This is not the post-mortem but a clarification for the last update. Its wordy, yes, but there is a lot of clarifying to do as many have already stated.
I've read every comment but they are too many to address individually. I've attempted to respond to every email and have gotten through most of them but will continue to reply. This morning, after reading the comments about reporting me to the Oregon Department of Justice, I contacted them and explained the situation in great detail. While they gave no promises their agent didn't feel that I'd committed any fraud. I am going to provide them with more information and work with them to see what I need to do to make this right in their eyes. I will also be contacting any other agencies who receive reports in order to provide them with a transparent view of the scenario from all angles. This project has been a year of frustration on every level. There are things you don't know and I can't talk about yet without first seeking legal advice, but hopefully in time everything will be made clear. I don't expect everyone to accept my apologies, there is nothing I can say that will make every single backer forgive me.
By canceling the game I returned all rights to the title, art and sculptures to their creators. This prevents me from producing any products, free or sold, related to the property. This means that I cannot distribute any type of print and play editions or related merchandise such as miniatures. Keith has commented that a print and play version is in the works but I am not a part of that. Since the last update Keith has been provided with all of your contact information so that he can update you as these become available.
The miniature statue originals were copied once for safety as they were very fragile. Those copies are still in China at the moment. They're going to be shipped back soon and returned to Paul Komoda. No pewter figures were created as they were to be done after the plastic sets were produced due to the original sculptures' fragility, as stated in previous updates.
I see Kickstarter backers, myself included, as pre-order customers and not investors in a corporation. Its against the Kickstarter ToS to sell shares of a company as a reward tier. As a project creator here I owe, per my contractual obligations with Kickstarter's ToS, the listed rewards or a full refund, nothing more or less. The estimated delivery dates are just that though, estimates. Once people have backed at that level those values are locked and unchangeable in this system, but still remain as only estimates which do not take into account any issues a project creator may run into. When I originally launched the project the terms were different then they are now but I'm sticking to the current version which promises "rewards or refunds" with no other options.
Any references to my past business and involvement with the defunct Joystick Labs is irrelevant to this topic. From a surface level it may seem similar but that was a very different situation. Every company at Joystick was provided with the same amount of funds and not a single team delivered their qualifying projects within that budget or schedule. Expectations were set too high and the daily realities of independent video game development were drastically underestimated by all parties involved. The two games that did eventually reach the market were funded separately from the main program by outside investors or publishers, and neither found commercial success. The Joystick Lab owners were experienced venture capitalists and well aware of the risks involved with investing in start-ups. While explaining that entire situation could fill a large book it is really not relevant here.
In regards to comments about backers never expecting to ever see a refund you should all know that I've already started the process and several individuals have already received refunds via the online store where I took post-campaign pre-orders. There is an issue with the PayPal API through Shopify that is preventing direct refunds in some cases but I've emailed those affected and am working it out directly with them. The reason I chose to refund the post-campaign purchases first is because they were offered a solid delivery date, unlike the estimated delivery date here, and never had the benefit of even my sparsest project updates. It is also the simplest amount to refund due to the system in use there, despite Paypal API issues. I am still working out the system by which I will refund everyone else as Kickstarter's Amazon payment system only allows direct refunds within the first 30 days.
Even if this project had folded on day one, before I'd spent a single cent of the funding, I would NOT have been able to immediately refund everyone due to the 10% fees that Kickstarter and Amazon took off the top. This is true for all Kickstarter projects. The few that have provided full refunds had to come up with those funds from other sources.
The company I started was meant to provide a framework for supporting The Doom that Came to Atlantic City with how-to-play videos, supplementary add-ons, and general customer support. The software licensed was needed to process art for press and do layout of elements such as the rulebook. The laptop used to edit the original pitch video could barely handle the high resolution files from the game's creator, so I upgraded to a desktop computer that could deal with it. The move back to Portland from California was multi-pronged, but mainly in order to work in a less expensive and more supportive community that I felt would benefit the company, and by extension its customers, in time.
Whether or not you think every cent should have gone to the printer and creators, and none to the publisher, it takes money just to get a project like this ready and build the framework that will keep it going after release. My hope was to one day use that framework to support additional games and allow the company to grow, just like any other business venture, but "The Doom" was first and central to the idea of the company. Without it The Forking Path ceases to exist. I put every effort into making this work and am more frustrated than anyone with its failure.
Lastly I'd like to talk about the legal threats I've received in the last 24 hours. I know that any trust in what I say is gone for the great majority of you and I get it. There is nothing I can say at this point to repair that, I just have to hope that I'm not digging the hole deeper with every keystroke. I've publicly promised to repay EVERY backer because that is my obligation per the Kickstarter Terms of Service. I am contractually bound to do that much and I absolutely intend to. If I were to immediately pay back as many of you as I could right this moment a sizeable percentage would go unrefunded which would only cause more problems. If I'm dragged into court then everything will vanish into legal fees and I'll never be able to refund anyone else. If a little more patience is dredged up from the depths and I'm given time to work and refill the coffers I can eventually, with some hard work and dedication, refund everyone.
I know this sucks. I'd rather work with everyone to find ways for it to not suck so much instead of dragging it out even more painfully. I appreciate everyone who's emailed or commented with kind messages. I don't want to create any more deadlines that might be broken so I won't give an exact date for the post-mortem but it is in the works. Again, I really am sorry.