Okay, fine, they get some points for originality. A horror game set in abandoned Nazi camps in Antarctica. Even if World War 2 games are disgustingly played out, this is at least a new take on it. And as evidenced by my review of Anna, horror games are tricky to pull off.
The problem is that there’s no reason to believe Heavy Ion Studios can pull off anything. If Xerum: Tears of the Children ever does become a real game, it will be a fucking miracle. Let’s get into why.
“Xerum: Tears of the Children is built on Unreal 3 UDK technology”
This is purely personal bias (isn’t this whole blog?), but UDK is for naive indie developers who are trying to make their games look “AAA quality”. They think that using Unreal technology will automatically improve the graphics of their game, and give them some kind of brand recognition to brag about. The problem is that UDK might be the most unintuitive piece of game development software I’ve ever used. I suppose you could get used to it, but everything is so proprietary that it won’t help you in any other development situation ever. Hope they took into account the 25% Epic is going to take from their funding. Anyway, UDK is a silly way to go for this team. End of story.
“We’ve been working on Xerum: Tears of the Children in our free time ever since we graduated from our respected game design schools.”
Oooooh dear. Game design schools? Fuck me, that explains everything. Here’s the lineup of “developers” at this “company”: artist, designer, designer, artist, composer. Notice anything missing? Yeah, they don’t have an engineer of any description. This game is all documents and pictures, with no gameplay, because they don’t have a fucking coder. That’s like starting a restaurant with everything except cooks. Is the food going to fucking prepare itself? Maybe they need the money to hire a programmer, and that’s why they’re on Kickstarter. It’s not the best reason, but at least it’s a reason. Let’s see what’s under their “Why Kickstarter?” section:
“The benefits of us developing a game like Xerum: Tears of the Children is:”
I don’t want to hear your reasons for making this game, I want to know what the fuck you’re going to do with $190,000. No fucking kidding you started this to have a project to be proud of, this kind of shit goes without saying. You’re not on Kickstarter to develop the game (I hope), but to convince stupid people to give you money for doing so. Your “Why Kickstarter?” section should be about why you need money, not why you’re making the fucking game to begin with.
“Our fist level is nearly complete”
Your fist level? Wait, what kind of game is this? If you can’t be bothered to proofread your Kickstarter page, I can’t be bothered to fund your fisting game.
And on the subject, you’re claiming exploration and non-linear storytelling. But you have a series of levels? Talking about your “first level” sounds pretty damn linear to me, yet you make the game sound like an open world. Maybe you haven’t quite learned the meaning of all the buzzwords you’re using.
“We’re using Kickstarter to be able to fund the next stage of development.”
You mean, like, all of the actual development? You don’t even have a single level yet. This is very telling of the lack of experience this team has: they think they’ve already done a significant amount of work. In the video, they even claim that the funds are for the “final” stage of development. Apparently, it takes longer to write design documents than it does to fully develop a video game. That inspires confidence.
“Kickstarter is an amazing community because it allows us to have a direct relationship with you. We don’t have the demands of a high profile publisher backing our game.”
Get real, guys; you don’t have the option of a high-profile publisher. Nor do you know what that’s like, as you’ve never made a game before. But I guess you heard somewhere that all publishers are evil, and that was enough for you to pretend like you’re making an educated decision about this. Oh my god, it’s horrible! Millions of people buy and love games from big companies all the time! We’ll have none of that! There’s problem number two with your inexperience: arrogance. You already have the perfect, most brilliant game, and someone with actual knowledge and experience in the industry would just ruin it! I’m sure you guys never play games from big publishers.
“In areas of the game we will post your name within the game for everyone to see. This includes cave walls, tombstones, artifacts, and monuments. This allows us to give a unique approach to getting the thousands upon thousands of Backers’ names into the credits.”
“Thousands upon thousands”? Man, your 18 backers really missed out on this one. But take a minute to reflect on the subject matter of the game, and see why this isn’t all that appealing: if your name is written somewhere in this game’s world, it’s probably because you’re a Nazi. It’s a fucking secret Nazi camp – no one else was there! Maybe you could argue that since these Nazis are all gone/dead, that you could be who defeated them. But I think if you just slaughtered a bunch of Nazis in the arctic, you’re not hanging around to scrawl your name all over shit. Then again, I know as much about killing Nazis in the arctic as you guys know about game development.
“We’ll use Backer donations for:
This is entirely unhelpful. We already know you’re going to be making a game, it’s pretty fucking safe to assume you want money to fund parts of the game.
“Music & Audio
Website & Merchandise”
Nevermind, that totally clears it up. Features just cost money – it’s that simple, right? You’ve been working on this game for some mystery amount of time – presumably a while – with no funding, then suddenly, just before you finish a single level, you need $190,000? I’m really hoping that the money was going to be used to hire someone competent to actually make the game.
” The risks to developing a game like this are overcoming the zero stability that comes with developing independent games, keeping the team motivated and passionate with little or no money coming in, and devoting all of our time to this project even if the end product doesn’t bring in a living.”
You jackasses, you’re supposed to be talking about the risks to the backers, meaning if you get funded. Don’t talk about how you’ll have no money and can’t make a living if you get $190,000. No wonder no one wanted to fund your stupid asses, and you cancelled the project out of embarrassment.
Or, did you sell your souls to one of those evil publishers?