This Post Should Have Been Called Pathfailure Online

I want you to picture a world for me. In this world, a game development company goes to a publisher with a prototype for their game. That publisher gives the developers all the money they need to pay all of their employees during the development period. The game is eventually finished, and released as a great success, selling many copies. The developer goes to the publisher, and as a repayment for their funding, instead of sharing the profits, hands them 500 download codes for the limited edition of the game.

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You can stop imagining that world, because it’s the one we’re living in right now. And that publisher is you. You. The complete imbeciles who funded the second Pathfinder Online Kickstarter. You bunch of brainless shitstains threw your money at Goblinworks yet again, this time to the tune of over one million dollars. Normally, I’m angry at the creators for trying to take money for horrible projects. But when those creators flat out tell you that they don’t need your help, it’s your fault for being such a fucking moron when you give them money.

Apparently, not enough people see how unnecessary this Kickstarter project was, so allow me to explain.

Back in June, after everyone had stopped wetting themselves over Double Fine’s Kickstarter, and were desperately looking for something else to fill their bladder during Double Fine Adventure‘s development, a company called Goblinworks made a Kickstarter for a tech demo of their game idea. This is, of course, a completely stupid idea in the first place. A tech demo is supposed to be the proof that you can do at least one percent of what you say you’re going to do. Without that, who the fuck are you to take $50,000 from anyone? Not to mention, the tech demo was being made to shop around for a publisher – so much for the “new funding model”. Now you’re not getting in on some grassroots indie titles, you’re just playing bitch to a developer until they can get a trophy wife. I don’t know how you sleep at night.

Now, normally, in a video game Kickstarter, at least one of the reward tiers includes a copy of the game. But this was just a tech demo, and if they didn’t get a publisher, there wouldn’t be a game. And I guess you’re not allowed to have the tech demo because fuck you? Anyway, the reward tiers were incredibly weak. For $15, you got a video of the tech demo and a PDF. For $30, you got an icon on their forums. For $100, you got a shirt. I’m not making this shit up. This is real life. The pitch video had no gameplay, of course, and the page had no screenshots. A few pieces of concept art and some flowery generic text was all you got to prove that this will be a real game.

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“Pathfinder Online is a hybrid sandbox/theme park-style MMO where characters explore, develop, find adventure and dominate a wilderness frontier in a land of sword and sorcery.”

I can’t even believe that Goblinworks had the balls to put this project up for $50,000 using that garbage. But the insatiable Kickstarter crowd was just bursting with money, and over three-hundred-thousand dollars fell into the collective lap of Goblinworks. What did they do with all that extra money? They made more fucking PDFs. That’s not a joke; every one of their stretch goals is another god damned level, most in PDF form, a few in print. That’s it. I mean, I get that it’s a tech demo, and it doesn’t really make sense to have stretch goals – that extra money should go towards the development of the actual game. But no, every extra $25,000 went to a designer to make a level for you to download as an e-book. And everyone was all like yeah sure that sounds good.

So fine, you got suckered. You gave Goblinworks the money to make their tech demo, and what did they do? They used Unity of course – an engine that costs zero fucking dollars to use. I’m sure that by now, they’ve upgraded to the Pro version of Unity, which would be $1,500 for each team member that requires access to the engine. But that’s something that a publisher can handle when there’s a real game to be made, not a tech demo – nobody in their right mind would license an engine just to make a demo with no promise of a full game.

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So, how about that publisher? Well, Goblinworks isn’t all that forthcoming about that part (so much for your backers being such an integral part of the process), but we do know this:

“…we were able to complete the technology demo, and secure the financing we need to put the game into production.”

The problem? That quote comes from the second Pathfinder Online Kickstarter. They’ve already secured their funding for the full game after getting 6 times their budget for a tech demo, and now they want another million dollars. For what?

“This Kickstarter is about more than crowdfunding – it’s about crowdforging.”

Oh, can we stop with the fucking made up, nonsense buzz words already? Kick-finishing? Crowd-forging? If this wasn’t just about the money, you’d let everyone have a say in your game regardless of the money they can afford to shovel into your fat faces. You need to give Goblinworks at least $100 to have your voice heard at all – and yours will be only one voice out of the thousands of other people who backed the project. You might as well play the lottery to fund your own development company where you have complete control over all aspects of the game.

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“The proceeds of this Kickstarter will enable us to reach our first milestone – Beta – in the summer of 2014, and release in early 2016. After reaching our funding goal, we will have a series of stretch goals ready to enable you to help accelerate the design timeline, and to expand the scope of the features for the game on release. With those stretch goals, we will reach Beta in early 2014, and release early 2015.”

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. So you’re telling me that not only do you have a magic money-to-features machine to make your game, but it speeds up the entire process while adding features? So if you get more money, you’ll actually have a bigger game in less time? WOW. This is reaching Patient Zero: Outbreak levels of naivete. This is not how game development works. Even if you added more people to your team, it’s not going to make the development process faster – especially when you’re adding features. Every one of those features is going to break, require more balancing, require more testing, and require more people to organize. If this Kickstarter is any indication of the level of knowledge and experience the team has in creating games, this will be the absolute biggest pile of shit ever, and I’m disappointed that I’ll have to wait 3 whole years to find out just how right I was.

Just to really drive the point home, they reiterate this absurdity in their FAQ:

“Is the whole budget coming from this Kickstarter?
No. Most of the budget is being provided by our initial investors, but the money we’re raising on Kickstarter is the difference between a 4 year development plan and a much faster, much larger plan.”

Well, you know what they say: get me to fund your tech demo, shame on me – get me to supplement the income your investors are already providing to finish the actual game in hopes of speeding up the development.. I guess I’m a complete fucking moron who doesn’t deserve to own a wallet.

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And after the $300,000 for their tech demo from the last Kickstarter, what have they shown for this game? Well, they call it the environment experience. It’s basically just a first-person open-world walk around a pretty environment in which nothing really happens. Congratulations, you made Skyrim.

I hope you all wear your forum icons like badges of idiocy. See you in 2016, when you’re playing either a half-assed MMO, or nothing at all.

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One thought on “This Post Should Have Been Called Pathfailure Online

  1. You do certainly have a way with words David, though you neglected to mention how desperate they were to get over the top, and how much they had to give away to do it. They gave away the store the last week or so to put this project over the top.

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