Failure of Existence

You are about to embark on a journey. A journey through this blog post. You will question everything you thought you knew about reading. You will read more words than you ever imagined could exist. All of your hopes and dreams lie just beyond the cut.

If I introduced my blog posts the way that Andrew Hlynka introduces James – Journey of Existence, it would look like that. If you think I’m exaggerating, go ahead and watch the video. Oh fuck it, I’ll just take you through it.

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“This is James. Don’t call him by name; he won’t know who you’re talking to.”

Well, alright. Unless this is a Kinect game with voice integration, I don’t think we’ll have a problem there.

“Now, I’m not going to say his name again, so do not forget it.”

This fuck can’t be bothered to know his own name, but I’m expected to remember it after hearing it once? This game already has the pretentious stamp of demanding more than it offers. Luckily, this is the Kickstarter page, and his name is all over it, so it was a pointless demand anyway.

The video claims “High-Definition Traditional Animation As You’ve Never Seen It Before”, but if you’ve ever seen The Life and Times of Tim, this is clearly a lie.

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“You are starting a journey that will make you question everything you thought you knew, and you will learn more than you ever dreamed possible.”

See? Wasn’t exaggerating. To be fair, this line was said to James himself, and for a guy who doesn’t even know what his name is, learning more than he ever dreamed possible doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch.

And the rest of the video pretty much just goes like that. The rest of the page isn’t much better either.

“Here’s something truly unique, something that looks different from anything you’ve ever seen before, yet familiar at the same time…”

How many times can we hear this line? I feel like I’m reading a marketing line from a new bag of Doritos: “Experience the SAME GREAT TASTE in a NEW, EXCITING way!”

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“”James – Journey of Existence” is a computer game currently in development for PC, and if funding allows it, Mac and Linux.”

How much funding is required, exactly, for you to change your export settings in Unity? This is all sprite art for fuck’s sake, what possible platform-specific issues could you be running into here? Some games, especially when on mobile, may have this issue when having to deal with shaders and other more low-level aspects of the game, but when the whole game is done in 2D art, you’re full of shit if you’re trying to tell me that it costs you any money to use three of the free export options that Unity has.

But here’s my favorite part:

“(the current version of the character James uses 1,166 hand-drawn frames to animate the individual parts of his body!)”

Bragging that you can do with 1,166 images what someone can do with a single 3D model is the most laughably absurd boast I’ve ever heard. This Rube Goldberg mentality of doing something in the least efficient way possible just because you can and then bragging about how no one else does it this way makes Journey of Existence unbearably pretentious. And speaking of pretentious:

“After waiting for years for other developers to come up for a better solution to make traditional animation in 3D games, I got fed up and did it myself!”

All you did was create a bunch of sprite sheets and then change which set you’re using based on the angle of the camera. It’s not fucking rocket science. The rest of us developers are all so very sorry we didn’t waste our time creating this insanely obtuse system for you. We were too busy making systems that didn’t require artists to draw thousands of pictures for one character while still looking like garbage. I guess we’re just selfish.

Let’s find out a bit more about the brilliant mind that conjured this work of genius into existence.

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“I am a humble student at the University of Windsor, in Ontario, Canada.”

Hahahaha NOPE. “Humble” is not a word anyone could possibly ever use to accurately describe you. In fact, I think the fact that you even called yourself humble makes you more pretentious.

“My advanced understanding with the engine helps me create levels and gameplay elements quickly…”

I’m sorry, I interrupted you before. You were saying something about being humble?

“Another character in the game’s story is… a cat?”

Whoooooooooooa! A cat?! WHERE DO YOU COME UP WITH THIS STUFF? Andrew is clearly gunning for a design job in the next Call of Duty, pretending that no one has ever heard of animals before in video games.

I think the true kiss of death for Journey of Existence was the fact that Andrew posted a demo of his game.  Don’t be fooled by the 73 MB download; this demo eventually blows up into a 1.67 GB folder. And let me give you a little bit of an idea what this demo is like.

The screen starts out totally blank, and you have to click through a few lines of dialogue. As the game fades in, you are James, standing on a small, flat island in the sky. You can walk and jump, but there are no other pieces of land to jump to. If you jump off the island, the game insults you, and you start over. Of you stand around long enough (to contemplate your existence, I assume), a small cloud platform will come down and then go back up to wherever it came from, allowing you about two seconds to see it, walk to it, and jump on. If you don’t make it over in time (you can’t look up, and therefore have no warning for its imminent presence), you have to sit there and wait for it to come back. It’s also very easy to be looking in the wrong direction when it comes down, and miss the two seconds it’s within your viewable range entirely.

Truly, my life will never be the same after playing this game. I just wonder if it’s for the better.

But you all know what I’m really here for. Andrew wants $5,000, and I want to know why. Let’s go to the budgeeeeeeeeeeeeeet breakdooooooooooooown. Imagine that was done in a wrestler announcer voice.

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“Unity3D Pro license (not necessary for completion, but a huge help with certain features and debugging/optimization tools) – $1500”

Translation: “Probably a waste of everyone’s money, but I’ll be able to look at some fancy graphs to find out why the demo for my sprite-based game requires over 4GB of RAM.”

“Additional miscellaneous software/publishing/unforeseen expenses – $1500”

Translation: “I’m going to buy some shit, don’t you worry about it. I don’t even know what I’m buying yet.”

“Initial music fees for hired partners – $1000”

Translation: “I’m going to pay other people to do some music stuff, don’t worry about it.”

“Kickstarter fees and Canadian taxes – $1000”

Translation: “I have to pay money just to ask for this money in the first place, and the rest goes to my country because I probably didn’t even bother setting up a real company before I asked people to preorder my game on Kickstarter.”

Now let’s get to the hypocrisy. If you go on the website for Andrew’s presumably-fake company, you’ll find that the most recent post at time of writing is all about hating on preorders and exclusives. Well, Andrew has already attempted to get people to preorder his game via Kickstarter, so what about exclusives? And I quote:

“STOP USING DLC AND PREORDER INCENTIVES, AND NO MORE EXCLUSIVE STUFF! No one likes it, it has hurt the industry for far too long.”

Has it now? Interesting…

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Here's how the brilliant 2D system handles the camera looking down over the character.

Because here I thought you loved exclusives, since the word is used 4 times in your Kickstarter rewards. Backers get an exclusive demo. $120 gets you an exclusive USB drive with the game and all digital rewards. $250 gets you an exclusive physical special edition. And finally, $1,000 lets you get your likeness exclusively into a copy of your game (albeit with the option to allow its use publicly).

It seems that so long as Andrew is the beneficiary of people buying exclusives, they’re AWESOME. Too bad those rewards are now exclusive to your imagination.

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

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You clearly failed to blow anyone’s mind, Andrew. Maybe you just needed a few thousand more images of the protagonist to make it look truly revolutionary.

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7 thoughts on “Failure of Existence

  1. dustscratch says:

    I like you. Reminds me a lot of myself.

    However, I never intended to keep the Kickstarter money, all of it would have gone into necessary hardware/software for testing and to two musicians who had become part of the project at the time. Any additional funding would have gone to hiring other talented contacts for improving areas of the game that I’m lacking in. Most indie hopefuls seem to think Kickstarter can be their salary provider, which is a shame.

    I did learn a lot though (and clearly, writing about my campaign weeks after it ending means the game made an impression on some people). And thanks for trying out my demo (use the mouse scroll-wheel like the directions suggest, it helps a lot)!

    I wish you luck in your future projects!

    • davidgaames says:

      Aww, you don’t have to defend your moral judgement, kitten; I never even implied that you were keeping any money for yourself. But you can’t now say that it was going to “necessary hardware/software” when explicitly state that $1,500 of your budget was “not necessary”, and another $1,500 was for “miscellaneous” and “unforeseen” things on your project page.
      While I do appreciate developers not trying to get a salary from their backers, if you thought that was the point of this post, you weren’t really paying attention.

  2. Witch Killer says:

    Andrew just got handled up!

    “How much funding is required, exactly, for you to change your export settings in Unity?”
    I love it when you point it out like that. “hey bra, you’re dick is out and you’re full of shit.”

    WTF kinda game was this conceived to be? A puzzle platformer? Or steam-punk-fantasy-arena-based/sandbox-linear-immersive-moba-first person-progressively generated-2d-3d-traditional but really new kinda thing?

  3. Rob says:

    Edging toward one month since the last post, numbnuts.

  4. […] davidgaames: many have criticized my work, but this one’s the first to bother writing a blog post about how bad it is. Some of it is a poor attempt at trying to be funny, but most of it is true and fair, and he clearly went to the trouble of researching the game and trying the demo before writing. You aren’t famous until you’re panned! […]

  5. […] probably possible to create decent music with it, in the same way that it’s possible to create a full 3D perspective in a 2D game using over 1,000 images. But you’re not doing it to make your product better; you’re doing it to try and be a […]

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