One year later: how Double Fine shaped its Kickstarter game

We talk with Double Fine producer Greg Rice about the newly-named Broken Age, its crowd-funded adventure game.


Broken Age, the name given to Double Fine's break-out Kickstarter success, was finally unveiled last weekend. The old-school point-and-click adventure game has a name and a setting now, but it's been a long road for Double Fine as it started this project from scratch. In fact, as of the time the project was backed, the developer didn't even have an outline.

"We didn't have an idea going into it because we wanted the documentary to catch everything from the very start," producer Greg Rice told Shacknews. "Tim [Schafer] really had no idea for what the game was going to be, all we knew was that it was going to be an adventure game. So we spent the last year designing the game and writing it, coming up with new technology to drive it, and now we're finally getting to the point where we would normally starting a more traditional campaign and announcing the game."

Over the course of that year, the studio has gone quiet. Rice said that the radio silence was to make one of its significant reward tiers feel worthwhile. "It's been a tough thing for us to manage because we wanted all of the documentary content to feel exclusive to our backers so they got something out of their purchase," he said. "So we feel like we've been talking about the game a lot, but the vast majority of people hadn't heard anything about it."

To that extent, the studio has tried to make backers feel part of the process. Most of the creative decisions are being left up to the studio, but Rice mentioned that possible locations were solicited from fans early on. "Ultimately they all want a Tim Schafer, Double Fine game and they know they can trust us. They kind of are leaving most of the decisions up to us and they're very good about letting us make the game we want to make. But we're using it as a tool to bounce ideas off of people and see what they think." One of those ideas was the title, which was gauged with a fan vote. Other options included Small Offerings, The Divide, and Worlds Apart, but Rice said the fans voted on the one they had been leaning towards anyway.

The game's development was paid for by the Internet's largess, but the company wants to reach a wider market with the game release itself. "I think adventure games are something that could do really well with the casual market, just looking for something that has a good story and is fun to play but isn't super action-heavy," Rice said. "It's something my mom could play. We can reach a wider audience and we're keeping that in mind."

That doesn't mean the game will be short on the classic trope of "weird item puzzles," but Rice says they've done some work paring down the systems to make it easier to pick up and play. "We've rethought all of those systems on how to streamline it," he said.

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