Kickstarted game halted as devs quit

Development on Haunts: The Manse Macabre stalls as programmers walk away; creator promises refunds, believes game can still be made.

Development on the successfully Kickstarted Haunts: The Manse Macabre has stopped, as programmers on the project have quit. Developer Mob Rules Games head Rick Dakan posted an update to the game's project page to reveal both programmers have left the studio, taking up jobs at Google and elsewhere. Neither developer is able to work on the game in their spare time.

Haunts won't be scaring anyone any time soon.

The Kickstarter campaign for Haunts surpassed its $25,000 target, and closed at $28,739 over the summer. This money has been spent, Dakan said, "but I will personally refund out of my own pocket anyone who wants to withdraw their support, no questions asked." Those seeking refunds can email Dakan directly through his email address listed on the Kickstarter website.

"We’re going to make this game, and if you can hang on for what looks to be a long road ahead, we will get it finished," he said. "But that’s not what I asked you to sign up for and it’s not what you gave us money for. email me directly through Kickstarter if you would like your pledge refunded."

Kickstarter has previously stated that it will not get involved with refunds.

"This has been an emotionally rough couple of months for me, as I’ve invested almost all of my time for the past year or more in Haunts, along with my own money and reputation," Dakan continued. "It’s been terrible to watch it fail despite best efforts, but the failure is mine. There are scores of decisions I’d make differently if I had to do them over, and there were bets I made knowing the risks that haven’t paid off like we needed them to."

Dakan added that the game is nearing completion, but it contains many bugs. And without much programming experience, neither Dakan nor the game's artist, are able to clear these issues out without the help of more knowledgeable individuals.

"With no one left on the project who is capable of implementing those changes and debugging them during testing, the game is in a very patchwork state," Dakan said. "In some cases, levels that once worked fine now have serious issues. Fixing those issues would require fixes both to the level programming and the core system programming, working in tandem."

Despite the troubles, Dakan said he remains invested in bringing Haunts to market, and is currently talking to Blue Mammoth Games about a deal. However, even if this deal does go through, there is no promise that Haunts will be finished.

"These new potential partners won't be able to make the decision for a few weeks at least and then after that it would be months before anything came out. Still, I think it's out best shot at this point," he said.

Below is a video of Haunts in its current form.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
0 comments
AlexFili
AlexFili

They need to use things like Unity3D and HTML5 instead of using some outdated technology that nobody else knows how to code in.

flazzle
flazzle

I love how straightforward and honest this guy is. It's refreshing and this guy is a true man.

I like what I see too. I hope they over come this hurdle and make a cool game.

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

I knew it would happen sometime, just didn't imagine it would be this soon. I will be shocked it they actually refund everyone!

pilot_riaz
pilot_riaz

What i don't understand is why did people give them money?

I would never give my money to a product which doesn't exist. 

People whom gave them money how will they get the refund?  Was any receipt, contract signed? They could say you didn't give any money.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

This was bound to happen.  Let's see how They handle this.

Sapphire_Lexy
Sapphire_Lexy

Poor guy, I feel really bad for him. )= what a upsetting experience to go through.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

"Kickstarter has previously stated that it will not get involved with refunds."

Monsters. They only want to grab the money and run.

Error1355
Error1355

While it sure is nice that he is giving money back, it's to be expected this will eventually happen to a kickstarter project. It's the risk part of making an investment.

Bancario51
Bancario51

Ouya

 

Kickstarter is laughable crowd funding website where investors that know nothing about games, take part in

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

These kickstarters are nothing but an investment. Investments always carry risks. People should really examine who they choose to support, and more importantly, WHY they support them before just opening their wallet. In this situation it's nice that refunds are available since that's not always the case, but people shouldn't get this false sense of security that that will always be the case.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

A lot of people either don't understand or more likely don't believe the risks in backing on Kickstarter. People go on about removing the greedy publishers from the equation (and then often some hyperbole about Call of Duty) but the primary role of publishers is absorb risk, remove them from the equation and where does the risk go? What Kickstarter does is let the customers chose to shoulder some of the risk. That's not a bad thing but people need to accept that's really the main thing it does, it's not a pre-order service. The kind of projects that go to kick starter are inherently risky because they've already been passed over by publishers and probably other means of funding or they are so small that they are prone to exactly this kind of personnel issues.

 

The problem with this particular instance of a Kickstarter funded project running into trouble isn't so much that it's particularly bad it's that it's not really offset by a mass of tangible success stories. In terms of games actually delivered the only one I'm aware of FTL.

 

Kickstarter doesn't just function of trust but faith. For project eternity if you look at backing for near or under retail price that accounts for more than two third of the backers but under one third of the funding. In fact about half over 1.5 million of nearly 4 million it got through kick starter came from less than a tenth of the backers. If that faith gets shaken then the mass who thinks it's a pre-order service will thin but more serious the small minority donating frankly stupid amounts of money may well dry up.

 

I'm not saying crowd funding is bad or that it is doomed but that we are near the peak of what it will achieve in gaming. So far it's been up and up as it has only had success stories of projects getting funded. The gritty reality of even a minority of these projects falling through, even honestly is something it hasn't had to contend with yet. Worse yet imagine the loss of faith if some one just out right stole from Kickstarter. Personally I have funded several projects but when I did I was square with the possibility of the money I donated just being gone and that meant I funded less than I otherwise would have.

SonicTH
SonicTH

Personally, I would submit to a Kickstarter that didn't necessarily promise a game, but rather tried to get the attention of a bigger studio.

 

Idea pitching is what we need, not necessarily contributing to the direct development. The developer asking for money hat-in-hand directly to the consumer base can lead to situations like the above. But if you could swing...say Epic Games by using a Kickstarter in order to gather resources to maybe submit to them a working prototype with art assets and concept art to go along with it, I'd be in favor of that.

Crowd-funding cannot be the sole bottom line of a game's development backing unless it's fairly low-key. Marketable games need people with industry connections to actually flesh out and promote the game once it's under way.

Taegre
Taegre

I'm surprised so much of the negative backlash here is focused on Kickstarter and not the developers themselves. Crowd-sourcing shouldn't be the sole means to finance a game (which is what it sounds like these guys tried to do) but it can make the difference between a groundbreaking idea forever left in limbo by cautious publishers and a tangible game.

Snide-Cipher
Snide-Cipher

What a legend! Kickstarter is such an awesome platform for making creative games, but game development comes with risks, and with those risks comes the opportunity for negative people to try and destroy a good thing before it has a chance to prove what it is capable of. 

 

With honest developers like these though, willing to man up and be honest with their backers, it should be fine.

BuzzLiteBeer
BuzzLiteBeer

And this is why Kickstarter is not a sustainable way to fund projects. I knew from the beginning that there was going to be issues with people giving away their money on a promise.

 

When more people start feeling the emptiness of those promises, Kickstarter may die. Not saying this for sure, but I really would not be surprised. Only large and established companies would gain any traction. 

theKSMM
theKSMM

Kinda sounds like he got hosed by his staff.  Did they take the money and run (without completing the assignment for which they were paid, I mean)?

 

Hopefully some other programmers will step in to help him finish his project.  Lots of talented folks have donated their talents to open-source software, so why not this?

hemoleech
hemoleech

Why did the programmers leave if it was almost finished?

cornbredx
cornbredx

That sucks. It's cool he is offering refunds "no matter what if people request it" (paraphrasing) but not cool they gave up on it.

 

Is this the moment people start reconsidering kickstarters? Maybe, I hope not but maybe. I have been wondering who it will be- who will be the guy that kills people's want to crowd fund games?

Vozlov
Vozlov

So two guys are given 25,000 dollars by fans to create a game. All of which has gone and now the developers have quit.( 'Quitting' your own game = giving up )

 

So where exactly has that money gone? Judging by the gameplay videos, not on the game.

 

So how exactly is he going to come up with 25,000 dollars?

 

I think scam is too strong a word, more like idiots who have no idea what they are doing. Selling the ideas to gamers without any thought as to how to put it together. Anyone can do that.

 

Christ if it were ideas that made the game I'd be a millionaire by now.

NiteX
NiteX

How is it a scam if he is giving refunds?

pathosfire
pathosfire

I've only kickstarted the major projects lead by developers I know.  Much less risk that way. 

 

But at least he's offered refunds, so I can't really fault the leader of this project.  And who knows, it still might get completed.

wexorian
wexorian

This is really bad and MAD NEWS, we can't trust even kicksart PPL? damn it this world sucks i Feel robed i can imagine how  ppl feel who Donate money to this project.

worlock77
worlock77

Seriously, to all those saying "it's not a pre-order", "you're not buying anything" etc - how many really think people would put their money into a Kickstarter projects if no product was offered? Do you think anybody would fund a project that said "give us money now, $10, $15, $20, what you can afford, and if when finish the project and get it published you'll then have the incredible opportunity to purchase the game at full retail"?

staranise
staranise

I think he should just pitch/sell this to bethesda or cdprojekt.............at least your creation will be immortalized (third or 1st person view rather than top down view).

 

...by the looks of things this could be an app for an iphone or facebook game so zynga might be interested.........

Legend002
Legend002

Scam and they felt bad or something.

starduke
starduke

With Kickstarter you are taking a risk. With the people posting the project to get funding, it's that you won't get funded. With the people funding the project it's that something will happen (if the project get's funded) that the project won't get done. That's why it should be seen more as a gift then an investment when you fund something on Kickstarter. If the project succeeds you'll get rewards. Most games funded thru Kickstarter have copies of the game as a reward, so it could be seen as a pre-order, but at the same time, you're giving them the money, not buying the game. You also aren't investing in it. If you want to invest it, actually invest it, there are plenty of game companies you could buy stock in. You should only fund a project on Kickstarter with money that you are willing to give.

starduke
starduke

Well, that sucks that the programmers quit. Shtuff happens. It says more about them then it does Kickstarter. And, WOW, he says he'd actually refund the money if people wanted it!

 

GeorgeSyll
GeorgeSyll

People are so obsessed with "games" or so bored with their life that will pay for almost ANY "game".

 

Smart people use that and profit

 

This Kickstarter thing is just a big fat scam.

Quezakolt
Quezakolt

Reminds me of thoses Sega Saturn / PSOne games... i cant remember the title for the life of me. I hope they can find a few programmers with evenings to spare.

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Just my rule of thumb for those with enough education to learn computer programming skills:  Go to mom & dad for your development money if it's less than $50,000.

 

It saves time in all the mass emailing on the front and back ends, spares you a gazillion mini-transactions and they'll still love you even if the game sucks.

 

Just a thought...

isahunt
isahunt

People, just because it looks bad doesn't mean it plays bad. A small title like this can have more depth and substance than your run-of-the-mill Call of Duty - where you just point and click.

 

And I thought Resident Evil 6 was proof enough that looks can be deceiving.

feathers632
feathers632

$28,739 to develop perhaps the world's ugliest game.  A game that could have been made with game maker or some other game creator.  The world has at least been spared this monstrosity. :)

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

Hello! It's a buisiness investment! If all buisiness investments worked then everyone in the world would be rich mother f¥¥¥¥¥s. wow. One project fails and everyone is like "oh I told you so" or "kickstarter is a joke" there are lots of bad buisiness ideas that people invested in. Some people may be good at making games but bad at money. And you are saying only a four man team made this game and that game. Ok. Your point. What were their yearly salaries? Cookie crums and pizza boxes. Most programmers make more in a year than this entire games budget. Sucks it failed. I have spent over 100$ on kickstarter projects knowing full well that my money may just go up in smoke. I am ok with that. I believe in the kickstarter projects I supported and want to see them succeed. For two of them, I get a the finished product included. So that's my payoff if the "investment" works out. If not. Oh well. I mean ever heard of the stock market. What the hell do you think that is. What do you think that money goes to when you buy stocks? You are basiicly investing in a company! Kickstarter is just a stockmarket for little idiots like you all. You can buy one stock instead of thousands. You don't get cash in return you get cool prizes. Grow the effff up. The idea behind kickstarter has been around since money. It's just in a new form.

jurk182
jurk182

I remember when Bill Roper said he was going to refund the money for all those lifetime subscribers to Hellgate London. 

 

I wonder how that worked out. 

X-RS
X-RS

FFS! It's SIMPLE!

Only go to kickstarter if you have $ to pi$$ away and you just downed a 2L

There is no promise, no contract, no entitlement!

People do however bow/smile to get the golden shower. It's a fierce competition.

*smh*

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

If the money has been spent, why isn't the game done right now?

 

Another guy living off Kickstarter cash?

DrKill09
DrKill09

Robert Rodriguez made his debut film El Mariachi for $7,000.

 

Postal 2 and Mortal Kombat were both made by four man teams.  You do not need 28k to make a game.

 

Kickstart is for greedy assholes who want to exploit people for money, just like MySpace and Facebook are simply dens for pedophiles.

commando1992
commando1992

And this is the problem with Kickstarter games. Say what you will about publishers (and they usually deserved what's said), but at least when you buy their games, you get the finished product. 

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

This really makes a mockery of investments.  Any investment incurs risk, and in this case I cannot help but feel offering a refund is a really dumb decision - since if you remove risk from an investment you might as well invest in EVERYTHING because you cannot lose.

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

This kind of thing is very good, they are lot of programmers looking for experience work and it could mean that this kind of exposure he may get an email or two from a programmer willing to help out.

DrKill09
DrKill09

(looks at terrible graphics)  Yep, that looks worth $28,000... (rolls eyes)

 

I've seen free fan games and mods that looked better than this.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Something like this is bound to happen, and I am glad it has happened to a relatively small project but I hope it receives high exposure. The problem with Kickstarter is that the investors, contributors in this case, has next to no oversight on the project. The success, indeed the very legitimacy, of projects depends on faith in the reputation of, in some instances, just one individual. That is a system ripe for abuse.

 

I am a strong supporter of crowd-funding. So I hope this incident motivates future contributors to more carefully examine the feasibility of projects (especially the whole project if it requires additional resources beyond Kickstarter contribution), the qualifications of project members, and safeguards against unforeseeable problems such as this (for example, should project members be contractually bound to finish the project and meeting milestones?). I also hope the negative publicity will encourage those seeking funding to develop both work and financial plans more carefully and be transparent about those plans.

 

Although I feel sorry for any contributors who have been affected by this, I am thankful to Rick Dakan for stepping up to make this a news about perseverance in the face of a problem instead of an utter failure. I thank GameSpot for covering this development and spreading awareness. Although it may sound a little strange, I am also thankful to, though I do not condone, the two programmers who have left the project. If one of the first news about Kickstarter failure happened to a multi-million dollar project that turned out to be either incompetently managed or an outright fraud, it might seriously set back crowd-funding for games.

Zloth2
Zloth2

!?  Two developers and an artist for $28,000??  There must be another source of funding.

kyle756
kyle756

so was this suppose to be a sort of paranormal XCOM?

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

and there is the problem with kickstarter...28k is a lot of money...but how about  those that invested in 100k. if you are going to use kickstarter for a game...make sure you can also program