Brad McQuaid restarting Pantheon development, this time with a team of unpaid volunteers

When your Kickstarter fails and your money runs out, two options present themselves, if you're determined to get your game made. You could try to fund the project through other means, or persevere regardless, paying the bills in other ways while you work on the game in your spare time. After the Kickstarter for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen drew up short back in February, designer Brad McQuaid tried the first approach, bypassing Kickstarter's safety nets with his own Kickstarter-like crowdfunding campaign that would keep every cent pledged, even if it wasn't enough to make Pantheon a reality (or to attract the attention of potential investors, which is mentioned as a goal in the latest update). That money, inevitably, ran out, and development of Pantheon soon ground to a halt. For most developers that might mean the end of it, but McQuaid is so determined to make Pantheon happen that he's now recruiting a team of unpaid volunteers to develop the game.

As announced by McQuaid in a new blog post entitled "Re-building Pantheon Part 1":

"The game is entering a new phase right now. We need to put even more together about the game for the community and for, in the near future, potential investors. As mentioned earlier, development of the game continues, albeit right now at a slower pace. We are looking for volunteers who can help us during this phase and, if everything works out as planned, we hope that some of the volunteers will be part of this new team going forward. So development continues, that development will be shown to the community, and one of our goals (along with continuing to make the game of course) is more to show potential investors in the next 1-2 months."

"First, team members will begin as volunteers. This is because 1. we don't have the funding right now to pay, 2. we're a little weary and concerned about setting a bunch of people up as remote, paid contractors like we did when this project started, and 3. because since these people are not necessary local to VRI's home base in San Diego, we need to take the time to get to know each of these volunteers, spending time with them on teamspeak or skype, having them deliver some assets for evaluation, etc."

It's unpaid labour, essentially, with the suggestion (not even the promise) that these volunteers might become part of the development team proper at some point in the future, an act that will presumably see them getting paid for their work. McQuaid seems pretty upfront about the whole thing, but after raising over $148,000 from backers via his own fruitless Kickstarter-like program, looking to that same community for unpaid game developers strikes me as one of the most depressingly exploitative things I've seen in this post-Kickstarter age.

Providing unpaid labour for a game that may never see the light of day might sound like a bum deal, but there are a depressing number of positive comments under that blog update, suggesting McQuaid will have little trouble shoring up a new team. If you're considering it, I'd urge you not to sell yourself or your chosen profession out: unpaid labour is still unpaid labour, even if it's working on a project that interests you, or if there's a moderately famous name attached.

Thanks, Joystiq .

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.