[dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]ode Hero was an educational game idea by Primer Labs meant to teach players how to code javascript. Its Kickstarter campaign ran from December 2011 to February 2012 for a total of 60 days. It raised over $170k. Alex Peake, the founder of Primer Labs, rallied followers to “make indie game crowdfunding history” with them, and break the $200k mark. They referred to backers as “The Code Hero Army” and challenged them to get their campaign on the front page of Reddit. The energy surrounding the project was practically feverish, as there were even talks of an MMO expansion. Unity CEO David Helgason even contributed $1,337 in support of Code Hero.

Code Hero

Then the campaign ended. Through direct donations and sales on Codehero.org, the $200k stretch goal was met, opening up the way for an MMO experience. A small prototype was released to backers with limited gameplay that included one boss. The first “official” release date for the alpha was announced for PAX Prime 2012 on July. Then in September, this was changed to the 10th of that month, with promises of a full report on PAX Prime that same week. The next update on Kickstarter? February 2nd, 2013, when a second alpha build was released, along with a long-winded apology for lack of communication. By March 2013, two more alpha builds were released that still lacked any signs of major features, Primer Labs sites were down, and backers started grumbling that Code Hero had joined the ranks of infamous vaporware. Still, the project seemed to keep limping along, as December 2013 saw the release of a beta, and a new project coordinator began a survey for t-shirt rewards.

Yes. T-shirts. Nearly two years later.

The last update on Kickstarter was April 3, 2014 from the above-mentioned project coordinator, who stated that she was leaving the project and all updates from then on would be up to Alex Peake. As if it isn’t heart-sinking enough that the project coordinator couldn’t even stick around a full year, Code Hero’s updates section goes dead, and stays that way. It wasn’t until a backer posted in the comments that a short update had been posted on PrimerLabs.com. Here is what it says:

Code Hero

I wanted to make sure I got a screenshot of it, because this “update” isn’t linkable at all, which would make it even easier for Primer Labs to conveniently erase it from their site should they feel like it. (ed: primerlabs.com is currently down.)

In case you’re wondering, the update below the one above is from December 2013 (not that you’d be able to figure that out easily since there isn’t a proper heading with time and date.) I’m really not sure what else Code Hero can say at this point. The project has been poorly managed. They also had a severe problem with hubris that led them to keep adding elements when Primer Labs could barely handle what they had originally promised. Is this latest update, made just this month, a poor attempt at avoiding a potential lawsuit? Personally, given all I’ve described above, I think that backers ought to push hard for a refund. Some already have, but the demand hasn’t been strong enough, or consistent enough, amounting to just scattered complaints here and there. If Primer Labs refuses a large call to action, then perhaps those who had invested big should consider looking for a lawyer. Sadly, I think this is the only way to get this pitiful experience to end.


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Read more Kickstarter MIA articles right here for more sad crowdfunding tales.

Amanda French
Amanda French first cut her gaming teeth by playing such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Super Mario World at the ripe age of four. From there spawned a lifelong love of video games, particularly narrative heavy adventures and open world games. A creative writing graduate of Full Sail University, Amanda writes fiction novels in her spare time. You can find her work at the Independent Author Network under the pseudonym, Illise Montoya. Amanda’s all-time favorite games include Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 2, and Tekken 5. She lives on the California coast with her husband and young baby son.
Amanda French