They'd been enjoying an outpour of support from backers, but then hit hard by those 'not in the loop' and unleashing a "wave of anti-Kickstarter hate" toward them and the project.
There was immense pressure to deliver with Broken Age because this wasn't your traditional contract, but a "moral contract with the backers" which was "a lot stronger."
"We've shipped enough that people can see we weren't kidding, and that's a big relief. Because I think there's a lot of pressure on Kickstarter projects, especially the really big Kickstarter projects, to just not screw it up for everybody else. It's such a great, positive thing for us, and being able to be funded by our fans opens so many doors for us to do original, creative things that we just wanted to live up to," Tim Schafer told .
"If you take money from a publisher, it's a contract you fulfill or they'll sue you. Here it was just a moral contract with the backers to do right by them, and that felt in some ways a lot stronger. If you found a loophole in a business contract, you could get out of it and not really feel that bad."
"But here, if the backers were happy, we succeeded. And if they weren't happy, we didn't," he said.
Double Fine had made sure they were keeping backers of the project well-informed on their progress, but trouble started when they announced it would arrive as two separate acts because they didn't have the funds from the Kickstarter to complete the entire scope of the game. Suddenly there was panic and hate from certain corners.
"People who hadn't been following us all along thought we were out of money and going under," Schafer said. "No, no, no. We were just expanding the game and paying for it ourselves, not asking for more money. Seeing that difference between backers' and non-backers' perspective on the whole thing was illuminating."
It proved the "hardest part" of his first time with crowd-funded development.
"That was really a lesson for us, learning that even though our backers are really well informed, the rest of the world hadn't really heard of us since the Kickstarter happened," Schafer explained.
"It's weird because the Kickstarter experience had been wading in a sea of love from the fans. Because you don't just get money. You get all this positive support from the backers who believe in what you're doing. They hang around and cheer you on. And it was like being dumped from that into this cold pool of Internet Twitter hate."
"And that was crazy. It was like, 'Oh yeah, right! There's a bunch of people who hate the idea of what we're doing and are waiting to pounce on us if we make a single mistake.'"
He decided to apply the ancient wisdom of 'do not feed the trolls', which he feels the movie Paranormal Activity captures.
"The demon expert is like, 'Stop doing this. Stop paying attention to it. Stop filming it. The more you engage with this demon, the more you call it into this world.' Twitter haters are the same way. If you start to pay attention to them, the demon grows and gets bigger and starts to become real," said Schafer.
He also took lessons from the big names he included as part of his cast for Broken Age, like Jack Black and Elijah Wood.
"What is it like for Jack Black?" he wondered. "And I think the answer is he can't possibly sit there and read what people write because he gets love and hate. And it must start to just not mean anything in a weird way."
"It does mean a lot when you get positive notes, but the negative ones, you just start to see them as all coming from this one angry little hole that usually doesn't represent the vast majority of what people are thinking. I really don't know who they are. It's kind of a mystery to me."
Double Fine worked with documentary company 2 Player Productions to release a behind-the-scenes series following the Brutal Legend developer as they went about their days on Broken Age. Today they using 2PP to document their latest Amnesia Fortnight which is almost half way through by now.
Broken Age Act One iswith Act Two in development.
Schafer talks "wading in a sea of love" and "cold pool of Internet Twitter hate"
21 February 2014 | By Simon Priest