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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 Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

Why were you so doubtful?

I guess because of all this risk. It's new IP...I'm not Tim Schafer, we hadn't pitched Broken Age yet. Those were the big ones. All of the really big, successful Kickstarters have been from well-known game designers who are pulling their older franchises out from the 90s -- the Wasteland 2s, the Torments...

So I just wasn't sure if the support would be there for it. I was just really nervous about it. I just really tried to get in on the Tim Schafer "Plan A" philosophy, is what I call it.

Ok, what's that?

[Laughs] I don't know if I want to talk about this too much. But I feel like he's really good at putting almost all of his energy towards "Plan A." Plan A is the one that you want to have happen. So if you spend your time worrying about Plans B, C, D, E, F, G, all the way down to "ZZ," it's just taking energy and bandwidth from Plan A.

This is more my own philosophy and observation of him, because I'm a big time warrior, and I'll go down the lists of all those scenarios. He was just so confident that Massive Chalice would work. "It'll work, don't worry about."

What did that mean for you, as a designer who's in the studio, having Tim validate your idea in that way?

It was amazing, just having his support, having him saying, "No, it'll totally work -- you're the guy for this." He even crafted that whole [Kickstarter] video. He really wanted it to be like a Steven Seagal flick, like Under Siege -- this "There's one man for the job" kind of stuff.

Taking him out of retirement.

[Laughs] Yeah, for me it was just so flattering and humbling and inspiring, that he would just be like, "Yeah, you can totally do this. You are the guy for the job. People will show up."

I was really on the fence, then he pitched me the video. It was very loose in his mind [but after hearing it], I just thought that we have to do this.

Early concept art, Massive Chalice.


So the Kickstarter has already hit the target. What are you doing right now?

We were really freaking out about focusing on the campaign. We had a pipedream, that we'd be able to work on the design while we're running the campaign. But there's so much feedback and chatter.

Mostly it's awesome, because it's people who are excited about the game. But now we're just full-time running the campaign with a few people at the studio right now, focusing on that for now.

Mentally, I was still in freak-out mode up until we were well beyond the $725,000 mark. I was still freaking out! Then around $850,000, $900,000, I just remember having this moment where I woke up, and it was just like, "I don't have to pitch video games anymore! I get to make video games again! I get to focus on making a fucking video game!" That is what I get to do now, once this thing closes. We hit the goal, we put the campaign together, it worked, we got our funding! And now we're actually going to start making this video game.

It was just a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders, getting my second project off the ground. It's been a while since Iron Brigade came out -- the initial game came out two years ago, basically. And we did DLC and the PC version, so we worked on it for another six to eight months or something. But there's been nothing since then that I've really been working on -- just a lot of prototypes, pitches and all this other stuff. But now it's just about making the game.

I'm so, soooo fucking excited!

Do you have pieces of advice for people who are wanting to pitch a game on Kickstarter?

Get to know Tim Schafer really well [laughs]. So yes, have Tim Schafer write the script, and then have 2 Player Productions film it and edit it, and then you'll be great, that's it!

No, I guess that all Kickstarters are different. Our approach was to get people excited about getting in on the ground floor, getting them excited about the core concept, that it's all about [being involved in] this pre-production phase. Other games will have alpha footage or beta footage, and [developers] will just need money for the final push. So it's cool that it can support all kinds of different approaches. The rules are still being written.

So, do the research, examine the ones that were successful, and examine the ones that were not successful -- think about why they weren't successful.

Really, I just totally support anyone who has the gusto to launch a Kickstarter. It's nerve-wracking. What all Kickstarters have in common is that they all start at zero dollars. You don't know what's going to happen. So many factors are out of your control.


Article Start Previous Page 2 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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