If you've been here for a little while now, you'll know that Dischan Media put out two very good games before falling apart. What we're going to do today is a quick rundown of what exactly happened to the company, something I've been promising to do for awhile now but haven't gotten around to.
To recap, Dischan Media is the company behind two finished visual novels, the stand-alone Juniper's Knot and Dysfunctional Systems, which was part one of five in the planned series. The company had something going for itself, a unique atmospheric look and the ability to tell a good story. After the success of Juniper's Knot the group moved onto Dysfunctional Systems, but while Juniper's Knot was all done in-house the new project was far bigger than the last, and as such required more money. Dischan did what anyone in Indie gaming looking for money does, they went to Kickstarter.
Now I love Kickstarter, when I used to write for Cliqist I developed a new appreciation for it as a place for gamers and those who want to make games but lack the resources of companies like Activision and Bethesda could go, a place where you decide which games you want to see made instead of sitting around for those companies to just hand you something you might not want. Now a lot of people making a Kickstarter run into the problem of not having an established name or fanbase to help carry them, but Dischan didn't have that problem and raised around $50,000 for Dysfunctional Systems.
However on January 2nd of 2015 a surprise announcement popped up on the Kickstarter page after a string of semi-regular, yet positive, updates. Development of the Dysfunctional Systems series had been halted, and refunds were being issued to those who pledged over $5 if you asked for one. What befell Dischan Media is ultimately the same beast that sees many Kickstarter projects fall short. The Kickstarter funds were badly handled, people who were brought onto the team to finish the game were not needed, there were serious miscommunication issues for months and the final nail in the coffin was that people just started to lose interest in what they were doing after it stopped being fun, and started being hard.
Now fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, and while no one wants to be told 'hey I lost it all and you probably won't see most of it' a lot of fans were willing to let it slide. More so with the announcement of Dysfunctional Systems Episode Zero, a prequel of sorts that was done and ready to be released. It wouldn't be the same as episode two would be, but it was something and the fans were grateful and that helped ease some of the disappointment. Until the excuses came out. If there's one thing that'll turn a crowd against you, it is telling them that their money was spent on nothing. Episode Zero was not released because the developer felt that it was just average. At the end, what I think played a big role into Dischan's very public collapse is that gap between the fans and the developer.
But all is not lost. Announced on April 3rd of this year (although I just found out about it today), Dischan is back in action. Their website states that we fans shouldn't 'expect to see anything out of us (Dischan) soon though. We're going to be taking our sweet time making self-funded stuff worth making.' Note the last sentence of that. There's even a new project in the works, a game engine called Dismae, although I don't know much about it. It's an open source project, so emphasis on the transparency.
To be honest, I don't know what the future holds for Dischan. Maybe they'll reach the heights they used to command, maybe not. Maybe this is all one desperate attempt to revive the good old days, driven more by nostalgia than anything else but I have my hopes that they're back for good. I'll update this article as I learn more but this seems like a good note to leave things on.