Kickstarter RPG Project Cancelled After Raising $250,000

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Kickstarter RPG Project Cancelled After Raising $250,000

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Not all Kickstarter projects end with champagne record-breaking support.

Kickstarter can be a boon for game developers that have great ideas but need cash upfront to get their ideas off the ground. Unfortunately, it's also a harsh proving ground that can kill projects before they even get started, as is the case with Shaker: An Old-School RPG. Loot Drop - the development team headed by industry veterans Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall - is calling it quits after raising over $247,000, and with two weeks of its Kickstarter campaign left to go.

In a new update to Shaker's Kickstarter page, the team calls the decision a "mercy killing," and apologizes to fans who had been looking forward to the game.

"Ultimately, our pitch just wasn't strong enough to get the traction we felt it needed to thrive," the update reads, "Sure, it may have made it. We could have fought our way to a possibly successful end. In reading your feedback and talking it over internally, however, we decided that it made more sense to kill it and come back with something stronger."

The project's goal was a hefty $1 million, and after raising roughly a quarter of that amount with just 14 days to go, it's uncertain whether the title would have reached that amount in time. Still, although it sounds like Shaker will never see the light of day, there may be something new on the way in the near future.

Source: Kickstarter

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They should have let it continue. The spike at the end of the funding period is huge. It's not as big as the start, but...well Project Eternity raised about a million in its final day. Not saying they'd have met their mark, but it might have had a better shot than they realized.

If they quit that early on, I'm not sure their drive to succeed is really big enough to be so ambitious with their project goals. If they can't even see their Kickstarter through to the end, how are we supposed to trust them with taking our money to produce a game?

It sounds like they might have killed it on account of feedback(seems unlikely), but still. I feel like this might hurt their chances of getting funding in the long run.

DustyDrB:
They should have let it continue. The spike at the end of the funding period is huge. It's not as big as the start, but...well Project Eternity raised about a million in its final day. Not saying they'd have met their mark, but it might have had a better shot than they realized.

Yeah, I agree that they should have waited until it was done. Though I think it's doubtful they would have made it. The games that manage to set record breaking funding usually have some pretty big names behind them that makes sure they get lots of free advertisement from gaming sites and talk in forums and such.

I wonder where that money goes now. Did they already spend it, or are they giving refunds?

EDIT: Stop quoting me and telling me the same thing. Four responses telling me the exact same thing is more than enough.

I'm curious as to what make some Kickstart games thrive (Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity), while others like this flounder.

I heard about Shaker when it was first announced but never saw much of it after that. Maybe it was poor hyping on Loot Drops part?

Regardless, I agree with @Varil ... They should have at least seen it to the end, who knows, they might have met their goal.

Zeren:
I wonder where that money goes now. Did they already spend it, or are they giving refunds?

I may be mistaken, but backers aren't charged until the project is successfully funded on it's end date.

Zeren:
I wonder where that money goes now. Did they already spend it, or are they giving refunds?

As Twyce indicated, the money went nowhere. It never left the pledgers' accounts because the project didn't get funded.

Ouch. This is going to hurt quite a few people, I think. Hopefully it doesn't mark the start of many similar occurrences. That would be awful.

Yeah, that's kind of sad, and it looks like Saga Kingdoms is going to meet the same fate, just without the premature cancelling.

Twyce:
I'm curious as to what make some Kickstart games thrive (Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity), while others like this flounder.

For the most successful projects? Name or brand recognition (Brian Fargo, Wasteland, Shadowrun, the bevy of names behind Project Eternity, Tim Schafer, etc).

For the rest: A good pitch, follow-up communication with backers/potential backers, and a realistic goal. The Banner Saga, FTL, Guns of Icarus, and others did this.

Well now everyone's faith in Kickstarter will be a bit Shaken

From what I read nobody wanted to throw money at the woman who killed the Wizardry series and married John 'gonna make you his bitch' Romero.

I have a feeling something else was going on behind the scenes that led to this. They still had plenty of time to reach their goal.

I guess they actually wanted to make much more than 1 million, they were probably hoping for 3+ like Project Eternity and Double Fine Adventure. They were just slow-playing it, like you do with an eBay-Auction, where you will never sell it for just 1$, even if you start it at that price. And when they saw they were never gonna make it, they pulled the plug.

It probably hurt their stand with investors/publishers as well. I guess there's a dangerous precedent being set by PE and DFA, with potential publishers expecting 3+ million in pledges to consider a project hit-worthy.

Fr]anc[is:
From what I read nobody wanted to throw money at the woman who killed the Wizardry series and married John 'gonna make you his bitch' Romero.

Not going to lie. Seeing Romero on there quelled my interest pretty damn fast.

I'm sure they were thinking that Wizardry and John Romero had the kind of name recognition that Tim Cain/Tim Schafer has after seeing that 4 million. It doesn't. We know what you did to Wizardry and there are some of us who will NEVER forget Daikatana (I felt dirty typing that...)

RubyT:

It probably hurt their stand with investors/publishers as well. I guess there's a dangerous precedent being set by PE and DFA, with potential publishers expecting 3+ million in pledges to consider a project hit-worthy.

I rather hope no publisher at all is interested regardless of the amount capable. That would ruin the spirit of the whole "creative freedom, no publisher breathing down our necks" thing.

The irony is that, this could ahve been the prefect PR spike and boost in donations. Except they cancelled it of course so it's not gonna get finished anyway.
It's like the best move you can do as a successful artist is to die while you're still hot, and then see your sales rocket after your death. Except you're dead of course.

I can't say I'm surprised, they got no big name going for them, the video had zero concepts to offer, they wanted a huge amount of money, and offered a really odd proposition of spilling it over to another game which leaves all sorts of questions open.

So yes make some concepts and show us what we are in for exactly, then we can talk again.

Technically, they are still trying to kill it. It still lives right this minute... Kickstarter says they are having "problems"...

DrunkOnEstus:
I rather hope no publisher at all is interested regardless of the amount capable. That would ruin the spirit of the whole "creative freedom, no publisher breathing down our necks" thing.

Unless you're raking in the full coverage for your project and then some, like PE and DFA, you'll be looking at publishers anyway. But you'd have more leverage.

Some publishers can be like the Mafia. I've witnessed this first hand. A game developer has insane running costs. A moderate team these days is 20 people strong. Even considering half of them are temps, interns and whatnot, while the other half is underpaid, you're looking at a montly payroll of 50k. The actual running costs can easily be double that or more.

In a desperate bid to get any funding devs are usually negotiated into contracts they can't fulfill. Software development is the most unpredictable thing in the world (possible exaggeration). Contract transgressions are unavoidable. What an asshole publisher does in these situations is put on the squeeze. They lower their monthly payments or withhold them entirely. That's puts the studio in a dire position where any day, they could close up shop. In this situation, the publisher will renegotiate. If find this illegal, but what you gonna do. The studio signs away more rights, benefits and the likes. If they'd try legal action, they'd be broke before the first hearing.

That is why even successful studios that make highly acclaimed and successful games often can't make ends meet. They're never allowed to break out of that viscious cycle. Never allowed to gain independence from their publisher.

Getting a few million in Kickstarter funds is an awesome way to gain some freedom. You'd be bringing fans and money to the table, be in more of an equal bargaining position. And if the publisher tries dirty tricks, you'd have a stash of cash to live off instead of being totally at the mercy of the publisher.

Kickstarter cannot replace traditional publishers entirely except for retro games like PE or DFA, which can realistically be produced for 3-4m. Any modern 3D game can't.

Varil:
If they quit that early on, I'm not sure their drive to succeed is really big enough to be so ambitious with their project goals. If they can't even see their Kickstarter through to the end, how are we supposed to trust them with taking our money to produce a game?

It sounds like they might have killed it on account of feedback(seems unlikely), but still. I feel like this might hurt their chances of getting funding in the long run.

It is always better to can things early when it is clear something is fundamentally not working. Seeing their Kickstarter through to the end is just going to waste resources that could be used on other projects.

Twyce:
I'm curious as to what make some Kickstart games thrive (Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity), while others like this flounder.

I heard about Shaker when it was first announced but never saw much of it after that. Maybe it was poor hyping on Loot Drops part?

Regardless, I agree with @Varil ... They should have at least seen it to the end, who knows, they might have met their goal.

Im guessing not many people had any idea what it was they were looking at. Their video didnt really go into any details that I could see about what they were making, and the writtin discription didnt really sell me on it.

Ever since Daikatana i consider anything touched by Romero to be Toxic Waste and I'm sure that I'm far from the only one...

To be honest, the game itself sounds good, but it was rather light on details. Veterans of the Wizardry 8 team being involved along with it being a first person game with a 6 man party was what got my attention, BUT I'm reluctant to get involved with anything so far below it's goal when there are few details involved in the game. I'm one of those who has a tendency to throw support behind healthy kickstarters that are making progress (so to speak) rather than one just getting going, which I suppose is not an uncommon point of view and the reason for so much massive "finishline" funding to make something already funded even better.

From my observarions I'm guessing their REAL goal was more than the million they were asking for, they were hoping to be approaching stretch goals by this point, they just set their initial request low to make it seem more approachable. By their analysis a surge would probably have fallen short of what they were actually trying to get. I think a lot of kickstarters have run into similar problems.

WanderingFool:

Twyce:
I'm curious as to what make some Kickstart games thrive (Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity), while others like this flounder.

I heard about Shaker when it was first announced but never saw much of it after that. Maybe it was poor hyping on Loot Drops part?

Regardless, I agree with @Varil ... They should have at least seen it to the end, who knows, they might have met their goal.

Im guessing not many people had any idea what it was they were looking at. Their video didnt really go into any details that I could see about what they were making, and the writtin discription didnt really sell me on it.

Yeah, when the kickstarter launched, all I really knew was "Wizardy 8 and Anachronox something something".

I at least knew what I was getting in to with Project Eternity.

DustyDrB:
They should have let it continue. The spike at the end of the funding period is huge. It's not as big as the start, but...well Project Eternity raised about a million in its final day. Not saying they'd have met their mark, but it might have had a better shot than they realized.

The projections on Kicktraq didn't even have this project hitting $1 million, in a best-case scenario.

They screwed the pooch from the get-go. As I said before, they spent so much time trying to push their main buzzword that they lost sight of what their potential investors would want. All throughout the pitch video, all I heard was "old-school" this, "old-school" that. That word, to me, doesn't mean anything. Sure, the development team have incredible pedigrees, and I'm sure the final product would be great, but what was the game about?

It took too long to answer that question, which in KS terms is a death knell. With P:E, Obsidian had already mapped out the companion roster (with art), a game map, a piece of artwork showing the cast, an environmental screenshot, the beginnings of their lore/almanac and the general gist behind the plot/mega-dungeon when they started their campaign. It took the Shaker team several days to announce their goals for the game and any semblance of a story. They seemed to be riding on P:E's coattails the entire time.

The stretch goals were just plain weird - it was never really explained what these two games' funding would entail. If they made the $1.9 mil, would Tom Hall stop working on the core game and begin work on a second? Would both of them have involvement in each game? Where would the funding go in the event that they made their goal and funds were short? Too many questions that were never satisfactorily answered.

Also, their backer rewards were just silly. No one's going to pay $10,000 to get a copy of the game dropped off to them and a trip to Disney World. I don't care if Tom Hall is quoting Walton-goddamn-Simons himself all day along. It just wasn't worth it.

All that said, I hope they'll put forward another project and do it right this time, because I would love to see a sci-fi RPG from the Loot Drop team.

Zeren:
I wonder where that money goes now. Did they already spend it, or are they giving refunds?

Donations aren't taken from accounts until the target goal is met.

crazyrabbits:

DustyDrB:
They should have let it continue. The spike at the end of the funding period is huge. It's not as big as the start, but...well Project Eternity raised about a million in its final day. Not saying they'd have met their mark, but it might have had a better shot than they realized.

The projections on Kicktraq didn't even have this project hitting $1 million, in a best-case scenario.

They screwed the pooch from the get-go. As I said before, they spent so much time trying to push their main buzzword that they lost sight of what their potential investors would want. All throughout the pitch video, all I heard was "old-school" this, "old-school" that. That word, to me, doesn't mean anything. Sure, the development team have incredible pedigrees, and I'm sure the final product would be great, but what was the game about?

It took too long to answer that question, which in KS terms is a death knell. With P:E, Obsidian had already mapped out the companion roster (with art), a game map, a piece of artwork showing the cast, an environmental screenshot, the beginnings of their lore/almanac and the general gist behind the plot/mega-dungeon when they started their campaign. It took the Shaker team several days to announce their goals for the game and any semblance of a story. They seemed to be riding on P:E's coattails the entire time.

The stretch goals were just plain weird - it was never really explained what these two games' funding would entail. If they made the $1.9 mil, would Tom Hall stop working on the core game and begin work on a second? Would both of them have involvement in each game? Where would the funding go in the event that they made their goal and funds were short? Too many questions that were never satisfactorily answered.

Also, their backer rewards were just silly. No one's going to pay $10,000 to get a copy of the game dropped off to them and a trip to Disney World. I don't care if Tom Hall is quoting Walton-goddamn-Simons himself all day along. It just wasn't worth it.

All that said, I hope they'll put forward another project and do it right this time, because I would love to see a sci-fi RPG from the Loot Drop team.

To be fair, a lot of that PE stuff came out towards the end. The screenshot showed up over half-way through the kickstarter, for example.

But yeah, you knew what you were getting in to with PE. Not so much Shaker.

This Kickstarter was really just poorly run and poorly timed. It was as if they looked at Project Eternity, didn't study Kickstarter at all, and just tried to jump on its back. The concept work that eventually came out what...a week, two weeks later(?) got me to give it a shot based on the history of the developers, but anyone who knows anything about Kickstarter knows that a $1,000,000 project really has to have that stuff up front. Obsidian could get away with just being some people that made Baldur's Gate, and other people that make RPGs, making another Baldur's Gate. Would Loot Drop have gone to a serious publisher with the pitch they brought to Kickstarter on Day 1? I assume they would have been laughed out of the room, and they can't treat us any differently, really.

Well, there goes any chance of Anachronox 2 ever being made. Again.

The writing was on the wall, and they didn't have the confidence to go forward.

With that in mind, I think that this was the correct move. It's better to step back and let people keep their money until you got something that will raise more public interest and you can be more confident with. A project founded on weak convictions is likely to crumble down the line regardless, so better to quit before any damage is done.

Captcha: trust me

RubyT:
Snip

Thank you for your input on this, it's clear that you've dealt with these issues firsthand and I appreciate that kind of perspective always. For the reasons you've stated, it's clear why most of these successful Kickstarter projects intend to be with engines and mechanics similar to the ones from years ago. It makes an amount like $750,000-4 million feasible to work with to completion.

If I saw a game on there intending to be AAA with crazy 3D graphics, 7.1 sound and intending to compete with Gears of War or Mass Effect, I would be concerned. I could only guess that a publisher was already involved, and that they wanted to use Kickstarter as a sort of "very early pre-order" to cut away some of the risk before real development kicked into gear.

Considering all this and including your statements, I can't say definitively that I would refuse to crowd-fund a game that already had a publisher that intended to take care of a large portion of the funds. In that event I would like to see statements in some form that the publisher is there strictly to provide funds and invest with hope of return, and that all creative decisions would rest with the developer. People (including myself) support games on Kickstarter into the millions because experiences are being offered outside of the present atmosphere, experiences that publishers find too risky or are "too old to be worth supporting". A pledge is to help the game a reality, but it is also a vote saying that the game in question is worth purchasing and that there is a demand for it in our modern times.

Tom Goldman:
This Kickstarter was really just poorly run and poorly timed. It was as if they looked at Project Eternity, didn't study Kickstarter at all, and just tried to jump on its back. The concept work that eventually came out what...a week, two weeks later(?) got me to give it a shot based on the history of the developers, but anyone who knows anything about Kickstarter knows that a $1,000,000 project really has to have that stuff up front. Obsidian could get away with just being some people that made Baldur's Gate, and other people that make RPGs, making another Baldur's Gate. Would Loot Drop have gone to a serious publisher with the pitch they brought to Kickstarter on Day 1? I assume they would have been laughed out of the room, and they can't treat us any differently, really.

totally, the old KS project sounded just boring.
The new one is on a completely new level with much more info and unique flavor to catch your interest.

Zeren:
I wonder where that money goes now. Did they already spend it, or are they giving refunds?

the money is only taken from people once things are fully funded

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