by Ahmad Khan
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he lead game designer of “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl” and “Survarium” has formed a new indie games company, 8D Studio, and has just launched a new Kickstarter project called Sketch Tales: Play & Draw RPG Sandbox. Is your curiosity piqued? Wait till you read the next paragraph.
Alexey Sityanov (or Alex Sytianov depending on which online source you search) has indeed worked on S.T.A.L.K.E.R and Survirum games, as he proudly mentions in his introductions. However regulars over at Kickstarter will recognize him for being the producer of West Games’ Areal Kickstarter
For visitors new to Cliqist, Areal by West Games was one of the biggest, craziest, and damaging scam projects on Kickstarter this year, and along with Confederate Express has tainted the reputation of crowdfunding for a number of video game enthusiasts. As one of the dozen backers that were spreading awareness about the Areal Kickstarter scam, let me tell you it was one of the most outrageous and bizarre experience’s I’ve ever had on Kickstarter. West Games employed multiple spam-bots on the comments section in order bury any critical comments away from the eyes of new backers, they also made a list of critical backers (including yours truly) and released their personal information in the public, they accused media of being biased against West Games because they are a Ukranian game developer, and, most crazy of all, was the letter they posted online purporting to be from Russian President Putin endorsing the Areal Kickstarter.
Thankfully Kickstarter suspended the Areal Kickstarter before the funds were transferred, redeeming their creditability in the process. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic when I noticed that the former producer of Areal is back on Kickstarter. I posted in the Sketch Tales Kickstarter comments section asking Mr. Sityanov/Sytianov a question, and he was kind enough to respond.
Ahmad : “Can Mr. Sityanov please elaborate and assure current and future backers that nothing of that sort would happen with this project?”
Alexey Sityanov : “Hi Ahmad!
Thanks for your question and you investigation. Your suspicious is logical and natural. Actually, preparing this Kickstarter project, we were ready to meet questions concerning Areal. No doubts, it should happen. We even sent a message to Erik Kain – that guy from Forbes, who made such deep investigation over the Areal project, informing him about our new Kickstarter and offering him to answer his possible questions exclusively.
Indeed, I was mentioned there in that project as the team member of West Games during their campaign, which was finally suspended by Kickstarter. To my regret, I had almost no chance to share my position concerning that case, so I’ll do it now:
I knew some guys from West Games since I worked there in GSC Game World in time of ST.A.L.K.E.R. game development. They gave me an offer to work on Areal in role of the gameplay consultant – I agreed, because the concept of this game looked interesting to me. I got that offer in the middle of their Kickstarter campaign, which, unfortunately, had lots of grave mistakes. They got my advices how to fix them. For instance, don’t use the art content they used there, to create a new video, and to restart the campaign from scratch, but the studio executives decided to bring it to the end as it was, making no changes there. In result, Areal project got frozen, and we went apart from each other. I’ve got an unpleasant, but very important lesson about what is a wrong way to run campaigns there on Kickstarter.
On the other hand, Areal had the potential. I liked its idea and had a vision how to transform it into a quality survival FPS with original gameplay mechanics in best traditions of “ST.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl”. It’s a pity that it happened the way it happened. But well, what can I do with that now? I wasn’t there from the beginning, it wasn’t my idea to do what they did, and I had no power to change something there.
Now what about Sketch Tales – it is an original and brand new project, and we don’t use other games’ assets there. It’s 100% our own game, we are fully dedicated to it, and have the full control over the content we use here and which you can see in our project page here. Our goal is to build a strong backers’ community and to make a great game. We believe that only this way we should act to get something new and amazing.
P.S.: If you still have any more questions – feel free to ask them here on public, or privately.”
There you have it folks, take it for what it is. Personally I have backed the project on the lowest tier where I can get the physical copy of the game, $15 USD. Everything else aside, Sketch Tales looks like an awesome game; if it actually gets made. It looks like a first person Scribblenauts set in the Legend of Grimrock universe. However, I do not recommend pledging for any higher than that, fifteen dollars seems an appropriate price for redemption in this case.
Verdict? A suspicious project due to past associations, pledge on a lower tier or skip it altogether.
For more detail on the Areal and Confederate Express fiascos check out our previous coverage right here and right here on Cliqist. If you’d like to learn more about Sketch Tales be sure to check out its Kickstarter.
[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ahmadkhan.jpg” ]Ahmad Khan grew up playing video games. A fan of RPGs and Post-Apocalypse games, Khan instantly fell in love with crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGogo that made games like Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity a reality. He also ended up being sort of a whistle blower for suspicious crowd funding project, believing that the venue of crowdfunding should be reserved for the honest and the passionate, not for the dishonest and dubious. [/author]