If you’re reading this, then maybe you recall hearing about the Kickstarter project that Mongoose Publishing launched to fund a new version of the classic eighties game Paranoia, and now you’re wondering how that turned out. Or maybe you didn’t even know about the Mongoose version of Paranoia and you’re wondering why you haven’t seen this title for sale at you’re friendly local game store. Or maybe you just tripped, bounced your head off your desk, and this page is what you’re waking up to. All three of these scenarios are decent reasons to keep reading. Especially that last one, because what are the odds?
But I digress.
When I backed this Kickstarter way back in December of 2014, Mongoose Publishing assured me and my fellow backers that they had done “as much as we possibly can short of actually producing the game.”
They also told us this: “We are planning to send the game to print in February, expecting it back in March/April – however we have set the ‘official’ delivery date for June, in order to account for any mishaps or delays along the way.”
They joked that about the only thing that could go wrong with the project was that the lead designer would be “lynched by his underlings…”
In retrospect, it’s clear that Mongoose grossly underestimated the amount of time they would need to account for any “unforseen hiccups.”
June 2015 came and went with a few acknowledgements that things were behind schedule but that everyone was still plugging away at the game and it shouldn’t be much longer. In late August, we were assured that the finalized books were on their way and that with any luck we’d have our boxed sets by Christmas. How nice!
Half a dozen or so cheeky updates followed, assuring us all that things were moving along nicely, and then, on November 4th, we were told by James Wallis – who at the time of this writing had not yet been lynched – that not only was the game “not done,” but that it was just plain “not right.” The tone wasn’t right; the comedy needed work; the mechanics needed tweaking. Tentatively – maybe – things would go to print in January.
Wait, what? Did you say January? Of 2016? What the hell happened? Hadn’t everything short of actually producing the game been done already?
Apparently everything had been done except for deciding on which of the multiple drafts of game rules they wanted to use (they seem to have picked version three), play-testing those rules, and settling on how those rules would be written down. Oh, and there were also a lot of decisions that needed to be made about art, and layout, and comedy.
So…what exactly was “done” already?
Now we are back around to June, a year after the game was to be delivered – including a bit of leeway for hiccups – and there still isn’t a firm delivery date set. We’re now being told, tentatively, that the game should ship sometime this summer. I suppose that’s better than nothing at all, and Mongoose has done a fairly decent job of updating us along the way – although many of those updates tried a little too hard to be clever, punchy, and upbeat with a crowd in no mood for jokes. Still, it is clear that progress is finally being made, and it looks like delivery of the game that we were promised a year ago might be just around the corner.
Don’t get me wrong either – I’m sure I’ll be much happier with the game that I finally end up getting than whatever the hell I would have gotten if I’d gotten what they claimed they had ready to go when this Kickstarter launched. But it’s clear that someone wasn’t telling the whole truth about the state of affairs when they had their hands out asking us for our hard earned money, and I can’t help but feel like I was at worst lied to or at best misled.
And it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any better answer to questions about what went wrong other than a shrug and a: “well, you know, that’s game design!”
Oh well, shit happens I suppose.
So – why haven’t you read any hilarious session notes from the new Paranoia game yet? Because the game isn’t finished yet.
But they’re working on it…