Last Week’s Gaming – December 2nd, 2019

So you know how life loves to throw challenges your way?

Not much gaming this week. And not ‘Hey wow I tried 7 games I forgot about’ not much.

Lots of things happening at the Den of Delightful Diversions. I will update everyone to that on Wednesday, alongside this weeks Yeti hunt. But until then, the gaming I did get in is awaiting some attention!

Oooh I have been waiting to play this one, and thanks to an Alpal purchase I finally got the chance!

Villainous is hard to explain quickly, but it is a heap of fun. It’s like a really, really streamlined Magic the Gathering/Netrunner style card game. You have your hand, your opponents have theirs, and you largely play your own game.

You can play cards against other players, but you play special cards from that character, so the Genie doesn’t mess with Captain Hook for example.

Hoping to do a formal review on this early next year, but for the holidays if you get the chance play Villainous for yourself – you will be glad you did. Also, having Hades and Scar in two different expansions is just mean :p

Each character plays in a unique way, with a simplicity of game flow I wasn't expecting.

Pokemon Shield (Switch)

Yep, I am still chipping away at the latest Pokemon outing.

I have now collected four gym badges, but I am thinking that I will give the challenge a rest for a little while. Instead, I am going to focus on Poke Jobs and filling out my Pokedex for a little while.

New jobs have opened up that give you more than XP (but that as well!). Now I think I might just have to think about building up a couple of tailored teams, rather than just power leveling various Pokemon as I usually do.

I am four badges in now, but I think I will stop the gym challenge for a little while

I only got to play a little bit this week, but I think the final push will be a pretty long one. Which is unfortunate, because I think if I don’t finish Terminator: Resistance this week I don’t think I will anytime soon.

Not becuase it’s a bad game, I am really enjoying it. At the moment I know I am about to be really busy again, and that will cut into my time. It’s like when you have to stop watching a series for a couple of weeks – you will pick it back up immediately, or it will be a long time later.

Oh, and I really wish network security was just playing Frogger. It would make my life so much easier ūüėÄ

Get your dot from one side to the other. There is even a checkpoint in the middle. Hacking of the future!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Space Goat Productions Update – from a Lynnvander perspective

Space Goat Productions Logo

A unique insight into a (hopefully) unique situation

Lynnvander Productions is a company in my personal universe that I am aware of and will be watching for many games to come.

The first game I saw of those was Sherwood’s Legacy, and while there are some issues I love the concept and the potential of the series.

Recently I mentioned them on the site because of Terminator: Genisys Board Game.  Here I mentioned the relationship with Space Goat Productions and how some alarm bells were going off in my mind, but I was happy to wait and see where it went.

Well, Lynnvander founder and game designer Tommy Gofton recently restarted the Lynnvander Designer Diaries and the eighth episode has some amazing insight into many aspects of Kickstarter, Space Goat, and business in game design and publishing in general.

I myself raised an eyebrow at Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance.  There is an upcoming Army of Darkness (Evil Dead 3) Kickstarter game with their name attached.

The video isn’t short at 20 minutes, but it is a great listen.¬† This is very much Tommy’s side of the story, but the information is presented simply and as his side of the story and how things ‘work’ in designing and publishing in general, making it a diary I think anyone interested in gaming may be interested in listening to.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Quick update to the Space Goat Productions Kickstarters

Space Goat Productions Logo

And I used to like The Sound of Silence

As I posted a few weeks ago, Space Goat Productions was offering equity via a WeFunder campaign.

My response was public – it was the linked article.¬† The short version was that Space Goat had been following a pattern of silence, and questioned the validity of the ‘Key Facts’ listed on the WeFunder page.

Today, Shon C Bury finally posted on Kickstarter after weeks of silence.  No avenue of questioning seemed to be worthy of a response РKickstarter, Social Media, or even the Better Business Bureau.

The update:

Terminator Quick Update
Quick Update from Shon C Bury on the Terminator page. The same update was posted to the Evil Dead 2 campaign page.

I would like to know what the new paths on offer are, but in business or indeed any long-term¬†planning revealing information too early can be detrimental.¬† Space Goat isn’t my company, I don’t own shares (real shares, not the SAFE on offer), I can’t expect any more information.

Considering the almost deafening silence on all other outlets, this small update is the closest to transparency offered to date.  And like so many backers, I wish it was more.

I do hope Shon and Space Goat do find a way forward.  I really do.  Not just for my selfish wish of a game (that, to be honest, I will probably never play at this point even if it is delivered) but for all the people working at Space Goat.

If anything else happens, I will continue to update.

Until later,

JohnHQLD

Space Goat Productions is offering Equity. Maybe an Explanation?

Space Goat Productions Logo

**QUICK UPDATE 25/05/2018: Shon has posted an update to Kickstarter.  More details here.

**QUICK UPDATE 04/06/2018: Tommy Gofton of Lynnvander Productions has discussed Lynnvanders involvement and a few other things in a YouTube Designer Diary.

There are mistakes, and there are MISTAKES.

A while ago I posted about the third Terminator board game announced within about 18 months. One of the games I talked about was Space Goats Productions The Terminator: The Official Board Game, and the general wariness the backers had with the game and the company. Well, over the last 48 hours, some new information has come to light, and to put it bluntly – Nothing is looking good for Space Goat Productions.

Space Goat Productions started in 2006 and is primarily a comics and talent company. Space Goats founder, Shon C Bury, claims to have many years experience in the comics. Also, marketing blurbs claim Space Goat Productions has over 150 years of combined experience in various fields. Below is a copy of the blurb from a Space Goat email:

Space Goat Going Global Blurb 20180424
Description of Space Goat Productions, copied from email received 24/04/2018 titled 'Space Goat Going Global'

Now I say claims to because there are a few things put out there in the last 48 hours that show interesting interpretations of facts.¬† Admittedly, I am looking at a small amount of history and select sources, but that is because information is now very hard to find on the company.¬† This is also ignoring the ‘critical release’ of three unreleased games, but up until now I put this down to marketing hype.

A lot of information seems to be being removed from the internet, and some of what is left is contradictory.   And in a case of at best very bad timing is Googling Space Goats CEO and founder Shon C. Bury.

The very first link is to his work DC Comics, with the next a story of accusations of sexism and abusive behaviour at Space Goat. Now, this kind of attention is never sought after, but the timing now is even worse for Space Goat. The why is coming up.

On the 24/4 I got an email from Space Goat, with a release about how Space Goat was going international with the Evil Dead 2 and the Howling comics. This would normally be seen as a positive sign for a growing company.  The email listed the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/spacegoatpublishing, shown earlier. The companies Kickstarter profile and the company websites http://www.spacegoatpublishing.com/ and http://spacegoatproductions.com/ also lists the same Facebook link.

As of the latest email received and writing this article on the day 2/5/18 (Australian Time), this page no longer exists on Facebook. The ‘other’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/gospacegoat, seems to be the ‘new’ site, and I am wondering why this is.

Space Goat Love Space Goat Then Become An Investor 20180502
Description of Space Goat Productions, copied from email received 02/05/2018 titled 'Love Space Goat? Then Become An Investor!'

Well, I say I am wondering. This may just be a bunch of bad timing and a string of misunderstandings, but this seems like a very clear-cut case of attempted damage control.

So what is all ‘this’ actually about?

As I said in my previous Terminator article, I am happy to wait and see how things go normally. Space Goat Play is a newly created division of Space Goat Productions after all. Delays in the Evil Dead and huge gaps in communications have led to a lot of backer concern, and the second project The Terminator is mirroring all of this. As a new company, I can forgive delays and unexpected hiccups, and I tuned out a lot of the flaming.

But the email I got on the 2/5/18 that started my Google searching?

Space Goat Equity Letter Email
This is the body of the email I received that started all of this

That’s right. The company that has been silent and continually delaying projects is publically asking for money and offering small shares in the company to do it. Alarm bells start ringing. I jumped over to the Kickstarter page, and sure enough, there is a Backers only update.¬† I have printed it in¬†pdf form so you can read it by clicking here.

Reading it made me simultaneously sympathetic for the company, but also incredibly angry. I will go into the reasons for both in a little bit.  With mixed feelings, I went and looked at the WeFunder page.

And wow. Just wow.

The facts just don’t seem to be facts

So, Space Goat have what they call Key Facts on the WeFunder page, for people looking to invest in the company.  They are:

Space Goat WeFunder Key Facts
The Key Points from the Space Goat WeFunder Page 02/05/2018

So, this sounds like Space Goat is a company that is on the fast road to growth, and everything is great.  Very different to the information in the Kickstarter updates.  But for the points from WeFunder, I give my own counterpoints to these facts.

Raised $1M+ pre-retail dollars on Kickstarter from 8k+ backers with just two campaigns.

You have to assume this is including pre-orders and excluding backers that have cancelled. Looking at the Kickstarter pages (Evil Dead 2 and The Terminator), the totals shown add up to $943,078 before all costs (Kickstarter cut, credit card surcharges and the like).

This total is also possibly including the shipping that has already been collected on the games, from BackerKit, which the collection of before the games were made was strange enough.

BackerKit is a third party company that is used for after pledge collection from many companies, including Kickstarter and Indiegogo.¬† I don’t think these funds should be included as ‘from Kickstarter’ because of this.

Either way you cut it, from the information shown, this is not $1,000,000+ from ‘Kickstarter’ according to the Kickstarter numbers.

Management team has 120+ years of board game, comic book, commercial art, TV/Film, and video game experience.

OK, so what I am about to say can look like nitpicking.

All of the emails from Space Goat shows 150 years in the Space Goat blurb.

It’s true 150 is covered by 120+, so I am not trying to call them out on this alone.¬† But I am wondering if the drop in years is because some¬†staff has left?

The accusations of sexism and abusive behaviour in the workplace plus the fact the company seems to be in financial trouble have me wondering if there are staffing changes afoot, which can cause all sorts of issues in the day to day running of any company.

Oh, and just quietly – who is the management team?¬† ¬†According to the WeFunder page, seven of the¬†twenty ‘team’ members do not have ‘advisor’ in front of their titles.¬† I can see Advisors not being listed as employees, so OK let’s say seven employees based on the titles.¬† But then you read the descriptions.¬† A lot of these seven have ‘contract’ and ‘on call’ at the end of their descriptions.¬† There are two part-time people, one of whom is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

According to the company website, there are eight members of Space Goat, and very few names match between here and WeFunder’s ‘Team’.¬† Tom Mason, the Vice President of Space Goat Productions, is conspicuously¬†absent from the WeFunder ‘Team’, and someone I would hope doesn’t work part-time.

According to the Form C filed to the SEC, Space Goat has 2 employees.¬†¬†This could be explained as a badly updated company site or a ‘Full Time Equivalent’ Employee count.¬†¬†But all this does lend credibility to staffing issues at Space Goat.

Two more games are ready to Kickstart and are currently queued to be manufactured.

OK. I wouldn’t expect more information to come out than that, as you don’t want to reveal future work too early.

But in three points time, there may be a little more to this statement than it seems.

The Tabletop Game category is the highest grossing category on Kickstarter, generating in excess of $100 million since 2012. Space Goat has generated 1% of that with just 2 campaigns.

Well, this seems to be intentionally misleading. From numbers given to Polygon from Kickstarter, Tabletop in 2017 ALONE bought in $137.77 million dollars.

So Space Goat bought in about 0.7% of what was raised in Kickstarter in 2017.  Given the boom in Tabletop numbers over time, the total amount of Tabletop money raised by Space Goat is probably about a fifth of that over the 5+ years they are implying.

This is basically the same as me saying there has been over 200 Tabletop Kickstarters, then pointing to my Kickstarter Profile (which today shows 183 projects backed).¬† Now I have backed some video games and design projects, so say 175 Tabletop projects backed.¬† So according to those numbers, I have backed almost 88% of all Kickstarter Tabletop projects.¬† It’s just not true.

This really seems to be an intentional warping of the numbers given.  Oh, and just in case you thought the years were a typo and the amounts a mistake:

Space Goat WeFunder Quote
Quote at the start of the Space Goat WeFunder page 02/05/2018

Existing licenses include Evil Dead 2, Terminator, and The Howling — our ‚ÄúVHS Renaissance Games.‚ÄĚ

Yes, yes they do.  Make comics and everything.  There is no denying this one.

Our first company-owned game, called Game Buds, is ready to be Kickstarted and is queued to be manufactured.

OK, this is probably the ‘third game’ that is already mentioned in May 1st Backers Only update, which was supposed to be on Kickstarter now. But is this one of the two games previously mentioned as ‘queued to be manufactured’?

This can be taken as there are three games essentially ready to go. It can also be taken that one of the two games ready to be Kickstarted is called Game Buds.

How many games does Space Goat actually have ready to launch on Kickstarter?

Our social media presence reaches tens of thousands of gamers and pop-culture consumers.

Look, the numbers are probably true. But they have actively deleted their primarily advertised Facebook page! What message were those ‘gamers and pop-culture consumers’ sending back to Space Goat that this needed to happen?

Oh, and I would be wary bringing attention to their social media community for another reason.  Those accusations I referred to earlier?  They were raised by Amelia Thompson, Space Goats Community Manager.

Signed a book distribution deal with Midpoint Trade Books and French foreign-language deals for our Evil Dead books and with Wetta Publishing for our Howling graphic novels.

Yes, I got an email stating this on the 24/04/18 (Australian Time). That’s great news for their comic division, and I am excited for them!

So where to from here?

If someone was asking you for money, and someone else told you things about the person, wouldn’t you look into them? There is a difference between a small gamble on a startup, and giving away money for the sake of it.

If I got burned with the Terminator Kickstarter, so be it. I have nothing but sympathy for those backers that did both Terminator and Evil Dead 2. But to me, that was my small gamble on a startup. The equity offering is not. This feels like good money after bad, and that is never a good position to be in.

I am not an investment person. I can’t give you financial advice. It’s true I do put options in front of you for Kickstarter projects, but the most I can do is tell you why I do or don’t think something is worth spending your money on.

Space Goat Publishing, well the comics side, actually have a great history.  There may be individuals that are causing problems in the workplace, and it is unfortunate the reported one is the founder and CEO.  There is already talk about the Kickstarter comments section that this is the final proof that everything is belly up at Space Goat, and that may or may not be true.

But I will say as much as I hope to get the Terminator game, this is probably the closest I will ever get.

The Terminator Kickstarter
I still have hope. Not much, but hope

You see, there is one more little nugget on the WeFunder page.  And here it is:

Space Goat WeFunder Our Progress
Under Our Story on WeFunder, we have this little nugget

So, yeah.¬† Many, including myself, are reading this as “We need the money to deliver what we promised”.

The true cost

My biggest problem with all this isn’t the lack of a game, it’s how bad this is reflecting on the hundreds of other creators that do the best they can on Kickstarter.

If Space Goat continues down this path with no explanation, they may be forced to close their doors.¬† This hurts most the staff that obviously love their jobs.¬† From comments I have seen on the Kickstarter projects, there has already been damage done for new startups.¬† Comments like ‘no new startups more than $50’ may not sound terrible, but there are ripple effects.

Imagine being the startup company that legitimately needs to charge $60 or $80 for the project they want to make.¬† Now because of one companies mistakes, they have to put forward a ‘make do’ project that costs $30.¬† The idea is if it’s cheaper, more people will be willing to back it.¬† But then another sizable percentage of backers don’t back it, because they know for a bit more money it could be a great project.¬† It’s a vicious circle and one that will be very hard to break.

So the real lessons to take away from all of this:

  1. Kickstarter is not a store.  Backing does not guarantee a product.
  2. Be careful who you give your money to.
  3. Try not to judge everyone for another’s mistakes.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Another one? Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance announced

Terminator Genisys Rise of the Resistance Box Art

I know he said he’ll be back, but still…

So depending on your taste in movies, the Terminator movie franchise has been slowly declining the last few times out.  I personally enjoy the idea behind the Terminator, but no new announcements or rumours really caught my interest.  This changed last year when Space Goat Productions with Lynnvader Studios announced the official Terminator Board Game on Kickstarter.

Terminator Board Game Kickstarter

Again, I like the idea behind the Terminator.  Time travel shenanigans is always a great potential area.  The Terminator Board Game had my interest because of gameplay across two different boards Рone representing 1984, the other 2029.  There were rough edges, and the add-ons started piling up the cost, but there was potential.  Eventually, I will tell you if the base game holds its own.  I say eventually, as there is still work happening on the game development so like all the other backers I am waiting to see.

There hasn’t been much information for the last month, which makes backers nervous.¬† Personally, I wait for a few more signs before I start stressing.¬† Some more signs may have just appeared, but I will talk about that in a little while.

An example of why I tend to try and filter a lot of this feedback out is the initial flaming of Space Goat that they were demonstrating the game with print and play components.¬† A new company still admittedly designing the game were getting grief because they weren’t demonstrating a finished product.¬† Yes, other companies do have very polished prototypes and artwork on display, but these are almost always much larger companies with the money and ability to create these.¬† But big companies using Kickstarter is another article.

A few months later, Rule and Make games announced T2029: The official Terminator 2 board game.¬† This made me VERY excited, because not only have I met the guys from Rule and Make, but I love so many of their games.¬† Rise to Power and Entropy: Worlds Collide are¬†both games I would recommend to many players, even players that may not normally like such games.¬† It also doesn’t hurt they are Brisbane based ūüôā

This is a game I will probably back when it comes back.¬† Yep, that’s right – when it comes back.¬† Based on feedback from the Kickstarter campaign (and probably a bit of flaming from the first Terminator campaign) Rule and Make cancelled the project to polish the game some more.¬† After meeting¬†Allen Chang and Alistair Kearney for a preview of Entropy when it was in playtesting, I can say these are people passionate about the games they make and I believe this is exactly why the project was cancelled.

T2029 Game Layout

This morning via an article on Screenrant, River Horse Games (the people behind the Terminator Genisys: Miniatures Game) announced a new Kickstarter Terminator game coming April 9th.  The interesting twist?  Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance is being created in partnership with Lynnvander Studios.

Now¬†Lynnvander Studio’s involvement with the original Terminator: The Official Board Game did seem to all but stop once the project was funded.¬† This by itself didn’t (and still doesn’t) ring any alarm bells for me.¬† Studios are contracted for assistance all of the time, and Lynnvader has a decent reputation on Kickstarter.¬† The Legacy games (such as¬†Albion’s Legacy) are quite good, and this background is most likely the reason for the partnership with River Horse Games.

Terminator Genisys Rise of the Resistance Box Art

Comments are already pointing out that Space Goat has gone very quiet over the last month, and now there is another Terminator game coming to Kickstarter.  The last update at the end of February did cite health issues, and not only did the Kickstarter updates end but so did Instagram and Facebook posts.  Space Goat also has the much delayed Evil Dead 2 game to try and get out Рthey could be pouring everything into appeasing a different group of backers.

Honestly, at this point, I think the timing for the game announcement is just how things worked out.  This ends the conspiracy theory discussions.  I will be watching the original project for signs of quietly passing, but I truly think this is just a new company with two big projects feeling the pressure.

Terminator Genisys Rise of the Resistance Components

So what is this article about then?¬† Well, there are a few things out of this morning’s musings.¬† To start with, this is the first time I have ever thought I had franchise fatigue for a board game without playing any of them!

Franchise fatigue is usually reserved more for describing lacking financial performance in movie sequels, but in my opinion it’s hitting board games too.¬† While many people complain about the number of Zombie or Cthulu themed games overall, Zombicide is a great example of a series that overall has run its course for me.¬† As previously stated, the games themselves are fine, but after buying everything up to Green Horde I can honestly say I am all but over the franchise.¬† There needs to be a major change to bring me back to the games, and unfortunately, this would probably no longer make it a Zombiecide game.¬† Video game franchises have been made or broken trying to reinvent themselves in the past, so CMON will have to weigh the pros and cons carefully if they decide a change is required.

I don’t get why I am simultaneously excited and over the Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance announcement.¬† Each of the three board games has been based on a different film, and definitely for the first two games were aimed at very different experiences.¬† It’s akin to complaining that Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective and Holmes: Sherlock and Mycroft are the same games so I don’t have to play the other.¬† These are definitely not the same game:

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective The Munitions Magnate
Holmes Sherlock and Mycroft
Holmes Sherlock and Mycroft

Prejudging anything like this just isn’t something I think I do, but this morning I gave serious thought about simply passing over the news because of the previous Kickstarter experiences.¬† While it’s wise to be wary or cautious based on prior experiences, not giving the project a chance to stand on its own merits on its own merits just isn’t fair.

And that is really the thing.¬† If you can casually prejudge something like a board game announcement, what does that mean you can justify prejudging in other areas of your life?¬† It’s a true cliche – it’s all in the small things.

One of the reasons I prefer to play board games socially rather than video games over the internet is people tend not to be awful to your face.   14 years later, I still remember the Penny Arcade strip Green Blackboards (And Other Anomalies) as my issue with online gaming, and then feel bad because not everyone on the internet is like that.  While there is enough evidence that the Greater Internet Theory is still in full effect, there are also plenty of examples of great communities coming together and just enjoying themselves.

So in a weird announcement and holiday message post, some points for you to consider:

  1. Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance is coming to Kickstarter April 9th.
  2. An overtired JohnHQLD will take surprisingly convoluted prompts as a basis for self-introspection.
  3. In the words of Bill and Ted:
Be Excellent To Each Other

I hope you have a safe and great Easter break, enjoy some great company and games.

I know I will be ūüėÄ

JohnHQLD