Thursday, July 12, 2012

Regarding the Divekick Kickstarter

I'm going to start with an analogy on this one.
If you were told someone wanted to rebuild their house from the ground up because they wanted the bricks orange instead of red, you'd think "that's odd," but it's really their prerogative.
If you were told instead that someone wanted to rebuild their house because they discovered the bricks had been made by slave laborers in China, that would be a completely different narrative.

This is more or less the gist of the initial post by the Divekick lead dev.
They have since changed it after the blowup, but it's not like programmers forget this sort of thing, nor the internet in general.
Instead of giving a specific technical or even stylistic reason for rewriting the entire game in Unity, the statement used a rather weaselly worded appeal to emotion that "XNA is devoted to destroying Indie Gaming" as their main explanation for the platform change and required code rewrite.

This was misguided at best and dishonest at worst, and the surprise the Divekick team is feeling over the backlash is sort of naive.
There are three types of people in regards to this kickstarter, people who would donate no questions asked, people who would never donate, and people on the fence.
For those fenced people, including myself, a lot of the fence-sitting is questioning the cost breakdown that was given to us by the Divekick devs.
People would like Divekick on PC yes, but would they like it knowing it cost 30K? 60K?
To get something like the above statement as part of the list of justifications for the cost breakdown is not very convincing nor persuasive, if not downright bizarre.
As was stated by one of the commenters, Bastion and Terraria, both indie game powerhouses in their own right, both used XNA.

So a rumble started, as it always does, on Twitter, where it quickly descended into soundbites.
More or less the new statement did little to explain the costs: 15K for QA, 30K for the game, 60K for netplay.
 Keep in mind these were all already important questions for the fence-sitters, just that now there was background noise.

Here is the big thing.
Very few people view that initial statement with XNA as a deliberate lie to deceive.
As was explained by Kayin of IWBTG fame multiple times, everyone likes Keits.
No one thinks he's trying to rob people for Divekick.
What it DOES do however, at least to me, is throw into question the dev team's technical prowess and/or programming skills in relation to the cost breakdown.
Why are you rewriting the game in another engine if it's not because of some sweeping moralistic reason?
What makes Unity better than XNA in regards to running what looks admittedly as a very simple game?
In a lot of fence-sitter's minds, the game is already finished, your licensing costs don't add up and your platform switch explanation doesn't hold water.
Let's not even get into the argument of what a single very motivated dev working for free can do versus what a team working on an iPhone app can do.
This is more or less where we are at.
Kayin has suggested a range that Divekick can hit, maybe 15K to 30K, but there has been no change in the initial Kickstarter as the devs and Keits buckle down on the defensive and call out the trolls and saboteurs.
Honestly at this point, it looks like they will change nothing about the Kickstarter and expect it to fail the goal of 30K.
I was asked by a friend why I wished to sabotage the Divekick project and see it fail.
I think the response, "I want to see Divekick succeed, but not like this," best answers that question.
Maybe because of the networks I'm on or the people I know, but I have a fairly good idea of the costs of Indie game projects as a function of their scope, and I remain highly skeptical of Divekick's cost breakdown.
What I don't really know is if the Divekick team considers themselves "Indie" or not and is thus, on the same wavelength.

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