Thursday, 23 January 2014

Torn Armor & Defiance Games

Man, I wish I didn't have to write this but as of now, Torn Armor is probably DIW (dead in water) and it's all thanks to Defiance Games.

Yes, Defiance Games. Remember them? No? Seriously? Previous posts here and here. Okay, now that you're up to speed, let's talk about Torn Armor. Torn Armor was a kickstarter I backed in April 2013. Scheduled delivery was Nov 2013 and it obviously missed those shipdates but in general I wasn't that worried about it because the creator was very friendly and open about a lot of things. And this made me feel like I could trust her. This is one of the few KS I've gone into, originally cancelled my pledge and then went into again because I wanted to make it come true. Not because I thought the game was going to be great fun or totally innovative but because hey, the person managed to sell her dream to convince us to back her. Unlike Robotech RPG Tactics, which is a KS I'm very afraid I'll never see. 

Anyway, so turns out there's some pretty bad news right now. The creator of Torn Armor just updated the KS with some pretty crucial information here.

Dear Backers,
This is not an easy update to send out, but I have always been open, honest and transparent with you all and recently the Torn World team has had to have some very unpleasant conversations regarding “Torn Armor.”
We have hit a major obstacle here – which I will detail below – and it is only fair to be open and clear on the parties involved. I will simply layout the facts as they have occurred and you can form your own conclusions. What I will say is that ultimately you put your faith and trust in me to ensure that this project was delivered, and in that I have failed you. So while the Torn Armor team has hit unforeseen circumstances and been subjected to unprofessional behavior and broken promises, ultimately I am responsible and please direct your frustrations squarely towards me.
A Recap:
As you will remember, immediately after the Kickstarter ended last year we contacted the China-based companies to finalize our quotes, and were then informed that even though our quotes were less than 90 days old the new production prices, across the board, jumped by 30%. This caused us to seek an alternative production company and during this time one of our backers came forward with a recommendation. This recommendation was given and genuinely provided to help the project, but in hindsight it set us on an unfortunate path.
The company recommended is here in the United State, and this – if anything – I viewed as being beneficial. What I did not know, and honestly had no way of knowing, was that they were about to head into some very troubling times. This company is Defiance Games.
Back in June/July of last year I had my first contact with Defiance and after talking to them for a short while, I felt that it was a good solution and I felt confident that everything was still on track. But the intervening time has been nothing but stalls, delays, staffing shuffles, and sideways movement. They brought on a new CEO shortly after I signed contracts with them, which I found to be alarming, but was told that it was to improve the running of the company. They acknowledged that they had been experiencing turbulent times and the new CEO was to help get things back on track; I was reassured, numerous times and by their upper management that all was on track and schedule.
The team I had recently been introduced to and communicated with soon left and a new team was brought onboard. Again I got to meet them and again I was reassured that the changes were for the best. We were still prepping miniatures for mold production, deadlines and timelines were re-affirmed as being “November,” and while I was uncomfortable with the constant switching of staff, I felt that the wheels were moving and shortly we’d start seeing masters roll off the 3d printers. When this did not happen as promised I started updates regarding delays, later delivery timeframes and so on. I simply need time to sort out what was actually happening and where I might be able to adjust as needed.
Now while I am a patient person and I can be understanding the constant delays and lack of action from Defiance made me think that this was more than a “changing of the guard, or a that new production schedule was being implemented.” I realized there was something seriously wrong.
With our initial deadlines past and the old year ending I put them under great pressure to get things moving. With this pressure we saw the hoplite. He was great and Defiance confirmed that they could work with the model.
I believed we had a light at the end of the tunnel. With constant pressure and micro management on my end I cautiously believed we could get the project on a track towards completion.
It was at this time that Defiance stated that they would not produce any masters until they had finished a batch of models. They then informed us that the file format we had provided them, their choice, wasn’t going to work. This new format was already a replacement of the original format they said wouldn’t work, which again was their choice. Soon after this they started talking about “going back to the models from last October” It was at this time I knew we were going into a downward spiral of excuses and finger pointing.
Ironically their chief responsibility was the creation of a usable, printable, castable 3d miniature models. Early on, they informed me they were unable to work with my artist/modeler and they in turn chose the artist/modeler they wanted to work with. The file format wasn’t going to work!
Clearly we have a serious problem.
Get Another Production Company?
Last Friday I concluded that Defiance was completely unable to fulfill our needs and that I made a mistake in choosing them. Being noble and generous I would say that they truly felt like they could handle it, but the reality of the project – in addition to their own projects – was too much. There may well be other reasons.
I formally asked for our money back less the approved and agreed charges and after a weekend of badgering they told me on Monday that “We do not have the available cash on hand to return these funds at this time” and “We are gearing up here for our own releases to get new product to market and improve our cash flow.”
The Problem
And herein lies the problem: Defiance have not been able to produce the miniatures, but they are also unable to return the funds. And the funds are somewhat substantial.
Currently, we are reviewing all legal options, but I have very little faith that we will simply get this money back.
Torn Armor is effectively dead in the water.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Clearly our options are considerably broadened if Defiance returns our funds: Reaper Miniatures offered to help out, but without these funds allocated to the miniatures being able to fulfill on the miniatures is an impossibility.
The money lost is crippling, but it wasn’t everything and we can put the remaining funds to good use. Currently we are discussing offering partial refunds, creating the game-only tier (rules, maps, cards, units, dice) or simply staying in a holding pattern until there is news where our funds are returned, but this last option could honestly be something that dragged on for years and we are not a fan of that route.
This situation simply sucks.We have put in a lot of our own personal money into this, we created a dream and you – our incredible backers – were the best that anyone could have ever asked for. We all passionately worked together for the Kickstarter and I earned some good friends because of it, so to now be reduced to this a year later is utterly crushing.
I fought off this moment as long as I could, but I would not send out an update like this without firmly believing that we just ran into a brick wall.
In a nutshell we have been screwed by our supplier and are now not able to fulfill this Kickstarter project. We are discussing all options at the moment, but do consider the miniatures portion of this project dead.

~ Natalya & the Torn World Team
So...what does this mean? Well, for one thing, Torn Armor no longer has the money to produce the miniatures for the game. They're going to try and see what else they can do but as they said, the miniatures part is pretty much dead. And why? Because of Defiance Games that's why.

It's kind of sad they had to go with Defiance Games for the manufacturing. I suppose they might not know of their less than sterling reputation (and to be fair, I've met plenty of people who didn't) but it seems like someone got suckered hard by Defiance. The details on why they chose DG is non-existent at the moment and I'm not sure if the creator will tell us anymore. But effectively, DG screwed them over hard. 

Do I think Torn Armor went into the KS thinking they would bamboozle people like the creator of The Doom that Came to Atlantic City did? No, I really don't. People who generally plan to defraud people don't put their actual photos as their avatar and don't shoot as many videos of themselves to put on their KS page. Really, what good would it be having people know what you look like when you're intending to defraud them?

Do I think DG purposely misled and lied to Torn Armor though? Yes. Granted, this is purely my opinion but based on their past behavior, switching CEOs, not paying proxie models or rustforge etc, this really seems like something they would do. And seriously, this needs to be stopped. As a community, we really need to bring DGs antics to the publics awareness so that people know who they're dealing with. Ideally, they should be barred from participating in any Conventions at all so they can't spread their toxic taint around. 

However, this doesn't bode well not just for Torn Armor backers but also for those who backed the DG KS. Because let's look at one particularly damning phrase. 
I formally asked for our money back less the approved and agreed charges and after a weekend of badgering they told me on Monday that “We do not have the available cash on hand to return these funds at this time” and “We are gearing up here for our own releases to get new product to market and improve our cash flow.”
Wow. Just Wow. Basically they don't have they money to return to TA cause they spent it all. And spent it all on what? New product they say. What new products are they coming up with? Basically the only new stuff seem to be the ones from their KS. So they're likely using TA money produce their KS stuff? But then what about their KS money?? What happened to that? 

It's very very likely at this point that the KS money was used to pay off their old liabilities such as employee backpay as well as suppliers they owed money to and that were planning on suing them. Reasons for why I say this can be found here

As it is, I have no idea what can be done about the TA situation but I do hope Alyssa; the creator, goes down the route of suing DG. Because it needs to be down. And mostly because Tony's proven himself to be a coward when it comes to lawsuits.

Edit: Update Defiance Games just posted this on their facebook page. 
An open letter to Alyssa Faden of Torn Armor.


Did you really have to take so little responsibility and say that WE failed? After a nice paragraph in which you say you should take the blame, you write a long text blaming us. Wrong.

Basically, your figures were not produced because the digital files you provided do not work. Yet you try to shift responsibility for that to Defiance. Defiance DID NOT create the digital files. It was never our responsibility to do that. You should admit that, but you do not.

This is your project -- the only person responsible for the fact that Defiance never received workable files is ultimately you, Alyssa. The buck stops with you when it comes to Torn.

After the original files proved unworkable, the vendor you hired to fix them did not provide results which could be manufactured (Did you really want us to try and make a 20 mm resin figure in 5 parts???). Nothing that happened at Defiance, the 'changing of the guard' or the 'turbulent times' changes that.

You claim to have patience. Well, you are now choosing (it is a choice on your part) to close your project. Ultimately, this might still be a fixable problem. We have suggested possible solutions. You have decided not to do that. That is your decision and your responsibility. Do not blame anyone else for it.

I am really disappointed in you.

John Morse
Needless to say, not many people are buying this line and several are asking 'so if you never got the files, then it's ok for you to refund the rest of the money isn't it?' Defiance Games has not commented on that

tl;dr Torn Armor was fucked by Defiance Game. Defiance Game KS backers are likely to be just as fucke.d