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Successfully funded Kickstarter game Haunts halts development

Both programmers left and the money has run dry. Dev asks fans to be patient.

Update: Haunts creator Rick Dakan replied to us when we asked how the fan response has been and if he's had to give heaps of money back. This was his response:

"So far the fan reaction has been amazingly supportive and generous. The vast majority of messages and comments have been positive. Only three people have asked for their money back so far, with a total of $30 refunded. Since I was fully prepared to be refunding thousands of dollars today, I'm feeling amazingly grateful to everyone who's decided to stick with us."

Wow! If that doesn't warm your heart amidst the cold cynicism that is the internet, I don't know what will.

Original Story:The successfully funded turn-based haunted house game Haunts: The Manse Macabre may not see completion, despite having surpassed its $25,000 goal on Kickstarter with $28,739.

Developer Mob Rules Games' Rick Dakan explained in an update that two of its four-person team had disbanded. Lead programmer Jonathan had left to go back to work at Google, while the team's second programmer Josh accepted a job elsewhere and was no longer interested in completing the game in his spare time.

Without any programmers this just left designer Dakan and his artist Austin with a nearly completed product they can't finish on their own. "Although I know some small amount about how the level programming works, I'm not capable at this point of fixing the bugs I know about," Dakan explained. "This is further complicated by the fact that the game is written in the Go programming language, which is not widely used, limiting the pool of potential new programmers."

Dakan since updated to say he's had a lot of offers from potential programmers looking to help Haunts along. "I've had a lot of interested emails from programmers offering their help. Thank you all very much! There's a lot to sift through and I'm not sure what the best way to proceed will be, but I am very encouraged by these offers and want to try and figure out the best way to take advantage of this opportunity."

Dakan also noted that indie studio Blue Mammoth Games has expressed interest in wrapping up production on Haunts, but even if that goes through, it will take several months for the final product to be released. "These new potential partners won't be able to make the decision for a few weeks at least and then after that it would be months before anything came out. Still, I think it's out best shot at this point."

Right now Dakan is asking backers to be patient and he can't exactly give back the raised $28K as that was all spent on the game, but he said, "I will personally refund out of my own pocket anyone who wants to withdraw their support, no questions asked."

"We're going to make this game," he added. "And if you can hang on for what looks to be a long road ahead, we will get it finished, but that's not what I asked you to sign up for and it's not what you gave us money for."

As far as the legality of Mob Rules taking the money and not delivering, Kickstarter's terms of use "require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."

The agreement added, "We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don't. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill."

Nearly completed games getting canned is nothing new in the publishing world and indeed big name studios like Lionhead and Bullfrog had to abandon games that were far along in development. But unless you're a Rhode Island resident these cancellations never directly affect our wallets. With Kickstarter being the new fad in game funding it's only a matter of time before we see more games hit development snags like this as well.

Here's some new gameplay footage showing just how far along Haunts is at the moment.

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