Two years ago, on 22nd October 2014, I was one of 4,689 backers of That Which Sleeps. I am also one of only two original backers to get their money back. Early in development, it soon became apparent to me that the authors had made untruthful statements in their attempts to secure funding. Now the founders have split and all their deceptions have come to light.
The detailed and extremely well presented Kickstarter opened in late 2014. It had a series of well presented videos that appeared to show a 2D strategy game, well underway, on a map using cheap and scrappy placeholder art. All the developers wanted was a little cash, $12,000 for art to complete the game.
The game, we were told, was nearly done –
According to the publicity material there was a “working game” and beta was promised for December 2014. Backers would receive a scenario viewer immediately after the project was backed.
By early 2015 there was no beta and no scenario viewer. I wrote a critical article, but was pacified for a time by the subsequent release of a terrain editor. By the end of 2015 however there was still no beta. We had been told that it was well under way, that the game had been played through and that play testers were having a great time.
I wrote another, harsher article, “Those Who Wait” two days before the first anniversary of the Kickstarter. I sent a draft to Josh and Joseph, pointing out there was an enforceable contract and seeking evidence of development. I awoke the next day to find myself locked out of the backers’ forum. The contract I had intended to enforce was ended, with a $50 repaid in full to my PayPal. Kickstarter terms allow any project owner to terminate a backer with a full refund. There were no answers to my questions.
Since then the wheels have been coming off the project. As the last year went on, the remaining backers have become increasingly restive (aside from a hard core of strange, cult-like devotees).
Joseph Vivolo, the partner whose role was the business and PR, repeatedly complained he had difficulty communicating with Josh. In April, he posted this (via RPGCodex) –
In July Vivolo finally met with Perry –
So, when back in 2015 Josh posted this –
– it was a tissue of lies. “We” did not spend a gruelling week – Joseph has never played the game. The game could not be played in any event because turns did not pass. There was never any prospect of the videos referred to being released.
In December 2016, Joseph Vivolo formally left the project in an update on the Kickstarter page –
In response to this some users have charitably suggested that they intended to make a game, overpromised and found it beyond them. Perhaps that is true and if they had said so that would be no more than an ordinary Kickstarter / investment risk.
It was not.
The King Dinosaur Games partners lied. They told the world they had a working, nearly finished game, with videos to boot. It does not exist. If it did, Joseph never saw or played it. In short, the proper thing to do now is for those who have lost money to report them to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation. King Dinosaur Games took over $85,000 on false pretences and there should be consequences for that.