Primordial Oops: GPG Declares Wildman Extinct

By Nathan Grayson on February 11th, 2013 at 10:59 pm.

If you’ve been following the sordid tale of Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games’ Wildman, you probably won’t find this one all that surprising. After Death’s cold, potentially velociraptor-like claw nearly cut down the Kickstarter mere days after it launched, Taylor and co opted to stick it out. Unfortunately, even the probable doom of GPG wasn’t enough to pied piper $1.1 million out of unwilling wallets, and prospects grew darker by the day. And so, mere inches away from the finish line, Taylor and co have decided to call it quits. The reason? GPG might not have to go down with the very obviously sinking ship.

The increasingly beleaguered Supreme Commander and Dungeon Siege dev gave a brief explanation on Kickstarter:

“At this point, it makes sense for us to focus our attention on other ways to keep Gas Powered Games running. Unfortunately, we are unable to share any specifics in public. When we have news to share, we will be posting it on our site.”

“We are profoundly grateful to those of you who backed this project and Gas Powered Games. Your passion and hard work put us in a position to write this exciting new chapter in the history of GPG.”

Which, ultimately, is both good and bad. On one hand, Wildman had some promising ideas underlying it, so it’s a shame to see it fail natural selection’s oh-so-unforgiving test. But on the other, the idea that GPG could survive at all is quite an improvement from what Taylor himself told me at DICE. So, assuming everything works out, it’s not entirely doom and gloom. Just, you know, mostly, given that heaps of people have already been laid off, and more could very well follow.

In short, :(

But for now, let us bid adieu to Wildman as his fossil-constructed, fossil-fuel-propelled coffin ascends to Kickstarter Valhalla. A big fish in a pond that’s getting deeper by the day.

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65 Comments »

  1. Alexander says:

    Had no interest in the game, but it’s sad as f*ck when your creation doesn’t get to live because of finances. wish them all the best in finding other ways to do it.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Why is it sad? 99.9% of all artistic ideas ever and certainly that percentage of video games don’t happen due to financial/resource constraints. That is the way of the world.

      • Pharos says:

        Why can’t it be sad? It’s not like there’s some finite supply of emotion that must be rationed out. The game idea didn’t particularly interest me either, but I still think it’s a shame that they couldn’t achieve something they invested themselves in.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          A) There totally is a finite amount of emotion and interest in the world. Everything cannot be sad, or nothing is. Each additional thing which is “sad” dilutes the importance of that sentiment.

          B) Everytime someone cannot do thing they want to do X, it is not sad. That is just how things are, and looking at that as somehow sad is just a negative mopey way of looking at the world.

          Some people who worked at a formerly highly successful games company have made lot of unsuccessful products such that no one will give them money to make another one. What is sad about that? Do you also shed tears for Microsoft’s inability to provide the world with Terahertz personal computers? The world is constrained by scarcity. Life goes on. I would be a lot more willing to shed tears over the project if there was anything interesting/innovative about it, and/or if the company hadn’t already had a dozen chances already.

          • El_Emmental says:

            You probably missed the part where GPG is an independant studio not spamming Facebook clones, CoD-like and F2Ps.

          • Chris D says:

            A) That’s a viewpoint that ultimately leads us to being unable to feel sad for anyone but a blind and deaf amputee in Africa who’s just lost all their children and parents. Sadness isn’t an objective quantity, it’s subjective and context dependent. In the context of video game news this is sad.

            B) Just because “that’s the way things are” doesn’t mean it’s not sad. What you call moping I prefer to think of as empathy and compassion.

          • InternetBatman says:

            No facebook clones except Age of Empires Online.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            El-

            So are thousands of other small medium and large studios, what is your point? They aren’t some special flower. They made Dungeon Siege and SupCom and what else exactly? Nothing much that was groundbreaking. Of course everything doesn’t need to be groundbreaking, but it is not as though they were some irreplaceable element of the scene.

          • Triplanetary says:

            You probably missed the part where GPG is an independant studio not spamming Facebook clones, CoD-like and F2Ps.

            He also missed the part where Microsoft isn’t a hardware manufacturer, so I suspect he misses a lot.

          • hungrytales says:

            @Triplanetary: my Microsoft mouse & keyboard care to disagree with your too clever by half sentence here.

          • jrodman says:

            Oh hungrytales. Everyone loves a pedant.

            The meaning is clear and valid despite your nitpicking.

        • El_Emmental says:

          It’s like you need a dedicated KS page to get people to spend their emotion.

          “Feel sad/happy about ____ Project”, with reward tiers going from “conscience” to a “heart of gold” !

      • felisc says:

        what pharos said.

      • Greg Wild says:

        The same reason every other thing induced by wealth being trapped within a tiny percentage of the world population is sad/infuriating?

      • Saldek says:

        Joshua, trying to talk people out of feeling sad about this sort of news is creepy as hell.

      • Zepp says:

        I agree Joshua.

      • KikiJiki says:

        Company producing unpopular products fails to find audience and funding for further products. News at 11?

    • Engonge says:

      I totally disagree,limited finances is where creativity comes in.Let’s see what X can do with limited funding…

      • El_Emmental says:

        limited funds != minimum funds required to live

        You have to pay the devs, at least enough so they can live under a roof and eat once a day.

        • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          Balderdash! I keep a developer in an annex to the Computing Parlour and feed him on scraps. He complains bitterly about missing his wife and children, and he has a little scurvy, but he’s still perfectly capable of making games!

  2. Ravelle says:

    What a shame, they were some good folks making some of my favorite games. Let’s hope it works out for them.

  3. luukdeman111 says:

    Nathan, did you also watch the video that was included with this update? He revealed that he probably has some very positive news in the coming weeks, so to me that sounds like he’s found a publisher that wants to work with them….

    • Xocrates says:

      Aye, also note that they’re cancelling the kickstarter, at no point do they mention that they’re cancelling the game.

      Frankly, the most likely event is that they got publisher funds for the game.

      • TimMc says:

        No publisher will touch Wildman with a long pointy stick after seeing how little interest it got on kickstarter. If your fans aren’t willing to do CPR to save you over a game idea, then they will doubt it was a good one.

        The concept sounded a bit off and disjointed, and frankly that covers alot of the GPG lineup for years and years.

        I hope they do well in the future and have a good publisher though.

        • Xocrates says:

          The game had over 9000 backers and over 500.000$ in pledges, which while insufficient to fund the game is still pretty damn impressive.

          Keep in mind that for the game to be successfully funded, it would need to end up in the top ten most funded games. Even the amount they’ve raised would put them quite high on the list.

          It may not have been a successful kickstarter, but it certainly showed there was interest.

          • Jhoosier says:

            I hope this doesn’t become something developers/publishers do — put a game up on Kickstarter to see how much interest there is and then cancel it and publish it on their own. Not saying that GPG did that deliberately, but if it ends up getting published, that’s more or less what happened.

            It wouldn’t bode well for Kickstarter projects to get cherry-picked by companies looking to winnow out unprofitable ideas.

          • Chris D says:

            @Jhoosier

            Would that be so terrible? Isn’t the point of kickstarter to allow things to be made that wouldn’t usually be picked up by the traditional publishing model. If the thing gets made anyway isn’t that still a win regardless of the route it takes to get there?

          • FakeAssName says:

            9,000 people / $500k … and that was after Chris pretty much told everyone that shit was over; that is a pronounced statement of fan support to keep the company going, even if the game wasn’t going to get funded.

            besides, I think a goodly amount of that goal was budgeted to filling the material bonuses.

          • LintMan says:

            @Jhoosier – Why in the world would a game developer want to do that deliberately? If the kickstarter succeeds, it’s essentially free money and free ongoing PR for them on top of whatever an outside backer could add. And in this particular instance, Wildman was $600K short of goal – less than halfway – with mere days left. They gave it a shot, but it clearly had no chance at this point, so why drag it out further?

            Chris Taylor had said that they had a potential backer who would add money on top of the kickstarter funds to make it a bigger, better game. My guess is that with the KS failure, the backer is still interested, but is now in a position to make more demands (such as to use another, pre-existing IP or other changes to the design or scope) leaving GPG with far less independence than they would have had if the KS succeeded (and likely without ownership of whatever IP they use/create).

          • Jhoosier says:

            I wish I knew better how game development worked, but this seems like a lot of putting the risk for game development out on indie developers and kickstarter backers.

            From what I understand, publishers put various sorts of restrictions on developers, from DRM to how much money they get from sales (I think one of the interviews with Chris Taylor mentioned how GPG never saw any money from a game because it didn’t sell enough units).

            If a publisher walks up and says, “here’s a sack of money, we’ll publish your game on top of/instead of the kickstarter money. Oh, btw, now that you’re in our publishing house, we’d like you to make it Origin-only,” this puts additional restrictions on a game that originally would have been DRM-free and which all profits would go to the independent developers.

            This may not happen at all, but it’s what runs through my mind. I just can’t help but feel cynical when I hear anything business-related in games development.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Breaking news: people who read news website, follow Kickstarter news, and actually pledge money (and not just on the top 3 projects), are a molecular minority.

          Meanwhile, the video game market is gigantic. Wildman can become a good console title, with its cartoonish (a little) art direction.

  4. Teovald says:

    I hope that the project will live on. This RPG/RTS mix sounds lovely.

  5. Kambyero says:

    It may have been put on ice now, but the video gives hope that the project will be resurrected.

  6. Beybars says:

    Wish him the best, he created some of the best games from my childhood, Total Annihilation, Dungeons Siege….

    • Estarlio says:

      Yeah, but how many games in the last few years? That’s the problem I think. The last game they made that I was interested in was Forged Alliance….

      • Teovald says:

        After that, GPG had a lot of troubles finding a publisher. RTS are very risky bets and the gaming industry is not doing well.
        Demigod was ruined by its online code, handled by Stardocks (they insisted on doing it in order to integrate the game with Impulse). I don’t know who is really at fault here, but the network trouble surely killed that game.

  7. StranaMente says:

    On the other hand, there the Unwritten kickstarter that’s just running to the last minute link to kickstarter page.
    At the moment of writing they’re almost at the 80% kickstarter ending in 24 hours and they still need 15k.
    I really hope they manage to pull it.

    • El_Emmental says:

      aw, it’s a real shame it probably won’t reach its goal, the game looks really cool, especially the music/sound environment

      (minus the graphics, hex are fine but… anyway, who cares about it if the rest is wonderful)

      It really needs some last-minute coverage and/or a generous donator to succeed.

      • StranaMente says:

        Well, it isn’t really clear, but they hired the artist from Waking Mars, if you scroll the page, you can see the updated design that’s much more interesting.
        I was put off by the art too at the beginning, but since that change the game grew more appealing to me.

        • El_Emmental says:

          woaw, it actually made it ! :O

          And you probably played a part in that success, so thanks a lot for the initial comment ;)

    • SwobyJ says:

      Pledged, but enough to only get the game. I can check tomorrow morning if it needs that extra push, or not.

    • Strabo says:

      I just put the money the cancelled Wildman Kickstarter freed up into The Unwritten. Not much, but I hope it helps them get funded.

    • JohnS says:

      Unwritten is one of the few Kickstarter games that I’ve been excited about – if Wildman tanking is what it takes to push through Unwritten, then so be it!

      Edit: Holy hell, they’re actually gonna make it! So this is what it feels like being part of something.

  8. Fallward says:

    Meh, the game didn’t interest me and the pledge video was pretty vague and boring – i’m not surprised this has happened. You can only go so far on a developers ‘reputation’ or prior games before funding runs out due to a weak core product (or at least weak marketing of).

  9. MacTheGeek says:

    “But for now, let us bid adieu to Wildman as his fossil-constructed, fossil-fuel-propelled coffin ascends to Kickstarter Valhalla. A big fish in a pond that’s getting deeper by the day.”

    I think we’ve definitely moved beyond the first stage of Kickstarted gaming, where eager prospective customers threw piles of money at just about everything. But the early successes have given way to an environment where (seemingly) most gaming Kickstarters are failing. I can see two reasons for the change:

    1) The volume of projects exploded. In the first stage, “video games” didn’t even have its own category; now there are dozens of games vying for attention. (Kickstarter’s layout doesn’t help the problem, as a lack of sorting options and tags make it difficult to browse the abundance of projects.) But it’s much more difficult right now to separate the well-planned games from the well-planned project descriptions; there’s a lot more dross to be skimmed these days.

    2) For the most part, the games funded in the first wave are still in development. There’s still a high degree of uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of the Kickstarter concept, and it will still be quite a while before we can gauge any correlation between a successful funding project and a successful game.

    Wildman may have been a flawed concept, or a good concept with a flawed Kickstarter design, or a little of both. Its Kickstarter failure says more about Wildman and Chris Taylor, though, than it does about Kickstarter itself.

  10. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Look, I have no personal vendetta against Chris Taylor or GPG. Heck, they are game developers and did great games that I enjoyed immensely. Neither I agree with the criticism around Wildman. I don’t see what is the problem. I do understand when someone argues the game doesn’t interest them. But any criticism above that has seemed so far completely misplaced to me.

    But quite frankly, what I have felt throughout this whole Kickstarter project was the type of angry disappointment I would have felt if someone had turned a great movie into a Friday night soap opera.

    One day we are hearing about Chris Taylor firing people, the other about he saying the game will live on somehow even if the kickstarter fails. The next about he feeling that GPG will have to close its doors and after that, that GPG will live on and will move on to other projects. All this in the span of one month or so. And all of this intersect with appeals to emotion and getting to know more about the man’s personal feelings than I think was warranted.

    What does this really say about someone running a business? What kind of confidence will it attract. 5 days before the deadline, instead of a push for people to better understand Wildman, we were being lectured on Chris Taylor ability to cry and close up shots of his eyes along with a story, known to about any human being in this planet, about how hard it is to see our dreams fall.

    This whole Kickstarter was a complete mess from the moment it fired up. We’ve been seen similar cases on that website where the developers tried everything to appeal to the project qualities when everything was looking like it was crumbling to dust. And some succeeded!

    I’m not a cynical bastard. I really am not. And I definitely am not without emotions. Heck, you don’t want to sit in the same room with me watching something like Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. But there’s a dangerous line, apparently forgotten by many people, between true empathy and complete disconnect from someone’s ordeals. That line shows up at the extreme of sympathy.

    As an entrepreneur, I haven’t been very successful in my life. I have more failures than successes. No smashing success and nothing that ever garnered me the level of respect and the following Chris Taylor did. I have my share of broken dreams that would shame Chris Taylor. And at the age of 43 I’m already seeing the finish line. It’s for this reason that I get angry. Angry at Chris Taylor for not understanding and respecting what he has achieved so far and for not having apparently learned anything from his managerial success that could have lead him to make better decisions and run a business that was flexible enough to sustain the death of a project and the rebirth of another.

    Yeah, I’m angry. And no tears for Christ Taylor of GPG.

    • wolfinexile says:

      Chris Taylor really needs to hire a PR rep.

      He’s not doing his project any favours, nor his reputation. Cancelling the Kickstarter even before it has run its course is a really bad idea.

      The impression he is giving people is that he himself is not confident about his project, let alone others.

      • Teovald says:

        Meh, the kickstarter was extremely unlikely to hit its target. No need to go to the last mile to only hit 700 or 800k at most.
        Especially if in a couple of weeks he can announce that he has a publisher for Wildman or another project.

  11. frightlever says:

    Sordid? I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  12. Vartarok says:

    In relation to the official statement a user in the forum of GPG named Falcrack wrote this:

    “I dunno, it sounds to me from the email that GPG has found a publisher for one of their titles, especially the part about it being vague where they talk about other ways to keep GPG running ,but are not able to share specifics in public. If they were outright closing down, they probably could share details, but this sounds like some sort of publisher involvement to me, otherwise they could say more. They talked about in the email about how “Your passion and hard work put us in a position to write this exciting new chapter in the history of GPG”. An exciting new chapter does not sound like the end of the company to me, which would seem like an inevitability if they had ended this kickstarter without some new means of financial support.

    Thoughts?”

    Which recieved the following response from one of the members of Gas Powered Games:

    “I think you are good at reading between the lines.

    - Servo”

    So I think everything it’s pretty clear now.

  13. soldant says:

    If GPG die, I honestly won’t care. Yes, it’s bad for the employees, but Taylor dropped the ball. The most recent bout of PR to try to revive GPG with the insistent “Fund us or we die!” cries were enough for me to lose all interest in the project. Either they’ve got funding from elsewhere, or they’ve figured out that people aren’t going to drop down money on Wildman just to try to keep GPG afloat.

  14. crinkles esq. says:

    Having not been a fan of the Wildman concept, I think this is the best of possible outcomes. It’s certainly a better outcome than everyone sacked and the company shut down, I suppose. And if a publisher has given them a lease on life with a title that can be successful, then the future is full of opportunity for GPG.

  15. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    There was a flavour of yoghurt I used to like, but the company stopped making them and made different flavours instead which I didn’t like as much so I stopped buying them. Now that company is in the position where they’ve not got the money to make any yoghurts at all. The boss of the company has been making all sorts of speeches, but really, I am only interested in eating the yoghurts.

    Although the people at the yoghurt company may lose their jobs, I have no desire to buy their current flavours. I just don’t like them that much, and it seems like a waste to buy things I won’t eat. Some of those people will go on to make other yoghurts at other places, and some of them may do something different entirely. But I can’t say for sure that the world will be a worse place.

  16. Strangerator says:

    I’ve noticed a tactic of a lot of successful kickstarters, they have the attitude of “we’ll make this game whether we reach our goal or not.” Now I’m sure a lot of the time this is bullshit, but it changes how you feel about backing it. Logically you would think people would be less likely to fund this type of project, since they don’t “need” to fund it in order for the game to be made. However, the psychology is sound, because if you are convinced that the game will come out anyway and you know you are interested, then you might as well get in early for the bonuses backers receive.

    The psychology of Wildman was all wrong. It was obvious from the start that GPG wasn’t even all that excited about it, because they couldn’t really describe it or show me how it worked. On top of that, there was the whole “desperate struggle for survival” feel the whole project gave me. The psychology here is that, “here is a desperate company trying to survive… how good a product will really come of this?” They were basically asking for funding for the project in order to survive. This is not how to get anyone’s money.

    I know GPG have done a lot of work on Kings and Castles, I really hope they get a publisher for that because it looks like it could be a lot of fun. It is also clear to me that Chris Taylor is actually passionate about that project, where with Wildman his passion was expressed towards his company only.

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