Leviathan Interactive is Burning Your Money in Hell

We’re going to change things up a little bit here. Normally, I rant about how terrible the people are who ask for money when they have no good reason. Today, things are going to be a little different.

I was all set to write up the same type of blog, happy to see another stupid Kickstarter die. And then you ruined it.

You, the masses. The backers. The rosy-eyed video game fans who so desperately want new content that you’re willing to throw money at anyone with a grand idea. With less than 14 hours to go, you gave Leviathan Interactive’s Project Lodus over $20,000 – the second half of their funding goal. So now I have to talk about why you suck. But to do that, I have to tell you why Leviathan didn’t deserve your money in the first place.

The pitch for Project Lodus gets off to a hilarious start:

“We are beyond excited to announce that Project Lodus will be releasing on Windows PC! Check out Update #7 for the details.”

Oh, awesome, a PC ga.. wait, Update #7? They launched this Kickstarter and had 6 updates before even telling you what you’re going to be able to play it on? And you were already willing to donate?! You must really trust these guys. Have they done something really great in the past to deserve that trust?

“Project Lodus is a Cyberpunk Co-op Action RPG being developed by industry up-and-comers (can we say that about ourselves?) Leviathan Interactive.”

If you have a bullshit translator handy, you’ll note that this mean they haven’t done a damn thing before this. So they want a budget of $50,000 for their first title? That’s way too much.

But it gets better. This money isn’t to finish the game, it’s to finish a vertical slice of the game. In other words, a demo to show to publishers. This means two very important things:

First, it turns the whole idea of Kickstarting games onto its head. Crowd-funding is supposed to be the alternative to going to a publishing company. It’s supposed to put the power into the hands of the creators and the fans, cutting out the middleman. Indeed, this is exactly what you claim is still going to be the case with this game. But what if your publisher doesn’t like an idea that the fans have, and you like, and you can’t put it in the game? There goes your game development utopia, where the fans are actively involved in the development.

Second, what if no publisher picks up the game? With all of the money that you seem to need to shove into your computers to make this game happen, there’s no way you’ll be able to finish it without publishing support. What then, Leviathan?

I take it back, there’s a third problem: free copies. You’re promising everyone a copy of the game when it comes out if they donate $20 or more. How do you know a publisher is going to be okay with that? That’s hundreds of copies that your publisher will see absolutely no money from. Oh, you didn’t consider these things? Yeah, I thought not. How are you guaranteeing the release platform without a publisher, anyway?

Nevermind, let’s just continue.

Their video is filled with the same generic nonsense that all video game Kickstarter projects have. They want to offer you exciting combat, an easy-to-use interface, and so on. Do these things exist yet? Of course not. Is there any evidence that Leviathan can pull it off? Of course not. Do they assure you that your money will make it possible? Of course they do.

The rest of their page is even worse:

“We’re focusing on crafting an engaging story experience, presenting some seriously eye-popping visuals and art direction that make for an exciting world to have fun in…”

“Well, we also love smart design.”

Thanks, Leviathan, I really feel like I know the intimate details about where you’re coming from. I bet you like “quality writing” and want to have “fluid mechanics” as well.

I’ll give them one thing, though; they’re not bullshitting you about where the money is going: into the pockets of the “industry up-and-comers”. They don’t have the pretense of hardware and software purchases, they just want you to pay for their living expenses so they don’t have to get jobs. Oh, and also:

“The funds will enable us to pay some or even all of our employees for their work and it will also help to pay for the time we spent in the motion capture studio.”

They went to a motion capture studio, and then realized that they couldn’t afford it? Guess it’s your problem now, backers.

“Before coming to Kickstarter, we were able to show our game to several publishers.  We were absolutely thrilled with the positive responses we got.  They loved the idea, they just needed something playable, with a bit of polish.”

So they have nothing playable after all this time of being “self-funded”, they’ve never made a game before, and you want to give them $50,000 because they have a nice idea and some pretty pictures. Well done, kids. Say what you will about publishers, but at least they’re smart enough to require proof that you can do what you say you can before dumping money onto you.

“If you do decide to donate, there is no way we can ever thank you enough, even if we don’t reach our goal.  And while we would love to come (probably uninvited), sit on your couch and play hours upon hours of Skyrim with you, we figure it’s best to settle on social media and forums.”

Hey, assholes, Skyrim is a single-player game. You can’t play it with other people. I know it’s not that big of a deal, but it makes the whole thing seem that much more fake. Like these guys sat around talking about how to write this Kickstarter page and asked, “What video games are the kids playing these days?” You guys are all about co-op gameplay, and the first thing you think of when you talk about playing a game with someone is Skyrim?

And then, the whimper of my dying heart.

I hate you all.

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5 thoughts on “Leviathan Interactive is Burning Your Money in Hell

  1. […] story begins with my fourth post, about a little game called Project Lodus. Normally, what I do is follow a project that I find […]

  2. […] it about $5,000. I would say that there’s no way it’ll get much more than that, but crazier things have happened. I at least feel confident that I can rest easy tonight in the knowledge that this won’t come […]

  3. […] was inevitable. We started with just funding games. Then we made the questionable-at-best leap to funding prototypes. We also funded DLC. And mods. Now, we’ve reached the logical conclusion to this […]

  4. […] Giana on August 31st, 2012. This blog was less than a month old, and I had already written about one unfortunate success, and I was trying not to make it a habit. And because so god damn much of the game was already […]

  5. […] In other words, you won’t even have a completed game by the end of this round of funding. Maybe we’re in for another unplayable “tech demo” like our friends at Leviathan Interactive? […]

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