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Double Fine: A Perfect Storm For Adventure
It’s hard to argue that Double Fine Productions is one of the more innovative and creative studios in the gaming industry. With such titles as Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and Brutal Legend, the studio has long created critically acclaimed and original titles with a quirky, unique sense of humor and storytelling not typically seen in similar genres.
Earlier this year, Double Fine found themselves in the middle of a curious situation as they approached gamers themselves in an appeal for money to fund a point and click adventure game. The move raised some eyebrows, since the studio is more well-known for creating action and platforming games for both retail and online distribution services.
But while they’re not known for adventure games, they’re not new to it, either. Gaming personality and Double Fine founder Tim Schafer has a long history of making adventure games, being one of the minds behind such standout titles as Full Throttle and Grim Fandango.
However, in our modern day, Adventure games lack the appeal they once had and are consistently outsold by other genres. Because of this, publishers are extremely hesitant to put up any money toward backing the development of one.
In an attempt to appeal to the call of fans, Schafer and the Double Fine crew started a campaign on crowd funding website Kickstarter, calling for $400,000 to fund both the game’s development and a documentary surrounding the project.
On Kickstarter, users are able to contribute their own money to help these campaigns reach their goals. With the bar set at $400,000, Schafer and his team anxiously waited to see what would happen, having no idea what the actual interest was in their project. After 1 minute, $30 was pledged, and within 8 hours, they had reached their original goal.
Amazed, the group continued to watch over the next few weeks as the numbers continued to rise. At the end of the project’s campaign, the adventure game had gained 87,138 backers and raised over $3 million dollars, making it the largest project ever put on Kickstarter.
2 Player Productions has begun filming a documentary surrounding the production of the game. The first episode, “A Perfect Storm for Adventure,” has been released this week and is available to watch below:
The success of this project not only shows the dedication of fans, but also highlights the possibilities of game development outside of the backing of a publisher. Schafer discusses his distaste for publishers encroaching on his game’s development, noting at the end that the success of the Kickstarter campaign gives his studio all the money they need to self fund the game, allowing him to worry solely about how good the game itself is and not have to be beholden to the demands of an outside party.
So, what does this mean for gaming going forward? Is there a future for crowd funding games that would never be allowed a check from a publisher?
In the wake of Double Fine’s campaign, several other projects have taken to Kickstarter to appeal to gamers for outside funding to help with project completion. One such project is Republique, which successfully reached its goal within the final hours of its campaign.
As Tim stated, by self-funding a game, developers no longer have to alter game mechanics or sections to appease the demands of a publisher. With their own money, they can do whatever they want, however they want, without worrying about being shut down. This kind of freedom will allow developers to stick to their initial creative design, leading to a more pure production of the game.
Of course, game production is an extremely expensive endeavor, and without the backing of a publisher, a great majority of games would fail miserably without ever coming near retail.
But could crowd funding become a second option for games going forward? Will additional gamers feel the need to put up their own money to see the production of a product they want?
There’s no hard answers for that at this point. However, the situation is curious, and the potential for other campaigns becoming as successful as Double Fine’s is a very real one.
Double Fine’s adventure game is currently set to be developed on PC, Linux, Mac, iOS, and some Android devices. Schafer admits that although he has some ideas floating around, he hasn’t yet pinned down what the adventure game will be about, saying he wants to wait to really work on it until documentary production begins so viewers can see the entire game development process in action.
While the game’s concept is uncertain, one thing is for sure: the passionate fans who contributed to this campaign have put their faith in a solid project. Double Fine is a studio who has captured our imaginations many times over. And now, with complete creative control and insight over this game, it’s more than likely they’re going to do it again.