Your Video Game Kickstarter Also Sucks

So, I may have been a little harsh on Generic Zombie Title 52 the other day. After all, the “team” clearly had never so much as made a block move on a plane using WASD controls. They were mostly guilty of having no idea what they were getting into – not to mention trying to get other people to pay for their ignorance. But looking back, it’s somewhat excusable if you have a passion to do something, but you have no clue how to do it. And, to be fair, I never questioned the proposed budget. As I said, with enough talented and experienced people working on something so ambitious, it was quite a modest goal. The problem was that they were not talented and experienced people. At least, there was no proof of their talent, and plenty of evidence to the contrary regarding their experience.

That’s what makes these assholes all the more reprehensible. Here’s the story so far:

Bad Dudes is a 1988 2d side-scrolling beat-’em-up game about two NYC thugs who are called in to save the president.. who was kidnapped by a clan of ninjas. Some (less-than-intelligent) people have wondered, “why was there never a Bad Dudes sequel?” Well, for one, what the hell would the story be – the president gets kidnapped by ninjas again?!

“The DragonNinja clan is back up to their old tricks. It’s been 23 years, are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president…again ?”

So let’s set the stage here: you’re a new indie game developer, full of passion, ready to take on the challenge of creating a brand new game. And your big idea is to effectively remake a decades-old arcade game. I’ve already mentioned the variety, quality, and availability of tools to create games today. This kind of babytown frolics can be done over a weekend by a decent developer with a decent set of tools. If you want to go extra ambitious, maybe give it a few weeks to include polish and bug fixes. What it doesn’t take is $80,000.

You didn’t read that wrong. Thousands of dollars. Eighty of them. To re-create what was done 24 years ago, when you had to write in assembly to be a game developer. This game doesn’t have the excuse of being really ambitious, which is why I find its budget to be more contemptible, despite being less than a tenth of what Open World Zombie Apocalypse Dream Game had asked. But I’m putting the cart before the horse here – maybe these guys do have the experience required to make their vision – unfortunate as it may be – come to life. Don’t worry, I did my homework on that.

A quick look at the Pinstripe Games “Games” page reveals that aside from this abomination of a sequel proposal, the “studio” has a game called Jesh. Jesh is a 2D side-scrolling beat-’em-up. Holy shit, I’m already having déjà vu. And look at that: Jesh had a Kickstarter, too. A successfully funded one, no less. Already, I don’t like this. Kickstarter is for companies to get off the ground, to get a project going so that they can start making money proper-like – you know, selling their products. Why would a company need to do this twice? And in such a small time frame: the Kickstarter for Jesh ended in March. If that “kick-started” Jesh, shouldn’t they still be working on it? Or have very recently released it? Incredibly, neither of these is the case.

As it turns out, neither of the two guys that make up Pinstripe Games is actually a game developer. That is, they are not able to produce a video game between them. The funds raised from Jesh’s Kickstarter were put toward hiring a contractor to develop the game, using Pinstripe’s design and art. Shockingly, this didn’t work out so well for them. To this day, Jesh is merely a broken prototype that said contractor left them with after ceasing to work on the game. Rather than pick up the pieces from this game and try to actually get it finished, Pinstripe raises the stakes and starts a new Kickstarter for a new game, only this time with 80-times the monetary goal. Proving that there is some justice in the world, this hasn’t been working out for them so well, either.

Oh, and also, Jesh was in development for about two years.. and is still just a broken prototype. So you should obviously give these guys your money.

This leads us to the 22-minute pile of excuses in the form of a video posted on their Kickstarter page. This is the most inexcusable part of the whole thing. They are so insistent on their experience and grand plan while making the most nonsensical points to excuse their ignorance.

“We hired a contractor to come in and actually develop [Jesh]. And that actually freed us up to eventually start the Bad Dudes 2 Kickstarter.”

So, it would seem that this was the plan all along. Don’t even bother finishing your first game project before asking for money toward your next. Is this supposed to put minds at ease? You’ve never released a game, only your backers for Jesh’s Kickstarter have access to the (admittedly broken) prototype, and we’re supposed to trust you with $80,000 to make another game just like it?

“It is going to cost us $30,000 in additional licensing fees to actually bring [Bad Dudes 2] to retail.”

Finally, we have a reason for a good chunk of that money you want thrown at you. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible one. What you’re saying here is that nearly half of your budget is solely for the purpose of calling this game “Bad Dudes 2” and naming the characters “Blade” and “Stryker”. Oh, and copying the absurd plot, which I’m not really convinced you would have any trouble using even without licensing rights. Something tells me the idea of kidnapping the president isn’t copyrighted.

“We want to devote 100% of our time to Bad Dudes 2… Naturally, that requires us to pay labor costs…”

Incorrect. Devoting 100% of your time costs nothing. The labor costs he speaks of are to hire a contractor to develop the game. Sound familiar? Claiming that they learned from this experience, this time, their contractor is going to develop the game “in-house”. Turns out, their last contractor simply had the wrong roof over his head during development. Also, based on the Skype-like nature of this video, I seriously doubt Pinstripe has an office, making the “in-house” distinction utterly meaningless in every possible way.

There’s also the issue of whether or not 100% of your time is necessary (or even helpful) to this game. I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s not. After all, what the hell do you even do? Give orders to a coder? That doesn’t take 100% of your time. Learn to make a game for yourself, then we’ll talk about what your time is worth.

“There’s a lot of skepticism… and there really isn’t a whole lot we can do to 100% change everyone’s mind about that.”

Actually, there absolutely is. There is a way to put everyone fears to rest, to destroy their skepticism, and prove that you deserve every penny of these funds. Do you know what it is? Make a god damn game.

I’m serious. Make a game. Any game. Have some kind of finished product that everyone can see and play that shows your potential. Prove that you are merely limited by your funding, and not an embarrassing degree of inexperience and naivete. Get the prototype for Jesh to a presentable state, and let people play it if they’re skeptical of your ability to make a game. But you don’t want to do that. Because you can’t actually make a game. And you want to hide that fact, and pretend that bags of money will change it.

“We plotted out [Bad Dudes 2] – everything that was gonna be in it, every feature that was gonna be in it…”

Nope. That’s it. You lost me. I’m done. No experienced game designer would ever say anything like this. A design document is not a holy book that your game adheres to at all costs. If you were to ever actually finish a game, you would know that your design will change drastically throughout development. It’s a starting point at best. There is absolutely no reason to brag about how great your design is before you start developing a game, because most of it will be tossed out when you find out how stupid it is in practice. But I guess you don’t learn things like that when you simply hand off a design document and ask for a game in return. And that is why you will remain a failure of an indie game company. Until you change your ways, of course, which I hope you do one day.

Maybe if you spent a little more time actually making games and a little less time Photoshopping game cartridges, you would have a finished game to your name.

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

I wish I could say that this is the end of the sad tale that is Bad Dudes 2, but justice in this world has its limits, and stupid people are all-too persistent. Pinstripe has already stated that they are going to run another Kickstarter for this project.

Sounds like I’ll have some ranting to do in about two months. See you then, Pinstripe.

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One thought on “Your Video Game Kickstarter Also Sucks

  1. […] Insert Open World Zombie Title Here. The first Kickstarter I wrote about was Bad Dudes 2 – my second post. I typed my original rantings into WordPad for a couple of days about that project while it was […]

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