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Torn Armor Kickstarter encounters a problem with Defiance Games.

Torn Armour LogoYou may remember, back in Episode 104 of the podcast, I spoke with Alyssa Faden about the Torn Armor Kickstarter campaign.

The project was to produce a new tabletop miniatures game. It was successfully funded, with 561 backers pledging a total of $67,742.  Everything seemed to be going well, although the project had experienced some delays.

Yesterday (January 22nd, 2014) Alyssa posted the following update on the Kickstarter project page:

“Dear Backers,

This is not an easy update to send out, but I have always been open, honest and transparent with you all and recently the Torn World team has had to have some very unpleasant conversations regarding “Torn Armor.”

We have hit a major obstacle here – which I will detail below – and it is only fair to be open and clear on the parties involved. I will simply layout the facts as they have occurred and you can form your own conclusions. What I will say is that ultimately you put your faith and trust in me to ensure that this project was delivered, and in that I have failed you. So while the Torn Armor team has hit unforeseen circumstances and been subjected to unprofessional behavior and broken promises, ultimately I am responsible and please direct your frustrations squarely towards me. ..

And herein lies the problem: Defiance have not been able to produce the miniatures, but they are also unable to return the funds. And the funds are somewhat substantial.

Currently, we are reviewing all legal options, but I have very little faith that we will simply get this money back.

Torn Armor is effectively dead in the water. ..

…In a nutshell we have been screwed by our supplier and are now not able to fulfill this Kickstarter project. We are discussing all options at the moment, but do consider the miniatures portion of this project dead…”

The full update can be found here

Essentially the problem is that following a cost increase of 30% with their suppliers in China, Torn Armor looked for another supplier to source their miniatures, and following a recommendation from one of the project backers, entered into an agreement with Defiance Games.

Now, anyone who has kept half an eye on the hobby news in the past couple of years may be aware that Defiance Games has had something of a turbulent and chequered history, and has (I think it’s fair to say) something of a negative image/reputation.

As several people have already pointed out in the Kickstarter update comments, the decision to use Defiance Games as their supplier is perhaps a questionable one, and maybe the team at Torn should have done their homework better. However, it doesn’t excuse the reported failure of Defiance Games to not only be unable to fulfil the agreement they have made, but also not to be able to return the funds – especially when they are posting positive progress on their own Kickstarter project

This is obviously a crippling blow to the Torn Armor team, and it’s a great shame to see the project come to grief due to the actions of Defiance Games. This sentence from Torn Armor’s update is perhaps most telling:

I formally asked for our money back less the approved and agreed charges and after a weekend of badgering they told me on Monday that “We do not have the available cash on hand to return these funds at this time” and “We are gearing up here for our own releases to get new product to market and improve our cash flow.” 

It’s not to difficult to start to put 2 and 2 together at this point, and the result does not look pretty.

Given all the past history, and this latest set of allegations, would you continue to support a business like Defiance Games?

EDIT: Defiance Games have now posted an open letter to Torn Armor on their FB page in response to Torn Armor’s KS Update:

An open letter to Alyssa Faden of Torn Armor.

  1. Alyssa,

    Did you really have to take so little responsibility and say that WE failed? After a nice paragraph in which you say you should take the blame, you write a long text blaming us. Wrong.

    Basically, your figures were not produced because the digital files you provided do not work. Yet you try to shift responsibility for that to Defiance. Def…iance DID NOT create the digital files. It was never our responsibility to do that. You should admit that, but you do not.

    This is your project — the only person responsible for the fact that Defiance never received workable files is ultimately you, Alyssa. The buck stops with you when it comes to Torn.

    After the original files proved unworkable, the vendor you hired to fix them did not provide results which could be manufactured (Did you really want us to try and make a 20 mm resin figure in 5 parts???). Nothing that happened at Defiance, the ‘changing of the guard’ or the ‘turbulent times’ changes that.

    You claim to have patience. Well, you are now choosing (it is a choice on your part) to close your project. Ultimately, this might still be a fixable problem. We have suggested possible solutions. You have decided not to do that. That is your decision and your responsibility. Do not blame anyone else for it.

    I am really disappointed in you.

    John Morse”

    It looks like this war of words could be set to run for a while…
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10 thoughts on “Torn Armor Kickstarter encounters a problem with Defiance Games.”

  1. Neil – it was listening to your podcast that persuaded me to back Torn Armor (my 1st Kickstarter) and it’s sad to see it go this way. I am not going to lose any sleep over it – I think the Torn crew were a bit naive to fall in with Defiance (a simple Google search shows that they have not covered themselves in glory in the past) – but let’s face it, they had no experience of pulling off a complex project like this before, and I do believe that they have acted in good faith. I have backed a couple of other Kickstarters since and have got my goodies, but the Torn Armor experience (which I could see coming for some time) has taught me that there are lots of great games with plenty of user reviews and ratings already out there that I could drop my £50 on today and be playing straight away with no risk and no waiting. Kickstarter schmickstarter.

  2. If you are wondering why I posted this news, I have no particular axe to grind with Defience Games, but as the post from ‘Runs with Scissors’ already alludes to, some people may well have backed the Torn Armor project after listening to the podcast episode with Alyssa.
    If you are in this position, and have lost money on this KS as a result, I can only add my apologies to those of Alyssa Fayden.

  3. Runs with Scissors made a very good point in the last sentence. That aside, you can read reviews, other people’s experiences with the game and so on (aside from possibly even supporting local vendors!) by buying games instead of buying options in them and get some stuff for free.

    Incidently, just yesterday or the day before I discovered a Facebook group called “Defiance Games is [a bad four-letter word]“. Way over a thousand members. Before that I once had innocently asked in some thread about them presenting their new CEO if they had ever actually produced miniatures before because I remember some renders for 28mm sci-fi plastic minis from a few years ago and that’s pretty much it. So then I realized that this question is a pretty prevalent one on their page, along with questions wether or not people would get refunded on projects like a plastic sci-fi Jeep and so on. Really weird.

    So all in all, it’s a big old shame in general. Kickstarter will rampage on with ever new sci-fi/fantasy skirmish games, renders of miniatures that might be one day and promises of rulesets. In between the occasional Mantic kickstarter which raises over a million USD and gets lauded as a big success. I’m still kind of sceptical of the whole thing (pledged to one KS in fall, mainly to see if I’d like it more if I participated. Delivery date was December 2013. Of course I’m still waiting for my stuff.) . Not that I get a kick out of hearing that this project went horribly wrong, it’s sad to hear Alyssa’s project being dead for now because people do invest a lot into their projects, time and money aside.

  4. Re – Given all the past history, and this latest set of allegations, would you continue to support a business like Defiance Games?

    its a bit difficult to support a company that has nothing for sale mate, even after a couple of years of trading they still have no products

  5. This story continues to roll:

    Defiance Games have produced a new post, giving a timeline of their involvement, plus their own ‘insight’ into the Torn Armor KS:

    https://www.facebook.com/#!/DefianceGames?fref=ts

    meanwhile, Alyssa Fayden has posted several comments on her update:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alyssafaden/torn-armor/posts/726991#comments

    …and in all of this there is a simple question regarding the return of money, minus whatever cost has currently been incurred.

  6. The issue I have that seems to be overlooked and under posted about is what Torn Armor wrote in their Kickstarter risks and challenges area.

    “First and foremost allow us to reassure you that the Torn Armor team has been compiled from industry experts with a proven track record of delivering award winning products on time. You are not investing in a vaporware game with a team that is about to figure out how things work once the kickstarter ends. Believe me, you’re in good hands.

    Secondly, Alyssa Faden has 7 years as a Production Director delivering dozens of half a million dollar projects all at the same time. With 7 years in the role and hundreds of projects delivered, not one was past schedule. Juggling multiple resources, handling risks, setting milestones, understanding if a project is on schedule – or behind schedule – months ahead of time is exactly what she is trained to do. When you back the Torn Armor kickstarter, you hire this expertise.

    Alyssa Faden herself has invested significantly into Torn Armor. This gives her a personal and deep-level drive to make this happen: for you and for her.

    Of course there are risks to any endeavor and foolhardy would be the person to say otherwise. We believe that we have thoroughly mapped out the project plan, identified key milestones, and all avenues of potential challenge. Through judicious use of back-up plans, and in some instances back-ups to those backups, we feel confident that we have done everything humanly possible to deliver a quality product on time.

    One of the earliest challenges would be that of sculpting. We have employed two of the industries finest sculptors to deliver the finest miniatures possible. But things can happen, and maybe one or both of them delivers late. Production on the game cannot start until that have all of the miniatures for it!
    So we at Torn Armor have created the entire miniature line in a set of high quality 3D models. We already have these. If the sculptors hit a snafu, we are ready with a solution.

    Another challenge could be the production company, which is why we have taken out all of the guesswork and we’re going with the same guy who brought you DUST. And let’s face it, this is not their first rodeo.

    Plus the delivery timeframe that they told us – we padded that. We gave ourselves a little bit of leeway here. Worst case scenario? They deliver after they said they would … and it’s exactly when we promised it would be.

    But let’s say something disastrous struck and the production company was suddenly no longer available to us. That’s okay, because we have already negotiated with THREE other companies, all capable of delivering a top-notch game with quality components. Now that’s what you call redundancy”

    Thats what I call misleading!!!!!!

  7. Thinking aloud … The community’s goal in kickstarting is not to prepay for a game but to fund the creation of a game. Normally, failure to fulfil the funded goal sees the IP ownership transferred to the funders. The idea being that perhaps the community can sell the IP to recoup some of its losses. Why shouldn’t the kickstarting community have the IP? If Torn Armor can’t be made by Torm World then let the community see what it can do. So, let’s see a zip file of the 3D models, existing art work, existing rules development, etc coming soon to a drop box near you.

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