Opinion Piece

Yogventures And The Messy Kickstarter Of Madness

 

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Note: This article was written while I had a hell of a cold, so I do apologise if it seems rough. Also, this is a long article, so prepare your body mentally and physically. You have been warned.

P.S. This is an opinion piece, and strangely enough opinion pieces are entirely about a person’s opinion, in this instance mine. 

There’s a very good chance you’ve heard of Yogscast, a network of people who create a constant stream of videogame related content for Youtube. Founded in Redding in the UK Yogscast began life as just as two people making videos, but has since expanded massively, gaining a whopping 7-million subscribers in the process and creating a spider’s web of sub-channels.

Yogscast have been in the news many times before, perhaps most notably for their attitude toward taking money from publishers in return for advertising. While Yogscast technically meet UK law which demands any deal made in return for advertising be made clear to the viewer, their method of disclosure is to include a piece of text which merely thanks a company for making the video possible. It’s left to the viewer to work out that this actually means the video is simply advertising paid for by the publisher or developer of the title in question.

In recent weeks they hit the news again with the announcement of YogDiscovery, a new type of revenue system in which Yogscast create a video of a game, and then take a percentage of game’s sales, assuming there was a measurable increase. It’s an interesting system that merits discussion because there’s a whole lot of pros and cons, but isn’t the topic of this piece today. Keep an eye out for an article on that soon, though.

No, today we’re here to talk about a Kickstarter project, and a whole load of stupidity.

Back in 2012 Kickstarter appeared for what seemed to be an official Yogscast videogame titled Yogventures, a voxel-based online sandbox whose virtual characters would include actual members of the Yogscast.  The pitch was professional, the concept art lovely and to top it off there was even gameplay footage, allowing potential backers to feel more secure in their decision to fund the game’s development, since work clearly seemed to be under way. The original funding goal was $250,000, but the project quickly broke that number with fans offering up double that, a shade over half a million dollars. Given the Yogscast’s impressive subscriber count, even at that early point in their career, it’s not surprising that such a project managed to gather so much money. In the end with fees paid a grand total of $415,000 was apparently earned during the Kickstarter and transferred. Not too shabby given the initial goal.

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The game was never made, though. All the money has seemingly been spent with nothing to show for it thanks to terrible budgeting. No refunds are forthcoming. This is hardly news given that many Kickstarter projects fail miserably, and all money is donated with the knowledge that there’s no refunds available. All a project creator is legally obliged to do should a project be successfully funded is provided the promised rewards, of which the project itself does not count. Yet when you delve deeper into the failure of Yogsventures what we see is a game with an unclear owner pitched toward a specific set of people and plenty of dumb decisions.

During the past few weeks Yogventures was finally officially cancelled, confirming what many had suspect for some time but that nobody from the actual project seemed willing to admit. Here’s the disturbing part: the vast sum money donated has seemingly vanished, and Yogscast are adamant that they are not responsible in any shape or form.  As we’ll discuss throughout this article the problem is that the entire game was pitched as Yogscast project, leaving fans understandably annoyed and feeling that Yogscast are indeed responsible. So if not Yogscast just who the hell is responsible, and how did so much money get spent so quicky with so little to show for it? Well, as we’ll discover it’s not the missing money that has people so upset, but rather the idiocy behind the entire escapade.

Venture onto the official Kickstarter page and what one finds is a well-written and laid out pitch for a highly ambitious videogame. The important thing to note that all of the Kickstarter page is written from the perspective of Yogscast. It’s their voice throughout and that the wording used strongly implies that it is Yogscast’s project, created at their discretion with their complete backing. It suggests that the Yogscast would be heavily involved in the game every step of the way. Even the video at the very top is created by the Yogscast team goes to great lengths to tell viewers that they’ll be helping Yogscast fulfill a dream.

“Why are the Yogscast making a game?” asks the Kickstarter, followed by the answer to that very question.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to entertain you as we play games made by other people. For the past four years we’ve shared experiences together in World of Warcraft, a wealth of betas and new releases, and of course our most popular Minecraft series Shadow of Israphel. The characters of Honeydew and Xephos and all the others have sprung to life out of these amazing journeys and we think it’s time to give them a game all their own. ”

But in reality the Yogscast themselves wouldn’t be building the game. That was to be handled by someone else, which was fine given that the two Yogscast guys didn’t have any actual skill when it came to game development.

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“Lewis and Simon can barely manage a simple jumping puzzle – so the Yogscast aren’t going to be doing any actual coding! We aren’t programmers or artists but luckily we have close friends at Winterkewl Games who are. They are a team of talented indie developers based in and around Hollywood, California. Their artists and programmers are long-time veterans of film and game companies – working at the highest levels of production.”

Take a moment now to examine the wording used, and if you have the time go ahead and read the entirety of the Kickstarter page, again paying close attention to how the project is presented to the general public. The wording of the Kickstarter as a whole suggests that the game was Yogscast’s vision, their own dream game created to please both them and their legions of fans, and that Winterkewl were to be partners brought onboard to execute that vision under the careful supervision of the Yogscast crew. Indeed, they actually say as much: “Winterkewl’s artists, modelers, animators and programmers are partnering with us on this project to create the game our community wants.” Note the use of the words, “partnering with us.”

Take this sentence as another example: “Since we’ll (Yogscast) be helping to develop the game.” Yet as it turns out Yogscast seem to have been barely involved in the project, and actually abandoned it quite early on, if Winterkewl’s own account of events is true.

Yogventures was to be Winterkewl’s first game, but that was fine because according to the Kickstarter page, again seemingly written by Yogscast and not Winterkewl themselves, the developers would be able to handle the vast, ambitious project. Winterkewl were described as, “long-time veterans of film and game companies — working at the highest levels of production.” Fans of the Yogscast took them at their word and put complete trust in their judgement, believing that the two people they loved to listen to on Youtube were going to be an integral part of the game from start to finish, casting a watchful gaze over Winterkewl and ensuring a game of quality.

As it turned out this project was apparently too much for what in reality was actually a mere six man outfit lacking in any real experience when it came to  videogames, as was admitted later. In an open letter released just last week Winterkewl said, “Winterkewl Games really wanted to achieve the very lofty goals the game set out to do, but lack of experience in planning and managing a project of this scope proved too much for our little team. ”

It’s not surprising, because people with a mild working knowledge of videogame development and expenses were already deeply suspicious of the project as soon as it was announced via Kickstarter, reading through the lofty, ambitious list of features and coming to the conclusion that for a small team there was never going to be enough money to support the game, and that the vision was simply too damn much.

To start with the plan was to use a system called Marching Cubes to create the world:

“The game utilizes technology called “Marching Cubes” which allows us to generate fantastic new world terrain that is random and editable. This means the terrain will be vast, interesting and fully destructible”

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Again, note the use of “us” when speaking of creating the game, consdering everything is still being written in the voice of Yogscast. More importantly while Marching Cubes is an interesting system, it’s one of those things fresh developers love to chat about actually using before abandoning the idea for a variety of reasons. To my knowledge it has still never been used to create and release a game, though naturally some small title somewhere may have done.

Following this was a list of features that even much larger studios would blanche at, including a working physics system, a daring decision when dealing with a game world that can be destroyed and rebuilt at will.

  • Beautiful, randomly-generated game worlds that are different every time you start a new Yogventure
  • Fully shapeable terrain – with the ability for players to raise a mountain range or create a vast ocean; you can effortlessly shape your world however you imagine it
  • A wealth of novel building materials, creatures, NPCs and items
  • A rich underground to mine and explore – bristling with rare outcroppings of gems and crystals, hidden tombs and dark underground terrors that drop rare weapons and loot
  • A fully-fleshed out crafting system
  • An in-game physics engine that will even effect the blocks you place in your creations
  • The ability to customise your own unique avatar or play as one of your favourite Yogscast characters
  • Easy-to-use in-game modding API including in-game scripting
  • Ability for modders to have a chance to get their work added to the game
  • Regularly released video updates from the developers including the latest feature additions

On top of the physics we have a crafting system, loot system and avatar customisation. That’s a pretty extensive list, especially on a budget of a mere $250,000. That may sound like a lot, but when you have a team to pay, feed and supply with software etc. it’s not very much, especially with such an extensive plan of things to include. Even $500,000 wasn’t going to be enough, it seemed, a prediction that would turn out true.

And when was a planned release?  Sometime in 2013, a mere year or so after the project was announced. Granted, this date was subject to change, but even as  “rough estimates” a year for all of that with such little money and no programmer to actually bring it all to life was sheer stupidity. That’s right, they had no programmed. Instead they intended to find one using the money from the Kickstarter, but as we’ll see that never happened.

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A few days ago Yogscast  made a statement announcing the cancellation of the game, saying, “Lewis from the Yogscast here – as you may have heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures – but this is actually a good thing as the project was proving too ambitious and difficult for them to complete with their six-man team.”

Good thing? Well, sort of, I suppose, if you want to look it from an oddly slanted angle, but for the masses of people who funded the project it isn’t. The strangely upbeat tone of the opening paragraph sets the stage for what is to come, with Yogscast actively putting themselves as far away from the project as humanly possible, disavowing the game completely and even going so far as to act like they barely had anything to do with its creation. It’s only here we see an admission from Yogscast that Winterkewl was just a six-man team, a piece of information that should have been in the Kickstarter, as one can’t help but wonder how many people would have read the ambitious pitch which clearly needed a skilled team to pull it off, and then realised that a small six-man team with zero experience would likely be unable to do it, regardless of how much money was thrown at it.

“This is my fault, I agreed to every feature request we got because I didn’t want to lose the opportunity. I wanted so badly to make this project a reality I ignored the real-world risks to the point that I almost lost everything and worst of all I let you all down.” said the head of Winterkewl, Kris Vale.

“I wish more than anything I would have had this fore-knowledge before we ever began this project. If we would have limited the scope and made a solid plan for working more closely with the Yogscast I have every faith this project would have been a real stand-out achievement in the Indie Game world. However, if you promise the world and don’t take into account the amount of time and resources you really need to make good on those promises you find yourself in a position where you can’t move forward without more funds but you can’t generate more funds without moving forward.”

Naturally I feel sorry for Kris, since his life has clearly been so damaged by what should have been a dream job.  He continued on to say that he poured some of his personal funds into the game and lost his wife because she became tired with his obsession with completing the project. He almost lost his day job too, revealing that him and his team had to retake jobs during the project. So, yes, on a personal level I do feel sorry for Kris.

But for the sake of this article we need to distance the personal aspects and look at the facts. None of this hardship  excuses the fact that it has taken them well over a year to admit that the project was a mess, long after it was possible to refund the people who poured money into it. The last thing people heard about Yogventures was in August of last year, when a closed beta was provided to backers, a beta which didn’t seem to reflect the funding acquired or the development time put in. Since the beta exactly two developer videos have been released, with the final one being several months ago. Neither video showed any real progress made. Nor does any of it excuse the absolutely massive underestimation of the time and money needed, or the decisions that were made.

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So, the game has been cancelled,  but where the hell has the money gone? Half a million dollars put forth by over 13,000 people is not exactly chump change, yet seemingly this tiny development team has managed to spend the lot before the company finally gave in. Such an amount wasn’t much in the grand scheme development, but considering the utter lack of progress it almost seems baffling that it was used up.

As it turns out, a small portion of the funds were lost pretty quickly, followed by a more substantial amount. Winterkewl issued a final “farewell update” on the Kickstarter page which provided this snippet of information:

“Unfortunately, right off the bat we had one major incident that happened that we could not fix. Our good friend and matte painter really terrific artist that created most of the concept art with environments on the Kickstarter page, he left PDI to work at LucasArts. ”

“This is a very good example of how my inexperience caused some problems in the development. Because we had worked out a contract that guaranteed each of the principal artists a $35,000 lump sum payment, and we didn’t make any clear clause on how and why someone could legally stop working on the project, The artist in question got paid, worked for about 2 weeks and then stopped working on the project. We had no way to force that person to pay back any of the funds and it was a bitter lesson to learn. Always get every possible scenario in writing or you will have no legal recourse. ”

You what? Are you serious? This isn’t just a sign of inexperience, but a clear demonstration of complete incompetency. Naturally the artist shoulders some blame since he walked out on the project without doing any work and took the money with him, but simple common sense which demand that an employer draw up a basic contract that stops such things from every happening. Inexperience is one thing, but this is another entirely.

The update then continues, shedding light on where another chunk of the money went:

“When Lewis [Yogscast co-founder] found out about the artist incident he was rightly confused and upset, as a result he lost faith right away in my ability to run the company from a business standpoint and basically required that all the rest of the Kickstarter money that hadn’t been spent be transferred to them right away. In the end we negotiated that to $150,000 would be transferred to the Yogscast with the understanding that they would use that money exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards, AND they would help hire the main programmer that we still didn’t have on the project. ”

Wait, $150,000 was handed over to Yogscast?  Well, where the hell has that gone?In a brief and unofficial breakdown of costs provided in the farewell update on Kickstarter it states that  only $50,o00 was allocated for rewards, yet Yogscast was sent three times that amount. That leaves $100,000 for the hiring a main programmer who was never actually found.

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Talking to Eurogamer Kris Vale provided a touch more detail regarding the situation with Yogscast:

“Lewis [Brindley, Yogscast co-founder], being a lot more experienced with running a business than I, was rightly upset about that blunder on my part. He wanted to get more involved in the way the finances were being handled as he clearly saw potential for disaster. That’s why they asked for the remainder of the funds to be sent to them for them to handle the physical rewards etc.”

“Now, I made it clear what that money was still ear-marked for, but we again didn’t draw up a very specific contract for it, and as such I don’t have much recourse on how and what that money was to be spent on.

“The Yogscast did spend a significant portion of those funds to create and ship all the backer rewards, and they did assist with the marketing in the form of the E3 booth and the videos they created for the Kickstarter campaign itself.”

Now, there’s a few things to consider here. Firstly Kris once again handed money over without writing up a contract, the very same mistake he made with the artist. He has no idea where the money went. Perhaps more important, though, the money further muddies the waters in terms of whose project this really was. Clearly Yogscast were involved enough to be able to demand money be simply handed over, and yet they seem to be trying to distance themselves now, claiming they have no obligations to those who backed the project.

Things become more intriguing still. Speaking to PC Gamer Kris Vale made a startling announcement that after transferring the money the Yogscast suddenly demanded a new contract be made between the two companies.

“We were basically told that without a new contract, there would be no new programmer. So we were in a really tight spot at that time, and agreed to the terms of this new contract,” However the contract stipulated that neither company was financially obligated to the other, and that Yogscast did not actually have to hire a new programmer, despite Kris Vales “understanding” that they would. Again, the seemingly boundless naivety of Kris is on show, but it raises even more questions about Yogcasts involvement in the entire affair. After taking such a large sum of money they force Winterkewl to agree to a contract which ensures they’re not financially obligated to them in any way, and that lets them off the hook in regards to finding a programmer. Even at this stage in the project’s development, we can see Yogscast positioning themselves carefully so that when the inevitable fall comes, they’ll be safe.

According to Kris a deal with a potential programmer fell through during negotiations for the new contract, and with no money left to offer anyone else, “We had a new contract but no programmer.”

kris says Yogscast refused to use the money to hire a programmer because Lewis Brindley was unhappy with the progress made, but naturally without a programmer the project was never going to get anywhere. Winterkewl’s budget also had put the graphical look of the game as a top priority, leaving the actual mechanics languishing.

Apparently part of the initial agreement between Winterkewl and Yogscast would be that Yogscast would help promote the game by creating videos, the eventual goal being to put the game up for pre-order and drive sales through marketing. “We were sending regular updates and asking each time, ‘When do you think we’ll see videos promoting the game?’ And each time we were told this feature or that feature is a ‘must have,’ and we’d go off and work on that feature, always hoping that at some point the business would get off the ground and marketing would begin.” Said Kris.

Stupidity. Everywhere.

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However, Yogscast have a slightly different perspective on matters. In a statement Yogscast had this to say:

“We set up a contract with Winterkewl early on to allocate funds between the two parties. Winterkewl would deliver the game and Yogscast would receive a portion of the Kickstarter money. That $150,000 was spent directly fulfilling physical rewards for Kickstarter backers, packing and shipping the rewards, covering marketing expenses – including the booth at E3 2012 – and supporting the project over close to three years. In addition we have spent (and will continue to spend), considerably more than any money we received on rewards for the people that backed this project,”

One can’t help but wonder if the money should have been kept purely for the actual development of the project, rather than using it to market something at E3 which was far from finished.  Regarding a programmer Yogscast claim that they did attempt to find one for Winterkewl:

“To address a specific point that has been raised about hiring a programmer: we did discuss this with Winterkewl in an effort to help them out, although wasn’t part of the agreement and would have been paid for directly by Yogscast,” he continued. “Multiple professional programmers were approached to work on Yogventures, however they all declined the position. Furthermore, the hiring of at least one programmer we courted was vetoed by Winterkewl. There were no further funds requested from Winterkewl.”

This means either one company is completely lying about how the contracts were written or what was planned, or there was such an abysmal lack of communication that both parties deserve to be slapped repeatedly for sheer incompetency. One company is saying one thing, and the other another completely, both pointing fingers and seeming incapable of issuing a a completely clear statement.

And then there’s still the slightly odd question of whose project Yosventures was, as the swapping of money makes it all rather unclear, and is the driving force behind my primary question regarding the project: was Yogventures presented incorrectly as something as it wasn’t.

Speaking to Eurogamer Kris Vale seems to offer perhaps the clearest explanation of what Yogventures was and how it came to be, saying:

“Yogscast accepted our offer of making a game for their community based on our experience as feature film animation veterans and the fact that were were able to quickly put together a good demo showing where the game would head.”

So yes, Yogventure was Winterkewl’s baby. They brought the idea to the Yogscast with the express idea of using the Yogscast to market the game to a wide audience, which Yogscast say they did. Where my own issue lies is with that of many other people – Yogventure was portrayed as a Yogscast project, when in reality it wasn’t. Yogscast did more than just market it to their vast audience as a project utilising their license, they pushed it as their own project in order to ensure it would be funded.

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Reading their cancellation announcement Yogscast are clearly attempting to distance themselves from the project altogether, and in the process are very much throwing Winterkewl under the bus, telling people that they themselves are under no legal obligation to give backers anything, and that all requests should be directed to the defunct and clearly unable Winterkewl. In fact, Winterkewl is going to be dissolved, as was revealed by Kris when he briefly spoke to Eurogamer.

The bad news is that Yogscast are right. Despite the Kickstarter being written in the voice of Yogscast and presented as their baby it was Winterkewl that was listed as the creator. Take a look at the Kickstarter page and you’ll find that the official Yogscast website is listed as the homepage and that the creator biography is clearly talking about the Yogscast team:

“YouTube sensation, featuring comedy gaming with a drunken dwarf and a handsome spaceman! Currently working on open world sandbox / co-op adventure game with called “Yogventures!”

Even the official forums are actually hosted on the official Yogscast website. But regardless Yogcast outsourced their license to a third-party, and in the process ensured that if the project went down they would not be accountable for anything. Legally they’re home and dry, or at least that’s how it seems. Some people seem to believe there may be a case here, but trying to follow through would be difficult.

Having said that, Winterkewl are actually legally obligated to provide refunds at this point. Why? Because as a reward for backing the project all tiers included a copy of the game, and as we’ve covered Kickstarter does legally require a project creator to fulfill all rewards, even if the project itself never comes to fruition. Except, of course, Winterkewl are in no position to do that. Since Yogscast were supplied with money to fulfill all rewards, one could argue that they’re not legally responsible for providing said rewards, including the game itself, and that failing that they should offer refunds. yet as we’ve seen Yogscast are intent on steering clear of the whole thing.

This statement from Yogscast’s open letter catches my attention:

“While this was Winterkewl’s project, we put a lot of time, energy and effort into trying to help them realise their dream. ”

This makes it sound like it was Winterkewl’s dream to make a game about the Yogscast, and that Yogscast just so happened to think that was neat and lend them a tiny helping hand. Yet the Kickstarter seems to very clearly state that it was Yogscast who wanted the game made, and that they enlisted Winterkewl to achieve that goal. Again, damn near everything in the Kickstarter was written to influence the fans of Yogscast into providing funding, but now that those same fans are out of pocket Yogscast are shoving the game away and claiming no liability, despite them taking money from Kickstarter, pitching the idea as their own and promising to be a part of the development, when in fact it seems more like they just agreed to their license being used and to market the game.

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Yogscast leveraged fans to get the project funded, but now intends to leave their own audience out of pocket. As part of a scheme to give back to their fans Yogscast are sending out codes to a game currently in Early Access named TUG, which is sort of similar to what Yogventures was supposed to be. Naturally frustration is showing through, with many people unhappy at being given codes for TUG in place of the project they backed, and even more furious because they already own TUG. Currently aside from TUG Yogscast are promising other things, and claim they plan on spending a lot of money giving back to their fans, which begs the question of why they won’t simply refund them.

Of course let us not forget that Kickstarter is not a pre-order service, nor is it an investment. It’s a place to donate money to a project that you like the look of, and that comes with risks. There’s absolutely nothing to guarantee that any project will see the light of day. The only real legal backing that users of Kickstarters have is, “Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.” Yogscraft are claiming to be trying to meet these rewards. “we’re working with Nerd Kingdom to offer similar in-game rewards for each Kickstarter tier where possible and will be able to give you the specifics on that over the next few weeks.”

If you’re hoping for a refund then none will be forthcoming. Yogscast themselves have no intention of trying to help their fans out, instead they’ll provide TUG Steam keys. The statement from Yogscast comes across as more than a little irritating:  “Although we’re under no obligation to do anything, instead we’re going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad that you backed the project!”

The question is, while Yogscast aren’t technically legally responsible for anything, are they morally responsible? After all this entire project was presented by Yogscast like they were the ones driving it forward, and that Winterkewl were brought in to make it all happen.

Given the way the project was presented to the public I hold that Yogscast are indeed at least morally responsibly and need to make amends far past merely providing a code for a game which backers never asked for or were promised. Yogscast have now handed over all game assets to the creators of TUG in the hopes that it will end up producing something close to the initial Kickstarter, but the simple fact is that TUG isn’t what people chose to back in the first place.

To be clear, my issue and that of many others isn’t that the game was never made. It’s not even that refunds won’t be available. That sort of thing happens all the time on Kickstarter and is merely the nature of the beast. You put in your money knowing and hopefully understanding that you may never see a return or the product that you helped fund. It’s not a pre-order or an investment, it’s a donation freely given to something you have a degree of faith in. While many like to claim that there is a legal case for a refund if a project never comes to fruition, the fact is that Kickstarter only state that project creators must legally provide all rewards promised to their backers, not the actual project itself.

My issue and that of others is with how the whole thing was handled, from the fact that Winterkewl idiotically promised far more than they could ever produce to the fact that both companies took so long to admit that there was a problem, and the game wasn’t going to happen, well after recompense could be provided.  My issue is that at every turn Yogventures was presented by Yogscast as their own project, and that they then used their influence to fund the entire thing, then when the shit hit the fan used that same influence to throw the developers under the bus and claim that they had nothing to with it. In short, I honestly feel as  though everyone who poured money into the project was duped by those they trusted.

“We’re truly honored to have the opportunity to bring the Yogscast to life in a game of our own making, and we relish the chance to be able to give back to our fans and community whom we love. We’ll do everything we can to make the kind of game that will make YOU proud and look forward to sharing the fun in the future!

Also, a great big thank you to the families and friends of Winterkewl Games who have been so supportive during all this pre-production. We couldn’t have gotten this far without your love and support, and we’ll need you even more during production. THANKS!”

These are the final words printed at the bottom of the Kickstarter. Just look at those words, “bring the Yogscast to life in a game of our own making.”  And then note that when speaking about Winterkewl Yogscast states, “We couldn’t have gotten this far without your love and support, and we’ll need you even more during production.” Well, Yogscast, you’re right, because you weren’t the ones making the game, were you? You weren’t bringing a game to life, you merely allowed the developers to use your brand and then seemingly abandoned all hope early on without informing your fans.

For a company that claims it wants to give back to its fans whom it loves, their actions suggest something else entirely. Once they finally admitted the project was a mess they attempted to distance themselves from it entirely before hoping to satiate their followers with bogus stuff, instead of biting the bullet, admitting that the entire thing was a disaster from start to finish and then offering to refund the people.

Hell, Yogscast, just make a video entitled “Help us refund our fans!” and use the ad revenue generated to help refund everyone who backed the disaster that was Yogventures. I’m sure that your audience would be willing to click through to it in order to help out. Cram it full of other advertisements if you really must.

Imagine, if you will, that the Kickstarter have been written a tad more honestly. Imagine the Kickstarter made it clear that it was Winterkewl’s project and that Yogscast were merely lending their branding to the game rather than being a major part of development. And imagine that the public had actually been informed that Winterkewl was just a six man team with no experience with this kind of project. Given the ambitious nature of the game and without leveraging the trust of such a large fanbase, would the project ever have been funded? Perhaps those who chose to back it would have put in considerably less money had they known that it wasn’t actually a Yogscast project.

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In my eyes the project was presented in a false light, portrayed to be something it actually wasn’t in order for it to gain the support of the Yogscast audience, an audience whose trust was misplaced. Both Winterkewl and Yogscast failed to admit that the project was burning down around them. In the process a vast sum of money was somehow spent by an incompotent team with little to show for it, while another chunk was handed over to Yogscast and remains largely unexplained. After a closed beta there was a year of near silence, before finally official cancellation arrives, and with it a story of utter poor communication, inexperience, naivety and stupidity.

There’s still plenty of time for Yogscast or Winterkewl to sway my opinion, because after all this entire article is just my opinion, one written by a guy who was not involved in the project and has no way of knowing what went on behind closed doors past what both companies publicly say. But even the mere fact that somebody like me could come to an opinion like this based off of the entire escapade suggests that even now neither company is capable of getting its crap together. It’s also worth knowing that I personally never backed the game, nor do I watch any of Yogscast’s creations as they’re simply not something I’m into. In the coming days we’ll hopefully learn more about the deal that was in place between Yogscast and Winterkewl, be able to examine what happened to all that money and gain a better insight into exactly what went wrong.   But can anything they say really justify the way the entire project was presented to the public, or the sheer stupidity ?

Finally, this brings us to the nature of Kickstarter itself. Many will use this as an example of why Kickstarter should simply be shut down or never used. Certainly it once again serves to demonstrate that all projects should be approached with caution and understanding, and without a doubt it’s a dangerous system open to abuse and disappointment. Yet Kickstarter is also something wonderful, a way to get games created for niche audiences that publishers would otherwise ignore in favor or more easily marketed titles. Perhaps more rules need to be put in place to make it a slightly safer place, but we can’t restrict it too much or else the system would collapse in on itself. One can shout for a demo before placing down money, but the developer needs said money in order to create a demo.

This entire situation has been a mess from start to finish that clearly shows exactly how wrong any given project can go. Be careful out there, and don’t just back a project because some group of people you don’t know personally wants you to. Take your time, weigh it up, and make your decision.

Until next time, folks.

 

 

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