Tag Archives: City State Entertainment

Camelot Unchained Refund Received

What will likely be the last post on the topic of Camelot Unchained here for some time.

I got a refund on my Kickstarter pledge.  I got it very quickly and with no deductions for processing charges at the CSE end of things, just the money transfer fee from PayPal, a mere $3.49.  Op success.  I should be very happy.

And yet I am still a little prickly about the whole thing.  I still think that a transaction ID for a credit charge remains a pretty unlikely thing for people to have around nearly seven years later.  Mark Jacobs says that the company needs to use that to protect themselves from scammers, but it sure can make it hard on people who didn’t keep one specific email from that far back.

I am also a bit prickly about the fact that I got a refund so very quickly.  I have an egalitarian streak, and getting jumped to the head of the line and getting an expedited refund straight from the CEO for being the loud mouth doesn’t make necessarily make me feel good about myself.  I’m not giving the money back… dollar votes are still a thing in my mind, and that was a motivation here… but I don’t have to like the fact that others are going to be stuck.  I don’t want to be special, I just want to be part of a system that works.  But that is so rarely the case.

Before you declare this a victory proving that blogs are still relevant, I have to stop you.  They aren’t.  Blogging remains a backwater in the world of social media.  If Bree at Massively OP had not mentioned me to Mark Jacobs I might still be waiting for the Pony Express to deliver my request to the archives department of my credit card company in Wichita in the hope that they would be able to find a transaction ID somewhere in the Indiana Jones warehouse where I imagine they store their old paper records and other such these treasures.

I did not ask Bree to do this for me.  She had asked me to forward the email blast that CSE sent out to everybody asking for refunds last week, and I followed that up with the next message from CSE just to keep her in the loop.  Next thing I knew Mark Jacobs had taken up residence in my comment section.  It was a bit of a shock.

As for why I wanted a refund, there are a couple of reasons.  The first, as I mentioned above, is dollar votes, the idea that you spend your money on things you support and believe in and withhold it from things that you do not.  After years of delays and updates and things that have not come to pass, I began to feel my support was not warranted.  There is a whole story of a startup I worked for in the 90s that plays into this, but I will just say that enthusiasm fatigue is a thing.  Given enough changes, updates, delays, and excuses and your capacity to give a shit will eventually fade.

This is why I try not to get invested in games too early in their development cycle.  It rarely ends well as all surprise and sense of accomplishment tends to be broken by early familiarity.

I also pledged more for this campaign than I did for many other, largely due to Mark Jacobs visiting my blog back during the Kickstarter campaign.  This week was not his first visit.  Blogs were still mildly relevant in 2013 I guess.  And while $110 isn’t going to make a huge difference in my life, I pledged that much only because of him.

And then there is the fact that almost seven years down the road I am not sure I care about the game any more.  Part of that is the enthusiasm fatigue I mentioned above.  I unsubscribed from the updates email list because it was tiring to read after a few years.  (For whatever reason I have not unsubscribe from the Star Citizen weekly updates. I suppose their brevity makes them less wearing.)

But part of it is my, my life, my friends, and what I enjoy have all changed over time.  Seven years changes people.  What CSE is selling doesn’t really thrill me now, so a chance to redirect a bit of money into something that I might enjoy is something worth doing.

Now to figure out what that is.

Anyway, I won’t harp on this or be one of those people who has to post something negative every time Camelot Unchained gets mentioned.  That isn’t my style.  I got my money back and I can move on to something else and leave this in the past.

Camelot Unchained Refunds Require Transaction IDs

I received a response from the Camelot Unchained about my refund request.

As I expected, and despite a comment from Mark Jacobs over at Massively OP about matching up email addresses or whatever, City State Entertainment’s official line to me is that they require transaction IDs for all refunds.  The text of their response:

Hello,

Thank you for sending the information. All purchases have TransactionIDs, it acts as a receipt for your purchase. We do need the transactionID to process the refund. It is a long alphanumeric ID. If you cannot locate it, please contact Kickstarter or Paypal and they will retrieve it for you.

Thank You,
CSE Support Team

As I explained in my previous post on this, there were no transaction IDs provided at the time of my Kickstarter pledge and that my credit card company does not keep such records past the six year mark, and we’re coming up on the seventh anniversary of the funding of the Kickstarter.

I suppose it is possible Kickstarter might have be able to provide the transaction ID.  I will contact them next to see if they keep records that old.  I will not be surprised if they do not.

But this continues to confirm my suspicion that they will stonewall people on the transaction ID front, with the added bonus that we now know that what Mark Jacobs says in comments over at Massively OP may not necessarily reflect reality.  Another reason to call into question what he is pitching now.

Addendum: Have you tried contacting Kickstarter?  They do not want to be contacted, something which I suspect City State Entertainment knows.  (Their email is support@kickstarter.com, which wasn’t anywhere on their site but which worked all the same.)

Addendum 2: Article at Massively OP where Mark Jacobs responded in comments that transaction IDs were not required.  Post update incorporating Mark’s comment:

[Update: MOP tipster Wilhelm has noted that some of the info might be difficult to come by, given that some credit card companies do not keep transaction IDs that old, but Jacobs says that people should send in what they do have and support will try to match you by email address.]

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:

Get Your Camelot Unchained Refund Now

The thing that kind of separated the ongoing bullshit that comes out of Chris Roberts around Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained was that at least the latter had not gone down the rampant feature creep path.

Because, otherwise, there are a lot of similarities between the two projects… and the two personalities.  Even their previous games were failures that they blamed on their corporate overlords, but now that they run the show the projects keep spinning out into infinity and you start to feel their overlords might have had a point.  With nobody holding them to their plans they do as they please.

And then yesterday Mark Jacobs told the world in an interview over at Massively OP that his company, City State Entertainment, has been working on another game for the last half of a year. It is named Colossus or Ragnarok or something… it isn’t clear… and boy was it a surprise.

If that isn’t the ultimate in feature creep, I don’t know what is.  They now have two in development games with no ship date instead of just one.  This is not progress.

In the interview Mark says in the same sentence that the new game both has and has not slowed down Camelot Unchained, which means that it has and he is just spinning bullshit now.  He learned well from his time at EA I guess.

I thought maybe his bit of pre-Kickstart campaign self-flagellation about Warhammer Online, where he sort of took a bit of the blame on his shoulders, meant something.  But it clearly didn’t.  In looking back I had forgotten how, despite everything, he still clung to the Metacritic score the game got at launch, like he was holding out for a “Best Score for an Otherwise Failed Game” award at GDC or something.

So now Camelot Unchained is just fantasy Star Citizen in my eyes, minus the broken alpha demo content you can play.  It is put up or shut up for them both.  Until they ship something real it is all just bullshit.

The difference for me is that I am in on Star Citizen for the minimum bid, but I pledged a lot more for Camelot Unchained and I am feeling all the more the sucker for the faith I showed.

I want a refund.

City State Entertainment says on their FAQ page that they will give people refunds.  Just send an email to support@citystateentertainment.com asking for one.  You won’t get the full amount back.  They will subtract the fees the incur giving you the refund, but at least you ought to get something back.  And it is about the only message one can send that Mark won’t just hand wave away.

We shall see what I get in response.  I expect them to stonewall me on the request.   And I will certainly post updates here on how it goes.

I had already pledged never to Kickstart an MMO again, so I cannot really swear further on that.  But this certainly hasn’t done anything to soften my view on this.

Finally, I am curious that he went to Massively OP first for this announcement.  It isn’t like a gaming site with a bigger audience wouldn’t have been happy to have the scoop.  Did he expect it would slip by or that he would get a more favorable response going there?  The big sites will pick up the story anyway.

Related:

An Indictment of Something…

…and remains one of the top 10 highest Metacritic-rated MMOs.

Mark Jacobs, in reference to Warhammer Online

Mark Jacobs is talking to the press again because he and his new(-ish) company, City State Entertainment, have a new MMO under way; one with some familiar sounding features.

The Emerald City Logo

The Emerald City Logo

Of course, this means he needs to answer the ever present questions around how this new MMO will relate to his two previous ventures, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

He is candid, as usual, about how these two past games are influencing his current venture.  And he is up front about the problems with Warhammer Online.  From the interview:

Nobody was more disappointed in WAR than I was. At launch, it had lots of wonderful things in it, but it also had way too many bugs, balance, and leveling issues, and of course, crashes in Tier 4. It was my worst nightmare come true, and as I’ve stated before…

And yet there is that quote at the top.  That really caught my eye.

There is that list of reviews on Metacritic.  Look at them.  There are 18 reviews that gave the game a score of 90 or more, including two that gave it 100.  And since the game has stagnated since, never shipping an expansion, that is what you see when you look at Metacritic for reviews.

It rates higher than any MMO I have played for more than a couple of months, save World of Warcraft… which really brings up the question of how MMOs should be reviewed.  Clearly the ” spent a few hours in beta and read the press release” method leads to erratic results, though sometimes that seems to get it right if the issues are obvious enough… or if the publisher doesn’t have enough advertising clout.

As for the new MMO title and its Kickstarter financing plans, I am currently in the “tell me when it actually ships” column.

Turning the City State Entertainment team from March on Oz, a pretty but pedestrian iOS Plants vs. Zombies knock-off, to a full fledged MMO seems like a pretty big leap to me.  Doubly so when Mark himself describes the group as:

…a small, independent team of very dedicated and hard-working guys and gals, many of whom had never worked in the games industry before.

We shall see.