I Got Nothing Done

by Ron Gilbert
Jan 06, 2015

I got nothing done on the engine yesterday.  I had the best of intentions. Sleeves rolled up, hot coffee poised within easy grasping, then I decided to check the Kickstarter page and proceeded to get lost in spiral of spreadsheets and budgeting for the rest of the day.

When your Kickstarter ends, you don't get a bunch of money.  A big truck with a Kickstarter logo doesn't drive up and dump a pile of cash on your driveway (idea: do a Kickstarter to get a truck that dumps Kickstarter money on people's driveways). Instead you have to wait at least 14 days while all the credit cards clear (or don't clear).  Amazon's web page is very confusing about how much money you will actually get and when it will show up.

Yesterday was the first day the money was actually available and we had a real total.  Kickstarter takes 5%, Amazon takes anywhere from 3% to 5%, and then there is the unknown of failed credit card transactions. When the Kickstarter ended, we had a lot of failed credit cards, but over the next week most everyone updated their information and the pledges cleared.

When all the dust settled, these are the final numbers:

Raised: $626,250

Fees: -$57,198

Failed Transactions: -$4,890

Available: $564,162

All those number lined up with what we expected and budgeted for, so that was a big relief.

Many of the failed credit cards came from backers who were having issues with Amazon and they went on to back using PayPal, so maybe only half of the $4,890 was actually lost.

The total PayPal money (after fees) is around $8,000.

We budgeted the project using just the Kickstarter money and we're going to use the PayPal money as a safety net or for improvements.  If we want to add some new feature, or spend a little more on music or art, then it will come out of that fund.

The PayPal money is all going to make the game better.

OK, now I'm off to do some programing. This time for real. Honest.

- Ron

Mafti - Jan 06, 2015 at 15:05
Wait, what? Monday again?

Aresius - Jan 06, 2015 at 16:14
How about a big withdrawal of your account and using the PayPal money for that truck? That would make the MAKING OF a lot better :D

Christopher Griffin - Jan 06, 2015 at 16:19
Yeah, I'm thinking you could take a big chunk of the Kickstarter cash and rent a truck to dump your own money in your driveway.  THEN, after you record that scene, you could sell the video to a different set of backers to increase your original cash flow.  And you're only out the rental money.


tormod - Jan 06, 2015 at 17:10

Meuti - Jan 06, 2015 at 18:22
You got nothing done. I'm happy for you, Ron.  I see no need for any kind of rush. Just take your time, the year has just yet begun.

Jammet - Jan 06, 2015 at 19:16
Wow. PayPal amounted to so little? That's a bit weird. And that actually means 0,6% or so percent of that sum came from me.
But whatever, I'm glad things are working out.

Just  ..hoping that you don't feel that including PayPal was a waste of time and resources. Without it, I'd have a hard time as a backer.

Tomimt - Jan 06, 2015 at 20:06
Paypal money has always been kind of peanuts in most projects I've seen. Even on the biggest ones, those that have gathered millions, Paypal has been around 10-50k.  Of course 10-50k is a lot of money in the end, but in contrast of getting a million from KS, it kinda looses its signifigance and can be used to buy toilet paper for the team. Or used as toilet paper.

Jammet - Jan 07, 2015 at 09:58
... I guess then I will be the toilet paper supply for the foreseeable future.

Hey, don't underestimate toilet paper.

It beats having to ...

Walt - Jan 06, 2015 at 20:47
Just reading through the "Puzzle Dependency Chart" thing on grumpygamer, and you mention how you didn't have the concept for Maniac Mansion, leading to all the dead-ends and such.

I think that is a blessing in disguise.  A big part of the charm of MM was the fact that you could be completely screwed, and not even know it.

Ron Gilbert - Jan 06, 2015 at 20:48

Ben Henson - Jan 07, 2015 at 03:57
I actually agree it was part of the charm and not in a bad way.

Back in the Commodore 64 days when I used to play an adventure game (text or a lucasarts one) I generally just started over from the beginning. Even though most of those games had a save facility, I only used it if I thought I was doing really well but had to stop playing for some reason. It never occurred to me to play them any other way. At the time I never viewed the fact that you could hit a dead end as a problem because of this.

It sounds a little weird to imagine now, but that was just how all games were back then. Games were brutal and I had no expectation of seeing the end. Action, adventure, strategy or otherwise. But every play though you learnt a bit more, got that little bit better. And when you did beat a game it felt like a big deal.

Not sure how this is relevant to Thimbleweed Park of course, I'm not suggesting that you add dead ends! Maybe just that Maniac Mansion didn't so much have design issues as it was just a product of its time.

Lennart - Jan 07, 2015 at 04:15
I totally agree with that.

It was cool not only to know the dos but also the don'ts.

Zuiperd - Jan 07, 2015 at 07:15
And in those days you didn't have the internet to look up the answers, or get a YouTube with a walkthrough. You would have to go to your friends (I know; sounds social) and talk about it to figure out a new way. Ah... Them days....

Jonno - Jan 08, 2015 at 10:12
I remember the dead ends for Maniac Mansion well, and while I agree there was a certain charm to that kinda screwing yourself over, I don't think I'd have the patience for that in an adventure game today.

You know what would be fun, though? Faux-dead ends.
The great thing about Monkey Island 2 was if you died in the acid pit, it went back to Guybrush talking to Elaine. Of course Guybrush couldn't have died in the acid pit; he's telling the story. Something like that in Thimbleweed park would be great. Or perhaps even deaths that are so easy to avoid, that if you're stupid enough to make the character get into a no win situation, you deserve it. In other words, letting Guybrush drown in Monkey Island 1 when the way of getting to the surface is glaringly obvious.

Iron Curtain - Jan 08, 2015 at 10:57
Faux Dead Ends are a good idea. Though I haven't played Full Throttle, I hear that that game is full of 'em.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Jan 07, 2015 at 07:15
Well, I recently played "9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors", a visual novel (aka adventure) for Nintendo DS, where the story takes a different paths basing on player's choice. You can end the game in a "brutal" way, and in a certain case, you MUST end in a "dead-end", in order to restart the game and, knowing what you have seen in that end, to successfully finish the game.
Lot of fun, it involved some "cross mind" concepts, reminds, memories, etc. etc.

(P.S.: I "hated" dead-ends in Maniac Mansion! Especially when Dr. Fred played videogames before they were fixed!)

Jammet - Jan 07, 2015 at 10:00
If you really liked that a lot, you gotta try "Virtues Last Reward".

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Jan 07, 2015 at 10:23
It's the sequel, already did! AMBIDEX GAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame! :-)

oded sharon - Jan 06, 2015 at 22:23
Amazon payments suck. I also assume you can't withdraw it from there yet. those 30 days of money not being "disbursed" and seeing a $-560k in the account is probably weird too.

Catch - Jan 07, 2015 at 00:52
Is this a large or small budget compared to some of your previous games (adjusting for inflation)?

Hudden Rickshaw - Jan 07, 2015 at 03:53
It seems very unreasonable that Kickstarter takes five percent of the pledged money, regardless of the total sum of the pledges. Their costs do not increase linearly with the pledges, and 31 000 dollars is a lot of money for relatively little effort on their side. They should have standard fees for successful projects of different sizes, in addition to a smaller percentage of raised funds.

For instance, if their standard fee for 500 000 dollar projects were 5 000 dollars, in addition to 1 percent, they would have received about 11 000 dollars in this case. (Which in my completely facts-bereft eyes seems reasonable.) I guess we need a proper competitor to Kickstarter to drive the fees down.

Joost - Jan 08, 2015 at 05:42
You're just jealous you didn't come up with the idea ^_^
I was surprised by the amount as well, but as a business model it's an epic win.

Ron Gilbert - Jan 08, 2015 at 10:41
I think it's a fair cut. Remember: most (I do mean most) Kickstarters fail and Kickstarter gets no money, but they still have to host and maintain the website, pay for all the bandwidth, do support, etc. There are also people at Kickstarter that answer questions and help out. I had many conversations with the Kickstarter staff and they gave me a lot of good advice based on a lot of experience.

Also, they are running a business, not a charity. They are probably taking a loss on all the little Kickstarters, but making it up with the few big wins.

Joe - Jan 07, 2015 at 03:55

Tim Lammert - Jan 07, 2015 at 04:06
Yeah that sounds great!
A Truck dumping Money in your driveway... that sounds great :) I take one too.
I hope you all have fun while programing this fantastic game - I bet it will be fantastic once it´s ready.
Of course there will be hard times. too. But at all I hope it will be like you imagined it would be.

You made big parts of my Childhood a great time with lots of fun and that lasts untill today.
You partly formed my way of thinking, my imagination and much more with your games.

I need to say: THANK YOU FOR THAT! To all team members from the past and today.
Keep on going that way!

And keep the updates coming like now. To see what it means to program such a game is a great chance to better understand and that´s a lot of fun for me, too.

Best Regards
Tim Lammert

Mario Faross - Jan 07, 2015 at 06:57
@RON : dont waste time by writing updates. STFU and start coding, haha - your blessed, so much money brings tears in my eyes.
One update per week should do it. that would make 52 + 26 in the next 1 and a half year. keeps us more excited when an update pops up.

cheers and fully trust in the whole team,

Michael Langhans - Jan 07, 2015 at 08:04
I think one update per working day is a good way to know what has been done. It's not only about us (you want to read more and more and more ...) but also about Ron who has a nice little diary this way and afterwards can look back at this blog and smile. In a week there is so much happening and posting more updates (even small ones) could help in a way without costing too much time.

It's also exciting to read an update more than once a week. I can't get enough and so far the updates were great.

Cheers. Michael

BonusWavePilot - Jan 07, 2015 at 08:00
Don't gasp your coffee!  Coffee is not for breathing, no matter how tired you might be...

Mister L - Jan 07, 2015 at 09:05
No need to hurry, Ron.
We waited 27 years for a successor to Maniac Mansion, so one or two more years will not matter! :-)

Joost - Jan 08, 2015 at 05:44
You type like a dairy farmer.

Jazz - Jan 23, 2015 at 07:11
How much money comes from additional supporters (like me) ?

An another note - is Maniac Mansion obtainable anywhere? Been ages since I played that.

ac - Jan 24, 2015 at 00:01
Well sadly I missed this Kickstarter, it certainly looks more compelling so far than most games I've seen recently, though my most anticipated game is Samorost 3. .... I suppose I was more of a Zak and Loom type anyway! .... (Because I got further in Zak and completed Loom without helpt when I was still almost in diapers. That kitchen chase in Manian Mansion was too scary and later I had to get help from a walkthrough)