Broken Age's Second Half Moving into Early 2015

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#52 Posted by Marokai (3711 posts) -

I can't help but question why Giant Bomb isn't being more critical of some of Double Fine's recent shenanigans. I understand that that the company is full of lovable people, but this game is now on track to be released over two years later than what was promised to Kickstarter backers (even after the budget was unexpectedly expanded). Meanwhile, Spacebase was abandoned in Early Access, and the big Broken Age delay/split was conveniently announced days after the Massive Chalice Kickstarter closed.

They're developing a track record of fairly anti-consumer behaviour, and while I can't claim to know for sure what's motivating anyone, it really feels like they're getting a free pass because they're friends of the site.

But what about Brad Muir's smile?

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#53 Posted by Oky (43 posts) -

The Broken Age documentary is one of my favorite things (entertainment, media, education - whatever you want to call it) from the past couple of years. I won't say they're above the criticism (admittedly, it'd be nice if they didn't have these sorts of delays), but I feel like I've gotten my money's worth...and I dropped $100 as a backer.

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#55 Posted by Higsian (29 posts) -

@cornbredx: I think they don't announce to backers before the press because a bunch of press are backers and some will break news early, putting the rest in a weird spot. It happened like that with something earlier. I wanna say it was reviews?

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#56 Edited by DevourerOfTime (705 posts) -

@verysexypotato said:

@devoureroftime said:
@yothatlimp said:

@devoureroftime said:

Do not understand the hate for Double Fine in the comments. I'm happy with how the Kickstarter has gone (and how the Massive Chalice kickstarter has gone!) and have enjoyed their last few releases.

Don't really understand how the stick managed to wiggle up so many people's butts.

Yeah, these bitter comments are kind of nutty.

Yeah, you can really tell a lot of people on here don't understand how game development works. Double Fine in the past few years has shown a great deal of transparency in their development process, which has both educated a lot of people and also made some into armchair project leads who have no idea what they're talking about.

Yeah, all this hate is completely bizarre to me. I hope that Tim and the crew over there expected a number of consumers that would never understand the hurdles and insanity of development.

You'll notice that a lot of people compare DF to Telltale or any number of other devs who's development process are 100% behind the the curtain, and from seeing all this backlash, with good reason! DF may be late delivering a product, but for the price that I and many other KS backers paid, we are almost getting triple our return. This is INSANE. At any other company this project would have been greenlit, kept silent until a delivery date could be loosely confirmed, announced to the public (if a publisher felt it was worth not killing at this stage,) then either forced to release unfinished/buggy or delayed anyway.

I don't think that DF should be devoid of criticism, I think they totally botched it with SpaceBase. But the types of complaints I see being thrown at them tells me how very little some still understand the process. "They're bleeding money," every studio is always bleeding money. "Maybe they should only work on one project at a time." You take the jobs you have to so you can take the jobs you want to. You'll notice Telltale released Law & Order Legacies while they were working on Puzzle Agent, Walking Dead, and Back to the Future. Unless you're a AAA dev-house, you don't work on ONE project. It's not financially viable. And their smaller projects to keep the company afloat are all original IPs, whether coming internally or publishing someone elses small project. Not shovelware tied to a massive property (though I would LOVE to see a DF-made Guardians of the Galaxy...)

My main point is that DF is an imperfect wonderland where original content gets made by people who give a shit about making it, and they get it all on camera for us (though I don't know that's always the best idea.) Sometimes it totally fails, and that's the cost of being able to take as many independent risks as they do. I'm so glad they exist and I'm going to continue to support their insanity indefinitely because I think the industry is made better with a company like this.

Totally agree with you. In a world of yearly AAA releases (assassin's creed, CoD) that release completely broken even with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars I applaud a small independent team tackling projects that they love and trying to create a market for them. They are definitely not above criticism, but like everyone else in the crowdfunding space they are figuring it out as they go along. For a fraction of what this years Call of Duty cost I have Part 1 of Broken Age, many polished hours of an honest look at the struggles of being a mid sized independent studio as well as Part 2 to look forward to.

Spacebase was a bummer, so much wasted potential there.

Spacebase, to me, was an experiment with a new business model in Double Fine's ever expanding search of ways of keeping afloat, which is what any good company should be doing instead of being complacent. They figured that the game would make X amount of dollars on Early Access, which would've successfully funded the game at their estimates. Then shit happened, as it always does in development. It probably wasn't a single thing that killed Spacebase, but a million cuts: higher than projected production costs, scope becoming too big, lower sales than expected from other games, lower sales in Early Access, misunderstanding of the extent of the game's completion within the consumer base leading to unfair negative buzz around the game (or, worse yet, no buzz), the wrong type of project to maintain interest on Early Access (which is clear now in our 20/20 hindsight), Broken Age taking up more of the company's resources than expected, etc. etc. etc.

If Spacebase had been developed in a traditional model, it would have just been a second game cancelled by Double Fine this year that no one got to see. It happens all the time.

I'm not saying people don't have the right to call them out for over-promising and under-performing, but I can understand 100% why Double Fine did everything they did with the project. it's unfortunate, but it happens.

Also on the "they should make a single project instead of multiple project" idea: Double Fine would be no more if they took that advice. Broken Age is already sucking more company resources than was expected. If they went all in on that game, for example, and it flopped, then they would be back where they were when Brutal Legend tanked.

Not putting all their eggs in one basket is how companies the size of Double Fine stay alive. Iron Galaxy, Capybara, Harmonix, TellTale, etc etc These once mid-size developers (or even AAA developers, in Harmonix's case) are surviving by making the most of their employees, by shifting them from team to team when each project is in different stages of production, by hitting a ton of different markets to see what sticks, by working with a wide variety of publishers on certain titles and developers as outsourcing work. This is the new face of the mid-size developer. You're never going to see Double Fine make a new Psychonauts or Harmonix make a new Rock Band unless some publisher gives them a massive budget that will cover the developer's ass if it doesn't sell well (for whatever reason).

Also, as an aside, Double Fine has been doing good work with their publishing side of their company. All the games they have been helping with have been fantastic and it's a great move to use their resource and fanbase to help much smaller indie devs (and themselves) find success. I don't know how much of a financial success it has been for them, but I think it's a great idea that will work out a lot better than Early Access for them.

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#57 Posted by Salvatron (30 posts) -

Don't conflate frustration with hate. DF set expectations / deadlines that they couldn't meet.

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#58 Posted by zladko (178 posts) -

I was pretty excited when I originally backed it, but Schafer has really shit the bed on this one. Not only is his writing a shadow of his work on Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle, but it doesn't seem like he's able to keep his word to the people he so ardently claimed to want to involve in the development process. I guess I'll play it, whatever, though it'll probably be delayed again.

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#59 Posted by Slag (8157 posts) -

Don't conflate frustration with hate. DF set expectations / deadlines that they couldn't meet.

That's really what it boils down to.

I love DF, I really like their games, but man one has to be a least a little concerned at what seems to be a pretty consistent pattern behavior for them.

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#60 Posted by Hayt (1671 posts) -

The worst part of this is he's proving Kotick right.

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#61 Edited by noizy (984 posts) -

Hi, I came here to say that I have no polarizing opinion to express. I thought I'd let you know.

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#62 Posted by Catlicker (583 posts) -

Just with the Broken Age documentary I already have more than I asked for. They might have screwed up with Spacebase DF9, but I still think this is a company worth investing in.

The problems and what makes DF special both shine in Brütal Legend, a strange original game with a lot of heart, very passionate, that feels short and overcut. That's how they work, that's what they do, and I'm fine with it.

Double f- no, I can't do this.

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#63 Posted by medacris (738 posts) -

I was never planning on getting Spacebase DF9 or Hack & Slash, so I admittedly never paid attention to those, and thus, do not have the right to comment on them. But I like what I have of Broken Age, and I enjoyed the other DF games I already own, so as long as I get the finished product I paid for eventually, I'm complacent.

I never pay attention to release dates anyways, just as a rule of thumb. They're never generous enough, no matter who or what you're talking about.

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#64 Posted by emem (2063 posts) -

I'm perfectly fine with them taking their time.

I can't wait for the 2nd part, the first half was fantastic.

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#65 Edited by KestrelPi (212 posts) -

@slag said:

@salvatron said:

Don't conflate frustration with hate. DF set expectations / deadlines that they couldn't meet.

That's really what it boils down to.

I love DF, I really like their games, but man one has to be a least a little concerned at what seems to be a pretty consistent pattern behavior for them.

Consistent how? People say this, but it doesn't actually seem to measure up to reality - only on hearsay which tends to crumble on scrutiny. I'd say we'd need at least 3 solid, unequivocal recent examples of this to credit the idea this is a pattern.

So let's look at their recent history... most recently is the release of Massive Chalice on early access. It's scheduled to be done in spring, which is consistent with their original target of I think October 2014 after you factor in the extra budget because it made more money than they asked for. That game has always been on budget and they're funded right up until release, and general backer concensus is that spring is a good target to aim for given the close-to-done state of the game. No credit.

Spacebase was definitely an error in communication, and probably in judgement about how much game needs to exist before taking something to Early Access, for a successful launch. So that's one credit. But we're hardly seeing a consistent pattern, yet.

Before that, Costume Quest 2. Release on time, obviously - and on almost every platform! (except for Sony in Europe who they submitted to on time but for some reason aren't certifying the game despite it being done ages ago in America)

Before that, Hack 'n' Slash. Another Early Access project which was much better scoped for early access, and released in a complete state (and in my opinion one of the hidden gems of Double Fine).

Then there's Broken Age. People focus on the game being split into two parts, but ignore the fact of what that enabled them to do. Also, it's not true that act 2 was entirely funded by sales of Act 1, Act 1 sales just enabled them to extend act 2 development beyond what would otherwise have been possible. Furthermore, when they announced the split, in July 2013, they said act 1 would be out in January, and it was. So this is the only time that the game has slipped from an announced release date (the original Oct 2012 doesn't count as they pretty much said on day 1 of the kickstarter that it was clear this was a bigger project now). If I'm being really generous, I'll say this is a half credit.

Before that, The Cave, a couple of Mobile games, and other indie games, all of which were developed behind closed doors but none of which show any particular signs of being rushed out of the door before time, or blowing their budgets.

So, that's 1.5 credits. Hardly a pattern, is it?

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#66 Posted by FMinus (410 posts) -

Spacebase, to me, was an experiment with a new business model in Double Fine's ever expanding search of ways of keeping afloat, which is what any good company should be doing instead of being complacent. They figured that the game would make X amount of dollars on Early Access, which would've successfully funded the game at their estimates. Then shit happened, as it always does in development. It probably wasn't a single thing that killed Spacebase, but a million cuts: higher than projected production costs, scope becoming too big, lower sales than expected from other games, lower sales in Early Access, misunderstanding of the extent of the game's completion within the consumer base leading to unfair negative buzz around the game (or, worse yet, no buzz), the wrong type of project to maintain interest on Early Access (which is clear now in our 20/20 hindsight), Broken Age taking up more of the company's resources than expected, etc. etc. etc.

If Spacebase had been developed in a traditional model, it would have just been a second game cancelled by Double Fine this year that no one got to see. It happens all the time.

I'm not saying people don't have the right to call them out for over-promising and under-performing, but I can understand 100% why Double Fine did everything they did with the project. it's unfortunate, but it happens.

Also on the "they should make a single project instead of multiple project" idea: Double Fine would be no more if they took that advice. Broken Age is already sucking more company resources than was expected. If they went all in on that game, for example, and it flopped, then they would be back where they were when Brutal Legend tanked.

Not putting all their eggs in one basket is how companies the size of Double Fine stay alive. Iron Galaxy, Capybara, Harmonix, TellTale, etc etc These once mid-size developers (or even AAA developers, in Harmonix's case) are surviving by making the most of their employees, by shifting them from team to team when each project is in different stages of production, by hitting a ton of different markets to see what sticks, by working with a wide variety of publishers on certain titles and developers as outsourcing work. This is the new face of the mid-size developer. You're never going to see Double Fine make a new Psychonauts or Harmonix make a new Rock Band unless some publisher gives them a massive budget that will cover the developer's ass if it doesn't sell well (for whatever reason).

Also, as an aside, Double Fine has been doing good work with their publishing side of their company. All the games they have been helping with have been fantastic and it's a great move to use their resource and fanbase to help much smaller indie devs (and themselves) find success. I don't know how much of a financial success it has been for them, but I think it's a great idea that will work out a lot better than Early Access for them.

A good question would be, why are they still taking money for Spacebase DF-9? I don't know in my eyes that's just stealing at this point, nowhere on Steam is it mentioned that it's put on hold (at least not on the first glance) and they are still having sales and what not. This all seems so wrong and sad it's beyond belief, it's like back in 90's people would be taking $20 bucks for shareware or demo version and never delivering the final product.

Also let's not cover our eyes, there's one or two man developer teams that deliver better, more polished games. It's time to size down for double fine if they can't sustain themselves and ride on peoples backs and their generosity for about 3 years now, or just disappear into obscurity, really, I wont shed tears, sad for the people who would need to look for jobs, but that's how the world works.

All that comes out of Tim are excuses over excuses.

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#67 Posted by KestrelPi (212 posts) -

@fminus: The only people who have a reason to be mildly upset over this (and only mildly, because it was stated from the start that development would last as long as funding allowed it to, and no features were set in stone) are the Early Access buyers, who should have been told earlier what the situation was, for sure, and maybe could have expected more frequent updates.

But having played 1.0 (it's no longer Early Access), I can report that it is, indeed, a game. It's not a simulation of the level of depth that everyone wanted with more development, etc, but it's certainly a game where you can build a base in space and fill it with people who have various needs and desires, and try to keep it going for as long as possible against a variety of internal and external threats.

The price was lowered on release, quite significantly, to reflect the fact that it's not as big a game as they wanted to make, but I don't think it's misleading to say that there is a game here for people interested in this sort of thing. It's not the best thing Double Fine ever put out, for sure, but it's no more unfinished than any other game released on Steam that didn't quite meet its full potential. There are some bugs, but they've been actively supporting the game since release (I think it's 1.06 now).

Are we suggesting that whenever a game is released that is smaller in scope than originally intended, it should be pulled from sale? Because I think you'd be surprised at the number of things that would get pulled.

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#68 Posted by spraynardtatum (4384 posts) -

That's exciting.

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#69 Posted by stewmull (77 posts) -

I can't help but question why Giant Bomb isn't being more critical of some of Double Fine's recent shenanigans. I understand that that the company is full of lovable people, but this game is now on track to be released over two years later than what was promised to Kickstarter backers (even after the budget was unexpectedly expanded). Meanwhile, Spacebase was abandoned in Early Access, and the big Broken Age delay/split was conveniently announced days after the Massive Chalice Kickstarter closed.

They're developing a track record of fairly anti-consumer behaviour, and while I can't claim to know for sure what's motivating anyone, it really feels like they're getting a free pass because they're friends of the site.

Yeah totally agree with this, GB hasn't mentioned it on anything in a while.

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#70 Posted by Demokk (212 posts) -

@kestrelpi: As a backer who has been pretty satisfied with what they have delivered so far (especially the documentary), I agree with you on most of what you have said on this thread, but to be honest, it is getting quite tiring to hear this "it is going to be so much better, you'll see" rhetoric again and again. I am pretty sure it will be great, but the game has to come out at some point and it still needs to be relevant when it does. People aren't going to wait forever, let alone the fact of how fast this industry evolves and changes.

This looks like the classic ever growing scope problem to me. We all love to go crazy when planning and daydreaming about a project, but the scope needs to be defined and limited early on, especially if you have to answer to so many backers that were told an estimated delivery date even before the project was funded. We, as backers, were never told that this was an experimental project on how much it can be done with crowd-funding, but a definite game project.

I am sure the game will be awesome, but they could have handled communication about the project way better.

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#71 Posted by iconmaster (63 posts) -

I thought Act 1 was lovely and well worth my measly $15 pledge. News sounds great to me.

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#72 Posted by DevourerOfTime (705 posts) -

@fminus said:

@devoureroftime said:

Spacebase, to me, was an experiment with a new business model in Double Fine's ever expanding search of ways of keeping afloat, which is what any good company should be doing instead of being complacent. They figured that the game would make X amount of dollars on Early Access, which would've successfully funded the game at their estimates. Then shit happened, as it always does in development. It probably wasn't a single thing that killed Spacebase, but a million cuts: higher than projected production costs, scope becoming too big, lower sales than expected from other games, lower sales in Early Access, misunderstanding of the extent of the game's completion within the consumer base leading to unfair negative buzz around the game (or, worse yet, no buzz), the wrong type of project to maintain interest on Early Access (which is clear now in our 20/20 hindsight), Broken Age taking up more of the company's resources than expected, etc. etc. etc.

If Spacebase had been developed in a traditional model, it would have just been a second game cancelled by Double Fine this year that no one got to see. It happens all the time.

I'm not saying people don't have the right to call them out for over-promising and under-performing, but I can understand 100% why Double Fine did everything they did with the project. it's unfortunate, but it happens.

Also on the "they should make a single project instead of multiple project" idea: Double Fine would be no more if they took that advice. Broken Age is already sucking more company resources than was expected. If they went all in on that game, for example, and it flopped, then they would be back where they were when Brutal Legend tanked.

Not putting all their eggs in one basket is how companies the size of Double Fine stay alive. Iron Galaxy, Capybara, Harmonix, TellTale, etc etc These once mid-size developers (or even AAA developers, in Harmonix's case) are surviving by making the most of their employees, by shifting them from team to team when each project is in different stages of production, by hitting a ton of different markets to see what sticks, by working with a wide variety of publishers on certain titles and developers as outsourcing work. This is the new face of the mid-size developer. You're never going to see Double Fine make a new Psychonauts or Harmonix make a new Rock Band unless some publisher gives them a massive budget that will cover the developer's ass if it doesn't sell well (for whatever reason).

Also, as an aside, Double Fine has been doing good work with their publishing side of their company. All the games they have been helping with have been fantastic and it's a great move to use their resource and fanbase to help much smaller indie devs (and themselves) find success. I don't know how much of a financial success it has been for them, but I think it's a great idea that will work out a lot better than Early Access for them.

A good question would be, why are they still taking money for Spacebase DF-9? I don't know in my eyes that's just stealing at this point, nowhere on Steam is it mentioned that it's put on hold (at least not on the first glance) and they are still having sales and what not. This all seems so wrong and sad it's beyond belief, it's like back in 90's people would be taking $20 bucks for shareware or demo version and never delivering the final product.

Also let's not cover our eyes, there's one or two man developer teams that deliver better, more polished games. It's time to size down for double fine if they can't sustain themselves and ride on peoples backs and their generosity for about 3 years now, or just disappear into obscurity, really, I wont shed tears, sad for the people who would need to look for jobs, but that's how the world works.

All that comes out of Tim are excuses over excuses.

Wow. Where to start with this one.

Well first off, the game is in a playable state from what I've seen of it, though not to the point where it was originally planned. I see no reason why it shouldn't be sold, though the asking price for what is there is far too high in my opinion and they should be more upfront about it's unfinished nature. Still doesn't prevent them from selling it though. I think it would actually be really cool if more companies would just say "Here's our failed projects. Check them out. Buy it for $5. See why we cancelled it and what potential it could have had." Would be an excellent teaching resource.

One or two developer teams would have got as far with this game in about 4+ years, 3 if they were booking it. Maybe. All depends on skill, experience, time, funds, etc. etc. I know quite a few developer duos who have been working on games of this similar scope and scale for 6+ years.

Kickstarter isn't about sustaining itself on the charity of others. It's about finding alternate ways of getting revenue to help fund a game (not completely fund a game, because making a game on most kickstarter budgets is laughable, even the ones Double Fine have run) that other means wouldn't allow (traditional publisher deal, angel investing, etc.). It's not even remotely charity. People are paying for the CHANCE for a product to exist and for you to own that product. The inherent risks of this as a consumer should be obvious, but it's pretty clear that people wrongly see it as either a store or as a donation service. When a project is canned, you aren't owed your money back. You took a risk when you put your money in and it didn't work out.

Early Access is similar. It's not charity or generosity to BUY a game in order to help fund it in the hopes that it would be completed. It's an alternate way of funding a game that, this time around, did not work out for them. It's similar to when a publisher recently backed out of one of their projects, except they A) didn't have to let people go B) the people involved in the Early Access are complaining that a risk they took didn't work out in their favour People who buy a game in Early Access aren't owed a full game in return. You are buying an early product, an unfinished product, a product that some day may never be finished. If you're not okay with that, then don't buy Early Access games.

I knew that someone was going to get a bunch of backlash from Kickstarter and Early Access from people who don't understand what they're getting into when they throw their money around. It's unfortunate that Double Fine got hit by both of these.

Avatar image for sessh
#73 Posted by Sessh (3392 posts) -

Well, so this won't make my GOTY list then. But oh well, as long as the make a fitting finale to the game I don't really mind waiting a bit longer.

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#74 Posted by Anytus2007 (33 posts) -

@pudge: But they're doing it and they're making it work! Broken Age has average sales, bringing in significant revenue. Hack and Slash was developed and released without issue to generally favorable reviews. Massive Chalice was kickstarted and will release soon, having been delivered to backers within one month of the estimated delivery date on the original kickstarter.

I don't know of any repeated Early Access abuses. The only problem so far has been SpaceBase where there was obviously a huge miscommunication between buyers, DoubleFine, and Valve. Honestly, I thought one goal of early access was to provide an alternative Kickstarter-like funding platform where games could succeed or fail. Obviously, Valve and most consumers disagreed and that's hurt DoubeFine's reputation quite a bit, no doubt.

But ultimately, what you're asking is for Tim and company to lay off a large number of their close friends. I don't know if you've seen the Broken Age documentary or the Amnesia Fortnight streams, but it's very clear that many people have been at DoubleFine for years and years. There's an aspect of family there. I think Tim and everyone else at DoubleFine care a LOT more about paying their employees a great wage and helping them provide for their families than they care about what strangers think about them on the internet. Make no mistake that you're talking about firing 30-40 people with homes and families in the most expensive city in the country to live in.

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#75 Posted by petethepanda (387 posts) -

The biggest mistake of the Kickstarter campaign was keeping a lot of development info exclusive to backers (which inadvertently led to a lot of the past drama) but suggesting such an optimistic release date, especially one that was meant for the originally smaller scope they had in mind, is up there as well.

It's a shame it's taking a while longer to get Act 2 but it still feels like much of the backlash is driven by people mistaking backing for pre-ordering,

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#76 Posted by Pudge (1263 posts) -

@anytus2007: You think they're special in that regard? You think Double Fine is the only game studio in the world that considers itself "family"? Sometimes it isn't about that. Friends and business don't mix, and Double Fine's customer base are suffering because they're valuing their employees over their supporters. People went crazy when Ken Levine shrunk down Irrational Games, but I respect that guy a whole lot more than Tim Schafer, he did what was right for the projects he wanted to make.

In the end, I really hope Double Fine does well and learns from these mistakes. However, you should realize that any company that would take money for a game like SpaceBase (Or Hack and Slash for that matter, which was put out for release based on how much money they could get in early access rather than when it was completed) is basically just as scummy as publishers like Strategy First pumping out garbage on Steam every week. If this were ANY other company, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, but they've humanized themselves, so now people feel bad and let them get away with murder.

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#77 Posted by kalos (75 posts) -

Honestly, they can take as long as they want so long as they keep delivering documentary episodes.

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#78 Posted by sammo21 (5968 posts) -

The Tweet from Good Old Games about Psychonauts cracked me up hard. Something along the lines of "Remember when Tim Schafer used to sell games that were finished?"

Not really sure about all these risks people keep saying DF makes. I like some of their games but they aren't pushing any envelopes, especially compared to others in the indie scene.

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