Curse of the Kickstarter

The Retronauts Kickstarter was a mistake. It’s nothing but trash.

No, no. I’m lying. It was great, and it helped us turn the podcast into the best and most consistent incarnation it’s ever enjoyed in nearly 10 (!!!) years of existence. But, like everyone who’s ever managed a Kickstarter project, I’m constantly kicking myself over the stupid, stupid reward promises we made. As everyone realizes once they complete a Kickstarter campaign, the core product is usually pretty easy to create, but the extra stuff is grueling and painful… and, alas, there is inevitably a small group of people who were much more interested in the incidental extra goodies than the actual project.

In Retronauts’ case, that’s a book and a DVD. The book’s done, and backers have already received their PDF copies in advance of the real thing. The DVD was supposed to be a breeze, too — the three of us were going to record some video conversations, maybe three mini-episodes’ worth of material, and put that 30 minutes of content onto a disc. But of course almost immediately after the podcast began, I got kicked out of San Francisco, and suddenly the logistics of the DVD as planned became impossible, since I ended up on the other side of the country from Bob and Ray. So we reworked the DVD concept to contain more material as it could no longer contain the intended material, and this was a huge mistake, because we seriously overcommitted. 

I’ve been plugging away at the DVD on a regular basis for about two years now, having scrapped two partially completed ideas as unworthy. I finally made some real progress over the Christmas break by turning a full 80-minute podcast episode that we recorded in early December into a DVD-exclusive video episode — it’s been complete for months! But my second contribution, a 40-minute documentary in the style of Game Boy World/Good Nintentions, is destroying me and everything and everyone around me.

No, seriously. I’ve taken five personal days so far this year from work with the intent of using that time to work on my second DVD section, and every single time something goes horribly wrong. The first time, there was a crisis at work that caused me to sacrifice a day off in order to put out the fire. The second time, someone dear to me got sick and threw everything into disarray. And a few days ago, I decided to take two days off to commit myself wholly to putting the wraps on the final segment. I told Bob, “I will have it done and ready to go by this time next week.” A few hours later, my computer died. Like, dead died. Which has also made a mess of work for me and the USgamer staff for the past few days, and will also break my months-long streak of always having a new Game Boy World or Good Nintentions every Tuesday. Clearly, the powers-that-be do not want me to make this Kickstarter DVD. But I’ll get it done, dammit. Just as soon as I have a working computer again.

On the plus side, this crisis does represent an opportunity for me to make a change I’ve been considering for a while. 20 years ago, I said farewell to desktop computers and switched to a laptop. It wasn’t a total and immediate commitment — I loved the design and aesthetics of the much-reviled Macintosh G4 Cube and owned one for about a year before circumstances pushed me back to a laptop for good. But since trading in that Cube 15 years ago, I’ve never owned a desktop computer. Now that I (1) travel less often and (2) work on video constantly, though, I’ve been feeling it’s time to switch back to the world of desktops. The newest iPad models make pretty fantastic laptop replacements for writing/web needs when I do travel, and the cost of a beefy desktop and a beefy iPad add to the cost of a video-capable laptop. I anticipate my video projects suddenly becoming much faster and more sophisticated, once I scrounge up the cash to buy a new computer with better video capabilities… and this post was written from a tablet, so I’m already halfway there.

My first goal once I’m back up to full speed: To flip the bird to this frustrating Kickstarter curse and be done with it once and for all. Well, no. My first goal is to catch up work that I’ve fallen behind on. But my second goal is definitely wrapping that DVD and laughing in the face of whatever stupid force is trying to keep me from finishing that up.

But please, stay safe, everyone. There’s no telling how this curse will manifest next, and I don’t want any of you caught in the splash damage.

7 thoughts on “Curse of the Kickstarter

  1. Hey Jeremy, as a dvd-tier kickstarter backer, I just hope you don’t burn out doing this work! (Though I think I’m in the ‘more interested in the core content than the extra goodies’ camp).

    If you are interested in going back to a desktop computer, I’d recommend you take a look at I’m in no way affiliated with the site in any capacity, but I found the simple, tiered, design and clear explanations very easy to follow and to plan for my Desktop a few years back. And as an added bonus, you’ll be able to finally dive in into the sea of PC indie games. Metroivanias for days!

  2. Thank you for all of your hard work and great content. It was the lack of communication that made it frustrating. A thought of we can let go of these 60 fans. I never needed to receive it, just wanted it acknowledged in some way.

    Thank you and I will be reinstating my patreon donations.

    • But I feel we’ve touched on it many times. Through the Retronauts blog, via Kickstarter, on Twitter, etc….

      • As someone who only casually follows the show I’m going to have to strongly disagree.

        On the Retronauts blog the last update I could find regarding back rewards was a post from March 23rd 2014 which says… “would like to present you with our hard deadlines for completion. These are promises to you. DVDs and books: These will be completed and ready for production by July 1 (2014)”

        For the podcast, it has become a yearly tradition that at, the end of the year, you apologize about the lack of backer rewards, say they’re coming soon, then proceed to ask listeners to give money to your Patreon.

        The Kickstarter page… There was more than a year with no updates.
        November 6th 2014: “And if you’re one of the few people still waiting for your physical goods, don’t worry: We haven’t forgotten about you. As of now, our plans are to get these things out by the end of the year”
        January 10th 2016: “We’re still plugging away at our obligations…”

        If you haven’t checked up on the Kickstarter in a while, it has been a constant stream of people wondering where there stuff is with no replies. You have people complaining about how they’re unable to get a refund after waiting 3 years and have still not recieved their backer reward. Someone saying he finally got a refund after complaining loud enough. And one guy who says that whoever handles the Kickstarter page told him he could only get 1/2 his money back… To outside observers your Kickstarter page makes it look like you took the money and ran or at the very least, value cold hard cash over the naive people who believed in you. I’m not doing the bean counting for the Retronauts warchest but common decency tells me that at this point, anyone who wants their money back after 3 years of patiently waiting, deserves it. Or maybe its best to burn any good will your Kickstarter has yet to tarnish. Seriously, give that guy his money back, omg.

        Here’s one of the most recent comments on the Kickstarter.
        May 4th 2016: “I love the show, I’m a backer on Patreon but I’m just chiming in to see if I could get a status update on the DVD?”

        If you don’t feel like replying to the comment I’m leaving here, at least reply to the people on your Kickstarter that are getting no response.

        So it’s nice that after visiting this site that I do not recall ever hearing about, I was able to get an update of some actual substance but the updates that are propagated through official channels are ambiguous, misleading, infrequent, and lackluster.

        Oh, and bonus, just checked Bob Mackey’s Twitter and saw this gem. “… all the Kickstarters I’ve backed are behind schedule, but I don’t care because I’m not a goddamn lunatic.” I’m sure in context id doesn’t sound not as bad, but in light of everything I just wrote I can’t but laugh.

  3. The past year has been with a newborn so I am probably guilty of being out of the loop, postpartum and such.

    But in all honesty thank you for all of the amazing content both on Retronauts and Gameboy world.

  4. Does this mean you might play (and comment on) some sweet, sweet PC gaming in the future? I’m excited!

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