Monday, November 20, 2017

About The Tavern's Wayward Kickstarter Posts - Why "Something Fishy" Doesn't Cut it and Other Stuff

I get numerous requests to cover various Kickstarters that are late. A Kickstarter being late doesn't necessarily bring it to the level of a "Wayward Kickstarter" as The Tavern looks at it. If it did, I'd be posting such daily as the vast majority of gaming Kickstarters fulfill late. No, I dont have a percentage.

Now, while some of the requests include details such as "X is selling their release at GenCon and backers haven't received theirs yet" and "Y just got sick for the sixth time and the dog ate the only copy of the manuscript" some just want me to look at something because its late. Occasionally, I get the "there's something fishy" or "I dont trust Z" without telling my what is fishy or why they don't trust the project creator. That doesn't give me anything to go on,

I very much do need something to go on.

If you follow my Wayward Kickstarter posts, you'll notice I use a fair number of screen shots. I like to back up my findings with evidence and while opinion and likely but unproven conclusions often appear, they too are backed by a trail of evidence, even if it is only circumstantial.

Why is that? Its how I was trained. Shortly before I became a Sgt in the NYPD I was trained as a Compstat officer - statistics, crime patterns, mapping of crimes - all became my new routine. After promotion to Sgt and doing my time on patrol I was made the Precinct Compstat Sgt - preparing weekly Crime Stat books for the precinct. A year and a half later, Internal Affairs was expanding a Corruption Stat unit that looked for patterns of corruption and I was added to the team.

There is a misconception that Internal Affairs looks for dirty cops. They do, but that is not their mission. The mission is to keep good, honest cops from going dirty. To do that, you need to be proactive in addressing corruption within the department. Dirty cops need to be made an example of, not hidden away.

Do I bring some of that to The Tavern and the spotlight it shines on Wayward Kickstarters? Certainly. RPG Gaming is my community. Its where I hang my hat. I want to see the best of the best thrive. I want show the worst of the worst, oftentimes in ways that embarrass them, in the hopes that others will avoid following them. With few exceptions - #ConManKen - I don't think project creators plan to succeed in funding but fail to produce. I don't think they plan to misuse the funds and have nothing left to fulfill. Sometimes the path is a slippery one. But by keeping, as best I can, the largest failures in the spotlight I hope to prevent other larger failures.

The end result is a combination of investigative reporting backed by police investigative skills and experience and it is done because the service is needed.

I remember a few years back, some angry commenter on G plus asked me "Who made you the RPG Police?" I don't think I had an answer for that, or at least I lacked a good enough answer that I can remember it now, but I do know the answer for today - YOU made me the RPG Police. The Kickstarter Police. The GMF Police. You, The Tavern reader, that expects more from their hobby.

I have no authority aside from that given by The Tavern's readership but I have a responsibility to the community. The readership has a responsibility too, to keep me honest. It is very much a two way street. Without your feedback I'll never know how to improve and what I'm doing right - and wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.

My chills have broken so maybe I wont be as cranky this week ;)



  1. "I don't think project creators plan to succeed in funding but fail to produce."

    I'm glad you have that opinion as it's the one I have as well. I look at almost all (with some notable exceptions as you mention) as just situations where people get in over their heads and can't do what they had full intention of doing.

    1. I think of Mike Nystul, who is one of the very few to come forward and say "I fucked up. I'm a horrible businessman. I failed"

      I respect that. It might not be the answer I hoped for but its one I can respect.

    2. A lot of Kickstarter's failure rate seems to come from the fact that they let people that can't balance a checkbook create project financing proposals with zero due diligence. Or, as we called it in Texas, they hand them enough rope to hang themselves. It would take a professional maybe a morning to create a skeleton of a spreadsheet to illustrate how stretch goals and such would affect the bottom line. Your assumed numbers for costs and such could still be nonsense (GIGO and all that, happens at real companies too), but at least the reality of some rough numbers and how much *work* goes into planning a venture would keep the slackers and mouth-breathers at the children's table. Yeah, I know. I'm one of the slackers - index mutual funds are *way* easier than actually producing something.

  2. In keeping (pardon the pun) with the tavern theme, I have come to see you as the grizzled old barkeep, shrewd and exact about who one should be wary of associating or partnering with. Likewise, the barkeep has a few 'most wanted' posters under the bar to show folks who stop in -- "Look out for these guys, they're the real deal in slime"
    I also really have enjoyed your recommendations and come to seriously look at bundles or products that you endorse. Again, what do adventurers do? They ask the local barkeep! Who makes the best weapons, armour; who needs help? Who's looking for guards, or a lute player? Any rumours? "Well, I don't deal in hearsay, but something fishy is going on..."

  3. All good adventures start in a tavern. When you can trust the barkeep it really helps with finding the good things out there

  4. I hope you'll be just as cranky as you ever have been, that's what I read the blog for!

    More seriously, I think you have a unique ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, bullshit-wise. There are some kick starters I've paid into at the full funding level which still haven't delivered their rewards, years later, but I don't blame them because they're not taking advantage. Erik, you have mentioned none of these people, but I'll never forget the time you took a not-gaming exemption to point out the guy who was kickstarting for a bucket of skipping rocks with his own name carved on them, just in case you needed a bucket of rocks to replace the ones in your own head.

    TLDR: If you really want blog just like Tenkar's Tavern that focuses on your Kickstarter of choice, just publish your own blog.


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