I’ve talked a lot about AJ Tilley and his series of crowdfunded visual novels in the past, and I’m not the only one that’s been concerned about the future of the projects and the company. Which is why the most recent backer-only update for Beach Bounce (and I’m certain posted to his other Kickstarter projects) is significant. This was a rather lengthy piece written up to hopefully come clean and assuage fears about the still unreleased games and other recent announcements surrounding the company.
I’ve stopped keeping track of what games were funded under the AJ Tilley name, which ones have been released, and how many that are delayed. That said, as far as I know only the three big names that are still in development limbo are Beach Bounce, Echo Tokyo, and Starlight Drifter. And each one in turn was discussed in the update. In regards to Beach Bounce, we know why the third part was delayed and why the “remastered edition” will be pushed out with a complete rewrite in a previous update. Having my pledge for Echo Tokyo refunded and having never pledged to Starlight Drifter I can’t comment on the reasons for their delay other than there being monetary and personnel issues.
Delays aside, which those of us who have been following crowdfunding for a while now know happens almost habitually, we do know that AJ Tilley is dead set on releasing every game promised. As he mentioned in the update, some people commissioned to help out with their design have either gone completely missing, didn’t live up to their expectations, or simply took the money and ran. Beyond that I can’t and won’t talk further. It happens even to the best of indie game developers so I can’t fault them on that. It sucks, but you live and learn from your mistakes.
AJ Tilley went on to try to clarify the split between AJTilley.com and Dharker Studios, which I discussed right after the announcement, and while a good deal of it was a rehash from before at least we sort of know what each arm is focusing on. AJTilley.com will continue to be the publisher of any game outsourced to a third party and Dharker Studio “will be focused on large scale potentially main stream titles, massive projects that will take a long time to complete.” AJTilley.com will also focus mainly on adult themed visual novels.
The final major piece of news was in regards to refunds and finances. They’ve now stopped accepting any refund request by backers because they “had the chance to request them and now we have to focus on using the funds we have to complete the game“. They’ve already gone through the budgets of these titles and were forced to supplement the development with sales from already released games. And while few, with mixed reviews, they do still push them out.
We’ve seen the good, the bad, and a lot of the ugly in regards to AJ Tilley and his many projects but despite any issues that I might have with him and a lot of his choices I will at least defend him on one point. No matter what happens at least he tries to get his games out in as timely a manner as possible. They may not be great games but his dedication to making sure we still get something for our money is somewhat admirable. At least that’s something.