KICKSTART OR KICK ROCKS: Ouch. Hackerne.ws exploded this week with angry reports from the backers of Code Hero, which raised $170K from 7,459 backers last February through a Kickstarter campaign to develop its program aimed at helping kids to learn to program. At the time of the campaign, founder Alex Peake pledged to finish his work in six months' time. But when backers heard little from him in the autumn, grumbling began. In mid November, one backer wrote on the Kickstarter campaign:
7 days ago I sent a Alex a formal message, requesting EITHER an explanation of the delays and a roadmap for delivery, or a full refund. I did not receive any response. It's tragic that he is allowing so much animosity so build up - I don't see any way now that he and Primer will be able to salvage their reputation. Maybe if they had taken action a few weeks ago and dug themselves out.
The complaints snowballed, with a little help from social media, into a mediafest, sending Peake into damage control. He put out a statement stressing that "Code Hero is not dead and we will not let our supporters and Kickstarter backers down."
EdSurge caught up with Peake on a Google Hangout he started on Wednesday evening. He said he planned to release a version of the code on Thursday, even though it wasn't ready. "We'll put out something to show people what's the latest version." He's revised his calendar and now believes a beta of the game that could be used as a teaching tool in the classroom should be ready by March. Finishing a version that students can use on their own will take longer.
"We don't have enough money to pay for full time work but we have four developers who are working as volunteers," Peake says, including himself. (He's getting enough to pay rent). "It doesn't mean we'll ever give up. That's not even remotely an
option. It's going to get done. It just goes slowly sometimes."
Peake concedes he should have been more open in communicating with his backers. (Here's his email for future reference.) We'll look forward to hearing more detailed updates from him in the weeks ahead. And if you want to hang with Peake in person, drop by San Francisco's Noisebridge hacker space.