From the update:
Let us preface all this by saying that Defiance Games has had it's share of ups and downs and we've made a lot of mistakes along the way. It has definitely not been a pretty journey in the least and we are well aware of our reputation.
Over the last few months we have been regrouping and rebuilding to fix our past and bring new products to the market - helped along by a small, but successful Kickstarter in October.
That all said, we can't stand by and have our reputation further destroyed by statements that only tell a part of the story.
Alyssa Faden (or Natalya Faden) of Torn World has made a statement that basically says we are to blame for her Kickstarter failing. This is absolutely untrue. We don't believe she could afford to finish her Kickstarter with us or anyone.
Torn raised $67K in April 2013 primarily by including a large number of miniatures as stretch goals and a free shipping offer - similar to what the large companies like Mantic Games do – when they have $1M+ Kickstarters. The core game had 12 unique miniatures (39 total figures per set). They hired another company to sculpt these figures for them and provide manufacturable STL files.
This didn't happen. It was clear early on that the sculpts that were being produced were not manufacturable at all. A combination of undercuts, ultra-thin part areas, and other problems would mean anyone would be hard pressed to actually produce them. Alyssa then described these sculpts as "sketches" that could be used by other sculptors to create manufacturable models. Torn also hired a number of physical (i.e. non-digital putty/greenstuff) sculptors to make versions of these as well.
The sculpts from Alyssa's digital sculptors cost close to $20K from what she has told us. This doesn't include the additional sculptures ($300-400 or more each) done in putty.
At the same time, as Alyssa realized that nothing she had paid for from the digital sculptors was usable, she was receiving quotes from China factories to produce the miniatures. These were coming back 30% or so over what she had “estimated”. One quote we saw put the molding alone at $45K. (i.e. it didn't include the manufacturing of any miniatures – just the molds to do so – leaving $20K for sculpting, printing, shipping, etc). The project was absolutely doomed at this stage.
At this point she called us and wanted to know if we could help do this project for her. We pushed back as we already had a lot going on here and didn't want to complicate things. She kept coming back to us asking us to please quote on the project. Finally - and how we now regret this - we did.
Her plan was that she was going to have a new digital sculptor take the digital files and “fix” them to allow them to be molded. This sounded doable and we put in place a project to mold and produce 500 core box sets. Keep in mind there are 12 unique figures in this box set and 39 figures per box. It is not a huge project but something that should take a few weeks to produce after receiving usable files. (Our project also did not include any of the 20+ other sculptures – some of them quite large multi-part expensive pieces including a massive Mu warmachine thing in many separate parts – that were needed to satisfy the Kickstarter – go visit her Kickstarter page to see all the add-on sculpts that were part of this – our part was just the core box set. She planned on having us quote on the additional work for these figures after the first project. At the time we did not know there was probably zero budget for this available.)
We drew up a contract together and this was our responsibility list:
1. Create molds for plastic production from TW-supplied master sculptures
2. Produce plastic figures from DFG-created molds.
Torn were responsible for giving us workable 3D files – which she failed to mention in her post - which we would of course work with the sculptor to make sure we could use. And that is where it fell apart.
As this was happening, the conventional sculptors had finished their work. We were ready to start molding those and producing parts. We sent pictures of the ones we received to Alyssa who posted them up on her Kickstarter pages. Based on the feedback she received she decided that the physical sculpts weren't good enough. She instructed us not to produce them and wait for the digital files to be redone.
She brought in a sculptor who began to work on the files. Unfortunately, at the time we didn't know that the files were such a mess that he was basically just re-sculpting everything from scratch. Reportedly, he was being paid $100-200 each - a really low price for the amount of work he was doing. Unfortunately, as he began to deliver the files to us we saw that changes needed to be made. The technical fixes themselves were fine - but the way they were being laid out presented issues with undercuts and in some cases used way too many parts per figure.
For example - the Mu Slinger - a 20mm tall mouse person - was delivered in five separate parts: head, two arms, body, and tail. Alyssa's instructions were to have as little gluing for the end customer as possible. We went back with a list of changes and suggestions on how to repose the sculpts to get close to a single piece figure.
The sculptor refused to communicate with us. We were forced to play the telephone game through Alyssa. But even then that did not result in changes. Alyssa was pulling her hair out - we were pulling our hair out as well. We just wanted to get some manufacturable files, print them, make the molds and produce what we were hired to make.
We recommended Alyssa hire another sculptor to try to fix the files - someone we trusted and whose work we respected. That was in December – only a short time ago. He started to look at the files and manipulate them. He quickly realized – as the original “fix” sculptor had - that one of the problems was the original files themselves. He asked if we could receive the native ZBrush files to work from. Those would be layered ZTL files. If he had those, he could make changes quickly.
To be safe, we asked Alyssa to ask the original digital sculptors for a sample of the original files to make sure they worked. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, Alyssa apparently gave those digital sculptors $1000 to send her all the files without looking at them first. (We found out at this point that she and the original sculpting company had had a falling out and weren't on speaking terms – we don't know the whole story.)
The new sculptor received the files and discovered that they were a mess. In his words: "the issue isn't the poses as much as how they decided to layout the layers gaps and spaces that are hard or impossible to patch up because they bound them together. You can cut a piece off there is nothing under it lol have to fill the blank and then smooth it and it looks like crap."
He spent a lot of time and got us the one hoplite pose finalized which Alyssa posted January 8th. We thought we were now going to be okay but the more the sculptor dug into them the worse the files were.
Alyssa told us that she could not afford to pay for additional sculpting. We HAD to make what we had work. Unfortunately, that was impossible given the files we had to work with. Unless someone were to completely re-sculpt these figures from scratch there was no way we could produce them.
Defiance Games is now a scapegoat for Torn's decision to shut down this project - a convenient and easy target because of our own well-documented problems. We don't deny them – we definitely have had them – but we feel they are being used now to cover up Torn's inability to fulfill their Kickstarter.
We signed on to make their figures but we were never given the files that would allow that to happen. We are still prepared to finish the project and we've budgeted the materials and man-hours to do it. We just need usable files and we would be thrilled to do the work and make this project a reality.
Instead we are being blamed for the project's failure and we've been asked to refund the payment. And in the big scheme of things it is fine that they are bailing on their project – that is their right - and want us to pay back money for a part of it that was never completed. But as a small company, we're just not in a position to do that immediately in a lump sum. Along with offering to complete the project if we're given files that can be turned into miniatures, we've also offered to work out a payment plan. We'd love to see Alyssa's project succeed, but we won't lay down and let Defiance be dragged through the mud for something that is - for once - not our fault.
We did not complete the project – because we did not receive files that could be turned into produceable miniatures. If we had these – this project would be done now. We now highly doubt it would have shipped given the financials...this was a severely underfunded Kickstarter and anyone can look at the sheer amount of figures, printing, and shipping and see that.
We know we don't have a great track record and we've been working to fix it. We know we did not complete the project. But we also want people to understand the other side of this story and why that is. This is a terrible situation for everyone involved and the result may be that both our companies go down because of it.