Neo-Victorian Skirmish Squad has an extensive past, one that’s richer than its present and likely its future. Its Kickstarter campaign began September 5, 2013, with Terncraft Games at the helm. The Kickstarter page tells us David Sushil is the man behind the company. But he’s only represents half of the story, the other half being Joseph Adams.
Joseph Adams registered the LLC for the company according to legal documents. Those same documents also show the company no longer legally exists. This is backed up by the company’s website being down. Terncraft’s Twitter hasn’t been active since October 2013, and their Facebook has been silent just as long.
With the last Kickstarter update appearing in May 2014, and there being no record of this game in years, Neo-Victorian Skirmish Squad appears to be dead.
Neo-Victorian Skirmish Squad is a turn based RPG, set in a Victorian setting. It’s set in John Brummel University, home to “Neo-Victorian studies,” which apparently means fighting monsters and old technology. The gameplay focused on dice-based combat, but rather than bludgeoning your opponents to death with a 20-sided pink die, you use a set to dictate your moves. You can level up your die, train them somehow, or fuse them with other die to make them powerful.
That’s really all there is to the Kickstarter page, in terms of the game itself. The rest either repeats these same points, explains who the developers are, and why they’re on Kickstarter. There is some gameplay in the Kickstarter video, but it’s short and doesn’t give much of an impression of gameplay or story.
Terncraft raised $8,122 in October 2013 through 128 backers. Looking at the community page, most of them are returning backers, so there’s no reason to suspect foul play. Still, this is the sort of Kickstarter that wouldn’t get funded today. There are no screenshots of the game, the descriptions are too short, and the lone gameplay video was too short and book-ended with David Sushil talking on camera. The majority of the page is taken up by reward details.
The last update posted is titled “Rewards Update.” It doesn’t give much information about overall progress. As the name suggest, it details the shipping status of rewards, and reminds backers to fill out shipping surveys. Here, the company claims they’re sending physical rewards, which would suggest development of the game was nearly completion. In most cases, physical rewards ship after the game is complete, or just before.
The last real update came earlier that month. It’s titled “The Long Overdue Update.” Here, there’s less information. It’s a meager nine lines long, and the bulk of it tells backers to keep their mailing addresses up to date. It apologizes for a lack of communication up until that point and says there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel.” With a two and a half year gap in communication that statement now holds a different meaning.
All the updates posted after the funding period are rather odd. The first is the standard “thanks for funding us,” the second is the equally standard “what happens next” outline of development. After that, the remaining five updates – baring a backer only one – all detail backer rewards. The backer only update can in January 2014, titled “Happy New Year + Stuff.” With “stuff” referring to another rewards update, as well as some screenshot mockups of the now-forgotten spin-off card game.
The handful of lingering commenters on the Kickstarter page are asking after both rewards and the game. It would appear none of them have heard from Terncraft in years.
We reached out to David Sushil and Joseph Adams to ask them about progress on the game. According to Adams, the two formed Terncraft games together initially, but things have since changed, saying. “Dave and I had gone our separate ways when NVSS was about 95% ready for deployment,” Adams said in an e-mail to Cliqist. When asked what he meant by “95% ready,” Adams became less forthcoming, saying he’d spoken with Sushil about our questions and directing us to speak with him going forward.
Adams did not respond to further communication and we haven’t yet heard from David Sushil despite multiple emails and attempted phone calls. We also reached out to many team members profiled in earlier updates on the Kickstarter page as working on the game, with similar results.
We can confirm what Adams told us though. Thanks to the Internet Archive’s WayBackMachine, we found a blog post originally posted on Terncraft’s website. The post, seemingly written by Sushil, details the founding of the company and a partnership between he and Adams:
“Once upon a time, in a magical land called Orlando, two local developers decided to join forces and make the best indie games the world had ever seen. The result? Terncraft Games.
“A few years ago, I was introduced to Joe Adams (the man behind Adam Jones Productions), a game developer here in Orlando who found success with a game called Word Drop. We became friends, and over the years, we toyed around with the idea of collaborating on games together. Finally, in April of this year, we pulled the trigger, and founded Terncraft as an outlet for our joint ventures.”
Other than that, we haven’t been able to find any new information. All signs point to the game being dead. It wouldn’t be a surprise, considering how often Kickstarter projects fail. It wouldn’t be so bad if Suhil and team would talk to the backers, and tell them they’re struggling, or that the game is canceled. Instead, they hid those details and wouldn’t communicate with anyone.
According to LinkedIn profiles, many of the people involved no longer work with Sushil nor Adams. Terncraft itself is dead. No one’s heard from Sushil since 2014, and Adams has seemingly declined to comment. Maybe one day Sushil or Adams will have the courage to step forward and give backers an update, but nobody should hold their breath.