Pure Nintendo interviews Eugene Kim from West Games about Areal Kickstarter
PN: Please start by introducing yourself to our readers, and sharing a brief overview of your project and a few of its unique characteristics …
I am Eugene Kim, the founder and CEO of West Games. Areal is a new video game that’s being developed by senior ex-S.T.A.L.K.E.R employees. It features a massive and intricately detailed open world environment that is extremely varied and colorful, even though it’s set in a post-apocalyptic setting. The further you venture towards the center of Areal, the bleaker and scarier it gets. Areal depicts a future where civilization has fallen apart due to an unearthly material called Metamorphite, which eventually spreads, corrupts and infects the whole world. The source of Metamorphite comes from a meteor that impacted the earth long ago, and it is the site of constant conflict and bloodshed.
Areal’s story is not linear – players can choose how their characters act and speak – everything from how you talk to who you kill changes the storyline of Areal. There is no morality system in Areal, so you are free to make choices that you think are best in any given situation, without being blinded and limited by a standard good/evil system. Ultimately, Areal is the culmination of everything that we want to see from a post apocalyptic game, and it’s something that we can realize with full creative freedom because of the unique platform that is Kickstarter. All we need is your support!
PN: What made the team decide and try to finance the game through crowdfunding? What advantages do Kickstarter offer you?
Well, for one, we get to make the game how we want to make it. And we think that having the community fund our game is a great way to achieve the funding that we need.
PN: Some have expressed concerns that your asking amount is too low for the game’s ambition. Could you please take a moment and address this?
Sure, we have addressed this in our updates actually, and the answer is as follows:
” People are asking why our base goal is 50,000. To answer that question, we want to ask two other questions. Why do people think that 50,000 is the maximum that we can raise, and not the absolute minimum? And is it possible that professional’s salaries differ in different countries?
The fact is that we have a start up, we already have fans, plus we ourselves are fans of what we’re doing, so we don’t need big salaries. We need an opportunity to do, create, promote and make the world a more exciting place. That’s why we did not force up our salaries and expenses. To further elaborate on our budget though, we are again attaching a section on our Kickstarter dedicated to why our BASE goal is what it is:
” We’ve pooled all of our savings into making Areal, and don’t have funds to go any further. Unlike most companies, every one of our employees has invested their time and money into making Areal. The budget that we’ve pooled together covers salaries and some aspects of game development. We need the Kickstarter and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community to support us by helping us cover the rest. Marketing also makes up a huge portion of most budgets, so we will rely on internal marketing as well as word of mouth to lower those costs substantially. “”
PN: Nintendo fans are no doubt happy to see Areal included in the base goal, and not as a stretch goal! What are your thoughts on the Wii U hardware?
Well, the Wii U is objectively not as powerful as other platforms, but I don’t think Areal will suffer because of it, and might actually benefit because of the unique controller possibilities. Yes, the graphics have to be toned down a little bit for the Wii U, but all the features found on other platforms will be on the Wii U version too. We love Nintendo’s platforms as they are always unique, and having a platform that is a bit different will not stop us from developing on it.
PN: The concept art you’ve shown thus far is gorgeous! When can we expect to see in-game footage?
Thank you! We have shown and will continue to show images, concept art and animations. You can see us working on the wolf model for areal within our video. The rest of it is meant to showcase what we’ve accomplished in the past, so as to present what we can do in the future.
PN: To sum, why is Areal a game worth backing?
We are people who led game design, animation, graphics and programming when we worked on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, and we want to continue the spirit of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with Areal whilst at the same time, making something completely new. We hope that you guys/gals can see what we’ve accomplished before, and can imagine what we can do now, when we are fully unrestrained creatively. Areal is unique in the post-apocalyptic video game landscape, and backing us means that you’ll get to see it completed!
Thanks to Eugene for this interview. More details on the Areal project can be found at Kickstarter.
July 6, 2014
oh no…..even this journalist fell for it?!?! Seriously please update this article by warning readers about backing “Areal” on Kickstarter since West Games and “Kim” have not answered any questions from serious backers. Plus, every single update that they have released on Kickstarter is the same rehash answers they provided in previous updates.
July 6, 2014
What exactly do you believe I “fell” for? I’ve simply conducted a small interview about a Wii U project that is attracting a lot of attention, some of it good, some of it bad. I’m well aware of how this project has been progressing, and questioned both the funding goal, and the shortage of in-game footage, as well as linked to the Kickstarter page so readers could learn more to make informed choices. What more would you have me do?
July 7, 2014
I apologize for making that “fell for it” comment, I didn’t mean it since i was just surprised to see that West Games respond to you but they refuse to answer simple legit questions from hundreds of backers and on their facebook page as well. What more would could you do? I would recomend adding a small note by warning the readers about this project since we both know this “Areal” project is too good to be true. I want it to be real but its hard to believe it’s real when they ignore backers who pledged a good amount of money but none of their questions are being answered. Now hundreds and hundreds of backers have reduce their pledges down to $1 like myself because we want to see where this project is going and most of all we want to warn others as well because if Kickstarter employees won’t do anything then the backers will have to do it. I truly wanted this game to be real but its hard to believe in this project when they are ignoring questions, stealing artworks, making up stuff and accusing others for their own mistakes as well. Check out this latest update that a backer was able to spot, her name is Philomelle on kickstarter. I will copy/paste what she found VERY interesting down below:
“The Russian website that did the videos shown in this Kickstarter’s updates earlier started talking in the comments when called out on how one-sided and poor the journalism was, and ended up leaking something important.
“продюсер игры чётко сказал, что успех в достижении 50000-ой отметки на Кикстартере – это в первую очередь “показуха” для инвесторов. Фактически, эта сумма нужна только для того, чтобы привлечь “настоящие” большие средства, потому что разработка подобной игры обходится в не один миллион зелёных.”
Translation: “The game’s producer explicitly told us that the success of reaching the 50,000 mark is meant entirely to show off in front of investors. Factually, that money is needed only to attract the “real” big cash, because the development of this game of such a game would cost much more than a million dollars.”
He also mentions that they were asked to not put that bit into the video.
We have a confirmation of of my suspicions! No work has been done on Areal so far and even if they do meet the Kickstarter’s funding goal, it will be only used to create a demo and show it off to big publishers. Which means that, given the company’s extremely negative publicity and a chance that publishers might not get interested in the result of their work, Areal might never get made.
Everything we’ve been fed so far about how 50 grand is enough to complete the project is a big fat lie. This is just another Clang, an attempt to raise money to create a marketing demo for a game that might never get made. I mean, we all suspected that, but it’s nice to have a confirmation.”
Another backer was nice enough to take a screencap in case West Games accused the backers of “making it up” again since they are blaming the backers for their cover ups and slips.
This was found in the comments section of course because there has been TONS of reports of “Areal” facebook page is deleted backers post who asked simple questions such as “How come this concept art is taken from this site” or “how can you port areal to several systems for $50,000” etc that is just a small example.
July 7, 2014
I can appreciate your concerns, and I genuinely have some empathy for you and other worried backers. This campaign has certainly had its share of bumps! I think that both West Games and the Areal backers share some of the blame.
I disagree that none of the questions have been answered. I’ve heard a handful of backers repeat this, but in my own readings I see where West games have addressed some concerns. I think some of the backer demands have been ridiculous quite frankly. But by the same token, I can certainly see times where West Games have put on a PR spin, being more cryptic than detailed. This was true even in my interview!
All need to handle things better. Backers need to be more patient and realistic in how they deal with West Games – some are clear trolls in my view! West Games needs to expand their answers on some questions, and get in-game footage out asap as opposed to more concept art!
I maintain that if this project is indeed illegal as some maintain, Kickstarter will take it down. The fact that they haven’t after two weeks makes me think it is not.
Thank you for your comments and observations. Pure Nintendo will continue to keep an eye on this Kickstarter, and (where applicable) provide coverage that’s balanced.
July 6, 2014
It’s worth noting that the game’s producer gave a completely different explanation about the game’s low funding goal to Games-TV, a Russian news website. In the words of their reporters:
“продюсер игры чётко сказал, что успех в достижении 50000-ой отметки на
Кикстартере – это в первую очередь “показуха” для инвесторов.
Фактически, эта сумма нужна только для того, чтобы привлечь “настоящие”
большие средства, потому что разработка подобной игры обходится в не
один миллион зелёных.”
This translates as:
“The game’s producer explicitly told us that the success of reaching the
50,000 mark is meant entirely to show off in front of investors.
Factually, that money is needed only to attract the “real” big cash,
because the development of this game of such a game would cost much more
than a million dollars.”
Furthermore, the developers have been very hostile to their existing backers, refused to answer questions and gave at least two conflicting stories regarding the low funding goal.
Potential backers beware! Not only were the developers behind Areal deceiving their backers, but their Kickstarter project is apparently breaking the website’s Terms of Service.
July 6, 2014
Thank you for the comment, and for sharing this information. I will attempt to verify what you’ve posted.
As far as the developers hostility, it is a two way street. Do I wish they were a bit more forthcoming? Yes? Do I think a large portion of the backer comments have been ridiculous? Absolutely. I say this as both a journalist, and someone who has backed 18 Kickstarter gaming projects over the past year or two.
If the project is indeed breaking Kickstarter’s terms, it’ll surely be dealt with sooner rather than later. Again, thank you for the comments.
July 6, 2014
It’s a scam.. They claimed they made their own engine but only showed unity?
They are only putting out concept art, they haven’t made a single asset yet. They can put to rest everyone’s concerned by showing off this amazing engine that can scale from PC down to android…. If this were the case, they would make far more money selling this amazing engine than selling a silly game.
Tracing the money it leads to a man named Leo V. in Las Vegas. This guy is involved in multiple lawsuits, all being a defendant. Looks like one is with a relative named Max V….. Max V. is connected to another Ukrainian development studio on kickstarter for “Space Pioneer”, which as well is a blatant scam too. Thankfully that kickstarter failed, but they are still accepting donations through PayPal, who knows how many people “donated” to that scam.
Watch the video of the “meet the team” they released. If people don’t think that video doesn’t scream scam artist, there is no hope for them.
But it’s a free country, pledge money if all these red flags, and more I haven’t mentioned, don’t scare you off.
July 6, 2014
In there Kickstarters FAQ West games have answered these questions,
Q: How much work have you already put into Areal?
A: The easiest way to put it is that we’ve completely exhausted our collective piggy banks in getting Areal to the point that it’s at. Areal is in pre-alpha, and we’ve sorted out the A.I., inventory systems and many of the missions. The world of Areal is expanding everyday and we need your support on Kickstarter to finish it!
Q: What platforms are included in the base goal?
A: Since we’ve already put in a lot of work into Areal, it’s possible for us to release on many platforms with a relatively low base goal. Specifically, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Linux, Windows and Mac are included in the base goal.
West games claimed to be so close to the end that 50k was all they needed to complete and release on those platforms. Now we learn there’s not even a working engine for them to show any progress with,
Add to that how many of the screenshot’s used by West games to promote the project are nothing more than doctored images from other projects and you can’t help but be concerned not only about the truth behind this project but also about what this say’s about the Kickstarter system and the long term viability of such a system if it is not regulated more closely.
July 6, 2014
I do agree that Kickstarter would benefit from tougher regulations. For those genuinely concerned about this project, I would simply say not to back it.
Thanks for the comments.
July 6, 2014
Thank’s for replying, I look forward to an updated article from you, presuming you do one, Hopefully you will, Cheer’s.
July 6, 2014
Pure Nintendo will keep an eye on this project, as we do with most Kickstarter’s that are seeking funding for release on Nintendo hardware. If warranted, we’ll do an update.