If you were interested in diversity in games around 2012, you probably heard of The Arkh Project. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it was going to a 3d action-rpg game with a very noble goal- to be as inclusive of racial diversity as possible while taking place in a unique fantasy world and centering on LGBT characters. The project’s progress was documented on its tumblr blog for a time. While there was some concept art, comics, and a very short animation cycle produced, the project eventually faded as updates became more and more scarce, the last of which was in August, 2014.
People who backed the project reportedly did not receive their rewards. Plans for the game were apparently cancelled. It was widely believed to have been a scam, though the creator refuted that claim. The creator also later said that Arkh was never made into a game because it was never meant to be a game, just an exercise in character development and concept art. The Arkh Project tumblr page begs to differ.
The idea behind the project was something I could get behind. I won’t go into many of my personal details, but seeing a game like what it had proclaimed to be would have meant a lot to me. That’s part of why I would like to prevent a repeat of Arkh now that the creator is back into video game development.
First of all, a quick rundown on the person behind Arkh, most commonly known as Riley, sometimes with a surname, though that has been less consistent. This is Riley. This is also Riley. This might be Riley, according to some people they’ve interacted with, though it isn’t entirely certain. This is a project Riley might be working on which we’ll get to in a bit. I could also list a few of Riley’s older tumblr urls and livejournal names, but many of them contain slurs and profanity I’d rather leave out of my article, and many have been deleted as well. Riley has had a pretty strong online presence over the years, but their trail of infamy has been hard to track. Because of this, I’ll primarily focus on their current as of yet unnamed project and the game that may be the project they’re working on. However, it should be noted that there have been allegations of some seriously terrible stuff that Riley has done, but due to a lot of the alleged evidence being deleted or behind password protected blogs, this is hard to prove. As a result, I won’t go into the details of these allegations.
A few days ago, a request for donations to fund Riley’s newest project, and similar projects from other creators was put up on YouCaring, a crowdfunding site with a focus on charity. It isn’t a site normally seen in relation to game crowdfunding, mainly because it’s often used to help people pay medical bills and other similar causes. Interestingly, for a page about funding a game, there isn’t much talk about the game in question. Riley talks a lot about their life and goals for inclusive games, but there aren’t screenshots, concept art, or even a summary of what the game will be. The reason behind this is that this fundraiser with a goal of $10,000 isn’t for a game, but for a demo. In the dev’s own words, “I need to crowdfund before I can crowdfund.”
I haven’t been writing for this site long, just a few months, but in my experience that’s not how these things usually go. But what’s really odd about this is that there actually seems to be some work on the game done, at least if the dev’s own page is to believed. So why haven’t they shown their work? At the time of this writing, Riley claims to be hiding the current progress in order to “protect” the people working on it. I’m not entirely certain what they mean by this, but that’s what they’re saying.
However, I think I may have found the game in question, though it isn’t guaranteed to be linked as the developer has not acknowledged their role in the game. As I said, Riley doesn’t seem to be particularly fond of linking their things together. But I did a little asking around, and people who have kept track of what they’ve been up to better than I have pointed me towards this site which does match some of what Riley is apparently hoping to accomplish in their alleged game. Interestingly, one of Riley’s tweets seems to match some of the only dialogue being shown so far.
In addition, Riley retweeted the progress behind something that matches up to a screenshot of the game. This does not absolutely mean that Riley is linked to the game’s development, however several aspects of the game match things that Riley has discussed such as centering on .
You might note a few resemblances to last year’s surprise indie hit “Undertale,” especially with the time continuum theme and the bullet hell battles. I won’t pass judgement just yet, since there isn’t much other information available, but I think it would be fair to say that resynch is very influenced by Undertale. Right down to the way the dialogue screens look.
Unfortunately, while I was in the middle of writing this, the blog that the first screenshot was on was deleted. I did however get a screenshot of part of the game’s description. I honestly thought I would have had more time to gather screenshots, or I would have gotten every picture off the blog. Though the timing of this blog getting taken down is a little suspicious in my opinion.
So should this new fundraiser be supported? If we look at the past, Arkh can’t really be seen as anything but a disaster. A lot can change in four years, of course, and maybe this developer has learned from past campaigns. However, until Riley is willing to show what they’re working on, and be honest with supporters, I’m going to stay wary. I can’t say for certain, but given the track record and what sort of a person Riley is, I don’t think that either Resynch or The Arkh Project are games that will ever be made. Frankly, I find it a little baffling that right now, the fundraiser is at ten percent of the goal. I can’t tell anyone who reads this how to spend their money, but for now I will not be donating to anything with Riley’s name on it.