Mike Young
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I have just received the following in my in box...

Quote:
Project Update #27: Terminus
Posted by The Forking Path, Co.

This is not an easy update to write.

The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled.

After much deliberation I've had to make this decision. I've informed Keith and Lee and neither at all happy with this situation. Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.

From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom that Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects. Everyone involved agreed on this. Since then rifts have formed and every error compounded the growing frustration, causing only more issues. After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses and hiring artists to do things like rule book design and art conforming the money was approaching a point of no return. We had to print at that point or never. Unfortunately that wasn't in the cards for a variety of reasons.

I'm going to write a full post-mortem to explain every issue in greater detail but suffice to say that I never gave up and always intended to get this project printed. My intentions have always been good and I've struggled with this greatly. I've spent a large amount of time pitching investors, begging banks for loans and seeking other sources of funding to fix this. Sadly I found no takers.

As stated above Lee and Keith were not directly involved in this decision. I informed them earlier this month about the situation. Keith went out of his way to speak with his contacts at other companies to see if any could help salvage the game. We spent quite a bit of time working on possible deals and arrangements but in the end they just weren't interested in taking the risk. Keith has only ever done amazing work in getting this made and can't be blamed in any way for its downfall.

My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully. This puts all of the financial burden directly on my shoulders. Starting with those who've pre-ordered after the Kickstarter campaign through our webstore, then I'll begin working my way through the backer list, starting with those who funded at the highest levels. Unfortunately I can't give any type of schedule for the repayment as I left my job to do this project and must find work again. I'll create a separate bank account to place anything beyond my basic costs of living. Every time that account has a decent amount saved into it I'll issue a payout to a portion of the backer list. I'll post updates with each payout to keep you all informed on the progress.

Again, I never set out to con anyone or to perpetrate a fraud but I did walk into a situation that was beyond my abilities and for that I'm deeply sorry. This has been a rough year, I never wanted to make it harder for anyone. There will be no more monthly updates, not that there have really been in some time, but I will post with each payout, as well as the post-mortem when it is eventually complete.

Sincerest apologies,
Erik Chevalier
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Rick Vinyard
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At $122,874 I wonder if this is the largest board game Kickstarter to default?
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William Wood
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rvinyard wrote:
At $122,874 I wonder if this is the largest board game Kickstarter to default?


We're number one! We're number...wait. Argh. shake
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John Falcon

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Well that's the second KS game that has tanked for me...the first was a video game at $45 but this one is a $155 hit....I will not hold my breath at seeing a refund and won't bitch about it if it never comes (though I did fire off one salvo in order to vent over on the KS page)but as they say, "you's pays for yours ticket and takes your chances"...
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John "Omega" Williams
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They should have spoke up here on the BGG. There might well have been people who could have suggested fixes and alternatives to cancelling the game.

Unfortunately looks like they underestimated the costs involved. Not uncommon.

Perhaps later they can try again better informed of the arduous path publishing is.
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Omega2064 wrote:


Unfortunately looks like they underestimated the costs involved. Not uncommon.



Especially if, as pointed out in another thread, you decide to quit your job and live off of the unexpectedly large Kickstarter proceeds, as it appears this guy has done shake

So essentially the backers all chipped in for tuition for a year of "business school bootcamp," for which the project creator received a failing grade.

Is it just me or are these kinds of failed projects becoming more and more common and at a larger and larger scale? I'd say the Kickstarter folk should take some hard looks at these recent project fails and think about how to protect backers more and hold project creators more accountabile. Otherwise I'm not sure I see the long-term viability of Kickstarter as a business. Unless it becomes just a domain for established companies that people already trust.
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It is unfortunate for those that are getting hit by the fallout of failing projects. But I think the conception of increased project failure is misconception. They get louder press, and are drawn out into the open, tarred and feathered (sometimes rightly so).

To contrast this, of the 15 projects I backed (as of now), and also the probably as many (or more) I watched and heard about (except this one) all made it through and delivered. Not to be misunderstood - this is not about schadenfreude, just to make a general point...

I don't think that Kickstarter is a failing business. But the more projects (in total) go through, the higher the number of failing ones, too.
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It still boggles my mind that people will throw $155 at a nonexistent, unreviewed board game they may or may not receive in several years' time. But to each his own.
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While I understand the risks of Kickstarter, I'm not going to pretend to not be disappointed by this. If you go back and review the prior project updates, the project creator has clearly been less than honest for quite some time (since he blamed delays on the Chinese printer multiple times when it now appears nothing was ready to be sent to them) and I'm extremely annoyed to find out that he quit his job and used KS funds for living expenses. That was not disclosed in the project and I never would have pledged if that it had been. Furthermore, if you go look at the old blog postings of one of the game's designers, Lee Moyer, you'll see that in December 2011 -- months before the KS even launched -- he indicated that the game was basically finalized and just needed a publisher -- https://leemoyer.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/hello-world/ How did Foking Path 'eff that up so badly? (And yes, I realize they got nastygrammed by Hasbro over the board design -- that should not have been that dramatically difficult an issue to fix given how massively overfunded the project was.)
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PaulDavidson wrote:
It still boggles my mind that people will throw $155 at a nonexistent, unreviewed board game they may or may not receive in several years' time. But to each his own.


It still boggles my mind that people can so ignorantly say such things. The game was reviewed during the KS by GeekDad in a substantially final form: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/05/the-doom-that-came-to-a... All the game mechanics and artwork had been put together already by the designers (Moyer and Baker). If you check Moyer and Baker's blogs, they clearly considered the game itself finished months before the KS project even launched and just wanted a publisher.
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I think in a year or 2, when a lot of the videogames turn into vaporware, there will be a lot of soul searching about KS. Boardgames are still a safer bet than the tech gadgets or video games.
It will still be a viable funding site, but it has gotten a sheen of "safety" to it just due to all the positive press from the big funding projects that is not warranted.



Poliorcetes
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Tcaalaw wrote:
and I'm extremely annoyed to find out that he quit his job and used KS funds for living expenses. That was not disclosed in the project and I never would have pledged if that it had been.

At this point, I think that is the part that is bothering many of the backers.

The information is scarce, but utilizing the $122k that was supposed to go toward production costs of a nearly completed game for personal expenses seems not only like misappropriation, but also against the spirit of Kickstarter which explicitly states that "fund my life" style projects are not allowed.

Perhaps more information will come to light that changes this impression. I think, at a minimum, the backers are due a full accounting of the $122k.
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rvinyard wrote:
Kickstarter...explicitly states that "fund my life" style projects are not allowed.


This is easily circumvented by this statement:

'buggy wrote:
From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds


Establish company with KS funds, make yourself an employee of said company, pay employees with company assets. Technically, nothing fraudulent about that.

Realistically? That's another matter....

buggy wrote:
We spent quite a bit of time working on possible deals and arrangements but in the end they just weren't interested in taking the risk.


I'm hoping this means that other companies weren't willing to risk getting in bed with a failing company to publish a new game, and not that no one was willing to risk publishing the game at all due to it obviously poking fun at a leviathan of an established property. I'm still holding out an inkling of hope that maybe this game could see that light of day some day with an established publisher. It really sucks for the designers to watch their dream go up in smoke because of someone else's misappropriation, so hopefully it can all be salvaged and revived at some point.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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Thulsa Doom got killed by Conan.
Dr. Doom always loses to the Fantastic Four.
The Temple of Doom was the worst Indiana Jones movie (Crystal Skull was more a parody).

The Doom family has a bad track record.
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kaziam wrote:
Thulsa Doom got killed by Conan.
Dr. Doom always loses to the Fantastic Four.
The Temple of Doom was the worst Indiana Jones movie (Crystal Skull was more a parody).

The Doom family has a bad track record.


Except for that one time a space marine blasted his way through Hell, destroyed John Romero's head on a spike, and lived to tell about it.
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Darkwynd wrote:
rvinyard wrote:
Kickstarter...explicitly states that "fund my life" style projects are not allowed.


This is easily circumvented by this statement:

'buggy wrote:
From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds


Except, the backers weren't informed of the intent to use the funds for startup costs of launching a new company, as opposed to executing a single project to publish what was represented as a nearly final form of a game.

That's where it runs afoul. Not even Kickstarter allows projects to fund business startups, although successful Kickstarter projects have launched businesses.

Darkwynd wrote:
Establish company with KS funds, make yourself an employee of said company, pay employees with company assets. Technically, nothing fraudulent about that.

Realistically? That's another matter....

There is nothing per se wrong with it. In this case, I don't think there is enough information to determine whether there was fraud or not, or simply mismanagement.

But, when you control a company you are held to a different standard than a regular employee. That's why, even in the case of corporations or LLC's the "corporate veil" can be pierced for upper management and directors.

Comingling of funds is certainly problematic, and it appears that happened in this case.

Darkwynd wrote:
buggy wrote:
We spent quite a bit of time working on possible deals and arrangements but in the end they just weren't interested in taking the risk.


I'm hoping this means that other companies weren't willing to risk getting in bed with a failing company to publish a new game, and not that no one was willing to risk publishing the game at all due to it obviously poking fun at a leviathan of an established property. I'm still holding out an inkling of hope that maybe this game could see that light of day some day with an established publisher. It really sucks for the designers to watch their dream go up in smoke because of someone else's misappropriation, so hopefully it can all be salvaged and revived at some point.

I don't get the impression that the Hasbro issue interfered with the funding. I get the impression that the financial picture was too risky.

The rights have reverted to the designer and artists, so I would hope that it will still see the light of day.
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This isn't looking good...

Mighty Rabbit Studios wrote:

Erik, I want to make it very clear that I have absolutely nothing against you as a person. You're still one of the coolest guys I've worked with, and I standby my assessment that you're a killer salesman (and the success of your fundraising efforts proves that much) - but I believe your backers have a right to know that this isn't the first time this has happened.

Erik was a part of Joystick Labs - an independent game development incubator in Durham, NC - which formed five companies (mine included). Erik formed a company called Inari, Inc. and got $20,000 in seed funding to build a social pinball game. By the end of six months, the money was gone and there was nothing to show for it. Erik's investors for Inari got completely burned. From what we saw, most of the money went towards buying stuff on Amazon.

I backed this project with the hopes that Joystick Labs was just a learning experience, getting a board game printed seemed substantially easier than getting a video game made. I'm guessing that was a false assumption. Thankfully, I only backed at the T-Shirt level - I'm fine writing off a $25 loss. I really feel bad for the hundreds of backers who pledged $75 or more. I really hope you can get their money back, Erik.
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I view Kickstarter backing money as a gift. It's not an investment, it's a donation to someone who looks like they are going to do something cool with it, something that wouldn't otherwise happen.

Sure it's disappointing when that person doesn't make good on what they said they were going to do, but that's a risk of Kickstarter. It also happens to be a risk of every single business venture ever.

When disappointment happens, learn your lesson and move on.
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Keith Baker posted the following on his website today:

Keith Baker wrote:
Yesterday, Erik Chevalier of the Forking Path announced that he has cancelled the Kickstarter to produce The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, a board game designed by Lee Moyer and Keith Baker, which is to say, me. When Lee and I first heard this news from Erik, it came as a shock. We’ve been working on this game for over a decade. In 2011 we had it ready to go to the printer with Z-Man Games, until a change in ownership dropped it from production. Based on the information we’d been receiving from the Forking Path we believed that the game was in production. It’s a personal and financial blow to both of us, but what concerns Lee and I is that people who believed in our work and put their faith in this Kickstarter have been let down.

First of all, I would like to make one thing crystal clear. Lee Moyer and Keith Baker are not part of the Forking Path. Neither one of us received any of the funds raised by the Kickstarter or presales. I haven’t received any form of payment for this game. Lee and I were not involved in the decisions that brought about the end of this project, and we were misinformed about its progress and the state of the game.

As a designer, I want the ideas I come up with to bring people joy—not frustration, disappointment and anger. Once I sign a contract granting a company the rights to produce one of my games, I am putting my faith in that company and trusting that it will carry out production and delivery in a professional and ethical manner. I’ve worked with Atlas Games, Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Goodman Games, Green Ronin, Pelgrane Press, and many more, and I’ve never been let down until now. Lee and I don’t know exactly how the money was spent, why the backers were misled, what challenges were faced or what drove the decisions that led to the cancellation of the game. Not only did we not make any money from the game, we have actually lost money; as soon as we learned the true state of affairs, we engaged a lawyer to compel The Forking Path to come forward to the backers and to honor its pledge to issue refunds.

With that said, all that really matters to Lee and I is that our idea has led to frustration and anger instead of bringing happiness. We can’t change the past. We can’t produce the game as presented in the Kickstarter on our own. But under the terms of the contract the rights to the art and design are back in our hands, and we can at least share those. Lee and I will be producing a print-and-play version of the game as quickly as possible, and getting that to backers at no cost. You’ll have to use your own cardstock and paper, and we can’t produce the amazing miniatures sculpted by Paul Komoda. But we can share our ideas and our work, and we hope that you will enjoy it.

There is one snag: neither Lee or I have access to the list of backers and their email addresses. We don’t even know who you are, and we have no way to thank you directly. If you backed Doom, please contact me through my website Keith-Baker.com. If you know anyone who backed it, please direct them here.

This is not the end of the road we thought we were on. Neither Lee nor I know how things reached this point, and when I look at the images from the manufacturer that show so clearly that the game could have been made, it breaks my heart. Lee and I will do our best to get you the game in print-and-play form as soon as possible. It’s not what we expected or planned on, but we at least hope that you will finally be able to get some enjoyment from the game we’ve worked on for all these years.

Sincerely,

Keith Baker
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This is truly upsetting. I didn't back the game, but my heart goes out to anyone who lost money to this project. Funding a board game is not the same thing as funding a company. And quitting your job to put together a game and then absolutely failing it in this way is simply unacceptable, other people's money and the designers' reputations are on the line.

As a father of two, full-time web designer, and board game publisher, I have to say that it always bothers me to see things like this happen. We have successfully funded two games on Kickstarter. Chicken Caesar was successfully delivered and Mars Needs Mechanics is showing up at people's doors as I type this. I didn't have to quit my job or con a bunch of people to get this done.

What this sort of thing does to the collective confidence of Kickstarter backers is only bad for the community. Great games get funded on Kickstarter. I can only hope they continue to get funded from companies that prove they can be trusted, and from designers who have true passion.
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Well, one thing is for sure. Erik Chevalier is either a con-artist, or an idiot. Although, I'm leaning towards the former, based on available information up to this point. Either way, I would be shocked if someone is dumb enough to give him their money to do anything after this. I wouldn't lend the guy a fiver to get a gallon of milk.

I hope Lee and Keith can still land a publishing deal with someone down the road.
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An acquaintance of Erik's has posted:
Quote:
Mighty Rabbit Studios about 6 hours ago

...

Erik was a part of Joystick Labs - an independent game development incubator in Durham, NC - which formed five companies (mine included). Erik formed a company called Inari, Inc. and got $20,000 in seed funding to build a social pinball game. By the end of six months, the money was gone and there was nothing to show for it. Erik's investors for Inari got completely burned. From what we saw, most of the money went towards buying stuff on Amazon.

I backed this project with the hopes that Joystick Labs was just a learning experience, getting a board game printed seemed substantially easier than getting a video game made. I'm guessing that was a false assumption. Thankfully, I only backed at the T-Shirt level - I'm fine writing off a $25 loss. I really feel bad for the hundreds of backers who pledged $75 or more. I really hope you can get their money back, Erik.
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Keith Baker wrote:
... We’ve been working on this game for over a decade...

... Lee Moyer and Keith Baker are not part of the Forking Path. Neither one of us received any of the funds raised by the Kickstarter or presales. I haven’t received any form of payment for this game...

In many ways I find this the saddest part of all (emphasis mine), if it is indeed true that out of $122k+ in funding the game designer and artist (who are now releasing a PnP) got nothing.

I really hope someone picks up the title, and that releasing the PnP doesn't scare off any potential publishers.
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:


Unfortunately looks like they underestimated the costs involved. Not uncommon.



Is it just me or are these kinds of failed projects becoming more and more common and at a larger and larger scale? I'd say the Kickstarter folk should take some hard looks at these recent project fails and think about how to protect backers more and hold project creators more accountabile. Otherwise I'm not sure I see the long-term viability of Kickstarter as a business. Unless it becomes just a domain for established companies that people already trust.


Its like people thinking they can make a CCG and just instantly rake in money 12+ years after the collapse of the CCG biz. People look at KS and think the same thing. That its an instant money tree and all you need is a game with alot of glitze. How hard can that be?

Then the reality of the costs clubs them like a baby seal.
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