Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and I’ll just continue to naïvely throw money at campaigns on Kickstarter.
As you probably know by now, Kickstarter is one of my favorite sites. As one of the first crowdfunding sites, it enables people with a good idea a delusional fantasy to find the money to turn their mushroom induced hallucination into something real. Not everything Kickstarter touches turns into gold, though. Campaigners more often than not underestimate the scope of their plans. That leads to massive delays when the project is funded, and the actual work starts. Sometimes, the project even derails completely, and while most of them don’t turn into a spectacular train-wreck the size of Confederate Express, there is often some entertainment value in the aftermath.
Here’s a look at another Kickstarter campaign I pledged to that promised the moon, but turned into hot air: Core Worlds Digital.
Over the years, I’ve backed over 40 Kickstarter projects. Most of the them have delivered as promised, but Confederate Express turned out to be a spectacular failure.
The Confederate Express campaign launched on Kickstarter way back in 2013. The game was touted as “a strategy-oriented tactical RPG”, and the campaign launched with an impressive tech demo showing off the pixel art graphics engine. Confederate Express got mentioned by high traffic gaming sites like PC Gamer, and Destructoid, which undoubtedly boosted the campaign’s popularity. When it ended, 2,386 backers had pledged nearly $40,000. Several of the stretch goals were met, some of which drastically expanded the scope of the game. A small venture capital investment firm also threw some money at the game. With the extra money, the developer decided to use to expand the scope even further.
While the extra money sounded like a good idea in theory, it didn’t work out very well in practice. Adding more features means adding more complexity, and the addition funding wouldn’t be available until after the developers helped the VC firm finish another project. After Confederate Express was successfully funded in November 2013, little was heard until July 2014. The developer, now using the company name Kilobite, announced Knuckle Club. With that announcement came also the news that the development of Confederate Express had been postponed, citing “recent restructuring of Kilobite” as the cause. Kilobite also tried to get Knuckle Club funded through another Kickstarter campaign, but the site suspended the campaign before it reached $1,000.
By now, most of the backers were screaming bloody murder, and they started to dig around in the dirt to try to figure out was really going on. The media also got involved, and what they discovered was quite fascinating.
The alternative history artist Simon Stålenhag turns his attention towards the US.
I’ve never had any real relationship with art. Whether it’s a painting, a sculpture, or something that simply looks hastily thrown together minutes before the exhibition opened, none of it has never really been able to catch my interest. Not even the 130 kg sea of blue candy. Everything has fallen into one of three categories: “Meh”, “not nice”, or “confusing”. Yes, when it comes to fine art, I’m a simpleton1.
But a few years ago, I discovered an artist whose work struck a chord with me. Swedish multi-talent Simon Stålenhag, who I also wrote about back in 2015, makes amazing works of art. By taking science fiction and alternative history elements, and putting them into a familiar 80s and 90s settings, he has very effectively caught the attention of his – and thus my – generation.
After a very successful Kickstarter campaign two years ago, Stålenhag has released two books. In both “Tales from the Loop” and “Things from the Flood“, he mixes his paintings with an intriguing narrative. If you, like me, grew up in the 80s and 90s, Stålenhag’s paintings will trigger your imagination by themselves, but with the addition of the book’s narrative they really come to life.
And now there’s third book project in the works: The Electric State.
You might remember Arcen Games‘ first AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign. I wrote about it when the campaign launched, and while I threw quite a lot of money Arcen’s way, I didn’t really think they would reach their very ambitious $299,400 funding goal in time.
When people say “I hate to say I told you so”, they rarely really do. But when Arcen Games founder Chris Park cancelled the campaign on November 10, I felt really bad for him. I don’t know Chris personally, and I’ve never talked to the guy. Still, by following what he’s been doing to promote both his company and the AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign, it’s obvious that this is a man who lives and breathes for making games he really believes in. Park is not a guy who gives up, and lays down in the fetal position under a desk when the world kicks him in the nuts.
Instead, he goes back to the drawing board, takes good advice from the people around him, and returns with a new, better, and refined AI War 2 Kickstarter campaign.
Arcen Games entered the strategy game stage in 2009 with AI War: Fleet Command. The genre confused grand strategic 4X tower defense RTS title turned a lot of heads in a time when great strategy games weren’t exactly in abundance.
AI War has received no less than 6 expansions since the release in 2009. Arcen Games has developed a number of other games as well, but none of them have seen the same level of success as their inaugural release. Their latest endeavor, In Case Of Emergency, Release Raptor, failed to meet sales expectations, and is now available as a free-to-play game.
In Arcen founder Chris Park’s autopsy of the Release Raport failure, he revealed that the company’s next project would be a sequel to AI War. Now the campaign has finally launched on Kickstarter, which means you can start throwing money at it.