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.