Kickstarted MMORPG Chronicles of Elyria halts development, lays off all employees

No storms will be brought

    
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Since its splashy and successful Kickstarter run back in 2016 that raised $1.36 million from MMO gamers, Chronicles of Elyria developed a reputation for promising the stars, selling non-existent territory, and delivering very little for backers to actually play. While it looked as though a pre-alpha test might finally going to pull the game into viability, any hopes of “bringing the storm” were dashed this week as Soulbound Studios CEO Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh announced that he had ordered a halt in Elyria’s development while laying off all the employees due to a lack of funds.

Walsh’s method of delivering this disappointing news is a journey of backpatting and nonpology. Initially, he touts the great progress that the team had made on the game and the twisty-turny path it took with Elyria’s development so far, but it’s only after dozens of paragraphs that he actually delivers the hard news:

“With the failure of Settlers of Elyria, and five long months of only limited crowdfunding revenue coming in, Soulbound Studios has officially run out of money. Last night I was forced to do something I never thought I’d have to do. I closed the online store, put the SoE map back into read-only mode, and laid off all the employees.”

Instead of apologizing to fans for squandering their money and failing to deliver, Walsh places the blame on investors that wouldn’t bite on the project without trying to wrest control away from the studio and the current worldwide pandemic. He also uses flowery language to suggest that something might still happen for the game. “We believe there’s still a future for Elyria, we’re just not sure in what shape or form it’ll take, and when it’ll be available,” Walsh wrote.

Elyria took our “stormiest future” award back in 2018.

Source: Chronicles of Elyria. With thanks to Ernost, Olivier, Rhys, and Slapshot.

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Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

I expect long-time MOP posters are tired of hearing me say this, but this is why I keep citing one of the best pieces of advice my Pops ever gave me:

“Never risk, lend, or gamble money that you can’t afford to lose”

When Elyria first announced, I backed the game for $20, because I liked the sound of what they wanted to do.

I also knew that if the developers ran off into the night with my money (which they have) I could absorb that loss.

I do feel bad for those people who lost huge sums of money on a game which will never appear as promised. They trusted in good faith — perhaps a little too much faith– and that trust was betrayed. The fault does not ultimately lie with them.

Some will rally to the old cry that this is proof that “All Kickstarters are a scam”, except that they’re not.

People quickly forget all the Kickstarted projects which deliver as intended, focusing instead on the many failures, such as this one. I’ve backed a few Kickstarters which delivered what they said they would

Backing a Kickstarter is a risk, an unknown. A promise, not an exchange.

You can back projects as you like, but please, do remember my Pops’ advice when you decide how much money you want to put into it.

Cheers,

Reader
sdyaris

Kurt Schilling is that you?

Phaserlight
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Phaserlight

I am shocked, I tell you, shocked!

Reader
aeden

After spotting some “borrowed” game assets in older screenshots, hearing about the closure a few days later wasn’t exactly surprising. Though I am curious as to where all that backer money went.

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Kickstarter Donor
Pingly

How long could they have lasted if they had hired 10% of the people they did and had realistic expectations?

Unrealistic goals and giant egos are a bad combination.

As a developer myself this situation is a common sight. Go into any development community and you will find starry-eyed optimists promising the greatest game in existence which is already designed in their head and now they just have to slap some code down and we will all be enjoying their game.

Tools like Unity and Unreal make game development so “easy” that people can have impressive looking environments running very quickly. But making a “game” out of those environments is the trick. It’s the hard part that nobody wants to accept.

Keep an eye out for that CEO again. Make sure he is not the CEO of the next project you support on Kickstarter.

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Utakata

My thoughts and best wishes to those most effected by this. Hope they all find a lot better employers to work for and/or game makers to support.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Isn’t there some minimum requirement that these crowd-funded games need to meet before they can just keep people’s money without penalty or punishment?

They just did these big virtual land sales too, I sure hope we at least hear about those people getting their money back.

Also, we just had an announcement 5 days ago about the game moving forward with stuff! I didn’t see this one coming.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

They’re going to claim there is no money left to give back. Unless a court orders them pay, either from the salaries they accounted for themselves and saved or by garnishing future paychecks, it isn’t gonna happen.

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Aaron Victoria

Kickstarter updated their ToS in 2014 to inform that if you failed to deliver the project, you have failed to uphold your end of the contract, so there is that. The backers have no released product, which by context, says that they’re still owed that. So I’d imagine the current efforts to file a class action lawsuit may revolve around that. I saw in that class action lawsuit’s Discord server that many of the individuals in involved pointed to that statement, specifically.

As Mewmew said, I believe that last campaign for all that virtual land was done only a month ago, so hopefully those people can get their money back.

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Tav

It depends on how it fails and how early you get in. I backed a project that after 3 years admitted they were not going to deliver as promised and offered a shitty alternative that wasn’t anything remotely similar.

I contacted the developer, they did not reply. I contacted Kickstarter, they refused to help. I contacted my local consumer affairs, they gave me my money back within 45 days.

This was also before Kickstarter’s TOS in 2014 which still doesn’t have any leverage compared to consumer law…

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Sim

That’s like reading a diary entry of what a psycho/sociopath will write.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

Interesting. Good insights there.

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Bruno Brito

It’s once again time to update the community on the current State of Elyria. As you’ll read by the end, the period since the last State of Elyria has been one filled with huge successes, public failures, a sense of achievement, a feeling of loss, and hope for the future. Overall, this is a bittersweet State of Elyria. But let’s jump in and take a look at what the studio achieved in the last year.

“Hey guys, i know i just robbed you all and whatever money you gave me, you’ll never see again, also the game will never come to light.

But lets see what we did last year about the game that will never come to light!”

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

LOL… right? The strangest company communication EVER. Goes on and on about all this stuff then at the end, he’s like, “Oh, and we’ve closed the game! See ya!” Utterly BIZARRE.

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Bruno Brito

“geniuses” think they don’t have to conform to how rules are structured. He’ll just go to the next cashgrab.

Raleigh-St-Clair
Reader
Raleigh-St-Clair

He can try, but I sorely doubt many would give him anything. Heck, the Elyria community itself was tiny. If only 5 or 10% were willing to back him in the future, that’s a super super super tiny amount of people. Not even worth it for him.