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A Kickstarter Comeback Story, Or Something Else Entirely?

GOO_LogoAnother Kickstarter-based controversy has come to light, thanks to some observant forumites over at rpg.net’s TRO board.  This time, it has nothing to do with Kickstarter itself.

This time, it’s all about the person at the helm.  Peek below the fold for the skinny.

Guardians of Order (GoO) was a Canadian game company, most famous for it’s classic, anime-inspired title, Big Eyes, Small Mouth, as well as for distributing the much lauded Nobilis.  Such was the quality of GoO’s work and apparent credibility, that they even had the rpg rights for George Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, and other cool properties.  At the heart of the company was owner/operator Mark MacKinnon–a gaming wunderkind, and apparent success story in an industry fraught with failures.  He turned out decent product, (almost) on time.  He was an evangelist within the industry and a strong voice at the interface of indie publishing and big leagues gaming.  He was respected, and he deserved it, for the most part.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this if the train had stayed on the rails…

In 2006, a bankrupt GoO closed after a decade in business.  And lets be honest, that is a fact of life in the tabletop gaming industry.   Companies come and go, and the gaming world keeps on turning.  However, GoO left freelancers unpaid, accepted money for product that was never delivered, and likewise accepted funds from indie authors looking to leverage GoO’s clout through the company’s Magnum Opus program–all while seemingly aware of the impending closure of the company.  Steve Trustum, blogger and head of indie publisher Misfit Designs, has recounted his personal story of losses suffered due to GoO’s collapse, and it’s telling.  Hell, David and I had been having a back and forth with MacKinnon over joining the Magnum Opus program, though we were spared the same fate because the company dissolved before we committed.  Needless to say, however, Trustum isn’t the only person with a grievance against GoO’s management.

Well, after some years below the radar, MacKinnon has resurfaced as Dyskami Publishing in this Kickstarter for a new boardgame.

So, what’s the big deal?

Honestly, I’m still trying to work that out for myself.

On one hand, it appears to me (based solely on factz from the interwebz), that GoO knowingly accepted monies and deceived well meaning fans and creators.  That said, I’ve never heard GoO’s side of the story (for legal reasons, no doubt).  Still, when I look at Steve’s post, I can’t help but think “that coulda been us.”

Also, I will never forgive them for not giving me a new edition of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game.  Bastards.

On the other hand, I have to say that the project looks… pretty good, actually.  Clear value across the pledge levels.  Plausible stretch goals.  Cool fiddly bits.  And none of the red flags that say, “This is a bad project that won’t deliver.”  The only problem is MacKinnon’s reputation.

For my part, I won’t be backing the game.  However, my decision isn’t so much because of the legacy of GoO (though I am really, really angry I never got my ADRPG 2Ed.  Like, I’m still furious.  Srsly).  At this point, I’m choosing not to back because I don’t care for the premise of the game, to be honest.  That said, the project itself seems sound, and I’d hate to deprive the other creators of a chance to do something cool, even if MacKinnon (is/was [maybe]) a cheat.  There are such things as second chances, after all.  Still, I’d give this one a “buyer beware.”  If things go south, I wouldn’t expect a refund.

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This entry was posted by Chris Avery.

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