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A Kickstarter Without a Cause - Class of Heroes 2
by Robert Boyd on 03/28/12 11:08:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I was a huge Working Designs fan back in the day. I bought a Sega CD just to play their games (I imagine most Sega CD owners were the same way). I spent many an hour on classics like Dragon Force, Alundra, Arc the Lad 2, and the Growlanser game. Lunar: Eternal Blue is my favorite game of all time. So when I heard that Vic Ireland (president of Working Designs before it went out of business) was teaming up with Monkey Paw Games to start a kickstarter to localize an unspecified JRPG, my excitement was high.  Sure, I was excited by stuff like the Double Fine & Wasteland 2 kickstarters, but a JRPG localization kickstarter? That was right up my alley.

Then their kickstarter actually came out and that excitement instantly evaporated.

The Class of Heroes 2 kickstarter is a mess in so many ways that it's hard to know where to begin.

1 - Class of Heroes is not a series with a diehard fan base in the US. Not only that, but the first game in the series (the only one that has come out so far) has a 60-61% average on Gamerankings so they've got an uphill battle trying to convince people that the sequels are much better than the first game before they've even begun.

2 - There's no digital reward tier. A $5-$15 tier where you get a free download of the game tends to be most popular tier for successful kickstarters but here, there's no way to get a digital copy of the game through the kickstarter. The game will be available for download when it comes out but kickstarters supporters will have to buy the game just like everyone else.

Not only is there no download reward tier but there are no digital rewards of any kind. No soundtrack download, no making-of video, no online art book, nothing. This is just a hunch, but I'm guessing that if you're a big fan of digital distribution, you don't care that much for random video game collectibles. I know that's how I am - back when I was a teenager I loved stuff like the Lunar remake boxes but as an adult, stuff like that would just be clutter filling up my house.

3 - The PSP is a dead system in the US. Oh but wait, you can play PSP games on the Vita! Oh right, that only works with digital copies of games (see #2).

4 - "Suffice to say, we think there are enough fans like us out there that want to see more J-RPGs with great localization and presentation.  Fans that want their J-RPG experiences to be memorable regardless of the platform.  We know that this silenced J-RPG fanbase, under-served and forgotten, isn’t thrilled with where things are going.  So, now’s the time to speak up and get our happy tomorrow." And they're giving us the opportunity to show our JRPG support with a Wizardry clone - aka a game with a very old-school Western RPG gameplay style.

5 - They don't show off the game enough. This isn't a work-in-progress - the game is already out in Japan. And yet, there's no trailer and only a single screenshot.

6 - The early tiers are borderline offensive. The primary reward for the $5 and $10 tiers is a thank you email/letter. Saying thank you when someone donates to your kickstarter is just common courtesy; it shouldn't be a special reward.

7 - Vague on the rewards. The primary reward is the special edition boxed set at $59 but there are no screenshots of what the special edition is going to look like or a clear indicator of what the special edition is going to include. Similar thing with the posters.

8 - There's no clear description of how the money is going to be used. Make the game? Eh, the game is already made. Release an English version of the game? That's going to happen regardless of how the kickstarter does. Right now, they say the money will be used to improve the localization (plus provide the physical rewards) but what exactly does that entail?

But beyond all of these many problems with this kickstarter, there's an even bigger issue. There's no cause for fans to rally behind. The kickstarter starts out with a rallying cry to show your support for JRPGs but then transforms into a rallying cry to show your support for fancy special editions. Setting aside how this isn't a particular good example of either (it's more of a Western RPG with anime art and who wants a special edition for some random game on a dead system?), it's giving a mixed message. I'd love to show my support for more JRPGs but on the other hand, I don't want to show my support for lavish special edition box sets. I like getting cheap games from Steam, XBLA, PSN, and other sites. I imagine that Working Designs' ever-increasingly complex box sets were one of the factors involved in their eventually demise. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have Working Designs still around and localizing great RPGs than have a replica pendant or boxing puppet.

I'd love to see this kickstarter succeed if only as a step to seeing GaijinWorks and Monkey Paw Games turn into Working Designs back at the height of its glory. For that matter, I'd even like to throw a few bucks their way to buy Class of Heroes 2 since it sounds like a fun game (I've read from a few different places that the series gets much better with each new installment). Sadly, as a PSP Go owner who is planning on buying a Vita later this year, even if I donated to their kickstarter, I'd still have to buy the game again later. No thanks. I'll just buy the game when it comes out.

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Jim Perry
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This has "Fail" written all over it. There's no way I would throw $60 at a Kickstarter as the minimum to get a copy of the game. :(

Ujn Hunter
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While I agree on the poor choice of "Class of Heroes 2" as the title and that they should have included a Digital tier for people like you. I am in the complete opposite camp when it comes to Physical & Digital games. I wouldn't have donated to the Double Fine kickstarter at all unless they had a Physical Edition and I'd have no interest in this kickstarter either if it was Digital only. Why "back" something that you can just grab later (assuming the funding is successful) for cheaper? Granted with kickstarters there is no guarantee you'll get anything at all for backing projects and no recourse for getting your money back either.

Edit: Also as someone who doesn't care about the "current" generation of the PSP Vita and the 3DS, but still enjoy playing my original PSP & DS, the chance to keep bringing titles out for those systems seems exactly what something like kickstarter would be perfect for.

Robert Boyd
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I'm not saying that there shouldn't be higher tiers with cool physical rewards for people who like limited editions. I'm saying that there's a problem when there aren't really any worthwhile low tiers. For example, the Double Fine kickstarter made almost half its money from the $15 & $30 tiers.

Robert Boyd
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Also, this is terrible timing for a JRPG localization kickstarter. Last year, there wasn't much (Trails in the Sky on the PSP was the highlight) but this year, we've already gotten Final Fantasy XIII-2, Tales of Graces F, and we're getting Xenoblade Chronicles in a week or two. And that's just the high profile stuff.

EDIT: Also, XSeed Games just announced a Wizardry-esque RPG called Unchained Blades for the 3DS & PSP today. Horrible, horrible timing for this Class of Heroes 2 kickstarter.

E Zachary Knight
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If it is any consolation, they are asking for $500k and I very much doubt they will get anywhere near that based on current trends. With Double Fine and Wasteland 2 we were pretty much assured they would succeed based on the totals raised by the 2nd day. The same is not happening here. 2 days in and only $13k raised.

All that is probably based on what you have listed here as its weaknesses.

Robert Boyd
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Actually, it's only been up for half a day. If they don't have $50k by the end of today (which seems very unlikely), I think we can officially call it doomed.

E Zachary Knight
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Odd. It says 29 days to go. Usually it says 31 on its first day out. That is what I was basing my comments on. Unless I just don't fully understand the campaign lengths on Kickstarter.

E Zachary Knight
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I would just like to point out an odd reward. The fact that as a backer your name will be compiled in the game code. Considering most compilers ignore comments and don't compile them into the executable file, how are they going to make that work without creating a very large string or array element that could increase the file size (not astronomically but probably noticeable depending on number). Also, how would a supporter be able to verify such a reward?

Jonathan Jennings
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probably a situation where a PR person tried to define a programming application ( comments) and didn't fully grasp what they were saying least that's the best idea i could come up with besides an extended array as you said.

Chris Remo
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Kickstarter project creators can set any length they like for their projects.

E Zachary Knight
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Ah. That makes a big difference. Thanks.

Ryan Marshall
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Everything else aside, they are targeting fans of traditional RPGs who own a PSP. That's not a very broad audience.

Robert Boyd
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Not only that, but it's not an underserved audience either. The PSP already has many great RPGs available for it.

Luke Mildenhall-Ward
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It's just lazy on many levels. I don't even get the impression they care that much judging by the effort put into this. It feels like they put the kickstarter together in a day and then threw it out there with the sentiment: "if it makes money—cool... if not—whatever."

james sadler
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There's lots of good reasons why this is a poorly thought out idea, and I agree with all of them. I am also a big fan of JRPG's and would love to see the genre see a comeback in the states, but this is a bad idea. Give people the PSN option, or even steam and they'd see much better results. The PSP is dead.

Luke Quinn
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LOL @ "As a supporter, your name will be compiled into the game code, though it won't be visible in the credits."
I hope they're not talking about putting names in as comments, because then the names WON'T be "part of every game shipped or downloaded in the US/UK" as comments aren't compiled...
What a total bunch of wank; That thank you letter that they form fill better be the most earnest mass produced email ever. (though good on them for going to the effort to make the email suitable for printing, forwarding, or screen grabbing :D)

Robert Boyd
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They've added 2 new rewards.

$20 - Digital arranged soundtrack.
$100 - PSN download of the game.

It's an improvement, but I think it's too little. They really need to have a no-UMD, PSN code-only reward at a low level. Most people want a UMD or a PSN download, not both.

Jack Kerras
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Why wouldn't you have a 'kickstarter supporters only' price at a lower cost than your intended retail release price point?

I can't imagine why anyone would spend so much money on what is broadly considered (at least to Western audiences) to be the least interesting, least dynamic type of video game available. And it's getting localized whether the Kickstarter works or not!

They want half a million dollars to do a project they're already going to do, and they don't give you an actual copy of it until you've spent as much as or more than you'd spend on release.

What a crock. I rarely hope anyone will fail in their endeavors, but in this case I will make an exception.

Seriously, -nine- posters and then $20 basically gets you a thank-you note?

Also, you don't localize a physical version and a digital version. You localize the game, some get put on UMDs, and some get delivered digitally.

Good -lord-, this kickstarter annoys me.

David Phan
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$500,000 for...

"It's focused on providing a physical Deluxe Pack for Class of Heroes II as well as increasing funding to expand the scope and depth of localization from digital download supporters."

Seriously? You could fund 4-5 mobile game budgets with that kind of money. Would rather see money go to helping Vanillaware localize Grand Knights History on PSP sooner.

Ivan Kanev
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"The Class of Heroes 2 kickstarter is a mess in so many ways that it's hard to know where to begin."

true that.. so much failure on so many levels -_-