Backers of 2D tactical squadron shooter, FleetCOMM are (to put it mildly) beyond frustrated. They’ve been notified of another setback, 4 years after raising $17,427 for FleetCOMM’s development. In truth, backers appear to have lost faith in the project, and have been attempting to get refunds for months.
After several months of silence, developer (Rogue Star, Mercenary Games, or FleetCOMM Technologies LLC, depending on where you look) began posting updates to the Kickstarter page again. Unfortunately, the updates only raise more questions and red flags for FleetCOMM‘s already troubled development.
On April 26th, FleetCOMM’s programmer, Slade Villena posted that his PC suffered some damage after PAX East. Despite this, he stated he was still planning on releasing FleetCOMM on Steam in the coming weeks. This was the only hint at the upcoming problems with the release. Villena instead focused his updates on procedures for those wanting refunds and the upcoming release of Steam keys for backers.
After a final “backers only” update on May 27th about the hundreds of Steam keys he was trying to send out, Villena stopped updating on Kickstarter. FleetCOMM gained ‘Mostly Negative’ Steam reviews during this time as reviewers pointed out that it only featured a handful of tutorial missions, instead of the multi-chapter story they were expecting. An update posted on September 8th finally sheds some light into what went wrong.
Titled, Just recovered from a hardware failure. Here’s what happened; the update revealed that the hard drives used during PAX East ultimately failed. As a result nearly all of FleetCOMM‘s data was lost. This included both the Linux and MacOSX builds of the game, as well as all five chapters of the story (event triggers, dialogue, and text transitions between missions).
Backers were quick to point out that this excuse sounded suspiciously implausible. Mostly because they couldn’t imagine a programmer who wouldn’t have his data backed-up somewhere. This lead to some rather creative interpretations of what may have happened over on Twitter.
This also seems like information that would have been extremely pertinent to backers who never received their keys and also anyone who paid for, what they assumed, was the full game on Steam. Despite the bugs and glitches that have plagued it’s release, FleetCOMM is not an Early Access title. Eager fans would have no way of knowing they were paying $9.99 for a game that currently has only a dubious chance of delivering what it advertises.
Backers are stepping up to once again demand refunds on the project. There was a backers only update detailing project communication and refunds, but given that I’m not a backer there’s no telling what it says.
Villena says that he will continue to rework and rewrite the lost content, but made sure to point out that completing FleetCOMM was something he does for fun, when he has time. In an effort to free up time he also announced that he’d no longer participate in FleetCOMM’s Steam forums.
“Managing forums is absolutely BORING. I refuse to be bored by nonsense from fake gamers. Any FleetCOMM related forum is hereby disavowed from the project and no longer my responsibility. Have fun, vandalize the forums, I do not give a fuck.”
Villena posted an additional update the following day in which he answered raised after his previous post. This included addressing complaints from backers who had never received their Steam keys. He claimed the delay in processing refunds and issuing keys was also tied to the drive crash, which had caused him to lose necessary records.
I emailed Villena to ask about an updated timeline for development, but didn’t hear back in time for this article. Hopefully he has some plan because otherwise, FleetCOMM looks like it can only crash and burn.