Japanese indie JRPG Project Phoenix was successfully funded two years ago, raising over $1,000,000, and it still doesn’t even have a programmer. The game was originally slated to come out in March 2015.
This news comes out of a recent Kickstarter update that details the current state of the game. “Programming was listed on the KS page as one of our major risks to the project and we got hit by it,” reads the update. “We were holding off for a specific person and ultimately they could not join us. Now we have to get a replacement(s).” These replacements will apparently be paid upfront for their work while the rest of the team will get payment through royalties once the game is out.
Further down in that update it’s revealed that the programmer being waited on is Ori and the Blind Forest’s gameplay programmer David Clark. After having waited for Clark to then have him never join, the team working on Project Phoenix are left with a lot of unfinished work, with none of the textures, script, level design, particle effects, voiceovers, and localization done, and with no Unreal 4 executable to work with either.
You might question why a team with AAA talent might have been waiting on a single programmer for a 60 hour RPG. And to that there is no answer other than Clark is said to be a skilled programmer and the team had its eyes set on working with him. “We hope to be more communicative going forward,” reads the update. “If we are waiting on things, we will let you know. I will put out an update every so often and address development status.”
Due to the huge delay the project has seen already and all the work that is left to do, some Kickstarter backers asked for a refund. Responding to one of them, developer CIA, Inc. said “The policy on Kickstarter doesn’t state we are obligated to give refund in this situation.”
The studio later added to this: “The policy for not being able to refund on the grounds of delay, is the very fact that once we do dish out refunds, it will have to come out of my personal money. Contracts are drawn out, and some payments are already made via CIA. Therefore, I’ll have to take personally responsibility. However, I personally do not have enough money myself to refund everyone if everyone asks for a refund. This is why we have to take the position of not giving out refunds at all, otherwise it will not be fair for everyone.”