Kickstarter project Haunts on hiatus as programmers quit

$29,000 pledged, but no game forthcoming

Kickstarter project Haunts on hiatus as programmers quit

A developer behind a game backed by almost $29,000 in pledges on Kickstarter has admitted there's little chance the title in question will be released any time soon.

Rick Dakan, who was leading development on Haunts: The Manse Macabre for PC, Mac and iPad, has taken to the game's page on the crowdfunding website to admit the project is up in the air.

Its development has been put on hold follow the departure of key programmers and, ironically, a lack of funds.

Don't leave me

"The principal cause for our dire condition is that there are no longer any programmers working on the game," said Dakan on the site.

"Our lead programmer, Jonathan, was always going to move on to something else after a year or so.

"We had hoped that he would be able to work on the game in his spare time, but now that he's going back at Google, he has told us that his spare time will be very minimal and not enough to make progress on the game.

"Our second programmer, Josh, has quit the project entirely to take another job. He does not want to work on the game in his spare time."

A total of 1,214 have backed Haunts to date, with the developer itself having also spent $42,500 of its own money getting it up and running.

Money matters

Dakan claims the game actually has "all the systems in place", but currently suffers from a lot of bugs, making it unfit for release.

The big problem with getting it ready for launch, he added, is that most of the money pledged by backers has already been spent.

As such, hiring replacement programmers after a regular salary to finish the job is out of the question.

"We actually have a fair amount in the bank, but most of that is about to be sent to the IRS as part of payroll taxes," added Dakan.

"We met our goal back in the beginning of July, raising $28,000, of which we got to keep about $25K after Kickstarter and Amazon Payments fees.

"With the addition of Josh in August, our burn rate went to about $1900 per week for salaries for Jonathan, Austin, and Josh. Eleven weeks of that cost a little over $20,000, plus another $1200 or so for printing and shipping t-shirts."

What next?

The question now, of course, is what happens next. Consumer enthusiasm for Kickstarter projects has been built upon the idea that, by and large, games that reach their targets get released.

The Haunts debacle may dent such confidence, with small indie outfits also having to contest with a multitude of other factors, such as the departure of staff.

There's also the question of whether many developers using Kickstarter are accurately assessing the amount of money they need to see a project through, or simply picking ball park figures.

Dakan claims he hasn't given up on releasing Haunts eventually – Blue Mammoth Games apparently interested in taking the game on in some form – concluding that he is "still detemined to get the game out."

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[source: Kickstarter]

Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.