Delivery or Deliverance

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I have just requested a refund for my 2013 Kickstarter contribution to the development of Kingdom Come: Deliverance from the Czech developer Warhorse Studios. I’m conflicted in doing so but I think it’s the right thing. Here’s my reasoning.

Warhorse promised support for Windows, linux and OS X in the Kickstarter but has since failed to put out a linux/OS X beta and failed to meet a self-imposed deadline at E3 for signalling their intentions regarding platforms. That is to say they were supposed to tell backers and the public whether the promised platform support would be abandoned.

Instead Warhorse studios no longer advertise linux/OS X support on the website and their community manager has recently stated that support “might unfortunately not happen on day 1 of release, but we don’t know about any details yet”. Which can be read pretty much any way you want. That support will eventually happen, will happen but be broken as f**k or will not happen at all.

If I were of a more cynical and angry disposition I might make allusions to a scene from the film of the same (sub)title (no, not that one; that one) But I think that would be stretching it. Linux users aren’t getting viciously shafted here even though it feels like we’re up shit creek without a port. Still, I don’t think Warhorse deserves my money anymore.

Warhorse based their announced support on the linux support of CryEngine. I don’t follow game engine news but I suspect that the trouble CryEngine developer Crytek has seen in the last few years may have impacted how solid CryEngine’s linux support really is. If so that goes some way towards explaining Warhorse’s reticence to say that the game will or will not come out on my platform of choice.

But that is speculation. Warhorse have made no announcements. They simply say that they don’t know what will happen.

And so I have decided to say that I don’t want to support Warhorse anymore. Of course viewed as a consumer choice it was always a pretty bad decision to kickstart the game development. This is a large and ambitious AAA-like game by a non-AAA developer with no linux credentials in a game engine that has seen few no released titles on linux so far. The likelihood of Warhorse pulling it off was never high. But everything that counts against them logically, makes it all the more desirable in wish-fullfilment land and so you give them some dare-to-dream benefit of the doubt.

However, I haven’t asked for a refund for financial reasons. My contribution was never greater than I could easily afford to lose it. If my contribution had been be entirely dependent on delivery I wouldn’t have supported it. Kickstarting is about the joy of supporting others and the feeling that you have a stake in their dream.

Patience and pragmatism are supreme linux gamer virtues. You can’t always get what you want or when you want it. And so I would have been prepared to wait for a post-Windows launch. Or wait until a specific date for a definitive announcement. But I will not just wait while Warhorse says nothing, does nothing, except slowly walking promises back and hoping noone will notice. I don’t want to support that.

In the words of Tim Schafer, I, like all kickstarters, want to know how the sausage gets made. Or if there will be any sausage for linux gamers at all.

Postscript: So it took some time, three weeks or thereabouts – as Warhorse told me it would – but I just received the refund. They were very reasonable and forthcoming throughout the proces and I hope that the game when it does come out for whatever platforms will be great.

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