Grim Dawn - An ARPG from Crate (ex Iron Lore aka Titan Quest devs)

Crate Entertainment just put up a preorder page for Grim Dawn, their new action RPG built using the same tool set as Titan Quest. They are also asking for donations on the same page, which means my $48 Legendary Fan Edition purchase could very well be money pissed away on vapor, but I am ok with that. It’s worth the chance for me to see another game by the developers of TQ, or at least the art director and lead designer. The game, at best, won’t be out till 2011.

From what I can tell it’s going to have be a little bit steam punk and a little bit post apocalyptic. Though supposedly “Grim Dawn won’t be a burnt out, gray wasteland.”

They also posted this on the FAQ for those wanting to donatecoughpreorder but hate not having easy access on steam:

To release on Steam, we must first submit a demo of the game for approval. It is hard to imagine that Grim Dawn wouldn’t be approved but, of course, we can’t say it is guaranteed at this point. Once approved, we believe it will be possible to work out a deal for existing pre-orders to be carried over to Steam as has been done with other indie developers such as Wolfire’s Overgrowth: As I said though, we fully expect this will be the case but we obviously can’t guarantee it until it happens.

Yeah - it seems a bit desperate. Its not like this was their first plan, asking for money long before they have any product. There’s not even any screenshots, despite the fact that they claim they have the engine all ready to go.

I wont be shelling out money for a diablo clone (Based on their own feature list) that I dont even know will ever be made.

Very tempting to go for the fan edition, loved Titan Quest and the idea of an improved steam punk version of it sounds awesome. If it wasn’t for the fact that I haven’t got my Steam holiday sale credit card bill yet I might do it. I guess there is no where telling at this point how long they’ll have the 3 editions available for preorder.

I’m probably going to throw them $20. I hope they are sucessful. I did something similar with Telltale and the Bone games.

Yep - I’ll be contributing as well. I don’t view it as buying as game so much as hoping they make it as a company. If I get a game out of it, all the better - I’m pretty sure it will be great if/when it materializes. However, if someone is tempted to do it just for the game, they might want to hold off until more is known about the future of the project.

Uh oh. As much as I liked Titan Quest I have serious doubts that player donations (or extremely early preorders) can even make a dent in the development costs of a similar project. How many millions would they need…?

Love the concept and setting. I hope they make it harder than Titan Quest, or have better difficulty scaling for multiple players, or at least remove the ridiculous requirement that players must finish the game once before selecting a difficulty level above normal. Titan Quest was a washout with my weekly group, simply because it was so incredibly, mind-numbingly easy in multiplayer, with no way to crank up the difficulty short of playing through the whole game. We ended up dropping it at the end of the first continent.

For a demo? It could probably be done for less than a million If they kept their focus narrow, anyway. After that, they’d probably have a much better chance of scoring a publisher.

A full 3d game though? A heck of a lot more than that if they want to be competitive with other pc games on the marketplace. Of course, if they go cheap, they could probably make the whole game for a million… assuming they only have a few employees.

If this will be kinda like a mix between King’s Bounty and Titan Quest that’d be wonderful. I can see how a small team can accomplish it though art assets could be a rather expensive asset for a small team.

Wasn’t Torchlight made for around $2 million? Similar game, probably can be done with a similar budget.

Wow… $2 million? Anyone in the know who can talk about where the money goes? It doesn’t seem like the art assets would be that much, and in both cases the engine tech was relatively robust before the project started (TQ -> Grim Dawn and Mythos -> Torchlight). I realize that the sound/music/VO for Torchlight was likely reasonably pricey, but it seems like Torchlight was a nice throwback to games from yesteryear with a small team that was imminently doable. Compare it to that indie ARPG from a while back… what was it, Depths of Peril? Presumably indie devs aren’t spending $2 mill off their credit cards, so what’s the difference in cost? (I’m not claiming that the quality is the same, but if the primary difference is simply polish, well, polish costs a whole truckload more than I would have expected!)

The premise of this game sounds absolutely awesome.Wish it was a real RPG and not just hack n slash.

The people. As a rule of thumb, a common baseline working figure for North American dev cost is $10K a man-month. At $2 million that makes 200 man months, or 13-14 months for a team of 15.

If you include start-up costs and other various bits, even if people were taking reduced salaries, yeah, $2 million sounds about right.

Add me to that list too.
They still have lot sof time to incorporate lots of RPG elements.

A team of 15? On an indie game? Doesn’t that seem a little… excessive? For a comparison, look at Torchlight vs. Fate… I got the impression Fate was more or less a one-man show (Travis) with a bit of contract work here and there for art/sound. Now I won’t begin to argue that Torchlight isn’t a better game, but let’s assume Fate had a team of 5 equivalent full time for a year. Is Torchlight 3 times better to justify 15 people for the year it took to make? I don’t think so. So is there money draining into the inevitable inefficiencies of scaling up? Is there initial outlay perhaps in developing “an engine” rather than “a game” (i.e. lots of frontloaded dev cost on tools/engine development as an ongoing platform where something like Fate was more hacked together)?

(Not trying to slag any game, I’m just… well… flabbergasted that something like Torchlight is $2m instead of, say, $300k-$500k. That puts something like Diablo 3 at the, what, $40m-$60m mark?)

I think 40-60 million for Diablo 3 would be conservative.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it Diablo III cost more than that. But this is Blizzard we’re talking about. They could wallpaper their offices in money, if they felt like it.

Torchlight doesn’t really qualify as an “indie” game in my estimation. My understanding is that the team is drawn from Hellgate folks, many of whom had Diablo experience.

That means you’re talking about a team of veterans who have 5-10 years of experience in the game industry, many of whom probably have families. And I think they live in the Bay area (edit: actually Seattle, not that much cheaper though). We’re not talking about 3 guys who just graduated college and are sharing a dumpy apartment somewhere.

Diablo 3 got rebooted at one point, which is expensive. Blizzard spends a long time on projects, which costs money, but their team sizes aren’t actually that large. Not counting the cinematics group, I doubt Diablo 3 is more than 40-45 or so.

Torchlight used a modified open-source engine (OGRE 3D), so it’s not like they wrote a big check to Epic for Unreal or anything. People are just expensive. What you’re really asking is “why didn’t they outsource their art to China?”

This is one reason why there is basically no PC-only North American development anymore with rare exception. It’s just too expensive for what the market will support.

Okay, fair enough, but for your figures to work, at 100% overhead, everyone’s making on average $60k a year. That sounds like a reasonably salary to say the least. And it still implies there’s somewhere between 36 and 48 man months worth of art asset creation in the game. I’m not asking “Why wasn’t the art outsourced to China”. I’m, instead, asking “Is it really that hard to create the quality of models/graphics in the game” that the repeated tiles and few dozen original models took that long to create?

Again (and I’ll repeat this every time) I’m not denigrating the quality of the game, the value I think I got for my money, or the enjoyment. I’m just looking at what’s in the game versus, say, the type of amateur stuff you can see hobbyists produce at (or at least used to be able to see hobbyists produce, these days there’s a ton of professionals there too) and asking “Are game assets really so complex these days that the ones which look relatively simple still take a month or so per to make?”

Similarly with, say, 3-5 programmers working from adapting an open source 3D Engine.

(I at least know something about the tools for graphics and programming - sound design and especially music is a black box to me, so I have no such questions there.)

It just doesn’t -seem- like it should be that hard unless there’s a lot of up-front sunk costs as part of a long-term business plan, but at that point it’s a bit disingenuous to lump those costs into the price tag of Torchlight without at least attempting some type of crude amortization of them.

If all of this really is the case, then how in the world does the occasional truly indy game show up which seems competitive in terms of production values? Sheer determination and willingness to work to near-death conditions? If so, I owe Cliffski far more credit!