Schafer talks up free-to-play virtues, laments the 'unchangeable past'
Posted: 05.09.2012 12:39 by Simon Priest Comments: 0
Double Fine Productions' Tim Schafer is all for the rise of free-to-play despite how it has been applied "scarily and slime-ily" in some cases. It lets games "grow over time organically" without a huge bill.

Schafer regrets not being able to have an "ongoing relationship" with fans of Brutal Legend and the like, as there were so many things he wanted to add. It was a game that suffered 'poor communication'.

He added that "openness would have helped" Brutal Legend in the long run, as people would "contribute ideas to it and embrace it," and not turn on it from shock.

"I've had this epiphany about how it doesn't hurt to be open," said Tim Schafer. "Let people see how it progress over time, so they feel the way we feel about the game. So they're really attached to them."

"You think people are going to reject you or your ideas about the game because they'll see something they don't like, but what actually happens is they embrace them more because they feel more included and more like a part of it," he added. "We used to have this terror that if I go off-message and say the wrong no one will buy my game, which is not true."

Brutal Legend's hybrid gameplay of RTS/action became a victim of poor marketing, admits Schafer.

"There was definitely a messaging problem with that game," he explained. "That's one example of how the openness would have helped that game a lot. Say we were developing that and sharing our battle system with people before we launched; not only would people have known about it, but people would contribute ideas to it and embrace it, and feel like it was their idea instead of this nasty shock."

Free-to-play can at least help correct these mistakes as improvements can be made overtime as fan feedback constantly rolls in. "I think there's a lot of potential in allowing us to release a game that we can stay with and keep making improvements for because it's funded by the free-to-play stuff in the game," said the Double Fine boss.

"We're used to just polishing a game then crossing our fingers and shipping it and going 'I hope I got it right! I hope I got it right!'" However with free-to-play, "we can make it as good as we can, then see what the fan reactions is to it and see what people are responding to most and improve on that."

"With a lot of our games I really wish we could have had an ongoing relationship with the fans", he said, pointing to Brutal Legend. "Making more content, or playing the multiplayer game and hearing what people liked or didn't like... I've never been able to do that, so a free-to-play game is a great opportunity."

Schafer would like to have fleshed out Costume Quest's combat more too: "We didn't have time.. if we somehow had a way to keep a team on that game we could have added deeper combat to it." The veteran designer would like to go back to the grander scale projects like Brutal Legend or Psychonauts, "but not at $60 retail."

"That thing I was talking about with the advantages of free-to-play mobile games - that can be applied to a larger game. It can grow over time organically. There's not this huge $45 million risk." He need only point to Minecraft as its creator Markus 'Notch' Persson who "started selling it when he'd only worked on it for three weeks."

"He started small and was able to fund it himself and that was really inspiring. There's so many other ways to fund games and get games made than the traditional publishing model that I've done for years. So I don't think that we'd ever do a $60 standard publishing deal."

Check out the full interview between Tim Schafer and Eurogamer. Double Fine's next big title is their Double Fine Adventure project that was flooded with Kickstarter pledges. It essentially kickstarted Kickstarter.

Source: Eurogamer
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