I’m a huge Ron Paul fan (more for the memes than the politics), but today we won’t be discussing politics. Instead, we’ll be discussing Ron Paul: Road to REVOLution, a 2D side-scroller that gathered $11,073 USD for a 2012 release and never saw the light of day.
According to the Kickstarter page for Road to REVOLution, things aren’t looking too good. Daniel Williams, a devout Paulite and game developer, asked for a sum of $5,000 USD to make a video game starring his favorite politician, shooting for something that looks and plays along the lines of Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Bros. The developer’s idea was to put players in the role of Ron Paul, traveling across all 50 states in the Union collecting gold and delegates while fighting off the ever-present and nefarious Federal Reserve Bank. Road to REVOLution met its funding goal within three days of its inception, not because of any concrete effort to advertise its development like most successful kickstarter campaigns do, but because Mr. Paul was running for president at the time. News traveled fast, and the campaign was swiftly funded.
The game was funded by 265 backers and created something of a cult following. It certainly didn’t hurt that the game received media coverage from outlets like CBS News and Kotaku. A demo containing three levels was released on August 10th, 2012 and was met positively by the game’s budding community. Unfortunately, the link to the game’s official website provided on the Kickstarter page no longer works, and the domain for the website seems to have expired. I wasn’t able to find a download link, but before it was taken down, plenty of people were able to get their hands on the demo.Problems began to arise when a closer look was taken at the demo and its source code. The source code reveals that most of the game seems to be taken from this tutorial. This worried fans that Daniel wasn’t trying to create something remotely new as was expected by the backers who gave up their own money for the project, but was just copy-and-pasting from the online walk-through of how to make a video game.
I was able to get ahold of a video trailer (of sorts) starring Daniel Williams himself as he discusses the game and his hopes for it. I wasn’t able to find an official YouTube channel for the game, and the above video was the only footage of the game itself that I was able to find. It seems that Daniel set the official videos from his YouTube channel to private (or just outright removed them). The “original artwork” that was promised consists of recolored sprites from sheets left among the game code which was assessable to all due to open directories. People started to snoop around, curious to know where exactly their money had gone. The below is a side-by-side comparison of Waluigi from the sprite sheet offered in the tutorial and the protagonist of Road to REVOLution.
There were three updates to Road to REVOLution’s Kickstarter page about the state of Daniel’s “new and original” project and the pledge rewards for those unfortunate people who gave $10 USD or more. All three were posted after May 1st, and after the game had been funded. The first (from June 19th, 2012) goes on about pledge rewards, development progress, and a series of public appearances by Williams featuring “Ron Paul swag” at a handful Florida events. Instead of a beta version available to a handful, it would be available to all at a reduced capacity by July 10th of that same year.
The next update came on August 10th stating that a demo consisting of three individual levels was now available, a full month after the promised release date. He did issue an apology and stated that ‘this project is by far the most ambitious project I’ve ever done. Things have taken a lot more than I expected to get off the ground.’ He went on to say that there was an issue with the pledge rewards and now that there was something playable for the game released, fixing this was his top priority.
In January of 2013 Daniel made his last post to the Kickstarter page:
‘The game has been on hold for a while now because I started running into all sorts of issues with the engine and browser compatibility. I ran out of funding rather more quickly than I had anticipated, and now intend to fund the game with my own money. I’m in a pretty decent place now, where I am making enough money to hire the help that I need to tackle this project, and expect to resume development immediately in February. I realize all of my mistakes in not being more forthcoming, or offering full disclosure. While I proceed with development, I will open up with a project schedule on the main site, ronpaulroadtorevolution.com, to keep everyone in the loop. I welcome any offers of help with development. I have had a very difficult time finding coders to assist me. If any of you would rather receive a refund than your backer rewards, please contact me: email@example.com (I’ve tried to contact Daniel via this email but the domain does not exist anymore), and I will take care of it. This whole situation was definitely not how I intended it to be.’
The very last comment on the page is dated for November 20th 2013 from Jason M. and reads: Never got my refund and now the email address bounces! Please contact me. Sorry Jason, but I don’t think you’ll be getting that money back. The last time he logged onto Kickstarter was in December 16th of 2014 and the last update the page saw was back in 2013. Daniel seems to have ‘Gone Galt’ as it were and was unable to be reached for comments at either of the two emails that we have access to.
Note from the editor : Since RonPaulRoadToRevolution.com expired Cliqist has registered the domain. If Daniel Williams resurfaces and addresses backer concerns then we’ll be happy to return it to him at no charge.