inXile has revealed that they will be using Unity engine for Wasteland 2.
While people seem to be arguing what this means for how ‘AAA’ the game will look (hint : they don’t have the budget to afford the number of artists needed to make art for a AAA title, so it’s irrelevant), I have a different question :
Did they settle on Unity before or after their kickstarter campaign? And do they already have experienced Unity devs, or are they hiring them now that they’ve settled on the engine?
This is important in light of the features that have been promised during the kickstarter project. Unity doesn’t really support Linux right now, and while it might in the future, or you might be able to work out a way to port it, that’s a bit of a gamble. And if they didn’t have experienced Unity devs during the kickstarter campaign, how reliable are their time and feature predictions? Remember, time = money, quite literally. The majority of your money will be spent on salaries. When the money runs out, the game must ship.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience with managers promising clients things, then coming to the programming team and telling us that since they promised it, and promised it in a time-frame, you have to make it happen.
The kickstarter trend at the moment is interesting to watch, but I fear that the unbridled optimism we’re seeing while all these projects are still in the promise stage must at some point be tempered against a harsh reality. Kickstarter is not necessarily better than the traditional model, it’s different. Ideas that publishers might pooh-pooh will get funded, but the projects that get this funding have less oversight. Watching the documentary of DoubleFine’s Adventure Game is not the same as managerial oversight.
Publishers are so conservative not because they just hate creativity, but because they have a lot of experience with titles tanking, and tanking hard. And losing them money. It’s easy to be liberal with your money when you haven’t watched millions of your own dollars evaporate.
Right now, the public is like a brand new publisher, one that has never been burned by failure. We are not conservative, we’re backing all the neat sounding ideas! I wonder what will happen when the first one tanks? When the first dev reveals that they couldn’t actually fulfill the promises they made at the start of the endeavor, that maybe they overreached?
Will we be so quick to trust again?