How do the Gamers of the world (these forums) View Sponsorship-based Development
Published on May 7, 2011 By ScottTykoski In PC Gaming

So I have a question for my fellow gamers....

Is the Kickstarter system of project funding something you view as a positive way to get involved (and possibly score some unique rewards) or as a system for developers to beg for dough?

Thanks for any insight! 


Comments (Page 2)
on May 09, 2011

Annatar11
You can have your vision for the game, and if the investor wants to dump a bunch of cash on your lap but make a totally different game, you can say "No" and wait for another one. You lose time, but otherwise it's not necessarily a big deal.

The thing is, time can be a really big deal.

I look at the game "The Opera", originally a mod for the original Half Life engine, but it was going to be redone as it's own full game. The group doing this had to keep delaying their work, mostly because they had to work real jobs. Then it snowballed.. they delayed long enough that the Unreal Engine started coming out in full force.. so the question was if they moved to a different engine (effectively working from scratch again). Then Half Life 2 was announced that it was coming out (with it's own engine).
The delays caused the game to never really get started, and eventually fall off the face of the earth. I've never seen a game that could match it since, kind of like a Master of Magic of FPS games.

A number of Thief games (Nightfall? I believe there was another one too) had similar problems.

Had someone said right at the beginning "Here's a bunch of money, so you don't have to worry about losing your house. Now make the game, but with my changes", do you take the money and cave in, or do you risk having your game never see the light of day? The decision is just as hard at the beginning as it is half-way through.

on May 09, 2011

It can be a big deal, definitely. But my point is that it's a lot easier to say no when you're facing a delay, rather than the death of the project as a consequence I would also argue that a project that fizzes out and isn't started at all is an infinitely better outcome for the developers than one that is started, has a lot of money spent on it, and then fails to finish.

on May 09, 2011

I would also argue that a project that fizzes out and isn't started at all is an infinitely better outcome for the developers than one that is started, has a lot of money spent on it, and then fails to finish.

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what they did with their own personal capital. Either way, for true believers, it's devastating, trashes their opinion of anything those devs might try in the future and might undermine their confidence in trusting other devs with their money, pre-release.

I'd argue even if you put out an incomplete game, selling it for $1 means someone bored enough will spend on it. It won't earn you profit, but it can reduce your losses. Which is why so many incomplete games are pushed out the door. When you're all in already, you don't just pick up and leave your work behind. You put out what you can, and make back what you can.

on May 09, 2011

Annatar11
I think the main concept though is to get investors to fund the project before it's started, not to keep it alive after it started.
  This is the crux of what I'm trying to understand with Kickstarter...it's intended to something to get a project going "I have this idea, and here are some rewards if you can help fund its creation."

The problem is ensuring people that you're gonna get it done proper, and part of that is presenting a solid proof of concept.

My question, right now, would be "What shape should a project be in before you make your pitch?"  1%? 10%? 90%?

And if you have a proof-of-concept TOO far along, how many people go "What are you asking for funding for, it's basicially done!"

*shrug*

ps. Hi Annatar! 

on May 09, 2011

My question, right now, would be "What start should a project be in before you make your pitch?"  1%? 10%? 90%?

If a game is your baby, then whenever you sit down to play a build that you go "man, I had fun/worked my imagination/proved I can code what I envision."

If a game is more of a profit engine, I guess it'd be at the point some of your testers say "You know, I think I'd pay for this." I stress testers because, if you don't have a gut feeling on when it's ready, you need a 3rd parties' opinion.

And if you have a proof-of-concept TOO far along, how many people go "What are you asking for funding for, it's basicially done!"

I'm not sure this is so much of a problem. As gamers if you've got our interest, we'll pay if there's more around the bend, generally speaking. I also believe its within a developer's right to selectively withhold content for exactly this reason. You need a demo at that point though to earn some consumer confidence that you're not totally stringing them along. And I draw a distinction between that, and what major developers are doing now (Konami and RE5, others) which is the same general concept, but double-billing people for it.

I hate to keep bringing up DF, but, if Tarn every decided that he'd arbitrarily hit the 1.0 version of Dwarf Fortress and now was asking $20 for his life's work....I'd be the first to pay him. His work is so endearing because it's more than a job to him, it's an exploration of coding and ideas and fantasies, and that's all clearly visible in how he works and talks about his game. That's a decade-long commitment to gaming and a vision. In this day and age when devs make a game and then shutter or break up, that's the kind of proof of concept I can believe in because the concept is independent in some aspects from the business reality. I want to support developers that are in it because they can't help but create.

Here's another Tale of Interest!, about a little dev house named Introversion Software. You may have played their awesome little hacking game called Uplink. Read through their blog, the parts not about their new game Subversion (although I highly recommend checking that out and the dev logs). Particularly the one titled "Coming Clean." It's a tale of struggle and woe, but also success and rebirth. These guys are also in it for the long haul and you can see it in their ideas and their execution, and hear it in their talk about their work. That's the level of commitment that gets me reaching for my wallet.

The product of many lower end games on Steam, which are perfectly fine in their own right, not so much.

on May 10, 2011

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what they did with their own personal capital. Either way, for true believers, it's devastating, trashes their opinion of anything those devs might try in the future and might undermine their confidence in trusting other devs with their money, pre-release.

I'd argue even if you put out an incomplete game, selling it for $1 means someone bored enough will spend on it. It won't earn you profit, but it can reduce your losses. Which is why so many incomplete games are pushed out the door. When you're all in already, you don't just pick up and leave your work behind. You put out what you can, and make back what you can.

I don't know why the focus is on the "true believers", when the focus should be on the developers. There is no logical argument you can make that a situation where you have 0 actual financial loss (never starting a project) is worse than a project dying after $x money was already invested in it. In practical terms, who cares about a few rabid "fans", if you can call them that, that get pissed off enough that a game they wanted didn't get made that they stop buying games from others (? I don't even see the connection here). I think you're blending several very different ideas here. Nowhere did I mention anyone buying pre-orders. If you're talking investors, then having a responsible developer who says "Hey look, we can't make this work so here's your money back" goes a lot farther towards earning trust and confidence in independent developers than teams who clearly know they can't fund a project fully and start it anyway hoping they get more investment, and then it backfires.

Also, in today's marketplace, you can't put out a half finished game and have people buy it to recoup your losses. It's just not how it works. Nobody's going to buy it, and nobody's going to want to sell it since all the platforms have their own QAs and they won't even host it for you. Which means you'd need to host the game yourself, which means extra costs with money you don't have..

  This is the crux of what I'm trying to understand with Kickstarter...it's intended to something to get a project going "I have this idea, and here are some rewards if you can help fund its creation."

The problem is ensuring people that you're gonna get it done proper, and part of that is presenting a solid proof of concept.

My question, right now, would be "What shape should a project be in before you make your pitch?"  1%? 10%? 90%?

And if you have a proof-of-concept TOO far along, how many people go "What are you asking for funding for, it's basicially done!"

*shrug*

I think it's hard to put a percentage value on how far along it should be. If you're targeting actual investors, I would say you need something that's showable in-game. The investor should see and be able to fiddle with your idea for the game. It's gotta be something that will catch their attention. It obviously doesn't have to be anywhere near finished (content or systems), but it has to be something that will wet their appetite. Which basically goes to say that you should probably have a basic engine and some art and basic system design in place so that you can show something relatively cohesive (a brief combat demo, a basic puzzle level, etc). If you catch their attention, they'll be interested and you can go into how you want to expand what they see to include <feature list>.

ps. Hi Annatar!

Yo! Get on IRC more And none of that "too busy" excuse!

'm not sure this is so much of a problem. As gamers if you've got our interest, we'll pay if there's more around the bend, generally speaking.

Again, I don't believe the kickstarter concept applies to the "pre-order alpha/beta" system. We the gamers who preorder an indy game for $10 are not the investors. This is targeted at people who will put up larger sums of money before the project gets into the public eye and before the developer can even think about offering an alpha/beta for preorder. The two are completely different things.

on May 10, 2011

Rabid disagreement

Really? So all this talk of bonuses for sponsors, profit sharing, all that's directed at secretive millionaire investors? I think you're reading a different topic than I am, because this one most definitely talks about turning players into potential investors, and most post besides your's talk about that.

This is targeted at people who will put up larger sums of money before the project gets into the public eye and before the developer can even think about offering an alpha/beta for preorder. The two are completely different things.

Those million dollar investors who troll off topic forums? I think the point is to get everyone's money, including player money, to start a project. Otherwise the Kickstarter program is no different than going door to door to people with big wallets asking them to become investors. And it ends up with the same issues: your game is backed by handful of people who now are effectively your publishers.

Also, in today's marketplace, you can't put out a half finished game and have people buy it to recoup your losses. It's just not how it works. Nobody's going to buy it, and nobody's going to want to sell it since all the platforms have their own QAs and they won't even host it for you. Which means you'd need to host the game yourself, which means extra costs with money you don't have..

There are plenty of indie games out there that prove this statement false, Minecraft and DF being only two of them. And when we talk "development costs", there's a big difference between a team of 4 guys who started a project out of interest, and a team of 30 people with artists, PR guys, multiple coders and big britches to pay for, who need paychecks to keep working.

on May 10, 2011

Boogie, what if E:WoM had the kickstarter investment?  Depending on the funding, would it have made a noticeable difference to save the day or would it have only resulted in braking the thermometer for everybody?  Can you imagine the potential uproar?  Yes it is probably safe to say this is most definitely a blazing hot issue.

A similar situation is Blizzard being subsidized by S. Korea for Starcraft 2.  "Well what am I them paying for?"  They sink millions in taxes for development.  Then more out of their pocket for the game plus Battlenet (for us it's free) but the worst is the game seems so unfinished with two standalone expansions left.  Of course maybe that's the new business model of handling expansions because before the design intention was to be closer to perfect and then any expansions add on to it rather than preplanned holes to be filled up with expansions.  That's for another thread.

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