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Epic Minds' $70k Kickstarter cash is gone, needs $120k to finish

"Money is all that we need. Nothing can happen without money. Money is our final boss"

Epic Minds needs at least $120,000 to finish its adventure game Midora, despite having raised more than $70,000 from 3,000 people through Kickstarter in July last year.

The studio's initial plan was to use the crowdfunded money to build a version of Midora for Steam Early Access, with a tentative release window of November 2014. Around the same time, Midora's Kickstarter backers were told that the full game's release would happen in Summer 2015, and that "We don't need the [Early Access] money to make the game happen but we do need more money to make it happen faster."

That plan collapsed under the weight of technical issues - "game breaking bugs" - in December 2014, when Epic Minds also told its backers that they would be able to play a DRM-free version of the game released through the Humble Store while the Early Access version was completed. By February 2015, the Early Access version still hadn't been released, though Epic Minds offered reassurances that it was, "not far."

More reassurances followed in April, along with an acknowledgment that the studio was considering working with a publisher. By July, partnering with another developer or publisher was front and centre in Epic Minds' communications, and it now seems likely that Midora will not be completed without a partner offering financial support.

"I really have no way of showing everyone the work that has been put into finding a true partnership in the last few months, but I will say it again and again: I am never giving up on this game, and this has never been my intention," said 'Mhyre', the game's director, in an update published this week. "I will do whatever it takes to get the game I want to make into your hands. The game is complete on paper and the team has nothing but talent. Money is all that we need. Nothing can happen without money. Money is our final boss.

"I will admit that the amount needed to create this game was largely underestimated for the campaign. I knew that the game would need more than $60,000 to be made. However, like many others, I didn't think for one second we could reach a goal higher than $60,000, especially after two failed campaigns and no prior advertising. With $60,000 in our hands, it would have been rather easy to create an Early Access and go from there. That part you probably knew already, and we aren't the first to have made poor decisions... Not a single cent of that money was used to pay anything other than bills, food and development costs."

Epic Minds is now looking for between $120,000 and $150,000 to finish Midora, on the assumption of six months full-time work. According to the comments beneath this last update, Midora's Kickstarter backers have yet to receive even an alpha build of the game.

Failed Kickstarter games are no longer the cause of any great surprise, but developers like Epic Minds have more reason than ever to plan meticulously and account for every dollar spent. In June this year, the Federal Trade Commission set a new precedent when it ordered a board game designer to pay back more than $110,000 in donations after the cancellation of The Doom That Came To Atlantic City.

Thanks Kotaku.

Latest comments (9)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Sounds smelly to me. If they knew the game would cost over 200K to make, then what's the point in asking for 60.

The stated reason seems to be that "we couldn't get more", but I don't see the logic in that. If there is no solid plan in place at the start to get the game fully funded and developed, then it's just a cash grab. A wing and a prayer at best.
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Rolf Klischewski Founder & CEO, gameslocalization.com4 years ago
You could say the very same about Shemue 3... Knock-on financing and all that.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
I kind of understand this way of thinking about KS money (to a point); we were debating going to KS for one of our games and knew that we could possibly get government funding up to 50% of project costs. So in theory we could ask for half the money on KS (state in the description that we would be doing that) and hopefully get the same amount of money back to finish the game......

Though as anyone knows who has gone for government money as an SME, nothing is 100%. This is why we decided against it, but I can get why some may think they can use money to secure more money, because generally you can.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 7th October 2015 2:42pm

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Anthony Chan4 years ago
The whole concept of KS is flawed. Developers go into this looking for investors who are like-minded and will not "rip them off" like big corp would. And from that angle, I think the idea is noble. However, KS then goes forth and calls everything a donation - which does ring well with the whole idea of devs finding like minded investors who want them to succeed. However where it goes topsy turvy is the rewards and/or benefits a donations can get. People "donate" but with expectations that something is done, and they become a benefactor. When I donate to the cancer society, I drop my money in, and never look back. Of course I expect the money goes to finding a cure, but for sure there are no tier rewards for their progress. That is a donation.

KS donations are more like I give money, and I get something back - but I get a feel good feeling - which is bogus. Only difference between Big Corp and those who donate is Big Corp cares nothing about getting paid in limited edition artwork, signed boxes, and first editions; while whose who donate do. Now we are back at the origin of the problem.

The problem at the end is games take a significant amount of start up cash and subsequent top up cash to follow through - being on budget or not. Ideally most sound investments need legal structures such as escrow accounts, lawyers with agreements, and default scenarios detailing how will everything contractually play out when one side does not deliver. And because investing in games is pretty much as risky as investing in gold prospecting in Alaska, that kind of administration is needed even more. I know a lot of devs are against this kind of red tape as it has serious potential to hinder their creative control and influence over the game, and as a result KS thrived. But given, the broken back KS was built on, the situation the article illustrates should not be a surprise to anybody.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anthony Chan on 7th October 2015 5:30pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
So in theory we could ask for half the money on KS (state in the description that we would be doing that) and hopefully get the same amount of money back to finish the game......
I'm fine with that. A project should come with a complete plan, and if there are gotchas and other considerations then they should be put front and centre in the proposal. Backers will then know exactly what the risks are for them, what their chances are of getting the stuff they're expecting, and become able to make an informed decision.

If that makes it less likely a project gets funded, then that's just tough. You can't try to get money out of people by misrepresenting what the deal is - we have a word for that already.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 4 years ago
I don't necessarily see a huge problem with match-funding or top-up funding through crowdfunding, as long as you make it possible for promised rewards to actually be delivered and that would probably mean not including the game in that (because other funding may not be forthcoming).
So you can't really do this on Kickstarter, where the whole premise is built around a project producing "a thing" - Pretty sure it wouldn't qualify. But there are other platforms where you probably could (and indeed just taking direct donations if you have the infrastructure to do it.)

HOWEVER, if this is what you are doing then I feel that you HAVE to disclose that in the original pitch. Transparancy is key - If you're asking for 1m and you know it will cost 2m then it's very misleading to not state this reasoning in the pitch.
Sadly people aren't nearly transparent enough as to what percentage of the project this funds, and how much is coming from elsewhere (I'd like to see a breakdown of where the money goes in every KS campaign to be honest: they must have these numbers: why not show your workings-out?)
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
Indeed, as has been said by many before "Transparency is vitally important" on any KS campaign.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Hmmm. Did these guys have an accountant or other money manager? I"d gather if they had consulted with one before the crowdfunding or spoke to someone who'd made an indie game and realized it costs more than they thought, they might have realized they needed more funding (or perhaps a loan of some sort).

Anyway, not even having an alpha build to show off is kind of not so hot. "On paper" and not playable at this point is a bad sign. The team needs to get something done and shoot a build around to some of us folks in the media so we can at least see what was/will be coming. Lab Zero, the team behind the game Indivisible at least had a VERY playable (and very fun!) prototype up on day one of their funding campaign:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/indivisible-an-rpg-by-lab-zero-and-505-games#/
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 4 years ago
Anthony, whether Kickstarter is seen as something that's supposed to guarantee a product reward for the money you put in seems to me more a matter of how an individual looks at it than anything inherent in Kickstarter itself. I've always viewed any money I send to a Kickstarter project as a potential total loss, and I've got no problem with that. I'd rather have the opportunity to help get projects off the ground and have a fraction of them utterly fail than not have that opportunity at all. Just like a publisher, I amortize my total expenditures on Kickstarter (and similar schemes) over the projects that give me a successful return.
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