Here’s an interesting one. Back in December 2012, Kickstarter project Forsaken Fortress reached its funding goal, with 3,535 backers pledging $121,096 towards the development of the game. Forsaken Fortress was pitched as a 3D isometric RPG with a post-apocalyptic aesthetic. It’s not hard to understand why the project reached its goal. That sounds like a perfectly cool game to help bring to life, even if it did require a small leap of faith due to it being the first title from developer Photon Productions.
However, after securing funding for the game, things took a very, very weird turn, as is often the case with crowdfunded projects.
Firstly, the US-based developer decided to develop the game in China in order to minimize the cost of labour. Secondly, the entire scope of the game was then changed into something altogether more ambitious. Rather than being a 3D isometric game, Forsaken Fortress would be a full-on 3D open-world game.
Needless to say, this angered a lot of backers. A game of such magnitude would use up far more resources, and so the money donated by backers wouldn’t go as far. More importantly, the 3D isometric game they had put money towards was no longer being made.
Additional features, changes, and improvements are usually welcome ways to spend backers’ money. After all, you’re simply adding more to the promised game in order to make it better. In this case, however, it could be argued that the entire genre and concept of Forsaken Fortress had been changed, and this new concept would be made using the money raised for the original concept. Shady, indeed.
Some backers accepted these changes made to the original plan. Some backers were furious. Then things got worse. Much worse.
In April, 2014, Photon Productions posted a backers-only update to the game’s official Kickstarter page:
I just uploaded v1.02, which should have some major bugs fixed. Sorry it is still mediafire for now. I pretty much have my hands full at the moment.
As for all the negative responses and doubts from all over the place, I think it is time for us to be more transparent. First of all, I am quite disappointed to see the outcome. It is definitely not what we expected when we first started the kickstarter campaign.
First thing I realized is that $121k is just not enough to make an open-world, base building game like this. We honestly didn’t know how much we would need because we have never done anything like this before. Because of that, artist Linlin(working on rewards now) and I, Haoran are the only devs left on this project, besides some generous helpers such as our great forum manager orange. So basically yes, we are pretty much bankrupted. We do have preserved the money for kickstarter rewards and the tiny income from paypal will ensure we get the rewards done no problem. But as for as the project goes, the progress will be much, much slower than last year because we couldn’t afford to hire any more people. So in conclusion, the disaster was caused by too ambitious and too little planning and money.
Long story short, Photon Productions scaled back their ambitions and started working on the 3D isometric RPG they had initially promised. It’s heartening to see a developer realising its mistake and committing to the promises it initially made, but for the backers, it’s surely disappointing that their money didn’t aid the game’s development as much as it should have. When Photon Productions finally release the game backers wanted, they will have delivered on their promise far later than they potentially could have, had they not focused their time and resources on a much more ambitious project.