Craig Stern Has More Excuses To Take Your Money: Telepathic Tic-Tacs Take Two

I don’t have to tell you about Craig Stern’s game, Telepath Tactics. I don’t have to tell you that I didn’t approve of his first Kickstarter. I’ve already done that.

I’ve also told you about how pathetically he defended indie devs asking for buckets of cash to finish their games. I even had a couple of Craig Stern fanboys tell me what a thunder cunt [sic] I am because of it. So we can skip the introductions here, and get right into why Craiggy-bear is still asking for your money in his relaunch for Telepath Tactics.


We don’t need to go over the game. I don’t care about it, and neither will anyone else in a few months. How is Telepath Psy Arena selling these days, anyway? I rest my case.

Craig was kind enough to provide a summary of what has changed in this new launch in an update to the original project:

“Hello, everyone! As we all know, the initial campaign to fund Telepath Tactics in December fell a little short. I’ve never been the quitting sort, however–I’m writing to let you know that in just two short weeks, I’ll be giving Kickstarter a second shot!”

Kevin Bailey isn’t the quitting sort, either, Craig. That’s not necessarily a good thing. So what did our persistent friend learn from his failure?


“Telepath Tactics single player / custom campaign support are top priority;
Spend money on improving the game’s visuals;
Don’t spend tons of money on original sound effects.”

The first is irrelevant to the Kickstarter itself, as Craig has allegedly neglected his own salary in the funding. The second confuses me for two reasons. One, unless Craig is hiring a different artist, giving more money to the person doing all of the visuals so far isn’t going to improve a damn thing. This strikes to the core of my problem with video game Kickstarters – more money does not equal higher quality. And two, one of the big draws of this game is its ability to be modded. So once the game is out, everyone will be adding loads of wonderful art themselves, right? RIGHT?

The third was, in fact, my advice. So you’re welcome, Craig. If you end up using that program I linked to in my first post, I want producer credits.

Then Craig lists some stretch goals. And look at the last one:

“professional sound effects.”

So I’m guessing that the lesson you learned is “Don’t spend tons of money on original sound effects… unless you have extra money to throw around”. Craig also bafflingly points out that the title screen art has improved. Here is the reason for my baffle:

Original art:


New art:


Aw, you opened the dude’s mouth and dirtied up his face a little! If this is the kind of “improving the game’s visuals” we can expect from the success of this Kickstarter, this will certainly not be $15,000 well-spent.

So let’s go over the specific changes to the funding. Here the original quotes with the relaunch result:

“Hiring a sound designer to create all of the sound effects for every last button click, movement, attack, character death, item usage, and action in the game.  Estimated cost: $12,000”

Relaunch: non-existent. This will now be a silent game. Either that, or Craig found some way to get all of his sounds without spending a dime. Gee, I wonder how he could have done that..

“Hiring a composer to flesh out the game’s soundtrack with more music.  Estimated cost: $4,000”

Relaunch: non-existent. I hope you like the title piece, because it’s going to be on a loop for the entirety of the game.


“Promoting Telepath Tactics* at PAX East.  Estimated cost: $2,000”

Relaunch: non-existent. Craig promoted his game at PAX East already. But Craig, I thought the whole point of Kickstarter was to ask for money for things that you could not otherwise do!

“Hiring a web designer to build a proper website* for Telepath Tactics.  Estimated cost: $1,000”

Relaunch: non-existent. Telepath Tactics will have no website. Thanks, Obama.

Okay, so we’ve cut out $19,000 of your original $25,000 budget. There’s only one thing left (and you may note that it is not for the total remainder of $6,000).


“Hiring artists to create more art: tilesets, destructible objects, character portraits, NPC sprites, and a second gender for each character class.  Estimated cost: $4,000”

Relaunch: $15,000


So Craiggy-bear takes out all of the fluff of sound design, music, promotion, and a website, and suddenly the art budget blows up by $11,000? To justify this, Craig spreads out the text so it looks like a lot more, like so:

“Character portraits;
gender variants for each character class (all characters are currently just male or just female);
animated NPC sprites (villagers, merchants, politicians, businessmen, etc.);
individualized attack buttons;
status effect symbols;
nicer-looking buttons, menus, and other elements of the user interface;
more tiles; and
more destructible objects.”

Okay, so there are a few extra things in there, but they weren’t necessary the first time around, but suddenly they fit into the category of “just enough to get the game done right”?


Craig, this being my third post on you, I could understand how it would appear that I have some kind of vendetta against you. I don’t. I want to be in support of all indie devs who are actually making things and putting themselves out there, and you are so firmly in that category. I know how much it takes to finish a game, and how important it is for that game to be the best in can possibly be in every way.

But that doesn’t excuse being so god damned full of shit and swindling people out of their money so that you can have an artist darken your pixelated characters’ faces. If you were really going for the bare minimum to get it done right, you’d do this art yourself, or find free assets and maybe modify them, or do whatever the fuck it was you did for your previous two games, which didn’t require begging for the internet’s spare change. It’s so depressingly obvious that you’re on Kickstarter because it’s the cool indie thing to do and it gives you more exposure – not because you couldn’t release the game without it.

And that is why I can’t stand your bullshit.

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7 thoughts on “Craig Stern Has More Excuses To Take Your Money: Telepathic Tic-Tacs Take Two

  1. Jessica says:

    I’m a little concerned about the obsession you have with him. It’s kinda weird.

  2. Jessica says:

    I take back my defense of him. He’s a jerk and deserves bashing. Have a nice day 🙂

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