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Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Early Access

D-Day 70th Anniversary Arrives, ‘Up Front!’ Does Not

In what surely comes as no surprise to anyone following the story, and most certainly backers of the project are already well aware, the 70th anniversary of D-Day has arrived and the previously promised release of Radiant Gaming’s third edition of Up Front! has not. Adding insult to injury Airborne in Your Pocket, also to have produced by Radiant, has also become what is now commonly referred to these days as a vaporstarter. All told Radiant (or all they Valley Games? Or Elusive? Who knows at this point) raised over $440k through Kickstarter for both of these projects with Up Front! ending its funding run on January 2nd, 2013 and AiyP previous to that on September 12th, 2012.

Up Front 3rd EditionRather than rehash everything which was floating around about these projects back in January, you can read a recap right here.

Almost six months later very little about either project has changed as far as getting either Up Front! or AiyP in backer’s hands. The last update regarding Up Front!, through Kickstarter, was on March 21st as some of the volunteers who were working on the project posted some additional art assets for Finnish troops. It’s interesting to note all the links through Dropbox have been disabled. It’s been even longer for an official update regarding AiyP as the last mention on Kickstarter took place in January. Radiant had earlier indicated that game was at the printer months ago but we can obviously see that wasn’t the case.

Let’s look at some of the recent developments regarding Radiant Gaming and the possibility of ever seeing either of these games in the future.

First off, there are hundreds of legal documents floating around the web right now regarding the current case to be heard in February of 2015 regarding repayment to Phil Sauer. We do know Radiant was served a writ of garnishment requiring $260,000 to be deposited into a court bank account until conclusion of the trial. As for where the other $180k raised is residing is up in the air as there are indications Radiant transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their corporate account and into that of their defense attorney. What’ even less clear is how the funding through Kickstarter is to be treated in the trail. By my understanding, Radiant’s defense is claiming the $440k plus raised through Kickstarter were all “donations” made to the company and backers need not be refunded. Or, in other words, while those funds can be seized by the courts to repay any number of debts the company may have to claimants involved in the trial the backers of Up Front! and AiyP will be out of luck.

Valley Games LogoIf I were a backer I’d be pretty pissed if my hard earned cash was to be considered a “donation.” I suppose, in truth, all those people actually ended up donating their money to finance Rik Falch’s move to Australia? Looks like that’s how it’s playing out.

Looking through just a small sample of the court documents leaves one feeling mighty grimy and wishing for a good hot shower. Claims abound regarding backdating of documents, illegal wire transfers, email chains showing willful intent to defraud not only Phil Sauer but also backers of Up Front! and AiyP, and the hits keep coming. It’s just dirty business everywhere you look as it appears Valley/Elusive/Radiant engaged in the illegal practice of evasion in attempts to avoid payment of judgments already made against them.

Truth be told, nothing is going to help those folks who pledged their hard earned ducats for either (or both) games to receive those titles anytime soon. If Radiant loses their case, the funds will no longer be available for printing either game. If, by some miracle Radiant were to win, I’m sure the company will claim court costs wiped out the necessary funds to print either game. This is really a lose/lose proposition all around for the backers. About the only recourse left to backers is to contact their local state’s attorney office as we’re beginning to see some action being taken against fraudulent Kickstarters through that avenue.

Radiant Gaming LogoI know there are still a small number of gamers out there holding onto a fading hope Up Front! and AiyP will eventually be released by Radiant (or whatever corporate entity Rik Falch and his partner in crime Torben Sherwood cook up next) and their faith in the company will be rewarded. Let me put it to them simply: Both Up Front! and Airborne in Your Pocket are deader than Caesar. We have a better chance of watching CNN coverage of Cthulhu rising from the ocean depths to signal the return of the Great Old Ones than of ever seeing these two games by way of their respective Kickstarters.

What does any of this mean to eventually seeing either Up Front! or AiyP from another publisher? I can’t really speak to Airborne since that was an original game design so it could be easier getting that to the public, although it might be so tainted by the goings on to make it nearly unmarketable. Up Front! is a trickier proposition altogether. It’s still not crystal clear if Radiant actually had the rights from Hasbro to produce the game although the Radiant had secured a contract with game designer Courtney Allen. Maybe someone out there has the scoop on the Hasbro side but what I’ve encountered seems pretty murky.It surely wouldn’t have been the first time Hasbro waited for a game to reach market before they stepped in to exert their copyright claim. The very recent infringement claim Hasbro made against Cryptozoic Entertainment and  Hex: Shards of Fate is a great example; Hasbro didn’t say boo during a $2 million Kickstarter run but waited until Hex was about to hit the market.

If Hasbro is willing to license Up Front!, the further involvement of Mr. Allen would have to wait until after the Radiant trial begins next February since the rights revert back to the designer bout a week after the schedule start of those court proceedings. The designer is getting the shaft as well in all of this since his payday is tied into Up Front! being published. I’m not sure what additional design work he completed for the Radiant edition but I’ll assume all of that would be under his control come early 2015.

Airborne in Your PocketAs for another publisher running with Up Front! – I know GMT is floated out there quite a bit – I’m not sure if the title would be worth the headache it’s sure to be shackled with in the process. Obviously there’s a demand for the game, seeing it raised over a third of a million dollars in funding, but what to do with all the original backers? No company can possibly offer to honor the original orders and not lose their shirts in the process. How many backers would be willing to shell out a second time in hopes of getting a copy of Up Front!? Especially those who originally backed the Kickstarter for $125 or more?

I honestly think someone will make an attempt to get Up Front! out there but I’d be shocked if there’s any movement on the title until sometime in 2016. I’d previously mentioned I’d be happy to get together with my friends in the industry to help facilitate getting Up Front! to the public but until the court case begins to shake out there isn’t much anyone can do outside of dipping their toes in the water.

Sorry to say I don’t imagine either Airborne in Your Pocket or Up Front! making an appearance this year or next regardless of who might publish the games. I’m even sorrier to say, with the way things work in our courts here in the U.S., the original backer of both Kickstarter projects are going to wait even longer than that to find out what happens to their money…

Jeff McAleer

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  1. Jeff, it’s rather clear to me that while many of the Up Front! backers are frustrated beyond belief, many are also in hopeful denial about the chances for receiving the product. One imagines that the odds of Kate Upton showing up naked at their door are better than the game actually shipping.

    If I recall correctly, you called it early on – one of those cases where we wish you were wrong, but you were dead on.

    • Actually Steve, Kate just left as she once again beat me in Twilight Struggle. 😛

      Good to hear from you my friend and, as I’m mentioned in the comments on the January post, I really wish I hadn’t called this one right.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    congratulations to your informative and entertaining website. I wonder (and regret) why I did not visit it earlier.

    I am one of the more than 2,000 people who have put their cash into the hands of Mr. Falch. Quite shocking to read your disclosure about UpFront! I had a bad feeling about the project when the first news about delays came in but somehow I hoped against hope it would still work out.

    I don’t see much sense in filing any legal action against Radiant from Germany. For me, Kickstarter will be history at this point. I will much rather pay a higher price for a game that has been produced already. So if you start your own Up Front! project I’ll keep my fingers crossed and will patiently wait until it’s done.

  3. I hope you pursue the toe dipping yourself. Would be a shame to see this design fall by the wayside. Maybe you could go back to the original design with the help of Courtney Allen. Either way, there are a lot of us who will support you if you are able to follow through. It s a damn shame that this played out like this, But seriously looking at all the that came out about those behind the kickstarter, how could it have turned out any other way.


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