Trine 3 developers, "our ambition may have gotten the better of us"
More often then not, games get ripped for being too generic, or too much like their predecessors without any meaningful evolution and usually those criticisms are deserved. Innovation and change is the thing everyone wants, and sounds great from a social media and PR standpoint, but there isn't really a sound understanding on the average fan's part about what it takes to actually do that.
What happens when ambition gets the better of a developer, and it all comes crashing down on them? Well that's what's currently happening to Trine 3 developer, Frozenbyte.
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power released recently to surprisingly mixed reviews to the tune of an average Metacritic score of 67 after the previous titles had averaged no lower than an 80. Gameplay preview videos demonstrated a clearly superior game experience, combining various types of 2-D and 3-D exploration mechanics with beautifully rendered 3-D environments and cooperative combat.
Unfortunately, the game ended up only lasting between 4-5 hours for most players, some of the puzzle mechanics were simplified (but this could be due to the change to 3-D) and the story ended on a cliffhanger ending. As a result, a large number of angry players have accused the developers of releasing an unfinished game with the intent of releasing the rest as DLC. So what exactly happened?
Well according to Frozenbyte Vice President, Joel Kinnunen, Trine 3 cost the company more than they thought. In a post on the official Trine 3 Steam forum, he addressed a lot of the fan backlash.
"Back in late 2012, we set out to do Trine 3 in full 3D - bigger, badder, better. We took a big risk with the 3D gameplay implementation - it was to be a massive improvement over the previous games in several areas. We have always been ambitious and this time our ambition may have gotten the better of us.
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power has ended up costing nearly triple that of Trine 2 – over 5.4 million USD. We have squeezed everything we could into the game, there's nothing left on the table. We initially had a much longer story written and more levels planned, but to create what we envisioned, it would have taken at least triple the money, probably up to 15 million USD, which we didn’t realize until too late, and which we didn’t have."
For smaller developers, managing finances is a huge deal. Yes, there should have been better planning on Frozenbyte's part, but this looks like more of a case of inexperience rather than some fiendish scheme to try and pry more money out of gamers' wallets.
Kinnunen goes on to say that the company currently has no plans to release any DLC and that the future of the series is now in doubt because of all the negative attention. Frozenbyte will continue to support and patch the game as they have with the other two Trine games, but it's unfortunate (and a bit ironic) that an ambition to evolve may end up being the undoing of a quality indie series.