Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Loot Drop’s “Old School” RPG(s) Canceled

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 20, 2012

Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall have announced that they are canceling their Kickstarter for the Old School RPG which had since been renamed “Shaker.” While they did get an impressive amount of money pledged to the Kickstarter, it clearly wasn’t enough of a trajectory to get to the minimum amount, let alone double that as they’d hoped.

I guess I should be bummed about this, but I’m not really. My personal hope is that they keep the core concept, but launch a new Kickstarter in a couple of months with a far better pitch.

The thing is – DoubleFine got away with the whole “We’re gonna make an old-school adventure game and we have no freaking clue what it is we’re gonna make.” The reason that worked was because of A) Star Power, and B) They were making a documentary of the entire process which Kickstarter donors would also get. The promise was to see the process from start-to-finish. The explanation was that even if the entire game ended in fiasco, donors would get to see the whole thing melt down in a documentary to keep forever.

Not that anybody truly expected it to melt down.  Because DoubleFine was something of a known quantity – as were the people involved – they were able to get away with something a little more loose.

Loot Drop wasn’t given quite as much leeway. They don’t have quite as stellar a pedegree in the genre is Schaffer and Gilbert had in the adventure game space. And there was no documentary. And the stretch goal of making a second game with the same project funding sounded like it spooked a lot of people – as it sounded like they were only semi-committed to making the first game.

In their cancellation notice they state, ” it made more sense to kill it and come back with something stronger.” Hopefully that something stronger is something of a similar vein – an old-school RPG with a stronger pitch from the get-go. We’ll see.

Filed Under: Biz - Comments: 9 Comments to Read

  • Pedro Quaresma said,

    There’s also the timing issue. Many people have pledged for a few classic RPG projects (Wastelands 2?) and Project Eternity had been announced 1 or 2 weeks earlier.

  • Albert1 said,

    Let’s not forget Brenda is Romero’s chick. That doesn’t help: it make you think about delays, unfinished projects, rusty (Dai)katanas, that infamous ad (you know what I’m talking about :)).

  • Albert1 said,

    Furthermore: it’s such a strange mix. There’s an abyss between Brenda’s talent&pedigree and Hall’s ones!

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    I’m not buying the star power thing. Anyone into RPGs knows who Brenda Brathwaite is, and at least has an inkling who Tom Hall is. Ron Gilbert’s star power in adventure games doesn’t seem so tremendously overpowering comparatively.

    I think the more likely explanation is that the pent up demand for an old-school adventure game was greater when Double Fine did their KS campaign. As pointed out, Project Eternity drew a lot of the attention for an old-school RPG project, and you already had Wasteland 2 from before. The demand for something that wasn’t really specific just wasn’t there.

    I think their main sin was being too vague at the beginning. Without the pent up demand, it wasn’t realistic for people to just toss money at them to get a game, especially with what appears to be a very direct competitor in Project Eternity going on at the same time.

    Hopefully they’ll grow and learn, though. I wish them the best of luck.

    As an aside, here’s a joke I read: “John Romero is going to show you his pitch.”

  • Joshua said,

    The idea they had was still in its infancy. Brenda and wizardry (and Mr. Romero) aside, the pitch was terrible. I did not like the lack of everything, except hey guys we are going to make a game you will love. Kickstarter is about faith, but they were asking for too much from me to start.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yeah, that’s kinda my take on it too, Joshua. I mean, they weren’t asking too much from *ME* – I trusted them. Even John Romero – I think he’s learned his lesson from the whole Ion Storm days, and has produced a lot of games since then — but they’ve all been much lower-profile. I had no concerns about him being involved.

    But ultimately – the problem was they weren’t immune to the rules of the game. Some have attributed their vague pitch to hubris, but I tend to chalk it up to just not understanding the Kickstarter audience. And as I’ve said several times in the past — “Old School” means different things to different people. It’s really more of a statement of intent than an adjective.

  • Robert Boyd said,

    I’m into RPGs and I had no clue who Brenda Brathwaite was. I had heard of Tom Hall but only because I have a friend who is a huge fan of Anachronox. I’ve heard of the games they’ve worked on but not the individuals themselves. They most definitely do not have the star power of Ron Gilbert or Tim Schafer.

    Double Fine Adventure was the first video game kickstarter done by a major studio and not just some small indie group. That’s something you can’t replicate.

  • Andy said,

    I agree with Robert Boyd. While I know and appreciate Hall and Brathwaite’s works, there were a lot “Who the hell are these jackasses and why should I give them money for anything?” responses to the kickstarter. Actually, Romero showing up in the pitch probably did a lot of damage because he IS well known to a lot of gamers and not in a good way, to the point that I think some folks got confused and assumed that Shaker was his project alone.

  • Marchel V. said,

    The problem is that their pitch was waaaay to vague, the developers are known for games that are very old by now in Wizardry 8 and Anachronox, and Kickstarter needs a project with a clear direction from the get go. Loot Drop doesn’t have memorable titles compared to Double Fine and Obsidian so they have to show more than developers with a reputation in order to get attention.

    Say an adventure made by Tim Schafer/Double Fine is something very easy to grasp, it’s going to be along the lines of Grim Fandango, Psychonauts and so on, a game with amazing story and memorable characters in a humorous way with the classic Tim’s dialogue.

    Brenda and Tom just kept saying “Old School RPG”, that is just a buzzword, it doesn’t tell the audience anything about their project, and all the info was extremely vague (there’s a party and classes, this kind of broad statement). Even throwing out names like Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun are more clear than just “Old School RPG”, at least to people who loved those games, they want the old games but with tons of improvement. Even without the project having any details, people want old style Shadowrun/Wasteland type of games and there’s still name power in them. I guess they couldn’t use Wizardry’s name because of copyrights but then they have to specify what is this game about.