The sad story of Katalyka and The Sun

Katalyka is a strategy game for 1-4 players that focuses on building a successful Stellar culture that spans across the entire Galaxy!
katalyka_02

This … is a weird one.

I considered not posting this one, since the person involved is clearly suffering from a mental illness. However, I feel that if you’re taking people’s money then you’re fair game. I’ll try to restrict my criticism and comments only to what she’s said about her actual project, and allow you, the reader, to take this as a cautionary tale.

In August 2011 Molly Friedrich successfully kickstarted a boardgame called “Katalyka”, thanks in no small part to the game’s gorgeous art.

The Delays

After the project funded, months passed. The project was late and people were starting to get impatient. Finally Molly posted a photograph of her first prototype and it looked great. She promised that shipping would start in a week or two.

…Then nothing. More silence. Again, people started to get impatient.
katalyka_04

Delays are common on Kickstarter, but this was starting to try people’s patience.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Explanation

Finally, in June of 2012, nearly a year after the project started, Molly explained what was causing the delays.

Ever since about December, I've been harassed by a voice that is claiming to be the sun, and its been attacking me and harassing me almost every hour of the day. Voice says: "The sun doesn't want you to publish Katalyka, because it wants to be almost exactly LIKE Katalyka, but it keep it all a secret.  If you publish your game, it is going to let people in on too many secrets." (paraphrasing) Apparently, my design for the game was based on ideas that are too close to reality, and people who have a lot of influence over Life itself have been stomping on me and trying to keep me from finishing it.
Woah.

Imagine you gave this woman $200 and when you asked where your stuff was you got this in response!

Her posts on DeviantArt and elsewhere make it clear that she’s 100% serious about this, and she’s really talking about the sun. You know, the one in the sky.

However, even Molly understood that it didn’t make sense for an inanimate celestial body a hundred-million miles away to be contacting her about a board game. She eventually came up with a new theory.

Basically, the US Navy has been putting up transmitter systems all over the place, to control the plasma transition, so that it can try to use information as a weapon.  Apparently, I recorded some things in my game that were a reference to Navy weapons, without knowing that... and so I became one of their targets.
Of … course…

At this point someone pointed out on her DeviantArt account that taking people’s money and then not delivering is illegal.


EDIT (4/30/13): A commenter has clarified that this post is not about the Kickstarter project, but about a private commission Molly took before she started the Kickstarter project. I know I said I would only discuss her Kickstarter project, but I feel that this is still relevant, so I’m going to leave it here.

Her reply was not as reassuring as it could have been :
Reply to allegations of theft by Porkshanks, AKA Molly Friedrich.
Yeah, who’s the real criminal, here? Makes you think.

The latest Update

Last month Molly posted this status update :

It seems like the spiritual collaboration I am working with was able to work out an understanding with the military and some other various groups over the last few weeks, and things are feeling very positive for the future!

So … I guess that’s good news?

------------

The Lesson

katalyka_10

Project Disaster : Hanfree iPad Accessory

This one’s a cautionary tale about the risks of Kickstarter. As awesome as it is to be able to “kickstart” new projects and businesses, it’s a sad fact that some projects won’t succeed no matter how hard you kick them. (How’s that for an over-extended metaphor?)

The idea here is pretty straightforward. The Hanfree is a really tall and really flexible iPad stand.

So you can use your iPad as a music stand.

Or you could use your iPad if you’re laying on the couch.

Or, you could use your iPad if, for some reason, you were in your bed, on your hands and knees.

The Kickstarter campaign was a success! They raised $35,004, and were rated one of the Top Ten Kickstarter Projects of 2011 by TomsGuide.com and a couple of other blogs.

So what went wrong?

Poor math, poor management, and poor money handling.

Basically, the creator, who has the superhero name “Seth Quest”, completely misjudged how much money would be needed to manufacture the item by a factor of about 10x. So when the money ran out he sold his car, and when that money ran out he asked his employees to work for free. Believe it or not, his employees didn’t refuse outright, but they asked for partial ownership of his company in exchange for their free work. He refused, and that was that. Project over. Company bankrupt.

About six months after the campaign ended, posted an update :

As you can imagine, many of his backers pitched a fit. Imagining Kickstarter to be some sort of store or skymall-like catalog, they were astonished and infuriated that the start-up business that they had invested in had failed. (To be fair, Seth Quest did encourage this way of thinking by repeatedly describing the pledges as “pre-orders“.) Check out this classy blog by an angry backer.

Unfortunately, Seth Quest responded to these angry comments in a very sleazy, unprofessional, and possibly even illegal way : By trying to hide! That’s right, he deleted all his email accounts, and even tried to remove his awesome-sounding name from the Kickstarter page!

To make a long story short, (Too late!) several of the Kickstarter backers are now suing Mr Seth Quest, but don’t expect to get much money out of him, since he doesn’t actually have any money.


This story is an import lesson for everyone involved in Kickstarter. Some people just aren’t prepared for the reality of manufacturing a product. If you’re thinking about backing a project, don’t be fooled by a slick prototype, do your research and decide if you trust these people to actually be able to do what they’re claiming! (Or just treat it like a gamble.)

If you’re thinking about starting a project, please do a lot of research, and figure out exactly how much money you’re going to need. Talk to people who have done similar projects and find out about all those expenses you haven’t thought of. It’s good to be confident, but be realistic too. The last thing you want is to spend the next few years hiding from hundreds or even thousands of angry people.

Project Disaster : i+Case

This project was for a stylish new bumper case for the iPhone 4. The i+Case consists of a solid aluminum band that covers the edges of your iPhone 4, both making it look cool, and protecting it from those devastating side-impact drops.

So what’s the problem? Why has this cool and popular product wound up on this site? Well, unfortunately the team behind i+Case, forgot about one of the iPhone4’s unusual design features.

The more famous of Apple’s founding Steves explains the iPhone 4’s unique antenna.

If you’ve ever been to a science museum you’ve probably seen the demonstration where they lock a pretty girl in a cage and fire lightning bolts at her. I don’t know what this proves, but wrapping an antenna in a piece of aluminum has basically the same effect.

That’s right, this stylish aluminum case blocks radio signals!

Only a few days after shipping, in mid December, users started reporting problems :

Shortly after, the creators of the i+Case posted an update explaining all the hard work they had done to try to make the case function properly. Ultimately, though, they were forced to admit that none of their hard work had actually fixed the problem.

By January, the European customers started to complain that they hadn’t received theirs yet, while American customers were asking how to return theirs!

The i+Case team made an announcement :

And that’s that. As far as I can tell they’re not offering any option for refunds for their dissatisfied customers, and let me tell you, they have a lot of dissatisfied customers.

A small sample of the comments about the i+Case

On the bright side, this Kickstarter project did successfully kick-start a business! So if you want one of these marvelous cases. (For example, as a paperweight, or an oversized key-fob.) You can buy one from their online store!

Check out the lovely disclamer they want you to agree to before you even view their website!