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Subject: Connection to Serpent's Tongue? I'd be wary. rss

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Justin N
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So, thanks to the banner ad here on BGG, this KS project was just brought to my attention. I remembered this thread over on the forums for another game called Serpent's Tongue a few months back. So I perused the KS, and sure enough, they vaguely mention the connection at the end of the description page, but don't mention anyone by name. Another point of connection is Ani Pardo, who has been answering questions here about this game, and was also answering questions on the ST support forum last year, before they pretty much stopped answering questions at all.

I really hate to do this (as I'm a big fan of ST, or at least it's potential), but I would be very wary of backing this game given those connections. While ST did eventually ship the core game to backers (several years late), many of the other promises made during the campaign remain unfulfilled. Stretch goals have not been sent. The system of card redemption has never been implemented, despite them accepting shipping money for cards. The co-op RPG campaign remains unfinished and unreleased (this is particularly upsetting for many backers like myself for whom it was a primary motivation for backing the project). And, for the most part, the people running that company have abandoned it, apparently to work on this?

All that said, I'm open to clarification, but at this point I'm assuming they started a new company to avoid being tied to that project.
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Xavier Lloyd
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Thanks for the heads up. I personally went all in at the start being a big fan of the video game series but I've always had half a mind to call it quits before the end of the campaign. I'm trying to stay cautious on this one because it would be my biggest board game investment ever and would hate for it to flop.
 
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Justin N
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And I should make absolutely clear that this is just all speculation and connecting-the-dots on my part. They are (intentionally?) vague in the KS language- 'produced by people in the ST team' or something. If the other thread I linked is to be believed, Christopher *Gabrielson* (edited) is the designer, but he isn't involved in the actual production- he's just selling the design to fund the ST kickstarter goals. If that's true, I'd assume that money in the AC:RTS budget/goal is paying him for the work/IP, which he's using to finish the former game. He's been so sketchy, vague and and outright lying about the state of Serpent's Tongue, though, I'm not really inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

EDIT: accidentally wrote Peterson, not Gabrielson. That's what the next two posts are about. Thanks, people!
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btrhoads
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quixotic wrote:
And I should make absolutely clear that this is just all speculation and connecting-the-dots on my part. They are (intentionally?) vague in the KS language- 'produced by people in the ST team' or something. If the other thread I linked is to be believed, Christian Peterson is the designer, but he isn't involved in the actual production- he's just selling the design to fund the ST kickstarter goals. If that's true, I'd assume that money in the AC:RTS budget/goal is paying him for the work/IP, which he's using to finish the former game. He's been so sketchy, vague and and outright lying about the state of Serpent's Tongue, though, I'm not really inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.


Peterson or Gabrielson?

Edit: This must be a typo, right? FFG is not involved in this are they?
 
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mathew rynich
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Christian Peterson the CEO of FFG? That can't be right. Is there another Christian Peterson in the gaming world? I assume he means Gabrielson.
 
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Justin N
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Phooey. That's what I get for posting late at night while tired. Yes, Gabrielson, not Peterson. FFG has no involvement here. I'm editing that post.
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Tim Bailey
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While there is a connection, it's not a management connection. It's just some of the employees were hired to work on this, such as the game designer. Not the same people who were at fault for failing to ship the game and whatnot.

At least that's my take on it.
 
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Michael Pedersen
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From Bad Crow Games, this quote:

Quote:

Serpent'sTongue: the lead designer for Serpent's Tongue, Christopher Gabrielson, also designed this game, attempting to utilize everything he learned about game design from that earlier beautiful, over-ambitious mess (his quote). He was hired by Bad Crow games, as an employee, to further develop, license and market this new RTS game he had created.

Some other players from Serpent's Tongue are involved as producers, investors, and consultants. Bad Crow also hired Agnes as a south east asia sourcing manager, Ani as social media manager, David Whitt and Zachary Stoddard, publishers of Sakura joined the team to continue to perfect game design, Sergey Kolesnik as lead sculptor, plus over a dozen freelancers. There are a lot of skilled professionals involved in this project, but at the core there is some vestige of staff that worked on Serpent's Tongue, While that project did not get all of its extra rewards out, having run out of money due to shipping concerns, we think their involvement is a good thing, They know what they are doing, they know what a good game is, and they know what problems to avoid. They are one of the reasons why our whole KickStarter has been sculpted to be delivered on time, stretch rewards kept manageable, and the community is constantly interacted with."

More specific to your question @nicolas giorgi, 3 of the original 5 brothers. One is the lead designer, one has become a primary investor, and the third is a general helper / consultant.


Ani is connected with Chris, though I'm not sure of the exact connection. My memory is too fuzzy to say anything further. Reading the rest of their description, "Bad Crow Games" has hired quite a few people from the Serpent's Tongue project. Assuming my reading comprehension is correct, they've hired at least 4 people from the Serpent's Tongue project (Ani, Chris, and two of his brothers). Depending on the reading, there could be as many as 7 Serpent's Tongue people involved. For their first game as a company, that's a lot of people involved.

Now, here's where things get really dicey for me: Until today, I couldn't find information on this company at all (owner, management, etc). Finally I remembered something: Businesses have to register with the government. Utah's site provided me with the documentation. https://secure.utah.gov/bes/details.html?entity=9590630-0160 is the place to go to read what details are there. And if (like me) you spend $1, you can list out the management team. I'll save you the dollar, and tell you who Bad Crow Games has registered as management according to the state of Utah: Brian, Christopher, and Aaron Gabrielson.

He's not just an employee. Anything further would be speculation on my part, so I won't do it publicly right now. I wonder if this group will actually come clean before the end of the KS or not, though? At least I'm not risking my money with them. That's my consolation prize, I guess.
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Justin N
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From the Kickstarter page:

"While this is Bad Crow Games first campaign, key members of the team helped publish Serpent's Tongue, Sakura and have sourced products from over-seas manufacturers before.

We have applied every hard won lesson from these previous projects while developing Armored Core™ RTS and feel confident in our delivery date of July 2017..."

The page here lists the Gabrielson family as the designers... and no one else involved. It seems like they're more than just talent. Like I'd said, I'm open to hearing more, but I'm super wary. Too bad, because I've been playing Armored Core games since the original PlayStation.

EDIT: Michael beat me to it, and with more info. Thanks, Michael!
 
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Jason Miller
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Well crap. That sucks.
 
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Stuart Holttum
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I've asked the question on the Kickstarter page....we'LOL see how they respond, especially after the "just an employee" bit....

Quote:
Bad Crow Games said:
"the lead designer for Serpent's Tongue, Christopher Gabrielson, also designed this game....He was hired by Bad Crow games, as an employee..."
.
Can you explain then please why he is listed (along with Michael and Brian) as one of the three registered principals of Bad Crow Games with the Utah Department of Commerce? And listed as a Manager, no less?


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mathew rynich
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It certainly sounds like rebranding to me. Like when an airline has a poor safety record and decides it's better to start over as a new airline rather than carry that bad baggage. I can sympathize with the people involved, but it's hard not to take their past actions into account.
 
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Michael Pedersen
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Or when Comcast is so reviled as a company they have to change their name to Xfinity just in the hope that people won't automatically scream on hearing which company they need to deal with.
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Duncan Idaho
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pedersen wrote:
Bad Crow Games has registered as management according to the state of Utah: Brian, Christopher, and Aaron Gabrielson.

He's not just an employee. Anything further would be speculation on my part, so I won't do it publicly right now. I wonder if this group will actually come clean before the end of the KS or not, though? At least I'm not risking my money with them. That's my consolation prize, I guess.


Wow, that, to me, is a sign of bad faith, if he's indeed an owner/manager of the new company and they've made the public statement that he isn't. It also seems like it's been a campaign of disinformation, as I remember ST threads about selling a design for AC, and not being involved in production.
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Michael Pedersen
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I have just had an experience that I didn't expect in a million years.

I spoke with Aaron Gabrielson (by phone), and that conversation led me to be very glad I didn't engage in the speculation I wanted to do. It would have been disparaging to him and to his company for no good reason.

Yes, his company. He shared some details with me that have convinced me that Chris really is just an employee. He might be listed as part owner, but it's more a case of "here's some stock" than it is "here, run this company".

My misgivings above have been cleared up. I'm going to join up backing this game once I work out my August budget (so, early next week). Good luck Aaron, though I don't think you're going to need it. You sound like you've got his being managed well.

And to quote what he said in the comments for the KS itself:

Quote:
This is Aaron Gabrielson, President and majority owner of Bad Crow Games. I want to clear up the relationship between Bad Crow Games and Serpent’s Tongue. In 2012, Christopher Gabrielson produced Serpent's Tongue which was a very ambitious and innovative Kickstarter project. That project ran into trouble delivering on everything that was promised. I hired Chris to work on this game because of the hard won experience and lessons learned from that previous project. Chris is now part of a diverse team of creative talent with many years of game design experience. As part of his compensation for this project, he was awarded a minority ownership position in Bad Crow Games. As the majority owner, responsibility for financing, logistics, customer service and management of the company reside with me.

A big concern for Kickstarter backers is “when will it actually ship?” Our budgets and plans have contingency built in to ensure that we deliver this project on time. Delivering the game and all stretch rewards on time is my highest priority. There is very little design work left to do. The game is fantastic. This is the first board game with real time combat mechanics ever made. I hope you find it exciting to be on the ground floor of a new genre of board game.

To help alleviate concerns we are offering an anytime refund policy. We will be providing refunds for any reason, anytime, even after you receive your rewards.

I deeply respect the trust that is placed in us by our backers. It represents your time and hard-earned money and I am committed to not let you down. As part of that commitment, we will be providing consistent Kickstarter updates all along the way. You will get to hear about the good, the bad, and even the ugly of producing this game every month. Kickstarter backers deserve to know how the project is progressing.
I am available to answer any other questions you might have. My contact information is below.

Aaron Gabrielson
President, Owner
Bad Crow Games LLC
aaron@badcrowgames.com
435.709.2870
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Duncan Idaho
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pedersen wrote:
I have just had an experience that I didn't expect in a million years.

I spoke with Aaron Gabrielson (by phone), and that conversation led me to be very glad I didn't engage in the speculation I wanted to do.


Legit, I-don't-know question: Is Aaron one of the two brothers involved in ST?
 
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Michael Pedersen
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At the very beginning of the Serpent's Tongue kickstarter, his name was mentioned on occasion. I think I even interacted with him once or twice. But that was not his project, and if he had any involvement, it ended *very* quickly. I doubt he even visited the site after 2012. I've even looked at the site again this morning, and can't find evidence that he was there after the first few months.

That was Chris's project, and his brothers helped him get started, but that seems like that was the extent of it. Get him going, and that was it. Anything further than that would be speculation pulled out of various bodily orifices, and I'm not going to do that.
 
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pedersen wrote:
At the very beginning of the Serpent's Tongue kickstarter, his name was mentioned on occasion. I think I even interacted with him once or twice. But that was not his project, and if he had any involvement, it ended *very* quickly. I doubt he even visited the site after 2012. I've even looked at the site again this morning, and can't find evidence that he was there after the first few months.

That was Chris's project, and his brothers helped him get started, but that seems like that was the extent of it. Get him going, and that was it. Anything further than that would be speculation pulled out of various bodily orifices, and I'm not going to do that.


You mentioned before that ST involved by Ani, Chris, and two of his brothers (the initial post you made). I guess I'm trying to figure out if they're exchanging management to avoid the bad press of ST, while still essentially running things the same way. I didn't follow ST enough to know how much of it was Chris, and how much of it was his brothers.
 
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Michael Pedersen
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Fair enough.

I've tried to not go through the whole timeline, since there's a lot of bitterness between myself and Chris. We both will blame the other for quite a bit of it, while minimizing our own contribution to it. Anything I can say on that front will be misleading, though unintentionally so. For instance, I know that there were plenty of times where I wasn't as diplomatic as I could have (and should have) been. My frustration with the way things were going was the reason, but it's a poor reason. Because of that, I'm going to continue to be vague there.

The thing is that, after I spoke with Aaron yesterday (for a good 30 minutes), I do not believe that this is a case of simply hanging out a new shingle but still being the same thing. If Chris were leading this project through the manufacture and fulfillment process, I'd still be warning people away from this project.

After speaking with Aaron, though, I believe that this is Aaron's business, not Chris's. And Aaron is not the same. I felt like I was heard, and understood. I felt like Aaron wants to make sure to avoid the problems that happened with Serpent's Tongue, and has done a great deal of research, planning, and budgeting (both money and time) to precisely that end.

In the end, he helped me believe that he will do things better. And that's all I can really offer.

I believe he will do better.
 
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christopher gabrielson
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Yes I have been snarky and dismissive to Michael's comments many times over the past. I can be over-defensive, especially when a part of me knows I'm at fault, or failing in some way. I am sorry about that. Serpent's tongue is sort of an emotional project for me, and I think many of the backers. I hope to be better at that in the future.
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Jim Pooley
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Just noticed the promise of a refund at anytime.

Quote:

To help alleviate concerns we are offering an anytime refund policy. We will be providing refunds for any reason, anytime, even after you receive your rewards.


Does anyone know if this would be a full refund of all money spent?

I only ask as I dropped out of the Deadzone Mark 2 KS because it had changed too much from the orginal Deadzone and Mantic games did not refund me the whole of my money - they kept the part of my pledge that is taken by Kickstarter to 'process' the pledge. About $25 I think. It has backfired on them in many ways as I'm not touching any other Mantic stuff.

Hence, my query about "full" refund.
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Stuart Holttum
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Doesn't matter what is said - it's not binding in any way, so don't feel any more secure because it says "full", "complete", or whatever.
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Michael Pedersen
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Originally, it was going to be graded. Up to a certain point after the KS, it was 100%, a second point it was some lesser percentage, and then could drop to a third tier after that (if memory serves, I'm pretty sure there was a third tier).

While I spoke with him, he changed his mind and made it 100% at any point (if memory serves, I think). Again, I believe him. He spoke consistently of his company (not "their" company, not the company part owned by someone else, his company).

This is his to bring to completion. And he very much aims to do it.
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Jim Pooley
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pedersen wrote:
Originally, it was going to be graded. Up to a certain point after the KS, it was 100%, a second point it was some lesser percentage, and then could drop to a third tier after that (if memory serves, I'm pretty sure there was a third tier).

While I spoke with him, he changed his mind and made it 100% at any point (if memory serves, I think). Again, I believe him. He spoke consistently of his company (not "their" company, not the company part owned by someone else, his company).

This is his to bring to completion. And he very much aims to do it.


The refund is still tiered and not 100% all the way.
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Michael Pedersen
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Thank you for correcting me on this. My memory is not perfect, and I do appreciate it.
 
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