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Darklands designer Arnold Hendrick Q&A on Steam forum

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by LESS T_T, Jan 11, 2017.

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  1. DeepOcean Arcane

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    Honestly, I don't want to see a sequel to Darklands if it needs this kind of budget, it is obvious that if something came out of it would only carry the name Darklands on the name but the gameplay would be full of retard pandering "features" that developers think sell games to supposedly offset the risk associated with those 10 million. I say supposedly offset because to this day there is no definitive proof that retard pandering is able to make niche games sell more, actually there is alot of proof on contrary, especially if you don't have shiny graphix and a huge marketing machine that you won't have at 10 million. Fuck, this is 1/4 of the budget for fucking Mass Effect.

    Many developers have this supposedly "realistic" view that budgets should be this size or that size only considering the production side of things and ignoring the demand side of things, if your 10 million dollar game despite your pandering only sells 100.000 copies on Steam, you are royally fucked my friend. So instead of trusting that your pandering will bring you a magical audience that would on a magical way start caring about your game how about you realize that despite the technological barriers having gone, the money barrier is pretty much alive and will kick your over ambitious ass on the dust. Remember, people that don't like RPGs may not start liking RPGs because you've made them easier, maybe it gets on a point that pandering bring diminishing returns. How about you start thinking on what you are bringing of new instead of copying fads and trends that will only ruin you?

    Do you think the masses will think your darklands MMO is better than a korean F2P one? Keep dreaming.

    Look around, there is only one Blizzard, one Activision, one Riot, why? Do you think this is coincidence? Because there are alot of foolish developers that think because there is alot of money going on a market, that money will go to them. No, the money will go to the first ones that discovered the market and you will ever be the first one if you are a reactionary that follow trends blindly.

    Big publishers can try to chase markets based on their marketing strengh and survive the failed attempts, you don't have this luxury so stop thinking you are a AAA developer when you are not. This idea that you should always make your next game have a bigger budget or your creative juices will be frozen will lead you to bankrupcy and the ambitious bigger budget will be exactly what will kill your creativity.
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Two thoughts:

    (1) 2,400 illustrations seems crazy to me. You really only need one image per text adventure, maybe two, and plus another fifty or so to cover generic events. Even at three per text adventure, you'd still be talking 700-800 text adventures, which would be a very, very heavy writing and design load. Even the <300 we're doing in Fallen Gods has been extremely taxing.

    (2) I think people's view of what games should cost to produce has gotten very skewed by indie developers (though I agree that $10M sounds high).

    For example, Ron Gilbert just said on Twitter that Thimbleweed Park would've cost $3M if people had been paid industry standard salaries. That's probably true. It's true that Primordia was made for about $3,500 (what WEG paid voice actors, marketing, production for boxes), but that's only because Vic (art), James (code), Nathaniel (music and audio), Dave (casting, recording, slicing voice acting, business and accounting, etc.), and I were paid only in back-end royalties, the beta testers were entirely unpaid, the voice actors were paid a tiny fraction of what such people normally make, and we used a free engine where we could leverage support from other developers when we hit coding snags.

    I always think it's kind of silly when, for example, people try to quantify what a homemaker should be "paid" for her labor around the home, looking to the cost of a house keeper, a butler, a personal chef, a nanny, etc. And there's something comparable going on with what I'm about to say, so take it with a grain of salt. But I have to think that if the Primordia team had been paid something close to the low end of industry standard, the game would've run at least $300,000 to make, which means it would've turned a profit, though not much of one. (And that is still assuming we'd all be working from home as contractors, not on-site as employees.) The fact is that Primordia was possible to make because we loved making it -- not every moment of it, some parts are like scrubbing toilets -- but basically it was a dream project for us. Since no one other than Dave was truly supporting himself on Primordia, it was totally fine for us to take no money or back end compensation or whatever, with no expectation that we'd be adequately compensated for our time.

    On Fallen Gods, I am on the other side of the ledger. I pay everyone who works on the project, but I pay them a tiny fraction of what their work is worth. No one else involved has any established game industry experience, so part of it is a "foot in the door" thing. I also called on favors with lots of friends, and I'd like to think the project offers an interesting opportunity. But the fact is, they aren't being paid enough. And I, of course, am being paid negative thousands of dollars for my role in the project. Maybe I'll recoup it, maybe I won't.

    I'm sure a similar thing is going on with Battle Brothers.

    One consequence of this kind of development is that games take a really long time to make (because people aren't working regular schedules), people often quit or disappear for long stretches, and it is hard to enforce quality control in some instances because you're largely without a carrot or a stick. It is rare that you can find someone who is (1) talented; (2) diligent; (3) sane; and (4) cheap. Not impossible, but rare. Also, it kind of sucks because you're all scattered across the globe, not in one office, so you can't hash something out over a beer, or go up to a whiteboard and sketch out an idea, or model something with a board game and dice or whatever. I mean, there are tools like Skype that make it easier, but at the end of the day, the experience of making Primordia with one of us in California, one in Australia, and one in Greece (of the core WWS team) was frustrating -- the best we really mustered was about an hour a day when we might overlap on GChat.

    I think what A.H.'s cost estimates reflect is basically, "If I were to make Darklands 2, I would make it with a real company, with real offices, with real employees, who get real pay, with real benefits." Based on what I've heard from talking to Brian and others, $10M is not a crazy estimate for how much that costs to do.

    From our perspective, it's all madness -- no one will pay $10M to make Darklands 2 (especially now that Kickstarter has turned sour), the kind of "real" stuff he wants is unnecessary, but if he wants to make Darklands 2, Battle Brothers and AOD and Serpents in the Staglands and Fallen Gods (if it is ever made) prove he could do it. But I think the answer is, the upside of just "making Darklands 2" as an abstract notion doesn't outweigh the downside of having to manage a project like that for him because, unlike the developers behind all those other listed games, he's already had a long and successful professional career that already includes Darklands 1. He's a semi-retired man enjoying his retirement; taking on the stress of managing a group of international flakes via Skype and Trello is probably about as appealing as his next colonoscopy.
     
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  3. DeepOcean Arcane

    DeepOcean
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    We need an stable RPG company that doesn't depend on kickstarter and don't pay people with peanuts, it may not be an Interplay, an Origin or a Black Isle or anything but if it is able to release games on a decent schedule and we don't have to fear the developers may just follow the next trend of the next week and throw us under the bus to make money, why God, is that hard? Are RPG fans the jews of gaming? Always to be fucked up?
     
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  4. Axe Father Learned

    Axe Father
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    Holy shit, I thought Arnold Hendrick's name looked familiar. Barbarian Prince was an obsession of mine as a kid, and Darklands became one of my favourite RPGs when I first played it a few years ago. It's only with your post that I even realised they were designed by the same person. I suppose I never payed much attention to the credits on Darklands.

    I guess it really makes sense. Barbarian Prince kind of plays like I'd imagine a Darklands boardgame would play. If you men haven't played Barbarian Prince you should think about printing it out and playing it when you can spare some free time alone, it's free here:

    http://dwarfstar.brainiac.com/ds_barbarianprince.html
     
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  5. Barbarian Arcane

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    I think he just doesn't want to make a new Darklands. That is the impression I got from the old codex interview and that is what I get now. The man knows how things work, asking for 10 million bucks to develop a remake/sequel to a niche cult game which failed commercially back in the day is pretty much the same as just saying "I won't make it unless a miracle happens". He could very well make a great game with 1 million, and it would already be difficult to crowdfund that amount as things are.

    I find his devotion to CK2 intriguing though, specially bringing to mind the (very)superficial similarities with Darklands. If the game had been designed and developed by Hendricks instead of swedish leftist cuckolds with no sense of direction I think the game could have been a timeless masterpiece.
     
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  6. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    Some more techie things:

    question (open)
    Arnold, I'm reading your ideas about storing game data.

    Have you seen how Bethesda did that in Oblivion? Taking out all the game bugs, it seems extremely powerful and flexible, to not talk either about plugin support.

    Basicly they have resources like model (including textures), sound, environment, clothes, hair, etc as object, and each object has an ID. Each object is instantiated and has its attributes (color, hair, position, etc) set. That's all done on a esp file.

    Then the game is run. All objects instantiated on the esp are created, and then gravity is executed on them. As we play the game these attributes are stored on save files, with the same structure of the esp. New objects are instantiated and stored on save file as well.

    When a save file is loaded and the game is started up, save file has precendence over original esp file.

    This is very similar to what you described, but more powerful. I agree that not being a flat file is a down vote. But there are official and fan-made apps that can read and edit esp and save files and are much more powerful than excel.


     
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  7. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    So, after more exchange about software project management, and then fluent shilling Watch, the thread's topic goes back again to possibility of the sequel and the supposed budget:

    Show Spoiler
    I firmly believe that Mr. Hendricks would and could get Darklands 2 (or similar) financed and developed with a bit more "indie" approach. A game like this doesn't need very complicated environments - heck it would be great just to have more depth in a game like Battle Brothers (which reminded me of Darklands). It could quite easily be good looking and even in 3d if there weren't too much of different content.

    Maybe the dev costs in US&A are sky high, but here (in Finland) you would easily fund a team of 10 people working for three years for a million bucks. A dedicated indie crew would do it for half the cost. Of course, I'm counting in some government grants, etc. but it's totally plausible.

    If I could get someone like Hendricks to work on design, I think it wouldn't be huge a challenge to fund a project with that kind of scale...My long time dream has been a Darklands style game set in the ancient Rome ;)

    I'm speaking as someone in the games industry and worked on several published games. Currently, I am a part of a six-person team working on a Jagged Alliance -style TBT game called End State (www.endstategame.com).


     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
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  8. ThoseDeafMutes Learned

    ThoseDeafMutes
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    You're correct that you could do a low budget Darklands. Isometric. Maybe even in the Pillars extension of Unity, since that's already built for isometric RTwP gameplay and has those story-board like screens that remind me a lot of the core "what are we doing in this fucking town?" gameplay loop from Darklands.

    The real money hog would be if you wanted to change up the original to have fully interactive cities that you walk around in and find NPCs in. The way it was built originally could be done on a shoestring, if you wanted to blow it out into a full 3d game that's obviously going to cost a fortune. If you wanted to make it into a Pillars-level game with pillars-level cities, even then you're still talking about a mid-sized budget, and either way you're going to lose the "90 billion cities in Germany" type simulation. If you care about that.
     
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  9. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    Now some good Q&As:


     
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  10. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    Is that his roundabout way of saying they're releasing the source code?
     
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  11. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    Heh, he dabbled in PoE last month: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198022734065

    Only 5.4 hours, but that's half an hour more than HuniePop!

    Anyway, couple more Q&As:

     
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  12. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    Hey, gameplay Q&A: http://steamcommunity.com/app/327930/discussions/0/1290691308587415461/

     
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  13. Luckmann Arcane Zionist Agent

    Luckmann
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    Natural lifespan, eh?

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    Can Sawyer's historical RPG change his mind?
     
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  15. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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  16. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    :negative:

    And from another thread I missed, about modding possibility: http://steamcommunity.com/app/327930/discussions/0/1318836262665139174/


    Doing post-launch support after all these years: http://steamcommunity.com/app/327930/discussions/0/133263024015779222/

     
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  17. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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  18. YES! Hi, I'm Roqua Dumbfuck

    YES!
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    Yes, look at inXile who went from making shit for shitheads to making real rpgs and look at the hate it has garnered. Or look at Troika, or SSI, or Sir Tek, etc. Whenever a real rpg maker comes along the "rpg" fans attack like wild animals.
     
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  19. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    Yesterday Arnold Hendrick posted this in the (public) Darklands Yahoo group:

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/darklands/conversations/messages/9778

    It's obviously very vague and tentative and looks more like a fan project (by industrial professionals) than, for example, a Kickstarter in the making.
     
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  20. The Wall Erudite

    The Wall
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    It seems to me that (as he himself literally says) this is for now just testing waters and trying to build a team which will attempt to make foundation for either sequal or spiritual successor and then they might seek further support on Kickstarer for example.

    I really don't know what can more be said right now then - time will tell...
     
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  21. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    I don't think there are enough "industry professionals" willing to work for free on such vague terms and are fans of the game. Or he's lucky and there's a bunch of bored fresh retirees who are willing to join for ol' times sake.
     
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  22. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    I dont agree, many moders and students have started with projects like this and used it as springboards for their careers. He IS still respected and his game is arguably a top ten RPG pf all time and he hasn't fucked up his rep with daikatana or might number 9
     
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  23. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    He's looking for 'industry veterans' / 'professionals' to work on his pet project for free. He won't get a lot of takers that match his stated expectations.
     
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  24. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    A couple of years ago, it might have been easier for him if he had tried to recruit people with a clear vision for a Kickstarter, but I think that's now a bit more tricky.

    Maybe he should try a Figstarter. That's currently the place to go.

    Show Spoiler
    :troll:
     
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  25. LESS T_T Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    LESS T_T
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    From the Steam thread:

     
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