Laika Believes (In A Thing Called Fail)

Video games are made about everything these days. Sure, there’s your run of the mill Carl on Duty: Black Cops and your World of Zombies Online Shooter McGavin, but the real innovation, of course, lies in the indie game scene. Where else could you find a game about.. oh, I don’t know, a bunch of Russians murdering a dog?

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You can find it at Minicore Studios, the shitlords behind the widely-ignored Laika Believes: The Sun at Night.

If you went to the page, you may have picked up that the game is about the “Russian space dog” that was sent up in Sputnik 2. So I was paraphrasing the synopsis, but I got the pertinent details correct. Let’s get right to the video.

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Nope.

Nope nope nope nope. You already lost me. I don’t care if he’s the founder and CEO – I don’t care if he’s the fucking emperor of the country your development studio is in – this is not the first guy you show in your Kickstarter video. I already can’t believe that there are over 7 more minutes of this video. That would be bad enough, since anything over about 3 minutes is just the dev team having a wank – as I’ve said, the only people who watch all of this drivel are people like me, for hate-mongering material. I’ll just have some water to wash back down the vomit that crept up my throat taking this screenshot, and we’ll continue.

“we’re really, really big fans of artfully crafted experiences.”

Setting aside the further vomit-inducing pretension of this statement, I just want you to remember it for later.

“For those who may not know, Laika was a real dog that the Soviets put into Sputnik 2, and shot in space. And, sadly enough, she actually died in space, because they had no way to bring her back.”

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Sorry, did you even bother researching the subject of your game? There was no intention of ever bringing Laika back to Earth alive, but she did have a week’s worth of life support. She ended up needing far less, as she died mere hours into the journey from overheating, because the Soviets couldn’t make a decent temperature control system in the four weeks they had to slap together the vessel. Yes, it’s a sad story, but in the same way that it’s sad when rabbits are blinded from cosmetics being sprayed in their eyes. It’s sad in a “what the fuck is wrong with these people?” kind of way. So unless your game is condemning animal cruelty, I don’t think it’s doing Laika’s memory any favors.

(It’s worth noting that the real story is listed in text form below the video, mentioning that Laika died shortly after launch – though it still insinuates that the Soviets just forgot to provide her with a safe way home, rather than having planned from the beginning for her to die in space.)

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Oh god, go back to the mustache creeper. There’s no way this kid has anything worthwhile to say.

“Just, the sad thing about it is, you know, everybody has that sense of how trusting dogs are, but also how dependent and helpless they are on humans.”

WHAT? That’s what you got out of that story? Because I’m pretty sure that dog would have led a relatively long and happy life if some humans didn’t come along and shoot her into space, you jackass. Being a stray on the streets of Russia is nothing compared to having a heat stroke in a 104-degree spacecraft barely larger than your body. We haven’t even heard about the game yet, and it’s already clear that you don’t have the slightest idea what the fuck you’re talking about. These fuckwits have zero self awareness, only further evidenced by their $100,000 goal.

“…maybe in fiction, in our game, you know, we can think of some way to make things right. But also, maybe to even ask the player, what would making it right mean?”

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This is the second pretentious line that I want you to keep in mind. It sounds like Minicore Studios is going to make a really deep, meaningful game here. I hope you’re intrigued by the possibilities.

“We had this idea of an alternate reality where Laika does not die in space, but instead returns to Earth with a robotic life form body to kind of investigate what happens to the Soviet Union while she was gone in space.”

In case it wasn’t clear, this is it. This is the deep, meaningful, touching story that has been crafted to honor Laika’s memory, and try to make things right.

“Laika Believes is a 2D action platformer…”

So this dog that was sent out into space to die comes back somehow with a robotic body and the sole purpose of running and jumping on Earth’s flat surfaces?

“We have a really robust weapon system that we worked hard on designing…”

OH, STUPID ME, OF COURSE SHE SHOOTS STUFF AS WELL!

The next few minutes explain all of the ways that this game has nothing to do with a dog in space, and everything to do with making a generic garbage 2D shooty side-scroller. It’s basically a Megaman title where you play as Rush and have 360 degree shooting but without the catchy music. Speaking of…

“I’ve been writing chip music for about 6 years. I started making GameBoy music under the name [cvert?] and now I’ve moved on to another program called Piggy Tracker for PSP, which is what I’m using for the soundtrack.”

The soundtrack. For this game. Is being composed. On a PSP.

Were they all out of tin cans and strings at WalMart? Is the art being done on an Etch A Sketch? Does Business Executive Barbie handle your meeting schedule?

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This shitheel is sitting in front of a PC with the processing power and software options to do anything he can think of, and he’s dicking around with a portable gaming system to compose music. Sure, it’s 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 special snowflake doing something in the most obtuse and unreasonable way possible.

“Laika Believes has been in development for about 2 years now. And while we’ve gotten this far with an initial fundraise, we need an extra chunk from you, our supporters, to finish the game.”

Wait just one second here. Let’s math this one together. Minicore wanted $100,000 by August 9th in order to finish out the game – according to their Kickstarter reward listings – by September. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say the end of September, that gives them two months. At that rate, the past 2 years have cost them $1.2 million. That’s one hell of an indie budget. The page attributes the previous funding to “angel investors”, yet somehow those investors just lost all interest two months before completion, and you had to turn to Kickstarter? They must not have been very.. invested.

“Coming to Kickstarter for our last push really enables us to start a conversation with our players about what goes into the game during the final stretch.”

FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU. Bullshit. You know what enables that? THE INTERNET. If you gave a fuck what people had to say, you’d just ask. How is it that you only care what people have to say AFTER they’ve given you money? Those people will have already bought the game. If anything, you should be having these conversations with people who don’t buy your game to find out what you could do to make it more appealing, not people who are already convinced that it’s going to be great based on your video. Think about that every time you hear this bullshit line used in a Kickstarter, because it’s in almost every one of them.

Here’s more of the page bragging about their accomplishments.

“During the course of development so far we have:

Built an engine from scratch using XNA, MonoGame, and OpenGL”

Oh my fucking god are you even listening to yourself right now? XNA is a framework that does 90% of the work for you. This is like saying you made a cake from scratch using a box of cake mix and some eggs.

And finally, here’s the budget breakdown:

“Roughly $50,000 of the raise will go directly to art production.”

Man, those 3 artists you have are getting paid really well for the last two months of development.

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“Roughly $25,000 will go to finalizing sound assets and implementation.”

NICE TRY, BUT A PSP DOESN’T COST THAT MUCH.

“The remaining $25,000 will go to ensuring our engineering team has the time to take our codebase and add the necessary goodness to port over to Mac & Linux. (At the time of launch, we are 100% compatible with PC & Xbox 360 only)”

Oh, you mean the two platforms that XNA supports out of the (cake mix) box? Quite the accomplishment for your “from scratch” engine.

I’m just going to list off the entire team right here for reasons that will be clear in a second.

“John Warren (Founder + CEO), Peter Odom (Creative Director), Patrick Cunningham (Technical Director), Michelle Oglesby (Art Director), Shelley Smith (Marketing Director), Avery Beckett (Lead Animator), Jeff Flanagan (Animator), Matt Trullinger (Programmer)”

Notice anything about this list? I did; two things, in fact. The first is that of the eight-person team, six of them are in “lead” roles, four of which are director positions, not including the CEO. So what you have here is a bunch of people managing no one. These titles are 100% self-absorbed bullshit.

The second thing is that it’s missing a person, whom I am going to call “Guy with a PSP (Audio Director)”. Maybe after they made the video, they figured out that he was just sitting around playing Monster Hunter all day, but it was just too much work to edit him out.

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But womp womp, a week before the project was to inevitably fail, Minicore cancelled it – the proverbial “you can’t fire me, I quit” move on Kickstarter. But was that the end of Laika Believes? Would this tragic tale of a dog left in space returning in robot form to murder the entire Soviet Union never be told?

Nah, just put the project up for a fraction of what we asked for the first time, bros!

And thus you have the new and improved $20k version of Laika Believes. Beautiful, isn’t it?

The new video is just under 3 minutes long. It’s almost as if they learned something.

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Ladies and gentelmen (especially ladies), the new and improved John Warren. If I could type something here to represent a whistling sound, I would. 100% less pedophile, well done.

“Previously, we had been asking for $100,000 to basically finish the game, with art, and more engineering, and testing.”

The continued omission of Audio Guy (after attributing $25,000 to him during that campaign) confirms my suspicions of his Monster Hunter habit. But how can this project only need $20,000 now? This new campaign went up the same day the last one was cancelled.

“The good new is – really good news, actually – is that we were able to privately fund that last stretch. And we found that out about a week into the campaign.”

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuullshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

Let me get this straight: you found out that you were getting all of the money you needed a week after posting that Kickstarter project, and decided to leave it up for another two weeks, taking it down only when it was 100% clear that it was going to fail miserably? And now that you don’t need the money anymore, you figure, fuck it, just ask for $20k anyway?

And more importantly, why were you even looking for private funding at this time? What happened to your dialogue with the fans – wasn’t that the purpose of crowdfunding? I thought Kickstarter was the vehicle for the conversation you wanted to start about asking the fans what should get into the game. Somebody comes along with some money, and you just yank that away? Or were you just completely full of shit, and trying to get a bunch of money out of some suckers? Is the answer obvious enough to everyone yet?

And you know what, why couldn’t these mystery investors just fund you on Kickstarter? What is with all of this secret private funding? Just have your little guardian angels give you the $100,000 on Kickstarter, let fans add to it, and everyone gets the say that you allegedly wanted them to have. But no; now on top of that private funding, you want another $20,000 in order to have this conversation with your fans. Perhaps if that got privately funded, you’d need another $10,000 for an OUYA port. How far can these goal posts go?

This $20,000 was allegedly for sound effects (where’s PSP Audio Director guy at? Seriously.) and localization. Once again, these mysterious angel investors fall just short enough that you need to crowdfund the end of your game. They give you $100,000 in addition to being funded for the past two years, but then when another $20k will get nice sound and localized text so that you could distribute your game in other countries, they won’t budge?

But nothing will stop John Warren’s perpetual failure, not even angel investors! This project ended up getting even less than the previous one. That’s the problem with having a more realistic goal; you lose the people who only pledged because there was no way in hell you were ever going to make it.

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So is this the tale of a developer’s dreams dashed? Of course not. Like most Kickstarters that had any chance of happening in the first place, Laika Believes came out anyway. It doesn’t say if there are any languages other than English, but we can only hope that those hapless investors came through yet again. $20k must be nothing to them, after funding Minicore for over two years. I’m pretty sure it has sound, so they must have squeezed some more money out of those private investors.

You potential Kickstarter backers out there failed Minicore. All they wanted was your input about their game, and you just wouldn’t give them the money to have your voice heard, so they had to go find some voices with money behind them. And any complaints you may have about the game, well, it’s because you didn’t give them the funding they needed to realize the game’s full potential. Maybe next time, you’ll learn from your folly. Or maybe Minicore will learn from theirs.

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2 thoughts on “Laika Believes (In A Thing Called Fail)

  1. Witch_killer says:

    This one isn’t even real, DG. I can’t share this link, I can’t tell people about this. You made this one up so you could have something fun to post on your blog. This shit starter is like perfect storm for you….gah what a fucking nightmare.

  2. Witch Killer says:

    Shit don’t even seem real, DG. No way this is real.

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