Daily Archives: February 6, 2020

The Camelot Unchained Refund Stonewalling Begins

Last week Mark Jacobs dropped the bombshell that his company, seven years into the Camelot Unchained project and more than four years after the promised delivery date, had taken it upon itself to work on a different game, Final Stand: Ragnarok.

He did say that backers of the Kickstarter campaign would get the new game, but since there isn’t anything like a ship date for either the new game or Camelot Unchained, that seems like a pretty easy promise to make.  Backers now have double the non-available games, which still totals up to zero games.

He was also quite clear that he and his company were under no legal obligation to give backers access to the new game nor even to finish Camelot Unchained.  This came in a context that makes me think he wants us to be grateful to him that he’s giving us anything at all.

So I decided I wanted a refund.  I took all the information I had related to my Kickstarter pledge and sent it to the address indicated on their store FAQ page.

(It is support@citystateentertainment.com if you want it.)

What I got in response was a form letter from Mark.  I love it when you take the time to put together information and the company just ignores it and sends you something you didn’t ask for instead.

In this case it was a plea from Mark Jacobs for another chance.  He is going to give another interview later today.  He’ll have a schedule for us.  He is sure we’ll like what we see.  He is ignoring requests for a refund in hopes that we’ll be taken in yet again.

Basically, after having had to take everything on faith for almost seven years it is a plea to continue to take things on faith, because the track record so far say that any dates he announces today will end up being slipped later on.

I know that software development is art rather than science.  But I also resent being taken for a gullible sucker when somebody tells me things over and over and they consistently and repeatedly fail to come to pass.  And when somebody starts reminding me that they’re not legally obligated to live up to what they say big red flashing lights start going off.

The only useful bit of information in the whole email was what they would need to process a refund.

In order to process your refund, please send us all transaction ID(s), address and phone number. All refunds are processed by PayPal, can take 90 days to process, and can carry fees (per our refund policy https://store.camelotunchained.com/faq )

That is actually considerably less information than I sent them in my first email message, save for the “transaction ID” request.

What transaction ID?  I assume it is the transaction ID for the credit card charge.  But the original email from Kickstarter does not have a transaction ID attached, just the usual last four digits of an otherwise obfuscated credit card number.  If I had used PayPal or Amazon payments, I might be able to find it via that route, except that back in 2013 Kickstarter didn’t use either of those.  You had to put up your own credit card.

My credit card statement for the charge, which I do still have, does not show a transaction ID.

I tried calling up the credit card company to see if they could get a transaction ID for the charge, however they only keep records back for six years, so a charge on May 2, 2013 isn’t available in their system any more.

The agent was mildly impressed I was trying to get a refund on such an old transaction and suggested that I could write the the archives department to ask if they could find something.  When I asked for their email address I was told they only transact via postal mail or fax.

I will write something out and send it off and maybe I will get something back some day, but I doubt it.

I strongly suspect that Mark Jacobs has the transaction ID requirement in there because it isn’t something to which people have easy access.  He can go on claiming that refunds are available while not having to worry about actually having to give refunds.

I will respond again with the information I do have, but I expect no refund will be forthcoming.

It looks like my only recourse is to give the project a frowny face over on Kickstarter.

That empty box is where you mark when what you backed has been delivered

That and to try not to such a gullible sucker again.

Addendum:

Torchlight 3

So amidst the news of the dumb last week… and it was a bad week last week for so many things… a few items dropped that I only got around to thinking about when the weekend finally hit.

One of those was the bombshell that Torchlight Frontiers, the planned ARPG-MMO from  Perfect World Entertainment, was changing its name and focus.  It is now Torchlight 3 and is giving up its MMORPG aspirations.

I am conflicted on Roman vs Arabic numerals right now

Back in 2009 a charming little solo ARPG called Torchlight came out.  It had some issues and it was only single player and if you bought it from the wrong online store (this was before Steam was all) you had some trouble, but it was good in a very modest way and it was done by some of the same people who did Diablo and Diablo II back in the day.  Even the music was done by the same person, which meant it was really good.

A year later the announcement came for Torchlight II, which would give us all the things we wanted.  A year later it was announced that the game would be delayed and, when it came down to it its big rival, Diablo III, shipped first.

And when it did ship… well… it was okay.  In the market Diablo III had story, Path of Exile had the gritty Diablo II vibe, and Torchlight II was cute and colorful and full of features and just a bit too bland.  If local multiplayer or support for modding were your most important features, it was the game to back.  But for me it just wasn’t that compelling.

This was all in furtherance of what was eventually supposed to be a Torchlight MMO.  But by the time the team got the much-delayed MacOS version of Torchlight II out the company was sick of the game, the MMO was off, and that was that.

All those links lead to even more links about what was going on.

So we seemed to be done with the Torchlight story.  PWE closed the studio and the devs were scattered to the wind.

Then come 2018 PWE came back and announced something called Torchlight Frontiers, which seemed to be there to revive the whole Torchlight MMO thing.

But it was 2018 and by then the whole MMO thing had been falling down a sinkhole for a while.  The free to play apocalypse that Mark Jacobs had foretold seemed to be coming to pass and we have been living in a world of pay to win and lock boxes and bait and switch as studios scramble to chase too few dollars in an over saturated market.

I wasn’t sure we could really trust the idea of a Torchlight MMO in that mix, especially from a company like PWE, which loves all of the bad aspects of free to play.

And now, I guess we won’t have to.  As I mentioned above, Torchlight Frontiers has become Torchlight 3 and it is not going to be a shared world sort of MMORPG experience but a single and multiplayer game much more in the vein of Torchlight II.

Is that a good thing?

I think it is, but I am not really sure.  Setting aside my uncertainty about what PWE would end up doing with the cash shop, I have some misgivings… because of course I do.

This goes back to my feelings about Torchlight II.  It is not a bad game and has much to recommend it.  But if I want to play an ARPG my list tends to look like:

  1. Diablo III
  2. Path of Exile
  3. Grim Dawn
  4. Diablo (GoG version)
  5. Torchlight II

Torchlight II, as I have said many times now, is just kind of bland.  It is all light and colorful with no edge whatsoever. And even playing with mods didn’t do much for me.

So the one thing that Torchlight Frontiers had for me was that maybe the whole shared world MMO aspect of it might be enough of a change to put a little bit of edge on the game and make it more interesting… or more to my taste… or whatever.

But we’re not going to get that.

In the end I think Torchlight 3 is probably the right path forward.  And I have no intention of becoming one of those “what could have been” people who will go on until the end of time about EverQuest Next or Titan or Copernicus. missing something they never had. But for a passing moment I am wondering what might have been.

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