Divekick Revisited: Lets all Chill Out a Little

it gets scarier and scarier for my words to be given more and more weight. It makes it more dangerous for me to be glib or be humorously hyperbolic. Keits and the Divekick team have been given a disproportional amount of shit for things I’ve said and done, often for things I didn’t even mean to imply. So lets go over this again.

Problem Kayin has with the Divekick Kickstarter:
*You do not need QA to get on steam at an indie level.
*Legal costs are probably not necessary (but are less insane than QA).
*30k is just a bad asking price in general, unless you plan on stopping the project if you don’t make it.
*Sloppy disclosure of costs and information.
*Overreaching in goals and ambition.

I broke this down to either ignorance or shadiness and I had a long talk with Keits. It was 100% ignorance. It’s easy for me to forget that I’m the guy with experience beating on the little guy here. So lemme explain to you how Keits could come to think this all was a good idea.

Imagine your a guy making a game in the Fighting Game Community. There aren’t many “indies” to ask for advice. Maybe Mike Z? Maybe you go to Seth Killian? So you go to Seth and say “I want to get a game on Steam. What does that take?”. Now, Seth works at Capcom. Like I pointed out in the comments in the last, while a small crew of the right guys (or even one guy) could make Divekick for 0 or close to that, Capcom would take like, 100k or more. Their infrastructural is way more complex and they have way more overhead and they’re not designed for small platforms. So he gives you a bunch of numbers that sound a bit high. But he’s Seth Killian! Or whoever, it didn’t have to be Seth, all I know is Keits did ask people in the industry and those people have an inflated sense of cost due to the nature of the businesses they work with. I see this a lot. People will be like “Oh wow, the art on this game looks expensive” because they’re in a position where they buy their assets as opposed to a lot of indie situations where you have an artist who is volunteering at a desk, slaving away at the hopes of eventual returns. The economics are totally different. Businesses don’t gamble, but indie devs do all the time.

So then you’re like “Well this is a lot of money! lets cut this down a bit!” and you cut your kickstarter costs by a lot. You THINK you’re being conservative, but you’re not. Now, you don’t know about getting games on steam or whatever, but if one person in the FGC knows, EVERYONE KNOWS, and you’re called out on it. Now, a lot of my criticism hold up, but in this context you can figure out why they came to be. So on one hand, I stand by a lot of things I said, but on the other hand I know Keits knows. He, in honesty said to me “Ignorance is my biggest enemy”. He’s learned these lessons. He does not deserve to be hounded and beaten for them. He also tried to hide the fact they were rewriting things to keep things smooth, but in reality that little decision which could have explained a lot of the costs backfired. I no longer am against the Divekick Kickstarter now that I know with confidence that Keits is trying to the best of his ability to do the right thing and is receptive of criticism. Now that we all have some context about what Keits is dealing with, lets cut him some slack, alright? He’s trying and I think has done a lot of things in the past to merit at some forgiveness and I apologize for being so glib and casual about the whole thing. I didn’t expect people to read into the things I said so much. But that wasn’t my last mistake!

DerpKick

But now we have this. Way to go, me. But lemme explain how this came to be.

I was talking to a friend about the Kickstarter rewrite and we were theorizing how long it would take due to the relative simplicity of the game (we’ll get into that shortly). Eventually the conversation mutated into “How long would it take you to make a bare bones divekick?” to which I said to their surprise “15 minutes”. And I did. Then it leaked onto an IRC channel and people started streaming it and hosting it elsewhere so the best thing I figured I could do is link it on twitter my self and take ownership. I figured giving context to it would reduce the damage done.

But what does Derpkick represent? To a lot of people it’s “Divekick can be made with 15 minutes of effort”. Is that really what I made? I said my self — Derpkick is barely playable. It’s silly as hell and the values for movements were the first I put in that felt semi acceptable. If I were to do my KICKER’S HISTORY DIVE-A-MITE clone, I’d start from scratch so I had better infrastructural. Derpkick is NOT able to support a real game. Even if I were to try a real clone, I’d be cheating in so many ways. I wouldn’t be making much art for it. I’d be reusing or taking stuff. I wouldn’t be recording tons of voice clips or anything. I’d also have a model of how the game works to copy and mutate. I’D ALSO be using a lame ass game editor that makes working on stuff like this way faster. You’d also never get anything like netplay out of me. I’m also a single person who doesn’t need to organize. Who knows how long it’ll take Divekick to rebuild — but if all goes well, not longer than it would take me to clone it — and they’d be doing it under a much better environment that would give the game much more of a future. Making games is never easy, especially if you have high standards. Things you think will take no time at all can take FOREVER to do. Art is also a big one. High resolution art does not come easy and is perhaps one of the slowest parts of the process. Now they wanna stuff something like GGPO into it and have REAL matchmaking and not “plug in your IP” netplay? That’s not easy. What Derpkick is and what Divekick is are not the same thing. Derpkick isn’t named Derpkick because Divekick is derpy, it’s named Derpkick because IT is depy. Derpkick is derpy as hell!

Why do I even wanna clone Divekick (even though I won’t)? Is it because I hate it or think it’s easy to do or whatever? Nah man, it’s because I have a ton of ideas that would have no place in Divekick proper and the Divekick idea seems so fun to me that I would love ot be able to play with it and push that design space. The fact I am interested in it SUPPORTS Divekick. It should not be treated as an insult. Derpkick was simply made as a quick joke/experiment and it is irresponsible to read into it anymore than that. It shouldn’t be rubbed into Keit’s face as if it’s as fun as a project he’s labored on this hard. I mean come on, does Derpkick have Mr. N?

Speaking of which, Instead of hating on Keits, could we all just hate on Marn instead?

7 thoughts on “Divekick Revisited: Lets all Chill Out a Little

  1. The part explaining how DerpKick would not support a proper game reminded me of this article on the Iceberg Secret: people think the visible part of software is also representative of its non-visible parts.

    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000356.html

    One solution would’ve been to do DiveKick the “proper” way right off the bat, so that all progress after the Kickstarter is devoted to creating new content, rather than rebuilding infrastructure. (Which is also why having netplay as a stretch goal is not a very good idea, but whatever.)

  2. I’m not sure if I should say this, but I can confirm that the Stretch Goal is ‘fake’ in that they want to make sure they don’t ship with out it due to that and other reasons if at all possible. This is a mess because kickstarter requires stretch goals.

    But yeah, Derpkick has some really hacky stuff in it so I could make it work in 15 minutes. If I was doing something real, it’d spend more time than the entire derpkick development thinking about infrastructure, easy. D:

  3. I think having a working prototype that was developed in one framework (XNA), and asking for money to deliver it in an entirely different one (Unity) is a bit disingenuous. It generates the false conclusion that the game is closer to being released than it really is. I am not saying that foregoing the creation of an actual engine that could support a full game for the sake of generating revenue was not a smart idea, but knowing now that the version they showed off at UFGT is just a hacked together prototype is a bit concerning.

    The intend of the programmer’s letter was clear, but it is obvious now that the project is going to take much longer now that it must be rebuilt from scratch. Building a proper engine, if that is indeed what they intend to do, takes time. This is especially true if the programmers are inexperienced with a platform, as it seems to be in this case. Will people actually be interested in the game several months to a year from now when the Dive Kick will actually be released?

  4. ———–
    NOTE – NONE of this has anything to do with Divekick’s quality as a game. I am ignoring whether it’s fun/boring/good/bad, since that is irrelevant to the cost.
    ———–

    Skullgirls was expensive, much more expensive than you think…but a HUGE amount of that money was art and a lot of the rest went toward publishing on consoles, licensing, and PR. For what it’s worth, it was exceptionally cheap for a dual-console game that’s art-intensive. (And no, it never gets easy talking about large amounts of money, even when you have worked on several $30-40m games.)

    The discrepancy I see with Divekick is this: There is barely any art, no publisher, and it’s not a console release. (As a comparison, Parasoul’s projectiles have more frames at higher res than the entire roster of Divekick added together.) To me, that’s most of the expense gone. We wrote our engine from scratch, a large percentage of it just me by myself, and if given the art I would guess the entirety of Divekick would take less than 2 days to script. But without the sarcastic estimates, let’s try figuring stuff out.

    Kickstarter takes 5%, so $30,000 is really around $28,500 for the team, rounding down.

    They want to work in Unity, which as a base license is free, and if you go for the Pro version is $1,500. (I’m not sure what that adds, since I see a lot of games use the free license.) Let’s be generous and add a team license and Flash player for another $1,000. Photoshop is $700 a license from Adobe’s site so I’ll bet you can get it a lot cheaper, and still legally, elsewhere. They probably need one license, but let’s give ’em two for $1,400. (Of course, you COULD use Gimp, SAI, or another free alternate to PS as some of our artists did, but let’s say not.) That’s $3,900 total for basic tools, assuming everyone already owns a computer…which they probably do since they made a game.

    Now let’s assume they have never used Unity before and didn’t research it at all during the Kickstarter funding period, so it’ll take them two weeks to set up the game. That’s a long estimate. At a $70,000/year salary, which is pretty good for a homebrew project, one person’s time over two weeks costs about $2,700, and you only need one programmer. Add one artist because they decide to make all-new art, and we’ll add a scripter too, stretching his two days of work over the entire two weeks, so let’s say $8,100 for the development of the game with everyone renting three-bedroom apartments and eating steak each night. If they all decided to work for a month instead for the same price, they’d be making about $16.87 an hour which is still double minimum wage…and even if it took three months, for a passion project you will do whatever it takes, including working for free if you have to. I know that firsthand.
    That’s $12,000 so far.

    If you go to the right place for PC-compliance testing, which is basically a big group of people with all sorts of different PC hardware making sure your game runs on all of them, you can get it for a project of this size for much less than $5,000. I am not sure Steam would require professional testing like this if a project uses an already-established engine like Unity, but let’s say they do. That’s $17,000 total.

    And…the game’s done. For less than the $19,000 (minus 5% = $18,000) that is currently pledged on the Kickstarter. Assuming what, to me, are extravagant expenses, as well as no existing product to re-use assets from.

    I would love to be corrected on any of this, of course, but I remain skeptical that they really need the $30k they’re asking for to essentially do a port of an existing product.

  5. Sup, Z! Good to see you again and with such an awesome comment! And goodness, I’d actually predict skullgirls to be pretty damn expensive. Project cost seems to be exponential and considering how much work you guys were outsourcing on art, I could imagine a pretty high costs! But that’s neither here nor there.

    Talking to Keits, I know he has a few more costs that are legit, but that he should share them. I can’t do it for him. It wouldn’t make the 30k look perfect, but it would help. The startling thing is that Keits was under the impression (probably from talking to people who worked on larger budget titles) that his costs were going to be way higher than 30k and 30k was like, half of what he was expecting to need. But again, that’s an issue of ignorance.

    If I were to criticize them more, I’d go with two points. Disclosure and ambition. Keits would have (and would continue to) save himself a lot of hell if he was more open about a lot of things. While 30k seems like a lot even now, it seemed astronomical before talks of rewrites and new art with more animation came up. It would come off as high, but not absurd. As for Ambition… Like, Keits seems to have a lot of integrity. He doesn’t want to release something that doesn’t match his standards. But at the same time, I think a lot of people who’ve worked on small scale projects sorta know there is a great value to… seeing where the diminishing returns are? Knowing the strengths of your game and where you can cut corners to make the core great? Instead of making exactly the game we want, we make the best games we can with what we have. There also seems to be a point in a lot of games where you sorta gotta realize what the GAME wants to be, regardless of what your initial goals were and you have to embrace that instead of fight it. Right now Keits seems to be fighting what Divekick wants to be. I think people want a simple, charming game. I admire his gusto, but he really should be embracing the strengths of his product. The fact that the game has barely any animation is a boon, not a flaw and even adds to the joke. Hopefully his ambition won’t end up screwing him over. It seems like he’s going to get his 30k and he’ll probably spend it as well as he can, but hopefully he won’t go too far and shoot himself in the foot by paying a lot of money for things people don’t even care about.

    Anyways thanks a ton of the super well thought out breakdown. It was very interesting definitely not something I could have estimated my self.

  6. Problem Kayin has with the Divekick Kickstarter:
    *You do not need QA to get on steam at an indie level.

    If you have no publisher backing its hard to get a indie game on steam unless you have a name. Aquaria for an example got denied several times.
    The La Mulana remake was also denied. Hopefully Greenlight will help indie devs to get their game on steam.
    People seem to think you make game and you are instantly guaranteed a release on steam.

  7. The confusing thing there though is QA tends not to be the problem. But yes, the indie situation in Steam was annoying (Though still better than any other platform) and Greenlight will hopefully help, but it’s still not in line with what the team expected.

    I didn’t know the details about Aqauria and La Mulana though, that’s interesting! Thanks for the comment either way!

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