In July 2017, I published a post entitled “M.O.R.E. – The Space 4X that Couldn’t…“. In it, I provided a break-down of the history of this overambitious space 4X. It aimed to be a spiritual successor to the likes of Master of Orion 2. For context, this was so long ago that there was no such thing as the actual successor to Master of Orion 2. (A.k.a. NuMoo, discounting MoO3, though it’s really not so bad with community patches.) I also offered some advice, for what it’s worth. I’m a software engineer by trade and can see through the published information to get a rough idea of what might be going on behind the scenes.
Nearly two years on, things have gone from bad to worse. I won’t rehash the history pre-July 2017 (you can look at my previous post for that information), but do want to provide a quick update on the situation.
M.O.R.E. Money – The Investment Effect
After their new private investment in May 2017, “Gamgoo” (as the creators decided to re-brand themselves, once being Idea-L-Center) put out a lot of posts describing the road-map and marketing for M.O.R.E.. There were 10 official updates through their Kickstarter page up to May 2018, their social media went live, and it genuinely looked like the investment had provided the breath of life the project desperately needed. M.O.R.E. was nominated for the Indie Showcase awards at Digital Dragons 2018 in Krakow, Poland, and I even heard from a Gamgoo developer who was similarly invigorated by the new influx of wealth.
Before all of this, though, in January 2018, the M.O.R.E. backer forums were entirely wiped of their content. Nearly six years of backer discussions, ideas, excitement, disappointment, and the nitty-gritty of updates – gone. Gone to everyone but Gamgoo, that is. One of the site admins had this to say:
All topics from our forum are safe and available for our dev team. Our old forum looked bad for newcomers. I respect funders and supporters, but also I respect our investor.
The “old forum looked bad for newcomers”. Why? Because Gamgoo failed again and again to deliver on their promises? “I respect our investor”. Whoever the investors were, they said “jump” and Gamgoo said “how high”, never mind the thousands of backers that had been following these amateurs for years. (And, let’s be honest, this is no professional outfit.)
After May 2018, things went quiet. The penultimate Kickstarter update of 2018 was on May 30, 2018, one day short of the anniversary of their “private investment” update. My guess was that the investors (sensibly) evaluated their investment at the one year mark and decided this was a dead-end.
Merry Christmas, you gullible lot
On December 6, 2018, Gamgoo spilled the beans. They did indeed lose their investor in June 2018. Production of the game stalled, and Gamgoo waited six months to announce this to their patient backers. Remember, the original timeline was to fully release the game in early 2015. Ha!
The real kicker, though, is that Gamgoo revealed their total investment to date. Over $1,000,000. That’s USD, by the way. And they had the gall to ask for $500,000 more.
Once again, I must return to the roots of this doomed project, in which the developers asked for a mere $50,000 to fully develop this game. Even with more than 20 times their initial estimated budget, they require a further half-a-million US dollars to finish things off. Over $1m hasn’t even got them to alpha; they expect half of that to push them entirely to the finished product?
M.O.R.E. in 2019
There’s been no official update this year. The aforementioned site admin appears in the sorry-looking backer forums once in a while. Their social media profiles are silent, the official Gamgoo website is dead, and the most prolific contributor to the forum is a Russian spam-bot by the name of “franbick”. You can’t make this stuff up.
Shortly after the December update in 2018, they had this to say in the forums:
Unfortunately there won’t be too much info during next days/weeks/months…
What would Odin do?
I backed M.O.R.E. years ago and have watched this all fall apart multiple times. Just in case that wasn’t clear from the tone of this article! I’ve seen the good that can come of a properly-managed Kickstarter campaign; I backed Planetary Annihilation and wasn’t disappointed. Planetary lasers, carpet bombing with nukes, and asteroids with engines. Awesome. And they still put out updates today. It’s unfortunate to see M.O.R.E. crumble as I was arguably more excited for it.
I think the least Gamgoo could do – the least they could do for their individual backers – is make everything open source. There’s probably very little that the 4000+ backers would be able to do with this, though they might come to enjoy some of the artistic assets.
But there might be someone out there willing to chip into a free and open-source project like this. Gamgoo may be able to deliver on some of their promises, in some number of years. I think chasing investment and this stage is a poor idea. What investor would throw good money after bad?
If Gamgoo are in this for the vision, in it because they’re passionate about gaming and passionate about their particular vision of space 4X, then they’ll forget the money and give the community what they’re asking for. Which, at this point, is anything resembling evidence that these guys haven’t been taking us all for a ride. The alternative is watching M.O.R.E. slip further into the ranks of vaporware.