Project Phoenix scammed us? Creative Intelegent Art Fraud?

Oct 25, 2017
460
After backing two board games, both of which were heavily delayed, I almost backed Might No. 9 and this game. The only reason I held back is because of my experience with KS and the board games I had backed. I received my board games, but one developer pretty much went bankrupt. Both made countless changes and excuses for delays. I never backed a KS project again.

Does KS hold these people accountable if they try to take the money and run? Is there anything that can be done? Has this happened before where no one got their items and the funders were refunded or helped?
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,239
Western Canada
Shame that so many people are now burned off of KS forever because they fell for this blatant scam.

Hello yes I am a violinist and have never made a video game before, but I promise this one will save JRPGs! Please give me money so I can hire staff to make it.
 
Nov 12, 2017
356
I am honestly very confused by this news and don't know how to take it. I think a massive amount of grains of salt should be taken, there's just a lot of incongruencies and somewhat conflicting things ?

I'm a bit baffled that someone would decide to purposefully "scam" for the purpose of...actually just making another game that is somewhat also an ambitious project ? Mismanagement for sure, and I can sense something fishy overall. Plus the Project Phoenix management in itself is a giant kerfuffle and I consider it all but dead. But thinking this would all be a ploy is somewhat odd. The money from that KS would've been gone by now, and it's a risk in itself to reinvest in another big game. And I have played TinyMetal at PAX and TGS and it's not like it's some quick shovelware made for a quick buck: there's a lot of effort put into it and fans of advance wars genuinely love how that game is shaping.

All in all, I can see the suspicion but there's also part of this story I want to wait on
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,441
Finland
Anyway, there isn't a ton of new information here from what I can see, but Hiro's explanation isn't extraordinary and it sounds like Lacy has totally failed to back up his claim while trying to make it look like he's been doing so.
Yeah, this is where I'm at now as well. Sending in logs from slack that has no actual relevance to either claim seems just odd.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,703
What am I missing? What would be the point of running a Kickstarter campaign for one game when you want to use the money for another game? Why do a scam like hat, when you could just Kickstart the game you want to do in the first place, with much less effort?
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,283
Still getting Tiny Metal. Never Kickstarted PP but I’ve been pretty lucky with crowd funded games. Only one I’m waiting on now is La-Mulana 2.
 

Holundrian

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,273
I backed MN9 and this although only for 40 and 20 bucks. And I don't get the negativity for crowd funding. Taking these failures as examples seems so weird to me. Like you're gambling on games that you might like that would not get made otherwise that's what kickstarter for games is in most cases.
Of course we have shit like that happening but then we have Hollow Knight, Shovel Knight, The Shadowrun games, Divinity, etc etc.
Like to people that feel burned you should have known what you're getting yourself into.
 
Oct 25, 2017
547
What is up with that nowadays? Is it definitely not coming or is Soule still trying to convince people it's still coming?
https://www.kickstarter.com/project...r-of-skyrim-soule-symphony-no-1/posts/1803676
I have been hard at work, and have failed to give timely updates, and I am very sorry for that. Going forward, I will be giving monthly updates, no matter how big or small my achievements in that time.
That was his last update, in February. He's so full of crap. It's a pretty funny read though. His main excuse for the delay is that the technology doesn't exist yet for him to be able to make his music.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,786
Canada's Ear
What's odd is that this Tariq guy felt comfortable slapping his name all over the original post. That kind of shit would/should put him on a no-hire list for any future work in the industry. Sometimes projects fail, and sometimes they fail because of mismanagement, but ffs you keep it fucking professional.

He even plugs the other game! Lol it's insane.

PS - I've backed about 10 KS projects, and all have released. Some great (Banner Saga), some average (Wasteland 2), and some historic (FTL). The most troubled one I backed was River City Revenge, and it ended up being fantastic.

Outside of KS, I also backed RimWorld, the greatest game of all time.
 
Oct 30, 2017
155
Im so confused as to why would they do that, Tiny Metal looks good from what i have seen, why didn't they just make the kickstarter for it instead?
 

Falk

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 26, 2017
974
Just to confirm, was it already known that Project Phoenix and Tiny Metal were connected? I did a very brief google of the two names together, and what I found were the comments on the Kickstarter, a random post from the old site saying that Tiny Metal looked like a scam liked Project Phoenix (no connection implied), and a few other things like that post.
Project Phoenix's website in May (or thereabouts) hinted that they were working on another game. Around September/TGS Yura did indeed start posting more about Tiny Metal publicly on social media and the like.

Tiny Metal does indeed look great, but I personally have doubts that it'd come anywhere close to salvaging Project Phoenix barring some kind of miracle/reboot.
It was definitely news to me that the two were related. I'd been aware of Tiny Metal since at least the spring, but I didn't realize that the team was the same as Project Phoenix. Seems like the project lead is at least a somewhat known figure, so it should have been easy enough for any games journalists to put the two projects together but somehow nobody seemed to do so (think emoji). It's completely unsurprising that this isn't something they'd be actively advertising, as Project Phoenix has turned out to be more of an albatross, and they wouldn't want that hung on their necks in the public eye. (Seriously, how the hell did nobody at any of the outlets make that connection?)
The tiny Metal site has ©2017 HIROAKI YURA at the bottom.

EDIT: He also claimed the project in the post where he gave Project Phoenix backers access to the Tiny Metal beta/demo, as quoted here: Project Phoenix scammed us? Creative Intelegent Art Fraud?

EDIT2: Tiny Metal is mentioned in his Japanese twitter bio, but not his English one.
Right, no, I'm not saying Yura isn't involved. If you read the post I quoted, I was responding to the notion of 'how come people didn't instantly link the projects together'?

Tiny Metal was initially marketed as having not much to do with Project Phoenix, except perhaps in terms of "we're a bunch of japanese veterans" and Tomoki Miyoshi (bless him) doing the music.
Sorry to put together such a huge quote train, but just to add context to this, Project Phoenix's backer updates have, in more than one case, talked about Tiny Metal specifically if it was a project completely unrelated to its own development.



It was only slightly prior to Tokyo Game Show this year (or thereabouts), after a lot of positive feedback on the Tiny Metal showings at e.g. PAX, etc, that the frontrunning figure shifted away from Kikuta-san and people involved with Project Phoenix acknowledged their involvement.

Could be an agreement with investors. Could be misdirection. Who knows. I don't quite feel comfortable that it was explicitly framed as 'someone else's project' in those updates, though.

Why would a programmer do the PR ?

Why delay the game ?

He also called the translator guy a rapist.
I'm not seeing the term 'rapist' applied in "TINY METAL Programmer's" description of Tariq. There are accusations that he sexually harassed a member of the development team, but that's not the same.
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,285
I missed this somehow, so I looked around. It's in Jason's latest article.

https://kotaku.com/developer-accuses-project-phoenix-director-of-embezzlin-1820620507

When I reached out to Yura for comment, he fired back with his own allegations about Lacy. “The post was posted by a staff whose contract has been bought out due to him being a toxic employee who has sexually harassed our female staff amongst many other problems,” Yura said in an e-mail.
Lacy denied these accusations, saying in an e-mail, “No, Hiroaki’s statement about me being toxic and sexually harassing a staff member is not true. He is reacting to my statement with libel.” He also sent over a few hundred logs from the company’s Slack chat channel, although upon review, few if any of those logs appear to be relevant to either claim.
This whole thing has turned fucking nasty. So either Lacy's lying - and he's unable to back up his statements even when sending chat logs to do so - and he's did this whole thing in part to cover himself after sexual harassment allegations, or Yura's throwing sexual harassment allegations to cover his as for the scam?
 

Falk

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 26, 2017
974
Something I hadn't seen prior courtesy of PC Gamer

Lacy suggested to me in a follow-up conversation through Twitter that CIA Inc. may not actually be closed, but that it and Tiny Metal developer Area 35 are the same company in all but name, with shared office space and PCs. Beyond that, however, he said he was legally restricted by NDAs from providing details. Yura acknowledged in an email that the two companies share an address, but said they have "different staff and purpose."

"CIA’s core business is audio production and Area 35 is game and animation development," he said. "We used to have CIA do all of the above but we needed corporate identity and clarity hence we separated the companies. We have absolutely no money from CIA that went into Area 35, it was created by our own money from the executives." The majority of Area 35, he added, is held by himself and a partner.
So both companies share an office space and PCs but... no money from CIA went into Area 35, but at the same time money from CIA music projects were funneled to Tiny Metal as per a previous backer update? How does that even work?

edit:
"Project Phoenix is still a very important project for CIA, and we fully intend to see the project completed-albeit at a much later date than was originally planned. Some backers are understandably upset about that. That said, absolutely no funding from Project Phoenix has ever been shifted or used for any purpose with TINY METAL. If you aren’t familiar with how the independent video game industry works, it can be confusing to hear of multiple companies and projects, but these are separate enterprises with their own funding."
Well, let's say we take this paragraph at face level. I think what's confusing is how Tiny Metal was plugged seemingly as a favor to a completely unrelated dev team on Project Phoenix backer updates (see a few posts up). Actually, let's replace confusing with 'scummy' since there's suddenly financial incentive to do so. It'd be like someone making a thread on a popular gaming forum about a project they're involved in, without mentioning that involvement.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,724
Singapore
So both companies share an office space and PCs but... no money from CIA went into Area 35, but at the same time money from CIA music projects were funneled to Tiny Metal as per a previous backer update? How does that even work?
Accounting wise how it probably works is that clients pay CIA, then CIA pays Yura (and others), and then Yura puts the money into Area 35, which is used to pay himself (and others). Since Yura owns both companies, it's fine!
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,032
I...don't understand anything about this. Advance Wars fans are also a starving, underserved audience. You could just run a Kickstarter campaign for that
 

Falk

Resettlement Advisor
Member
Oct 26, 2017
974
This was sent to Tiny Metal backers w.r.t. launch date delay

To all of our supporters and fans,

We were looking forward to the release of Tiny Metal on Tuesday, November 21st, however we have chosen to delay the release until December 21st. We, alongside with our publisher UNTIES, want to make the best TINY METAL experience that we could upon launch.

Originally, we had only planned for English and Japanese versions of the game. In the spirit of inclusion, and from a lot of feedback, we're changing it so that the French, Italian, German, and Spanish localizations that we had originally planned as part of the game's first update will instead be available at launch. We also needed to redo the English text due to the poor job that a former team member did with localizing the original Japanese dialogue, which required us to go back and review & re-translate the entire script to be more accurate, stay faithful to the game's story, and remove changes that had been made without permission. This along with potential QA issues that came in parcel with the increased number of languages that we planned to include led us, and our publisher UNTIES, to ultimately decide to delay the game. After having spent over two years on the development of this game, we wanted the game's story to be consistent as well as have it be enjoyed by as many people as possible on day one.

We're also expanding the content of TINY METAL, upping the map count to over 50 skirmish missions now with an estimated time playtime of over 100 hours, all of which is in addition to the campaign/story mode.

From the staff of TINY METAL, we’re sorry for the delay and we thank you for your patience. We'll have Steam pre-ordering and wishlisting up soon (and will let you know with an announcement when that's ready), and we want to give everyone the most polished and accessible version of the game possible. People have been waiting for strong Japanese-developed turn-based war strategy games for more than 9 long years, and you won't have to wait much longer!
There does seem to be a pattern of lambasting 'former team members' present here. Just state 'we were not happy with our localization and want to do better'. Gee.

edit: Just so it's clear, I'm rather impartial to the current situation; been following Project Phoenix for a while and Tomoki Miyoshi is an incredible composer, and I've worked with a few ex-CIA people. I tried Tiny Metal out at TGS after meeting an old acquaintance who was involved with the game and it was pretty okay.

My current stance on this is whatever the truth is, it'll be revealed it sooner or later, especially if court of law gets involved.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,045
After backing two board games, both of which were heavily delayed, I almost backed Might No. 9 and this game. The only reason I held back is because of my experience with KS and the board games I had backed. I received my board games, but one developer pretty much went bankrupt. Both made countless changes and excuses for delays. I never backed a KS project again.

Does KS hold these people accountable if they try to take the money and run? Is there anything that can be done? Has this happened before where no one got their items and the funders were refunded or helped?
Scams usually are easily identifiable. Most of the time projects fail because of too low funding or mismanagement (or both). Especially in the early days of KS all kinds of creative masterminds promised everything & anything and then slapped, like, 300 000$ as the funding aim to projects anyone with half a brain understands won't be made for less than at least a few million.
 
Nov 2, 2017
517
Its a shame all of this has come out as Tiny Metal actually looks really good. Due to the timing of these allegations it seems the guy was fired and decided to sabotage the release of the game, so it could just be a case of a disgruntled ex-employee trying to get payback to the company that fired him. On the other hand the current situation with Project Phoenix makes the story easy to believe. If its the same company responsible for both games then I think that Tiny Metal should be given free to all of the Project Phoenix backers as a good will gesture at least, if they do actually finish the game then its an extra free game, if the game doesnt get made then at least its backers got something, which is better than nothing.
 

CesspoolofHatred

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
314
I missed this somehow, so I looked around. It's in Jason's latest article.

https://kotaku.com/developer-accuses-project-phoenix-director-of-embezzlin-1820620507





This whole thing has turned fucking nasty. So either Lacy's lying - and he's unable to back up his statements even when sending chat logs to do so - and he's did this whole thing in part to cover himself after sexual harassment allegations, or Yura's throwing sexual harassment allegations to cover his as for the scam?
I don't think he was actually talking about the translator with that one. I think he was actually talking about what happened at the last place, given the wording here.

The harassment allegations are a different matter altogether.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,851
This is why I don't back almost anything. KS seems like one tremendous disappointment after another.

“Hello people this if former director/project lead X from company Y. You loved my work on game series Z. So you can totally trust me with your money. You surely won’t regret it!”

*One year latter*

“Money? Who the fuck are you people?”
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,724
Singapore
This is why I don't back almost anything. KS seems like one tremendous disappointment after another.

“Hello people this if former director/project lead X from company Y. You loved my work on game series Z. So you can totally trust me with your money. You surely won’t regret it!”

*One year latter*

“Money? Who the fuck are you people?”
So, who exactly on Project Phoenix was a former director/project lead from a known company who worked on a game series people loved? Pray tell.
 
Oct 27, 2017
791
I would never back a game on Kickstarter, it's not like with a physical object that might only ever be sold to the people who backed it, 99% of Kickstarter games will be released on psn etc so i'll just buy them then.
 

Hektor

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,924
Deutschland
This is why I don't back almost anything. KS seems like one tremendous disappointment after another.

“Hello people this if former director/project lead X from company Y. You loved my work on game series Z. So you can totally trust me with your money. You surely won’t regret it!”

*One year latter*

“Money? Who the fuck are you people?”

tremendous disappointments intensify
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,851
A nonexistant example? Okay then.
Look I don’t get too involved with these things, but wasn’t the Mega Man creator or whatever such an example? At any rate all I’m saying is that even when dealing with people who have some sort of credentials (whatever they may be), things can go bad and I don’t find myself willing to to back pretty much anything to do with gaming because of bad stories like that.
 

L Thammy

Spacenoid
Member
Oct 25, 2017
11,285
Look I don’t get too involved with these things, but wasn’t the Mega Man creator or whatever such an example? At any rate all I’m saying is that even when dealing with people who have some sort of credentials (whatever they may be), things can go bad and I don’t find myself willing to to back pretty much anything to do with gaming because of bad stories like that.
Sort of? Keiji Inafune was touted as Mega Man's creator and was using that legacy, but he was brought in when the first game was actually in development. I don't know if he actually claimed to have created the series.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,045
Look I don’t get too involved with these things, but wasn’t the Mega Man creator or whatever such an example? At any rate all I’m saying is that even when dealing with people who have some sort of credentials (whatever they may be), things can go bad and I don’t find myself willing to to back pretty much anything to do with gaming because of bad stories like that.
They made a meh game but they didn't embezzle/run away with any money. The project just ended up being a disappointing game. One just has to be somewhat careful with what projects they pledge money to, not be too eager to throw 10 000$ for top tier rewards and you'll be mostly fine so long as you keep expectations somewhat in check. KS money is rarely the kind that allows for extra polished experiences with mindboggingly incredible production values & audiovisual fidelity, even when budgets are in the millions. If someone promises a WOW killer for 3 million, just skip it unless it's something that is already 99% done and needs a little bit more money for completion and maybe has a beta you can check out.

I've only had one failed project so far (out of something like 30-35), a few critical duds and most have actually been released and been more or less enjoyable. Perhaps falling short of expectstions a bit but not even near of being total trash or anything.
 
Oct 25, 2017
7,298
Whole thing is crazy. I still have faith in crowdfunding though. The only scam I backed was Jeremy Soule’s wild ride.
What is up with that nowadays? Is it definitely not coming or is Soule still trying to convince people it's still coming?
https://www.kickstarter.com/project...r-of-skyrim-soule-symphony-no-1/posts/1803676
That was his last update, in February. He's so full of crap. It's a pretty funny read though. His main excuse for the delay is that the technology doesn't exist yet for him to be able to make his music.
New article from Jason on this went up a few minutes ago, btw:

https://kotaku.com/four-and-a-half-years-after-raising-121-000-skyrim-co-1820800661
 
Oct 28, 2017
144
Good stuff on the article on Soule’s kickstarter. At this point I am more amused than anything. Looking forward to whatever we get on December... but the ride never ends.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,151
The latest twist in this bizarre saga comes from an interview with the developer.

Interesting snippets:
-Tiny Metal "needs to sell 150,000 copies" for them to consider restarting development on Project Phoenix (which, to my knowledge, was previously not contingent on any sales of Tiny Metal).
-Tiny Metal doesn't feel like it's finished, but they're releasing it anyway because of "publisher commitments" (with features to be added later)
-He doesn't feel an obligation to Kickstarter backers because "they aren't investors"
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,813
Seattle
The latest twist in this bizarre saga comes from an interview with the developer.

Interesting snippets:
-Tiny Metal "needs to sell 150,000 copies" for them to consider restarting development on Project Phoenix (which, to my knowledge, was previously not contingent on any sales of Tiny Metal).
-Tiny Metal doesn't feel like it's finished, but they're releasing it anyway because of "publisher commitments" (with features to be added later)
-He doesn't feel an obligation to Kickstarter backers because "they aren't investors"
Man, this guy is kind of a jerk. Basically writing off Project Phoenix as unlikely to be worked on with this:

How many units of Tiny Metal need to sell to resurrect Project Phoenix?
Hiroyuki Yura: 150,000 units, worldwide on all consoles.
How reasonable is that goal?
Hiroyuki Yura: I think it is a lot of units.
What do you think is a reasonable amount of units for Tiny Metal to sell?
Hiroyuki Yura: Probably 50,000.
How many units do you think Tiny Metal will sell?
Hiroyuki Yura: Probably 100,000.