i’m sure that everyone has noticed by now that the homestuck game is very, very late. boy, do i have a fun reason why!
you may remember that what pumpkin announced that the game studio “the odd gentlemen” was originally attached to develop the game, and you may also remember that they quietly moved to in house development in 2014. what they didn’t tell you: the reason they did this was that odd gentlemen stole kickstarter money and spent it on king’s quest.
i imagine most of us who backed the homestuck game kickstarter are pretty curious about what was going on there. i’ve done some work on the comic and talk to andrew from time to time, so i tried asking about what happened and got some very cagey non-responses. eventually, he tells me he actually can’t tell me anywhere but through kickstarter because of a settlement he signed (already fishy). so, i sent in an inquiry through KS and what i got was a big steaming load of bullshit worse than anything i could have imagined. i’m talking multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud.
according to the timeline in the doc i got, WP gave 788k to TOG in 2012 to develop hiveswap. they then proceeded to do next to nothing, completely blowing off the dev schedule that they agreed to. (the game was supposed to be done by oct 2014. instead, that was when WP ended up having to switch to in house development and start from scratch.) the doc included a detailed rundown of everything TOG actually did. in summary:
“Over 8 months of development, TOG produced exactly one “playable build”. It is a single room, involving one character, no animation, and almost no other key features. Virtually nothing works properly. It was submitted in February of 2014, and no improvements or additional versions were submitted beyond that date.”
a link to it was included in the doc. it’s… probably the worst thing i’ve ever seen in my life?? if you try to click on ANYTHING, joey runs into a bookcase and flies into the air and the demo gets stuck. the only thing that distinguishes it from an out-of-the-box adventure creator demo is its very subpar models and the fact it is unplayably bugged.
at some point TOG apparently just completely gave up working on hiveswap, because they were tapped to develop king’s quest (you can see them admit this in public here at about 1 minute into this video). however, instead of dropping out of developing the game, they decided to just… not tell WP, and proceeded to spend the money they were given on KQ’s development instead.
eventually, after months of platitudes and refusals to communicate (at one point andrew even moved across the country to be able to visit TOG’s offices and get the ball rolling on development, but they wouldn’t even let him come in), WP realized that they’d have to drop TOG, so they terminated the contract in late 2014.
at that stage, TOG said they had 390,000 dollars left of the money WP gave them that they hadn’t spent on “development” or taxes. but, get this – in the 7 months it took them to agree on a settlement for returning the money, they spent 170,000 of it on king’s quest. seriously. like, they didn’t even try to hide it – they straight up spent it after they’d already officially stopped working on the game, and were just like, haha, whoops? pay you back later i guess.
this isn’t acknowledged in a binding settlement like the king’s quest embezzlement is, but i’m pretty sure most of the 190k they claim they spent on hiveswap’s development before they picked up KQ went into neil gaiman’s wayward manor. they picked THAT up at around the time they were supposed to start working on hiveswap, and admitted the workload was conflicting with their ability to devote time to hiveswap. given the egregiously overstated man hours claimed for how little work they actually did, and the fact they admittedly stole the money for another game, i think it’s a pretty obvious conclusion to reach.
it doesn’t look like there was ever a point where TOG wasn’t funneling homestuck’s KS money into another game. it’s unclear whether they EVER actually intended to seriously develop the game. they straight up signed up to steal money from us.
andrew mentioned that this was one of the biggest reasons for the gigapause, and that all the logistics of dealing with TOG’s incompetence meant he couldn’t get much work done on the comic in that time.
why am i posting this? well, king’s quest was developed with stolen money, so it’s probably in your best interest to know this before you buy it. all things considered, it’s a miracle that hiveswap is doing as well as it is – at this point, i think hiveswap has moved past this fiasco and isn’t in any danger of falling through. it’s uh, pretty late, but from what i’ve seen, they’re well on their way to an Actual Game that may be Actually Good despite getting jerked around by a circus of incompetent clowns for 8 months.
at this point, i’m not sure what to DO about this. what pumpkin is bound by the settlement they had to sign if they wanted to get any of the money back at all, so there’s not much that they themselves can do to retrieve the money TOG stole from us. i actually tried messaging sierra, the company that licensed KQ to TOG, but they don’t seem to care that KQ was made with stolen money. maybe activision might want to know. in any case, it’s important that this info get out there so people know what they’re dealing with when buying something from the odd gentlemen.
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