One of the more controversial developers I’ve run across is AJ Tilley. Up until last year I had given his work a cursory look and little else. However, Tilley’s repeated use of Kickstarter to fund every idea he could think of drew enough ire from fans and other developers I had to try and get a look into his head. You can see the results of that here and it remains one of the most intriguing interviews I’ve ever done because I was sure then, and am sure now, AJ Tilley fully believes he is going about all of this in the right way. Take this portion of an answer on Kickstarter for example,
I personally love Kickstarter. I have funded the creation of four games, two 8inch figurine productions and a 240 page graphic novel. I have more things in mind and like that Kickstarter is expanding. My biggest love of the crowdfunding platform is simply because it allows for great community interactions through surveys, messaging, comments and updates. It is easy to get every supporter the latest news and allows for a greater deal of transparency of development which I think is lacking in most development of AAA titles.
Now, I don’t agree with Tilley’s methods and I am constantly dumbfounded that his campaigns for game development have been so successful with little to actually show for it. Regardless, since we last spoke to him AJ Tilley has raised £84,443 on Kickstarter to fund the development of a visual novel or merchandise for a visual novel. That is roughly $130,918. As far as visual novels go, the only group that has had more success with multiple campaigns on Kickstarter is Sekai Project and he has the dubious recognition of being the third most successful EVN developer on Kickstarter right behind HamletMachine and Fred Gallagher of MegaTokyo fame.
His execution of that understanding, though, has proven to be messy at best. To date he has four Kickstarted projects in development simultaneously. The first visual novel to be released under his banner, Sword of Asumi, was a train wreck and you can read my review of it for the evidence. And these issues are starting to catch up with him, as was shown today when Cliqist reported that Tilley had gone back to the Kickstarter well for more cash. Shortly after that report, the campaign came down. But it shows that even as he is neck deep in development Hell, he won’t stop bringing his ideas to Kickstarter.
AJ Tilley has earned his reputation. And yet, as the Cliqist article shows, I have to do a much better job keeping track of folks like Tilley. Even if he hasn’t done anything wrong per se, the information needs to be collected and kept public for anyone interested in funding his work. So, I’ve started something of a dossier on AJ Tilley to keep track of his campaigns. And while it still needs to be cleaned up, for all of those who have wanted more information about him, this will serve as good first step. For now, this profile only covers visual novel campaigns and campaigns for merchandise tied to a VN. I’ve also included cancelled campaigns for both because it shows to me a pattern of behavior. Just because he pulls a campaign once doesn’t mean it won’t be back.
- Known Kickstarter Profiles: AJ Tilley.com, Face2Palm, KiritoKun
- Total Funds Raised Through Kickstarter: $130,918
- Kickstarted Project Released: Sword of Asumi, 8” Asumi Figurine, Swords of Edo Graphic Novel, Beach Bounce
- Kickstarted Projects In Development: Divine Slice of Life, Starlight Drifter, Echo Tokyo
- Websites: AJTilley.com
Campaigns and Their Results
- Echo Tokyo Game & Figurine (4th Kickstarter): Cancelled
- Echo Tokyo (3rd Kickstater): £8,676
- Divine Slice of Life: £6,691
- Beach Bounce: £7,391
- Sword of Asumi Figurine: £6,030
- The Sword of Asumi (4th Kickstarter): £3,097
- Swords of Edo (2nd Kickstarter): £12,220
- Swords of Edo Volume 1 and Visual Novel (1st Kickstarter): £10,033
- AJ Tilley(.com)
- Shizume the Flame Detective (Echo Tokyo 5th Kickstarter): Cancelled
- Shmup Love Bloom: £1,103
- The Second Sword of Asumi: Cancelled
- Echo Tokyo (2nd Kickstarter): £14,938
- Echo Tokyo (1st Kickstarter): Cancelled
- Starlight Drifter: £13,211
- Swords of Edo (3rd Kickstarter): £1,103