A mere two hours from now, a Kickstarter will fail. And I cannot fucking wait.
So here I am, at my computer on a Friday evening,
not because that’s what I would be doing anyway, but because I want to be there the moment that this project dies. I want to watch the light fade from its cold, dead eyes as it reflects on its miserable excuse for a month-long existence – an existence which amounted to less than one-tenth of a percent of its goal.
If it wasn’t clear, I hate this Kickstarter. More accurately, I hate what it represents.
It’s a fascinating time in the video game industry right now, full of possibility. More and more schools have video game-related programs, providing an environment in which monetary success is not necessary, or even the goal. Games exist on practically every electronic device you could own. Unsurprisingly, given the previous facts, there are now more game developers than ever. And those developers run the gamut from single-person indie companies to giant corporations. But arguably most important of all – maybe even being responsible for some of these other facts – is the fact that there so many tools available to make games. Hell, one of the most popular engines in the world right now is free if you want to release it for PC and Mac (and very soon, Linux).
And that is why there is absolutely no excuse for this garbage.
If you’re familiar with Kickstarter, one of the first things you may have noticed was its lofty one-point-two-million-dollar goal. If Double Fine (comparison inevitable) can make a game for $300,000, then this studio must be full of world-class game developers setting out to make something far more ambitious.
Oh, it’s a first-person zombie shooter. So we’re not off to a great start, but maybe they’re doing something really different with it. Let’s go through this pitch a bit, shall we?
“We chose this genre because we simply feel that all modern zombie shooters have missed the mark and not given the gaming community what they want.”
Wow, these guys really must know what they’re doing if they can deliver an experience that seasoned developers with decades of experience have failed at for so long.
“You’ll even have your choice of first or third person view. Switch views at any time.”
You may think I chose this quote to make them look ridiculous, but it’s honestly the most impressive part of the first paragraph of this pitch. The rest is generic nonsense that anyone can claim their game has. This was the only specific feature of the game that they listed.
“Fully engaged from the moment you enter the game, you’ll experience sharp graphics, detailed buildings and terrain… with your goal simply to survive and crush the mindless horde taking over the landscape.”
See what I mean? “Sharp graphics”? “Detailed buildings”? I was getting excited for a revolution in video game history, and you’re telling me how pretty it’s going to be.
“We have the concept and gameplay”
Whoa, now we’re talking. You already have gameplay? But.. how do you only have concept and gameplay? What are you using for this gameplay if all you have is concept art? Wait a minute, what do you even mean by “having gameplay”? Maybe you’re not saying what it sounds like you’re saying.
“Our game begins at the development level, so full development is needed.”
I’m not even commenting on this one. You figure out what the fuck it means, because I have no idea.
Then they just go on about the story and features that don’t exist yet, blah blah. They even explain why zombies move the way they do. Hey guys, this isn’t a fucking history lesson on fictional beings, it’s a video game pitch. Tell me why you need over a million fucking dollars first.
“It’s pretty simple, but most of the funding will go to pay the salaries of the designers who will be working full time for 18 months to bring this all together.”
Designers? Either you’re really screwing your coders, artists, audio engineers, and QA, or you consider everyone who works on your game a “designer”. I don’t even want to know which one it is.
“We realize that 1.2 Million dollars might seem like a lot, but when you stretch that out over an 18 month period paying the salaries of some very talented people, it almost doesn’t seem like enough.”
You know what? On that, we’re in agreement. Plenty of games have a much bigger budget. If you have enough talented and experienced people, there’s no reason this game wouldn’t deserve that money.
“My name is Henry Harner and together with my coding and management experience I will be heading up this project.”
Henry Harner, why are you a separate entity from your coding and management experience? Do they have an aversion to commas as well? They’re awfully vague entities, “coding and management experience”, are they not? You don’t mention game development experience; that would be a much more relevant entity to work with. Oh, here it is on the Emersion Interactive Studio website:
“Credits: Project Management and Web Development Sigma Properties. Project Management Health Management USA.”
Henryyyyyy, you’ve never made a game in your life, have you? How exactly is your web development experience going to help you make a first-person shooter? Well, at least you were able to make the company’s site presentable – maybe someone else on your team has video game experience.
“My son Dane, is a highly experienced gamer who has been playing FPS games since Doom was considered new and state of the art.”
HENRY, THAT IS NOT THE KIND OF EXPERIENCE I MEANT AND YOU KNOW IT.
God damnit, Henry, you made me internet shout. And I’m holding back my comments about your use of commas in that one. Let’s get one thing clear: playing video games doesn’t qualify you to be a developer any more than being a straight man qualifies you to be a gynecologist.
“Tony Poukkula will be using Pro Tools to help create some of the creepy in game musical scores.”
And to push this nail into this piece of wood, I will be using a Craftsman hammer.
And so on. Not a single mention of anyone having ever so much as spoken to a game developer before. It’s disgusting.
Look, inexperience is fine – we all have to start somewhere. But that place is not a 1.2 million-dollar budget. That’s not a starting point for anything; you have a lot to prove before you can even think about sinking that much money into a game. I’m glad that this Kickstarter is going to fail, because it saved a lot of people a lot of disappointment from when you got in over your heads and failed to deliver what you promised. That’s why I hate your Kickstarter, and every one like it. You think that all you need is a grand idea and lots of money, and your passion will make up for your lack of experience. If you ever so much as visited a game developer forum, you’d see countless starry-eyed kids with no idea what they were getting into. And you’d see the experienced developers telling them to start small. Make a Space Invaders clone, or a Mario Bros clone. And now, with Kickstarter, you think you can bypass all that basic experience with loads of money. But you’re not one of those kids; you’re an adult. You’re supposed to know better.
And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.
I hope you watched that with me, Henry. I hope you poured one out with your friends coding and management experience. I hope the 47 suckers who could have lost their collective $1,002 breathed a sigh of relief that their hard-earned dollars weren’t pissed away down a river of pipe dreams and naivete. And I hope you learned that people don’t believe in grand ideas, they believe in people. No one is going to shower you in money until you prove that you deserve it. Maybe one day you will. But today is not that day. Today is just another day that you waited for other people to make your dreams come true.