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Opinion: Double Fine's Broken Age Now A Broken Trust

Things were going so well for Double Fine. The company was singlehandedly responsible for making crowdfunding a viable, publisher-free mechanism for development. Broken Age (neé Double Fine Adventure) raked in $3.34 million dollars, which is 834 percent of the $400,000 goal.

The original completion date was set for August 2012, but understandably pushed later given the increased scope of the project made possible with the funding. The timeline was shifted first to April 2013 then to September. Now, the project has swung from spectacularly overfunded to perilously underfunded and overambitious.

The title will be released in two halves. The first part will be available in January 2014 and made accessible on Steam Early Access. This will net the company more money to finish the game and get some of the content out to backers just 17 months late (from the original completion date). The completion for the second half could take at least another four or five months, which will be released as free DLC to those who purchased the game.

This is reality. This is development. And, frankly, if this is all there was to the situation, I would personally opt for a bigger, more polished game later and patiently wait.

Unfortunately for Double Fine, the timing of this announcement does not reflect well on the company. Just last week, we reported that the studio's second project, Massive Chalice successfully raised $1.2 million against its $750,000 goal.  The studio is also working on two projects with loans from the Indie Fund.

When I spoke with Tim Schafer in May, I added my voice to the chorus of people who were urging Double Fine to return to Kickstarter. In my mind, Broken Age was on track for release this year, in full. I even put my money where my mouth was.

I'm a Broken Age backer, and I significantly upped my ante for Massive Chalice. Double Fine is the Kickstarter success story, after all. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have backed Massive Chalice. 

I find it hard to believe that Double Fine didn't know last week that it was on the road to serious delays and a shift in project scope. It's hard not to look at the timing and believe that, deep down, the information was kept quiet so as not to negatively impact Massive Chalice. Despite my eagerness to play both of these games, I feel betrayed.

The shine is rapidly wearing off crowdfunding. The deluge of projects has become overwhelming, and the pool is filled with those that simply haven't prepared well. Some initiatives have been accepted onto the platform that seem to be in opposition to both the spirit and letter of the established rules. It's becoming a used car lot with some hidden classic gems amidst a field of broken down clunkers.

Through all of that though, Tim Schafer and Double Fine were a beacon of hope. Now, that light has dimmed.

Project delays happen. It's a reality of the business, and that shouldn't have users sharpening pitchforks and lighting the torches. Coming back to request funds for a new project while the first is so severely and quietly off track? That's the disrespectful part.

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