Hey there. Welcome back to the sixth installment of Kickstart My Heart, Diehard GameFAN’s look into the world of crowdfunding for the gaming industry. Last week, we looked at good reasons to pull funding from a campaign. This week, we talk about what happens when a project that makes its funding goal falls apart and you don’t get your stuff. We’ll also look at what I personally have backed since last week, and ten up and coming products that you might want to back yourself.
I. What I’ve Backed Since Last Week
Cat Sculptures. Okay, this isn’t really for me. It’s for my wife, but it’s on my Kickstarter account, so it counts. These are some very cute, fairly cheap acrylic cat sculptures. It’s the fourth time Vladis has done a cat sculpture campaign, and each one has been successful. Plus, you get a neat hand cut card as a thank you. I’d love to get a whole bunch of those cards to send out to people actually…
Xeko. I plugged this game last week, and decided to put my money where my mouth was. Xeko is a lovely online collectable card game devoted towards educating people about endangered species while also helping to protect them. It’s a game with a very positive message instead of “Player A kills Player B” and I would love to see it succeed. With a little over three weeks left, it still has to raise HALF of its $250,000 goal. A starter kit is only $16, and you’ll not only be funding a fun little game, but helping to make the world a better place. What more do you want?
II. When a Project Falls Through
Hey, these things happens. Sometimes it’s intentional, but most of the time it’s not. It’s just that the project creator(s) can’t deliver. Remember that you are not guaranteed to get anything from your pledge. It’s a risky venture, and neither the project creator nor Kickstarter are legally liable if a project goes south. Investments sometimes go bad, after all. So if your rewards never materialize, there’s nothing you can do unless you want to directly sue. I myself have only been hit with one project that didn’t follow through, and that was with a salsa company. It was when I was new to Kickstarter. I lost $30, as the guy just up and vanished with the money of all twenty-seven backers. Of course, it was only $800 total, but it’s proof that even a little dinky product can go south.
Generally, I won’t do a campaign if there isn’t a link to a website off of Kickstarter and/or if they aren’t connected via Facebook. Both of these methods allow you to track a person down if they renege on their campaign and walk away with everyone’s money. If there isn’t at least one other way to contact a person running a campaign other than Kickstarter, don’t back it.
What is considered to be the biggest project in all of Kickstarter history to fall apart post funding, however, turned out to be the Wrestling Revolution Project, aka the Wrestling Retribution Project. This campaign raised over $100,000 back in August of 2011, promising big name wrestlers like MVP and Colt Cabana. Filming was done, a new webpage was made for the newly rechristened Wrestling Retribution Project, and a lot of the IWC was pumped about this project, especially as it was headed by Jeff Katz, who is well known in the comic book and movie industries as a stand up dude (and also an ex WCW employee). However, things started to go really south right away. Two of the promised wrestlers never appeared (due to visa issues), and Jeff stopped updated the Kickstarter page in early September. Then, in late March/early April, everyone involved with the WRP just disappeared off the internet completely. Jeff Katz literally vanished from April 13th to June 8th, and when he came back he gave a long confessional of sorts on Twitter where he talked about having a nervous breakdown, losing his partner, and most importantly, losing ALL OF HIS MONEY in a Ponzi scheme. Note that nowhere in his explanation of where he went does he mention anything about the Wrestling Revolution Project, save to say Konnan was coming in “at some point” to do color commentary voice over. He does, however, mention another wrestling project…
Since his return to the internet, Katz hasn’t given a full public statement about the WRP, and he’s ignored outright questions to him about it via the Kickstarter campaign, Facebook, YouTube and Website, although in his defense, he has replied to a tweet Lance Storm made about it asking where the heck things were with it, but you’d have to dig for it, you’d have to read Lance Storms tweets to know it Jeff was talking about the WRP, and the only reply was “almost done” for a wrestling project that technically finished up in October 2011.
Even worse is the state of the WRP website. The original one (also the only one shown on the Kickstarter website in the updates section) no longer exists, and the other version of the site is broken in some spots, hasn’t been updated since February 2012, and it’s been almost 100 days since the official Twitter account has updated. People emailing or tweeting to the WRP have not received a response. I myself tried contacting Jeff Katz directly about this to hopefully get a statement to reassure backers that the WRP was still in the works. I received no actual response in any way. Even wrestlers I know that took part in the WRP are as in the dark as the people that gave Jeff Katz over $100,000 to do this.
So is this a scam? I don’t believe it was meant to be one, but due to Katz’s emotional issues and financial mismanagement, along with the apparent abandonment of the project, it’s safe to say that even if the project does make it out at some point (which I’m optimistic it will), Katz’s reputation with wrestling fans is pretty much destroyed. That said, bad stuff happens to well meaning people, and maybe now that Katz is getting his life back together, WRP might still see the light of day. If you want to get a straight answer on the future of the project, try emailing, tweeting and otherwise nagging the hell out of people involved. Even if Jeff Katz won’t reply to your tweets, you can try the wrestlers involved, as many of them have high profile Twitter and Facebook accounts, and are pretty upright and honest people, like Tommy Dreamer and Lance Storm. About the only thing that can be done for the people who financially backed this product is repeatedly contact the wrestlers, producers and Katz until there is a public statement on the future of the WRP, if there is any at all.
..and people wonder why wrestling fans are so jaded these days.
III. Ten Games You Should Consider Backing
You know the drill by now. Here we look at ten current Kickstarter campaigns: five video game and five tabletop. These aren’t necessarily campaigns I myself am backing, but rather new and interesting concepts I think our readers will enjoy. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Devil Gene R. I love digital novels. Even though Hakoukoi wasn’t really my thing, I have a soft spot in my heart for this genre, going back to the Phantasy Star titles for the Sega Game Gear. This is Devil Gene R‘s second attempt at a Kickstarter for funds. The first didn’t pan out, netting less than half the money they were looking for. Well, the project is back in a retooled fashion, asking for a third of the money in exchange for a slimmed down version. It seems to be working, as they are two-thirds of the way there. I like the art style and the story, and I think there’s a lot of potential here. Two bonuses are that Devil Gene R will be free to play once released, and when you go to the Kickstarter page, you’ll see that there are three different demos of the game: one for Windows, one for Linux and one for the Mac OS. I’d really like to see the end result, and it’s always nice to have another digital novel game in English, especially since the vast majority stay in Japanese only.
Kicked Out!. Kicked Out has a pretty big uphill battle ahead of it. Not because the campaign is seeking 300K in thirty days, but because it’s an educational game trying to teach kids (and perhaps even adults) about the importance of fiscal solvency. Now, I know some of you probably roll your eyes at the idea of a game that mixes education with entertainment, but guess what? Some of those games are really good. I defy anyone to say something bad about the original Carmen SanDiego games, and I love titles like Endless Ocean or My Chinese Coach. Hell, the majority of games for my DS are either language tutors, digital cookbooks or Pokemon. So, with the sheer insane levels of debt hitting both average joes and entire governments, it’s obvious that most people simply don’t know how to manage their finances and stay out of debt. I won’t lie. I put ten grand on my credit card in the first quarter of this year ALONE due to vet bills, as my rabbit had a mystery illness. However, I had it all paid off by June because I budgeted properly. If Kicked Out can help even a fraction of teens and adults to understand to only put what you can pay off on your credit card, not to sign loans or mortgages with crazy rates, and the importance of resource management, then I am all for it. After all, how many of us got out from under the thumb of that fiendish loan shark Tom Nook in Animal Crossing? Sure we all want to play games that make us forget our troubles and daily grind, but obviously realism and real world immersion are important too, otherwise Second Life wouldn’t do so well, and games like Shenmue wouldn’t have a crazy cult following. Consider backing Kicked Out, if not for you, for the generations to come after us that will inherit our messes, just like we’ve inherited the many screw-ups of the Baby Boomers.
Skyjacker. I’m not a fan of first person shooters, nor do I like 4x space strategy games or games where I’m behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, this isn’t about me; it’s about projects I think you, the Diehard GameFAN reader, would like, and I think Skyjacker is just such a game. It’s a “free roaming first person space combat” game where you can customize your ship, character and more. It’s a completely open ended game, like Animal Crossing, in that you do what you want, when you want, with no end. There are some pretty awesome character designs, a song from the soundtrack and even an alpha demo to download off the main Kickstarter page. Skyjacker looks incredibly deep and, for fans of this sort of thing, like it will be a blast to play. The rewards are gorgeous and plentiful, and for fans of space sims, this is a great way to keep the genre alive, especially since publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft turned Skyjacker down.
Legends of Aethereus. LoA is a newcomer to Kickstarter, with a very reasonable goal of only $25,000. The game refers to itself as a Co-Op hack and slash, which is always a genre I enjoy. It springs to mind titles like Dungeons & Dragons: The Arcade Game on down to Double Dragon. Legends of Aethereus is a fantasy game that offers four player co-op, which makes me think of a westernized Phantasy Star Online, which I used to play regularly on my Sega Dreamcast. I was really impressed by the ability to design your own city, which includes everything from the locale down to crafts and statues. That’s pretty neat. The $40 pledge is the sweet spot in this campaign, as it nets your four copies of the game – one for each member of your co-op team. Ten bucks for a full game like this? That’s an incredible deal. If you’re looking for a fun RPG to play on your PC, strongly consider backing Legends of Aethereus.
Haunts: The Manse Macabre. I plugged this back in Issue III, and also mentioned this as a project I was backed back in the very first issue of Kickstart My Heart. Why is it back here for a third time? Well, two reasons. The first is that I couldn’t find a fifth new video game project I felt was worth highlighting this week. The second is that I really want Haunts to make it, and although they only have to raise roughly seven grand in the next week, they have a really big uphill battle ahead of them. Why? Because they massively underpriced the game. You can get a full version of Haunts of a mere five bucks. That means with their $25,000 goal, they’d need five thousand backers to reach their goal. They currently only have nine hundred and change. Thankfully, more than half of those have pledged more than the base level, but the game needs far more backers like you to make it come to reality. Haunts is a turn based horror game where you’ll be playing as both the heroes and the cultists/monsters. It all just depends on the chapter. The screenshots for the game look amazing, it promises to be quite long and deep, and you can even play against a friend if you want instead of the computer. All this for five bucks. Sure Mob Rule Games drastically underpriced their game, but that just makes this an even better deal for you. The game will have low specs, from what I’ve seen of the game, so you should be able to play it on nearly any computer. If you have five bucks laying around burning a hole in your pocket and you want a full length and incredibly stylish horror game, then give MRG your money already!
So that’s our five video games for the month. Now it’s time to see what’s new and exciting in the world of tabletop games.
Race to Adventure. We’re big fans of Evil Hat Games here at Diehard GameFAN, and not just because they are only a stone’s throw away in Southern Maryland. Mark has covered Pilgrims of the Flying Temple extensively, Ashe has reviewed The Dresden Files RPG, and I think Spirit of the Century is a kick ass RPG. Now Spirit of the Century gets its first board game in Race to Adventure, and man this thing looks crazy. Ape Men with jet packs, dames driving zeppelins while wielding lighting guns, all while not having the right to vote, and so much more! This game has such a neat concept, in that players are trying to complete a race around the world , although some of the locations and events are pretty zany. The game has a very pulp feel to it and the awards range from PDFs of the RPG all the way up to a leather bomber’s jacket. Holy crap. You can get both the board game and a PDF version of the RPG for only $40. That’s a pretty sweet deal. If you’re looking for a very outside the norm board game, Race to Adventure is for you.
Fantastiqa. I swear to Anubis, Gryphon Games is by far the most prolific company on the board game side of Kickstarter. This is their thirteenth campaign, and ALL have been successful so far. I’ve personally backed Fleet, I almost backed Defenders of the Realm and I’m now on the fence about backing The Sid Sackson Signature Series (which we plugged last week) as I loved Sleuth as a kid. Out of the FOUR Kickstarter campaigns they are currently running though, Fantastiqa is the most interesting to me. I like stand-alone deck building games, although $60 for one (or $72 if you want all the extras) is a bit pricey for a card game. Still, the sheer amount of pop culture references and the almost Pokemon/Megaten style gameplay of turning your opponents into team members has me fascinated. I’m also impressed by the sheer quality of the materials in the game. Of course, the “Rabbits of Unusual Size” card pretty much won me over for both the cute bunnies and the Princess Bride nod. I’m sure I’ll end up backing Fantasiqua at some point, as it looks like it would get a lot of play in our household.
Goalsystem Delves: Dungeon Skirmish Role-Play. I have a lot of miniatures sealed tight in a box from my days playing Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures. Unfortunately, the game is dead and there’s no one in DC to play it with. Even if I did get someone interested in learning, they’d have to pay a pretty penny for some back pieces. Combine that with the minis I have from all those fantasy board games I’ve reviewed for the site, and something like Goalsystem Delves is tailored made for me. It’s a brand new system for a miniature combat RPG that is compatible with whatever minis you have lying around, be they D&D, Chainmail, Games Workshop figures, Reaper or whatever. You can get the system for only fifteen dollars, and some of the rewards include exclusive terrain and/or special edition minis made just for this Kickstarter. That’s pretty cool. It also lets new people enter the world of miniatures gaming without buying hundreds of dollars in figures ala Warhammer. You can just have a nice little skirmish game with whatever you have lying around. So if you have figures leftover from old dead games like Mage Knight, this might be a way to breathe new life into them.
StarFIre Command. Speaking of miniature games, even though I’m not a big sci-fi fan, this minis game not only looks neat, but it doesn’t cost a lot of money to get involved. Thirty dollars nets you a starter pack, and from there on you get more ships, tokens and at the $300 dollar level, you get to be the leader of an entire faction. That’s kind of cute. StarFire Command seems a little bit Battleship, a little bit Traveller and a little bit like the Buck Rogers game TSR put out in the early 1990s. ForgeCraft Games has stretch goals planned out to the 100K mark, so there’s a lot of potential for extra freebies here, especially as the core goal is only five thousand dollars.
Top This! Our last game this week is a board game that reminds me of shuffleboard, except you’re using tokens instead of pucks, your fingers instead of a shovel and a pizza shaped board instead of a triangle drawn onto a floor or boat deck. It’s a fairly simple concept and it looks like it would be a lot of fun, especially for kids and families. You can get the whole game for $35, the veggie add-on pack for only a buck more, and a whole other game (Frankendie) for a $65 pledge. Two games for $65 is a pretty nice deal, especially when one sports a “make your own flesh golem” concept. Sometimes the rules light games are the most fun, and this definitely seems like it has potential.
…and that’s it for this week. We’ll see you back here next week as we look at more crowdfunding projects that just might be the next big thing in your household. Adieu for now!
Alexander Lucard is the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and is also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing can also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.