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 Alpha Colony  Kickstarter misses funding goal by $28
Alpha Colony Kickstarter misses funding goal by $28
December 3, 2012 | By Mike Rose

There was heartbreak for the team at DreamQuest Games over the weekend, as its Alpha Colony Kickstarter missed its $50,000 pledge target by a mere $28, highlighting the all-or-nothing nature of Kickstarter as a funding platform.

As a result, the studio will not receive any of the cash despite coming so close, as the Kickstarter rules clearly state that if a project fails to reach its target within the specified timeframe, it cannot claim the money.

It's notable that this is the second time the game has failed to hit its Kickstarter target -- the first time around, the studio was looking for $500,000, and only managed to gather $101,472 before DreamQuest pulled the plug on it.

Alpha Colony was due to be a family-friendly exploration, building and trading sim for a variety of platforms, with a release next summer. However, DreamQuest founder Christopher Williamson posted on the studio's Facebook page yesterday, stating that he will now have to "focus on projects that will pay the bills."

"Obviously, we are very disappointed," he admitted. "We have invested 10 months and over $60,000 of our own money into this project. It is so frustrating to come so close, but clearly there simply isn't that much interest in building the kind of game I envisioned."

The message suggests that the team may put the project back on Kickstarter in the future, but that other more immediate needs must be dealt with first.

"I doubt this is the end for Alpha Colony," he added, "but I do have to be responsible business owner and father and accept the reality of where we are at the moment and what the world wants."

"The kindest thing the universe could have done for us"

However, talking to Gamasutra, Williamson provided his thoughts on how the Kickstarter ended, noting that his team is actually relieved that it failed.

"Although many consider this a failure and unfair, in the end, it is perhaps the kindest thing the universe could have done for us," he said. "To be committed to deliver my dream game underfunded, understaffed, and sub-par, and to lose even more time and money would have been even more heartbreaking."

He noted that if it had been successful, he would have ended up losing far more money as a result of the low funding target. "[$50,000] may seem like a lot of money to many," he added, "but by the time I pay 3D artists, animators, designers, and programmers, issue figurines, prints, T-shirts, shipping, etc. there will be nothing left for me and my team and we would end up with a game far short of what I had envisioned building."

"That is why I put the original game up for $500k -- because that was what I felt it would take to do it right and not lose money. We scaled it way back and added stretch goals to $300k on the second Kickstarter in the hopes that we could at least achieve the same $100k level we got before."

He also noted, "Despite all the snarky posts by others, I had already contributed an extensive amount of my own money to the Kickstarter and called in many favors and would need to do so again to succeed." He added, "I have already invested 10 months and $60,000 of my 401k into this game and simply have no more savings to live off to try again."

Kickstarter has been a huge talking point for video game developers over the course of the last year. Last week, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander outlined the six most important lessons we can learn from the business model.

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Jesse Crafts-Finch
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I'm very surprised one of the dev team members didn't just kick in the 28 bucks themselves...

Aaron San Filippo
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Perhaps you should read the story ;)

David Pare
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Here is a comment of the creator 6 minutes before the end: "We need just $900 in the next 6 minutes! I already kicked in our last pennies, please can someone save us!?". So I guest they were already all in. ;)

Luis Guimaraes
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Somebody went $800 and left the $28 open right before the expiration, and the page only updated the value seconds away from the deadline when nothing else could have been done in time.

Maria Jayne
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From asking for $500,000 to asking for $50,000. It makes you wonder where all that extra cash would have gone if the original target was met, or if the creator even knew why he needed that much.

Jeremy Reaban
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The $500,000 was for a remake of M.U.L.E. as well, including getting the license for that.

This is supposed to be a spiritual successor and it was scaled back a lot from the original concept of the previous KS>

Todd Boyd
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Heartbreaking... but the people have spoken, I suppose.

E Zachary Knight
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Knowing about the first Kickstarter campaign puts this into some perspective that sites like Kotaku were lacking. It seems that the first time, the developer over estimated the demand and requirements of the game. While the second time around, they were operating under the assumption that all those who donated the first time around would do the same the second time and for the same amount.

After an initial failure, it takes a lot more work to convince those people you have it in you to succeed even at a lower level.

Filipp Issa
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Where are the mistakes?

Adam Bishop
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If I was one of the people who donated to this game I'd have been furious to read Williamson's comments. If his team couldn't make the game for $50,000 and didn't want to do so he shouldn't have been asking people to give him money for it.

Rik Spruitenburg
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As someone who donated both times (well, more like pre-ordered) I'm not furious. Human beings do amazing mental gymnastics at times like these. He's spun the crowd-fund wheel and it came up short. He's been punched in the gut and had his dream ruined. So he's reframing things and trying to move on. I just hope he doesn't internalize the wrong things, and wish him well.

C Hawthorne
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@Rik Spruitenburg
Not so sure about him being "punched in the gut." This smells of a big publicity stunt and he's the one doing the punching. Check this out: Login and search his name. I supported the first time but didn't the second after doing some research on him.

Justin Sawchuk
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So he would have half assed it had he got the 50k. He needed a 500k to make the game he wanted to... I wonder if he changed the pitch and if his lack of enthusiasm killed it, to get less than half of what he got the first time.

Jesse Crafts-Finch
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Sometimes it takes time to figure these things out. Props for having a go at it guys! Try out some different strategies as you move forward, and I'm sure you'll succeed if you keep at it.

Shay Pierce
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My reaction isn't "aww, it's sad that he got so close to success!" My reaction is: "holy crap, I can't believe he came this close to a nightmare scenario for himself and everyone else involved!"

I hate to rag on an independent creator who was putting his own sweat and savings into a passion project. But, he just admitted that $50k was NOT enough to actually make the game. It's great that he's being honest about this now but..... WHAT?!

Why did you ask for $50k then?! Why didn't you admit it before? And what on earth would you have done if you had made exactly $50k? Immediately admit that it wasn't really enough and refund it (minus Kickstarter's cut)? Or just try to make the game anyway and fail?

I'm sympathetic to his position, but apparently he was taking a big gamble (that he would actually make well over $50k), with other peoples' money on the line. Yes that's part of the nature of Kickstarter... but this just seems misleading, if not outright deceptive.

Kyle Redd
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I'm not sympathetic to his position at all; actually I'm a little pissed. That project creators would ask for less than what they actually need to build the game they're making is one of the big fears around Kickstarter. Even though the backers should be carefully evaluating each project and assume that risk for every pledge they make, that type of behavior by a developer is still inexcusable.

Rik Spruitenburg
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I'm sure they would have tried to raise more funds other ways.

John Hahn
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Game developers have to postpone release dates, ask publishers for bigger budgets, and/or cut/add new features all the time. It's just that usually this happens without public knowledge and so the fans' opinion of the developer isn't tarnished because the fans never know that these snafus happen.

With Kickstarter, you tell the fans what you are planning for the game right from the start. If you fail to deliver, or run out of money, or radically change the design because you realize that what you initially pitched is overscoped or simply not fun (this happens all the time) your reputation with the fans is now tarnished.

I wouldn't be surprised if some developers approach Kickstarter as a way to get initial funding to make the start of a great game, and then use it to pitch the game to a publisher and say, "We've made this game with crowdfunding, so most of it is already paid for. We just need $500K more to finish this. Would you like to publish it and finish funding it." That very well could be what these guys had in mind. We'll use this $50K to get some more of this game finished, then we'll pitch it to some publishers and hopefully somebody picks it up and gives us the funding we need to finish it. I'm not condoning that or saying it's good. I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if that was the plan here, and I wouldn't be surprised if somebody pulls something like that with Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding system at some point.

Lex Allen
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That's really strange. If I knew that they were that close, I would have put in the $28. However, you aren't allowed to put in your own money for kickstarter projects, so admitting that could get them banned in the future.