Kickstarter seems like an ideal place to fund an indie game. Unfortunately, many of these projects don’t go to plan. Vanishing games become a particularly messy subject once the money of the backers is involved. Together: Amna & Saif is a Kickstarter project still awaiting completion. With its last update being over a year ago, radio silence from the project’s creator, and a long since missed expected release date, it looked unlikely to be finished.
Together: Amna & Saif raised $14,021 from 738 backers. While it’s not the huge amounts we’ve seen vanish in other projects it is still significant. The game was originally aimed for a 2015 release. The last update given to backers was in June 2017, which promised the game was back on track. Updates to the project were frequent until around June 2015. Following this, they slowed to once every six months or so before stopping completely.
Many of the people credited with the game on the official website are freelancers, none of which responded to questions about their ongoing involvement. Judging from past updates on the project, their contributions were probably completed quite a while ago. This gives us some context into how the Kickstarter money was used. Freelancers aren’t cheap. Between this and a development process that’s now going to extend into at least five years, we might have a clear picture of what happened to the money raised.
The game has been assumed to be missing in action after it vanished last year, with no updates and it’s creator disappearing from social media. After four years of development, Together: Amna & Saif looked like it probably wouldn’t see the light of day. A few Kickstarter backers have tried and get their money back, many might well have just forgotten.
Interview With Lyle Cox, Developer of Together: Amna & Saif
When asked for comment Lyle Cox, the developer of Together: Amna & Saif, confirmed that the game is still being worked on, he was also willing to answer some of our questions about the projects current situation.
Cliqist: How close is Together: Amna & Saif to being completed and releasing?
Lyle Cox: 3-6 months of part-time work. Which is all I can do while being an attentive father to my 3-year-old son.
The indie gaming scene has changed a lot in the time between the original ETA and now. It’ll likely change a lot between now and the release of the game. Have you had to change your plans in accordance with this?
I think my expectations have changed more than anything. Due to life circumstances changing I no longer am hoping the game to fund the development of the next game. My goal at this point is just to deliver the game I want to make and be proud of to my backers. I have no expectation or hopes of commercial success. If it seems financially worthwhile I might work on things like porting to consoles though.
Game development can have lots of complications, Kickstarter campaigns usually include protections and warnings about such delays. Do you think you did enough during the funding process to prepare your backers for such a long delay?
The delays that happened, were delays that weren’t predictable for me. Suffering a heart problem and being unable to work for a year, divorce, discovering the truth about and leaving Mormonism. Having to halt production to take on contract work to live and build up savings due to those things. But maybe I should have put in better disclaimers about catastrophic life events.
The Future of Together: Amna & Saif
Your last update was June 2017. If the game is still being worked on, why have your backers not received any updates in over a year?
I view this as a personal failure and one I should remedy. My backers deserve to be better informed. I struggle with how much of my own personal hardship they really want or need to know.
The comments section of the Kickstarter has some people understandably upset at the lack of communication recently. One has specific they’re seeking a refund. Do you think you’ve been open enough with your backers about the problems with development?
No, I have not been open enough. I need to give them an update. Currently, I have enough in savings to resume production on the game between doing other game development contracts. But I also have commitments to my current contract. I plan to resume work on the game and live off savings once it ends, which may not be until the middle of next year or later. They are being very flexible with me and I feel a moral obligation to give them any extra work time that I have available.
Would you be likely to use Crowdfunding again?
Not on a project I was managing solo.
On Hold For A Few More Years
Together: Amna & Saif has clearly taken quite a personal toll on Lyle Cox. It’s been a rough development, but the game might still see the light of day. However, with no actual timeline in place for the completion of the game, it is still up in the air. This interview was done on 31st October, the project has still not been updated. Work is due to resume at some point after commitments are fulfilled, so commitments to backers will have to wait until then.
While personal complications can complicate everything, this project demonstrates why communication is important for crowdfunding campaigns. Even if details are not provided, reassurance that the game is still being developed in an update would have gone a long way. Hopefully Together: Amna & Saif will eventually be finished, be it in another few years or longer.
We’d like to thank Lyle Cox for taking the time to answer our questions.