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Well, it's official. According to James Proctor, the "Lead Developer" of Greed Monger, he will no longer be working on Greed Monger and will officially be shutting down the project.
"Hello Greed Monger Community!
A few weeks back when I left GM and then Jason signed everything over to Joel and My self we took over based on the promise of Guaranteed funding through to launch from an out side investor. Once we stepped into ownership of GM that out side investor bailed on us and we were left with no funding. We made the choice to try and develop a smaller scale game that we could get released in a much shorter time and use the funds generated to fund GM. Since those plans were leaked we have dealt with nothing but flack for it from a bunch of people. So we are faced with some choices to make. We are unable to get GM built with out funding and we are unable to get funding from developing another smaller scale game with out taking heat for doing so. Joel and My self decided to give everything back to Jason and allow him to get GM developed using his Investors he told us he had. He is refusing to take GM back from us. Therefore with no means of funding and Jason refusing to take GM back from us we are forced to admit defeat and Close GM down. The last 3 years were a great learning experience for me. I've learned a number of things about working in the Game Development Industry that I wouldn't have learned else where. This community has been great and it's been an honor working with you guys. MMOI will be back at some point and you guys will NOT be forgotten by us that is a Promise we made when I left the GM and it's a Promise I intend on fulfilling. I'm sorry things have had to end this way and will do everything in our power to make things right in the future."
Leading up to the close of Greed Monger, James Proctor was already spending money on Unity Store Assets to begin another project, one he named "Zombie Survival Game"; spending funds on a new game while he claimed to the backers that he had no funding remaining to send the T-Shirts or to continue developing Greed Monger. James asked his community what they thought about Greed Monger's development just two days prior to announcing his decision to closing Greed Monger. In this thread, James Proctor had this to say about Greed Monger and his new side project:
"Hello GM Community!
First of all let me make things perfectly clear. Our Commitment has always been to you guys and ensuring you guys get what you paid for. Our Commitment has never been to a specific IP or Game. We are dedicated 100% to getting you guys a fun game with all of the features promised during our KickStarter campaign. Just what form that game will take is the subject of this message.
Back a few weeks ago we conducted a Google Hangout where you guys were free to join and ask whatever questions you wanted to ask. Though the turn out wasn't that great a common theme came up. People wanted us to drop GM and all of it's negative PR and work on our own Game that could actually stand a chance of being successful. Both before the Hangout and after we also talked to others who were interested in us doing the same thing. So now we want your feedback we want to hear your thoughts and concerns and we want your help in plotting the future course for GM and MMO Interactive! Do you want us to continue with GM with all of it's negative PR and History or do you want us to work on coming up with a completely new Game that includes all of the features of our KickStarter and where all of the KickStarter Pledges are full filled but that doesn't have the negative PR and Long History?"
When members of his community pointed out that he shouldn't be dividing his attention between Greed Monger (a $150,000+ project) and his new "Zombie Survival Game" James had this to say to his backers:
"The Zombie Survival game WILL be made regardless of what is decided in this poll. Like I said that is not up for debate here. And I understand it's not going to interest everyone but Zombie Survival Games are popular enough that it should be able to at least start paying for some of GM or other Large Scale MMO."
Originally, the project was created and successfully Kickstarted by Jason Appleton, who left the scene shortly after some massive drama took place, primarily here on the MMORPG.com forums and Wurm Online forums. Years later, after the project seemed to be dead and no end in sight, Jason Appleton relinquished control of the project to James Proctor, who, at the time, was the only member of the development team for the majority of the game's creation.
It has been suggested that James Proctor was part of the scam the entire time. After all, he was the only team member remaining on the development team just weeks after their Kickstarter campaign was successful, had been the only person posting "development updates" to the community for three years (most of which were apparently not true, based on the infrequent and progress of the game videos shown), and was the only other person to have benefited from the game's shady past.
James Proctor decided to "quit" development of Greed Monger, after a poster on RPGCodex.com posted a very exposing thread about Greed Monger, Jason Appleton, and James Proctor's shady past dealings. Greed Monger was in limbo between Jason Appleton and another MMO development company after James Proctor quit the comapny. However, despite having an easy "out" from the Greed Monger name with this company, Jason Appleton quickly handed over the keys to James Proctor.
Why would Jason Appleton have given James Proctor the reigns of development and $20,000 worth of assets? When, just days prior, Jason Appleton had posted a very long-winded rant about how incompetent James Proctor was, and why James was the reason the game was in the terrible state it was.
It seems all too convenient that James Proctor agreed to take the game back (only three days after "quitting") and also agreed that Jason Appleton would keep all remaining assets the game had acquired through their kickstater campaign.
While it's known that kickstarters are a risk and gamble, there are provisions in place by kickstarter themselves that give backers some form of legal recourse against situations like this. It's estimated that over $150,000 was given to Greed Monger through their multiple crowd funding campaigns. Through development of the game, it was requested multiple times by the community that James and Jason post how they had been using the funds given to them, another provision provided by Kickstarter, however, neither of them ever provided this information.
"Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."
"Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?
At the end of the day, I'm sure little can be done for backers. However, this should stand as a warning to people who decide to back Kickstarter games without researching the creators, team, and reality of the project first. It should also stand to be a wake up call to gaming "news" sites to stop praising every kickstarter campaign that blows through the doors. Although Greed Monger was funded in 2012, the height of the crowd funding bubble, during a time when it was incredibly easy to deceive the unfamiliar public, it was easy to tell it was a scam.
The only question that remains is: Was James Proctor part of the scam the entire time, and should he be the one held accountable for the missing $100,000+?
(UPDATE: Here is James Proctor's previous work before Greed Monger. At the time, he couldn't even properly code a score tracker into the game. However, not one year later, Jason Appleton hired him to be the Lead Programmer of Greed Monger.
For any backers interested, a few weeks back, Gloriva Victis offered an invitation to their game with proof of purchase for Greed Monger funding:
Meanwhile, if there are any Greed Monger, Embers of Caerus or another MMORPG Kickstarters backers who were not delivered yet what they paid for please contact me via [email protected] with showing some proof of your donation for those projects. I will gladly send you invitation into the Gloria Victis hoping that you won't loose believe in Indie Developers.
I think that's pretty gentlemanly of them to do.
Additionally, mightyking here on the MMORPG.com forums has offered $250 to help with legal expenses for any US Kickstarter backers that can prove they backed the game, and provide copies of legal documents regarding the case. Spider3 on the official forums has also expressed a desire to collect other backers in order to start a suit against Proctor/Appleton.
To update the story, James Proctor was recently questioned as to why he was banned from Atavism early on, and he had this to say:
Yes as a matter of fact I was (banned) because I dared to speak out against the way they were advertising their framework. They were saying it already had features that were yet to be implemented. I suggested to them that they might want to be up front with potential customers and instead of saying it already had those features say they they were planned features.
The comical irony in his words are nothing short of pure poetry. This is surely the best example of the pot calling the kettle black. While I'm sure this isn't the last we will see of James Proctor, at least he has a way of creating an interesting story!)