Sunday, 1 February 2015

More than DUST settles on Operation:Babylon - Paolo gives an exclusive interview on the Kickstarter

For many Dust Tactics, World of Dust & Dust Studios will be household names coming as they do from a long established game world all spun from the mind of Paolo Parente, the father of Dust.

And as such you may have also heard there are a few rumblings about the Battlefront Kickstarter Operation: Babylon, and its lack of appearing, via the post, in the houses of those who backed the Kickstarter campaign.

This is a full and updated interview with DUST creator, Paolo Parente
Dust is an alternate history Board Game/Wargame and soon to be online game and RPG which for many years has been inspiring modellers and gamers with its diverse and almost familiar walking tanks, axis zombies, cyborg gorillas and a host of other WWII alternate nasties fuelled and inspired form the power of the mineral VK and the remnants of a crashed alien ship.

It's the same World War Two, it just evolved and shows no sign of ending.

In its most recent form Dust IP came into the care of Battlefront Games, high hopes of expanded lines and better distribution. The future looked very bright indeed, so much so when the Kickstarter was announced the boards literally 'lit up' with the voice and enthusiasm of the legions of old and new fans.

Operation Babylon, as it was called, was going to be a glowing success.

On June 19 2014 that success was confirmed for the 1,475 backers who are pledged $469,313 of hard earned cash well over the $50,000 target sought for the project.

Since then the talk and enthusiasm in all the forums and chat groups has slowly slipped from ecstatic excitement to near civil war as the fan base slowly fractures in the face of more and more apparently unanswered questions from Battlefront, the pledge management team who over saw the financials of the project.

Currently the casual viewer will see 'the silent concerned' who say little but are clicking like on various posts.

The 'be calm its okay, stay positives' who are focused on getting on with the game and prepared for the long wait without getting to distressed.

Finally what I'd call the 'vocals' who range from reasonable questioning to the troll like stirring one expects among any large Internet based groups. Arguments, confusion, allegations of all sorts seem to fly daily now and can't be ignored any longer.

Then on the 30th January 2015, the Grand Master, Paolo himself, who till now has been a voice of reason and support throws his cap in the ring and declares enough is enough.

Paolo today posts banners and avatars that call out for questions to be answered, he says he demands clarity and transparency form Battlefront, and importantly asks......where's the money? 

So it is on this very public canvas that Wee Gamers felt it was only right to ask the questions to the only people who should know.  that is the very publicly active father of Dust, Paolo, and the current Guardians of the Franchise, Battlefront Games.

Tonight we hear from Paolo, who has been quite open and eager to talk.

Paolo first of all thanks for taking the time at this seemingly stressful period to talk to Wee Gamers. 

Let's get the ball rolling. 

Paolo , what on earth is going on with Dust, and the Kickstarter? Where do things currently stand? Our understanding of these projects is you pitch your project, you set your goal. You raise your money - succeed or fail , and if you succeed you make your toys and deliver to your backers? What's gone wrong as you understand it?

"The public action that Dust Studio, with me as standard bearer, is taking has one goal only: push Battlefront to act with due diligence by honouring the Babylon Kickstarter Contract that they wrote themselves, pay the overdue fee to Dust Studio for manufacturing the goods and deliver them to the backers.
l attach here the contract and you are authorized to publish it. 

Basically it reads that Battlefront is obliged to pay Dust Studio first. And in the case Dust Studio cannot manufacture the goods then Dust Studio is accountable. 
Now, how the hell are we supposed to deliver something that has not been ordered or paid for???
Up to today we have not received the P.O. for the so called "Babylon Wave 2" or a full list of the items to be delivered. Dust Studio will be happy to deliver the goods as soon as Purchase Order is issued and paid for. 
The production on the Wave 2 items is going on. We estimate that they will be ready by the end of March 2015.  
We are manufacturing items based on the last received information dated November 2014 plus a small percentage extra, just in case the orders get bigger. 
We know that Battlefront have been collecting orders and payments until January 2015.
We wait for Battlefront to honor their side of the deal."

Okay, given the size of this project a years wait on product would have been our estimate. But it sounds very much so far that this is about where the money is and communication.
"Exactly! Where is the money??? l was told that the backers money would be held in a special account and remain there untouched, obviously this did not happen."

Why DS is not getting payed? Where did the $$ go?? Perhaps simplistic, but I know some will be wondering, why did you or rather Dust studio not simply run the K'S yourselves?
"For two reasons, The Kickstarter intended to also help Battlefront to raise enough funds to pay our Factoring Bank of 200,000 USD that was overdue for 120 days and more, besides we were in agreement with Battelfront for a worldwide distribution deal, so it seemed natural to do this together. Dust Studio CEO William Yau was against doing the Kickstarter with Battlefront, unfortunately we did not listen..."

To clarify that,why is the 'distributor' the project manager on your products?
"As per above, it was part of the deal."

Why did the money not simply go direct to Dust Studio?
"Same here..."

One would be forgiven for thinking a man in your position would be able to talk directly to the top man in Battlefront. Is that not the case?
William Yau, Dust Studio CEO,  is talking to Mr. John Paul Brisigotti BF CEO, with the intervention of a third party, but no progress is made.
BF are trying to force us to manufacture the KS freebies for free.
This is not in our agreement. Out of good will we offered 10% discount they demanded 50%. We think that`s out of question. If there is no share of profits you cannot suddenly expect sharing the losses right? Why not just lift the phone and chat to the CEO and say 'alright mate, where's my money for the work done?' Been there for months.

You are on the ground so to speak talking directly to fans on the forums daily, what harm do you feel has been done to the Dust brand by this situation?
Well, we all see that the brand is damaged when it`s compared to the disappeared AT43, at the same time we also see that the community of Dust Players is opening their eyes and reacting positively in support of Dust Studio. 

What is it you see needs to happen now?
Well, Battlefront can say that they are sorry, issue a P.O., pay Dust Studio and deliver the goods. :) 

Do you feel the working relationship with Battlefront is salvageable in the light of events?
There is no business relationship here. Business is based on $$, friendship on Feelings, right? 

You have as we mentioned earlier began a campaign with your avatar and banner. What else can you fan base and the pledge makers do to assist in the resolution of this matter?
l think that the backers are already active, l would like those few who post offensive words addressed to Battlefront to stop. Being impolite is useless.

Worst case scenario, Paolo, what happens if this funding has somehow been misallocated?
l truly hope this is not the case, l think that this would be a great mess for Battlefront. 

Let's assume BF are reading this is there anything you would like to say to them specifically?
Just act with due diligence, nothing else is acceptable. Neither the Backers or Dust Studio deserve being fooled around. 

Well, there you go. Paolo's side.

We have sent an email to Battlefront to see if they wish to give their side of the story. As yet we have had no reply.

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