The week's highs and lows in PC gaming
Evan: Yog's game goes down the tubes
The failure of any crowdfunded project—high-profile or not—is depressing because it erodes the trust for Kickstarter and similar platforms in general. It makes it more difficult, even for a time, for legitimate projects to get the support they deserve. Yogventures, the collaboration between Winterkewl Games and YouTube group Yogscast, was officially cancelled this week after two years of meager updates and a beta period that the game never fully escaped from.
With hindsight, we can see that the original KS pitch made lofty, sweeping promises about the scope of the game: “You'll have control over everything from buildings and dungeons to the NPCs and mobs. Yogventures will be the ultimate modder's game where even the rules of winning and losing can be tweaked. Think adventure maps in Minecraft, only now you aren’t limited to just blocks!” The 2012 pitch didn’t, of course, mention that this would be Winterkewl’s first game, instead describing the studio as “a team of talented indie developers based in and around Hollywood, California. Their artists and programmers are long-time veterans of film and game companies - working at the highest levels of production.”
Backers threw $567,665 at Yogventures, and now they’re getting TUG as an apology. What’s maybe most upsetting, though, is the lack of responsibility taken by Yogscast. "As you may have heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures—but this is actually a good thing,” Yogscast co-founder said in an email to the game’s backers. “Although we're under no obligation to do anything, instead we're going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad you backed the project!" Except it may not be quite so clear cut judging from Gamasutra’s interesting investigation into who’s legally culpable for the Kickstarter’s failure.
Tyler Wilde: Where’s the rest of the cult?
Cult of the Wind was rushed through the Steam Greenlight process by eager voters who, like me, loved the idea of “human dogfights.” It launched in Early Access not long after it was greenlit, then left Early Access for full release a few weeks ago because the developer wanted to shake off the Early Access “stigma.” Regardless of how it came about, it’s released, and on sale, and I thought I’d find out if it’s as fun as it looked back on Greenlight. It might be! I wouldn’t know: I spent an hour yesterday sitting in the only official server, alone. There’s no one playing Cult of the Wind, or if they are, it must be organized—anyone who buys the game now and jumps in expecting to find a full server will be disappointed. I followed up with the creator, and today he shared a few thoughts on the Greenlight and Early Access process.
Cory Banks: Scammers force Riot to react
One of the coolest parts of League of Legends—especially for a guy like me who rushes towers way too early—is the huge assortment of skins available. There have always been a lot of codes floating around for these new looks, especially as promos for fan conventions and whatnot. But scammers tend to gobble these up, charging jacked up prices for codes they may not even deliver on. In response, Riot has deactivated all skin codes, effectively killing the secondary market. That in itself isn’t bad—it’s Riot’s right, after all—but it sucks to see code scalpers ruining a good thing. I’ve watched crowds of young kids swarm at PAX East for a hot new skin, and it’s a cool thing for Riot to give away. If that’s going away because a few people thought they could make a quick buck, it’s a shame.
Andy Kelly: Survey scepticism
I love Mass Effect, and I’m worried BioWare will screw it up. There, I said it. They probably won’t, but that’s the kind of paranoia that comes with loving a series. This week the studio ran a survey asking fans what they want from the next game, and this concerns me. One of the biggest mistakes BioWare ever made was pandering to the mob and ‘fixing’ the ending of Mass Effect 3. That showed a disappointing lack of faith in their own writers, and they should have had the conviction to say no, this is the ending, and you can like it or sod off. I don’t want BioWare to ask people what Mass Effect 4 should be: I want them to decide what it should be. I want them to have a clear vision and realise it. The worst-case scenario is that the new game will be an endless parade of wink-at-the-screen callbacks and have no personality of its own. Don’t ruin Mass Effect, BioWare.
Wes Fenlon: Gaiman's game proves too wayward
When I heard that Neil Gaiman wrote Wayward Manor, I didn't have high hopes—a great game written by one of my favorite authors sounded too good to be true. Chris Livingston's review confirms that the game is, sadly, not much good, but the real bummer is that Wayward Manor was developed by the team behind The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom. I adored Winterbottom—it was endlessly clever and funny and had a lyrical quality to its writing that felt very Gaiman. Winterbottom was such a fantastic puzzle game. What went wrong?
Ben Griffin: Conventional balls up
The week's various cooked-up controversies did their darndest to make my already tired eyes twitch, but when I read about the Dashcon, the now legendarily panhandled fan-directed Tumblr convention that Silly Walked into Illinois on July 11, my overriding emotion was empathy. The organisers were clearly in over their heads. They probably went to a few cons in the past and thought, ''Hey, this looks pretty easy. Let's rent out a 500-room hotel. What could possibly go wrong?" Everything, as it turns out.
Don't get me wrong, I feel for the special guests who weren't paid their fees. I feel for the hundreds of attendees pressured into donating on day one in order to keep the show running, and who were offered a paltry hour in a ball pit as compensation. (At least give them two you monsters!) But at least they had a go, and I hope they learned something from the episode. Try again next year, guys, but do it in a basement.