Back in the mystical yesteryear of 2012, Divergent Games launched a Kickstarter Campaign for their 16-bit inspired RPG, Hiro Fodder: A Blue Hope. Despite campaign assurances that the game was already well into production and expected to be completed in 8 months, nothing has ever been released. This has lead many to wonder, what the heck happened?
Divergent Games was a small, largely unknown studio when the campaign launched. So much so, in fact that lead developer, Robert DellaFave actually wrote an article detailing how the team managed to succeed despite this obstacle. It was a bit of inspiration for other “no-name developers” looking to get into crowdfunding, but it all hinged on the pretext that Hiro Fodder had been successful.
The project did receive $13,048 of its $12,500 funding goal thanks to the support of 302 backers. Things seemed to be progressing well, with regular demo videos and updates. Then Echoes of Eternea happened.
See, while successful, Hiro Fodder did not raise enough with it’s campaign to fully fund the game’s development. Instead DellaFave and his team were relying on additional side jobs to fill in the gaps. One of these side jobs was working on the game engine for Echoes of Eternea.
Both Hiro Fodder and Echoes of Eternea would utilize the completed game/scripting engine. This would allow both teams the ability to build 16/32 bit 2D RPGs of varying complexity. Unfortunately for Divergent Games, their involvement didn’t end with the game engine. Instead they began offering more assistance to the E.o.E. Games team. So much help that Divergent actually put the design, programming, and story writing for Echoes of Eternea ahead of their own project.
In a December 2013 Kickstarter Update, DellaFave explained the decision to focus the team’s efforts on Echoes of Eternea. Since working concurrently on two RPGs was no easy task. DellaFave hoped that the team could speed up Echoes of Eternea’s production so at least one project was completed within a reasonable timeline. “I realize that this is not a perfect solution, and it does cause Hiro Fodder to be delayed (again), but I feel it was the best direction for us to go.”
It was a gamble which did not work out for Divergent in the end. Nearly a year later, E.O.E. Games posted one last update to their Kickstarter before the team’s head designer, Ryan Harmon seemingly vanished. This of course left Divergent in a difficult spot, not only with their own backers, but also those who were counting on them to finish Echoes of Eternea.
The Struggle To Rebuild
Ultimately, Divergent was left in no position to fund and finish Echoes of Eternea. Instead they decided to finally get back to the business of developing Hiro Fodder. However, in order to get back into production they would first need a smaller project. One with less of a financial risk behind it.
As a means to this end, they began work on a project, code-titled Project Kuiper. Initially, Kuiper was meant mostly as a “practice” project to get the team back on track, but it managed to evolve over time into a project of its own.
The most recent Kickstarter update makes little mention of the ultimate fate of Hiro Fodder, instead promising the upcoming Kuiper demo to all backers. I reached out to Divergent’s Robert DellaFave hoping to get some insight into what will become of Hiro Fodder. DellaFave told me that while the team is still actively working on Hiro Fodder, their primary focus right now is on getting the Kuiper trailer on Steam Greenlight before Christmas.
“In the end, I wish I could have finished Hiro in a timely matter, but circumstances got in the way. I will finish the game, as I love the project, and just as importantly, have a commitment to my backers. The cool thing is now, they’ll get two free games out of me, if not more.”
Most backers seem sympathetic if a bit (understandably) impatient. DellaFave really does seem to be trying to do his best under unfortunate circumstances after running with a bad crowd, as it were. Still, I don’t envy the backers who’ve been caught up in the endless wait.