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A light hearted Lovecraftian game of urban destruction, for two to four players. By Lee Moyer, Keith Baker and Paul Komoda.
1,246 backers pledged $122,874 to help bring this project to life.

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Refund Update

As of this evening I've begun refunding backers along the terms I initially outlined in the Terminus update. I've refunded the top backer, James Bauer, his full $2500 and contacted everyone in the next tier down to confirm payment methods.  

Much that is being reported here, and elsewhere, is either not relevant or completely false. Inari was dissolved entirely well before this collaboration was even started and Joystick Labs never received any of the funds raised here. I have not spoken with anyone directly involved with Joystick Labs since early 2011 and the incubator quietly closed its doors in October of 2012.  

Before this project I was working a full time job and invested my own money into launching this campaign. With my own funds and some loaned by family, but later paid back out of my own pocket, I flew to Portland to shoot the campaign video with Lee. Several close personal friends and family members who knew about my earlier ventures in great detail, and even those who'd been at Joystick Labs with me, backed this project. They too will receive their refunds in time, just like everyone else, without any preferential treatment.

Every step I've taken in the last year was in service to this game. Projects of this scope are sometimes far more complex than they seem to anyone on the outside. They take more than anyone could have guessed, the creators included.

I'll post again when I've issued refunds to the next tier.

- Erik Chevalier

erik@theforkingpath.com

Clarifications

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.

- Erik

erik@theforkingpath.com

Terminus

This is not an easy update to write. 

The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled.

After much deliberation I've had to make this decision. I've informed Keith and Lee and neither at all happy with this situation. Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.

From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom that Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects. Everyone involved agreed on this. Since then rifts have formed and every error compounded the growing frustration, causing only more issues. After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses and hiring artists to do things like rule book design and art conforming the money was approaching a point of no return. We had to print at that point or never. Unfortunately that wasn't in the cards for a variety of reasons.

I'm going to write a full post-mortem to explain every issue in greater detail but suffice to say that I never gave up and always intended to get this project printed. My intentions have always been good and I've struggled with this greatly. I've spent a large amount of time pitching investors, begging banks for loans and seeking other sources of funding to fix this. Sadly I found no takers.

As stated above Lee and Keith were not directly involved in this decision. I informed them earlier this month about the situation. Keith went out of his way to speak with his contacts at other companies to see if any could help salvage the game. We spent quite a bit of time working on possible deals and arrangements but in the end they just weren't interested in taking the risk. Keith has only ever done amazing work in getting this made and can't be blamed in any way for its downfall.

My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully. This puts all of the financial burden directly on my shoulders. Starting with those who've pre-ordered after the Kickstarter campaign through our webstore, then I'll begin working my way through the backer list, starting with those who funded at the highest levels. Unfortunately I can't give any type of schedule for the repayment as I left my job to do this project and must find work again. I'll create a separate bank account to place anything beyond my basic costs of living. Every time that account has a decent amount saved into it I'll issue a payout to a portion of the backer list. I'll post updates with each payout to keep you all informed on the progress.

Again, I never set out to con anyone or to perpetrate a fraud but I did walk into a situation that was beyond my abilities and for that I'm deeply sorry. This has been a rough year, I never wanted to make it harder for anyone. There will be no more monthly updates, not that there have really been in some time, but I will post with each payout, as well as the post-mortem when it is eventually complete.

Sincerest apologies,
Erik Chevalier
erik@theforkingpath.com

June Update

Greetings Backers,

Just touching base so you know we're still alive. The project is moving along but there isn't any news beyond our last update to add. Still looking at a Q3 release.

Remember, you can keep up with Lee Moyer on his blog at http://leemoyer.wordpress.com and track Keith Baker via http://keith-baker.com.

If you have questions or comments regarding the game please email Erik@TheForkingPath.com and send any address changes to Jane@TheForkingPath.com.

Thanks all!

Erik Chevalier - Publisher, The Forking Path

One Year (Or Pretty Close)!

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