Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Those Certain Kickstarters are Always "This Close" to Completion But NEVER Cross the Line

Far West has been in layout for years. Just one more chapter to go...

City State of the Invincible Overlord has been in layout for years. If it weren't those nasty tables, it would be done...

Everything by #ConManKen was always "a few more edits", "pencils are shipping the end of the month" or "all my outstanding projects will be completed by the end of July, 2017" and yet...

That's the setup.

Here's the Kickstarter terms as they are today when it comes to completion:

Kickstarter provides a funding platform for creative projects. When a creator posts a project on Kickstarter, they’re inviting other people to form a contract with them. Anyone who backs a project is accepting the creator’s offer, and forming that contract. 
Kickstarter is not a part of this contract (this is where Kickstarter washes their hands of any responsibility in ensuring the honesty of creators)the contract is a direct legal agreement between creators and their backers. Here are the terms that govern that agreement: 
When a project is successfully funded, the creator must complete the project and fulfill each reward. Once a creator has done so, they’ve satisfied their obligation to their backers. 
Throughout the process, creators owe their backers a high standard of effort, honest communication (all three of the above examples lack such), and a dedication to bringing the project to life. At the same time, backers must understand that when they back a project, they’re helping to create something new — not ordering something that already exists. There may be changes or delays, and there’s a chance something could happen that prevents the creator from being able to finish the project as promised. (usually this is mis-spent mis-budgeted funds)
If a creator is unable to complete their project and fulfill rewards, they’ve failed to live up to the basic obligations of this agreement. To right this, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to the best possible conclusion for backers. A creator in this position has only remedied the situation and met their obligations to backers if: 
they post an update that explains what work has been done, how funds were used, and what prevents them from finishing the project as planned; (this requires a breakdown of expenditures - "living expenses" is not a legitimate expense)
they work diligently and in good faith to bring the project to the best possible conclusion in a timeframe that’s communicated to backers
they’re able to demonstrate that they’ve used funds appropriately and made every reasonable effort to complete the project as promised; (we know #ConManKen used pencil dice money for film making - he said so himself)
they’ve been honest, and have made no material misrepresentations in their communication to backers; and (look at the above examples - they are poster boys for "material misrepresentation of communications to backers)
they offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward (in proportion to the amounts pledged), or else explain how those funds will be used to complete the project in some alternate form
The creator is solely responsible for fulfilling the promises made in their project. (again, Kickstarter just takes their cut) If they’re unable to satisfy the terms of this agreement, they may be subject to legal action by backers.
But there's more. If the PDFs are completed or the films are fully edited and are released to backers in digital form, then the physical products become due. When the physical products become due and there is no money to print, press, pack and ship then the accounting of monies is questioned. If funds haven't been used appropriately, the contract is violated.

By never actually reaching the finish line with the digital works they avoid the obligations to supply physical copies for which there are insufficient funds left. The project is "still being worked on" and the contract is technically not violated, thus the game continues. Well, for some more than others. Gareth hasn't updated Far West in nearly 9 months. #ConManKen hasn't updated any of his various Kickstarter projects in over a year. Damn those pencil dice are taking a long time to ship...


  1. I'm not a backer, but I've been following the "progress" of the Far West KS since 2014 (rubbernecking a train wreck). At first I thought Skarka was just terminally blocked and lying about his (lack of) progress. But I've gradually come around to sharing your opinion that he is deliberately not finishing it to avoid having to pay for the physical rewards. No matter how blocked he might be, there's no excuse for the absurd amount of time he's taken. Hell, he has apparently found suckers to freelance for Adamant. If he is blocked and really wanted to have it finished, he could just assign the job to one of them! IF he really wanted to have it finished...

  2. Being honest and saying that you spent the money on hookers and blow would get an amen from this crowd, but I don't think Kickstarter would feel the same way.

  3. I'm waiting for that ONE backer to finally say "Well, it's been over a year since hearing anything, and over several years since the Kickstarter for "X" product got it's full backing, so I decided to call a lawyer". All it takes is that ONE Backer to lawyer up, and the rest will follow in litigation.
    My other comment is this: I wish Kickstarter would stop letting these thieves from starter other projects until their existing Kicktarter has been completed and all backers have received their products. But that won't happen because Kickstarter got their money and that's all they care about.

    1. I’ve called out a few creators on this behavior. The universal reply “ KS approved it, so they must be ok with it” which is bs.

    2. Dishonest KS creators seem to rely on taking a relatively small amount of money from a large group of people. As litigation is the "Sport of Kings". It takes both time and money. I wonder if KS or another crowd funding platform would allow the raising of monies for legal fees to peruse a class action litigation against long term unfulfilled KS?

  4. A lot of us know a good civil lawyer.....

  5. Fact of the matter is, it would take someone who would want to do this just to prove a point or a matter of principle. You couldn't do it for the money, because in most cases the money is already spent. You would be left with a judgement that would most likely would never be payed out. So the person is out at least five grand in lawyer fees.

  6. This aligns with my research and opinion about the CSIO Kickstarter. I didn't back any of the others mentioned.

    Kickstarter's verbiage warns the creators about protecting their reputation.

    KS should crack down on creators and block them from starting anything new while delivery or refunds is incomplete. It's obvious that KS cares more about their cut than their reputation.

    1. The issue there is that there are a number of companies that do just fine handling multiple projects at once. Limiting companies to one kickstarter at a time is punishing those that actually have competent management and organization.

      I do editing work for RPGs, and they involve multiple stages of design involving different people. While I am editing a book, the guy that wrote it can be working on the next one, and the guys doing art can working on the previous book.

      The idea that you start one project, work on it until it is done, then start the next project simply isn't efficient.

    2. Perhaps a good compromise would be to disallow first-time creators from running additional campaigns until their first one is successfully fulfilled.

  7. I guess another barrier would be the seat of the court where you have to litigate. I assume this is fixed for KS to be some US court? If not, if you have even one German backer, they could litigate rather cheaply as the court has to assess fees on the value of the case - and I personally would think this is what you paid in yourself. This is both true for court fees and and the amount of money the lawyer can demand to handle your case (unless you opt to try get the best lawyer and pay him or her by the hour).

    What I'm saying is that the cost of bringing a case might be considerably lower and also the chance of gaining something for the single backer much higher - I mean, if the creator has some income he will probably just pay that one refund. Sweet thing is, legal fees and your lawyer's fees (to the value assigned to the case, again, not to arbitrary heights) are also paid by the loser. In other words, it would be a reasonable risk and chance of success ain't bad.

    Other jurisdictions of course have no class action suits. Germany doesn't, IIRC. And I think the point is moot anyway because if you deal with international customers you usually set a court in front of which things have to be settled. Though admittedly, KS might have only done that for cases brought against the company itself?

  8. The comedy saga that is Appendix N keeps on giving too. Hilarious excuse after hilarious excuse, but basucally all the money is gone and John Adams can't afford the postage costs.

    1. To be fair, John has delivered at least *some* of what was promised.

      Personally, while I think he got in over his head, I also think he's slowly making things right as his life allows and he has the resources to commit to the project. It may take another 5 years, but I wouldn't be surprised if Appendix N Adventures fulfills in the end.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition