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Editorial Dan Vavra on Pitching Warhorse's New RPG to Publishers

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Crooked Bee, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Crooked Bee (no longer) a wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Tags: Dan Vávra; Kingdom Come: Deliverance; Warhorse Studios

    Warhorse Studio's Daniel Vavra, who you might know from the Mafia series as well as from his posts here on the Codex, has written a new blog post detailing the process of pitching his new realistic medieval sandbox action-RPG to various publishers.

    Pitching is a thankless task. Usually you’ve got a few (score) minutes to persuade someone who’s not very interested in you to give you money for something you’ve already invested a huge amount of time and money in. And if they don’t give you the money, very often it means the end of the line.

    The pitch usually has several rounds. First you have to get past the “doorman”, who weeds out the worst trash and sends you on further. Then you get to meet the producers, who really can make decisions, but even if they like you, they have to sell the idea internally to the company management and marketing division. Someone from a publishing firm once said that out of several hundred pitches a year, only about five games reach the shelves. [...]

    In the morning we went to see the big fish – so big that we anticipated in advance that we hadn’t the slightest chance of success. Company mottos were hanging in the corridors and you would never think that the people you met here worked in the game industry. More like in a bank - expensive suits, high-heeled shoes and twin-sets. The guy we were presenting to didn’t fit into that pigeonhole, though, and turned out to be quite a likeable grouch. The presentation was again a little on the cool side, though it didn’t end up with a “no”, but a promise of further talks, which, we were told, was an almost incredible result.

    On the beach in Santa Monica we chowed down on what Tim said were the best burritos on the planet and then headed off for the other side of town to see a Japanese publisher. There we were greeted by the biggest audience yet of mainly Japanese producers, and the response was absolutely incredible. If we were on anyone’s wavelength, then it was theirs. You could see they really had to get a grip on themselves to keep from shouting from the rooftops how much they liked our game. They followed up with the right questions, which was no surprise, because they have experience with a similar game. Everything was looking really fantastic and I have to say I was really attracted by the idea of working with people who were so enthusiastic about the thing. Until we found out a few days later that their parent company was in trouble and they could forget about investing anytime in the near future. A crying shame. [...]

    The problem is, in a 70-hour sandbox RPG it’s pretty hard to explain the story. So we told Sean, who had worked in his time with Francis Ford Coppola, about the historical background of our game and, after several hours of brainstorming, came up with one PowerPoint page describing what it was about, with an emphasis on who the "Ginger Fox” was (Czechs know already). I would never have dared putting that in a presentation. No one could be interested in that, after all. But it turned out quite the contrary. [...]

    To sum it all up, we had a good feeling at the end of the day. There was only one clear NO. A few more NOs came due to issues at the publishers (other RPGs in their portfolios, bad financial situations…), but the game went down very well. With several publishers we pretty much got to the second round of talks and we even had interest from people we had gone to practically just on the off-chance. More than half of the meetings ended with a promise of further talks and some turned out very promising indeed.

    But it wasn’t all rosy. Quite often we heard the criticism that the game didn’t look epic enough and the hero wasn’t cool enough and looked a bit square. Our hero isn’t a boring character – the mistake was that we chose the beginning of the game, where the majority of heroes in RPGs are starting from the bottom.​

    Read the post in full here.

    Thanks Smejki!
     
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  2. hiver Guest

    hiver
    He should stop trying to sell an RPG which that game isnt - but start selling an ActionRPG.

    Wont have any trouble then.
     
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  3. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    tuluse
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    This matches what Fargo has said, that a 20% success rate on kickstarters is an order of magnitude better than going through publishers.
     
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  4. set Cipher

    set
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    I'd think a 'realistic medieval sandbox action-RPG' would be easy to sell? But then again, maybe most large publishers haven't heard of M&B, which, despite its laughable budget and pitiful art, sold millions of copies both of the base game and of its expansion.
     
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  5. hiver Guest

    hiver
    They dont want realistic, nobody does. They want supah dupah ego masturbation and blowjobs. Actionz! Epic! Visceral! Awesome!

    and sexy hot chicks.
     
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  6. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    You said 3 things publishers hate. "Realistic", "medieval", and "rpg".

    Though, opinions are changing on RPGs with Bethesdas successes.
     
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  7. set Cipher

    set
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    Huh? Publishers love realistic. They just dislike medieval and rpg up until you say the words "World of Warcraft" and then they love you again.
     
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  8. Zed Codex Staff Patron

    Zed
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    Publishers love hearing 'RPG' (oh like dem mass effects?), they just hate actual RPGs.
     
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  9. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Bioware and Bethesda are pretty much the only AAA rpg makers.
     
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  10. set Cipher

    set
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    BioWare hasn't made an RPG since... uh, Jade Empire I think. Unless you think those cover-based action games are RPGs...

    Bethesda hasn't made an RPG since Morrowind.

    There aren't any AAA RPG developers besides CD Projekt. And they're not really AAA, more like a mid-size dev.
     
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  11. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    OK I get that you're being edgy and everything but Witcher 2 isn't really more of an RPG than Dragon Age

    As for Daniel Vavra, NEEDS MORE RED BOOTS
     
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  12. Seerix Arbiter

    Seerix
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    Vavra's blog is always fun to read, pictures too were very interesting :P

    Throwing into the internet some proper gameplay video would help them somewhat, I would think. Getting some attention, etc. So far beside that old "leaked" video and some really short one showing a piece of combat and the world there seem to be no public information.
     
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  13. set Cipher

    set
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    I agree with you but saying I dislike BioWare and The Witcher puts me in a really, really edgy camp
     
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  14. Smejki Warhorse Studios Developer

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    They don't want to screw with future marketing department of the publisher. They (the pubs) are very cautious in this field (releasing info during devment). Or at least they were. The situation is now in transition toowards more open thanks to KS. But nobody knows the parameters of this environement now, the least Dan who has experienced tightly controlled flow of information in the past so he knows the old standards only.
     
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  15. Oesophagus Arcane

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    Modern gaming in a nutshell.
     
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  16. abnaxus Arcane Patron

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    Namco Bandai?
     
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  17. Humanity has risen! Arcane Patron Repressed Homosexual

    Humanity has risen!
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    Is Daniel going to come in this thread troll us again?

    I knew that to have a chance to make his game, he'd have to out-Skyrim Skyrim in epic/awesome Michael Bay moments.
     
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  18. Metro Arcane Beg Auditor

    Metro
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    It'll be interesting to see how this game turns out... when it's finally released six years from now.
     
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  19. Irxy Arcane

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    I expect great graphics, quirky and unbalanced systems which fanbois will praise for difficulty, a boring historyphilic plot and an open world which is not fun but very realistic.
     
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  20. Azrael the cat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    And for those 'midsize' games like PE and ToN, I would have thought that a fair bit of the gap in profitability between that and an AAA game would be made up for by the fact you get to retain your IP. Of course, that isn't going to be worth much untill/unless you get to then convert a successful kickstarted game into a commercial sized audience base for a sequel so you're not going to be able to just do those fulltime and stop making AAA games; but the opportunity to start and own the next 'elder scrolls' or 'Mass Effect' (in terms of IP value, not the gameplay) would be a very enticing lottery.
     
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  21. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Don't call Abigail Patron

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  22. Smejki Warhorse Studios Developer

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    Map-wise? They blogged about it too.
    That's kinda funny statement because TES sold some 5x more that any ME. Still worth it to own ME-like IP, I guess.
    :keepmyjewgold:
     
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  23. Irxy Arcane

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    Link? Must have missed it.
     
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  24. Smejki Warhorse Studios Developer

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  25. Burning Bridges Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

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    I must say Dan's blog is really interesting, he should consider turning it into a book one day.

    But at the end of the day, if he's pitching to big publishers he will either never get through or be forced to completely consolify the product, because that's what "epic" and "cinematic" are synonymous with. In the current climate it is impossible to create a really great PC game with the help of a major publisher. If you don't agree, name a counter example. Skyrim? :lol:
     
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