Torn Armor Kickstarter rewards “dead in the water”

By tgn_admin
In Fantasy
Jan 23rd, 2014
27 Comments
877 Views

Torn Armor has posted up an unfortunate update to their Kickstarter campaign. It seems as though the project is on a forced-hiatus due to money troubles with Defiance Games.

Source

From the update:

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.

Tl:dr

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

  • Grim6

    I was pretty happy that I followed the advice from members of this website and avoided the Defiance Kickstarter. So I’m extra pissed to discover that even though I didn’t pledge to support their Hardsuit campaign, somehow my money is still going to support their Harduit campaign! What a ripoff! I thought Defiance was “Under new management”?

    • captainparty

      The old management was so terrible that they owe loads of people a lot of money, their own Kickstarter money was used to pay their staff who hadn’t been paid for months and then I guess this money was put towards their own kickstarter, but they’re still left without anyone who will make tools for them, they use sub contractors for lot of things rather than handling it in house and they owe so much and have such a bad rep, no one will work with them now

    • Under new management but it still had the same owners IIRC

    • n815e

      The new management got fed up with the meddling of the old management, so the old management took over again.

  • While I wasn’t a backer, I feel very sorry for them. Backers reactions are really kind and supportive. Nice to see such a good spirit in our hobby.
    Actually the shit has hit the fan on Defiance’s Facebook page…
    Waiting for this dubious company to give their version of this drama…

  • Brodee

    I was not a backer of Torn Armor but this is a sad tale. I hate seeing miniature kickstarters not get fulfilled. I do like how Reaper stepped in early on and offered to help out. I have yet to meat a gaming company quite as cool as them.
    I hope this eventually comes to fruition and they are somehow able to get some of the miniatures produced, even if down the road.

  • Wow. So now Defiance is screwing up other people’s businesses. That is really impressive.

    Sad that they have so little respect for people in general that they do things like this.

    I hope they get sued into oblivion so this sort of thing never happens again

  • Congrats to DG for graduating from Incompetent to Criminal.

    Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of litigation.

  • StygianBeach

    This is sad news. The old Wargames Factory drama returns once again.

  • Apparently DG also screwed over Proxie Models

    http://dreamforge-games.blogspot.com/2014/01/defiance-games-backer-buyer-and.html

    So apparently their business plan is to eliminate the competition by taking their KS funds and not delivering anything.

  • They’ve just posted an Open Letter on their FB page :

    An open letter to Alyssa Faden of Torn
    Armor.

    Alyssa,

    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

  • 4tonmantis

    This is the danger of working from crowd-funding. From a game creator’s standpoint, you are taking other people’s money and tying it up in potential points of failure.

    From a customers standpoint you run the risk of watching your money disappear.

    I will say that while I do think Defiance is ultimately to blame, I think Alyssa should have done her homework and she is still the one accountable to her backers.. NOT DG. DG is accountable to her. Why she would send all of the money before any work had been done is beyond me. Why anyone would ask a company who still hasn’t re-opened their shop, is “recovering” from bad management, is trying to fulfill their own kickstarter, and has an existing bad reputation? That’s just unwise. I think she probably should have mentioned this to her community prior to even contacting DG.. they would likely have all told her this.

    • All except the idiot backer that recommended them in the first place. It seems no matter how criminally inept Defiance gets there’s always someone around to shout their praises.

      • 4tonmantis

        Defiance is one of those companies that I would never back or buy directly from.. if they made anything that I liked (that’s an if), I would buy it from a retailer after it has been released and reviewed. There are a few other companies I hold at arms’ length like that and I feel a bit sad for those who don’t know better or do and decide to risk it on good faith.

      • KelRiever

        She said in the letter not all the money was sent.

        Anyway, I have no love for the general populace of the gaming world as far as companies go. They are no different to me than the small player people in any other industry, more open to lies and broken promises by not having a scale that puts them on anyone’s radar other than the niche they serve.

        If a company has a good rep, you basically know about it already. And even then, sometimes things change.

        This was always the risk of sending money to someone you don’t know in crowd funding. Seriously, if a stranger pitched you an idea for a game on the street, it’d be the rare person who handed them cash. But somehow, ‘the internet’ and ‘kickstarter’ adds to legitimacy?

        Really, do people think the Kickstarter police chase down lost funds?

        Welcome to the primitive legal system for justice. It is going to take years, if ever, and a lawyer, to get anything back. I only can wish Torn the best, but you know, for the kickstarter person who fronted money without realizing the risk?

        They have only themselves to blame.

      • n815e

        They couldn’t be bothered to investigate this company before contracting with them?

  • blkdymnd

    I hope this is the nail in the coffin for Defiance. I’ve never seen a more criminal outfit since the old Dropzone Games that plagued online retail and Bartertown around 2005. I was a backer, and I do hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Alyssa and this project, though if ultimately my money is used to sue Defiance into a cardboard box on the streets, then I’ll gladly pitch it in for that.

  • Ghool

    I think so due diligence on the part of the Torn Armour crew would have been prudent.
    Defiance had a bad reputation long before this Kickstarter ended, and if she failed to do any research, and went purely on the word of a SINGLE BACKER, then she has no one else to blame but herself.

    While it sucks that DG basically took their money for zero work, one has to understand that if you’re making a game for the niche miniatures market, you should at least understand the landscape.
    It is quite obvious that she wasn’t that in touch with the industry – even myself (which I don’t consider the authority on miniatures games) would know not to touch Defiance with a 10′ pole.

    While it sucks for the backers, Alyssa just needed to do a bit of research, which would have prevented her from even thinking about using DG at all.

  • Lord Abaddon of Wormwood

    Well I hope Alyssa’s other company Soul Jar doesn’t have any issue – I would be worried if I had backed that KS – Dice Crawl

  • Justacomment

    Well said KelRiever! I just posted something similar and then found this!

  • 4tonmantis

    Alyssa just posted this on the TA Kickstarter

    Creator Natalya Alyssa Faden 1 minute ago

    Hey all – I am around and I am reading your responses. I wanted to give this a day or so before jumping in and trying to answer every post (I’ve literally had hundreds of PMs here, on FB and your comments).

    I am aware of Defiance Games’ response and position. I honestly did not expect a different response. Ultimately at the end of the day it does not matter if a comet hitting earth is the reason for the production delays and I will not get dragged into a he-said/she-said playground argument: the bottom line is that DG has a good chunk of our funds without producing anything (for whatever reason), and we would like it to be returned. They have our wiring details, and with the funds back in the business account our options open up.

    That said: responses to our position have been staggering. The backers here, messages, Facebook PMs and emails. We have had people from all over the world come forth with ideas and offers to help or pitch in. In fact there have been so many offers that we’re still getting our arms wrapped around it all. If you PMed me here, I will respond to you personally (I just got many, many, many PMs and am still working through them).

    The great news is that we do have a plan and in the long run perhaps it will even be for the best. I will announce more on this as we figure out the details, but let’s break down what our choices are here, okay?

    1 – We issue refunds. Well in the light of money spent, and money tied up with Defiance, we do have money left over, but it’s about a third of what the Kickstarter earned (this is the dice/printing portion of the KS). This would get everyone a fraction of what they put in and no game.

    2 – we wait and see if Defiance repays what they owe. I’m not a fan of this option. It’s a stalling/waiting game that goes no where.

    3 – We proactively change our stance and seek to deliver you the game as promised, but with the tools and options at our disposal. This would mean delivering the game (rules, dice, clockwork dragon, maps, unit cards etc) as phase 1 and miniatures as a phase 2.

    This is the option we are currently heavily leaning towards. It means that the miniatures and the money tied up with DG does not delay the rest of the game, that everyone gets Torn Armor and that the miniatures are sent later.

    In all of this someone, somewhere is not going to be happy with the way we proceed forward and it is my objective to do the best thing, the right thing, and option #3 to me is that. It may well mean that miniatures are delivered much later, but – to me – it is better than throwing in the towel.

  • Justacomment

    You could also just take out a business loan like a normal person and fulfill YOUR debts.

    If you need more money go find it.

  • Marauder

    Business loans are not easy to get – which is a big reason crowd funding has become so common.

  • Justacomment

    Marauder, business loans for poorly planned business models have a hard time getting funded. The world worked just fine before kickstarter for products. ALSO the most successful kickstarters in the gaming world were done by well established companies that….could have gotten a loan.

    • 4tonmantis

      I think this is an important point. Smaller companies that have no experience see companies like Mantic or Reaper bust out these huge stretch goals and massive plans.. and for whatever reason decide that they should attempt the same without having any background or existing product ranges for comparison or security.

  • Justacomment

    I agree completely, the sad fact is the big companies killed the perspective of kickstarter to potential backers. This has set the bar unreasonably high for small start ups.

  • Lparigi34

    On january 7th I posted this on a BGG thread… It is not about honesty or anything else, it is about risk sharing. Read:

    “One of the main problems I have with KS for funding board games is that you are funding projects that “promise to deliver”, hence shifting/diluting the risk from designers/developers to the customer itself.

    Since 2011 I’ve helped to fund 22 projects until now, and so far only 11 have been produced (the rest are still in process, , that means also that a lot of my money is tied up and that possibly the “entrepreneurs” already made a profit without giving me any benefit back, yet).

    One of the KS I helped to fund was a total disappointment, this is totally uncool, a guy made money and started his own company by selling a promise that did not deliver the expected performance, all at a premium price. Another projects have taken already more than a year to finish while owners live comfortably with our money.

    Also, as previously said , the games usually cost a few buck less in after KS production… That is not nice, post KS buyers are not taking any risks here (the risk of the game not being produced at all, the risk of getting a game that is not really that good, the risk of getting components that are below par, etc.).

    Basically, we are helping to fund companies without getting any shares back…

    Right now, I plan to be A LOT more selective when deciding what/who to fund. If a guy/start up company have a great idea for a board game, I expect to see more of his share into it before the campaign was even started, better developed concepts/rulesets, and so on. If it is a big company, probably I will restrain myself from participating at all, unless an important discount over shelf price is offered during the KS; why should I pay a premium to give somebody my money to work with to produce something the I will find at a better price almost at the same time my KS gets delivered to me?”