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Kickstarter dumpster fire alert!!!

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chris_mancini
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There's a campaign just hours away from being funded which has incited a huge scam alert. Without getting into it, there's a bunch of evidence and threads for those who want to dive into the sh*t show:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1412544049/overturn-rising-sands/de...

To get a good read about the list of issues and evidence of rampant plagiarism, both of the game as well as the company identity itself, you can go to this link:

http://atgn.com.au/overturn-rising-sands-kickstarter-caught-plagiarising...

It goes without saying that if you've backed this campaign, you may want to seriously consider backing out before the 24-hour mark. Once we're on Jack Bauer time, your money is in the hands of KS...and potentially this fraud of a company.

polyobsessive
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Eek!

Being completely on the outside of this it has been interesting to watch. The project went past CA$350k in the first few days and has been declining ever since, and collapsing in the last week. Taking a look now and they're below CA$157k, which is an astonishing drop. Looks like they'll stay above their CA$45k funding goal though.

Even if they are legit, it shows how poor preparation, communication, and attention to detail can cause all manner of problems.

let-off studios
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Just Desserts...?

On the one hand, I think it's completely unfortunate to hear that business-savvy scammers are taking advantage of the KS crowd. On the other hand, I don't really feel sorry for the Cult of the New and their chickens coming home to roost. "A fool and their money are soon parted," and all that.

Personally, I've been scammed before (not on kickstarter, but certainly in other places), and I'm certain no one likes that feeling. It's good to see people in the hardcore KS community (or hardcore hobby games community, I guess?) doing research, reporting their findings, and calling out these scammers for what they are.

I'm sure those who weren't able to pull out of the campaign soon enough have learned a valuable lesson (and casual observers like myself have learned from example). If only those scammers could really have some consequences, then that would be nice. But once all this smoke clears they'll have walked off with someone else's money, and not have to produce any deliverables. That's kickstarter for ya...

And personally, the last thing I want to hear are people whining and complaining about, "Oh, now Kickstarter is going to be so much more strict about who they let create campaigns," and stuff like that. You're looking at the natural evolution of the platform, not some out-of-the-blue consequence.

Come correct, and you might be successful. Do your research before "contributing," and you'll likely not get burned. There's no dodging those two principles, even when it doesn't seem fair.

MAR
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This is also very sad and

This is also very sad and aggravating, from my perspective, for anyone who has or is actually putting a legitimate game together. I mean people work very hard to get their game out there, to get it reviewed and developed. I mean, if I wanted quick money I could put together a few flashy words and photos and make ridiculous promises too. Getting money is not hard, but getting money legitimately and honorably is. It is insulting to those creators who work hard. I digress.

-Austin

jonathanflike
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Yikes

I remember seeing this a while back ago, and the gap in quality from the presentation to the character art raised a red flag for me. Not to defend them, but if you outsource any work you are expecting your artists, graphic designers, etc. to produce original art. The logo fiasco portion of the problem I can see easily happening to anyone else that uses a logo service for example. I guess you just need to pick your artists carefully?

Also, they can copy the rule book all they want, they are in the right according to the most recent ruling with Bang! http://strebecklaw.com/court-rules-favor-cloned-tabletop-game-no-protect... "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." They just can't steal the artwork.

Now whether they are in the legal right to do so is irrelevant. Because so many elements are lifted, it puts the whole production into question. How many of the assets were actually purchased or created themselves? I mean there are a ton of textures in that game, which makes me wonder if they were even paid for.

I think a big problem here is if Kickstarters become one-dimensional then scammers learn to mimic recipes of success and dupe people into throwing tens of thousands of dollars at them. This was a pretty elaborate endeavor, and maybe there was a working game there (because it was Massive Darkness), but the whole minis=successful funding is problematic. I just hope this doesn't affect real first-time creators in future releases.

jonathanflike
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It was suspended

Looks like Kickstarter suspended it.

ronaldespina
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Thank you

Thank you for bringing this to the Forum.

questccg
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Not quite true ... but

jonathanflike wrote:
...I just hope this doesn't affect real first-time creators in future releases.

There are no "first-time creators" when it comes to MINIS. In the early days like 3-5 years ago ... Yes. But now it's companies like CMON, Mantic Games and Cryptozoic Entertainment (I know there are a couple others too)... Who are producing most of the KS miniatures campaigns.

So the only effect will be that "scammers" are going to be "felt-out" in the future, because this shows that Kickstarter is more concerned with legitimacy over earning $45,000 in KS fees. Small potatoes for such a large corporation (they are worth billions).

So good for KS for being mindful of the plagiarism and all of the inconsistencies...

FrankM
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More than a Clone

jonathanflike wrote:

Also, they can copy the rule book all they want, they are in the right according to the most recent ruling with Bang! http://strebecklaw.com/court-rules-favor-cloned-tabletop-game-no-protect... "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." They just can't steal the artwork.

They appear to have used substitute artwork, but lifted a good chunk of the rulebook text word for word. And most of the remainder was copied with light editing. That seems to fall under the traditional definition of copyright infringement.

jonathanflike
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I'm not sure if the rules are protected.

FrankM wrote:
jonathanflike wrote:

Also, they can copy the rule book all they want, they are in the right according to the most recent ruling with Bang! http://strebecklaw.com/court-rules-favor-cloned-tabletop-game-no-protect... "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work." They just can't steal the artwork.

They appear to have used substitute artwork, but lifted a good chunk of the rulebook text word for word. And most of the remainder was copied with light editing. That seems to fall under the traditional definition of copyright infringement.

https://www.bgdlegal.com/blog/copyright-law-does-not-protect-structure-a...

I went and looked at another legal post on this, and I'm not sure if the rules are protected. "Copyright law can be effective in protecting the expression in a game (artwork, appearance), but does not protect rules and game play." Anyway, I know the Bang! ruling was pretty harsh, and ultimately, it doesn't matter. It was great that the community picked up on this and got the situation taken care of.

questccg
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Almost everything was a COPY!

FrankM wrote:
They appear to have used substitute artwork, but lifted a good chunk of the rulebook text word for word. And most of the remainder was copied with light editing. That seems to fall under the traditional definition of copyright infringement.

Not only that they copied their BIO for heaven's sake from another campaign creator (Mythic Games)... OMG?!?!?!

Looks like EVERYTHING was plagiarized from some other source. Even their company Logo (Foxtale Studios) was a rip of Firefox OS (with some graphic manipulation)...

Their Refund policy too... Everything is a rip of something else, in this case from the Conan Kickstarter!

It's lucky they "suspended" the Kickstarter, with all this COPYING did they ever even HAVE A GAME??? They may have had miniatures... But were they planning to deliver even?? I personally think the SCAM would have led to NO COPIES for no one who backed this campaign!

Anyhow it is good that "Kickstarter" suspended this dubious campaign.

Cheers!

Jay103
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Yeah, you can't take anything

Yeah, you can't take anything word for word. That's what a copyright protects. It doesn't protect the IDEAS, so if I wanted to take Settlers of Catan and write the exact same ruleset just with my own words (and my own art, layout, etc.), there's no violation. It's plagiarism, sure, but this isn't a school or a newspaper. Plagiarism of that sort isn't illegal, just unethical.

questccg
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I agree BUT...

Jay103 wrote:
...Plagiarism of that sort isn't illegal, just unethical.

What's illegal is SCAMMING people for $350k and not produce this COPY/CLONE of a game that probably doesn't even HOLD TOGETHER all the copied parts!

When KS suspended it, it was still over the $150k mark!

Jay103
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questccg wrote:Jay103

questccg wrote:
Jay103 wrote:
...Plagiarism of that sort isn't illegal, just unethical.

What's illegal is SCAMMING people for $350k and not produce this COPY/CLONE of a game that probably doesn't even HOLD TOGETHER all the copied parts!

When KS suspended it, it was still over the $150k mark!


Well, these guys definitely were violating copyrights.. I'm not surprised there was a takedown notice filed. That's likely what got it suspended, if not something like KS realizing that the creators were actually in Pakistan rather than Canada.

Not 100% clear it was a scam, but it was certainly VERY QUESTIONABLE. 99% a scam, and 1% total clueless creators who were going to fail.

questccg
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It was a SCAM! 100%

Jay103 wrote:
Well, these guys definitely were violating copyrights.. I'm not surprised there was a takedown notice filed. That's likely what got it suspended, if not something like KS realizing that the creators were actually in Pakistan rather than Canada.

Not 100% clear it was a scam, but it was certainly VERY QUESTIONABLE. 99% a scam, and 1% total clueless creators who were going to fail.

Oh yeah it was a SCAM and they were trying to use Canada to feed the bait. And yes copyright violations in many ways.

But I must admit that with my own "rulebook", it took a while searching through various rulebooks for OTHER games, that I finally found a FORMAT which worked for me... It may well have been a combination of two rulebooks and I didn't plagiarize anything. Just the format about how the rules were layed out.

My Publisher has since modified the format and so now it's not identical to either of the two rulebooks I used as a reference. It was more of a template on how to format the rules.

However in the above mentioned case, word-for-word verbatim with some replacing the "name of the character", etc. was done. People are lucky they got "caught". Otherwise it would have made for a HORRIBLE KS experience and could have hurt the TableTop Category like some of the others with their vapor-ware smart watches... etc.

chris_mancini
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From the KS comments...a peeling back of layers

Posted in 3 sections by backer Tom Jones:

"THE TALE OF OVERTURN: RISING SANDS

Greetings backers and curious onlookers, here is my analysis on the events surrounding the creation and crowdfunding of this game. Pieced together from various comments, connections, internet links and some basic deduction and human psychology, and then knitted together based on my own experience. A caveat first, I am a political and philosophical analyst of good repute, but not a forensic analyst; so I am outside my field and could well be wrong. This is my take anyway, and allowing for the current circumstances I am unafraid to make judgement calls about the Foxtales developers.

The story starts with Humayun Syed a talented dreamer with ambitions of making a game. He is a thiry four year old unemployed ex-student, likely from a family background well enough to do that he secured further education Indonesia. He has some learning difficulties and is dyslexic, and is claimed to be a poor English speaker, however he is a fan of Stephen King books and claimed to have had higher aducation in a foreign university in a non-Urdu speaking country. It is possible that this data is connectable as Syed could enjoy Stephen King books in his native language and as audio books. The international higher education versus learning difficulties plus a claim at poor English is less easy to resolve, however the claim to be an alumnus of Universitas Trisakti, Jakarta, Indonesia could well be bogus. Trisakti University is a well respected techical university which the artistically minded Syed would likely seen a likely fit, but it is far enough away as to not raise suspiscions.

Pakistan is a different culture to the west, false credentials are not considered scandalous in most circumstances. If fact if one has not got an actual degree, not passing oneself of as a graduate from somewhere is consider to indicate a lack of acumen rather than honesty. Falsified resumes are the norm rather than the exception and are usually not punished if exposed so long as the employee can handle his job.

Thus with the information at hand I am prepared on balance to assume that Syed has poor english language skills and that his claim of Universitas Trisakti education is questionable, though I am open to suggestions otherwise.
Syed is nevertheless computer literate, and has a technical education in computer graphics (not listed as an available course of study at Universitas Trisakti), possess a genuine artistic talent and a strong imagination.

Some three years ago the unemployed Syed began creating his game. The development of his IP was carried out with limited materials and assets.

https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/021/700/955/ec0ecec7fd410979fffa81d823b8cb96_original.jpg…

He made an original game with a basic ruleset, however he doesnt speak much English he needed help or was convinced by associated to accept help in this regard.

https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/021/700/957/acab38b0ef110bf55fed176934a48afe_original.jpg…

Note how prototype versions of the game used a square grid and a fully developed, if crude terrain system. We will come back to that later.

PART 2
Some eighteen months later in steps Arafat Hifazat. We know even less about Hifazat than we know about Syed, however we know he is fluent English speaker, probably bilingual and has possibly connections to the UK based on his diction. Hifazat's main relevant strengths are that he is decisive and has reasonable writing skills. Seeing an opportunity he was able to convince Syed to become his partner in this gaming venture. Unlike Syed Hifazat was not unemployed, or remained out of work to fulfil his dream of games design and likely only added a portion of his time to the project.

It is also with Hifazat that the scam begins. Syed was clearly the orginator of the intellectual property of Overturn, yet Hifazat claimed to be the games designer and story writer. I do not beleive this. Syed had already created a 3d modelled world for his game, and evidence of characterisation. This could not have occured in a vacuum. Hifazat offered to flesh out syeds vision with good English prose and Syed graciously offered to accept his status as a partner and 'game writer'. Hifazat probably had creative influence on the orginal storylike of Drish Barahir and the Oasis Lands, but it was most likely Syed's vision. Hifazat needed a way to cement his place as partner. He achieved this by writing the rules for Syed.

Sadly Hifazat does not match Syed's talent, his writing skills are good but not professional quality, ans his main skill was as an opportunist grifter, not a game designer. As the plagiarised ruleset was properly formatted for printing, it was not put together in a hurry. Arafat Hifazat in all likelihood plagiarised Massive Darkness in order to justify his position as a partner, otherwise Syed had evidently produced the vast majority of the work, and the plagiarism was initially intended to deceive Syed.

There is no reason why Syed after spending a significant time, purportedly three years, producing the game, with it's own basic rulset based on a square grid movement system, to accept a stolen copy-paste ruleset for the published copy.

After 'creating' the ruleset Hifazat offered his services as 'communications manager' for the project, again to cement his position as a team partner. He proved woefully inept at that position, insulting backers who opposed him and acting in a patronising manner to those who supported him. Some evidently did and found him highly plausible. Frankly from the profile we see so far I would not be surprised if Hifazat has some psychopathic tendencies.

We do not know who made the videos for Overturn, they might have been professionally outsourced, but it is likely that Hifazat also made them. We do already know that he is a fluent English speaker, and his claims of outsourcing rulebook translation to temporary worker do not add up. This is a man with small conscience.

PART 3
The third member of the team is Burhan 'Tippu' Kazim, we know the least about him as he had no hands on involvement in games development that we know of, being the business side of Foxtales. Sadly this is also why we know little about him. Foxtales is directly linked with Edgecliffe Systems, a company of interest to authorities in Canada for operating as a Canadian business proxy from Pakistan with a questionable history of business dealings and tax irregularities. Kazim may or may not be Azhar Saleem, the two are nevertheless connected. Kazim is at a minimum responsible for fraudulently masquerading Foxtales as a Canadian company, a serious deception as and of itself, and the patterns of Foxtales actions bear similarity to known scams allegedly connected to Edgecliffe Systems.

Kazim was also responsible as project manager for Foxtales for the pricing irregularities and the overdevelopment of the Kickstarter strectgoal strategy, though in fairness these actions are as much likely to be caued by inexperienced as fraud. It is not known if Kazim was actually trying to make a game, and since Kickstarter's timely intervention we will never know. However Edgcliffe Systems has had its name associated with short duration cons and using the distance between Edgecliffes paper location and its actual jurisdictional location as a shield.

It is anyone guess what Kazim may have done with backers details and money, but it is not improper to suggest that should the project appear to be undeliverable, Foxtales might have cut and run early rather than spend all backers resources on completion.

All in all, Overturn: Distant Sands was doomed from the start. Humayun Syed had no measn to support the project and his young family without help, and his choice of partners were inclined to shortcuts and sharp practice. However when the internet began to have suspiscions about the validity of Overturn, and both Hifazat and Kazim burned tier internet identities and ran, Humayun Syed stayed. His social media profile is still active, as is his games developer account on BoardGame Geek, which is not a place to be if you are a Foxtales developer right now. While his partners fell into silence syed began to plead to backer on Facebook that he was not a scammer but a games developer.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php…

Under the circumstances I believed him, and was willing to give him the benefit of a review when I first heard his plea. I made no mention of this during the campaign becaue it was important to stick with the undiluted message that Foxtales were likely scammers.

However it is partly for Humayun Syed's benefit that I have written this overview. Yes I am opposed to Foxtales and everything it stood for, but I recognise that he did some excellent work on it, exploited by other short sighted graspers eager for quick money or a larger share than they deserved.
I do think it is not too late for Humayun Syed to make a future for himself in games development, and I leave this record here in the hope that he is given a fair hearing in the future and possibly a second chance.

Likewise I see no future for Arafat Hifazat in games development, and I can only hope that Syed can separate his IP from the rest of Foxtales and appeal for a developer to employ him and take on his project and his vision."

pelle
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I find it fascinating as well

I find it fascinating as well as sad that so many backed it simply for the promise of nice miniatures before even seeing gameplay or rules, and from a company and designer with no hiatory. Not even based on a known ip? Really there is nothing to suggest it would be a good game, but cheap minis can get you several $100k in a few days? That part of this story is at least as interesting as reading about the guys behind the scam/game.

questccg
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You are correct

pelle wrote:
I find it fascinating as well as sad that so many backed it simply for the promise of nice miniatures before even seeing gameplay or rules, and from a company and designer with no hiatory. Not even based on a known ip? Really there is nothing to suggest it would be a good game, but cheap minis can get you several $100k in a few days? That part of this story is at least as interesting as reading about the guys behind the scam/game.

I agree with you that it's surprising on "how well" miniatures do on Kickstarter. It's like there is an over-abundance of minis games and still everyone decides to buy them. From my own Kickstarter, 75% converted to the highest pledge level which also features starship miniatures. It was only $10 USD extra but still... It shows how popular minis are with gamers.

And most mini KS campaigns are done by large publishers/companies like CMON, Mantic Games, Cryptozoic Entertainment, etc. But I have seen earlier campaigns done by first time creators that also featured miniatures and they too did very well... So I guess it's no surprise that this KS was headed for success too!

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