Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When Kickstarters Believe Their Own Hype - or - Who the F' is "Legendary"?

Marketing is pretty much half of a successful Kickstarter. Notice, I didn't say half of a "good" Kickstarter. Many good Kickstarters fail, and those that fail probably left off some of the usual hype.

One of the danger words is "Legrendary". If they have to use the word "Legendary", it probably isn't.

Case in point:

THORVALLA a (Computer) RPG by Guido Henkel

"Legendary computer game designer Guido Henkel is ready to bring you a re-imagined approach to fantasy computer RPGs" - Okay, just who the fuck is Guido Henkel that I should help him raise a $1,000,000?

Lets see, they give him a resume such as:

"Legendary computer RPG designer Guido Henkel is the driving force behind Thorvalla. With almost 30 years of experience in the computer games industry, he has designed and worked on landmark titles, such as Planescape: Torment, Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny,  Realms of Arkania: Star Trail, Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva, Fallout 2, Neverwinter Nights and many others. Virtually all of these games have been decorated with awards across the globe as some of the best computer role-playing games, cementing his reputation as one of the industry’s premier computer RPG designers."

Great, but what did he actually do on these games? Was he the lead, or just one of a room full of code monkeys? (not trying to dis code monkeys, just asking). When the fuck did he become "Legendary?"

Remember SHAKER, to be designed by other "legendary" computer game designers? They nuked their project with nearly 2 weeks left in the funding when it became obvious it wasn't going to happen. Guido should probably hit the button now. He's at $31,000 of his $1,000,000 goal. That's 3%. He's doing $10k a day or so over his first 3 days, and funding almost always slows down as the project goes on (unless you are Reaper).

On a totally different side of the "not walking in the same frame of reality of the rest of the world" we have:

The Saga of Dragon Star & N.R.G. Core Rulebook RPG

Unlike Thorvalla, this one will probably fund, as its sitting at $8,694 with a goal of $15,000 and 23 days to go. Good for them.

Catch this piece though:


If we reach $65,000 or more in pledges by the end of day Friday, November 23rd (by 12 a.m. Saturday, November 24th, Pacific Standard Time), then Wayne Reynolds will illustrate the 9 class iconics for the N.R.G. Core Rulebook! But that's not all--each backer who, by this point, has pledged $50 or more, will receive a 28mm metal miniature of this iconic, plus a metal mini of the Cthondra, the fierce, multi-headed beast featured on the cover! And all of this will be packaged in a gorgeous boxed set!

Let me get this straight. Your goal is $15k. You set a time limited stretch goal of $65k for 2 weeks into the funding - over 4x your goal (and about 7x your current funding). I'm not sure when this goal went up, over the last few days or right from the beginning, but there are no other stretch goals and this carrot was never attainable.

Cheap and easy way to get Wayne Reynolds name attached to your project? Perhaps. Or just a cruel joke. No idea. I'm not going to call it deceptive, but it could be misleading for those that just look at the art and not the actual text (and pipe dream) attached to it.


  1. I certainly get what you are saying, but at the same time, Wasteland 2 succeeded despite not really having any concrete plans. Party based, turn based isometric combat was essentially their whole pitch, along with a funny video.

    And Brian Fargo was never really a developer, either, but a suit. He was successful because he name dropped Fallout so much.

    Granted, it was a sequel to Wasteland, which to me is probably the best computer game there is after the original X-com. But at the same time the Wizardry series was similarly extremely popular once (and still is semi-popular in Japan. The Playstation Portable just got a Wizardry game yesterday, albeit a renamed one - the Japanese developer lost the license, so slapped a different name on it), and while I never liked the Arkania games, they did have a following..

  2. Guido Henkel was the producer for Planescape: Torment- and also guy on the cover, being sufficiently scary-looking to need only a little blueface to make him pass for an immortal revenant.

  3. 'Legendary' is a pretty grandiose term. Taken at face value, it would mean that a body of information has grown up around you that others retell. It's a pretty hyperbolic term that reeks of empty PR-speak--unless, say, someone has actually written a book about you. Lacking that, warning bells are indeed warranted when such words are tossed around.


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