Kickstarter Experiences – Broken Age (Double Fine Adventure)

My first ever backed Kickstarter, pretty much what kicked off a popularity surge for crowdfunding (especially for video games), made a lot of projects possible over the last few years (and hopefully for the time to come).

Instant Success

Originally aiming for a sum of 400,000$, the Kickstarter campaign managed to overshoot that goal significantly, reaching the target in a very short amount of time (just about 9 hours), climbing up to the end sum of 3,336,371$ (!). Of course there was a lot of hype around the project, with the promise of a really great and old-school adventure game. If only we’d have known what was to come…

Development Adjustments

As one might suspect, with that much more money, Double Fine decided to change the scope of the game. The Kickstarter campaign was launched in February 2012, with the originally estimated release goal set to October 2012. After the campaigns success, the estimation was changed to around one year of development time, due to the increase in scope (increased production values, voice acting, more supported platforms). This was delayed in December 2012 to September of 2013. A first teaser for the game was released in March of 2013.

Breaking up is hard to do

Then in July came the big update: This targeted release window was impossible without cutting the game content in a big way compared to what was planned, as the Kickstarter funding would not last. The plan was announced to release the game in 2 parts, with small cuts, the first part of the game coming by January 2014. The second half would be released closer to April-May of that year.

Piecemeal Release and Additional Delay

This plan only partially worked out in the end, as the first Act of the game was released on Steam Early Access in January 2014, leaving Early Access and the end of the month, with Act 2 being planned as a free upgrade. Despite the earlier prediction of the second Act being released just a few months after Act 1, it took until November of that year for Tim Schaefer to announce that the second half of the game would only be released “early 2015”.

Finally, the Release

In the end, Act 2 was released April 28th/29th (North America / Europe respectively) 2015, making the overall development time of the game around 3 years, significantly more than originally planned.

In terms of update posts on the Kickstarter page, there have been an overall count of 58 posts, the last one made November 18th, 2016.

Reception

The game generally reviewed positively, though Act 2 and especially the ending was often cited as a letdown compared to Act 1. Personally, I have only played Act 1 as of writing this. It was a decent experience, though in my opinion it didn’t really deliver the “classic point-and-click” experience many were hoping for. I liked the art style, the voice acting was decent enough and the story was nice (though in retrospect I could have seen the twist at the end of Act 1 coming). The puzzles were (sadly) rather simple most of the time, which made the Act overall rather short. As the feedback from a few people I talked to wasn’t that great on Act 2, I didn’t have the motivation yet to revisit the game.

Conclusion

While the Kickstarter itself was a resounding financial success, the game development itself suffered due to bad planning and I would say bad management. Parts of the delay where also not communicated well to the public, like only announcing the delay of Act 2 several months after the originally targeted date. This was one of the projects that contributed significantly to my loss of faith in Double Fines projects and promises, but it was far from the only one, just the first.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Dude, if your problem with Act 1 is that it was too easy, you should play Act 2. It’s longer and harder with a lot more variety and inventive puzzles. I liked it a lot more than Act 1, and that’s not even a minority opinion among backers. Usually it’s people who liked the easy-going pace of Act 1 that didn’t like the increased difficulty of Act 2. Having play quite a lot since, I still think it’s the best point and click adventure since, well, Tim Schafer’s previous one.

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