Kickstarter Shaming

Well it’s just one of the risks you take when you back a Kickstarter. You put your faith and your money in the hands of a complete stranger. In the hopes that they will come through with their end of the agreement. Complete a project that they are trying to make in a timely fashion and deliver that project to you in compensation for the money you gave them in advance.  So very often it goes off without a hitch. One of the reasons why Kickstarter and other sites like it have become so popular over the last few years.
But there are always a few bad eggs. And today were going to throw some eggs at one of these bad eggs. Today we will be shaming Calvin Johns of  anthroposgames. For their Kickstater Fantaji Universal Role-Playing system. Nearly a year ago anthropos funded the Fantaji system and had made several of their stretch goals. With many completed project items in hand and some digital material already available it seems a sure bet that the company that had launched their firs RPG through Kickstarter would have no issues with this one as well.
In the FAQ we were even assured that everything was pretty much done and ready to go stating

The biggest challenge is getting everything laid out and proofed early in the summer. As the book is already mostly written and the settings already designed, this seems like a feasible and fun challenge to meet. The layouts have all been mastered, and it’s a matter of placing text and images.

Now apparently it is coming to light that “placing text” might have actually been code for I have to write the rest of the book. The project funded in short order and confidence was high. I had even hoped to feature Fantaji at my upcoming convention.
A few days after the kick reached completion the backers were given a 67 page PDF of the games early chapters. Things were looking good. Then like they always seem to do in Good Kicks Gone Bad.. Things became silent.
With the project scheduled for a July release we were assured they were on schedule. July turned to August and then on into September. When backers were told the following hilarious reply.

All good news after the initial printing delay. We are using the extra dough for GREAT extra content, more writers on board, and pushing. Still REALLY hoping for more feedback on those early chapters. You’ve got the game! Art and layout coming in. Usual hiccups there but no real news/alarms. Gonna make the most of extra time to get things flawless.

Good news! were still on target and we hired more writers.. but wait ? I thought the book was ready for print? But more writers were hired for the book that was delayed in printing. This seemed at the time to slip by pretty much all of us backers. A few days later we got another update.

Well, the realistic for the softcovers as of now is Halloween, I’d say. About 6-8 weeks later than I was hoping. The hardcovers would be a couple weeks later, but they give a BIG window for delivery. If the Tile shipping isn’t too bad, we might be able to do them early and let the printer ship out the books. They would be way better than us at s&h so might even out and get y’all the fancy Tiles sooner. Trying our best! Shoulda known the local estimate was too good to be true, but we were hoping to work with some indie people. As always, we’ll release more of the PDF for feedback/edits in increments. So that’ll keep y’all playing!


So further and further deadlines get pushed back. Most backers were not yet upset. Delays are often expected in kicks from small independent companies. And at this point we were only a few months behind. Halloween was not the end of the world for timelines. Had the books been delivered on Halloween the story would have ended there and like have been a happy one. Spirits were high still that this was not a kick gone bad. And heck worst case would be we would have our books by Christmas right ? Right ? Wrong.
Oh and Fantaji never once saw increments of PDF for feedback and edits beyond the first 67 pages that were given. 67 pages that I imagine were finished before project launch. I say this because the art layout all was from the Mizaki style setting that failed to kick before anthropos chose to make it a universal setting.

September rolled into October and just before the end of the month we got a huge update!
To sum it up it said.. From here on even my Quotes will be snipits. as some of them get off topic. I assure you, that you can go look I am not choice clipping quotes. Just trying to stay on the topic of production of product statements.

  •  Being homeless for two months this summer and then being forced to graduate a year early (new University of Texas policies) have thrown some wrenches in the gears. But all of us still writing and laying out daily
  •   You have the whole game in those three chapters. The extra 100 pages are tips and maybe not obvious implications of that system. For example, what about starting obstacles face-down to add suspense? What about making one enemy the “Asset” of another? What’s a good way to make a storm into a meaningful and dramatic element of a fight scene? When should a bone-head mistake a player makes become a new Condition, and how can we write that up? Etc.
  • We will get you guys the added sections as soon as possible, but feedback on those core elements would rock. It will make the time between PDF and Print way shorter if we get the questions, comments, and critique now.

Two things become very apparent in this post. Calvin Johns was in writing trouble. He was looking for feedback from his backers and they by this point had gone silent on him. Now being homeless sucks hard and I want to give the guy a pass on that. But the company has a writers. Calvin was not the only one that could be doing this project. As well as in the post he says he is still doing layout and writing daily. MONTHS after the project was supposed to be completed.

At this point I called out Calvin and asked the questions that many of the backers had likely wondered at this point. What the heck is going on and what about the numerous stretch goals that still had to be done. The reply was deflection and the baffling reply near the end of another round of asking for more feedback with this.

Just “best practices” concerns that are part of our weekly meetings here. Again, it isn’t the game or the content, but the more deliberate process of making the right business moves. When the project launched, we weren’t expecting the great response and weren’t planning such a professional launch of the product line. With the feedback, however, we would be remiss not to do that at this point so it is just making things a bit more time-consuming. I hope you can sympathize with our commitment to making the product line stronger from the outset. I give you a “no bullshit” guarantee.
For sure!! The PDF will 100% be out, and depending on the DriveThru mailing times, we might have the digital prints shipped around the holidays as well (I imagine they’ll be backed up with holiday demands so we’ll shoot as fast as we can).Again, we appreciate the patience, and things are very much in progress and happening.


Wait so what we were told in November was that NOW.. nearly six months later they have been moving forward with a professional launch of their project because they would be remiss if they launched non professionally like was their plan in the first place. Mind Blown.

That same day we got another update in November directed at me because I had asked for some more communication and transparency on what the status of the project and its stretch goals were as well as clarification on a his statement that we had the complete book in our hands even though it was shy over 100 pages.

 I guess I didn’t think you’d want actual life-details, but maybe that is exactly what you meant by transparency so:
As far as the Halloween went: Yeah, that was out target at the beginning of this semester once we knew the end-of-summer deadline would be impossible, but we all got slammed as soon as school started. Several apologies for that. As things go for the crew here, once the academic semester started (and once I heard I had to graduate and finish the dissertation an entire year early), even our best efforts were constantly shattered. That is just how indie stuff works when other day-job responsibilities explode, and I know it sucks for everyone. BUT: My lectures are all but over, my dissertation chapters just about done, and I have TAs who do all the grading (haha). So, now it is homestretch, and we’re patching everything together. Christmas will have PDFs guaranteed, and (hopefully) prints then or just after depending on DriveThru traffic.The side products are all looking awesome (decks, tiles, screens). Cover is last piece of art needing finishing. All the character and mazaki art, along with the 3D ships by Erick Bolyard and new tile-art by Justin Kaufmann, was more than enough to fill the book.Hope I hit the questions, Shane.

Like  you can all imagine the gifts under the tree day came and went and no little happy boys or girls found Fantaji under their tree this year. Maybe next. But the Grinch that stole Fantaji was prompt to report and try to save everyone’s New Years with a bit of Joy !

Waiting on cover and editing on the settings (just making sure all the writers fit continuity and things). I don’t think we can afford an index right now but we’ll add it to the PDF before printing. Super excited!! It’s been a long, long haul, but should be up at any day. We’ll post here, I think, and wait for one wave of feedback on the inevitable typos or odd paragraphs, and then hit DriveThru. Really, it could be any day. As soon as I get the emails, I’ll format the chapter break pages (which use the cover art), and I’ll post it here!! Could be an hour or a couple days. But just around the corner!

The Long wait was over! We were going to be getting our book. Six months late but it was finally done. At least we could put that behind us and enjoy the game before the New Years gaming session starts. Or so we thought.

As January slipped away and Became February, we received this gem…

 What the two of us are doing now is revising after final words from players. We had four long-time groups that wanted their ideas incorporated in the settings they’ve been fleshing out for over a year, which we are happy to do. And we also got three total newb groups to go through the final version to see how the book read/felt/communicated. They had some awesome “I don’t get that paragraph” or “Is this right?” stuff that we wanted to revise with.
As for “mods,” they are wholly optional. The game runs fully and completely without them. It isn’t “lite” or slimmed down without the mods. Promise. I’m wary to keep updating the PDF with the end so near, but I can totally see about just cutting out the middle bit with the Powers and sample Traits.
Also, the Traits are best created for each hero. There are over 200 already in the book (we just compiled the best in a big list in the middle). If your players had trouble, the sample adventures and heroes on the website, I believe, cover the scope well. Also, with the dozens and dozens of examples, I think you’ll get how Traits can look. It isn’t like there is a set list. I always start with having them think of song titles.
I’ll send you an email if you’d like to test the third and fourth acts of the second module. That’s what is in broad testing phase now.


So as we wrap up this blog and very soon this month where does Calvin Johns Kicstarter Fantaji stand. Still up in the air. Nearly a year later we find the project still being written. I would like to remind the reader’s way back at the Risks and challenges  of the project.

The layouts have all been mastered, and it’s a matter of placing text and images.


Well maybe we will see the project to completion. Maybe it will be delivered by July as listed. The irony being that the project was just a year late.
Maybe when it gets here almost all of Calvin’s 141 backers will have stopped caring about wanting to play his product that has been handled so poorly in so many ways.

As of the writing of this blog the backers were promised a completed 140-180 page book.

The first 40 pages explain the default system and how to create a character in any genre. The next 100+ pages offer several custom mods that fit the system to specific genres and add new elements to play.
We have been given a House Draft. Of 140 pages with none of the settings included.(yet we were told that the setting each had over 4000 words of finished work months ago.) Nor any extras. And the Mods and Trait lists are nowhere to be found.
Worse yet the product has been repeatedly mentioned that ATM there is no index..

As well as everything seen below. As of this blog from everything that I can tell none of these goals have been delivered with the exception of the chapters 1-3 early released.

We know that the module 2 is having its second and third and fourth acts tested. I can only hope their modules are more in-depth then the adventures found HERE.

We shall see how things develop in the coming days and weeks. Confidence has gone, annoyance left the building long ago. All that remains now is the desire to share with others how poorly you have handled this project so they can be warned down the road. Shame on you Calvin Johns and Anthropos games.



One comment

  1. Reblogged this on Rolling Boxcars and commented:
    Here’s a Kickstarter project that takes the cake! Glad I didn’t back this one! Thanks to Shane for the insight into his misfortune.

    ~ Modoc


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