Kickstarter projects

Yes, I wonder that too. I assume that the better graphics had cost them a lot of (more) money.

Of course it didn’t cost them 3 million dollars, it was much more.

Originally it was a much simpler, EGA-like art style like Maniac Mansion.

But they opted for something more sophisticated (background-wise + characters + more special animations), also in the hopes to appeal to a more casual audience. The result is very beautiful but of course also more expensive.

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Yes, but even 3 million dollars are too much for the result.

Yes. But there wasn’t the need to use better graphics: The backers paid for the “EGA like” graphics. So there was the possibility to publish the game with these graphics. Of course the result would sell less good as with the current graphics. But they would have get a lot of attention. This results in more potential new backers. So in a new Kickstarter they can ask for more money for a second game with better graphics. (Sometimes less is more ;))

I’m sure there are a lot of people saying something like this about some other game or movie which maybe cost even a lot more than Broken Age.
But it was still the costs to make it, if you like it or not.

They didn’t just make this game to please a core group of backers but to make something they like and which they maybe can use in the future to finance making more of such.
A Kickstarter alone isn’t really paying for a proper game which you can see on every video game Kickstarter project, ranging from a $2000 project to TWP to DFA.

Yes, and we’ll never know if this would have detracted more from costs or from revenues.

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Maybe. But my guess is it was a good decision.
The first thing you see (and judge) of a game, before and after buying it, is it graphics. People decisions depend IMHO a lot on the looks.

And I think people liking such EGA-style graphics (like me) are in the minority, not just in general but maybe even here on this forum (at least that’s my impression, also from the blog).

I think the current graphics are beautiful. But I’d also p(l)ay it with less sophisticated graphics too (e.g. allowing more content for the same money).

I don’t know the price, but I doubt that the graphics were the only reason for these additional costs.

All the information that I have tells me that TWP has been well managed from an economical point of view and if I compare it to other projects (like DFA) I would say that it has been very well managed.

This leads me to conclude that any analysis of their results shouldn’t focus too much on the costs but mainly on (the lack of) sales and revenues.

Estimating costs is relatively easy but estimating future sales and revenues is much more difficult. I’m sure that they were hoping for a better welcome from the market.

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Well, I’m hoping it works as Adele’s 21 did albeit on a lower scale. That album didn’t rocket off the shelves but it just kept churning out the sales on a consistent week after week after week after week (after week) without much decline. It’s pretty much the best regarded recent point-and-click adventure and if it can be on that pedestal then it could become a go-to game of the genre and build itself quite a legacy. Guess we’ll just have to see – perhaps I’m being too optimistic. Thinking of the long game here.

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I have done two succesful kickstarters myself (well, indiegogo) and we have delivered, although some promises take a long while to fulfill, and we have had several problems that were originated by external causes or people, that were impossible to plan for or to foresee. It’s a risk for the people making the project too.


I was talking about the money games made from being released, not the money they made from crowd funding.

Most of the additional money we raised ($500K) was not used for the core game, it was used for marketing, PR, and most importantly the (unannounced) ports. Some of it was used to hire a producer and an additional programmer, which saved the rest of us a lot of stress and overtime work. We could have finished the game (mostly) as you see it now with the original money, but we would have had to push people really hard.


Yes. But when I sum up the costs needed to produce the game, the result is less than 3 million dollars (even if I’m generous). According to other articles in the internet they have spend actually over 6 million dollars!

Yes, but it’s their fault. In terms of revenues it was a success and would have been generated profits. But DFA had spend theses profits for the non working management or what-do-I-know-a-whoo.

Nope, that’s not always true. DFA is an example: With the money from their Kickstarter you could make an adventure game (and that was simply what DF promised).

The biggest problems on Kickstarter are that the developers of video games have/had

  • too high goals and/or
  • asking for not enough money and/or
  • haven’t a proper schedule.

Star Citizen and Elite are selling the games (and in-game stuff) yet. And both projects made more money after the Kickstarter. But yes, they are not typical projects.

But I would add “Banner Saga” on the list (but I’m not 100% sure about their costs).

/edit: And not to forget: FTL - Faster than Light (they made much more money after the Kickstarter)

One of the difference between DFA and a lot of other Kickstarter projects is that DF had to pay everyone REAL salaries. The game was made by people who already worked at DF, and they were already getting industry level salaries. This isn’t true for most Kickstarter projects (including Thimbleweed Park). This isn’t to say DF didn’t over scope the game, but it’s also not fair to compare them to just about every other Kickstarter. Yes, they should have been able to build a point-and-click adventure for $3.3M. It boggles my mind that they couldn’t. But that is a separate discussion, and one none of us have enough real information to accurately have.

Making money in the game business is really hard. It’s easy to look at SteamSpy numbers and assume everyone is millionaires. Most (if not all) of my friends making indie games, including me, aran’t even making a living at it.

There are exceptions, but make sure you list all the non-exceptions as well, or you’re not getting a true picture. It’s also unfair to just blame the people who aren’t making a living.

The reason people aren’t asking for real amounts of money on KS, is that they won’t get it. We asked for $350,000 which was really high. We knew if we only got that amount, we could have made a game. It would have been much simpler and smaller than what we made, and with art like you saw in the KS, but we would have made a game. We got more and decided to make a game with Mark’s art and a larger game that was more in line with MI2. We could have just pocked the extra monkey and called it profit. We would have sold fewer copies, but that’s all guessing, and it’s not a game I would have been proud of, so it’s kind of moot.

If we had paid everyone industry level salaries, they would would have cost well over $1M, and that’s not including any marketing or porting costs. Most Kickstarter projects don’t pay people even close to that, and then go on to make no money.

The game business is a crappy business.


I absolutely agree!
I did some calculations yesterday for a new KS project, and If I calculated correctly…at least half of the money goes to fees, tax and shipping, so at the end you have very little left…
it would have to be consistently incoming money all over the years of the development…at least 10k a month to survive and pay for all the development and marketing. :confused:

Fun? not sure!

A long time ago there was a blog entry detailing where all the money is typically spent. Art, Music, Programming, Planning, and what have you.

When Thimbleweed Park was first announced, I fully expected it to look like from the 80s. I love Marks art to death, but I was wondering, how much more affordable all the work would have been if the 80s style was strictly kept, and Gary would have done the entirety of all art. Yes, such a game would look simpler, and even further limit the audience - but how much of a difference might that be, in the end? People who aren’t afraid of pixels would still go for it, I’m sure.

Like mentioned above - I couldn’t have been more excited about the much simpler look back then. When Mark was brought in, I was still excited, but I do remember thinking that, after making look as nice as Thimbleweed Park with Mark, we’d be right back with the hesitation that most people have with retro games. Going back. Who wants to go back to the 80s when you can have the 90s? To contrast this with: who wants to go back to the 90s when we could have the here and now.

It might feel cheap looking to some to see a retro 80s style game next up, but I sure would think it would be cheaper to make. The niche players like me, would still happily buy something that, because looked very much like a C64 or PC Maniac Mansion or Zak.

Damn I was hoping this would be so much more successful. I always hoped David would make another game as well, with Ron and Garys help.

Next time you get more cash on a Kickstarter than expected. <3 Feel free to pocket it and call it profit. Please do. :slight_smile:

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There are places in Thailand or Malaysia that are very beautiful, they look a lot like Monkey Island, and life is very cheap there. you could move there and write code under coconut trees, so you can cut expenses in half and continue your art undisturbed. And you get odalisques as an added bonus.


I just hope that both the upcoming ports and the boxed version of TWP will sell well.
Also, there might be the possibility that many people are waiting for a sale on Steam and GOG. You are still holding some trump cards.

In my opinion, you just have to release more good games in order to become more successful. If you won’t earn enough money for another game, you should do another Kickstarter with a higher goal than last time. We would totally understand appropriate salaries for artists. Just in case, you could make it a stretch goal and set a few lower goals in addition (e.g. with smaller and fewer room screens, less music, less animations, no voice-over and no ports for platforms which TWP didn’t sell well on). Also, you’d better omit raising any additional money for publicity this time, because thanks to TWP you already have publicity!! Anyone who enjoyed playing TWP will be curious about your next game. And, a lot of magazines would report on your next project anyway. Eventually, you would benefit from a larger portfolio, because people who enjoyed a Terrible Toybox game might get curious about any other of your games, too. A company always needs some time until it’s renowned and profit-making.
I’m sure that several Lucasfilm games would have sold a good deal worse, if there hadn’t been all the other Lucasfilm games.

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IMHO you are talking bullshit. A lot of the money was used on the expensive art style, creating it and especially animating it + polishing.

This didn’t apply to DFA but you are right, this is a problem with nearly other video game Kickstarter campaign.
e.g. stretch goals like “$25,000 more and we will add multiplayer!”
But it’s also the fault of the backers demanding such stuff.

Also (at least in the past) you couldn’t really use realistic schedules or backers would be upset.
e.g. TWP took nearly 2.5 years, that’s not what a backer want to hear when backing a campaign…