As many of you know I worked on a series of skateboarding games a few years ago, entitled simply Skate. Those three games hold a very special place in my heart. Out of the many games I’ve worked on, I’m most proud of the critical reception that the trilogy received. Most importantly, the Skate team, by a wide margin, is the best team I’ve ever had the honour of working on. We were and continue to be family.
Though not as popular as say, Call of Duty, the Skate series has a small but extremely loyal fan base. It’s been nearly four years since Skate 3 was released and the fans of the game have been waiting the next game. Unfortunately, there is no next game for the foreseeable future. The team that made these games have now been scattered across companies and by distance. This fact, however, doesn’t stop some gamers from hoping for the next title.
About two weeks ago, a project popped up on Kickstarter, something called Skate 4D. It took me a while to figure out what was going on but let me distill it into the major points. Apparently, someone named Albert, who makes Skate 3 videos and posts them online (just a regular fan of the games), was contacted by someone posing as an ex-Black Box developer. This “Syed Faisal Shah” was trying to make Albert think he was one of us, people who actually worked on the Skate games. He somehow convinced Albert that he was making another game in the series (without EA’s help) and he needed Albert’s assistance. Here’s where it gets interesting. The poser also convinced Albert to put his name on the Kickstarter project and also be the face and voice of the fundraising effort. This mysterious “developer” is remaining in the shadows, except for his shoddy web site. If you’re curious, the website is registered through Pakistan.
In the meantime, Albert has made his pitch through videos and Tweets, asking people to donate money to the project. He has put himself out there as the public face of this thing. What I can’t believe is how easily Albert was duped by this shady con man. He gave Albert some screenshots of the game “in development”. You can actually see these on the Kickstarter page. These are just screenshots of the Unity development engine, which anyone can download for free. In these screenshots, the scammer just inserted some sky textures (probably from a .jpg he got by Googling) and added some blocky geometry. I could probably replicate these shots in half an hour at most. The “crowd creator” is simply a single model in a T-pose copied several times and placed into an empty Unity scene. That would be a minute of work to do. Laughably, the trickster also promises that the game can be done by May of 2015.
Despite what Albert wants to believe, this dude never worked with us and he certainly isn’t working on any new skateboarding game. I really want to say that Albert should have known better but he’s young and he doesn’t know a damn thing about making video games. On social media, he’s been confronted with several comments that this is indeed a scam but he doesn’t want to believe it.
Here’s what I think the con man wanted to happen. He wanted Albert to be the public face of fund-raising because he’s already is known to the online community. Albert would have an easier time of convincing people to raise the $500,000. It’s a shame unfortunately (fortunately?!) that the majority of the Skate community is relatively young and have no money. By some miracle, if they did raise the half million, I’m convinced the charlatan would have convinced Albert to send the money to him (for development costs of course). It would be at this point that Albert would no longer hear from this mystery man. Albert would then be left to deal with the angry investors who lost all their money.
The video above is long and I haven’t watched all of it. It does show some important points. First, I’m really touched by how loyal Albert is to the games. We poured blood, sweat, and tears into those things and to have people like him still appreciate it after all these years does make me happy. Second, is that Albert recorded the Skype calls to this dude. It’s fascinating to hear him try to pull the wool over Albert’s eyes.
In summary, I feel bad for Albert. I really think he’s just naive and doesn’t know he’s been taken for a ride. I believe there will be another great skateboarding game in the future and I’ll cheer for whoever is trying to make it (if it’s a sincere attempt). I do, however, have serious problems with people trying to use our past efforts to scam people out of their money.