There are two main types of Kickstarter projects – those with a bunch of ideas and no means to execute them, and those with a whole bunch of art and no ideas. You can generally tell the difference based on the ratio of text to pictures. Normally, I have trouble filling in 3 or 4 spots for pictures in these posts, because so many projects, like Claim the Chair, fall into the former category. Unknown Tomb falls squarely in the latter category, and thus provides me with the reverse challenge of not having a whole lot of text to work with. Hell, even in their video, no one says a god damn word – it’s entirely gameplay clips with angry music over it.
Fortunately, all of the text that’s there is pure gold.
Unknown Tomb is unoriginal in every respect. Even the website is “tomb1.com”. I imagine that creator Xiang Yuan is the kind of person who names his MMO characters “Sephirothx” and his AOL account was “Hacker92”. Taking something common and changing it to the minimal degree necessary to claim it for his own is clearly his bread and butter. He even goes so far as to insinuate that anti-aliasing, something in nearly every game released in the past decade, is a special feature.
“Unknown Tomb is the first adventure-action game adopted Unreal engine 4 which is the latest version game engine developed by EPIC .”
Where to begin? I’m not sure why it’s not an action-adventure. Perhaps it’s more adventure than action. And what’s with tossing in the word “adopted” into the sentence where it’s not even grammatically correct? I think Xiang is dealing with some parental issues we should avoid here. And why do we need a description of what Unreal Engine 4 is? Maybe because saying “developed by EPIC” makes it ever-so-slightly unclear whether you’re talking about the game or the engine.
“Unknown Tomb is the first adventure-action game adopted Unreal engine 4 which is the latest version game engine developed by EPIC – the best game engine company.”
Okay, I guess that was worth repeating – with the added fanboy outburst. If you’re trying this hard to sell everyone on the Unreal Engine, you’re doing game development wrong. “Buy my game, the company that developed the engine is great!” Well then maybe you should leave all this actual game development business to them.
“Unknown Tomb is aimed to give game players visual effects which are as awesome as Avatar and adopts such latest technologies of Unreal Engine 4 as DirectX11, Subdivision Surface, new generation of Shader model, ambient occlusion and Anti-Aliasing. These make Unknown Tomb become one of the best-looking games.”
Well, we know one thing about Xiang: he’s really into the art of games. I just think he’s not so into the other parts of games. Like the game part. Avatar was probably an apt comparison – look at the visuals! It’s in 3D! We’re using the latest of all of the technologies! And guess what? Nobody cares, because in the end, you just made a mediocre film with it. And yes, especially for an indie game, Bro Raider has appealing visuals. But that’s all it has.
“Unknown Tomb is a next generation masterpiece with spectacular and winding scenarios and its script is as good as those of Hollywood.”
Do I even have to go over all of the problems with this statement? Hollywood is not a bar of quality; it’s just a place where lots of films get made. AND MOST OF THEM ARE SHIT. So I would believe that your script is as good as the average script in Hollywood: garbage.
Secondly, don’t fucking call your own game a masterpiece. It’s not one. It’s probably even worse than The Witcher 3. Even if one day it became one, it sure as fuck isn’t one now. It’s a game you barely started with nice models and textures, and the most dull, generic, poorly-executed third person shooting I’ve seen in a while. And the rest of this pitch is full of nonsense buzzwords. You have “winding scenarios”? Do you also penetrate proactive intellectual capital?
“This game is about ancient tomb exploring.”
Ohhhhhhh, here I was writing this whole post under the assumption that it was about kitten adoption. I mean, come on, one look at these screenshots, and anybody would think “no way, this looks too much like Uncharted – there’s no way they’d steal the entire concept, too!”. Wrong again, imaginary naive Kickstarter browser.
“Our protagonists travels all around China to seek those ancient Emperors’ treasure, but they have to fight against those awaken ancient evils and mysterious forces which covet the treasure. This is an unprecedented challenge!”
Or maybe the most precedented challenge. Random asshole trespasses into ancient tombs to steal all of its treasure, and anyone who attacks him as a result is considered “evil”. Yeah, pretty sure I heard that one before somewhere.
“In order to promote its playability, we designed novel game systems which never adopted by other games”
There’s that word again. If you just created them, then of course no one else uses it – though I seriously doubt no one has ever used something similar. Sorry, adopted something similar.
“perfectly combining VR and AVG.”
Perfectly. If you’re working on a game that combines VR and AVG, stop right now. Unknown Tomb is doing it perfectly, so there’s no point in you doing it worse.
Now let’s meet the team behind this game.
“Xiang：Hi everyone, I’m Xiang. I had worked on FPS game programming in a large game company for nearly six years.”
Why does anyone think that working at a big company is a selling point? You know what being a part of a big company means? It means you yourself were a smaller part of it. In other words, you do less. Big teams are a crutch, and you can rely on many other people to do work you don’t know how to do, so you have no reason to learn. The programmer of a 4-person indie team is going to know more about what it takes to release a game than one programmer out of 50 in a larger studio. That’s like having “farm experience” on your resume because you had a pet chicken. That someone else fed.
“Vincent,: Graduated from Yale University and major in history.”
A shoe-in for any indie game development team. Vincent,: must be proud to be part of such a prestigious money-begging campaign. I suppose it beats teaching or writing a history book. Or whatever the fuck it is you do with a history degree. I suppose we’ll be getting historical accuracy in Unkown Tomb. But wait, it gets better.
“Once worked in a game company as designer.”
One time. Worked at an unspecified game company. For an unspecified amount of time. As a designer. He must be really pretty or something, I can’t even fucking imagine what he’s doing for this game or why he requires funding for it.
“Tom: Digital art designer. Took charge of visual effect supervising and specializes in painting, 3D modeling, sculpture and action.”
Tom is a man who takes charge. We know that much. Oh, and he specializes in action. If I was looking for a job and had nothing going for me at all, I’d use those lines in an interview. “What am I good at? Action. I pretty much specialize in it. I’m a do-er. A go-getter. I take charge.” So far, all we have is one guy who knows how to program a small percentage of a game.
“David: Leon is engaged in game programming and specializes in architecture and safety of sever, a senior indoorsman.”
This guy.. I’m not even sure if his name is David or Leon. Or David Leon. Or maybe David: Leon. Like Murdered: Soul Suspect, except David: Leon. But it doesn’t matter, because that’s just a name. It’s not who David: Leon really is. Who he is is a man engaged.. in game programming. He doesn’t just do it, and he’s not necessarily good at it, but he’s engaged in it. Unlike Mr. Tom Action, David: Leon specializes in architecture and safety of.. sever? He programs those buildings and severs those safeties – a regular senior indoorsman if ever I saw one. Which I don’t know that I have. Because who knows what the fuck that even means.
“Peter: Peter, having a great talent for art, is responsible for scene design and has years of scene development experience of 3D next gen.”
Peter: Peter is another designer. He probably hasn’t made anything you’ve ever heard of, but he spent years developing scenes. And not just any scenes, but the scenes of 3D next gen. He’s got a really great talent for 3D next gen scene development art design experience. This is the most haphazard jumble of buzzwords I’ve ever seen in a team bio.
“Jack: Jack works on 2D illustration, UI and icon design. He has a distinctive view on graphic design.”
Jack: Jack must be related to Peter: Peter, and second cousin to David: Leon – the side of the family that really fucked up the whole double-naming thing. He evidently has zero experience in anything, no degree, and isn’t particularly talented at anything really. All he is is a man with a distinctive view. But it’s distinctive enough to draw some stuff for Unknown Tomb. Give him a break; he was a last minute addition to the team, and all the buzzwords were already taken.
“The lowest budget is $100,000 (the more the better) which will be mainly used in development.”
Some of it will be used to feed my cat, but most of the budget will absolutely be used to develop the game that requires a minimum of $100,000 to make. Which leads us to the best part of any Kickstarter campaign: the budget breakdown.
“A: Wages for producers – programmers, are designers, planners and chief inspector.”
I’m sorry, do you have a chief inspector on staff, or do you require funds to pay him off to “look the other way” as you’re stealing every idea from Uncharted?
“B: Music production”
This doesn’t fit under “wages”, because you may have noticed that not a single person on the actual team does any kind of audio whatsoever. Not that that’s surprising.
“C: Production costs of CG animation”
I have no idea why this isn’t covered by wages. I guess these guys have a magic money-to-animation converter, and they need money to put into the machine, as well as their wages for the time spent operating it. Or maybe despite the distinctive view and scene design experience of the team, they just can’t make a fucking cutscene by themselves.
“D: costs for voice and motion capture casts”
So far we have music and voices for the audio. Guns will be silent, as will monsters and environments. But there will be a beautiful music score over those motion-captured voiceovers.
Like most indie game developers on Kickstarter, these guys just don’t have PCs that can run the game somehow. Also, I love that this didn’t have a letter designation because the item already began with an E.
“F: registration fees of publishing platforms”
Because you can’t just release the game on PC/Mac/Linux and use the money made from that to fund this negligible fee. Or, you know, just shell out the $100 iOS developer charge yourself, you cheap fuck.
“G: software and engine purchasing”
Not only do they not have the machines they need, but they don’t even have the software. Or the money they need for the engine?! They’ve spent all this time working on the game and haven’t purchased a license for the best game engine by the best game engine company EPIC?? They obviously must have paid this already, or they wouldn’t have been able to start working on the game. But I mean, it’s probably a lot of money though, right?
“Unreal Engine 4, the game engine technology developed by Epic Games, is offered under a subscription plan at $19 per month.”
That’s from Unreal’s FAQ. Apparently some of the $100,000 they need is for this absurdly small fee. Why don’t you just toss in your Netflix subscription while you’re at it? I’m sure if the Tomb Raider movies aren’t there, you can still get some inspiration from Indiana Jones.
“Of course, we will manage to maximize our game quality within certain funds.”
I’m not sure what this means. You do know that if you don’t reach your absurd goal of $100,000 that you don’t get anything, right? But I guess if you want to just personally send Xiang some PayPal bucks, he’ll make sure it raises the game’s quality as much as possible.
I can’t even go over all of the rewards. It would take fucking forever, because these guys think that this game really is the next Uncharted, and have already laid out plans for merchandising it to an insane degree. The game is planned for PC, iOS, Android, XBOX 360, PS3, PS4, and XBOX One, so those are the first rewards. Then come the posters, postcards, paper models, USB drives, hand-written letters, VR glasses, t-shirts, smart watches, a “gaming phone”, tickets to a cocktail party, and finally, the most shameful of all, a producer credit for $9,999.
Oh, and the whole game is 40% complete, and will be finished by this coming Februrary. If my math is correct, that means that they’ve only been working on the game for about two and a half months. But we all know that they’ve been working on it way longer than that, so how could they possibly get the remaining 60% done in 4 months? That brings us to our risks and challenges, because what could possibly go wrong with this plan?
“1: Run out of development funds.”
Yes, you could theoretically burn through your $100,000+ in less than 4 months, but how would you possibly have time to continue developing the game during such a shopping spree? That’s only $76 total going to your Unreal Engine license for those 4 months, you’d have to get so much other shit.
“2: project development files and engineering totally be deleted by hackers.”
The zombie apocalypse could begin, vampires could drain the blood from the entire team, I know. This isn’t something you add to your risks and challenges unless your backup plan after you fuck up the whole project is to pretend like hackers deleted it so you could tell everyone “can’t say we didn’t warn you”. Backup to a fucking external drive once in a while, you incompetent shits.
“3: Irresistible powers like earthquake, tsunami.”
Oh my fucking god are we still going over these scenarios? I was just kidding about the zombie thing, but you guys are seriously suggesting that a tsunami might destroy your work?
“4: All developers are killed by disease outbreaks.”
Why only disease outbreaks? If hackers are breaking into your mainframe, maybe they also hired assassins. Your whole team could be decapitated by the ninja assassins sent by hackers, but you don’t think that’s a likely enough scenario to put it under your risks and challenges? But DISEASE OUTBREAKS that kill the entire team, well sure you gotta account for that somewhere. And not even just one outbreak, where Jack: Jack comes in one day and coughs on everyone while trying to get the most distinctive view on the art for the game. No, this is multiple outbreaks of disease. Super Ebola Smallpox Hemorrhoids is what it’s going to take to kill this team.
Normally, I’d take this as a joke, but this entire project lacks any humor or self-awareness whatsoever, so I really think this is a serious suggestion. Personally, I’d call this the best possible scenario, but it’s not exactly a risk for the developers themselves. I seriously doubt anyone will hold the (probably nonexistent) company accountable for this game if every single person dies. Fortunately for everyone, nobody will be held accountable for this game any time soon.
And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.
I really hope that getting 0.145% of his Kickstarter goal was the most embarrassing experience of Xiang’s life. Not a single update was posted throughout the campaign. It was a terribly naive project, and so obviously little effort was put forth once the page went up. The Twitter account seems to be gone, the Facebook page hasn’t been updated since July – around the same time as the most recent post on the website, titled “Better than Tomb Raider and Uncharted , the first 4A game in China — Unknown Tomb”.
Tomb Raider and Uncharted have one very important point in their favor, however: they were released.