Allison Road’s Kickstarter Campaign Cancelled. Long Live Allison Road!

Fans of Silent Hill, Horror, and Generally Good Things have been lamenting the cancellation of Silent Hills, an ill-fated project from the dream team of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, with art design from horror manga maestro Junji Ito and Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. The loss of what finally seemed like a worthy instalment of Silent Hill after the series’ recent history of stumbling in the dark was quite a pain.

British developer Lilith Ltd saw an opportunity to fill the newly-prized niche in the market, and started up a Kickstarter campaign for Allison Road, a horror game in the same vein as Silent Hills’ Playable Teaser. Having checked out the Kickstarter campaign, I must say that what they had so far seemed like a good aesthetic and thematic foundation to build a worthy successor to the PT crown. A couple of days ago, Lilith Ltd took their Allison Road Kickstarter campaign down, because they were approached by Team17 and had gained themselves a publisher.

I don’t think I could be happier with the way this has turned out, especially in the light of practices like Keiji Inafune’s Red Ash Kickstarter haemorrhaging backer money when the developer revealed that they already had a publisher lines up for the game, while the developers’ current project Mighty No. 9 hasn’t even been released yet.

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That Lilith Ltd removed their Kickstarter campaign shows a respect for their consumers and a real sense of integrity and responsibility. They could have easily delayed the announcement of Team17’s involvement until after the Kickstarter campaign had finished and pocketed the backer money.

The backing of an experienced publisher also puts the game’s development in a much more stable environment. While I absolutely love the idea of developers making games that fans want that perhaps a publisher wouldn’t greenlight, the lack of oversight can be an issue. On crowd-funded campaigns that exceed their goals, feature creep can be a real issue that gets out of hand. Just look at Double Fine’s Broken Age, a game that needed extra funding halfway through development to get it finished despite the game’s initial campaign far exceeding its target. Double Fine were able to build a game with far more scope than they initially thought, underestimated the costs of their additions, and ran out of money. I love those guys, and their more recent game Massive Chalice seems to have benefitted from their experience crowdfunding games, but you can see how those inexperienced with crowdfunding can stumble.

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I love the idea of projects being made to suit an appropriate budget since the AAA industry seems to be stuck in a rut of overspending on games and overestimating sales, which leads to ridiculous examples like Square Enix calling 2013’s Tomb Raider a “failure” despite having sold 6 million units at that point. I understand that publishers need their big guns to make megabucks to fund other, more risky projects, but it’s still a ridiculous position to be in. I think that one of the great things about Kickstarter is that the game can be developed to suit the acquired budget, so long as the developers know how to tailor their project to the budget.

However, if a developer can gain a publisher for a project that people really want, then good for them. And the fact that they respect their customers enough to immediately take the game’s crowd funding project down only gives me more faith in the developers.

Image credits: polygon.com, forbes.com, segmentnext.com

Horse Armour 2.0- The Latest Stop In The Never-Ending Road Of Konami Mess-Ups.

Lately, it seems like Konami just can’t seem to stop messing up. It’s getting downright farcical at this point; like watching a child trying to chase a ball, only to keep kicking the ball further away at the last moment. Except that the ball is on fire, and the child is an apathetic company seemingly trying to duck out of the videogames business, and the field is psychological abuse of employees, and the child’s shoes are the fanbase, and now I’ve lost track of the metaphor.

Okay, let’s step back a minute. Konami is a company which makes the majority of its money in gambling and arcade machines, and in the wake of several years of flailing about with its key franchises, seems to be backing away from AAA game development (although it has recently stated that this is not the case, but I’ll take their word when I see proof). The only games that the publisher had to show at e3 were Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and the most recent Pro Evolution Soccer. Even if they’re not planning to completely abandon game publishing, there’s very little evidence that they have much for us at the moment.

For the past few months, there’s been a slew of negative press surrounding the company, to a frankly absurd degree. There seems to be a new piece of news every few days at this point, but there are some very prominent examples I’ll bring up to make sure everyone’s nice and up to speed. Despite several years of the Silent Hill franchise suffering something of a quality and identity crisis, the mysterious PT (“Playable Trailer”) teaser for Silent Hills arose on the Playstation Store as if from nowhere. Pretty much an overnight hit, the teaser was driven by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro and was a superb little slice of horror and clever use of environment. Sadly, the project fell apart (I mean, Guillermo Del Toro was on the project, so what could we expect?), but P.T. and Silent Hill fans found their wounds freshly salted when P.T. was suddenly lifted from the PS store, meaning that unlucky fans who had deleted the game to make space couldn’t re-download it.

Perhaps the deletion of P.T. was down to some rights contract tomfoolery, but what’s less forgivable is good old fashioned employee abuse. It came to light that Konami treats their employees worse than PETA treats its rescued animals. Reportedly, developers (even in senior roles) deemed to not be “useful” to the company any more- through whatever secret code that’s judged on- have been bumped down to menial jobs. Furthermore Hideo Kojima, Konami’s pet genius, departed the company just months before the release of MGSV. This led the company to unceremoniously boot Kojima’s name from the box and promotional art for the game, even though Kojima and the Metal Gear franchise are about an inseparable as any auteur- driven series. Not that this stopped Kojima’s name being plastered all over the credits of every mission in the game, but still. Not a great move on Konami’s part.

Finally, we have the most egregious moves on Konami’s part; the actions which betray a disregard for their consumers, and a startling misunderstanding of their own properties. A pachinko machine based off Silent Hills was a pretty stupid move, shown off in this gaudy monstrosity. The cacophony of pachinko noises, the flashing numbers, the pyramid head exploitation… it’s completely tone deaf. It’s almost like Konami is completely out of touch with its audience and franchise. And then there’s the Castlevania pachinko trailer promising “Erotic Violence”. Yeah.

The most recent piece of news, however, is just the cherry on the cake for me, cementing Konami’s farcically out-of-touch attitudes almost to the point that I’m not sure it’s not self-parody. A couple of days ago, Konami announced an upcoming piece of DLC for MGSV:TPP. More missions, you ask? Maybe a fleshing-out of the cut missions which reportedly round up the plot? No.

It’s horse armour. It’s literally horse armour.

… Sigh.

This has literally been a joke since Bethesda famously experimented with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion DLC way back in 2006 by releasing DLC purely aesthetic horse armour. This has been a running joke for 9 years. And here we are in 2015, with the most out-of-touch publisher in the games industry proving how out-of-touch it is. You really couldn’t make this up.