Despite what some creators may think, I don’t enjoy writing about the same person twice – with the possible exception of You Know Who. It furthers the perception that I have some kind of vendetta against these people. I don’t sit here hoping that you guys do something I can rant about. I don’t follow your tweeters. I just notice you doing something stupid, and feel compelled to call you out on it.
And so it’s with no small amount of reluctance that I present you to Dust Scratch Games’ failure sequel Drew and the Floating Labyrinth. Take a ride with me through yet another pretentious art video.
And yes, just in case you’re wondering and don’t feel like actually loading up the video, this is the uncut dialogue right from the start.
That’s exactly what I said when I first saw this project. “What?” I asked aloud. “Did Andrew just give his protagonist a sex change and put his project back up?”
Correct again. “Where did all of those 1,166 images of James go? Are these just modified images, or did he start from (dust) scratch?”
“Where am I?”
Okay, I’m not fucking crazy, I was sitting at my computer when I saw it, I knew where I was. But protagonists in Andrew’s games seem to lack any kind of knowledge whatsoever.
“I don’t understand.”
Like this. But I’m with Drew here; I don’t understand what’s going on. Is this the same game? Or does it just look the same because it has the same absurd “revolutionary” animation system?
And really quick, let’s just go over how revolutionary this system actually is, since I didn’t mention it last time. It’s really just the same system that has been used in things like Final Fantasy Tactics, except it uses more angles – and therefore more images. But the system itself is the exact same in concept. And this is the ultimate conceit of budding indie developers like Andrew: if they’ve never seen it, they assume it doesn’t exist and they are geniuses for thinking of it. If you’ve never so much as worked for a real game development company, then chances are your idea has been done or at least attempted, and you just don’t know about it because you haven’t done any real research. Just like your characters, Andrew, when you don’t know anything, everything seems new. Back to your video.
“How come there’s a bird up here?”
I’m a little surprised Drew knows what a bird is, let alone where to find them. So maybe she’s one step ahead of James.
“Isn’t it normal for birds to be in the air?”
A male voice interjects. Sure, birds are often in the air. Hand-drawn cubes, on the other hand, not so much. So let’s not get so patronizing, Mr. Disembodied Male Voice.
“But you’re not a bird.”
Drew gets her first clue in her journey: she is not a bird. See, we’re already learning so much.
“What did I lose?”
I’m guessing a bet with David Blane.
“Part of you, as you were before.”
Okay, we’re done here. You know how this goes. Vague, wannabe-poetic or pseudo-intellectual nonsense VO over shots of the character staring off into nothing or walking through an abstract world. Andrew makes all of the same mistakes that his previous failed Kickstarter made. It’s almost like he’s not listening to me. You don’t learn a god damn thing about the game from this video other than the art style and how stupid the characters are. But maybe that’s for the best, and we’ll get to that later.
“What people have said about DREW and DUST SCRATCH GAMES”
I noticed I wasn’t quoted in this section, Andrew. I’ll forgive that this time, but for your third Kickstarter, I expect to see my name on it, having written about you more than The Highscore Blog.. probably. I assume. Here, I’ll give you a quote:
“Dust Scratch doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel; they want to convince you that cinderblocks should be given their chance on car axles.” – DavidGaames
“The levels are intended to be simple and use minimal interaction. Simply walk or jump where you think a platform exists… if it is there, you continue, if it isn’t, you fall.”
Speaking of which, this is what passes for mechanics at Dust Scratch. The entire game is Indiana Jones’ invisible bridge over and over. I don’t care how many clues you give – if the clues are obvious, it will get boring incredibly fast; if they’re not, it will feel totally arbitrary and frustrating. So it does seem that your nonsense VO video sold the game a little better than actually explaining your mechanics. Sorry – mechanic.
But who are we kidding, I don’t actually give a fuck about any of this anyway. Let’s talk about Andrew’s excuse for needing $1,000 this time.
“I would also like to localize the game in multiple languages to expand it’s audience, but need your help to fund this based on interest and demand”
From what I gather, the game will be complete in English with no Kickstarter funding, and this campaign is solely for localization.
“Kickstarter is also undeniably a great opportunity for raising awareness, and I want as many people as possible to see this game, and to see that traditional animation is possible in any game genre.”
Oh, right and also that. Possibly the only thing worse than going to Kickstarter to get money you don’t really need is to do it because asking for money is the only way people will notice you, even if they don’t pledge. That’s fucking sad. That’s going on a dating site just for someone to talk to sad.
“If you want to suggest your language outside of Kickstarter, or are able to provide translation services for free, visit this blog post to make a comment!”
We’ve achieved a new level of insolence. How can you ask for $1,000 for the same services you are telling people to comment offers of free labor?
“Reaching the goal set will allow “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth” to be in English and have two additional language options for subtitles.”
So $1,000 effectively gets you 3 languages. Let’s say it’s only 2, since English seems to be assumed, as it’s the one in the video.
“Every additional $1,000 raised will add an additional language…”
Those additional languages seem to cost double what the first two were somehow.
“…plus reaching $5,000 will add additional levels.”
Wait, why? Would you run out of languages after $4,000? And the rest would go into your pocket to motivate you to make more levels? Are you buying these levels from someone? Or does reaching $5,000 add a language and levels? Or is this whole thing just a load of shit, and you just want to get more money, so you’ll dangle anything you can in front of potential backers?
“Unlike most projects that enter crowdfunding, “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth” is far into development, and is planned for completion by the end of this Kickstarter campaign.”
While this may be true of most projects, it is certainly not true of most successful projects, as I have gone over time and time again. Most projects that enter crowdfunding early on in development never get finished, regardless of whether or not they get funded. And that’s for the simple fact that the vast majority of games that enter development are never finished period, even outside of crowdfunding. So for a game to have a real chance of being finished, it has to be well into development already before the developers ask for money.
But also for that reason, it has to look really good an polished – not Baby’s First Unity Game. I know that it’s really your second, but given how similar it is in art style, concept, and gameplay, it really just looks like you swapped out your main character during an uproar about sexism in video games so that everyone would pile money on top of you for having created a female protagonist. I mean, honestly, how is Drew any different from James? They’re both dimwits lost in an abstract world to justify your poor excuse for puzzle platformer mechanics. But you tossed out 1,166 images because this story simply couldn’t be told with James? Bad news, Andrew; feminist bloggers would still probably hate you for making your female protagonist so fucking dumb.
“Risks and challenges that may occur is the quality of the final product (a demo is available to help you determine the game’s quality before release; while the game will still be improved with your input where possible, it’s current state is very close to representing how it will look and play when finished).”
And this is why I mention polish in your game’s presentation. If you are so far along that you can’t promise any increase in quality after getting a thousand dollars, it better not currently look like this.
And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.
As if to shove it in everyone’s face how little he actually needed this money, Andrew got a booth at PAX Prime a week and a half ago. He admits that the cost isn’t justified, but brags a bit about how many people played and were interested in the game. I hope they all spoke English, since you squandered money that could have gone to the game being more accessible to more people. Between the booth, travel, lodging, and having over a thousand postcards created, Andrew must have spent over three times his Kickstarter goal.
And that’s how yet another developer proved beyond any shadow of a doubt how right I am about these campaigns being bullshit. I hope you raised a lot of awareness for your game through this failure.