Why I Don’t Support the Divekick Kickstarter

Boy, I’m a negative Nancy.

But before I say anything, let me say — I like Divekick. I like Keits. I probably like anyone who worked on the game. I love the humor, I love the gameplay, I love everything. I hope the game eventually succeeds… but I just can’t abide by things being said on their kickstarter. I’ve been crackin’ wise about this on Twitter for awhile, but I think I need to give my full thoughts.

I’m going to go right to the elephant in the room. 15,000 dollars in QA cost. Let me just say, I know many people with game’s on steam, of projects close to or smaller than Divekick in size and I’m fairly sure not a single one of them has spent a dime on QA costs. 15k is more than a lot of people ever even make on Steam. Do they not know this or are they lying? Who knows. Either way, it’s a huge oversight. Game’s get on Steam all the time that had no expense outside of time. Steam doesn’t have any fees to get on it. The process might be more complex for larger releases, but that’s not anything any of us are worrying about.

Now, I’m not necessarily against them setting the price at 30k for backpay but for the love of heck, be honest about it. Though that said, 30k just seems high. One of my biggest issues with Kickstarter is people acting like they’re obligated to have money now. You’re RELEASING A GAME TO MAKE MONEY. If your game is 90% done, release your game. Kickstarter almost seems to breeding this sense of entitlement to pre-money by developers. Everyone get’s dollarsigns in their eyes and they start making dumb decisions like setting their kickstarter so high that they risk not making it.

Is that even the best way to make money? A good example is Netplay. Netplay is a feature with a high ROR. A game like divekick would probably lose more money to people not buying it due to a lack of netplay then it would for developing it. Putting it behind a kickstarter wall seems like a great way to try and milk people (it was what, originally something like 90k or something? Now it’s down to 40k?), but it can bite you in the ass.

I also hear people frequently throwing out man hour costs and stuff. Yes, 30k would pay a bunch of people for the time they spent developing the game, but that was time spent willingly in the hopes of an eventual payoff. I know people who have spent years working on games. Those games didn’t cost them “Thousands of dollars” due to the time the spent working on them. No more than it costs someone thousands of dollars to watch videos on youtube. You COULD be working overtime at your job or having a second job, but instead you’re doing something else and that’s fine.

Now, making a game in your spare time IS an investment and something is lost and sometimes there is something that can be gained from it, but perspective is important. The Divekick people probably did at some point go above and beyond and make some sacrifices (look at all those two button sticks they’ve made!), but again, you’re going to be selling a game. If you want to make up for some of that loss and get a little cushion to help smooth things over to release? Do it! I WANT YOU TO DO IT. If the people are willing to give you money, TAKE IT. But set your goal somewhere reasonable so you might actually get it.

I’ll give Divekick a 50/50 for getting funded. It if fails, they’ll probably try again with a more reasonable goal. I hope it eventually works out, but their current kickstarter is the right mix of ‘manipulative’ and ‘greedy’ that I don’t want to see them get away with it.

Hopefully it’ll all work out in the end.

Edit

I just want to throw this out there since I’m having to explain a lot of stuff to a lot of different people.

This shit is hard. So to give the Divekick team some credit: This shit is hard. Pricing is nightmarish and Kickstarter is a thing that constantly sends mixed signals.

So second point I had to get out in the comments section…

It doesn’t matter how much the game actually cost to made. I’m skeptical about it. Sure, art could be expensive (which is an argument I’ve heard). To me, the art reads “We have one or two guys who do a lot of art for us and we probably don’t pay them yet because none of us are getting paid yet”. The style is high res, light on frames, but kinda loose. But let us assume they are contracting out work and the high prices that art houses usually charge… and ignoring the fact it doesn’t show up their kickstarter as an expense. The game could cost 100k to make (and in some business environments, it literally COULD cost that much or more!). Divekick could LITERALLY cost between 0 and 100,000 dollars. That is TOTALLY possible.

It STILL doesn’t matter. Unless they’re not going to finish the game without 30k, 30k is a bad number. If you set the value to 10k and make 30k, that’s AWESOME and very possible and looks good. If you barely make the 10k that kinda sucks but is still 10k in the pocket and the chances of making more were probably slim. If you miss a 30k goal, you look like a joke and any second attempt will, at best, do barely better, but probably do worse. That just looks bad and costs you money. If Modern Warfare 9 cost 200 mill to make and they had a kickstarter for it (while it’s like, 90% done) that was for the 200 mil dev cost, would that make sense? They’re going to make that up in sales!

For Divekick, making all your costs up if they’re really high isn’t assured, but doing a 30k kickstarter with shady itemized bills is NOT the way to maximize profits, regardless of cost. Any cost to make the game is sunk — all that matters is maximizing profits.

I thought I was clear about this, but I guess it’ll help to be more explicit. While I question how much Divekick cost to make and know it could be made under the right circumstances for way cheap, I can be TOTALLY WRONG and the game could have cost a ton but my arguments hinge on that. It doesn’t cost 15k to do QA to get on Steam and 30k is a bad value for a kickstarter and is just poor business.

Edit 2:

Well, I scrapped with Keits a bit (who, to reiterate, I LIKE) and read their kickstarter’s new news post which shines more light on the situation.

The first thing I want to emphasize is that right now you are playing a prototype. This is our fault for not being more clear, but when we say “Get the game out the door,” we did not mean exactly what you are playing right now. When we started working on DIVEKICK, we never thought in our wildest dreams it would be as amazing as it is. The problem with this is that we made short-term design decisions when implementing the prototype. This resulted in two challenging situations:

1) We built the game on XNA, which worked out for our initial purposes, but balanced against our end goals no longer fits our requirements.

2) Our code was dive-kicked to hell and back as the project grew in scope. If we stayed with XNA, we’d be rewriting the game anyway…

I’ll take that. Obviously a lot of my criticism still stands. Obviously a lot of the Divekick development has been a mess and mistakes have been made, but it all makes more sense. Rebuilding a game (even one as relatively simple as divekick) is a big task.

This sorta shows the huge importance good disclosure, but what can ya do?

Edit 3:

I’m going to throw something else out there. Jose here wrote a really heartfelt comment and I think the Divekick guys are already trying to fix up some of their missteps, so hear him out.

Sup Kayin, I’m posting here to state why I support Divekick.

Keits has been a big part of the FGC for a while now with his tournament series UFGT has set the standard for running tournaments efficiently, as well as being pretty damn fun. Through these tournaments I’ve gotten to know him a little more than just “that one SRK editor dude”. He’s a hard working person, and having successfully run fighting game tournaments means a lot. Being a tournament organizer can be very thankless work, yet he always brings something memorable every year.

I personally went to UFGT8: hundreds of people came there, competed in fighting games, played Divekick, Kombat21 and Super Balrog Ball all weekend and had a blast. Divekick is fun, and having gotten into the top 4 for KOFXIII that weekend, I still wanted to play Divekick even though I should have practiced a little more for KOFXIII, oops. I can vouch that many people told Keits they would be willing to pay for the game once it became a finished product. There were lines of people forming to play the game at UFGT8, CEO and EVO.

This kickstarter marks the first time the FGC has been asked to support for an amount like $30k. The $15k for QA sounds exorbitant, but I trust it’s a necessary expense for their project, because he’s been honest with his work as an organizer for UFGT7 and UFGT8. If you believe it’s not a necessary expense, then why can’t this be turned into a good thing? You say you like Keits, and you like Divekick, then why not contact him directly? If you know how to avoid having to spend this much, then that’s 5,000 or 10,000 or 15,000 that can be cut from the initial goal. This raises their chances of success considerably by needing less from the community to achieve the same thing.

I think you’re underestimating your leverage on the community. As it is right now, you are casting serious doubt on the expenses, and I can’t help but think it ultimately hinders the chances for a Kickstarter like this one to succeed. As a programmer and a known person in the FGC (poor Floe..), your word can carry some serious weight.

Even if this doesn’t change anything regarding your reservations on the kickstarter, they need every little bit of support they can get for this to succeed.

Thanks for hearing me out.