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A Lesson in Kickstarter Naivety

As players and backers wait for actual games to emerge, the wrong pitch can make it awfully easy to get caught in the Kickstarter crossfire.

Illinois resident, aspiring game designer and remote martial arts teacher Paul Fullard became a lightning rod for anti-Kickstarter sentiment when he launched his proposal for a “multi-platform video game release" this month.

"Since I'm still currently working on a video game," read the pitch, "I can't really give you any specific details about it until I finish working on it; but I can give you 3 hints about what video game I'm making."

The rest of Fullard’s Kickstarter proposal was just as vague, mysterious, and baffling as its title suggests. The negative response driven by a feeling Kickstarter had given up on filtering projects, and fears the disruptive promises of Kickstarter were already being squandered by blatant opportunists.

Fullard is not the only one who looked towards Kickstarter as a way of funding his dreams.

Fullard, a graduate from Westwood College with a bachelor’s degree in game art and design, was asking for $1,500. He only reached $13.37 via three backers before he pulled it down.

Gone but not forgotten. It didn’t take long for people to begin passing around a YouTube video of him performing capoeira, which was, yes, part of his backer rewards. His day job includes remote network security and martial arts training.

Kickstarter and video games are in a weird place right now. Many games are funded but not many exist, and that won’t change for months, if not longer. It’s not surprising to see some backlash.

I was one of the people throwing tomatoes in Fullard’s direction, too, publicly lamenting on Twitter about a lack of filtering.

Turns out Fullard is a pretty nice guy, and accusing him of naivety, not opportunism, may be more accurate.

“I decided to go the route I did because I thought people might enjoy trying to figure out some early details about my game while waiting for the game to be finally revealed at a later time,” he told me. “[...] Obviously that wasn't the case with my Kickstarter project.”

In Fullard’s eyes, he was the one protecting himself from opportunists.

It didn’t take long for the Internet to realize the “classic sports video game that was made 40 years ago” he planned on updating for this project was Pong. Fullard confirmed that suspicion was true.

Kickstarter did not pull down Fullard’s project, though a staff member did inform him that several users had flagged the project as a scam. The same staff member did advise him to cancel and reformulate. Once his game is further along, and he can show off the game, he plans to start a new Kickstarter.

The service itself did not apologize for Fullard’s project making it onto the service, and said it fell in line within Kickstarter guidelines, all of which are outlined on the Kickstarter website.

“Unless a project violates our guidelines, it will remain on Kickstarter,” a representative told me. “This is not intended as an endorsement of the project, but rather a reflection of how our community ultimately decides which projects receive funding.”

The rep recommended users keep a close eye on projects before contributing, and taking into account how much a project is asking for, whether or not they appear in their pitch video, and how responsive the creator is. In a nutshell, “exercise common sense.”

The amount of money getting tossed around on Kickstarter makes it an awfully attractive place to pitch an idea, and roll the dice. Just because Kickstarter accepts it, though, the community might not.

“The valuable lesson that I learned from this experience is that I would be better off only creating Kickstarter projects for games that I've already finished working on in the future,” he said. “That way I won't feel obligated to keep any of the details secret.”

Even though Fullard cancelled his Kickstarter, he’s still honoring the rewards for his three backers, and if anyone is interested in learning martial arts from him through a web cam, he’ll happily oblige. Weapon training is optional.

As for the game itself, he expects to finish it in a few months, and then launch another Kickstarter.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek

Illinois resident, aspiring game designer and remote martial arts teacher Paul Fullard became a lightning rod for anti-Kickstarter sentiment when he launched his proposal for a “multi-platform video game release" this month.

"Since I'm still currently working on a video game," read the pitch, "I can't really give you any specific details about it until I finish working on it; but I can give you 3 hints about what video game I'm making."

The rest of Fullard’s Kickstarter proposal was just as vague, mysterious, and baffling as its title suggests. The negative response driven by a feeling Kickstarter had given up on filtering projects, and fears the disruptive promises of Kickstarter were already being squandered by blatant opportunists.

Fullard is not the only one who looked towards Kickstarter as a way of funding his dreams.

Fullard, a graduate from Westwood College with a bachelor’s degree in game art and design, was asking for $1,500. He only reached $13.37 via three backers before he pulled it down.

Gone but not forgotten. It didn’t take long for people to begin passing around a YouTube video of him performing capoeira, which was, yes, part of his backer rewards. His day job includes remote network security and martial arts training.

Kickstarter and video games are in a weird place right now. Many games are funded but not many exist, and that won’t change for months, if not longer. It’s not surprising to see some backlash.

I was one of the people throwing tomatoes in Fullard’s direction, too, publicly lamenting on Twitter about a lack of filtering.

Turns out Fullard is a pretty nice guy, and accusing him of naivety, not opportunism, may be more accurate.

“I decided to go the route I did because I thought people might enjoy trying to figure out some early details about my game while waiting for the game to be finally revealed at a later time,” he told me. “[...] Obviously that wasn't the case with my Kickstarter project.”

In Fullard’s eyes, he was the one protecting himself from opportunists.

It didn’t take long for the Internet to realize the “classic sports video game that was made 40 years ago” he planned on updating for this project was Pong. Fullard confirmed that suspicion was true.

Kickstarter did not pull down Fullard’s project, though a staff member did inform him that several users had flagged the project as a scam. The same staff member did advise him to cancel and reformulate. Once his game is further along, and he can show off the game, he plans to start a new Kickstarter.

The service itself did not apologize for Fullard’s project making it onto the service, and said it fell in line within Kickstarter guidelines, all of which are outlined on the Kickstarter website.

“Unless a project violates our guidelines, it will remain on Kickstarter,” a representative told me. “This is not intended as an endorsement of the project, but rather a reflection of how our community ultimately decides which projects receive funding.”

The rep recommended users keep a close eye on projects before contributing, and taking into account how much a project is asking for, whether or not they appear in their pitch video, and how responsive the creator is. In a nutshell, “exercise common sense.”

The amount of money getting tossed around on Kickstarter makes it an awfully attractive place to pitch an idea, and roll the dice. Just because Kickstarter accepts it, though, the community might not.

“The valuable lesson that I learned from this experience is that I would be better off only creating Kickstarter projects for games that I've already finished working on in the future,” he said. “That way I won't feel obligated to keep any of the details secret.”

Even though Fullard cancelled his Kickstarter, he’s still honoring the rewards for his three backers, and if anyone is interested in learning martial arts from him through a web cam, he’ll happily oblige. Weapon training is optional.

As for the game itself, he expects to finish it in a few months, and then launch another Kickstarter.

Staff
Posted by cabelhigh

Werd.

Posted by Soulblitz

The whole thing basically read as "Give me money for a game but I don't know what it is yet." So weird.

Posted by mnzy

THIS WAS REAL? 
 
I thought this was a clever joke, mocking some of the worse Kickstarter campaigns for video games. 

Online
Posted by DCam

: It sounds like he knew he was going to make Pong, but wanted people to guess that.

Posted by SeaMoose

He probably didn't get any more backers because $13.37 was just too perfect.

Posted by RedRocketWestie

The most damning thing, to me, was the lowball fund number. For what he was attempting to do, it seemed like a pittance, which screams "easier to fully fund and take all the money" to a skeptical eye.

Posted by LordAndrew

I thought that image was a joke. Huh.

Edited by Sidfiou

I can understand not wanting to give specific details on the game you're trying to create. Once they become public, you run the risk of intellectual theft.

The thing is, you're trying to appeal to investors looking to back your game. Ambiguity is not going to help in these situations. Without a distinct and reputable personality in the industry to back your game idea up (like Tim Shaffer and Double Fine), your pitch is going to seem like a scam. Unfortunately, this project willl have to serve as a lesson to others.

Posted by gbrading

He has only himself to blame. Naive? More like simply very stupid. Nobody is going to back a project without details.

Posted by Toug

It seems like the real problem with Kickstarter here is that people are looking at it as something they can do instead of making a business plan, as opposed to the kickstarter being the business plan. Just saying "hey can I have some money" without really thinking it through any further.

Posted by Sparklykiss

@RedRocketWestie said:

The most damning thing, to me, was the lowball fund number. For what he was attempting to do, it seemed like a pittance, which screams "easier to fully fund and take all the money" to a skeptical eye.

Yeah, that's what I noticed and thought.

And I fully remember this from Patrick's Tweet. I remember scoffing at his page and calling him a scam artist. Uh, woops?

Moderator
Posted by murisan

Oh, that video.. cringe.. he seems like a super nice dude but.. gaaaahhh.

Posted by TorMasturba

Doing things in the public eye requires more thought, he's definitely learned this lesson the hard way.

Posted by Pixel_Kaiser

This kind of makes me sad. I mean yeah, he is naive, but I can't fault the guy for wanting to do what he did. He seems to have taken it like a champ though.

I don't really fault Kickstarter either, their guidelines seem pretty legit and I hope everyone had the common sense to not seriously donate to funds like this in the first place. The three backers he got were hopefully jokes or friends or something.

I kind of get the feeling, though, that Patrick is leaning a bit too heavily into the Kickstarter skepticism lately. We won't know for sure how successful the program is for the game industry until actual games start getting released, but I don't see the harm in having hope in it. The negativity surrounding Kickstarter games lately seems like a knee-jerk reaction. Let's have some positivity in the game business for a change!

Posted by Figcoinc

@SeaMoose: Oh wow, it was perfect. I really did not notice. Haha!!

Posted by NaDannMaGoGo

Well, don't even know what to say about this, granted this article is written in a somewhat weird way too ;P

I don't feel pity for that guy, he just did something so damn naively, that I'd be shocked if he got through with that, angry even seeing low quality project presentation like this succeed.

And yeh, stuff like this was supposed to happen, but this doesn't even matter.

What's going to matter a lot more is the first well funded and well regarded project take a nose dive. There are so many projects that one has to imagine it's just a matter of some more months. Game development ain't an easy and much less a predictable process after all.

The market will balance out eventually and do a good job at filtering what's worth and what isn't. And when we see a bunch of great games within the next 2 years, based on kickstarter funds I must imagine the model will continue to exist just fine.

Posted by Doomduck

Good article, Patrick! It was interesting to hear his side of the story.

Posted by BonOrbitz

Talk about poor planning and execution. At least inform the potential backer what the $1,500 is specifically going to besides "I'm going to make a game!" Software? An upgrade for your computer? A thousand bucks worth of pencils and sketch paper?

Edited by Saganomics

Word. I liked playing as Eddy Gordo, too.

Posted by TheBrainninja

I feel sorry for the guy, but he picked the wrong pitch at the wrong time; I hope he can make his game and establish a reputation for himself. Because really, that's the main capital on Kickstarter - no one would've backed the DFA if it weren't for, well, DOUBLE FIIIIIIIIIINE, and I certainly wouldn't have backed Republique if it weren't for Ryan Payton and all of the information they put out about the project.

It didn't help that that other Kickstarter scam was just freshly in peoples' minds. Best of luck to this guy, and to any other legitimate game devs trying to make their way on a tough internet.

Posted by clstirens

As someone who actually has a team built together, a team which has been working diligently to create a prototype build for our game, this sort of thing makes me incredibly sad.

Based on the details, it looks like he was just naive, but either way the increasing amount of distrust for Kickstarter projects has made our goal of posting our project on the site FAR more uncertain than it was before.

Posted by BonOrbitz

@TheBrainninja said:

I feel sorry for the guy, but he picked the wrong pitch at the wrong time; I hope he can make his game and establish a reputation for himself. Because really, that's the main capital on Kickstarter - no one would've backed the DFA if it weren't for, well, DOUBLE FIIIIIIIIIINE, and I certainly wouldn't have backed Republique if it weren't for Ryan Payton and all of the information they put out about the project.

Holy shit, I think Republique is actually going to make it! Awesome.

Posted by I_smell

I like Patrick's writing style, in that why WOULDN'T you want a link to his capoeira training service. Someone might be interested!

Posted by Ravenlight

@bonorbitz said:

Talk about poor planning and execution. At least inform the potential backer what the $1,500 is specifically going to besides "I'm going to make a game!" Software? An upgrade for your computer? A thousand bucks worth of pencils and sketch paper?

Seems like a good deal if shipping is included in that price.

Posted by siln

@TheBrainninja said:

I feel sorry for the guy, but he picked the wrong pitch at the wrong time; I hope he can make his game and establish a reputation for himself. Because really, that's the main capital on Kickstarter - no one would've backed the DFA if it weren't for, well, DOUBLE FIIIIIIIIIINE, and I certainly wouldn't have backed Republique if it weren't for Ryan Payton and all of the information they put out about the project.

Holy cow, I didn't realize Republique was going to be a photo-finish. They may actually fund if they can keep it up in these final hours.

Kickstarter is pretty wild west stuff. But it seems that there's plenty of time for sleuthing of suspicious projects.

Posted by VibratingDonkey

So far the community has been good at being discerning and weeding out the dubious stuff, but I think Kickstarter should take a bigger responsibility. They do have people reviewing projects before they put them up right? Stuff like this getting through doesn't do anyone any good.

Edited by SerHulse

I think there should be a rule for letting Video Game projects get funded through Kickstarter, that prevents anyone without at least an very well written design document, or an actual working prototype, (or just maybe being able to prove there is actually the structure in place to make the game once funding comes through, you know, an actual team) from starting a campaign.

This guy, and others, may be well intentioned, and actually want to, and plan to, release their finished product, but without a solid foundation on which to build, all that will happen is people will believe it to be a scam right off of the bat.

I get that maybe it's not possible due to time or budget restraints to meet these goals for your campaign, but if that is the case then unfortunately they can't run a Kickstarter campaign.

While Double Fine Adventure and Wasteland 2 are great success stories and popularised this method of funding (which is equally great) we can only expect more and more opportunists whose hearts, again, may be in the right place, but are going into this expecting to easily receive funding based on an idea, rather than an actual "thing" whatever that may be.

Posted by CJduke

I'm confused about this whole thing. Isn't the point of kickstarter to help give people money so they can make the game they want to make? If this guy already has the resources to build a new pong game, what does he need a kickstarter for? Doesn't hiding what your project is defeat the purpose of kickstarter since people are giving you money so you have ability to make the game you say you are going to make, because they like the sound of it and want to play it? It sounds like this guy just needs some form of advertising, or a good way to distribute his game once it releases. I'm not trying to shit on him, I think his game sounds like a neat idea and I would like to see it, I'm just confused by the whole scenario.

Posted by Autechresaint

Republique is getting close to funding? WTF. A 500k IOS app.. They only added the pc port when they saw they weren't getting the funding they wanted..what makes anyone think they can do the PC and other ports on the same original budget they were asking for initially?

Posted by Ghostiet
@TheBrainninja said:

I feel sorry for the guy, but he picked the wrong pitch at the wrong time; I hope he can make his game and establish a reputation for himself. Because really, that's the main capital on Kickstarter - no one would've backed the DFA if it weren't for, well, DOUBLE FIIIIIIIIIINE, and I certainly wouldn't have backed Republique if it weren't for Ryan Payton and all of the information they put out about the project.

"We'll fly you out to Camouflaj HQ, have you play the entire game, give feedback to the team, then go out for a nice dinner on the house. (Plus all previous reward tiers.)"

I wish I had 10,000$ on my hands right now.

Posted by umdesch4

Well, looking at the comments on that kickstarter, it looks like he was trying to raise $1500 for a Unity license, and somebody filled him in that it wouldn't be enough to develop for all the platforms he was claiming he wanted (more like $4500). He confirmed that this was the case, and he had made an error...

It took me 15 minutes of digging around online to determine how Unity licensing works for myself, so I don't have a lot of faith in this guy's ability to even do basic research before asking for money. That's just asking to fall on your face right out of the gate, IMHO.

Nice guy or not, I wouldn't have funded this one.

Edited by MrBoBo

Sounds abit up his own ass. Kickstarter is about open communication. Not some dickwad who thinks he is the end of all ends.

Posted by Cyrisaurus

$13.37

Old school interneters.

Edited by MrBoBo

@clstirens said:

As someone who actually has a team built together, a team which has been working diligently to create a prototype build for our game, this sort of thing makes me incredibly sad.

Based on the details, it looks like he was just naive, but either way the increasing amount of distrust for Kickstarter projects has made our goal of posting our project on the site FAR more uncertain than it was before.

I think it's good. If you have the credentials, enough material to give an idea or even a demo or early built it makes the prospects much better. If you come on with nothing, some vague bullshit and act like it's a super secret even to the fucking people you are selling it too, then you (as in he) is stupid. It's basically Dragons Den. Now and again you get someone come on with a shit idea and nothing to back it up.

Posted by TadThuggish

Could not care less about Kickstarter by this point. I funded Double Fine because they were good folks with a proven track record who needed support, not Bob Bobson who wanted to make "uhhh a video game i dunno lol".

Posted by JayHitcher

Excellent write-up, Patrick.

For all of the excellent projects that have been getting funding through Kickstarter, there've been quite a few scams and blunders along the way. Mythic: Gods & Men comes to mind, as well as The Arkh Project (though the latter doesn't involve Kickstarter, it's the same deal with people without game-making experience without an actual design doc asking for money, along with a whole other group of... unsavory things related to the team and their use of the money).

Kickstarter is a great service and all, but it'd be great if the people who worked for it were willing to be more helpful in terms of recommending whether or not someone should actually start one (as they did when they intervened with Fullard).

At the very least, David Liebe Hart's got funded, and that's the probably the best thing Kickstarter will ever do.

Posted by octa

Kickstarter is getting a softball in this article. Videogame or not, this was a terrible pitch. It's baffling that Kickstarter wouldn't enforce a higher quality standard before anyone saw it. I mean, they only get paid if the project is successful right? If they don't get their act together, this is just going to end up a passing fad very much like that "pay a penny for a webcomic" thing that came and went several years ago.

Posted by Thoseposers

Isn't getting a degree in game art and design considered bullshit these days?

Posted by Xaviersx

Kickstarter is one route. Sometimes it's not the right route or the right now route.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

So far I've got 4 Kickstarters that I've dropped money into: The Double Fine Project, Wasteland 2, Grim Dawn, and Carmageddon Reincarnation. All of the people working on these games have solid pedigrees and great games under their belts already, so for my $15 or so, I'm willing to pony up ahead of time for what I hope will be a project that will bear fruit.

I appreciate that skilled, veteran developers are trying to bring back beloved favorites without having to beg and bargain with publishers to make it happen. If one or two of these project fail and fall to the wayside because of unforeseen circumstances, I'm not going to worry about it too much. Kickstarter hasn't ever been portrayed as a guarantee that a product will ship, only a way to support the possibility. I still think it's awesome, and if more developers pop up in the future with a desire to bring back past classics that I loved, I'll probably chip in again.

Posted by Jolt92

Eh, that dude seems okay. Hope he picks a better time to kickstart his project next time!

Posted by EthanML

Isn't it 'naiveté?

Also: Lol.

Edited by Helios1337

I'm confused, you stop writing news articles about Kickstarter based games...but then you write a news article about a completely non-existent Kickstarter based game? How about a Kickstarter round-up or something.

Posted by muthachugga

I'm glad you delved a bit deeper into this story Patrick. This looked like a total scam at first. But, he really didn't know any better. It seems like the majority of kickstarter projects come from organizations and peoples experienced with idea/product development. In other words, people that should kinda know how to fund projects through more traditional means. But, the people that i want to think kickstarter was made for are this kinda of guy. They have an idea that interests them. They believe that they can fulfill that idea. And, they have no idea how to finance it. People are gonna put stupid stuff on kickstarter to try and weasel some cash. But, what if there are amazing things on there that we all poo poo cause "the pitch" isn't professional in appearance. HELLO, McFLY! If they were professionals, their pitch would be aimed at some suits and not the crazy ass internet.

Posted by Viking_Funeral

@TheBrainninja said:

It didn't help that that other Kickstarter scam was just freshly in peoples' minds. Best of luck to this guy, and to any other legitimate game devs trying to make their way on a tough internet.

I was waiting for a mention of that actual Kickstarter scam to be mentioned. I have to imagine people are going to be a lot more skeptical of projects at this point, especially anything vague, promising the moon, or without a known name attached to it.

Posted by Winternet

You guys think Republique is going to make it?

Posted by ReaganStein

That video made me feel so depressed after reading the story...

Posted by langdonx

Capowhatthefuck is he doing?

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