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Double Fine Adventure hits budget problems, delays

Tim Schafer's Kickstarter-funded Broken Age has hit further delays as the game has run over budget.

Tim Schafer's Kickstarter-funded Broken Age has hit further delays as the game has run over budget.

(Credit: Double Fine)

Tim Schafer's Broken Age — formerly Double Fine Adventure — didn't quite make Kickstarter history; however, when it reached full funding in March last year, it managed a whopping US$3,336,371 of its original US$400,000 goal, putting it in the top five most-funded gaming Kickstarter projects to date.

Although the original launch date was estimated as October last year, the enormous amount of money meant that Double Fine could make a much bigger game, pushing the release date back to later this year. Then, in May, the developer included the game in the Humble Double Fine Bundle, which raked in over US$1.25 million (although what percentage of that went to Double Fine is unknown).

In spite of this, though, the game has hit a serious roadblock. According to a backers-only post by Schafer on Kickstarter, the studio doesn't have enough money for the game it planned.

"Even though we received much more money from our Kickstarter than we, or anybody, anticipated, that didn't stop me from getting excited and designing a game so big that it would need even more money," Schafer said. "I think I just have an idea in my head about how big an adventure game should be, so it's hard for me to design one that's much smaller than Grim Fandango or Full Throttle. There's just a certain amount of scope needed to create a complex puzzle space and to develop a real story." And, after examining projections, it seemed the full game wouldn't be ready until 2015.

Considering that the average cost of making a video game was US$28 million in 2010, and that video games often hit these kinds of stumbling blocks, this is not entirely surprising or unprecedented. Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped backers howling for blood and asking for refunds.

However, Double Fine has not asked for additional funds, sought big publisher backing or cancelled the game.

Instead, the developers will be funding the shortfall out of their own pockets, and have decided to release the game in instalments rather than either significantly cut it down or push the release date back to 2015.

"We had a strange idea," Scahfer said. "What if we made some modest cuts in order to finish the first half of the game by January instead of July, and then released that finished, polished half of the game on Steam Early Access? Backers would still have the option of not looking at it, of course, but those who were sick of waiting wouldn't have to wait any more. They could play the first half of the game in January!"

Thanks to Steam Early Access, this means that the first half of the game can be released as a "pre-release", and then, when the rest of the content is ready, it can be added to the existing purchase as a full game update at no extra cost to the buyer — probably by April or May, Schafer said.

"I want to point out that Broken Age's schedule changes have nothing to do with the team working slowly," Schafer added. "They have been kicking ass and the game looks, plays and sounds amazing. It's just taking a while because I designed too much game, as I pretty much always do. But we're pulling it in, and the good news is that the game's design is now 100 per cent done, so most of the unknowns are now gone and it's not going to get any bigger."