Everything You Need to Know About Massive Chalice
Double Fine first set the world of video game development on fire in March 2012 by launching a project on Kickstarter. They weren’t the first to use the crowd-funding platforming to get funding for a game, but they were the first major studio to use it, and the first to try and bring back a “dead” genre with point-and-click. Crowd-funding wasn’t even a thing back then. But now Broken Age, formerly Project Reds, formerly Double Fine Adventure is… still not out yet.
We all know how Kickstarter took off after the DF campaign. Successfully funding two indie video game consoles (Ouya and Gamestick), a virtual reality simulator (Oculus Rift), and forever changing the way games are published isn’t something one can call a fad. But now the company that started this scorched earth policy towards AAA publishers is going back to crowd-funding with Massive Chalice, a tactical turn based role playing game.
The game takes place in a massive fantasy world, the classic humans vs. ancient demons. During the pitch video and subsequent videos, Lead Designer Brad Muir talked about XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics as his inspiration.
But what sets MC apart from other tactical games is that it spans several generations. Your characters will grow old over time, and you’ll have to make the choice to retire them so they can have children (who’ll go on to be your next army), or keep them fighting to the bitter end. Retired warriors are the key to winning. They can pass on their great equipment on to their children, they can be awarded major keeps that’ll be focal points of battle, or they can be given leadership positions.
Retired warriors can be brought back and fight alongside sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, or wives for major battles. If a family member sees one of their own fall on the battlefield, this will either inspire them into a rage mode, or send them panicking.
The game also isn’t shying away from same sex couples or gender. Same sex couples are possible, though their role in the kingdom is not yet known. Women will also play just as large a role as men, and can do anything and everything they can do rather than being relegated to baby factories. Other than that, not much is known about the game, though this being a fantasy game, magic and other worldly demons will play a factor.
As previously stated, it has been over a year since Double Fine launched their first Kickstarter, and a lot’s changed since then. Stretch goals, better rewards, higher reward costs, the saturation of Kickstarter, more frequent updates and more detailed updates. No longer can a team post concept art and the small germ of an idea and call it a day. Projects have trailers, teasers, gameplay footage, alpha footage, behind the scenes development videos, a fully acted and well written pitch video.
While Massive Chalice does have a great pitch video, the promise of more behind-the-scenes videos, and a great idea there’s not much else going for it. There are no gameplay videos, no trailers, and just one or two pieces of concept art. They’ve just barely even started pre-production according to one of the updates.
So has MC succeeded because the idea sounds great, because DF revolutionised game publishing by making Kickstarter viable, or is it just because people really love Double Fine? I’d say a combination of the three. People are willing to trust Double Fine for their stellar work in the past, they created Psychonauts for crying out loud, and they’re the ones who first got the courage to throw convention in the face of publishers and make their own niche game. People can respect a company that makes such a gutsy move.
Unfortunately, some people are less than thrilled with the idea of another Double Fine Kickstarter, primarily because they haven’t finished their first one. Granted the game has been delayed with no firm release date attached, but a new Kickstarter is perfectly acceptable. Keep in mind most developers, especially larger ones, work on more than one game at a time. Double Fine is no different, now counting Massive Chalice, they’re working on at least three games at time of writing.
I’m a backer of DFA and have been watching the documentary series from the beginning. The game has become a lot bigger than they ever expected. You can see they have a relatively small team working on the game to keep costs down, plus the occasional unexpected problems that always crop up no matter how much money you have. There are plenty of people that would argue the documentary alone has been worth the money and the wait. Game development has always been done behind closed doors, until now. As for an update on the project, I’d say they’re at least half way done, probably farther.
Double Fine is under a lot of pressure given their role in this Kickstarter revolution. They’re under a lot of pressure both internally and externally. From the impression given by the documentary, Broken Age could very well be their final game or their saviour.
As far as Massive Chalice, it may not be as niche as some may think. Tactical RPG’s have historically seen a lot of success; Valkyrie Chronicles, XCOM Enemy Unknown, Disgaea, and even something like Full Spectrum Warrior have all been huge successes. However, Massive Chalice is very ambitious and is working with a small budget, thus increasing the chances of failure.
But its ambitions and the fact that it’s been Kickstartered are also what makes the project so desirable. Double Fine has proven time and again that they know what they’re doing, and they’re perfectly fine playing the “underdog” type role, flying under the radar. But hopefully with Massive Chalice and Broken Age Double Fine will become more than just the company that made Psychonauts and popularised Kickstarter, and go down as one of the greatest developers of all time.
While the game is already funded with $941,346 (£602,655) at time of writing, it takes much more than that to make a game, especially on the scale they’re talking about.
*Authors Note: Neither I nor Hard Reset are in any way affiliated with Double Fine, Kickstarter, or the Massive Chalice project. This article is simply intended to raise awareness of the game as well as address concerns surrounded Broken Age.