Diecast #20: SimCity, Darkspore, UPlay

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 9, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 138 comments

Some people like our random, unplanned discussions. Others prefer it when we follow a list of news items and keep the discussion nominally on track. This week we’re doing the latter.

Direct download (MP3)
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Hosts: Rutskarn, Chris, Josh, Shamus

Show notes:

00:30 Intro: Josh is playing Walking Dead 400 Days and Skyrim. Chris is playing Walking Dead 400 Days, Animal Crossing, and The Last of Us. Shamus is playing Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. Rutskarn is reading nerd books for nerds.

07:00 The $10 Airship DLC for SimCity.

21:00 Here we discuss the whole Darkspore debacle.

27:30 We discuss the UPlay security leak.

34:00 CEO of Red 5 Studios Mark Kern believes that WoW killed the MMO genre by making MMOs “too accessible”.

52:30 Double Fine asked for $400k to make a game. They got $3 million on Kickstarter and arguably launched the whole Kickstarter craze by doing so. Now a year later they’re running out of money and they’re less than halfway done.

1:08:00 Tea Time! (Mailbag.) Related reading: Here are my thoughts on drinking coffee, how I started and why I stopped.


From The Archives:

138 thoughts on “Diecast #20: SimCity, Darkspore, UPlay

  1. rickcart448eight says:

    I never ”really” liked Darkspore all that much, so meh. It’s unfortunate for anyone who liked it, though.

    1. Felblood says:

      I was really excited about Darkspore when it was announced.

      Then I heard that it was being published by EA, and decided that no game could be worth putting up with whatever mishandling they were going to give this one.

      This is such bittersweet vindication.

  2. Bropocalypse says:

    I think the sort of “always-on” DRM, if the concept somehow survives the xbone debacle, will come back to bite publishers in the ass when it no longer becomes profitable to maintain, if they also face the prospect of lawsuits for willingly making their product unusable after the fact.

    1. Humanoid says:

      On the other hand, Sony got away (mostly) clean from the OtherOS feature removal debacle, so I wouldn’t necessarily be so confident.

      1. MechaCrash says:

        The removal of a single feature that is not directly related to the primary function of the device (i.e. playing video games) is not really comparable to “this game no longer functions at all, it’s our fault, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

      2. Lupus_Amens says:

        Yea, but side-loading a $500 console is something only a very small group of people participate in so the PR hit from that is much smaller than something 100% of the users are going to face.

        I myself only heard about the OtherOS thing long after the fact via some hacker/cracker/tinkering friends and i follow everything related to gaming so i must have filtered it out myself.

        1. Peter H. Coffin says:

          And it wouldn’t have been even as much press as it got if the US Air Force hadn’t bought a thousand of them to make CONDOR out of … (I’m a little surprised Big Blue didn’t come sidling up to them and say “You want a little help with that? We can work out deal on these things…” Hell, I don’t really know that they didn’t….)

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      This is where the recent (by which I mean the last few years?) changes in EULAs come in, as well as the shift of games from the “product” to the “service” category. Basically if you read a present day EULA you will find out that the publisher no longer actually sells you the game but provides a service that is, effectively, the ability to use a copy of the game (a copy which, incidentally, you do not even own according to same EULA), a bit of further reading will reveal that the publisher is in no way obliged to keep providing said service.

      Now, on the one hand there is a lot of legal problems with EULAs, for example in some countries it is technically perceived as a contract that you cannot familiarize yourself with before purchasing a product (or a service, as the case may be), which may or may not make it invalid, or it could also be argued that they are purposely formulated and provided in a form that makes understanding them difficult. On the other hand these would probably be grounds for, at best, a refund, and in addition the company could argue that it’s 2015 and the “service” was available to you for the last 3 years without, or with very little, interruption so they feel they have realised their contractual obligations. We’ll see how it goes when it happens.

      Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if this went somewhere in the GOG direction, where companies would emerge willing to buy rights to re-release, patch or otherwise provide support for, games for which the publishers no longer want to maintain authentication servers, or whatever, possibly for a small fee from the users.

  3. Tohron says:

    I think you’re misunderstanding Kern’s argument. It was probably the wrong choice of words for him to say “too accessible”, but what he seems to be getting at is that WoW focused on having a strong exponential power curve, which encouraged people to focus on leveling as quickly as possible, breezing through quests without really paying attention.

    I think he chose the word “accessible” because the rapid power curve was meant to make players feels like they were quickly getting stronger, rather than feel like they were spinning their wheels.

    Nowhere did I notice him saying that the solution to this was more grinding – it sounded more like he wanted deeper, more meaningful quests, and a slower power curve that didn’t make your current gear rapidly obsolete.

    1. Humanoid says:

      I remember levelling in WoW back in 2005. From levels 26 through to 60 I only upgraded my main weapon once. Granted, this was because of an oversight rather than by design: the ‘broken’ mechanics of unnormalised weapon speeds meant very few weapons of the multitudes available were actually of any use, specifically only the very slowest.

      The throwaway rapid churning was more an expansion feature. I haven’t played for a while, but they try to induce me to come back by offering a free, immediate boost to level 80 if I resubscribe. Yeah, about that levelling content….

    2. Steve C says:

      the rapid power curve was meant to make players feels like they were quickly getting stronger, rather than feel like they were spinning their wheels.

      In WoW the opposite is true- in WoW you get weaker as you level up and the rapid power curve makes it worse. This was one of the reasons why I quit WoW.

      WoW is based on a points system that converts to % because giving +1% on something like dodge means you’ll run out of numbers. So they give you X points in dodge which grants 1% dodge at the level it is designed to be used. Next level the same stat might only be worth .8% dodge. You’ve lost 20% of the effectiveness of that item by leveling up.

      Gaining levels quickly means it’s basically impossible to stay on top of that gear curve. Gaining 1 lvl/10 hrs of play means that there’s 10hrs of play to find/buy replacement gear. Gaining 1 lvl/hour doesn’t give enough time to find (or even buy) a full set of new gear.

      Example: I remember I could easily kill this particular set of monsters at 82. I gained the level and instantly couldn’t kill them anymore, at all.

      1. Klay F. says:

        That’s basically meaningless to somebody who is just going to be leveling normally though. The entire point of leveling in WoW is to make players take part in the skinner box by having them feel like they are getting more powerful. Whether you actually ARE getting more powerful is beside the point, and is completely tangential to the underlying design.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          Not to mention, that you know in the long run you WILL be more powerful. Not all numbers are tied to ratings, and ultimately they go up every expansion that raises the level cap (read, all of them).

          It actually caused Bliz to discuss item compression for the current expansion, because the numbers were going up so much that they were starting to approach hard-coded limits.

        2. Steve C says:

          I did not mean this as a thought experiment. This rating system has been in place for years and I had no problem with it. But now leveling in WoW has gotten so fast that it’s gone over the tipping point. It’s been that way since Cataclysm. My point is it can now be felt. That’s why I included a specific example.

    3. Klay F. says:

      Agreed. WoW is also responsible for introducing the idea that all time not spent at the level cap is wasted time. This is why every MMO nowadays is judged by its endgame, even if its only been out a week. Non-endgame content is considered absolutely meaningless, which always perplexed me. Why even bother having leveling at all? All design decisions in WoW are based around PvP content and endgame raiding anyway, it seems like a massive waste of money to create all that content no-one cares about.

      1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

        I was a big fan of Galaxies, and one of the big benefits before the New Game Improvements was that leveling was not fixed, you could experiment with builds and designs, and it was relatively quick -meaning you could spend a lot more time enjoying the universe, tending your farms or collecting bounties or whatever.

        You know, role-playing.

        Too many modern MMOs feel like work.

        Made worse when guild members say “hey, let’s go level your character” which means I stand around with my mid-level character while they kill monsters and I leach experience. Woo, are we having fun yet?

    4. Steve C says:

      The whole Diecast discussion misses the mark on Mark Kern’s comments about WoW… in so many different ways.

      Rutskarn said:
      “There were MMOs, […] WoW came along with a different kind of game and was extremely successful and none of those players want to go back to the old kind of MMO.”

      That’s not what was being said nor the argument. There’s many ways of interpreting what Kern said (some of which was stupid) but THAT is not one of them.

      A better way of interpreting it is the commercial space is filled with this one mega MMO and that doesn’t leave room in the market for the other MMOs. The same way that the marketplace has no room for a game like the original Fallout. A developer could make a profitable Fallout game today using a ’90s budget to serve a smaller niche audience, but they don’t.

      “His attitude towards WoW is pretty unwarranted.”
      Actually his attitude is very warranted. Kern was part of the original WoW development team. Other people took something he cared about in a direction he disagreed with. I know what that is like. It sucks. He gets a complete pass from me.

      In short, Kern is pining over the loss of MMO diversity the same way that Shamus pines over the death of the survival horror genre, Thief stealth gameplay, the System Shock of old, etc etc.

      1. Steve C says:

        Now specifically about Kern’s comments on accessibility…

        By “accessibility” I do not believe he meant “accessible to a broad player base.” I think he specifically meant “access within the game” IE gated content.

        WoW (up until patch 3.2 WotLK) had gated content. There were hard gates (this objective must be met by you), soft gates (by someone in your group) and gear gates. That last was the most nebulous but it was there… ie pull your weight or find a group to carry you (and know you are being carried). Gates in pretty much every form have disappeared in WoW (except for the bad grind-y type gates.)

        Some quests were long epic quests, quests that took you around the world and weren’t grind-y at all. The grind-y quests existed, and still do (which Kern slams) but the epic world-spanning quests are all gone. If there is a quest, it will be close by and easily accomplished. Kill 10 rats. Nothing like Onyxia attunement (which Kern would have been responsible for) exists any longer.

        Rutskarn claims that “difficulty = grind.” No. Not at all. It’s the opposite. Grind = “easy but time consuming”. Skill matters little, time matters a lot in a grind. Difficult = “difficult to succeed but quick if you do.” Skill matters a lot when something is difficult in an MMO, time matters only in the sense of practice to hone that skill. Kern is criticizing WoW because the former remains and the latter is gone.

        This shift in accessibility within the game by characters (not to the game by players) has been detrimental to the game.
        Here is a graph. If you guessed patch 3.2 (when Blizzard fundamentally changed access within the game) was Q2 of 2009, congrats! After that point, WoW has been shedding subscriptions with only temporary gains from expansions. While WoW is this big success everyone points to, WoW is far less successful now.

        WoW wasn’t about the having, it was about the wanting. Blizzard changed it to the having and has lost millions of subscribers since then. Endgame wasn’t this grind to get X. It was a series of small incremental steps through content towards a goal. IE kill this boss which allows access to the next boss, which allows you to get the gear, so you aren’t face-stomped in the next instance. But now you can go direct and skip all the content in between. But when a player does that, there’s no new goalpost to set. There’s nothing left to want.

  4. Tizzy says:

    No mumbles? :-(

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Real talk, a couple weeks of having Mumbles back and I would punch a bear to keep her on.

      1. Nytzschy says:

        I second that bear-punch.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Oy! Punch your own species if you need to unprovokedly punch something! >:(

          -polar bear

      2. Eric says:

        Can we get a Kickstarter going for Rutskarn to punch a bear?

      3. Humanoid says:

        So the claim then is that if we got Mumbles back, we’d lose Rutskarn, and a lucky bear gets a free meal?

        1. Syal says:

          Although Teddy bears are still bears so it may not be that drastic.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I fail to see the downside too.

        3. Muspel says:

          That would be an unbearable loss.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Please,no bear puns.They end up making such polarizing threads.

            1. ehlijen says:

              Yes, we should just drop bear punning altogether.

              1. Michael says:

                That would be panda-ing.

                1. Tizzy says:

                  There is no claws for alarm yet.

                  1. Humanoid says:

                    Please, no maw puns.

                    1. Muspel says:

                      The hatred for bear puns is almost paw-pable.

                    2. Syal says:

                      And yet they’ll continue until we’re all old and grizzly.

                    3. Kavonde says:

                      God, this pun chain really Baloo up.

                    4. Muspel says:

                      Ur-sines point to disapproval.

        4. Adam says:

          The bear isn’t all that lucky. Have you seen pix of Rutsy? Not a lot of meat on that boy.

      4. Mumbles says:

        you’re the best buttskarn

        like i told ruts and josh, i am clearly the lando of the group. i show up once and a while and im super cool

        1. krellen says:

          I agree. Of all the buttskarns I have met, Rutskarn is definitely the best of them.

    2. Chris says:

      That’s my bad. Mumbles can only record on one night, and my sister pulled my family all together for a thing that night – so we had to fall back to another night and things fell apart. :(

      1. Humanoid says:

        I suppose you could say you brought this situation to bear.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          No no… he’s bearing the blame.

      2. BeamSplashX says:

        I forgive you since you and Mumbles wear similar glasses.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why do we get links for Rutskarn’s and Chris’s blogs,but not the link for Shamoose’s blog?Come on,you always link it in such posts.

    1. aldowyn says:

      Could put a link to the Shogun LP for Josh, too.

  6. The Rocketeer says:

    Rutskarn: “People will still today talk about Psychonauts as a beloved favorite, despite not having bought it when it mattered.”

    *sheepishly raises hand*

    1. Taellosse says:

      Me too. I bought it on Steam last year. It was a delightful little game, but that was the first time I’d really payed any attention to it.

  7. Yanni says:

    Brunei has a state run amusement park funded by the Sultan. It was free when I was there in 2000.

  8. impassiveimperfect says:



    Unrelated, but related to the act of posting, I’m curious as to how well the ‘check this box’ method for keeping spam out has worked so far, compared to the previous one(s)?

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Actually that uplay thing is a piece of good news.Theres always a risk stuff like that can happen.But now we know that they are keeping the most important information secure,while its only some low risk stuff thats vulnerable.No system is 100% secure,but at least they are going smart about it.

    1. Ciennas says:

      That’s good… sorta.

      What would it take to make a publisher consider dropping the ‘feature’?

      To my knowledge, Bethesda is a big name with a rather wide fanbase, and neither they nor Zenimax have such a terrible security hole that they’re forcing their fan base through

      (That I know of. We’ll see how they handle the MMO world)

      Anyway, I know they all insist on it for the same reason Facebook does, but any guesses what will make them drop the money sink that induces endless nightmares and headaches from both sides of the user wall?

      (Nightmare for me because my data is in the wild and never coming back, nightmare for them because a single failure has the potential to ruin the business, shattering trust and is a constant expense from then on. I’m not seeing how either party wins, here, honestly)

  10. aldowyn says:

    Hopefully Doublefine learned from their mistakes with Broken Age for MASSIVE CHALICE…

    P.S. I’ve played Wizard101 a fair amount with my sister and it’s surprisingly fun :D

    *edit* ‘wake-up call’? What? Are you not paying attention to the timeframe throughout the whole process? So yeah, basically what Josh said immediately after Chris stopped quoting.

  11. hborrgg says:

    Chris: 0

    Sim City: $10 for airship DLC

    I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I actually picked up the habit of getting juice boxes at some point recently (they’re just so convenient, why aren’t all drinks like this?). I’ve also discovered that juice boxes apparently contain more sugar than a can of Coke.

    1. PhotoRob says:

      In Japan you can get sake boxes. No joke. About the same size as a typical juice box and complete with a straw.

      1. Josh says:

        Oh man…

        Brb guys, emigrating to Japan.

        1. Weimer says:

          Beware, oh glorious Nippon! Tremble, for Cuftbert-san is coming to Shin’nyÅ« suru your Kauchi and drink all your Sakes and become the Shogun by ShuryÅ«daning all of your Pantsus!

        2. Tizzy says:

          Was Campster deliberately alluding to this The Oatmeal comic when praising the virtues of beer for inspiration?

        3. Trix2000 says:

          Weren’t you already trying to conquer it before? What ever happened to that? :P

    2. Scampi says:

      Edit: I think you confuse sugar with carbohydrates? It amounts to pretty much the same, but I prefer to differ between them.

      1. anaphysik says:

        Uh, sugars *are* carbohydrates… CHEMISTRY, MOTHERFUCKERS (Although perhaps you mean “I think you confuse sugar with *total* carbohydrates”?)

        (EDIT: Looking up some values, the VAST majority of total carbs in (frex) apple juice are sugars. And they seem pretty comparable to sugar count in sodas. (~10% sugars by mass for both sodas & juices, out of ~11% total carbs by mass for both))

        1. Scampi says:

          Yay, another nitpicky topic to argue about;)

          No, no real argument here, I just tend to not call fructose and galactose sugar for reasons unknown even to myself. When refering to “sugar” by name, I usually only include industrial sugar as harvested from sugarcane or sugarbeet.
          Possibly because I don’t eat those unrefined and don’t like to think of an apple or a banana as a high sugar snack?

          On another note: yes, all sugars ARE carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. Therefore nutrition values often show “x carbohydrates, including y sugar”
          And hey, it indeed IS chemistry.

          My point was: when referring to “CH” or sugar in food or beverages, many people take them for exchangeables when former also include stuff like dietary fibers. In some cases this may also lead to people saying (and believing) “CHs” are sugars, which is as wrong as saying that birds are pigeons.

          1. hborrgg says:

            The ones I am looking at are 100 calories and 23g of sugar per 200 mL juice box compared to 140 calories and 39g of sugar in a 355 mL Coke can.

            The brand is “Minute Maid, 100% Juice, No Sugar Added.”

            1. Scampi says:

              Wow-you got some sugary juice there. My current comparison was Valensina Blood Orange Juice with 9,6g sugar per 100ml
              Another brand I have here contains 9,0g/100ml
              The highest amount I can find right now is a special dietary juice with 11,5g/100ml, which amounts to the same amount as yours.
              Since that one is for people with high demand for energy and iron (it’s recommended for athletes), I think that’s acceptable.

  12. Cripes! Does everyone who sends the Die Cast email named Neil?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Maybe some of them are Kneel.

    2. aldowyn says:

      Maybe it’s the same guy who just asks really good questions :D

      1. Well I’m one of them Neil’s but I’m definitely not from England. This reminds me when I hung around with some guys that run a Final Fantasy fansite and found out there were like four Neil/Neals…one of whom is from England, natch.

      2. Syal says:

        Or maybe it’s just that they can pronounce Neil on the first try.

      3. Neil W says:

        Neil’s of the world unite.

        I would apologise for sending in my stupid tea related question, but if other people aren’t sending in sensible game questions, I guess the legend of Rutskarn’s juicebox and Shamus Young cosplay will have to fill in the mailbag section.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          Stupid? Stupid?!?!

          I thought it was entertaining…

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,I know that beer is horrible,and its not a real drink,but maybe you should start drinking it because of your kidneys.I know it sounds crazy,but it works.A liter of beer a day really does keep your kidneys clean.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Note for my Paranoia players in the forum:
    That part where Rutskarn talks about Paranoia books is above your security clearance.If youve listened to it,report yourself for termination.

    1. anaphysik says:

      A note for any Paranoia players: reading UV-graded content is NOT grounds for termination. But using any of that knowledge to your advantage in a manner that lets your GM realize that you know it… oh, that very much *is*.

      1. Asimech says:

        Wasn’t the rule that players are allowed to read the rules, but not know them?

        Or was it that players are required to know the rules, but are not allowed to read them?

        1. anaphysik says:

          Wasn't the rule that players are allowed to read the rules, but not know them?

          Yes, that’s Paranoia.

          Or was it that players are required to know the rules, but are not allowed to read them?

          No, that’s Mao.

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            So, if you made Mao into a computer game, how would you get a software patent on it?

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      You mean that explosive device graded for destroying blocks is not safe and will most probably detonate at the most unfortunate moment? I would have NEVER guessed :)

    3. Nick says:

      Although this page is mostly blue. So looking at it is clearly above their clearance level anyway

    4. Akri says:

      When he mentioned Paranoia I popped my eardrums with a q-tip to avoid treasonously hearing things Friend Computer doesn’t want me to know. Now there’s red stuff leaking out of my ears. Is that patriotism?

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I do not recall a q-tip being on the list of equipment you were assigned for this mission…

        1. anaphysik says:

          And if it was, please explain why you allowed Friend Computer’s equipment to become damaged and contaminated with your unhygienic fluids.

          1. Kavonde says:

            When Rutskarn began discussing Paranoia, I patriotically shut my eyes, covered my ears, and started shouting “LA LA LA LA” at the top of my lungs.

            I was driving to school at the time, so it was slightly problematic.

  15. rabs says:

    Weird coincidence, PHD Comics did a nice short video about coffee today: PHD Comics: Coffee and the Brain.
    It’s high quality and educational, as usual.

    1. Asimech says:

      That was… strange. I think coffee is inarguably addictive, unless “addictive” has another meaning where “stopping cold turkey has adverse effects due to the body getting used to getting it” isn’t enough.

      I’m also pretty sure caffeine’s influence goes away as your body adjusts for it and all it then does it restore you back you where you would be if you didn’t drink at all. Unless you up the dosage, and then your body has to adjust for that etc. until you reach the point where it starts being harmful.

      Edit: To clarify, I’m talking about the “technically not a stimulant, but makes you more alert” bit. The below is about Alzheimer’s etc.

      No comment on the rest. I guess that for people who can drink a couple of cups only in a day it wouldn’t hurt “playing it safe” since the jitters etc. should go away. I won’t since my body can’t handle caffeine well.

  16. Daimbert says:

    Despite it getting some poor reviews, I think that The Old Republic is a good example of an MMO that’s still casual-friendly and yet encourages people to get engrossed in the zones instead of just caring about the levels. The class stories and the planet stories are interesting and give enough XP to move on to the next planet. And if you don’t want to do all the story quests, you can get XP through the Heroics and the Flashpoints.

    TOR is the first MMO I’ve played where I’ve even come close to hitting the level cap. I have two level 50+ characters, but I didn’t get there with a goal to being level 50, but instead got there because I needed to be there to advance my class story. So levelling was the means to my end, and not the end in itself, which seems to relate to what Tohron said above about the real point of the argument.

    1. Humanoid says:

      On the other hand, it could be argued that most “casual” TOR players would be non-subscribers, and the game seems almost outright hostile to them, with ludicrous, petty restrictions like the number of hotbars you can have, and delayed access to *running*.

      1. aldowyn says:

        You can get rid of most of the worst restrictions for less than it would take to buy a normal game. Some of the restrictions ARE really dumb, though, no denying that.

      2. Daimbert says:

        That might be true; this “not-so-casual” gamer is a subscriber, and with that it’s an excellent game for my casual tendencies that gets me to actually get to the level cap.

  17. Henson says:

    The developers of The Banner Saga recently sent out a message to their backers saying, basically, that this is typically how video game funding works: developers underestimate their budget and have to ask the publisher for more money (or, in the Banner Saga case, more time).

    It seems it’s highly unlikely that this will be the last time we’ll see this situation come up.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Yeah. I’ve been saying it for a while that this year, or at best next year, will be the time of serious kickstarter failures. And I don’t mean failing to reach your kickstarter goals, I mean failing to close the budget or deliver the product. And since this is the internet and not all of us are weighing risks and entering into this stuff aware that there is a chance the money may just disappear down some black hole… well, I sense a lot of backlash at the whole kickstarter idea in the future.

  18. TSi says:

    I wonder how Double Fine managed to spend all the money, how does cost scale up just because a game becomes more ambitious ?
    Doesn’t it all go into salaries which are a fixed amount / month ?
    Did they triple the amount of people working on the project ?
    I can’t believe they spent it all already in such small timeframe.

    I hope the documentary explains a bit.

    1. Humanoid says:

      I believe the goal was to have the game ready by, well, now. Whereas their new design projects that the game would be finished sometime in 2015, somewhere between double and triple the original estimated development time, so there’s that element of cost scaling.

    2. Ciennas says:

      Perhaps they girded up a section where the cost does rise astronomically.

      Advertising, perhaps. Or they needed to rent out equipment or expertise that charged more than expected, say for recording music or voice acting, or they licensed a particular system or engine.

      Maybe they can make a game on 300k, but once we paid well beyond that, new options and vistas opened up, but not enough to actually get them there once they started, and they hadn’t realized ’til they got there.

      Perhaps the entire dev team needed two ferraris, one for each trip home and to work.

      Pick any you like. Those are my guesses, at least. Add some of your own.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Advertising: I haven’t seen a single ad for this game. Even if they do exist, it would be entirely pointless because they already have enough buzz going around thanks to the Kickstarter.

        “Maybe they can make a game on 300k, but once we paid well beyond that, new options and vistas opened up, but not enough to actually get them there once they started, and they hadn't realized 'til they got there.”
        That would make this a case of extremely poor foresight and management on Shafer’s part, though this is what I’m most inclined to believe.

        What I find odd is that the people who donated signed on for an old school adventure game. That’s a pretty low-budget genre, so there shouldn’t be this kind of waste. I think those people wouldn’t expect voiced characters, super detailed graphics, or anything like that.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Isn’t there some sort of legal obligation with Kickstarter for spending all of the money on the stated goals? I mean, it may seem like the easiest thing to do to sink more money into the project but I remember talk sometime last year (I think) about how getting much more than they asked for was actually a problem for some? Wasn’t this the case with those “women in games” videos or something? Do note I don’t really like Kickstarter as an idea that much and I haven’t researched the legalities behind it so I’m sort of trying to verify stuff that I think I heard somewhere.

          1. Thomas says:

            This might be what you’re referring to from the FAQ

            ‘Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

            Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t’

            1. Kizer says:

              As a backer of Doublefine’s Broken Age as well as the Banner Saga, I have had the opportunity to see first-hand how this whole Kickstarter thing works. From what I’ve seen, any money that a project raises, minus Kickstarter’s cut, has to be spent on the project in some way. I believe there is no way for a project to say “Guys, we really appreciate the support, but we only wanted $300 K. The rest of you guys get your money back.” As Smejki says below, Doublefine was forced into scrapping their original plan and attempting to make a bigger game. At that point, it sounds like Schaefer lost any sense of restraint. Also, it is important to note that in addition to an overall increased budget for the game, some of the stretch goals on the project included releasing the game on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android on launch, rather than just Windows as was intended in the initial pitch. Developing for five platforms simultaneously would surely drive up costs.

              I have to laugh, as I originally backed this project because I looked at the games Schaefer had made in the past (Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, etc.) and figured if anyone would be able to actually come through on the game I was investing in, it would be a veteran development house like Doublefine. Oops.

              At the same time, The Banner Saga has also been an interesting game to watch progress. They also got much more money than they were expecting from their Kickstarter, and had to expand their game as well. They also ended up going over-budget, and ended up releasing their combat system as a multiplayer Beta (Known as Banner Saga:Factions). Basically, backers got access to this Beta for free, and non-backers could purchase it on Steam. Then the Banner Saga used this new source of funds and data to complete the single-player game, which should be released in November (approximately one year later than was initially promised).

              At this point, every Kickstarter I have backed has ended up getting massively more money than they expected, and this has made everything take longer. The creator gets stuck fulfilling so many stretch goals and pledge rewards that the actual project frequently gets pushed to the side. I’d say this is one of the interesting factors of Kickstarter: when you get an investment from a venture capitalist, you have one person or entity you are answerable to. When you get an investment from Kickstarter, you might have thousands.

  19. Vect says:

    I myself quite enjoyed the Tiny Tina DLC of Borderlands 2. I found the idea that Tina was using the game to cope with Roland and Bloodwing’s death and to give them an honorable fate compared to their ignoble deaths in the main game actually kinda heartwarming. Even if their relationship wasn’t shown too much, I do know that there was originally cut dialog from a late-game sidequest that would’ve shown this.

    I never really minded Tina as a character. She fit the setting and didn’t stick around long enough to outwear her welcome. ‘Course, I kind of have a high tolerance for that sorta stuff.

    I’m not sure how many here have fully beaten the game, but if they have, I’m curious as to how the folks here sorta thought of it.

  20. Hal says:

    Heh, I’d forgotten about your coffee rant from . . . 2007? Jeeze, what have I done with the last six years?

    I was on a bit of a caffeine binge last year: Four-cup pot in the morning, 1-2 cans of soda during the day, and then another 1-2 cans in the evening. Not terrible, but probably not good for me, either.

    I gave up caffeine entirely for Lent this year. I really expected awful withdrawal symptoms, but I didn’t get so much as a headache in that time period. Since then, I’ve cut back to a single cup of coffee and a single soda each day. Now if I could just get to the gym once in a while, I might actually convince people I’m not going to die at 40.

    1. Humanoid says:

      I’ve given up on coffee completely, but then it was never a habit anyway, not even a daily thing, so no ill-effects whatsoever. I’ve also given up on caffeinated drinks of other sorts for the most part, and I’m the only person I know who buys decaf Coke/Pepsi.

      That said, sugar-free takes priority over caffeine-free when choices are limited. Caffeine wears off by itself, but sugar needs work to burn off…

    2. Tizzy says:

      More to the point: Shamus obviously hasn’t done anything at ALL since he quit coffee. ;-)

  21. Den says:

    I think you guys are missing something…

    Red 5 studios is the studio that JUST released firefall, a sandbox mmo shooter where there is no leveling (kinda reminds me of borderlands?)

    you guys should try it, it just entered open beta and there are some major login issues, but it’s still a pretty fun and unique time

  22. Bloodsquirrel says:

    About this “WoW killed MMOs”-

    Wow didn’t kill subscription MMOs. Subscription didn’t kill MMOs. The need to multiply their subscribers by ten fold in order to keep up with the Joneses killed subscription MMOs.

    TOR had something like four times as many subscribers as Everquest used to have, and it had to go F2P. It’s not that players won’t tolerate Everquest-style MMOs anymore, it’s that there were never that many of them in the first place. Before WoW came along it was a niche genre.

    There are probably still enough people around to have an Everquest-style subscription MMO with ~ 200k subscribers, as was more typical of an MMO pre-WoW. Problem is that publishers aren’t interested in those kinds of numbers, and making such a game *profitable* on 200k subscribers might not be feasible with the cost of modern content creation.

    1. Volfram says:

      To back up your argument, EVE Online DOES have a subscription-style model and only half a million players, and they’re doing pretty well.

    2. Wedge says:

      On this point, I’m really interested to see how Camelot Unchained turns out. They’re working from a small budget and targeting a niche audience, rather than spending $100 million freaking dollars trying to replicate the WoW gold rush. I’m optimistic that WoW’s looming demise will open the door for more of this kind of thing: smaller projects focused on a more reasonably sized audience with the flexibility to innovate and try to take the genre in new directions instead of just making fucking WoW over and over again.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Which makes ANet’s GW2, with it’s upfront AAA pricetag and NO subscription fee even wierder. Somehow, they keep finding the wherewithal to spin out new content every 2-4 weeks. Not all of it is terribly creative, but it usually involves a minigame, a very different playstyle from what came before, and often a new mechanic.

    3. krellen says:

      City of Heroes was consistently profitable UNTIL they went free-to-play.

  23. Volfram says:

    In AC:Brotherhood I bought the Altair outfit so I could run around looking like someone who wasn’t wearing 150 pounds of leather.

    Seriously, as someone who actually practices Parkour, Ezio’s outfit wears me out just by watching him.

  24. TJ says:

    Hope to hear what you think of 400 Days (just finished it!) and Tiny Tina’s (watching a few Let’s Plays). Fake Geek Guy and Bikini Mail FTW :)

    1. BeardedDork says:

      I really wish I could get 400 Days to play, my Walking Dead keeps crashing before it fully loads.

  25. SlothfulCobra says:

    I like lemonade best. It’s mostly water, so less calories than full-on juice or soda.

    1. Scampi says:

      What kind of lemonade are you talking about? This claim seems to be totally illegitimate to me. I use to water down my juice, so it also has less cals-how can you claim a specific drink is lower in calories if it’s watered down?

      And once again an edit: I just checked and saw lemonade is defined differently in several countries, but the claim is still a bit too generic for my taste.

  26. Zukhramm says:

    The MMO guy is saying a game which focuses on the end game, making leveling a really minor part creates a situation where the majority of content is designed only to instantly become obsolete. That’s a waste of money, and it’s impossible for the designers to keep up with the playerbase, and the game ultimately has nothing to offer more causal player since if you’re not into raids and dungeons there’s nothing for you.

    “More accessible” sounds like it’d have more room for causal players, but the result is the reverse.

    I fail to see the stupid in that.

    1. Scampi says:

      I think a lot of what I would ever be interested in an MMO (if I played any at all) is not really feasible in a game that encourages level grinding and extremely competitive play while separating the casuals as “2nd class” gamers. There is not much RPing going on with powergamers or with casuals, what robs the genre of the one thing I believed to be more interesting in MMOs than in single player RPGs: interaction with a world that grants the possibility of true escapism by providing a possibly smaller player base of role players a rich world to play in, containing a multitude of interesting people to interact with. I thought it might be like having a really large, world wide P&P-party going on. If I ever saw any merit in joining any MMO it would have been the opportunity to RP with likeminded people. Since WoW’s breakthrough I highly doubt there’s any serious RPing going on in most MMOs (and I don’t count speaking in faux-shakespearian language as RPing).

      1. Trix2000 says:

        It’s due to the widened audience as well as a change in perspective. Even within the length of WoW’s development, there was a significant trend towards removing inconveniences and improving quality of life for many things, which ultimately moved it farther away from the old models of MMOs before it (ie: EQ). But as much as I loved WoW back in the original, I don’t think I could go back to it simply because it would feel too slow, too grindy, too repetitive in comparison.

        Obviously some people will think differently, but my personal opinion is that MMOs wouldn’t even BE a real genre without WoW. Not to mention that memories of ‘how MMOs used to be’ are ignoring the fact that things SUCKED. We just didn’t know better at the time because it was the best around.

  27. Thomas says:

    Wow Wasteland 2 Kickstarter was last year. I thought it was this year, at least that means if Wasteland 2 doesn’t derail it will come out before the Double Fine game, so we’ve got a chance of having kickstarter bid league success being established in our minds

    EDIT: On the subject of caffeine I’ve got an irrational thing where I don’t like to acknowledge that something that isn’t me can affect how I think, so I will never ever choose to consume caffeine or booze to make myself feel less tired or looser

    1. Syal says:

      That’s the beauty of it, though; if you drink enough of it, you won’t acknowledge it anymore!

    2. JPH says:

      Shadowrun Returns is coming out in less than a month! It got almost $2million, which was several times its goal of $400k. It definitely fits the bill for Kickstarter Smash Hit.

  28. Paul Spooner says:

    I love all the implicit puns and pun setups! “We’ve got some kicks to get in. Let’s start off…” etc

    So, how long are we going to wait for the DarkSpore players to show up and voice their support? It looks like you’re going to miss that prediction Ruts’.

    Shoot for the moon, and if you miss…

    Ahh… Star Citezen. I hope it turns out well… but I’m certainly on the sidelines. No way am I putting money on that.

    1. Hydralysk says:

      To be fair I do have good memories of Darkspore. I only played it for a weekend when I was in the beta with some friends, but we had a good time. It wasn’t a terrible game by any means, just not that remarkable.

  29. broken says:

    Double fine documentary has had parts where people were discussing the shaky financial ground for the last 3 updates. There is 1 update roughly every month. Also, I assume there is about 1 or 2 weeks of editing between the release of the update and whenever they had their last “shoot”.

    The original “plan” was to have an old-school adventure in flash for 300K. The budget was 2.3 million after kickstarter taking its cut & physical rewards. They upscaled design and had audience participation and Shafer overdesigned. If you are a backer, I’d seriously suggest watching the last 15 minutes of teh latest docu; they go in-depth about the decision.

  30. Disc says:

    I never really could bring myself to be too optimistic about Kickstarters. While I’ve backed two projects (Project Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera) I find it more worthwhile to think of it as showing support towards an artform rather than making an investment. If they manage to deliver on what was promised, excellent, but I won’t be crying after my money if things go wrong. I really want them to succeed though. Especially because even if crowdfunding turns out to be a passing thing, it’s already caused a lot of ripples in the industry. One good example is Chris Avellone mentioning in his lecture at Rezzed 2013, that after their succesful Kickstarter for P:E, they’ve (Obsidian) got positive feedback from publishers on that they may be interested in funding smaller games in the future, because it would be so much cheaper and much lower risk than AAA games. While nothing is certain, it’s good to know that at least some of them are paying attention.

    Edit: Fixed the video link.

    1. Sabredance (MatthewH) says:

      I’ve been saying for a while that Kickstarter is an investment system, not a pre-buying system. When you invest in a game, you are taking a risk. Make sure the return on the investment is either good enough to justify the risk, or that you don’t mind losing the money (ie: that you’re fine with gambling and losing).

  31. broken says:

    Wait, where’d my other comment go?

    Anyway, i decided to quote Tim Shafer’s message to the backers in full. Make your own judgement (warning: wall of text) (I bolded some stuff and clarified 1 item in []. Rest is original text):

    Hello, Backers of Adventure!

    Those of you who have been following along in the documentary know about the design vs. money tension we've had on this project since the early days. Even though we received much more money from our Kickstarter than we, or anybody anticipated, that didn't stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money. I think I just have an idea in my head about how big an adventure game should be, so it's hard for me to design one that's much smaller than Grim Fandango or Full Throttle. There's just a certain amount of scope needed to create a complex puzzle space and to develop a real story. At least with my brain, there is.

    So we have been looking for ways to improve our project's efficiency while reducing scope where we could along the way. All while looking for additional funds from bundle revenue, ports, etc. But when we finished the final in-depth schedule recently it was clear that these opportunistic methods weren't going to be enough.

    We looked into what it would take to finish just first half of our game””Act 1. And the numbers showed it coming in July of next year. Not this July, but July 2014. For just the first half. The full game was looking like 2015! My jaw hit the floor.

    This was a huge wake-up call for all of us. If this were true, we weren't going to have to cut the game in half, we were going to have to cut it down by 75%! What would be left? How would we even cut it down that far? Just polish up the rooms we had and ship those? Reboot the art style with a dramatically simpler look? Remove the Boy or Girl from the story? Yikes! Sad faces all around.

    Would we, instead, try to find more money? You guys have been been very generous in the tip jar (thanks!) but this is a larger sum of money we were talking about. Asking a publisher for the money was out of the question because it would violate the spirit of the Kickstarter, and also, publishers. Going back to Kickstarter for it seemed wrong. Clearly, any overages were going to have to be paid by Double Fine, with our own money from the sales of our other games. That actually makes a lot of sense and we feel good about it. We have been making more money since we began self-publishing our games, but unfortunately it still would not be enough.

    Then we had a strange idea. What if we made some modest cuts in order to finish the first half of the game by January instead of July, and then released that finished, polished half of the game on Steam Early Access? Backers would still have the option of not looking at it, of course, but those who were sick of waiting wouldn't have to wait any more. They could play the first half of the game in January!

    We were always planning to release the beta on Steam, but in addition to that we now have Steam Early Access, which is a new opportunity that actually lets you charge money for pre-release content. That means we could actually sell this early access version of the game to the public at large, and use that money to fund the remaining game development. The second part of the game would come in a free update a few months down the road, closer to April-May.

    So, everybody gets to play the game sooner, and we don't have to cut the game down drastically. Backers still get the whole game this way””nobody has to pay again for the second half. And whatever date we start selling the early release, backers still have exclusive beta access before that, as promised in the Kickstarter.

    I want to point out that Broken Age's schedule changes have nothing to do with the team working slowly. They have been kicking ass and the game looks, plays, and sounds amazing. It's just taking a while because I designed too much game, as I pretty much always do. But we're pulling it in, and the good news is that the game's design is now 100% done, so most of the unknowns are now gone and it's not going to get any bigger.

    With this shipping solution I think we're balancing the size of the game and the realities of funding it pretty well. We are still working out the details and exact dates, but we'd love to hear your thoughts. This project has always been something we go through together and the ultimate solution needs to be something we all feel good about.

    In the meantime, I'm hoping you are enjoying the documentary and like the progress you're seeing on Broken Age. I'm really exciting about how it's coming together, I can't wait for you to see more of it, and I feel good about finally having a solid plan on how to ship it!

    Thanks for reading,

    Thanks for all the support and feedback you guys. I'm heartened to see so many of you understand that we are always trying to do right by the backers and make an awesome game.

    I'm disappointed to see some members of the games press taking content out of these forums [=private backer forums] and turning it into news stories. That's definitely not okay. Especially when they put a salacious, misleading headline on it to attract readers. There are a lot of people out there who are not backers, who have not watched the documentary, and really don't care about this game at all but are just waiting for some anti-kickstarter story to tell. Frustrating!

    Rather than responding to everything and attempting to clarify our position amongst people who have not been participating on our forums or following the documentary episodes that have been discussing this very topic over the last four months, we're going to invite the press to check out the game and let it speak for itself. That's also part of why we are excited about allowing everyone to see it earlier (after exclusive backer beta access of course!) rather than waiting to the very end.

    Anyway, you guys are the best, and I'm glad you got to see some more of Broken Age in that episode. It really is coming together well and I can't wait for you to see more of it!

    If there's a silver lining to all this news, it's that it distracted people from all the filthy stuff Lee Petty said in that episode.”

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I cannot agree that taking this information and running it as new is a bad thing. I could have agreed to that if they hadn’t done a second kickstarter during this.

      1. Thomas says:

        Apart from anything else, this is how news is meant to work right, anything a journalist sees or hears that he didn’t agree was off the record beforehand is fair game. Acceptable news stories aren’t just the ones where the creator has agreed that it’s okay for the press to talk about it

  32. Aaron says:

    one thing that can alleviate grindtosis is giving/allowing a player to go through different combat techniques on one character…the only way to do that is to avoid traditional class system, and the only mmo that i have played was star wars galaxies, unfortunately they altered the game (i think the emulations servers are up)

  33. Velkrin says:

    Loved TTAODK but MAN did that game give me a case of mood-whiplash.

  34. Smejki says:

    ad Double Fine:
    It is unfair to say “the wanted 400k, got 3,5mil and yet still failed”.

    Originally they wanted were selling 100k worth documentary of production of 300k worth game. As they were getting much more (3,5mil) they had to scrape all the design they had and to make a completely other game instead. And that is where they failed. They failed at designing 3,5mil worth game not 300k worth game. Which is still a fail but of other type and magnitude. Sad thing is that this is what Double Fine were notoriously known for – unable to stay on budget. That’s why they got no money from me BTW.

    I hope InXile doesn’t fall into this trap too but it seems they prepared a clear design of a game which could be made for 900k (in both cases – Torment and Wasteland) and they asked for this sum. And as they got more they could expand the original design. This is very different situation from what Double Fine was facing.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      “As they were getting much more (3,5mil) they had to scrape all the design they had and to make a completely other game instead.”
      No actually. They did not have to do any such thing. The failure was, in fact, doing exactly what you say that they “had to” do.

      What they should have done was produce exactly what they promised and bank the excess. Then, if they wanted to make a super huge mega-project, use their experiences (and extra cash) to figure out how much that would cost, and then kickstart that one too. DoubleFine chose to take a risk (and it fell through) but they were totally free to not take that risk and just take the money.

      If I’m selling a painting for $100, and you offer me $500 for it, I’m under no obligation to start over and make a different painting.

      1. Smejki says:

        Are you saying that you can take significant part of Kickstarter money as a profit which you reinvest back into OTHER project? If so than we are in fundamental disagreement. And I am also quite sure that the rules of Kickstarter say that you have to put all the money into the promoted project and this project only.

        Is it ok to tell majority of the donators “hey, mates, we are taking the money you gave us to finish a certain project and ar gonna put in something completely different”? I don’t think so.

        Anyway it doesn’t change the scale of the problem which is that they failed to design 3,5mil worth game and stay on budget.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Researched! http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/backer+questions#faq_50036
          Certainly you can increase the scope with increased funding, but creators are under no obligation to do so… Unless there are stretch goals in place, which usually happens with software products where the duplication costs are negligible.

          In any case, yes, we agree on the fundamental problem. The game was over-designed for the budget at hand.

  35. Heaven Smile says:

    And as always, MrBTongue already commented on how to Un-Ruin MMOs:

    1. Ebalosus says:


      As Mr B said: MMO’s are ‘ruined’ because too many of them are trying too hard to be like WoW, and not embracing the sandbox

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