The Manse Macabre – Only Mostly Dead
On October 18th, Rick Dakan, of Mob Rules Games announced that the The Manse Macabe was on the ropes: his programmers had quit, he was running low on cash, and his resources and options were dwindling. Last night, word started to get around that it had failed from a variety of news outlets (here and here for instance). As with most sensational news stories, quick to get out the door, they may have missed the bigger picture; it appears the fans and supporters are stepping up to give this game, currently in a feature complete alpha state, a new lease on life.
Now, on to the details.
(Fund The Wardenclyffe Horror!)
Mob Rules Games is hardly the only project that will fail to deliver on the expectations of their backers. In this case, reading about the detailed write ups that Rick provides, it seems that they had neither the time nor the budget to accomplish a game of this scale. I imagine that this will be a common enough problem in the months and years to come. What isn’t common though is the way that Rick came to his backers and fessed up, laying himself bare for the scourging that he was sure would come, telling his backers:
This has been an emotionally rough couple of months for me, as I’ve invested almost all of my time for the past year or more in Haunts, along with my own money and reputation. It’s been terrible to watch it fail despite best efforts, but the failure is mine. There are scores of decisions I’d make differently if I had to do them over, and there were bets I made knowing the risks that haven’t paid off like we needed them to. I have failed to update because things were constantly going from bad to worse and then we started to see some rays of hope and I was hoping for something more concrete in the good news department. My obligation to all of you generous Kickstarter backers is foremost in my mind and I have not served you as well as I should have.
I will turn over my share of any future revenue from the game to whoever manages to get it finished, fun, and out to you. We have spent all the money we raised, but I will personally refund out of my own pocket anyone who wants to withdraw their support, no questions asked. We’re going to make this game, and if you can hang on for what looks to be a long road ahead, we will get it finished, but that’s not what I asked you to sign up for and it’s not what you gave us money for. email me directly through Kickstarter if you would like your pledge refunded.
This is a singularly classy moment in my mind; this is how all situations of this sort should be handled – with accountability.
Rick’s backers then went on to surprise him, largely offering him understanding and offers of support ranging from support and forgiveness to help with programming. Reading the comments is actually quite touching. One backer, Xyem, who best summed up the mood of the backers’ comments said:
This whole thing actually makes me proud to be a part of this project, even though I am just a backer.
From Rick’s absolute determination to get this game done, to the gracious understanding of the backers when things have gone wrong, to the mass of offers of help and suggestions… Haunts seems to already have a great community.
Though we all want the projects we back to succeed barring that, this is the best case scenario. I often talk in these posts about how important community is in Kickstarter – that you aren’t just pre-ordering a product, that you are investing in a team, and an idea. This situation really bears that out. I hope that Rick’s backers are able to help him see this project through, and that The Manse Macabre lives to see the light of day. I will of course have more news on the subject as it develops.