The public's lack of understanding of dev problems & crowdfunding

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  07 July 2013
The public's lack of understanding of dev problems & crowdfunding

Will the way the public views anything done by creative people that isn't on time as a scam or disrespect (I've seen this a ton in comic books) prevent crowdfunding from continuing to grow as a resource for animators, game developers etc? This morning for those who missed it, Double Fine admitted they aren't anywhere close to finishing their game 'Broken Age', which amassed millions of dollars on kickstarter after asking for only $400k. Now the game will be broken up into two parts, the first of which won't be released until next year, and they're apparently out of money. The backers of the project are largely going nuts on their kickstarter comments section, but missing benchmarks feels normal to me after working in these fields for a long time. Maybe being beholden to thousands and thousands of people with no professional experience isn't superior to having to report to a company and 6-7 superiors who are in the same field as you?

I've been keeping a close eye on crowdfunding b/c I hope that it'll one day lead to more variety of animated fare than we get from corporate sources which is why these stories are so interesting to me.

Oops: article on this at ars technica - http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/...budget-delayed/
 
  07 July 2013
I always felt like there is an element of risk when dropping some coin into a crowd funded project because I don't know what sort of safe guards are in place for when something like this happens. Or what would happen if someone just ran off with the money.

Its a shame. It seems like this could have gone wrong due to being over ambitiousness, complacency or carelessness. I don't think anything malicious was to blame here, maybe a lack of budget management.

But I have to say, I like the democratisation of funding and I like that many people I know have seen their creative projects funded through crowd sourcing. I think we're starting to see and indie boom in the entertainment world and I hope that this 'mishap' doesn't cause any lasting damage.
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  07 July 2013
The problem is that people keep calling it democratization, but in cases like this it just looks like people taking money and not following through, which destroys consumer confidence in the process. Especially since you can't get refunds on kickstarter and the business model wouldn't really work if you could.
 
  07 July 2013
Is calling it 'democratisation' really a problem? In this case, I would call it a balls up more than anything.
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  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by shrunkendesigner: Is calling it 'democratisation' really a problem? In this case, I would call it a balls up more than anything.


IOW the removal of an entity in charge of enforcing accountability, which is a part of democratization, is looking less and less like a good thing for large scale projects. I'm not arguing the terminology so much as the value of doing things this way going forward.
 
  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by malcolmvexxed: Will the way the public views anything done by creative people that isn't on time as a scam or disrespect (I've seen this a ton in comic books) prevent crowdfunding from continuing to grow as a resource for animators, game developers etc? This morning for those who missed it, Double Fine admitted they aren't anywhere close to finishing their game 'Broken Age', which amassed millions of dollars on kickstarter after asking for only $400k. Now the game will be broken up into two parts, the first of which won't be released until next year, and they're apparently out of money. The backers of the project are largely going nuts on their kickstarter comments section, but missing benchmarks feels normal to me after working in these fields for a long time. Maybe being beholden to thousands and thousands of people with no professional experience isn't superior to having to report to a company and 6-7 superiors who are in the same field as you?

I've been keeping a close eye on crowdfunding b/c I hope that it'll one day lead to more variety of animated fare than we get from corporate sources which is why these stories are so interesting to me.

Oops: article on this at ars technica - http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/...budget-delayed/


Theirs poor estimations and then there are poor estimations. You aren't talking about a project that's a few weeks behind or a few thousand dollars behind. They told the people who chose to fund them that they felt they needed 400k and 6 months (6-8 months can't remember) Instead they've had and extra $2.8 million and an extra 8 months, and yet they've produced at best 50%? That basically says the initial estimation was by someone who clearly didn't know what the heck he was talking about despite his previous experience. Increasing his scope because of the extra money, sure, but I'm sorry the extra time and money do not equate to the difference from the original pitch.

It's like a contractor saying I can They can renovate my house for 20k in 4 weeks. I don't know a lot about renovating so I'll take their word for it as they know more about this. now if there's a snafu or two and it takes a week longer, and an extra 4k. I get it, it happens. But what happened here is the contractor said I can renovate your house for 5k in 2 weeks, and then it cost 80k and took 6 months, and it is only half finished and they need more money to finish. Am I wrong to be upset because I don't know about how construction and renovation, or is the contractor simply a bad contractor doing his job poorly, and should I be able to hold him accountable for that.
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  07 July 2013
I think reputation will become a more and more important factor in crowd funding success vs. failure- it will be more about whether the given team or individual has a number of completed projects that are similar in scope to the project they are funding for-

The public will adapt and invest in teams/individuals that have a proven track record rather than basing decisions on who has the shiniest presentation.

In the end I don't think the public cares about development problems and they shouldn't- if someone promises something on a given date and its not delivered then they have failed the public- anything else they might say while not delivering just sounds like excuses and makes them seem unprofessional.
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M dot Strange
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  07 July 2013
It's kind of odd that the people that should know the best what is required to get the project done got it so wrong.

The crowdfunding is a good opportunity though, since after the project is funded you don't have investor obligations like you would usually have. Though many projects still have investors besides their kickstarter funds.
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  07 July 2013
Unfortunately I've seen the situation where the game designer is also the company president and/or founder. This person is so enamored of their baby game project that nothing can be compromised, no feature, action, tool is too unimportant to not do; and more get added all the time feature creep. Usually this is due to no one who is able to reign in the continuously developing game.
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  07 July 2013
I don't think this particular case has much to do with the public's understanding of development projects. You've got a well established studio that should know roughly how much a game concept will cost them in both terms of money and time, and people gave them multiple times the budget they "needed" and suddenly they are out of cash with only a fraction of the game completed. Yeah, I'd be pretty pissed off too.

This is likely going to be one of the rotten apples in the crowd-funding pie and hopefully this will help people in general understand that they are not pre-ordering a complete product, but rather funding someone's initiative. And that initiative may fail. Hopefully it doesn't turn too many people away from backing projects... it's unfortunate to see such a big project - that I myself figured was a sure thing - crash and burn so quickly.
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  07 July 2013
Sorry, but this has got nothing to do with public perceptions about game development.

When Tim Schafer, one of the most well-known and widely respected designers in the industry, admits he "designed too much game," that's not a perception problem - it's a design problem.

Rami Ismail summed it up beautifully by saying, "There's no doubt that overscoping is a problem and there's no doubt the responsibility is on Tim and his team."

Granted, there are, of course, other considerations to be taken into account, the most obvious being the massive amounts of money that Broken Age brought in via Kickstarter. But what's to stop projects from no longer accepting funds once goals have been reached? Do projects have to keep accepting funds? Surely this is something that could have been avoided.

Rather than blaming an ignorant public, maybe we should look at what this will mean for crowdsourced games in general - specifically, those projects launched by renowned and well-respected designers like Schafer. Plus, it raises a lot of uncomfortable questions, like will this happen with Massive Chalice? Why should backers - or anyone else - trust Schafer after this debacle?

Yes, there are unforeseen hurdles in game development, the huge majority of which most gamers and backers will be unaware of. However, this whole situation raises questions about not only the way Kickstarter projects are funded, but also the dangers of feature creep, even for experienced development teams.
 
  07 July 2013
They can set a limit on the number of items for each kickstarter reward. I think some of them definitely should because in a lot of cases the project doesn't scale up well. If you're selling a game then it's not that much of an issue since you can easily sell as many digital copies as you want. But other rewards can be harder to deal with when you have to make so many.
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  07 July 2013
Originally Posted by danshewan: Sorry, but this has got nothing to do with public perceptions about game development.

When Tim Schafer, one of the most well-known and widely respected designers in the industry, admits he "designed too much game," that's not a perception problem - it's a design problem.

Yes, there are unforeseen hurdles in game development, the huge majority of which most gamers and backers will be unaware of. However, this whole situation raises questions about not only the way Kickstarter projects are funded, but also the dangers of feature creep, even for experienced development teams.


Wasn't Schafer known for lateness already though? I've heard criticisms before about his missing benchmarks. True though that they drastically over-shot things here, but we also have examples like what happened with Sullivan's Sluggers which was hugely successful, only for the creator of that campaign to not send out rewards to backers b/c he had underestimated shipping costs, and then start another kickstarter to raise funds for that shipping

http://comicsbeat.com/the-strange-t...ivans-sluggers/

My point after a long time in these fields is that in the real world people miss deadlines and do dumb stuff and screw people all the time. Now they're just going to be doing it directly to the public.
 
  07 July 2013
You don't have to be in the Indie/Crowdfunding market to see something like this happen.

Back in 2006, Sony Computer Entertainment grossly over-estimated the capability of sister company Sony Consumer Electronics to provide BluRay drive components for its Playstation 3 system which caused very large backlog.

Consumers adjust their behavior and perceptions of that.. but see... All it takes is a PS4 and 300 new PS3 games for the coming year... and you're the consumer's darling again.

If any party (Indie or Corporate) takes a poop in its pants due to Operational/Logistics miscues... the corrective response is the same... you have to make it up to the consumer.

Even Joel Schumacher has apologized for "Batman & Robin".

There are probably cases where consumer backlash was fatal... but my point is 95% of crisis like these are recoverable.
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  07 July 2013
Very true, I guess if poisoning the well was permanent an awful lot of companies never would have had repeat buyers.
 
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