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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wayward Kickstarter - Far West - Someone Gets a Refund and History Gets Revised

The Red Hands of Justice

Far West released a "Backers Only" update yesterday. It is so full of excuses and misdirections I almost felt I was in an alternate reality.

Really. It was that bad.

After nearly four years of lies, misstatements and broken promises we now have revisionist history going on. Simply amazing. If it was set in a faux Western / Wuxia mash up we'd have the game written already.

Now, to point out the issues, I need to quote from the update.
As some of you are aware, I’ve issued a partial refund (from their original level, down to the digital-only level, to reflect that they’ve been receiving digital copies of the rewards (last we were told there's a few more chapters to be worked on))to a backer who filed a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General’s office. I wanted to talk about that in more detail. 
The sole reason I went ahead and did this, rather than defend myself under the original Kickstarter terms we had funded FAR WEST under (which clearly stated that demonstrating good-faith progress towards completion [wrong - here's the section in question - Project Creators agree to make a good faith attempt to fulfill each reward by its Estimated Delivery Date.] was an indication that I was fulfilling my obligations) (https://www.kickstarter.com/terms-of-use/oct2012) is simply because I did the math and realized that I could not afford to secure legal representation in Washington. It was cheaper to simply issue the refund. 
Since the backer in question went public with this news, though, I’ve had a handful of additional requests — and that’s what brings me to this update. I’m going to go ahead and talk about the stuff which I’ve previously refused to detail, preferring that it remain confidential. But maintain that confidentiality prevents you from understanding my situation, so I’m discarding it. Even so, I would please ask that the information in this backer-only update be kept between us. (sorry - no can do - misstatements of the truth must be addressed)
In 2013 (May 8th, 2013 was the announcement -  The FAR WEST Adventure Game core rulebook will be released this Summer, first to backers of the 2011 FAR WEST Kickstarter, and then to distribution world-wide. Additional releases in the FAR WEST game line will be announced soon), I signed a contract with the UK game company (Cubicle 7) I was working with, where they agreed to fund production beyond what I’d already paid for, and to distribute the game not only to you backers, but as a game line under their imprint. 
In 2014, as you all know, I fell very ill (but he told Cubicle 7 it would be ready for release in Summer of 2013 - mere months after signing the contract), and spent about half of the year in and out of the hospital. Confident in that contract, I paid my medical bills. However, during my recovery, the company cancelled our contract -- leaving me with almost no funds to continue, or to hire an attorney in the UK to take up the breach of contract issue. I was, as you can imagine, devastated by this news. (as I am sure Cubicle 7 was when each month they were told "it will be done at the end of next week")
wait - here's an update from 2 years ago:



Look at the amazing progress. We were what, 2 weeks from digital delivery in November 2013 and then this:


Two months later and only the first 5 chapters are ready. 20 months after the January 16, 2014 update and we still have a few chapters to go. Who breached what contract?
Now thankfully, in the year since, I have secured several private investors who have made the offer to fund the physical production -- although via this arrangement, I will make no money on the commercial sales of the core rulebook. (wait - didn't the Kickstarter for Far West raise nearly $50,000? Where did all that money go?) That's fine with me -- as long as you backers get what was promised, I have no problem with earning nothing for the core book. (again, you earned nearly $50,000 less payment and Kickstarter fees - you WERE paid and have returned with a project yet to be complete 4 years later) It is my hope that the supplemental releases will push the project into the black.
 Now, I’m going to get back to work. I’ve got to finish these last few chapters. 
Up is down and left is right. I backed this train wreck for 150 bucks. I'll never get value for my money so I may as well keep my readers informed.

13 comments:

  1. "Since the backer in question went public with this news, though, I’ve had a handful of additional requests — and that’s what brings me to this update. "

    Translation: "Im scared shitless i might actually have to finish this mess, or pay the suckers back"

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  2. Do you have any data about how many errant Kickstarter creatures tout hospitalization/extended illness among the reasons for their delinquency? I swear I've read several on your blog where the dude in question talks about hospitalization and the medical bills that ate all the money that was raised.

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    1. Far West has used "con crud", hospitalization and depression to excuse it's latenesses - it's a Hat Trick all by itself ;)

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  3. I'd say I was proud that my own wuxia game got produced in about an eighth of the time it's taken him to not produce his own, but that's sort of like saying I finished a hundred meter dash in an eighth of the time it took a blind nonagenarian to finish it.

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  4. Two years from now, he's going to talk about how he *was* going to sue _you_ for copyright (wrongfully, regarding the Backer-Only update), but he couldn't afford it. Etc. etc. I see a pattern of excuses upon excuses... at least you got that custom professionally illustrated pic of you as a kung-fu gunslinger...

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    1. Beware the Red Hands of Justice

      Actually, there's some gaming potential in that. Not the artwork, that is, but there is a concept forming in my sleep deprived head ;)

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  5. Interesting he mentions Washington state. Perhaps the recent lawsuit about another errant Kickstarter got him to realize he needed to do something....

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    1. well, I know the person that requested the refund. he lives is Washington State and I'm sure pointed out Gareth's potential losses on this one.

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  6. Call it a hunch, but I suspect there is a lot more to why he's not going after C7 than _just_ lack of funds. I'd love to see the contract they signed sometime.

    That said: I don't regret going to the Attorney General at all.

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  7. I wonder if it's worth a letter to my local AG in regards to Mike Nystul...?

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    1. I was thinking more in terms of Ken Whitman. Any of you Ken backers live in Washington State...?

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    2. Why limit to Washington State? The WSAG's action set a precedent. To wit, "State Attorneys General can crack down on fraudulent kickstarters." Other Attorneys General are probably looking for a project (or projects) to go after so they can claim a bit of positive publicity.

      If you're in the US, you can complain to either your local AG or to the AG of the state where the project is based. Or both. It's free-to-use, and most AG offices have online complaint submission forms.

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  8. As for where some of the KS money went, while not directly saying it (as usual), it went to paying his medical bills. The effect of doing that is that he no longer had the money to print and fulfill.

    But wait. If you cross reference his GoFundMe (which raised over $5k), "Medical bills" also includes living expenses ("Not just the unexpected medical bills, but the regular day-to-day stuff: utilities, rent, food... ").

    Personally, though, I think he was out of money long before that. This sounds way better though... just look at the comments to the update.

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