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How Double Fine's happy-go-lucky designer won Kickstarter
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How Double Fine's happy-go-lucky designer won Kickstarter

June 27, 2013 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

If you follow video games and aren't familiar with the name "Brad Muir," there's a good chance you will be familiar soon. 

He's a game designer at Double Fine, the studio headed up by the larger-than-life Tim Schafer. But Muir (pronounced "moo-ear"), with his utterly infectious enthusiasm and trademark-pending open-mouthed smile, has a big personality that stands out on its own.

Muir is leading development of Massive Chalice, which Double Fine describes as "A tactical strategy PC game on an epic fantasy timeline" influenced by genre staples such as XCOM, Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. A fan of the strategy genre, he already has proven his design chops with his excellent Double Fine digital release, Iron Brigade (formerly known as "Trenched").

Massive Chalice is the second Kickstarter from Double Fine -- the first one being for Schafer's own Broken Age, the game that unquestionably blew the door open for video game crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Following that act is no small feat. Nevertheless, Muir's project handily passed its $725,000 goal and will officially wrap up today, comfortably exceeding the $1.1 million mark.

Go to the game's Kickstarter page to find out more about the game itself. Read the Q&A below to find out how game designer Muir (@MrMooEar) is staying sane.

How has the Kickstarter been treating  you mentally and emotionally?

It was like a rollercoaster. Leading up to it, I was super stressed out about it. I had a lot of reservations about it. When I pitched Tim [Schafer, Double Fine president] the idea of the game, it was going to be my Amnesia Fortnight game this year. We'd prototype it, hopefully, if people vote for it. We'd been pitching Brazen for a whole year, it looked like it wasn't going to happen.

Brad Muir - clearly an emotional wreck.

So we started talking about what we were going to do next, so I pitched him an idea for Massive Chalice. Tim was like, "Yeah, sure, that sounds pretty cool." But then later said, "Actually, that sounds really cool. I've thought about it more!" Then he said we should just Kickstart it.

I'm like, "...What? You want what?! No! We can't do that." He asked me, "Why not? We have multiple teams, we'll be open about development, be very transparent, we'll tell people I'm not working on it because I'm working on Broken Age. It'll be totally fine," he said. "It's a new IP and everyone will be excited about that."

I was still thinking, "Are you sure this is going to work?"


Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

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Comments


Daniel Backteman
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The power of humble honesty.

Alex Covic
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I am still trying to figure out how much this Double Fine Internet mojo is about "Tim, the Legend". He needs to be applauded for taking risks, supporting and pushing the talent - designers AND artists (like Levi Ryken) - in his shop, to levels beyond their 'desk' job? Turning them into entrepreneurs and producers of their own games. Being able and allowed to "make your own game" inside a company (which is making more than one game at a time), is a great place to be? A boss, who supports YOUR idea and says "let's do this".

Also, how much of this Double Fine mojo comes from past success and how much from the "transparency" and positive public appearance of the whole company (2PP videos & Amnesia Fortnight streams, giving the public an unprecedented insight into a company and their personalities!)?

Brad has a fanbase, outside his friends and peers, generating from the Giantbomb.com website, ever since he presented Trenched/Iron Brigade? His popularity grew. People are making gifs of him, engaging in discussions on forum threads. He became a gamedev 'personality' among consumers. Those people turned into backers and made each other turn into backers? Not every developer has such a following?

Since Kickstarter, "to make a game, is to (also) know how to sell a game" reached the ultimate litmus test? Those, who are actually making the game, need to learn and know how to sell it (to the consumer) - and then make it. The days of asking "where are the video game personalities" is one from the past? The public is starting to notice you.

In the end, Double Fine seems to have a solid fanbase, which is trusting them to make good games. Is this base enough though, to translate into sustainable overall sales, with the broad audiences, when these games are shipping? I hope so.

S D
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Well, for perspective, I might not have backed MC on Kickstarter if it wasn't for my experience with their semi-public Amnesia Fortnight experiment. And I might not have done that, had they not partnered with the Humble Indie Bundle team to launch it, and had I not backed Broken Age and begun to peer inside the team dynamic because due to the 2PP docu's. Lastly, I probably wouldn't have backed DFA if it hadn't have been Tim Schafer, and if Linux wasn't a release platform.

So, personally, my support for MC is in place squarely because of Brad Muir, Derek Brand, and the others we stalked via livestream. I liked the pitch, the promise of interactivity, and I enjoy the type of games it is vaguely inspired by & modeled after (classic turn-based tactics, roguelike elements, etc), as well as the highly-stylized art direction.

But! Tim's fingerprints are all over the roots of this support... his choice to be more inclusive with PC platforms (Linux for me, Mac for the Mac folks, etc), to go to Kickstarter with Broken Age, to open the team up with 2PP, to partner with Humble *twice*, to open AF to us... these are nothing short of visionary. He provided an environment in which his people can shine and gather their own fan base. Of course, having been given this opportunity, an enormous amount of pressure is on Brad.

TC Weidner
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sounds like a good guy, I wish him all the luck in the world, hope this game turns out well for him.

Matt Spaulding
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WOW! 1.1 Mil. That must be a nice feeling. I want to start a kickstarter. But more around the $5,000 range. This is a very inspiring story.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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These stories are always great, but remember to do your due diligence. $5,000 doesn't sound like much, but I've seen projects fail asking for less. Brad is in a situation where he's able to ask for more, but you should also take his advice and examine other projects, especially ones that were asking for similar amounts. Best of luck to you.

Josh Foreman
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I worked with Brad at Outrage back in the day and I can attest he's as cool as he appears. :)

Dave Breadner
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I think the reason why Brad smiles so much, is so people don't mistake him for Vincent D'onofrio.


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