Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Adam Lee
Gas Powered Games apparently haven’t been reading their English literature. You can’t go around attaching the arms and legs of an action RPG to a manly prehistoric RTS torso, staple on a cell-shaded face and expect to get away with it. You’ll find an angry mob at your door with fire and pointy sticks within the hour. Unfortunately for creative director Chris Taylor and his Kickstarter campaign, that furious rabble represents eager backers, and they’re not quite as numerous as he’d hoped.
You see, the monstrosity which shall henceforth be referred to as “Chris Taylor’s FrankenARP”, or its less catchy title “Wildman”, is attempting to meld all those elements together to form something entirely new. A bold plan for an indie project, but judging by the first Kickstarter video it’s looking surprisingly good – imagine a very angry George of the Jungle leading an army of Flintstones and you’ve got the rough idea. In fact, it interested me so much I wasted no time throwing my pennies at it as soon as it surfaced on Kickstarter. However, before I could even finish justifying where the cash went, they laid off a large part of the team with 27 days left on the counter. Taylor attempts to explain in this heartfelt video update.
To begin with I dealt with it the way any red blooded male would, by sobbing into my keyboard. Yet the more I thought about it, the more it began to irk me… you see, the video basically claims redundancies were a result of failing to secure backing as quickly as expected. A baffling judgement only four days into their bid, and one which alludes to the joys of post-Christmas budgeting where most people are lucky to be mopping up gravy granules with dry Supernoodles.
If you have so little confidence in your project after four days, why even bother setting up the Kickstarter to begin with? My cynical brain looks at this as a way to guilt trip us into coughing up and advertising simultaneously. We all know just how powerful viral sharing is in terms of getting your product out there, and I can appreciate the business acumen behind such a step, but it’s morally objectionable at best. So with these thoughts in mind, I seethed, awaiting the promised reddit AMA (transcript here). To begin with my irritation was stoked,
“GPG is in a very interesting situation, as we had enough money to get us through to the end of the campaign. What became obvious by day 4, is that the campaign was going so poorly, there was no way it was going to happen. People argued this with me in the media a bit, saying it was too early to judge, but consider this, even with this weekend’s surge, we’re still not doing very well… can you imagine what it would have looked like without the big push from the media covering the layoff?”
However, he later revealed that a few key people are back on board, and more importantly that they’re so passionate about the game they’ve chosen to forgo their severance pay in order to work on the game. A passionate development team is crucial for crowd-funded development, since they’re so much more visible without a publisher’s shield. Such a strong vote of confidence on their part is cause for optimism.
Today a considerably more upbeat video landed, so was it just a toys out of the pram PR stunt or was there genuine concern? Well, to be honest, we’ll probably never know. Either way it definitely worked, as of the time of writing it’s just over $300k with a $1.1 million target. I honestly hope the game does get made, but preferably without constructing it from powdered goodwill upon the broken remnants of my heart strings.