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Monaco designer thinks stretch goals harm game design

Kickstarter has made Cinderella stories out of presumed niche game projects like the Double Fine Adventure, Project Eternity, and Star Citizen, but Monaco designer Andy Schatz is dubious about one of its most common elements: Stretch goals.

Those little marks on the chart past a Kickstarter's primary goal are often used to tempt backers with extra features. "Pledge a little more and recruit your friends, and you might just get an extra dungeon!" they implore us.

“I’m really glad for the people that have been really successful on Kickstarter, and don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea of free money, but I’m of the opinion that designing a game around a variable budget is a terrible way to design a game," Schatz told the Penny Arcade Report. "To be frank, I think that stretch goals are total bullshit.”

Schatz said he values his community's feedback, but letting backers determine aspects of the game based on their level of financial participation "sounds like the perfect way to make a game that’s insufficiently complete or bloated." He elaborated on his Twitter account that stretch goals can lock developers into certain feature decisions too early.

“To me, you should decide if the game is incomplete without those features," Schatz told PAR. "If the game is missing a finger, add a finger, if the game is not missing a finger, don’t add one. That’s sort of my take on Kickstarters. That said, there’s the possibility that at some point I’ll try doing one, but I don’t like what it does to design."

Monaco was backed with a $100,000 investment from the Indie Fund, which also saw Dear Esther through to its successful launch. The investment will be returned in double through revenue sharing or until two years after release.

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3 comments

  • jackthemenace - January 30, 2013 5:02 a.m.

    Hmmm, I can see his argument, and it makes sense, but I don't know to what extent I'd agree with him. After all, if their initial goal is their original game design, should the rest of the additions not be thought of in a similar manner to DLC? Like, if they pledge more money, they have more of a chance to get additional content, rather than only getting the full game fi they pledge more than their basic goal?

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