitled to be disappointed but I do not agree with your tone or your approach in articulating your dissatisfaction. You are rude; and petulant to the point of being childish.
There was probably an acceptable period during which being outraged and berating Stoic was justifiable, that time has long passed.
If you do not trust that Stoic is going to meet your requirements, has poor communication or that they are missing a crucial deliverable (like Linux support), which is key to retaining your backing of the project then petition KS/Stoic for your contribution to be returned. That way you are not at risk and if they do make a product you want later you can pick it up without risk and without stress about it that apparently leads to tantrums.
Yes, Stoic could have and should have known 6 months was unrealistic, I did. As a long time gamer I knew they were making some unrealistic goals but I backed Banner Saga anyway because I love everything about the game they wanted to make and I really dig their enthusiasm and dedication to the project.
I did not back them so I could feel a sense of ownership or control. I wanted to help team Stoic with financial support so they could make something really cool. It seems to me that they are delivering on that and I feel they were up front as soon as they realized there was going to be a delays and changes in their development cycle.
I am not telling you shut up and sit down, What I am saying is that you need to make peace with it and decide to take the ride with rest of us or get your cash back and bail out. If Stoic is as malfeasant as you claim then I doubt very much that any outburst in a comment thread is going to move them to action.
I think most people aren't really surprised when a project - any project - goes off deadline and / or off budget; this is just the way the world we live in works today and most people are aware of that. However, I think it's hardly surprising the same people get kinda pissed off when they get told by someone who got over eight times the money he asked for that not only is it still not enough but in fact it's nowhere near enough (see their own mentions of how one or two more $M could have been procured but wouldn't have sufficed).
Also, an inexperienced, solitary indie dev working from their garage could easily be forgiven for completely screwing up the deadline he thought he could keep, but frankly, when a game developer with plenty of experience under his belt admits long after his announced deadline that he might in fact need further multiple years to get things done, again, I cannot fault people for getting rather riled up.
Finally, it seems to me DF isn't even taking most of the flak for slipping, but for their most recent episode in what has been an endless series of talking about cutting, cutting and more cutting stuff from a game that was initially supposed to be done for a fraction of their current budget and still be of a decent size. The recent trend where a movie is not really a movie only a fraction of one (The Hobbit, anyone?) is already annoying the hell out of some people, there's really no need to port it to gaming. A sequel of something is one thing, half or third of something is quite another - while I'm not really opposed to episodic TV, I'd really like to hear how many people here just LOVE those double episodes where everyone gets a sneering "tune in next week to see the rest, sucker!" instead of closure. Hardly surprising then that talks of a "half a game" edition don't exactly prompt applause, isn't it...?
As for the Banner Saga - I'm cool with some delay; but I'm not going to tell you to take as long as you need, since - as some here don't seem to be aware - time directly translates to money, and every budget has a bottom beyond which all the patience in the world won't do any good whatsoever for the purposes of continuing to pay the people doing the work. All I can say: I'm not really in a hurry...
Really looking forward. You guys are delivering a lot more than I thought!
I really appreciate the "non-PR" tone of this update, it is refreshing and interesting (although perhaps just a wee bit on the exasperated side, a lot of us aren't in the category of backer you're talking about and it's a bit annoying to be treated as such). Personally I'm with Grenville, Kickstarter isn't for publishers. Kickstarter is about supporting creative endevors that you feel for, and want to see succeed. It's not about pre-ordering a game, it's about helping make it happen. For the backers who just want the game and feel 'cheated' that it's going to take longer, then I would almost suggest they don't back games. It's not like people can't buy the game when it's released! I say almost, though, because it is nice to have people committ to the process early on. Further, as mentioned below, the idea that kickstarter backers are somewhat investors and should be there to give game developers a gentle nudge is not a bad one. I agree that this whole process of funding games through kickstarter will take some adjusting to on both the backer and the developer sides. Backers should understand that they aren't publishers, and developers should realize that they are answerable to backers, at least to some degree (I speak in generalities here).
As for updates that don't say much, well, sometimes you don't have much to say! I'm a graduate student working on thesis and when I give updates to my supervisor sometimes it's merely a "Yup still working on it". Just because I don't have an item to tick off doesn't mean that I'm not working, just that I'm STILL working.
I'm excited to see how this game is going. I appreciate the updates because it's interesting. And I'm going to wait a while yet before I get out the flaming torches. Ultimately, as long as the game gets finished (and I see no danger of that not happening), I get a great game for a great price! I'm not a shareholder, I'm not waiting for a return on my investment. If I have to wait a bit longer, well I really should get my thesis done anyway!
Thanks for your hard work, don't let grumblings get you down!
Yes, thank you, I'm quite aware of the upcoming video update.
Alas, I can not see in the future, nor I'm gifted with prediction ability to tell when this update be. So, right now I'm judging based on what I saw. And I saw nothing at all.
Let me explain myself: I'm here not for myself (mostly), and I'm not placing all my hopes on one project. I'm here to ensure that a good project will come to life. On my OS. For me and thousands of others. I'm just backing what I feel will be good for world culture. Yes, you can blame me for conceit. I'm fine with it. What I'm not fine with is a violation of the promise. No one forced Stoic to proclaim "Nov 2012" as an estimated delivery. Even more so if they are self-stated "three game industry veterans" as is shown on the front page of this very project. They had to know better than to list such unreal dates back than.
And what some of us learned today could be very helpful back than in April of 2012. Not now. Now this all is completely irrelevant to the fact of delay.
Punctuality is the politeness of kings, as a proverb says.
I do appreciate the opportunity to peek inside the workings of creating a game Alex, so thanks. Regarding game development, it seems to me all this angst can be attributed to a few things that won't be departing any time soon.
#1: Instant Gratification - probably the biggest insidious issue our modern society deals with on a daily basis. It turns normal people into ill tempered, rude, inconsiderate boors.
#2: The (ever-expanding) Internet - While I won't debate the many wonderful benefits that have come through the internet, it also provides the cowards out there the means to snipe at whatever they wish from behind a shield of anonymity, which, strangely enough, also turns them into ill tempered, rude, inconsiderate boors.
I am firmly in the camp of "do it right the first time, whatever time it takes". I have MORE than enough entertainment to keep me busy for the rest of my life. Having to wait a bit longer doesn't bother me in the least. Shame more people don't feel the same, though scanning the reply posts seems to indicate I am not alone. Of course, the "ten percenters" out there won't take the time to reply in a constructive, civil manner anyway...
Keep up the good work guys!