It’s been over two weeks now. It’s fine, I know you didn’t notice, but my very first post here was August 4th, 2012. We’ve had quite the year. So much has changed, but perhaps even more has remained the same.
I didn’t actually intend to start a blog with this. As it happens, it didn’t even start with Insert Open World Zombie Title Here. The first Kickstarter I wrote about was Bad Dudes 2 – my second post. I typed my original rantings into WordPad for a couple of days about that project while it was still going on, and it wasn’t until a friend watched the timer count down the last agonizing seconds of a failing Kickstarter project that it all came together for me.
And so it feels appropriate to take a look at another anniversary – one that pains me to remember: the success of Project 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 finished before they even got their Kickstarter funding, it was released not too long after, and is now held up as one of the great Kickstarter success stories. In many ways, Giana was “the one that got away”. Anything I could have written about was overshadowed by those sneaky fucks tricking everyone into thinking that their money was well-spent.
That’s why it gives me such pleasure to introduce you to Black Forest Games’s second Kickstarter: Project Ravensdale.
“We succeeded with our previous campaign, we met our goal and we delivered on our promises, releasing Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams to multiple platforms before we set our sights on a new project.”
Well, at least they’re not as bad as Double Fine. But I guess they couldn’t really afford to be – the $186,000 that Giana got was a mere drop in Double Fine’s $3 million bucket.
“This time we are set on creating a new game from the ground up, completely from scratch. New ideas, new concept, from beginning to end, no holds barred.”
Hm, you sure about that, guys? Because last I checked, Ravensdale was a re-skin of Giana with guns. Yes, the more platformer-y elements have been replaced by shooter mechanics, but if you created a 2.5D sidescrolling platformer engine from scratch for this, you wasted a hell of a lot of time.
But Black Forest Games seems really convinced that because you funded their $150,000 project that was almost done that you would obviously be excited about them asking for $500,000 for a single-level prototype that they have for a much more generic side-scrolling shooter. Bigger price tag, less reason to believe it’ll be worth a shit.
But really, I think the video is a big part of what killed this project. The Giana video is less than 3 minutes, shows you lots of gameplay, and has a salesman-type voiceover from a dude with an American accent. The video for Ravensdale is over 6 minutes – seriously, do these guys not listen to a fucking word I say? – half of it is concept art or video of people talking, and everyone has a thick, sometimes indecipherable, German accent.
It even draws out to the point of having someone from the band doing their soundtrack talk about how excited he is to be working with the developer. All it needs at this point is some random fans from 30 years ago and a Barbie doll host, and they’re pretty much the new Cinemaware. (Editor’s note: hilariously, after writing this whole post, I discovered that Black Forest Games backed Cinemaware’s Kickstarter. I can’t even make this shit up.)
My guess is that the funds are going to hiring Chris Cooper to do a German accent for the video.
“The more support we get, the more we can do by adding more people to the project.”
If you’ve ever worked on a large team to make a video game, I hope you just coughed up your Cheetos after reading that sentence. If you haven’t, go ahead and skim this Wikipedia article on diminishing returns, and then you will start to understand just how stupidly naive that statement was.
They also committed a bit of a Kickstarter faux pas, for anyone who bothered to read the text.
“Kickstarter puts all the creative power in our hands and we don’t want to waste this gift of freedom in order to play it safe. We will be looking for possible distribution deals in the future to further support the project, but the creative control will remain with us.”
Perhaps if you’re not a brain-dead Kickstarter cheerleader used to listening to mealy-mouthed developers, it’s not so obvious. But their language here is all about how they have control – not you. The trending rhetoric in Kickstarter is that it gives the power to the fans. That the developers are working for, and even with, the fans. You, the masses, decide which games get funded, and for ponying up your cash before the product even exists, you get a say in what it turns out to be.
But Black Forest Games doesn’t see it that way. To them, you’re just the means to an end. You allow them to secure their own creative control; not to just hand it over to you. To be fair, at least it’s honest. Most developers say that they’re going to give you control, and then they drop off the face of the Internet once they have your money. Black Forest is at least telling you up front that they’re doing their own thing, and not giving any indication that you’ll get to say shit about it. The trouble is, that kind of honesty isn’t popular.
Let’s also talk about that $1,500 reward.
“…a LIFETIME DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION to all games made by Black Forest Games for ALL platforms the game is released on..”
Great fucking idea, assholes. You already had to make a second Kickstarter because the revenues from your last game aren’t enough. Now you want to sacrifice the revenue for all of your future games just to make this one. Oh, and there’s that tiny issue that this goes directly fucking against the Kickstarter guidelines for what isn’t allowed:
“No contests, raffles, coupons, or lifetime memberships.”
And finally, worst of all, the fucking cowards cancelled their funding campaign the day before it was to fail miserably.
So the internet doesn’t drop to its knees and grovel at the chance to shower you with money, and you can’t take it. They can’t fire you; you quit. So did Kickstarter show you that there’s not enough interest in this game, and maybe you should try something else?
NOPE. You are as full of shit as ever. You don’t give a fuck what the fans think. You just wanted to squeeze some money out of them. But that didn’t work out, so you’re going to go try to squeeze some money out of somebody else. Maybe try a flexible funding Indiegogo page. I’m pretty sure that’s the next step down from your current situation.