Dear Tim Schafer, Was It Worth It?
Broken Age Act 2 was released today – over a year after the unmemorable first act. After our hour long podcast filled with nothing but negativity surrounding the first part of the game, I was hoping that the second act might silence me a little. It didn’t.
I haven’t played Act 2. I don’t plan on it and I don’t want to. I feel like I got the same amount of enjoyment watching the playthroughs that I would have gotten from actually playing the game. By enjoyment I mean boredom. By boredom I mean a lot.
I’ve read many opinions and facts about why it took so long for the second part to be released. “The vision changed” “They wanted to release something great” “It became a more ambitious project”. These are all fine and dandy, but the question I have to ask is: Was it worth it?
Point and click adventures are a genre that aren’t going away. Telltale Games does just fine ripping off popular TV shows for their own success. Many a Kickstarter is funded and you see new releases on Steam everyday. It almost confuses me how a next-gen heavy community stays so interested in a simple game concept. A point and click has to have something unique to keep people interested in playing it. Broken Age doesn’t have that for me.
On the eve of the Act 2 release, Tim Schafer wrote an update on the Kickstarter page urging players to play through the first act again because there were “hints and story set-ups” that you might have forgotten. Oh and achievements. Because I want to replay the mediocrity that was Act 1 so I can be an achievement hunter. Have you ever had to force yourself to play a game you really liked again because you couldn’t remember how the story goes? I haven’t.
This brings me to my next point. 87,142 backers pledged over $3.3 million to wait 3 years… for what? Yes, the hand painted graphics are beautiful. Yes, it’s kind of cool that famous people did the voice overs. Jack Black is great….whatever. But you promised a great game. You promised something exciting. You gave us a run-of-the mill point and click. Don’t you think that you could have done a great game without the Hollywood flair and had a much more positive outcome?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that things like this take time. I get it. You’re a talented developer and a great person, I’m sure. I get it. I know that you saw the money that was pledged and wanted to make something that reflected the outrageous support everyone gave you. I get it. What I don’t get is why you did it the way that you did. What about taking the extra 2 and a half years plus all the other things – that essentially make up what Broken Age is – made it a better game than what you first envisioned it to be?
Reading the player reviews and big news review sites, everyone still seems pretty positive about Broken Age. I’m not negating that it isn’t. It’s cute, or “charming” as most people describe it. Act 2 sums up Act 1 in a satisfying way. The puzzles are tedious and sometimes annoying. The dialogue is humorous at times. Is it mind-blowing? No. Am I going to sit around and think about the ending for years to come? No. When I talk about games that really had an impact on my life, will Broken Age be one of them? No.
Do I think that if the game were released as a whole it would have been different? Yes, absolutely. The ethical rip-off in my mind is that we weren’t given what we were promised. We might have been given something similar, but if somebody promises you a lobster and you’re given a steak, are you still satisfied? Make me the game that we should have gotten in the 6-8 month time frame you promised us and then we’ll talk.
This isn’t me trying to persuade or dissuade anybody from playing Broken Age. In all honesty, you should play it. It’s not a bad way to waste a few hours. All I’m trying to do is point out that everything surrounding the game was wrong. The promises, the anticipation, the way it was released – all wrong. The ball is in your court, Tim Schafer. How are you going to make it right?