Update for anybody still finding this (8/4/2017) – I’m happy to say the game is finally released. Launch sale available at 10% off until August 11, 2017.
Update (7/14/2017 @ 1:58PM ET) – Another update from Blakemore posted to the Grimoire Steam Community forum as of July 12 @ 12:14PM. Blakemore claims that the game needed the extra week of dev time, but has yet to announce a release date. Full statement provided below.
Don’t want to be too optimistic again. Best to simply wait until the game is uploaded to our depot and has been tested for download and install before confirming things are going well. The extra week has truly worked marvels, the game just needed it. Those of you who work against deadlines know it takes some crunch time to finally get in and fix the last nitty gritty parts. People who pretend it doesn’t take serious motivation to complete crunch the last bugs have never done it. Everything is easy when you have never done anything. All software benefits from slipping a week, that’s the truth.
Update (7/9/2017 @ 5:15AM ET) – Cleve Blakemore has posted an update to the Grimoire Steam Community, explaining his reasoning behind the delay. He has yet to announce an updated release date, however, so the delay remains indefinite at this time.
Here’s what Blakemore had to say about the state of Grimoire: “The game could be released right now and few people would know it was not the final version. I am going to work on it intensely just a little more and then release it as a product polished to enormous perfection. If you get this close a couple days is not a big deal, compared to 23 years of working on it.”
Again, if the game is feature complete and nobody would notice the minor things you want to update/bug fix, why not simply release the game as-is and then release a content patch later on? This update is marginally better than nothing, but there’s still no commitment to any new release date for the game or for the backer rewards promised in 2012 and 2013. It’s also still unclear whether or not the game is actually at the state that Blakemore claims. I want to see a firm release date in place that is adhered to regardless of whether or not more bugs are found, regardless of whether or not he would like to add more content, etc. At this point Blakemore has an obligation to release the game as soon as possible, and get the rewards sent out to those who backed him via Indiegogo.
Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar – a game with twenty years of development time, multiple successful crowdfunding campaigns, and countless promised release dates has once again been delayed. This whole project reeks of mismanagement, and at this point I’m convinced the game may permanently remain vaporware.
The game’s latest promised release date was July 7, 2017 @ 7PM~ ET, and all appeared to be well. Strangely, under two hours before it was set to go live, solo developer Cleve Blakemore announced that the game would be delayed indefinitely.
In an announcement posted to the game’s Steam page, Blakemore said: “Will be working all day to complete, as soon as I have verified remaining areas that underwent some editing I will begin building deployment packages […] Sorry but I am just one guy and normally during this crunch time on any software project you have more than one person to help you when the going gets tough. It’s all on me and it only gets fixed because I fix it, I can’t delegate that bug to a team member.”
Grimoire is no stranger to delays and broken promises. The game has been in development since the mid 1990s, intending to provide players a massive old-school dungeon-crawler experience, drawing heavy inspiration from classics such as Wizardry and Might and Magic. The game underwent its first beta test back in 1998. Since its inception, the game has been delayed an uncountable number of times, with gamers joking about it at least as early as 2010 (via PCGamer).
A non-comprehensive list of previously promised release dates I dug up:
- Sometime in 2003 (promised via Grimoire website)
- October 2004 (via Grimoire website and again on Grimoire website)
- “Mid 2005” (via Grimoire website)
- July 2008 (promised via Grimoire website)
- “Fall 2010” (via Grimoire website)
- May 2013 (promised via Indiegogo)
- May 31, 2014 (as promised on Indiegogo)
- May 29th, 2017 (as promised on Greenlight)
- July 7, 2017 (as promised via Steam page, reported on at TechRaptor, PCGamer, among others)
The game has undergone multiple successful Indiegogo campaigns, the first in 2012 and the second in 2013, totalling $17,403. On both campaign pages it is prominently listed that the game is already complete and will ship in May of 2013, “with or without enhancement.” According to a 2013 Indiegogo update from Blakemore himself, the campaign was allegedly “all about giving me the incentive to get off my ass and finish it and has succeeded admirably.” If that is the case, why has the game been delayed another four years since that time? What did you do with the thousands of dollars you received from backers?
In an update to his Indiegogo backers in April of 2015, Blakemore suggested the possibility of running a third Indiegogo campaign, supposedly in order to “permit further latecomers to get manuals and hint books.”
If your game is already finished, why bother running crowdfunding campaigns? The benefit to backers was clear – pledge to the campaign for this “guaranteed to release” game and receive a bunch of backer loot, such as a physical manual or the ability to design your own area in the game. However, what exactly is the benefit to the developer? One has to wonder if perhaps Grimoire was ever actually “ready for release”, or if perhaps Blakemore was running low on funds and desperately needed cash to keep working on his project. I can’t prove anything with certainty, but think about it- why would you go to the trouble of running a crowdfunding campaign for a game that is already finished and ready to go? His main claim for both Indiegogo campaigns was that the funds would be used for “enhancement” of the game but that the game was complete- what enhancements have actually been put in place? Perhaps more curiously, why would you not simply release the game and then use the revenue from sales to fund additional updates, DLC, and content?
It’s entirely possible that Blakemore really did just want to open up availability for people to purchase manuals and other physical goodies, but if so, why use multiple Indiegogo campaigns instead of opening up a limited-stock store? Why did you promise backers that the physical rewards would never be available again, when that was clearly never your intention? Why has the “completed” game missed multiple promised release deadlines since that time?
Now, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong about Grimoire, but from my point of view it really comes down to just a few possibilities:
- The game was not complete at the time of either Indiegogo campaign, but Blakemore needed funds in order to complete it and is unable to let go after pouring so much of his life into the title.
- The amount of feature and scope creep that has taken place over the last 20 years of development has made the project into one that Blakemore can never finish, and thus he continues pushing back release date after release date as he is unable to complete the project.
- The game was complete at the time of the Indiegogo campaigns, but Blakemore realized that it will be impossible to live up for the hype that he generated for the game. Some of the things he called Grimoire: “more satisfying than any of the Wizardry games and even better than the original Eye of the Beholder series”, “a masterpiece”, and “a one-of-a-kind classic”.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want this game to fail. I want to believe, I really do. I want to believe that the game is basically ready to go and that this will be the last delay before it finally releases. The problem is, that line of reasoning is not supported by the precedent. Grimoire has been in development for over twenty years, missed over a decade’s worth of release dates, and has been delayed numerous times even since receiving thousands of dollars in crowdfunding via multiple Indiegogo campaigns. At this point it seems almost inevitable that the game will remain vaporware for all eternity. Regardless of what happens, it’s pretty clear at this point that the project has been heavily mismanaged.
Even if I’m wrong and Grimoire does end up coming out, what is the likelihood at this point that the game is actually as good as Blakemore claims? It’s easy to talk big and claim that your project is better than Wizardry, better than Might and Magic, better than any RPG that has ever come before it, but it is significantly harder to actually make that a reality. Is it even possible for a solo developer to create a game that is on the scale that Blakemore is claiming? As far as I can tell, nobody in the press or general public has actually seen Grimoire in its current form, and that’s highly disconcerting to hear about for a game that was supposedly finished and ready for release back in 2012.
Regardless of what has been going on with the game’s development, it’s high time we had some answers. It’s not entirely unreasonable for a game that was once planned for release to go unfinished, but Cleve Blakemore has accepted thousands of dollars of crowdfunded cash and is now legally obligated to provide the product he promised to backers. Cleve, where is the finished copy of Grimoire that you promised to backers in May of 2013, May 31, 2014; May 29, 2017; and July 7, 2017? Where are the physical rewards that backers were promised in exchange for their financial support for your game? Why has a game that you have been claiming is “complete” for years not had a release by now? It’s time for you to deliver on your legal obligations and release the game that you promised, along with all of the additional rewards that were promised to Indiegogo backers.