Visit our sponsors! (or click here and disable ads)
Brian Mitsoda responds to Dead State vaporware accusations, reveals new release date
Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 8 July 2014, 20:47:56Tags: Brian Mitsoda; Dead State; DoubleBear Productions
Brian Mitsoda doesn't like when people call Dead State vaporware. He doesn't like it so much, that he decided to draft a two part editorial/retrospective to answer the question "Why isn't Dead State Done Yet?!". It's a candid behind-the-scenes look at what I imagine might be the typical development cycle of a low budget Kickstarter game. Here's an excerpt:
I’ve never discussed this before, but there was a point where we nearly canceled Dead State. In 2011, we had to face the facts: without a budget, there was really no way to make an RPG. We had talked about Kickstarter back then, but I felt it wasn’t fair to ask for funding with just a good idea or screen mockups. My biggest concern for a Kickstarter was that we needed to get a basic version of the game together to show our work to potential backers, and we would only have a few months to do it. Together, we decided that in the spring of 2012, either we would take the time needed to create a pitch for Kickstarter, or we would cancel the project. It was only because of a dedicated effort that the game got into shape for the Kickstarter campaign, and it was that experience that showed me that the core team (including myself) could do the game full-time if we had the money to make that happen.
In June of 2012, we launched on Kickstarter, and managed a successful campaign despite some higher profile projects being covered in the press. In July of 2012, we had the funds we needed to pay for full production. This money also allowed us to bring on contributors full-time and additionally search for and hire additional personnel to round out our project staff. For all intents and purposes, the Kickstarter rebooted production of Dead State. As of mid-July 2012, we were finally working as a full-time production studio and the progress being made on the game was instantly a whole lot faster. As far as I’m concerned, production on Dead State started at the point when my team could get paid to do full-time work (you know, how most games actually get made).
Luckily, most of the pre-production was done pre-Kickstarter, so post-funding, it was all about further development on our tools, creating art and design content, establishing schedules, and looking for additional team members. I will say that once we had financing, that responsibility to deliver Dead State was profound, and I’m aware of it every single day. We are indebted to our backers: there would be no DoubleBear or Dead State without them. If we want to grow our business and continue to make games, of course Dead State is going to be finished - does anyone seriously think we’d blow our professional reputations by ‘abandoning’ a project on Early Access? (Side note: Unfinished RPGs on Early Access are not a license to print money.) It’s always been our goal to build to something, namely an experienced group of talent that can continue to make video games and maybe even attempt another RPG (if it doesn’t bankrupt us).
[...] Before I wrap this up, I want to mention that when Troika released Bloodlines, several dozen people had poured years of development time into that game, and while we did not get the time we wanted to polish it, we all knew we were working on a great RPG and were proud of our (incredibly hard) work on it. The thing is: financially, it bombed. Today, it’s still a popular game, but back when it was released, we saw it enter the marketplace and heard crickets. Yes, in time people discovered it and loved it, but the feeling you have when a game you put so much effort into - that you feel you did more things right than you did wrong - when that game bombs, it’s devastating and makes you less likely to take risks in your career in the future. Morale aside, without the momentum of sales and fan support, Troika did not last long after Bloodlines shipped. All the accolades that came later couldn’t save the company.
Getting a team together, creating a new RPG, and getting the public to embrace it takes years of effort. Without support - without people getting the word out about it - an RPG isn’t going to get the attention it needs to sustain the developers so they can make another one. If gamers want more and different types of RPGs to be created, they need to understand the process of development and embrace the fact that RPG development is only going to be made possible by supporting both experienced and new teams. I’m not asking for everyone out there to buy a copy of Dead State (although that would be nice), but if you’re knocking my team for the length of the game’s development, I am asking for you to understand the complexity of what we are creating before you dismiss us. The absolute worst thing that can happen to any RPG development team is to create fans after it’s too late to create another game.