A Sloth’s Life In A Pool Of Molasses In January

“Hey guys, it’s Turtle.”

Turtle? Who? What? Am I supposed to know you or something? Are we friends? Are you famous? This is how you start a vlog, not a Kickstarter pitch.

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Do you think you could, uh,  maybe work on the contrast in your PowerPoint presentation there? What made you think that a PowerPoint presentation along with your slow, monotonous speech would keep anyone awake to give you money by the end of it?

Already, we’ve raised more questions than we’ve answered in this Kickstarter video for Turtle’s Life, described by the developer as “A 2D Nostalgia RPG about my struggle to become a video game developer”. Yup. He’s making a game about making games. Someone call Xzibit. But stranger than the first words spoken in this video is the first image, shown below.

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Mr. Turtle has licensed his presentation (not his game, but the presentation about the game) under the Creative Commons License. So you’re allowed to download and distribute it. You’re allowed. To distribute information about his game. Because of his generous licensing, you can give him all the free exposure you want. What a swell guy. Another thing you’re allowed to do is give him money. And if you give him enough, he might finish his game. He only requests that you ask before distributing his presentation. Mr. Turtle, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t ask you for permission to show people your project. But if I had told you all of the things I’m about to say about it, you certainly wouldn’t have said yes. So I guess I’m not really that sorry.

“So, an overview of the game: it’s a 16-bit, modern-day role-playing game…”

If it’s 16-bit, I’m not exactly sure what part of it is modern, but I guess it is technically modern by virtue of being made in 2013.

“16-bit graphics…”

Yeah, uh, we got that part.

“HD resolution…”

Now wait one god damned second. It’s 16-bit and HD? Is it also a turn-based action RPG? Are you just listing every possible desirable trait for a game in hopes that you’ll please everyone?

“So here’s some technical info on the game: it’s DRM-free…”

Well, now there’s no question; you are definitely just listing everything you’ve heard that gamers like, regardless of its accuracy or relevance. This is something we’ve seen before, but DRM hasn’t really been an issue for indie games anyway. It’s like saying your game doesn’t kill puppies. Well, good for you, Mr. Turtle, but at least part of the reason that you don’t have any DRM is that it’s easier for you to not have to make or buy any kind of software protection from piracy. The only reason that AAA games advertise being DRM-free is because they can afford to use it, and it may even make them more money in the end, because people can’t steal their game (as easily), but they choose not to use any DRM because it can be annoying to the people who buy the game. But let’s get one thing clear here: no one is going to fucking steal Turtle’s Life. So the fact that it’s DRM-free is so incredibly irrelevant that I can’t begin to imagine why you felt the need to bring it up. Not using DRM for Turtle’s Life is like not locking a penny inside a bank vault – it’s not an offering of trust, it’s your acceptance of how unnecessary such security measures would ultimately be.

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“If you don’t know what DRM is, it’s Data Rights Management…”

Well, actually it’s Digital Rights Management. This isn’t that big of a deal, but if you’re going to play teacher, at least get your facts straight. This mistake would have been a little less absurd had you not linked to the Wikipedia article on the subject, which clearly displays the correct terminology repeatedly.

“First of all, it’s open-source and free…”

Okay, well that would be the number one reason to not use DRM, then, jackass. You have absolutely zero use for it. What possible reason could anyone have to put DRM on an open-source, free title? The whole “free” aspect of it is another pretend gift: were this Kickstarter to be successful, you’d already be at least $10,000 richer from this game, releasing it for free at that point isn’t exactly some grand altruistic gesture.

“It’s free because I want people to play it…”

Were it not for the Kickstarter, I might believe this. But if you really just want to get your work out there, you wouldn’t be asking for $10,000 to do it. So I’m calling bullshit, and I’m done listening to the technical details of the game. It’s time to find out where all this money would be going.

“So what are your donations going towards? Computer upgrades, and server costs…”

So.. we’re supposed to believe that you can create this game, but here you are admitting that you don’t even have a computer that is adequate for doing so?

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“My computer’s about as old as I am…”

According to Facebook, Mr. Turtle graduated high school in 2010, so that would make him around 20 years old. It may seem like it to a young whipper snapper like himself, but I can pretty safely bet that his computer is not from 1993. And given that he wants to make a 16-bit game, I’d bet he wouldn’t need much more even if it was.

“Storage is an issue, because I have a lot of data, and not a lot of room… I’m out of room on most of my devices…”

So it would seem we haven’t been given the whole story here – just how many computers from 1993 does Mr. Turtle have? He admits in his video that this falls under computer upgrades, but just wants to stress this one particular aspect of upgrading. Why? Hard drives these days are insanely cheap. You can easily get a terabyte for under $100. That should unquestionably take care of everything you need for a 16-bit game, and it’s less than one fucking percent of your proposed budget – did it really need its own bullet point?

Now, let’s go way out on a limb for Mr. Turtle here, and say that his new computer is going to cost $2,000 – including a 1TB drive, if not more. Maybe the server cost for a year of hosting a website and the download of the game itself would be a few hundred, but fuck it, let’s give him a thousand. That’s a total budget of $3,000 if we’re really throwing away money. Where the fuck is $7,000 going?

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Let’s get real: Turtle wants you to pay him to sit on his ass making this game. He’s going to make it anyway, and sure, it would be nice to have a better computer while doing it, but this whole Kickstarter is just so obviously unnecessary that it’s no wonder it’s sitting at $303. And by the miracle of Kicktraq, we know that $300 of that was pledged by a single person, so it was probably a family member. And since he’s going to release the game for free, along with all the code, his rewards are so bland that there are only 3 tiers, and he couldn’t come up with anything above $50. And all that is is a 16-bit version of you appearing in the game. Seeing as how a 16-bit version of me would be indistinguishable from a 16-bit version of about a million other people, I’ll just wait until the game is done and download it from you for free.

You may think that I’m done with Mr. Turtle now, but there are a few more things that require your attention. Firstly, this:

“One challenge is that I have never done an entire game from start to finish. I’ve only worked on teams. But I think my 10+ years in game design and my experience in many different facets of the development process will be very useful as I begin to work on this game.”

Okay, so he hasn’t started to work on the game yet? He’s never finished a game before, and thinks that his experience in game design will help that in any way. And let’s talk about that game design experience. 10+ years, was it? We’ve estimated Mr. Turtle’s age to be around 20, so unless he was severely held back in school, he’s including game design he’s been doing since the age of about 10 years old. Yeah, I can’t see why you shouldn’t go ahead and take $10,000. I was drawing mazes in my notebook in the third grade, so I guess I should be bragging about my 20+ years in puzzle design.

“The game itself is a 16-bit role-playing game that takes place from the early 90’s to the present. You are me. You must fight for what you want. You must choose which paths you take. You must upgrade your epic l33t h4x0r gaming skillz.”

I only quoted this because in the word “l33t”, he linked to the wikipedia article for “leet”. This kid thinks he’s the Mister Fucking Rogers of game development, teaching kids how to make games by playing one. He links just about every technological term to the Wikipedia article about it, I’m surprised the Kickstarter page doesn’t have a fucking glossary at the end. Then there’s the FAQ. Oh, god, the FAQ…

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“What will happen if I donate and the project isn’t funded?
Your money will be refunded and the project will close like it never happened. We don’t want that, so tell all your friends about the project! And don’t forget the minimum is $1, but there is no maximum.”

First of all, this isn’t a fucking tutorial on Kickstarter – you’re supposed to know how it works if you’re on it. But if you want to encourage people who have never used Kickstarter before, then at least give accurate information, for fuck’s sake. You don’t “donate” to a project before it’s funded – it’s called “pledging” for a reason. If the project isn’t funded, you don’t get refunded – you’re never charged in the first place. Secondly, yes, there absolutely fucking is a maximum – it’s $10,000. That just so happens to be your entire goal, so maybe it doesn’t matter to you so much, but you’re still spreading false information, you stupid bastard.

“What is open-source?
It means the programming code used to make the game is available to anyone, for free. It also means nobody can hide anything in the code or create anything malicious with it. So that’s good.”

Nobody can create anything malicious with it? Actually, anyone with some basic programming knowledge can. What you’re trying to say is that any malicious code could be found by someone with enough knowledge to look through the code and understand it, and those people generally aren’t stupid enough to run viruses anyway. All that “open source” means is that the source code is made available by the creator of the software. Nothing else. It’s not a magic anti-malware button.

“What is DRM?
DRM is like a safe. You put your valuable things in it. But the thing about DRM is, the safe is always unlocked. So it not only doesn’t make it harder to get in to have the safe, it makes the space taken up by the information larger.”

What did I tell you? This is a Mister Fucking Rogers explanation of a varied and complex topic. If someone doesn’t know what it is, then you’re not helping by explaining to them like they’re ten fucking years old and then saying you’re not doing it anyway.

“But the screenshots look like RPG Maker…
Well, that’s a prototype. I will post some more screenshots during development.”

Classic. This is the only useful bit of information in the FAQ. Mr. Turtle is promising a game built from the ground up, and showing you screenshots of a prototype made in RPG Maker. That’s like claiming you can make a magic wand, and making a video of yourself waving around a Harry Potter toy to prove it. I was wondering what he meant when he said “as I begin to work on this game”. I guess he really meant it.

“Please, don’t feel like you have to donate…”

Oh, don’t worry, Mr. Turtle, I certainly do not feel that way. Nor do a lot of people.

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That’s right, I’m not even waiting for this one to fail. That would be like waiting for a family values Republican to have a gay affair. It’s not even news when it happens now, it is just a sad inevitability.

One thought on “A Sloth’s Life In A Pool Of Molasses In January

  1. digi says:

    Another awesome post. I’m dying here cause I just noticed all of the links in here. Nice easter egg.

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