“Codename: Hubris” Fails to Kickstart

Yesterday, the Kickstarter for Codename: Morningstar ended unsuccessfully. I don’t know if this came as a surprise to anyone, except maybe the developers over at Trapdoor Technologies. I’m not even sure if the failure surprised them.

Clearly I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation anymore than anyone else who paid any attention to the Dungeonscape debacle, but from my perspective this Kickstarter initiative didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. Since at least the August release of 5E at Gencon, Dungeonscape had been generating a lot of buzz among Dungeons and Dragons fans. Pretty much exclusively Dungeons and Dragons fans. The Dungeonscape app was suppose to be the digital companion to the new release of D&D, and it looked amazing. Then, abruptly, on October 29, this happened.

Just like that, Dungeonscape was no more, and Trapdoor Technologies quietly changed their twitter handle to @CN_Morningstar, the name that the Dungeonscape project had gone by prior to it’s unveiling. The month of November went by with no real news from Wizards of the Coast regarding their digital plans, while the developers over at Trapdoor cryptically assured us that they were still at work on…something. Then, on December 5th, just over a month after the dissolution of their relationship with Wizards of the Coast, the Kickstarter for Codename: Morningstar launched, promising to deliver an awesome digital app.

For the Pathfinder roleplaying game.

What?

In my personal experience, there seems to be very little overlap between the Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons camps. You either play one or you play the other, generally speaking. So this move by Trapdoor Technologies seemed like an excellent way to alienate the majority of their support base, but it didn’t seem like a great business decision. And they were asking for a lot more than 30 pieces of silver to betray the loyal fans of Dungeonscape – they were asking for $425,000.

This figure alone boggled my mind, and I doubt that even with the full support of all the alienated Dungeonscape fans that they would have came anywhere close to hitting this mark. It seemed absurd. Just over a month before the launch of the Kickstarter they were beta testing a mostly complete Dungeonscape, now they needed almost half a million dollars to switch rule systems? I’m sure that “switching rule systems” is a gross oversimplification of what was involved in the process, but $425,000 was a truly amazing amount of money to ask for. Especially since they are releasing a finished product (though clearly not the one they wanted to release) anyway, even after their Kickstarter failed.

I know there were plans to allow the technology to work with other rule systems, even Dungeons and Dragons if forthcoming Wizards of the Coast licensing rights would allow it. So why did they have to launch their Kickstarter when they did? Maybe they felt like other companies were breathing down their necks. Maybe they felt like they didn’t want to lose their momentum, or maybe they just wanted to tell Wizards where they could stick it.

Maybe someday the folks over at Trapdoor Technologies will release the amazing product that they envision, and maybe I will even be able to use it in my Dungeons and Dragons games someday. I can tell that the folks over there are passionate about what they do, but right now it sure looks like they’re doing things wrong.

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