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Osiyo, folx! In today’s update I have good news and…well, not bad news but…I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, the good news.

  • We have a newsletter sign up! Now you can get important Coyote and Crow news, including Kickstarter updates, straight to your inbox. Click on the Newsletter link at the top right or on the right side bar.
  • I’m still chatting with various First Nations folks from outside of the gaming community on how they can contribute to Coyote and Crow in a meaningful way. Some good talks with some amazing potential!
  • The band A Tribe Called Red has allowed us use to one of their songs for our upcoming Kickstarter video. I’m really thankful and humbled.
  • We had an amazing play test of Coyote and Crow with a group of all Native players. A good time was had and they hit me with honest, constructive feedback. I’m so grateful to them.

Now on to the other news. I want to be clear that I’m writing this because I feel like it’s important for folks to know about the tough parts of this game development along with all of the triumphs and happy times. Quite frankly, this is heartbreaking for me to put down here. I also need to be clear that I am absolutely not calling anyone out here. This is not about me slamming anyone.

I’ve had to let my current cover artist go. That makes three cover artists I’ve had to let go under unpleasant circumstances and it is just heartbreaking. I’m also out so much money at this point that it has, for the moment, damaged the project.

It’s important that I fully explain the situation. When I started Coyote and Crow, I had the explicit goal of hiring only First Nations artists for the project. Finding First Nations artists who are A) qualified, B) available, C) within my budget, and D) interested in the project, is an extremely small subset of folks.

But, almost nine months after I started looking, I found one last November. We planned to have the cover and some other art finished by the end of January this year and I paid a deposit. That date came and went. The artist explained there were delays. We agreed on a March timeline. That came and went.

I decided to go with a different First Nations artist. I paid a deposit and agreed upon a timeline. That date came and went. I explained to the artist that I needed either a) art by the end of April or B) an explicit timeline. The artist didn’t reply or meet the timeline. When I expressed that I was cancelling my contract, the artist became angry and belligerent and told me that they would be keeping their deposit for the work they did.

Going into May, now down two deposits, I became despondent. I decided to step out of Native circles and approach another artist. I thought, well, if I find another First Nations artist to do the cover later, I can replace this art with the new one and still use the other art in a different capacity. In the meantime, I’ll still have a cover piece I can move forward with. I paid them a deposit and we agreed on an end of June timeline.

At the end of June, the artist had produced nothing. When I called them on it, they claimed family troubles. I asked if they could produce a final piece by mid-July as I had certain marketing opportunities coming up that would be much more impactful if had my cover art secured. They claimed that it would be no problem to accommodate that.

When I still hadn’t received an initial piece by the 8th, I inquired with the artist and they explained that they’d had hardware issues and had no progress to report. After further discussion, I terminated the contract and asked for a return of my deposit. The artist says they will return the money, but that it may be some time.

I don’t know if I’m unlucky or I’ve got ‘sucker’ written on my back. Maybe I’m being too easy going. Whatever the situation, I won’t be returning to this format of hiring for artists. I’ve spent $1250 on deposits for a cover and I have exactly nothing to show for it. I’m not a wealthy person. I have a 20 year old car with no stereo. $1250 out of my savings is brutal. These artists have literally hobbled me and I have little recourse other than to continue to ask politely for my money back.

If you’ve read this far, I don’t want you to think that I’m giving up or that this is going to kill Coyote and Crow. It’s not. I’m more determined than ever and the amount of positive feedback and enthusiasm I’ve received from Natives and gamers has been life giving! I’m working on re-approaching the art for the game with some fresh ideas.

I also need to point out that I’ve worked with some great folks on this project -artists and otherwise, Native and otherwise- who have been nothing but supportive, professional and sincere. This is specifically related to cover art.

Again, the reason I feel the need to share this is not for pity. I’m doing this because, especially with a project as audacious as this, I feel like it benefits everyone to understand the obstacles and challenges along the way.

My goal is the same – to have a book full of imaginative, forward thinking First Nations artists and writers from across the country. It will happen. Stiyu, Connor

Coyote And Crow News ||