Sorry for the long delay in updates, and special apologies to those who have emailed or commented in the last week and to whom I haven’t yet replied. As I’m sure many of you suspect, things haven’t been going well for Haunts and Mob Rules Games. I am still determined to get the game out, but I no longer have any way of knowing when and how that will happen.
The principal cause for our dire condition is that there are no longer any programmers working on the game. Our lead programmer, Jonathan, was always going to move on to something else after a year or so. We had hoped that he would be able to work on the game in his spare time, but now that he’s going back at Google, he has told us that his spare time will be very minimal and not enough to make progress on the game. Our second programmer, Josh, has quit the project entirely to take another job. He does not want to work on the game in his spare time.
The game as it stands has all the systems in place, but there are a lot of bugs. Knowing Jonathan would be leaving, the plan had been to get online play working and release the Beta, with Josh working to make the levels run in online play and scripting the AI for the single player versions of those levels.
Unfortunately, getting online play working took three times longer than estimated (instead of the twice as long as estimated I’d been counting on). It also required making adjustments to programming for all the levels, even when they’re not being played online. With no one left on the project who is capable of implementing those changes and debugging them during testing, the game is in a very patchwork state. In some cases, levels that once worked fine now have serious issues. Fixing those issues would require fixes both to the level programming and the core system programming, working in tandem.
But now it’s just me and Austin. Austin has finished up the art content for the initial release of the game, but he’s not a programmer. I’m not a programmer either. Although I know some small amount about how the level programming works, I’m not capable at this point of fixing the bugs I know about. This is further complicated by the fact that the game is written in the Go programming language, which is not widely used, limiting the pool of potential new programmers.
What then, to do? We are not giving up! I am currently in talks with another game company owned by some old friends and coworkers of mine, Blue Mammoth Games. They have expressed an interest in taking on Haunts. Austin and I would continue on in our roles, although we would both be doing so in our spare time. These new potential partners won't be able to make the decision for a few weeks at least and then after that it would be months before anything came out. Still, I think it's out best shot at this point.
This has been an emotionally rough couple of months for me, as I’ve invested almost all of my time for the past year or more in Haunts, along with my own money and reputation. It’s been terrible to watch it fail despite best efforts, but the failure is mine. There are scores of decisions I’d make differently if I had to do them over, and there were bets I made knowing the risks that haven’t paid off like we needed them to. I have failed to update because things were constantly going from bad to worse and then we started to see some rays of hope and I was hoping for something more concrete in the good news department. My obligation to all of you generous Kickstarter backers is foremost in my mind and I have not served you as well as I should have.
I will turn over my share of any future revenue from the game to whoever manages to get it finished, fun, and out to you. We have spent all the money we raised, but I will personally refund out of my own pocket anyone who wants to withdraw their support, no questions asked. We’re going to make this game, and if you can hang on for what looks to be a long road ahead, we will get it finished, but that’s not what I asked you to sign up for and it’s not what you gave us money for. email me directly through Kickstarter if you would like your pledge refunded.
Finally, although I’m very hopeful about the partnership deal I’m pursuing, that deal is not made yet and my friends at Blue Mammoth have said it’s fine if I look for other options. I haven’t found any yet, but now I’m throwing it open to you all. If any of you or someone you know is interested in and capable of taking on Haunts and doing right by it, I’d love to hear from you.
I have made an update to the Mob Rules Games web site that has descriptions and images of some of the work we’ve been doing. The attached video that Austin put together shows some of the gameplay from across a variety of different level, so you can see how close we are to finishing the game. All the systems are there, and when it works it’s fun to play. You can see how we spent your money, and that we weren’t just sitting around twiddling our thumbs, even if we have collapsed at the finish line.