ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts From the Cyberverse: Yogventures

Wow, we have not done one of these for a very long time, but something happened that makes me think that we need to talk about it. We like crowdfunding here at The Torch EG, we actively seek, admire and showcase projects that we think are worth your money. I am not going to into the crowdfunding because AtomP is covering that in his upcoming articles. What I want to talk about is Yogventures by The Yogscast. There is a ton of speculation going around and while I want to go through all that speculation, I will present the ones that are closer to the facts.

The Beginning

 

I became aware of Yogventures back in 2012 when this whole thing started. I am a Yognaught, I like their stuff and watch them. Yogventures got $567,665 in its Kickstarter going way over its $250,000 target. ‘Yay, great, good for them’, I thought. I never backed the project, I didn’t have the money to at the time, and by the time I got to the page, it was already over its pledge. I was more than happy to pay for the game when it hit shelves, so the waiting began. Now, I am not that video game savvy. I love video games, I love playing them and looking up Let’s Plays and Walk-throughs. But when it comes to the time it takes to produce a game, I have no clue. By mid 2013 I started to forget about Yogventures and I remember watching a Minecraft video for Sips, Sjin and Nilesy when a thought came to me. ‘Didn’t The Yogscast have a game coming out?’ I went searching for it, looking for any sign of a release date, or progress. The last progress I saw, after searching the Yogscast website (which turned up little to no information except someone asking when their backer reward would arrive), was on the Kickstarter page, which proudly announced that Beta had begun. ‘Brilliant! Should be out by the end of the year? Next year maybe? Hopefully!’ I started to speculate that Yogventures was not going to happen when Yogscast never mentioned it again, and the Kickstarter page wasn’t being updated regularly either. That was until I visited Facebook a few days ago and found out from Polygon, no less, that it was cancelled.

Time for Speculation

So what happened to Yogventures? What happened to the Beta? What happened to all the game play and all the stuff that we saw in videos? Most importantly, what happened to the Half of a million dollars that their fans gave to them?

Let’s answer these questions:

Yogventures is officially cancelled by The Yogscast

According to the last update on the Kickstarter page, August 29 2013, the beta version was released, so it was a closed beta for backers only and it was on Yogcast.com

Kris Vale, the Project Manager for Winterkewl Games states

” As Time went on we began developing in earnest but without our main programmer and no funds to hire one it became clear that more of that role was going to be filled by me than I ever intended.”

So basically, they didn’t have to resources to make the  game, the game play that was presented may have not been real game play, just concept ideas. But what worries me is the statement, ‘ and no funds to hire one’ wasn’t that was the Kickstarter money was for?

What happened to all the money that was donated then?

 

Kickstartpage

According to Vale,

Amazon and Kickstarter took about $150,000, then contracts stated that artists working on the project would have an advance payment of $35,000 each so over $210,000 paid. Of that money One artist who previously worked with Dreamworks, quit the project after only two weeks and was not forced to repay the money because of a loophole in the contract When that happened, The Yogscast took over stating that they didn’t trust me with the money. They wanted to take all the remaining money but agreed to take only $150,000 to sent out all physical rewards to the backers. However only $50,000 was budgeted for the rewards and $100,000 for a lead programmer that not been hired. leaving only $55,000. That money was meant to go to one intern, legal fees, accountant fees, $15,000 was to go to hard ware, $15,000 to buy Unity assets, and $5,000 in software licencees. Only a few weeks into the project and that money was gone.

According to the comments from the Kickstarter page, No one relieved any physical rewards that was promised to them through this Kickstarter page. No one, not even those who had physical rewards like T-shirts or Posters, not even those who pledged $10,000 each for lunch with the Yogscast.

A Response from The Yogscast and Winterkewl Games

With all this coming out what has both parties have to say about it all. Kris Vale, as seen above said all he had to on the Kickstarter, he explain what happened and on where all the money went. Details listing all transactions were posted via Kickstarter. Vale admits to what happened with the artist who left, saying it was due to his inexperience. He goes on to state that after all that happened Lewis Brindley of the Yogscast took over the funds. He comests:

” When Lewis found out about the artist incident he was rightly confused and upset, as a result he lost faith right away in my ability to run the company from a business standpoint and basically required that all the rest of the Kickstarter money that hadn’t been spent be transferred to them right away. In the end we negotiated that to $150,000 would be transferred to the Yogscast with the understanding that they would use that money exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards, AND they would help hire the main programmer that we still didn’t have on the project.” 

On the other hand The Yogscast have also commented on the incident stating that:

We’re not ready to make a detailed statement about what happened with Yogventures. Winterkewl’s statement omits much and I would disagree with a number of points, but there’s no value in going into detail. Our only goal right now is to ensure that we provide the best possible experience for the backers that we can. I can honestly say this has been our goal throughout.

They go on to say that it was all Winterkewl’s fault, they have nothing to do with funding or decision-making towards Yogventures of any kind.

What everyone else is saying about this issue

Gamespot’s Reporter, Emmanuel Maiberg,  theories that:

 The Yogscast are trying to distance themselves from the developers Winterkewl, using the fanbase they have developed over the years to throw their business partners under the bus and have them take the blame for everything failing. They failed to protect their fans and that the morality behind the whole fiasco is all wrong. it is the responsibility of The Yogscast not Winterkewl to make sure that all went well with the project.

While Forbes comment that:

” All this controversy comes on the heels of Yogcast’s new revenue scheme, which pays out YouTubers based on sales of games they cover.”

And Polygon noticed this stating:

Keith also noted that TUG developer Nerd Kingdom now has the assets and source code for Yogventures, and will be picking up where Winterkewl left off. Physical backer rewards have already been shipped out, with in-game item rewards being developed by Nerd Kingdom to match what was promised as closely as possible.

Our thoughts on the issue

There is no doubt that this had The Torch EG buzzing for the past few days, but what are our thoughts on the subject?

There is tons of speculation going around us little blog as well.

Mainly its that The Yogscast should have been more decisive. At the early stages they pulled over a quarter of the funds, stating they should have control over the whole budget, yet at the moment of cancelling, when they had all assets, they state it was always Winterkewl Games’ project and push the blame to them.
Winterkewl Games should have been more forceful when Yogscast wanted to pull the funding and not let them walk away with the 100 000 that was supposed to go to a lead developer, the very backbone of the whole project.

Most of all, both parties should have been more vocal on the subject long before now. It’s only now that we know what happened and that it all failed due to one single incident 2 years ago. One single incident including an artist… when Yogscast themselves have almost lived entirely on donated artwork since the beginning… and still do. We all agree here at The Torch EG that if anyone had mentioned something earlier instead of keeping everyone in the dark, there’s a high probability that they would’ve gotten the work done for free or cheap by the community.

They have to responsibility to their fans and when they saw that everything was going down hill they should have let us in on it, let us know what was happening and not hide it all away. We have been in the dark for two years and now we are completely crushed by this new development. Stating that: ‘ they have no obligation to the Kickstart page’ its pure bull. Fair enough, yes, maybe they have no obligation but It was a Yogscast Brand, it had the Yogscast name and people behind it. Yogscast promoted it, it is Yogscast’s voice on the Kickstarter page, and when we look at the it, we see Yogscast NOT Winterkewl Games. Whether it is the fault of Winterkewl or not, Yogscast are to be held responsible because it is them we associate Yogventures with NOT Winterkewl. To be honest they are both at fault.

This is even worse when you hear what happened to Kris Vale and Winterkewl, shifting the blame onto them is not only complete bull but undeniably cruel. A Man’s life has been completely ruined by this project and instead of doing what is right and accepting the blame because ultimately the Yogscast fan’s will forgive and forget, maybe. They pushed it even further on it Vale and Winterkewl. That is just cruel.

Utlimately Kickstarter projects are risky business Yogscast is just the latest one to fail. It has happened before and it will happen again. It is a risk.

And one more thing: Whatever happened to the $100 000 that Yogscast took to look for the lead developer?

Do you have your own opinions of the matter? Let us know in the comment section.

 

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ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Shocking Sharing

They say sharing is caring, but do you care about what you share?

Today we will talk about sharing things on social media, most notably on Facebook. I choose Facebook as the main target for this due to the higher exposure of images and other sensitive material and the ease of finding out other things about the person sharing it. This makes the Facebook sharing particularly sensitive to what I am writing here.

There are two major issues with sharing that I will take up, the first and probably most dangerous (in a sense) is unintentional sharing or unknown automatic sharing. I’ve talked a bit about this in the past. This is when information is shared to social medias without your knowledge and, a lot of times, you won’t even notice it until someone in your circle of friends comments about it. The most prominent example, and probably the most harmless. is the automatic sharing of statistics from your Facebook games. If you haven’t told the app to not publish to your timeline, it will spam out a diversity of facts about your progress, from what booster you just bought to what level you’re currently stuck at. This would really only be harmful if you’re doing it while you’re supposed to be working, but that’s more your problem than a problem with the sharing.

There are other apps where this could become a problem though. You’d be surprised how sensitive some information could be. In the earlier article I talked about the running apps that give a detailed map of your regular running routes, times and dates, down to the second, and shares it on your Facebook wall. This is obviously really bad, since it allows people who might want to harm you to find out where you live and where you hang out.  But this isn’t restricted to those apps. In fact, you don’t need a map to find that out. Some restaurants and stores have discount apps that gives you a percentage off every purchase if you use it. Those usually post your location and time to Facebook when you walk into the store.

Several photography apps also automatically share every picture you take. There was an incident with a Swedish politician in the summer of 2012 who took a picture with his phone and it got automatically shared. He did not know this and the picture was meant as a picture for the family album. In a family album, full frontal nudity by the summer house might be acceptable, but not on Facebook.  Since he was on vacation, it took several hours for him to notice that he had shown his junk to the whole world, and the picture got shared far and wide. You don’t need to be a top-name politician to want to keep your pictures safe from prying eyes. Continue reading

ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Altcoins, the alternative BitCoins

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even BitCoins have novelty currencies, just like the celebratory silver coins or gold coins that most other currencies have. It is hard to do that with a digital currency, though, so instead several sites have decided to make their sites and “miners” into the novelty. Their entire service becomes “endorsed” by what they are celebrating.

That is where the problems lie though. Many of these so called Altcoins aren’t endorsed at all, they are just trying to cash in on a celebrity or something that is popular at the moment. Such was the case with the Norris Coin, which claimed to be endorsed by Chuck Norris. Norris had nothing to do with the service and before the service even launched the site was taken down and legal action was taken against the owners.

The potential customers got lucky here, as the service was removed before any transactions could take place, but others are not as lucky. Coinye West is another Altcoin company that uses what they now call a “half-man-half-fish mutant with sunglasses” which closely resembles rapper Kanye West. Late November last year, the company was struck with a Cease-And-Desist from West’s lawyers but they fought the claim. The lawyers are now threatening to take legal action against not only the company, but all who use the coins provided by Coinye.

This is a typical example of what happens when something is new and easy to make money from. We have seen this form of copying and alteratization in all forms of new products and services. Who doesn’t remember the Kickbike craze in the early noughties? One year we have over 15 million sold units from the company that invented it, the next year 15 other companies try to sell copies of the same thing.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, on the contrary, this is how new products and services gets a foothold on the world market and evolve as products and services. It follows the stages of learning: Copy, Modify, Create. The Kickbike craze eventually died down, but they are still out there. They are still being used and produced and remade and made better. I believe we are in the Copy phase of BitCoins right now and once some really smart people get a hang of it, they will start the Modify phase, where we will see the digital currency evolve to a new, improved form. After that, those same smart people will create something of their own and that’s when we will really see Altcoins take off. Continue reading

ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts From The Cyberverse: In-App purchases in games for kids

Throughout the entire time Internet has been around, companies have tried to capitalize on kids. Even before that, there were a lot of companies that offered paid services to kids, such as the 90’s phone hotlines with everything from Action Man/GI Joe to bunnies or sock puppets.  All of these services are readily available for kids with “parent permission”.

Those words are key here.  It’s a blank slate for the companies to get away with charging kids money without being held responsible. Today we have the in-app stores for mobile games or in-game store for console and computer games. There is one key difference though: today the “Parental Permission” part is baked into the Terms Of Service, the wall of text that no kid will ever read or understand, and the credit card no longer needs to be stolen by the kid without permission because of the way mobile apps works.

A smartphone usually needs to be connected to a payment method, such as a credit card, in order to be allowed to download apps even if the app is free. This creates a loophole for companies to develop apps and games with in-app stores that charge real money with no real supervision. Since it is this easy, they need to make sure they have their backs covered, especially if they develop the game with kids in mind. This is where the tiny clause in the even tinier fine print of the Terms of Service comes into play, because there you can read that the owner of the smartphone or tablet must approve the game and any purchase before letting their kids play.

Continue reading

ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Jumping on the bandwagon

So… social media and nifty things you can do with it… I saw a friend of mine, who is an artist, starting to publishing his own cartoon series on Facebook. He had a fairly good depiction of himself in different weird or everyday situations, basically like a status update, but in image format. I thought the idea was unique and quite fun… until I saw another friend who have never shown any artistic talent before (he has other talents, but drawing is not his thing) doing the same… with the same style of drawing.

Then another one, and another, and another. I quickly realized this wasn’t my friend’s drawings, it was a new app for Facebook called Bitstrips, where you create an avatar of yourself, select a background, ad a caption, insert your avatar and write a speech bubble.

The crowd

Now, the thing about this is that the first 1 or 2 friends on your list that do this seem like the cool kids. They have a new, fun idea that is realized through the aid of an app. Then most of your friends are doing it! It looses its novelty fast and ceases to be a unique, fun idea for a number of reasons. Continue reading

ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts from the Cyberverse: What’s up with the SL TOS?

Linden Lab changed the Terms Of Service (TOS) for Second Life in mid-August, 2013.  At first nobody reacted, as it looked like the regular things were there.  But recently there has been a controversial storm surrounding the changes.
Some call it “the big content grab” because they have added a clause stating that Linden Lab has permission to use all content made in Second Life for their own purposes without notifying the creator or sharing any eventual revenue from it.

The new text that has caused the uproar is in §2.3 of the TOS:

Except as otherwise described in any Additional Terms (such as a contest’s official rules) which will govern the submission of your User Content, you hereby grant to Linden Lab, and you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service.

Continue reading

secondlife

Linden Lab Introduces Facebook SLShare.

Second Life creators Linden Lab have announced a new feature available to SL Residents. Second Life Share also known as SLShare gives you the ability to share pictures, locations and updates via Facebook without having to leave the virtual world.

According to Linden Lab’s Post on the Community blog:

“SLShare is a new, 100% opt-in Viewer feature that will allow you to easily update your Facebook status, share photos, and check-in from Second Life locations to your Facebook wall. Whether you’re at a great inworld event and want to let your Facebook friends know where to join you, want to show off a photo of your avatar modeling your latest Marketplace purchase, or just share a thought inspired by your inworld explorations, SLShare makes it easy to share pieces of your Second Life experiences with your Facebook network.”

A walk through tutorial is now available on their Community Post.

So is giving you the ability to post directly to Facebook, doesn’t that make My.SecondLife.com kind of obsolete? What do you think?

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 (09/08/2013)

5 Katy Perry New Single Hit Number 1

Pop star Katy Perry celebrates her 8th number 1 hit in the Billboard Top 100 with her recent single ‘Roar’ from the new platinum selling album ‘Prism’. In 2010 Perry became the first female music artist in chart history to score six number 1 hits in the Billboard Top 100.

4. Microsoft Hit and Miss

It has not been a great year for Microsoft and their new game console the Xbox One. They have hit headlines once again, this time with the commercial for the Xbox One which forgot to advertise the gaming section of the console. The advert featured a football game, Skype and Windows integration but failed to mention that customers could play video games and what games would be available to them. Earlier this year Microsoft was met with backlash after they tried to pass a DRM Always Online Policy and added a fee on game sharing.

3. Desura Becomes a part of Linden Lab

Digital distribution service Desura has been acquired by Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, Patterns, and Creatorverse. The acquisition, which took place in July of this year, is the second for the virtual world company which also acquired Blockworld, a iPad game which will soon be released. CEO of Linden Lab Rod Humble comments on Desura’s merger: Continue reading

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 (09/02/2013)

5. Authors Bring A Steamy New Novel

A new book has just hit the shelves, and its premise may sound a little familiar. ‘The First Affair: A Novel’,  written by duo Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, is the story of a young woman who becomes the lucky new intern to work at the Oval office. Her luck doesn’t stop there when she is caught in a steamy affair with her new boss, the President of the United States. Published by Simon and Schuster, the book is now available in leading bookstores.

4. Slash’s Production Company Produces New Film.

The production company of former Gunz N Roses Guitarist Slash is producing its first feature film. ‘Nothing Left To Fear’ is the first title to come under Slasher films since it was first formed in Continue reading

ThoughtsCyberverse

Thoughts from the Cyberverse – EVE Onlines biggest fight yet

At the start of this year we heard about a massive EVE Online fight, racking up record numbers in US Dollar losses, as EVE Online has certain components that require you to pay for with real money, making war in that game very likely to give you some monetary loss.

I just read an article on The Escapist about the biggest fight yet, that makes the previous Continue reading