3D platformers have surged on Kickstarter since Yooka-Laylee found huge success. Even still, the genre hasn’t been very successful in the crowdfunding space. Tyler: Model-005 hopes to change that, and with the highest production values of a 3D platformer since Playtonic’s masterpiece, it stands a good chance.
Unfortunately there’s one big question mark hanging over the developer. Some big accusations were levied against the developer in the past, but now they’re breaking their silence.
Tyler: Model-005 is set in an alternate 1950’s in which you help the titular Tyler find his creator. Tyler is a robot you see, not something you saw very often in the ‘50’s. There’s a bit of a steampunk theme going on, but it’s not something that’s shoved down your throat like other games. Here, the steampunk elements are kept largely in the background, giving the game a unique vibe, if only for its subtly.
Tyler is small robot, and because of this size plays a big part of the game. The concept sounds almost like Chibi-Robo, except with more of an emphasis on platforming and less about constantly having to plug yourself in. You’ll be fighting a lot of ants and rats in this game, and things like pencils can become powerful weapons. There will also be puzzles revolving around getting up high places, and presumably avoiding deadly caverns that are nothing more than tiny cracks to you and I.
The story revolves around Tyler trying to find his creator, and exploring this new world. He was deactivated for some reason many years ago, and finds himself turned back on thanks to a powerful thunderstorm. Most of the story details are being kept under wraps right now, with the developers specifically mentioning they don’t want to spoil too much of it.
If there’s one complaint, it’s in the environments. Rather than the colorful and varied worlds you’d expect from the genre, Tyler: Model-005 seems to be composed entirely of brown and gray environments. The game generally seems very dark and washed out as well. It seems we’re only seeing the early environments of the game, so that could change in future levels.
Developer Reversed Interactive have spent their own money developing the game up until this point. They say they’re on Kickstarter, asking for $20,000, to finish the game and provide the a few bits of polish. Development seems to have gone on for quite some time, as the screenshots look well-polished already, and there’s also a playable demo available.
The Developer Question
But there’s a question concerning one of the developers. The lead developer of Tyler: Model-005 is Lance Gardener, somebody who came up in our Dark Day investigation earlier this year.
Who is Lance Gardener? Our piece titled The Darkest Day investigated a game developer named Mark Hann and his company Dark Day Interactive. Most of his games were “asset flips,” games made entirely from pre-made, pre-purchased game assets. Lance Gardener is one of the people who made these pre-made assets and sold them both on his store, and the Unity game engine Asset Store.
At the time he was operating under the name TLCIndie, who allegedly filed a DMCA copyright take down of Hann’s first Kickstarter over stolen assets. Hann told us, however, that he legally paid for the assets, and that TLCIndie – or somebody claiming to be TLCIndie – was trying to extort more money out of him. Hann claims that Gardener filed the copyright claim against the Kickstarter after Hann refused to pay him anymore money.
According to Gardener, there was simply a mix up. He intended to email us with a denial of involvement, stating TLCIndie didn’t even have a Kickstarter profile with which to message Hann. Gardener says “It’s very easy to impersonate or Photoshop images to try to appear like another company,” and thinks the messages Hann received were scam from somebody else.
Gardener also cleared up his involvement with TCLIndie, which he claims was in fact a group of four people. “I worked for TLCindie along with 4 others and stopped working there due to a disagreement among the staff. […] I was one of the most public facing members, so that’s probably why it appeared that I was doing it alone.”
There’s no way of verifying Gardener’s (or Hann’s for that matter) claims. Whoever this “TLCIndie” was on Kickstarter, if they ever existed, are long gone. I wish we could have a more definitive end to this, but that doesn’t seem possible.
To Back, or Not To Back
There are certainly ambiguous circumstances surrounding Tyler: Model-005‘s Kickstarter. Lance Gardener could be an innocent man dragged into a story he had no control over or even realized existed. Backing a Kickstarter is always a risk, a gamble that should only be made once you fully understand what you’re getting into. Fair or not, these accusations add yet another question potential backers must ask themselves before they support Tyler: Model-005.