It’s generally accepted that crowd-funding services are invaluable to games, allowing creative types to get things done without the oversight of a greedy publisher, who’d typically push for safe bets. However, in a recent interview, comments by Tim Schafer of Doublefine, whose game Broken Age was funded on Kickstarter and is under development, shed a little doubt on the wisdom of the crowd:
I guess I would say I do have an idea for how I want the game to be, but a lot of stuff that fed into the forming of that idea came from feeling like I knew the backers, from reading their comments on the forums. That they liked adventure games. … They were mostly very supportive, “you guys just do what you do,” and of course everyone has their opinion of “I think you should have a verb coin” or “I think you shouldn’t,” but I got a sense that they weren’t looking for a reinvention of adventure games.
Wait a minute. Wouldn’t we rather see the savant of adventure games reinvent the adventure game? True, his previous effort Brutal Legend underwhelmed, but that had the air of executive tampering. Before that, Psychonauts undersold but was inventive and beloved by all who played. Of course, Schafer’s classic adventure games are legendary, but even Grim Fandango pushed the form into new territory. It seems like a tragic mishap that one of the brightest creatives in the medium would be told by his biggest fans to quit innovating and get back to lock-and-key puzzles. In the words of George R R Martin, “Art is not a democracy. People don’t get to vote on how it ends.” Unless that art is funded on Kickstarter, apparently.