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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dwimmermount Update From Tavis Allison (Autarch) 1/15/13

Tavis asked me to share the lastest update from the Dwimmermount Kickstarter with my readers. The update went up about an hour before this blog post. If you have questions for Tavis, he can be reached at tavis@autarch.co  He doesn't have much free time to read forums, but he will answer your emails as best he can.

Here's Tavis' latest update:


Having the entire project in draft form is definitely an achievement. Although much delayed, the essential goal of the Kickstarter - to realize James' vision of the mega-dungeon and share it with backers - has been met. However, James' absence from backer updates, from the weekly conference calls that are the keystone of my administrative guidance, and from email or phone contact warrants concern for the remaining steps.

One reason it makes sense for James to assume responsibility for the updates is that I can't speak to what's going on with him personally. Mainly this is due to lack of information, but my desire to respect his privacy is also a factor. The last email I have from him leaves enough questions unanswered that disclosing a personal communication doesn't seem justified by the limited amount of light it would shed on the situation. Although I do have some hearsay evidence that he is alive and well and not completely out of contact with the world, I can't explain why he hasn't written to say what's up. I am doing all I can to get more information to share with you.

The other reason to give way to James is that he controls both the copyright and the funds required to complete the project. Autarch LLC has a written, signed contract with James, which assigns all funds to him in exchange for his assumption of responsibility for development of the Product and delivery of the rewards. All IP related to the product are the exclusive property of James. Autarch is not the publisher of Dwimmermount and has no distribution rights. In exchange for our services, Autarch and James agreed to cooperate in good faith to promote each other's brand and business.

In other words, Autarch has none of the funds, none of the IP, and no rights except to mutual publicity. Going ahead and releasing the product (polished or unpolished) without James' permission would be a violation of his copyright for which he'd be able to sue us as individuals. We can't get that permission as long as he remains out of contact, and I have no way of knowing how long that will continue.

29 comments:

  1. There is $60 bucks gone forever.

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  2. I seriously doubt this is an absconding. Much more likely bad health or family crisis. Don't jump to conclusions.

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  3. The draft is done? James has played Dwimmermount PLENTY over the past years, and he's been showcasing a LOT of art on G+ in previous months.

    No reason to think this won't actually be released... eventually.

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  4. I salute your optimistic attitudes. Admirable.

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  5. Yeah, I think it will get done eventually, too, and the constant piling on is a bit silly. However, at this point James is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. In other words, the motivation to get it done isn't going to involve any pleasure beyond getting it done...in fact, it will just open him up to another wave of criticism. Any one who is prone to depression / anxiety related problems knows that that's a horrible position to be in. Not absolving James of anything. He built his reputation, and he's tearing it down all on his own.

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    1. Sorry, but I think $50,000 should be enough motivation

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    2. I think for those of us prone to depression and a bit of up-down cycle (mildly bipolar), the key thing is *self awareness* - when you're feeling great, remember that there will come a time you DON'T feel so great, and take on commitments with that in mind. Unfortunately James did not appear to learn anything from previous failed projects, and took a large amount of money from people. I would hope at least he will remember this next time he's thinking of embarking on a big project. Do it BEFORE you take the money.

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  6. to be honest, i just want the play mats / maps i put in for. at $130, i'm less worried about Dwimmermount as a concept / product and more concerned about my physical goods

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  7. I put in for the $130 too. In terms of being depressed/etc... uh... think about that before taking $50K from the fans eh? I get depression. But work is work. If he's got problems health or family related not telling people is not going to win him any points. He needs to step up here.

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  8. @Joe - at the beginning of the project, when his family had health issues, James shut down and didnt communicate. That just seems to be how it is for him. Not excusing it, but he has established the pattern previously.

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  9. I am confident that it will get done eventually. That said, if he is having health or family problems, the thing to do is at least let someone know, rather than going to ground. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's noticed that he hasn't updated his blog or G+ for a month, and was worried.

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    1. i think your confidence level is just a tad higher than Tavis's ;)

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    2. Yeah, again, it's the communication bit that's most... worrying. It's very easy to be connected these days. Unless it's the Grongariad's health itself in danger and he is physically incapable of relating to the fans...

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    3. Actually I've been in touch with Tavis, since I am coming up with one of the stretch bonuses for the project (it was a combined stretch bonus for Dwimmermount and my own Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore).

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    4. Is he trying to rope you into going to the Gygax Magazine Unboxing at the Brooklyn Strat too? ;)

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    5. Oh, I roped myself into that as soon as I heard about it. :-)

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    6. Guess I'll be seeing you there ;)

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  10. While I feel sorry for them, I can't give Autarch a free pass. The KS was run by them and it certainly gives the impression that they were involved in the production of it.

    Look at the constant mentions of James in the third person and constant mention of "We", presumably Autarch.

    Their involvement likely gave the KS a big boost. James has had problems putting out stuff in the past (like that Gods book he's mentioned for years), so it being associated with a company that put out a high quality (if late) product like ACK.

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  11. While I am as impatient as anyone when I order gaming stuff (standing by my PO Box tapping my toe) I've read and followed James Mal since I got into blogging. This was the first Kickstater I backed. It sounded like fun, people had a lot of good to say about and I found myself getting interested in megadungeons at the time. Am I frustrated with the delay, sure. Do I think when someone does a kickstarter they should have it pretty much done, yep. I'm not going to speculate on what's going on with James and I do hope he and his family are okay. I would rather it take a few more months and get it right than something that's rushed out the door.

    Like Jeremy I don't give Autarch a free pass nor James. But I am not going to hold them over the fire about it. But should they do another Kickstarter I probably will take a wait and see attitude.

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  12. As an observer, this is a little bit funny in a minor traffic accident sort of way. OK it's a car smash, ok people get hurt, but they'll live. >:)

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  13. Okay lads simmer down. His Dad's in failing health. I've read his blog for years - he posts constantly and nary a bad one in the bunch. There's no paywall and he's a balanced, introspective and engaging writer. We'll get what he's working on in due time - us Kickstarter types aren't ordering a pizza; we're enabling a creative process and will enjoy the eventual output. Cut him a break. For more click http://sandboxofdoom.blogspot.com/2013/01/james-maliszewski.html

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    1. Mike, James has my sympathies. Losing a loved one is a rough time. I lost my son's mother way too early in her lifetime. Death is a heavy burden.

      Having a loved one's health fail can be worse than the actual death, as the process is long and draining on the family and loved ones. I understand what James is going through.

      All that being said, a simple note to his backers at the beginning would have gone far.

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    2. Well, my point Mike, would be how would any of us know that if no one... knows? Assume? Make up things? James could have either gotten in front of this or let the internet speculation run rampant. It's good that the information is out now.

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  14. Rather than blame James, Tavis should look upon this as a teachable moment in how to not structure business deals. He is in a very common publisher's dilema.

    I appreciate that everyone in the Dwimmermount project assumed all would go well, but "hope" is not a business plan.

    I am positive James will return to the project in due time and I am equally sure he will communicate this soon.

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  15. The other object lesson here is that a little bit of communication early and often is worth far more than a lot in front of a bunch of angry or disgruntled customers.

    I think that Tavis is doing the best he can. But at nearly $50k James needs to be sending out updates regardless of what is going on, even if it is something as simple as a Tweet once a month.

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  16. This is not the only Kickstarter project having problems. Seems several projects are off schedule due to health or family issues. I realize this is the risk of being a small
    publisher.

    Kickstarter is starting to address these issues with projects going forward, especially with their "Risks" section, and more oversight. I think constant communication is the key.

    I understand grief, and being incredibly ill, I have experienced both first hand. I do not think that a simple update is too much to ask from anyone holding several backers/patrons investment. simply state: "I am devastated by a private matter (or bedridden by a severe illness) and currently cannot make any progress on the project. I will make an effort to supply regular updates and get back on track when conditions improve"

    I feel it comes down to a need for higher accountability and commitment to regular, meaningful updates. Something I don't think is unreasonable, but something I feel is sorely lacking in most projects that get into trouble.

    Silence is deafening, and great fertilizer for rumors, speculation and accusations.

    I am concerned about this project. But my concern is that all anger and frustration is going to make things worse. I feel compelled to say that all of this was preventable/stoppable.

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    1. I actually got attacked on G+ (or at least, I was quoted and ranted on) by another publisher / writer of a Kickstarter already a year overdue and no expected release date currently given for saying pretty much exactly as you.

      If this was a "real job" James would need to tell his employer about the needs for his absence or he'd have no job waiting for him upon his return. James took money from the Kickstarter up front as pay / living expenses. That makes it "a real job". All he needed to do was let Tavis know some details of what was going on.

      I feel for James and I pray for him and is family, but two sentences a month ago would have prevented all of the drama.

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