V.Next Kickstarter is Canceled
V.Next Kickstarter is Canceled
Read an explanation from Paul Furio, Founder and CEO of SynchRunBuild
Posted: 07/16/15 | Category: News | Platform:

A Message from Developer SynchRunBuild Regarding the V.Next Kickstarter - July 7, 2015
Retro Cyberpunk Adventure V.Next Lands on Kickstarter - July 4, 2015

I've received an email from Paul Furio, Founder and CEO of developer SynchRunBuild, saying the Kickstarter campaign for V.Next has been canceled. I've been unable to find this text anywhere online, so I'm unable to link to it.

The following reflects both a short and long version of what's happened. I've left it unedited so that Paul's sentiments will remain intact.


Logging off the V.Next Kickstarter

Okay, here’s the TL;DR that will be a surprise to nobody: It’s pretty clear the Kickstarter for V.Next is not going to make it. There’s no metric in the world that shows that it will, and that’s a disappointment, but it’s a fact. We needed this money to achieve our goal, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to achieve some other, lesser goal. After all, thousands of people voted for this on Steam Greenlight, so while they’re not willing to put up money just yet, there’s at least an interest. Thus, we’ll make something; I’m just not sure what or when it will be released. Thanks for your support, we love you.

Great. That’s the short version. Now for the longer, “hey what happened and what were you trying to do” explanation.

From the very outset, I wanted us to do something different with V.Next. There are so many games that are almost exactly the same with slightly different graphics and slightly different gameplay and personally I’ve become so worn out by yet another hyper-violent shooter, or yet another match-three, or yet another retro-micro-transaction-mobile game. I was tired of big AAA twenty hour gameplay bingefests, or of five second mobile twitchfests, or of episodic games where you never knew when the next episode would come out. So I wanted us to make a game that was inspiring and deep, with a story like the television shows I love (Fringe, Mad Men, Halt And Catch Fire, The Walking Dead) and Computer Hacking gameplay that was really immersive, and not some weird mini-game analog of the real thing (“Hack a Computer by pressing A!”), but at the same time was not the drudgery of debugging some intern’s undocumented Python script. (Zachtronics “TIS-100” came out of nowhere to hit a sweet spot in this particular area.) So we started with a big, bold vision, because as James Cameron stated “if you set your goals really really high, even when you compromise and have to knock it down a bit, you’ll still finish higher than most other people even dared to aim.”

We had a four year business plan to grow IPs and content year over year. We had a model for different modes of revenue based on subscription or individual episode purchases. We had plans for how we could alter the cadence of releases, and portfolio spreads for appealing to different customer bases and personas. We were thinking big and long term. 

Yes, absolutely, we could have started small. We could have cranked out a tiny mobile game every other month, or made little puzzlers on Steam and ratcheted up our funding that way. That would have been a less risky thing to do, absolutely, but I was always aware that it could become a trap. A company builds those things, then becomes known for building those things, and then the success becomes a trap from which fear prevents one from escaping. “We have a model for hits! Don’t touch the machine, you’ll break it!” I have seen this over and over again at larger companies, who are absolutely terrified to try anything different than what has worked in the past. It’s why movie studios make so many sequels.

We also wanted to validate interest. If we put out the idea of an Episodic Game where the episodes were weekly, like a television show, would anybody bite? We might say that the to-date tepid Kickstarter response proves that there is not an interest in weekly episodic, yet the Steam Greenlight campaign demonstrates a different reaction. Anecdotal data about other episodic content, from forums and posts, supports customer frustration with uneven and irregular episode releases. Ultimately, this is incredibly difficult to validate without actually delivering the product and gauging reaction.

After ten months, we built up a great team of pros, all of whom have shipped great products before. We have amazing music by Tom Shear, great concept art by Ian Llanas, a slick intro video that will be our episode title sequence by Matthew Gamlen, retro and stylized production art by Sebastien Vakerics, and compelling scripts and dialog by Daniel Hickey, Qais Fulton, and Marcy Holland. Plus, you know, I wrote a few hundred thousand lines of code to make some fun gameplay. Any team would be lucky to work with any one of these people. Our close feedback was that people loved the concept art, the music, and the retro look. They found the story compelling. While friends make biased critics, we built something that we’re proud of.

So what are our next steps? To date, this entire project has been self funded. I, Paul, used my personal savings to pay my own way and pay everyone who worked on it. The Kickstarter campaign was designed to increase our runway to the point where we could deliver our original goal of 18 weekly episodes of V.Next. Without that, my personal runway is down to about half-a-year. This means we have to scale back. Our Greenlight fans expect something, and our Kickstarter backers, while being charged nothing if the KS fails or is shut down, put their faith in us to deliver them some kind of experience.

Our commitment now is to get something on Steam, even if it’s just a discounted, single-episode length short adventure so that our fans have something to play. We’ll see what we can deliver within three or four months, and then I’ll probably look for a role somewhere with a friendly moonlighting policy. There are also plenty of other things we’re going to try, like soundtracks, short fiction, and so on with the V.Next IP.

Overall, we are super thankful to our fans and supporters. Everyone who voted for V.Next on Greenlight, everyone who backed this on Kickstarter, and everyone who gave us encouraging words, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You mean the world to us. We always knew this could happen, and as one advisor told me “there’s no downside to what you’re doing. Even if you fail, you will have learned so much that you can go do anything, anywhere.” He was right. This was a great ride, and we learned so much. Ultimately, I’ll never again wonder “what if I started a game company?” I have zero regrets, and I’m totally looking forward to what we do next!

In the meantime, if you want to keep posted on what's going on, please keep with us on this mailing list.  We'll keep everyone appraised of what we'll release right here.

Thanks everyone!


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