Another Kickstarted Project Fails to Follow Through
Another day, another Kickstarter wellfare recipient fails to deliver on their promises – or at least that is how it feels sometimes. In this instance it seems that the development team’s failure was not by dint of a lack of trying, but rather by letting success go to their heads and attempting to do too much with too little – they did not know their limits. Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries was originally envisaged by GRIN Gamestudio as a 2.5D platformer with an amazing art style, yet after being granted 60,000 EU by the Flanders Audiovisual Fund and $72,000 USD courtesy of Kickstarter the studio decided to add 3D sections of gameplay which also included combat – because this is clearly the sort of thing that the people who backed the platformer’s Kickstarter would have been after! GRIN had not taken into account the additional work that would be required in order to complete tasks as rudimentary as adding collision detection to the 3D maps, and as a result the budget of the game was stretched to breaking point and every other area of the game suffered. Because of this the new 3D mechanics and combat came off as undeveloped and poor, the platforming sections came off as unpolished, the game length was determined unacceptable for a $10 game, and the story has been criticised for being hastily told [probably because it has had a pair of scissors taken to it]. This resulted in the game quickly accruing negative reviews [both on the part of game blogs and from gamers themselves], which in turn led to some very underwhelming sales of the game, causing GRIN Gamestudio to ultimately shutter its doors:
“Why on earth would we want to increase the scope of our game without increasing the budget. Ok, it is understandable that you get inspired to try new things in gameplay, you have to experiment to come up with creative ideas and solutions. I’m not saying the ideas we came up with were impossible. But changing gameplay from 2D to 3D had a major impact on overall development cost (we found out a little too late). Collision detection for instance (and you can’t even really see that) became such a big issue so fast. Instead of having a simple 2D track where you would not be able to collide with small environment props like crates, piles of stones or skulls. Now every little element had to collide, every crooked stone on the floor had to trigger correct foot placement.
The same goes for the fences that seem to cause so much frustration with some players. Although is was a conscious game-design decision, I believe the feeling of freedom the 3D movement opened up, gave players the sense that Woolfe was no longer a platformer, but an open-world type game (more than once compared to Assassin’s Creed, which is an honor, but also a curse as we would never be able to compete).
Although our rules for fences and borders were used very consequently throughout the game, we just couldn’t get players to see them as an environmental gameplay challenge.
Not to mention the combat… OMG! How much more work it turned out to be having enemies follow and engage with the player in the semi-open environments we had grown to love.”
Uniquely for failed Kickstarter pledges, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries – Volume 1 has actually been released as promised [such as it is]. Rather, it is all the bonus swag owed to the more expensive tiers of funding which has been reneged on by necessity. The hilarious thing about all this is that much of the bonus material has already been physically produced, while the rest of it has been digitally produced ready for manufacture – yet there is not enough money left for postage, let alone for printing and pressing materials:
“The people that believed in us from the beginning? People we made promises too. People we have let down. Even worse… people we will not be able to give the full rewards they invested in.
The crazy thing is, that we have most of the rewards ready for postage. All the backer stickers and letters of enlistment just need a stamp. All the poster sets printed, signed and ready. The artbook is ready to be printed, the soundtrack is ready for distribution, the DVD case is ready for production. But we have literally no money whatsoever to pay for stamps, let alone print the artbooks and dvd-cases.”
Not every Kickstarter project which collapses is brought low through the developer’s smug entitlement [*cough*Tim Shafer*cough*]. Sometimes these projects simply fall through because of the developer’s inexperience coupled with their inclination to aim too high, which tends to lead to grand trainwrecks – one such trainwreck is Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, and despite every best intention would be donators need to at least be aware of the fact that the naivety of developers can be just as destructive as the avarice of characters like Tim Shafer. That said, there never is any foolproof way of knowing. GRIN’s Kickstarter pitch made for a stark contrast to that of Red Ash by actually being quite well put together and the team came across as genuinely passionate about their project as opposed to cynical jackoffs like Keiji Inafune. The rub really is that this is precisely the sort of thing that Kickstarter was created to fund – passionate indies who have no other way of getting their game made – but this Kickstarter culture of offering enough swag to bankrupt Working Designs really needs to go away. Material promises are a major impediment to actually delivering on the the project itself, and bedroom developers are not on a sound enough footing to even be able to promise the creation and distribution of these material goods, yet such promises are viewed as a useful tool to have backers up their pledges beyond the basic package, and so it will unfortunately continue.
I Can Haz Moni Now?
Now from one end of the spectrum to the other, we have this week’s utter failure of [White] KnightMayor’s Kickstarter pitch for Mooncrest, an old school WRPG with strong Social Justice sensibilities, produced by a group of goony beard men [presumably in a bid to get laid just once before they die]. They claimed to have already spent a year prototyping the game, yet lacked anything to show for it, save for a few scraps of concept art. Their pitch video did not even have that, and was almost wholly irrelevant to the interests of the people that KnightMayor was attempting to engage. The video has subsequently been taken down from Mooncrest‘s project page, but it can still be viewed here, and it is one of the cringiest pitch videos ever hosted on Kickstarter.
KnightMayor did not bother putting together an interesting pitch because they intended on trading on name alone. The name in question that they dropped repeatedly throughout the text of their pitch was ‘Bioware’, usually mentioned in relation to ‘old school RPG’. The pitch states up front that the developers are “veteran BioWare designers with over 20 years combined AAA experience.“, yet what it fails to mention is that not all of them are former Bioware developers, and that twenty years of experience is the combined total. Of the four betas, one never even worked at Bioware, one only ever worked on the middling MMO, The Old Republic, one joined the company during the development of Mass Effect, and one joined the company during the development of Jade Empire. Hilariously, this means that despite their attempts to trade on Bioware’s old school RPG credentials, none of these ‘men’ ever worked for the company back it was producing classic RPGs! Moreover, trading on the Bioware name is a poor substitute for actually putting together a decent Kickstarter pitch given that Bioware has not made good RPGs for a very long time.
Beyond this, the entire pitch was confused. Promising a classic RPG with one breath, while promising ‘Souls’ combat and adventure game puzzles with the other. Given that the primary demographic that KnightMayor appears to be targetting with their pitch is the feminists, and given that they launched the Kickstarter with absolutely nothing to show for the game, one has to wonder how they ever imagined they would see donations in excess of $400,000. At any rate they only ended up getting a tenth of what they asked for before pulling the plug on the campaign, though sadly they have promised to resume their panhandling once the game is a little further along. The world ill needs another Bioware RPG, and a cut-price one at that.
Gibe Moni Plox
Speaking about panhandling, [just like a smell that lingers] Tale of Tales is back in the headlines. Despite previous promises that they were done with gaming [while shrieking “Fuck Gaming” and wishing death on gamers], it appears that Tale of Tales is set to return to Kickstarter to beg for more money. The difference being that they are through developing super mainstream AAA content like Sunset [which sold a whopping 4,000 copies!], and instead they will be developing properly niche arthouse video games. In all honesty it sounds like they have no stomach left for any upfront risk in software production, and instead are looking to bilk their several thousand fans for an upfront budget that they intend to work within, so that no degree of commercial success is required at retail in order to stay afloat. In return they are looking to produce:
“game-like things but without commercial pressure, we expect those to deviate even more from the conventions of the medium. It feels like we are finally starting to embrace our artistic nature. But we cannot do this without support.”
Support? One wonders what their Patreons are for then. Michael and Auriea each have a Patreon account stickied to the Tale of Tales Twitter account, bringing in a combined total of $1000 of free money every month. All the more perplexing is the fact that their description of said Patreon accounts is thus:
“We have both set up Patreon campaigns with the purpose of helping fund our current and future artistic production.”
So the Patreon accounts are to cover any artistic endeavours, as certainly nothing is mentioned about them being personal living stipends. But alas, latte and smelly cheese does not come cheap, and so on top of this stipend
Tale of Tales still needs to launch a Kickstarter campaign in order to pursue their next project, which they will launch in October:
“We are also planning a new Kickstarter campaign for a new, surprising project! If all goes well, it will be launched in October. We hope we’ll be able to count on your support once again. Because we will need it more than ever. Kickstarter seems like to perfect place to support the production activity by artists, more so even than the products that come out of it. The journey, as we know, is often filled with a lot more wonder than the destination.”
For anyone hoping to be shot of these fart-sniffing game development socialists, this news likely comes as a bit of a blow. For readers more intent on observing the histrionic theatrics of lolcows, this likely bodes somewhat better. Whatever the case, the true winner out of all of this is undoubtedly schadenfreude, as there is bound to be much more of it in the studio’s future.
Anime Spotlight: My Wife Is the Student Council President
Hayato Izumi is a serious and self-sufficient student who runs for student council president [imagine that!] but loses to Ui Wakana after she pledges to “liberate love on campus“, leading to Hayato becoming her vice president. Hayato is then shocked when the newly elected Student Council President invites herself over to his house where she announces that because of a drunken agreement struck by their parents when they were three they are to be wed, and moreover that they are now to live together – a fact that Hayato earnestly seeks to hide from his classmates. Rin Misumi is the head of the disciplinary committee and disapproves of Ui’s love liberation policies, however she ends up developing feelings for Hayato after he is kind to her, and subsequently moves in next door to him – hijinks ensue. Thus we have the standard harem configuration where a cute and perky ditz and an aloof tsundere archetype are set up to vie for the affections of an uptight teenage boy – and ultimately he will end up with neither.
My Wife Is the Student Council President is currently being simulcast as part of Crunchyroll’s new line-up for Summer 2015. The series debuted to some initial controversy on account of the fact that Crunchyroll opted to utilise a censored version of the show, however this oversight has since been rectified for premium users, which is a good thing for Lusipurr.com’s perverted readership. My Wife Is the Student Council President began its run on the 2nd of July, and there are currently seven episodes available.