D&D General What happened to Sasquatch Game Studios?

DarkCrisis

Legend
The only unfulfilled KS I’ve backed was welcome to tikor, which luckily I only did a placeholder pledge. It’s almost 3 years past “estimated fulfillment” and the creator has since been plausibly accused of harassment and abuse by another creator.

Dodged a bullet there.
2 of mine where homages to Super Metroid. One vanished and the other still posts a baer bones update on occasion. Been many many years since their kickstarter. Oh and another was the sequel to Shut up and Jam Gaiden (hilarious fan made RPG based on the old basketball video game). Also just vanished one day.

Edit: Apparently one of those Metroid likes comes out next month. After like 8 years
 
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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've backed 73 Kickstarter campaigns since 2013 (including the 5e Primeval Thule book from Sasquatch). Of the projects I've backed, a few are delayed - some by over a year. Welcome to Tikor is WAY overdue as others have mentioned, but aside from that one all the other outstanding projects look like they will eventually see the light of day.

But I like Kickstarter. I especially like projects like the Dying Earth box set from Goodman Games, which blew up to such an extent than instead of being one box set, it will be two - the campaign hit so many stretch goals they added a second box to hold it all. And that's where the value lies: buying all that stuff retail would cost just SO much more.

I'm sad that Sasquatch seems to have fallen apart. I actually reached out to them, years ago, to see if they were interested in some ideas I had for some Thule supplements. Rick Baker responded and was very gracious (though he declined my offer), and I had the chance to talk to him and Robert Schwab at a convention a few months later.

Nice folks, and great designers. I hope they're doing OK (and if they're reading this, my offer to put together some new Thule supplements is still on the table).
 
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Here in Spain a company tried to publish the 25 Anniversary version of Hero Quest, years before the new edition by Avalon Hill, and they are still working in the project, but with a different name.

Could the IP to be acquired by other company?
 

Staffan

Legend
Here in Spain a company tried to publish the 25 Anniversary version of Hero Quest, years before the new edition by Avalon Hill, and they are still working in the project, but with a different name.

Could the IP to be acquired by other company?
Possibly, but why?

Remember that the old Alternity game including StarDrive and Dark Matter is still owned by Wizards of the Coast. What Sasquatch did was essentially what nuTSR are trying to do with Star Frontiers, except that they're actually competent game designers and (to my knowledge) not raging bigots. They wrote a new game that incorporated some elements of the old (because you can't copyright game mechanics) but not the setting elements (because you certainly can copyright Sesheyans), and used the name Alternity for it (because Wizards weren't using it anymore, and unlike Star Frontiers I don't think they've been selling PDFs of it).

And that was enough to get them 700 backers and $62k on Kickstarter. That's not exactly a resounding success. It's not nothing, but it's only a little more than EN Publishing got for ACE! – and not to knock ACE!, but Alternity strikes me as a significantly more ambitious product – ambitious enough that $62k clearly wasn't enough to fulfill their promised stretch goals.

The problem with Alternity is that it wants to be a setting-neutral science fiction game, much like D&D has sort of been a setting-neutral fantasy game. The issue with that is that it doesn't work. A fantasy game can get away with only the faintest hint of a setting, because there are so many built-in assumptions based on a modern-day distorted view of medieval Europe + Tolkien. I mean, most games don't settle there, but it's enough of a core standard that you can say "It's like regular fantasy, but Our Elves Are Different." But there's no similar standard for science fiction. Some people hear "sci-fi" and think Star Wars. Others think Star Trek. Or Foundation. Or Dune. Or Shadowrun (which brings us back to elves). Or John Carter of Mars.

So you need to make Choices when designing the game. Does it have space travel or is it planetbound? If it does, how easy is it? Is there FTL, and if so how does it work? What alien species are there? What sort of weaponry exists? Are there psychic powers or other magic, and if so how do they work? And by the time you've answered all those questions, you've basically built a setting already, minus the "geography" (astrography?) bits, which means your game isn't as "setting-neutral" as you wanted. At that point you might as well fill in those parts too and add some actual color to your game. Or you could go full generic and make what is essentially a game construction kit rather than an actual game, one where all those calls are up to the GM, which of course means a lot more work on their part (see: GURPS).

Anyhow, it all boils down to: why track down and buy the rights to a game that was a knock-off of another game from 20 years ago, and which wasn't particularly successful in either iteration, when you could make your own game instead and get it the way you want it instead of risk cheesing off and getting badwill from those few people who still remember the other game?
 

Yora

Legend
The problem with Alternity is that it wants to be a setting-neutral science fiction game, much like D&D has sort of been a setting-neutral fantasy game. The issue with that is that it doesn't work. A fantasy game can get away with only the faintest hint of a setting, because there are so many built-in assumptions based on a modern-day distorted view of medieval Europe + Tolkien. I mean, most games don't settle there, but it's enough of a core standard that you can say "It's like regular fantasy, but Our Elves Are Different." But there's no similar standard for science fiction. Some people hear "sci-fi" and think Star Wars. Others think Star Trek. Or Foundation. Or Dune. Or Shadowrun (which brings us back to elves). Or John Carter of Mars.
So generic fantasy games are not actually generic.

There's been an old saying that "D&D is only good for playing D&D". I think most generic fantasy RPGs are really just D&D style fantasy games.
 

So generic fantasy games are not actually generic.

There's been an old saying that "D&D is only good for playing D&D". I think most generic fantasy RPGs are really just D&D style fantasy games.

Yeah, the gaming community has been indoctrinated into the idea of "generic fantasy" in a way that it hasn't been for "generic sci-fi".
 

Staffan

Legend
So generic fantasy games are not actually generic.

There's been an old saying that "D&D is only good for playing D&D". I think most generic fantasy RPGs are really just D&D style fantasy games.
D&D is a big part of it, but definitely not exclusive. Ahistorical as it is, D&D at least points toward a semi-historical Europe which serves as the core of "generic Fantasy". We know what a sword is, what a horse is, and what mail is. But what sort of weapons do they use in the future? Laser swords? Blasters? Radium pistols? How do they get around? Are single-person spaceships a common thing, or are all useful spaceships gigantic lumbering behemoths?
 

The sci-fi fiction suffers a serious handicap and it is this gets old very poor. The new generations miss technologies are real now, but in the old titles these don't appear, for example the mobiles and laptops, but also new elements from the speculative fiction as the mind-upload and digital inmortality.

I guess the commercial sci-fi in the entertaiment industry will evolution until the space fantasy, where psionic powers replaces the classic wizards and other spellcasters, and with a retro or vintage visual look, for example a style of 80's Saturday morning cartoons.
 

jgsugden

Legend
That's called fraud, and is illegal.
It is. However, there is little that stops someone from setting up an LLC, designing a campaign that will gather funding with a long fulfillment window, pay salaries, find extra unexpected costs, discover unexpected challenges in development, see the timeline extended, pay more salaries, etc... until the project becomes impossible to complete. And when those types of problems arise, it can be difficult to prove the difference between bad luck, bad management, and fraud.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
It is. However, there is little that stops someone from setting up an LLC, designing a campaign that will gather funding with a long fulfillment window, pay salaries, find extra unexpected costs, discover unexpected challenges in development, see the timeline extended, pay more salaries, etc... until the project becomes impossible to complete. And when those types of problems arise, it can be difficult to prove the difference between bad luck, bad management, and fraud.
Yeah, but even when that happens, an update explaining what happened is the least they can do, IMO.

For example, ZNAPS was a KS I backed (fortunately, only for about $20). They raised over $2 million.

Their last update was on 9/25/16, when they said they were starting shipping and to please be patient.

Based on the comments section, no one ever got anything.

I suppose it's possible that something extraordinarily catastrophic occurred, but it does seem unlikely. Even then, unless the warehouse was struck by a meteor and everyone involved in the project simultaneously died, they could have at least posted an update. It's hard to imagine that this one could have been anything other than a (fairly successful) scam.
 


Stormonu

Legend
As far as KS's go, I'm a long-term victim of Robotech. Took me a few years to even consider coming back to try another.

On the Alternity front, I did grab a copy of the new version. It has some nice streamlining, especially in skills and skill costs and it looks like it'll be fun to play. I've noticed that Renegade Studio's GI Joe system uses an ability check similar to Alternity (d20 + diff/skill die), but the success DCs are set instead of scaling to your skill. It's like someone combined 5E and Alternity and took the best of both approaches. I'm curious if their other games are similar, and I haven't checked to see if any of the Renegade designers used to be Alternity designers, or maybe even just fans of Alternity.
 

Yora

Legend
It is. However, there is little that stops someone from setting up an LLC, designing a campaign that will gather funding with a long fulfillment window, pay salaries, find extra unexpected costs, discover unexpected challenges in development, see the timeline extended, pay more salaries, etc... until the project becomes impossible to complete. And when those types of problems arise, it can be difficult to prove the difference between bad luck, bad management, and fraud.
I think the key things lawyers would look for in a lawsuit are what work was actually done, where the money went, and particularly what wages were paid to whom.
If no work was done but all the money was paid as wages to the owners, that would be the most straightforward fraud.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It is. However, there is little that stops someone from setting up an LLC, designing a campaign that will gather funding with a long fulfillment window, pay salaries, find extra unexpected costs, discover unexpected challenges in development, see the timeline extended, pay more salaries, etc... until the project becomes impossible to complete. And when those types of problems arise, it can be difficult to prove the difference between bad luck, bad management, and fraud.
That's a pretty extreme scenario involving serious pre-planned fraud; I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that Kickstarter has a fraud problem any greater than the rest of the world does. Generally, I believe things going wrong is almost always the most likely explanation.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
That's a pretty extreme scenario involving serious pre-planned fraud; I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that Kickstarter has a fraud problem any greater than the rest of the world does. Generally, I believe things going wrong is almost always the most likely explanation.
Kickstarter actually once hired freelance writer Mike Harris to do a report on one of their failed Kickstarters, for the Zano drone project. He says they gave him full access and didn't ask to edit his final product (which he wouldn't have let them do anyway, but they never hinted at it.) Seems to me they were (at the time) as interested as we, the consumers, are in figuring out how to avoid fraud.

You can read it here.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It is. However, there is little that stops someone from setting up an LLC, designing a campaign that will gather funding with a long fulfillment window...

There's one major thing that stops this. Such an LLC enters the space as a complete unknown. There can be no names anyone recognizes involved, and no history of success. Which means the project is unlikely to garner significant funding.
 

There's one major thing that stops this. Such an LLC enters the space as a complete unknown. There can be no names anyone recognizes involved, and no history of success. Which means the project is unlikely to garner significant funding.
Unless they're really good at creating a false narrative about their "products". Cough Soulbound Studios Cough

Yeah, I know these tend to be the exception, rather than the rule, but there are enough people that can milk kickstarters that I try to do extra due diligence before backing.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Unless they're really good at creating a false narrative about their "products". Cough Soulbound Studios Cough

Except, Jeromy Walsh at least had some personal credits in games to his name. There was an actual game studio around to sue, and that studio is now basically bankrupt. His reputation ruined, he's unlikely to ever run any major project again.

Not exactly a case where the perpetrators of fraud get away clean and free.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I think the key things lawyers would look for in a lawsuit are what work was actually done, where the money went, and particularly what wages were paid to whom.
If no work was done but all the money was paid as wages to the owners, that would be the most straightforward fraud.
Again, this is not an easy thing to prove. It is realatively easy to show enough to make the reasonable case that there was no fraud. Fraud has an intent element, and intent is hard to prove. How often do people really give the melodrama villain twirling speech to outline how and why they do their evils? It doesn't happen unless you're an idiot.

And if you brought lawyers in to resolve such an issue, the only ones that woudl really win would be the lawyers.
 

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