Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Katie Chironis: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Ms. Chironis declined an interview on her awesome project. So, this is the next best thing.

In response to this:
'Big indie' Kickstarters are killing actual indies

Now you might be thinking: sure, the big named KS are in direct competition with other smaller KS projects, due to their window of donation, and the amount of money an individual can give. But the reasoning of a certain smaller Ms. Chironis is a little flimsy.

>We all know the Kickstarter bubble is bursting.

How so? What is the KS bubble, and how is it bursting? A bunch of random people donating to random crowdfunded projects? Doesn't seem like crowdfunding is going away, but what do I know of...donation websites...where people...voluntarily...donate their own money...on a proposed dream...

Seriously, there's a bubble on voluntary dreams with financial backing?

>And when it inevitably pops, Kickstarters like Bloodstained will be the ones holding the thumbtack.

So, Bloodstained, Yooka-Laylee, Elite Dangerous, Shadowrun Returns, Pillars of Eternity, Numenera, et al, are all to blame for using crowdfunding for a supposed "bubble"...and being largely successful? What's the train of thought here? What are the consequences of a "glorified donation bubble" that's about to burst? What are we talking about?

>Right now, passionate, optimistic backers who want to see their favorite old franchises return to life are being misled right and left about the "real" costs behind a game, concerns often hand-waved away by celebrity headliners and funding goals that appear to be appropriately large — on the surface.

Are we? I'm sure there are many KS people who don't understand the costs of a production of any product, but I'm quite sure these game dev veterans know how to make the games they've been making for years.

>Most game devs can tell you at a glance that campaigns like Yooka-Laylee, Mighty No. 9, Bloodstained and others are heavily deflating the costs of their development cycle, sometimes not-so-secretly planning to search for the bulk of their actual funding elsewhere or hoping to be massively overfunded. The amount asked for initially has nothing to do with the real cost of making the game.

So you're complaining that IGA and co., set a really low goal cost, on the hopes that their popularity will grant them several times more than what they're asking? And they do get the funding exceeding that low cost...and that's bad?

And even if this is Isn't it working?

Lots of fans would give hundreds of bucks to their fave genre/creator, then spend it on any other entertainment for the rest of the year.

>In fact, Koji Igarashi has stated that Bloodstained's $500,000 Kickstarter goal was only 10 percent of the money needed to create the game. Fans are being shown a budget that doesn't line up with the reality of game development, and it's skewing the public perception of what a game actually costs.

IGA: "All I can say right now is that after over a year of talking with just about every publisher out there, I was able to secure funding for about 90 percent of the game with the condition that I prove the market still wants an Igavania game. Kickstarter proved to be a great solution, as it would (hopefully) show that people still want an Igavania game while simultaneously providing funds for the core game."

Problem: solved. Thanks IGA!

>The notion that "consumers don't actually understand the real cost of game development" isn't a new one, but the true price tag is actually kind of scary, and the illusions put up by large Kickstarters are having a measurable negative effect on Kickstarter as a whole.

So? A good developer/designer does. Hence, why those big names on KS get all the bucks. They know what they're doing, they've proven it to us over the years. It's the same for big time publishers, and backers.

Let me put it this way:

Who knows how to make, and know of the costs for, a Castlevania style game:
a) Katie Chironis
b) Koji Igarashi

If you answered b), then everything you just wrote, Ms. Chironis, is your subjective nonsense.

>At a glance, Wikipedia tells us that Inti Creates, the company employing Igarashi, is around 80 employees. Let's estimate, optimistically, that only 15 employees are needed to produce Bloodstained. A very, very skinny team for a game of this size, but, hey — at least it'll be cheap, right?

Any more random, nonsensical, hypothetical salary costs you'd like to invent, which have an actual point?

All I'm hearing is "Wah. IGA is lying because I said so."

>No release date has been announced for Bloodstained yet, and all sources point to it being in a pre-production / concepting stage. Let's give it a highly aggressive but theoretically possible dev cycle of two years.
Estimated delivery: Mar 2017

Let's see yours:
Estimated delivery: Apr 2016

So is yours accurate or inaccurate?

So how is IGA's one of Mar 2017 inaccurate, or, not-announced?

Dear Ms. Chironis: do you even KS?

>$10,000 x 15 people x 24 months = $3.6 million. Okay, that's not so bad. I mean, it's over seven times Bloodstained's original goal, but the Kickstarter itself is at $2.3 million after only a few days. Maybe they'll raise the money —
(See quote from above.)

>Wait a second. Who the hell are all these people?

Who cares? Now unless you want to criticize the projects use of funding, be my guest. But what's your point if IGA hires...people?

If he wants to hire X to do Y on his

>Five other companies are listed on Bloodstained's Kickstarter page. If I only count the cute faces and names, we have a total of 20 extra staff to handle marketing, merchandise and PR. Marketing can easily match a game's budget on its own, but let's assume — again, with big sparkly anime eyes and youthful hearts — that we'll only be doubling the budget by bringing on another 20 people across five companies.

>We now have a budget of $7.2 million.

And you're getting this magical number how?

>This is napkin math, but you begin to understand how quickly costs can escalate.

Oh, so your entire reasoning is napkin math.

Even if IGA does screw up and doesn't deliver, I'm still not seeing what you're trying to say aside from "Games cost lots of money then IGA is telling you, IGA is therefore bad." -- implying that it's his job to go over every detail of production and costs and what it takes to make the damn product.

>Even knowing that Igarashi's publishing partner is covering 90 percent of their pre-Kickstarter budget, that's only $5 million on the table. Where is that extra $2.2 million coming from? If Igarashi had asked for the full $7.2 million on Kickstarter up front, it's almost a guarantee the team would never have made its goal. But is this recent pattern of compromising on the "public budget" vs. the "true budget" really any better?

*blows his nose on your proverbial napkin*

>"In order to finish Yooka-Laylee we will need to expand our team to an 'N64 size' roster of around 15, which we'll look to do immediately upon reaching our funding goal," that game's Kickstarter stated. "Therefore the vast majority of our budget will be allocated to wages and office space, plus the cost of outsourcing sound, testing and version creation."

>That's a realistic statement, but the idea of paying 15 people, along with office space and the other costs associated with the development of a project this size, with a $270,000 budget — the campaign's minimal funding goal — is absurd.


>If we say $10,000 per person per month for a year of development, which is a very rough approximation, you get a $1.8 million budget. The campaign has already raised over $2.5 million, which is a very workable budget, but it's hard to imagine how the game would have survived under the campaign's original goal.

Again...why? How do you know how they work, operate, get paid, etc.? Ever made a Banjo Kazooie via KS before?

>More importantly, how did a platform intended to support grassroots efforts and independent creators turn into a publisher-backed PR service where consumers actually pay large game companies to promote the game to them?

Welcome to crowd funding. I could list dozens of projects from movies to games, but are you really this daft?

>This is the effect large Kickstarters have on indies. This is where Kickstarter is headed. Because when a $7.2 million game masquerades as a $500,000 game (or even a $5 million game), it drags the line of what appears to be "a reasonable amount of funding" just a little bit lower for all the thousands of "little guy" projects out there.

What large effect does KS have on indies? Competition? So you're complaining that big, awesome KS with industry veterans (who may or may not be lying about their budgets) on classic games are bad for indie developers trying to get by? you're still, just whining?

>Bloodstained isn't a story of the little guy triumphing over big publishers; it's the story of a campaign that had millions of dollars of funding before the Kickstarter began and the help of multiple companies handling the logistics of the campaign. They asked for $500,000 to prove a point, not fund a game. The issue is that campaigns like that cause members of the community to believe that $500,000 is all you need to create large-scale experiences.

So? Who cares? What do I care -- as a backer -- what the actual real number of what it takes to make a game? Let the producer and creator of the project deal with that. That's their job.

What is your damn point?

>When you ask for half a million dollars when you really need $5 million, it becomes impossible for games with realistic budgets to survive. It’s not that people don’t understand what a game costs, it’s more that Kickstarter is actively distorting people’s understanding of a sane budget. The ecosystem is being poisoned for projects that need to raise their actual, workable budget for a game.

How is KS...actively distorting people's understanding of a sane budget? And so what if it is?
Starfighter Inc. has been in production for 2 years, and as of today on their KS, they're only asking for 250k. They might not even hit it. But guess what? That won't stop them.

I interviewed Coray Seifert about this:

That game's getting made whether the KS succeeds or not. Why? Because people have a passion toward making the game, much the same way the fans are of the games of yesteryear (X-Wing, TIE Fighter, etc.) That is, why as you said, KS's relaunch their projects. (Melancholy Republic was successful on their 2nd KS attempt. Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreaker's Daughter is also on it's second try, and Aaron and Chancler have made games before, and been successful.)

None of this stops Starfighter Inc from doing alternate means of crowdfunding, or setting up a Paypal or donations box.

The only problem I'm seeing in this article is "it's so hard to get a KS going because there's so much competition! Also, those big KS are bad because they lie to you about funding!"

>Transparency is critical. If consumers don't know how much things actually cost, projects that haven't raised nearly enough will continue to be funded wildly right and left and, inevitably, will have to scramble for extra funding from commercial sources — the exact problem Kickstarter was intended to solve in the first place.

Show me where IGA wasn't transparent about his KS campaign, misled his backers, etc.

>If we want to maintain the longevity of a service which benefits everyone, we need to hold each other accountable and maintain the ecosystem's balance. And if they care about Kickstarter, big projects are going to need to spearhead this effort so everyone can use the platform for years to come.

Which means what, exactly? What's your solution to your invented problem of bigger-named KS projects not sharing the "real" costs of game dev?

>Katie Chironis is a game and narrative designer who has previously worked at several game studios. By night, she serves as team lead on the upcoming indie PC game Elsinore.

To Ms. Chironis' credit, I care very much for her KS project, which is why I backed it, and I think it's a great idea. And yes, it's hard to get more funding when there are so many other KS projects to fund, but that's normal, healthy competition. Her KS project is 100%+ funded, too. So I'm not sure what she's complaining about.

She has declined my interview on her project due to my channel or something. Here's her response to me after trying to contact the team through every channel I could (KS, twitter, website form email, facebook, backer comments, etc.)

"We looked up your channel when you first reached out and noticed that you post a lot of GamerGate videos. The team has agreed we do not want to associate with that movement, so we will not be interviewing with you."

Now I have no problem with people declining interviews. But, per her reasoning, considering I have only one video about #GamerGate (wherein I talk to Sickboy about a week in review about it, I can only assume she's an anti-GG'er or whatever.) Every other KS interviewee I talked to concerning her behavior responded with the same opinion: "who doesn't want publicity?"

Well, here I am, giving her publicity. If anything, check out her project: it seems cool.

However, I find her reasoning -- much like her article -- circumspect.

Luckily, her lack of analytical acumen on a "KS bubble" can at least be applied properly to her current business production on how to cut her own costs and improve efficiency. Here's hoping she spends more time working on her project, and leaves the critical analysis to actual critics.