inXile

Starting a second Kickstarter, while in production, is good business (When it’s a new Torment game)

Starting a second Kickstarter, while in production, is good business (When it’s a new Torment game)

Brian Fargo and inXile are doing some interesting things to keep the budget for the upcoming Wasteland 2 realistic, and there was a lengthy game play video that was released to show the work being done on the game, but the game is still in full production.

This, it would seem, would be a bad time to launch another Kickstarter to fund another update to a beloved franchise: Torment: Tides of Numenera. The team is ready to explain the thinking behind the decision, however, and it not only makes sense, it's a smart business move.

Why this is a good idea

“One of the keys to success for a small game company is being able to create continuity within the development team. It takes a long time to get a team put together, and it takes an even longer time for a team to settle in to new working relationships, a new engine, new systems, and a new asset creation pipeline,” an update on the Kickstarter page stated. “A team’s knowledge and experience grows a lot during a development cycle, and all of that knowledge gained is lost if we let the team break up when a project ships. To address that issue we have developed a very simple strategy that has already worked for us on dozens of titles in the last 25 years.”

inXile is described as being made up of “a team and a half” of people, and this second Kickstarter allows the “half team” to begin pre-production on the next game. That way everyone is doing something, and they have two games in the hopper. There is no possibility of downtime, and everyone will have a job to do for the moderate to long-term.

This isn't a crazy way to think, as many studios who try to fight the “ship and lay off developers” cycle try to keep a second project on the back burner to bring into full production when the current game ships. The only difference is that inXile isn't working with a traditional publisher, and is instead working with a crowd-sourced budget.“If the planning was done well during the pre-production phase we can be very efficient during production and leave ourselves with plenty of time to iterate and make amazing games. If there is no pre-production done, and the full team is trying to create the design and development plan as they go, months, if not years, are wasted,” the update explains.

“Having a full team try to start a project when the pre-production has not been completed is like stacking up a giant pile of money and lighting it on fire. This same philosophy served us quite well at Interplay in creating some of the best RPGs of all time,” it continues.

One of the fascinating aspects of Kickstarter is the crash course fans are receiving in how games are made, and the incredible expense of creating content. The developers of Skullgirls had to explain why adding a single character cost over $100,000, and the fans were ultimately willing to pay. Another writer complained about the creation of a free-to-play multiplayer version of a game, and it turned out he just wasn't paying attention to what was originally promised.

In this case, fans are learning how studios stay active and maintain their core team, and it means starting another game before the first one is completed. Luckily, inXile is being open and transparent about the process. Time for the disclosure: I'm going to back this new Torment game, because holy shit it's a new Torment game blessed by Planescape: Torment's lead designer. Any fears fans may have don't seem to be hurting the campaign, as it has reached $600,000 of the $900,000 goal in a matter of hours. Good business indeed.