[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]J Tilley is a relatively well known player in the visual novel scene. Unfortunately it looks like his fame is more due to controversy than anything else. On Kickstarter he has three different accounts (AJTilley, Face2Palm, and KiritoKun) and too many campaigns to count between them. I generally don’t mind going back to the well for new projects but his history with Kickstarter is getting quite out of hand. And I’m not the only one seeing this pattern.
I won’t bother going over how much AJ Tilley has made through crowdfunding, but this recent article on VNs Now! does a great job of breaking down the finances. When taken individually it doesn’t look like a lot, but when added up it’s still a healthy chunk of change for visual novels and related merchandise. And that’s obviously not counting the campaigns that didn’t get funding or were canceled.
I bet you’re wondering why I’m doing an expose on AJ Tilley now as opposed to some other point in time. I’m glad you asked. It’s because of what was announced in the latest backers only update for Divine Slice of Life. While there are still outstanding games that need to be finished there are plans to start up another project, presumably when the aforementioned VN releases. It hasn’t been decided yet which one of three potential titles will be next and he’s gone to backers of said campaign for a vote.
Here’s the thing. Each one of these options have an interesting premise. The problem lies with AJ Tilley’s track record. It’s not exactly spotless and devoid of pitfalls. Coterie is set in a magic school where you work to become a mage. Absolute Power is about a young guy that develops super powers. My High School Crossdressing Love Affair should be pretty self explanatory. The biggest problem I have here, and I pointed it out in the comments of the update, is that he needs to focus on the titles that still need to be released before coming up with any more ideas.
Between the three accounts AJ Tilley’s ran 22 campaigns over the course of his crowdfunding career. Sure, not all of them made funding but it’s still quite a lot when you consider that most developers usually only have one or two under their belt. The most I’ve personally seen is like five total. That’s saying something.
While he’s ran campaigns for other genres, for simplicity’s sake let’s focus on visual novels and their related merchandise like the article I linked above did. If you take into account every single campaign for Sword of Asumi and the Swords of Edo graphic novel he’s ran a total of 9 campaigns plus one for Sword of Asumi 2. Echo Tokyo has five total campaigns, and Starlight Drifter, Divine Slice of Life and Beach Bounce have one each. Of course, not all of them got funded but it’s still better to see everything as a whole instead of just successful campaigns.
When you step back to take in the whole picture it’s easy to see that AJ Tilley is starting to get some flack from the visual novel community for constantly returning to Kickstarter. Especially when only Sword of Asumi and part of Beach Bounce have been released thus far. And with another one coming soon, presumably through crowdfunding endeavours but he hasn’t said so one way or another, it’s becoming harder and harder to take him seriously as a developer and publisher.
For more on AJ Tilley, you can read our previous coverage on him and his works.