Keystone Indie: Jane Whittaker and false promises to deliver

Following on from the last article with regards to Keystone Games and the fraudulent going on behind the scenes we move on to the Indie Development side of the company.

A lot of development companies do offer the ability to publish games to their label, its nothing new and helps to increase revenue whilst they are developing their own games. Anyone seeing the false background that Whittaker had made for himself over the years would obviously jump at the chance to use such a prominent person to publish their games, but if only 1% of that background has been true!

When I was brought in to Keystone Games they already had 2 Indie Developers on their books promising to publish their games (PeaHead Games and Robert Anderson) both hoping that their dreams would eventually become a reality as someone had eventually taken them seriously enough to publish their games. At the same time Whittaker was hunting out other developers to sign on the dotted line so that Keystone Games would make even more money. If only people had known the truth behind the bullshit that Whittaker had come up with about himself then, things may not have been so bad.

The only game that Keystone Games actually published under their banner (or at least Whittaker claimed credit for) Was Rogue Islands, developed by Big Fat Alien. Rogue Islands came to light in the Keystone group chats a month or so after I had joined and the idea was that Whittaker and his team would help to complete the nearly finished game and publish it on behalf of the Canadian husband and wife team.

Rogue Islands
I think this sums up Jane Whittaker quite well

As soon as Whittaker got his greedy hands on the game he rushed to get it released; the idea of funding coming in was too great to resist for the money grabbing idiot. The problem with this was that the game hadn’t quite been completed and was released extremely broken. The only thing that had been implemented into the game by Whittaker was a ‘health orb’ which was broken and never got patched. He had promised Big Fat Alien that he would help add more content to the game which he never did and in fact ‘nerfed’ the entire game. Yet despite the lack of actual help from Whittaker and his ‘team’, he still claimed full honours on Steam that he helped to create Rogue Islands (something which he certainly didn’t do). He was always happy to take full credit for something he had little to no involvement in, but the second anything went wrong he ran.

Unfortunately Big Fat Alien were under contract and it took them the best part of 2 years to get the rights to their own game back from Keystone Games, but by this point the damage was done to the reputation of the game. The response was hostile on forums and Whittaker lied to people on there on behalf of Keystone Games, but also lied to Jasmine Ritchie with regards to what was happening with the game. It got to the point where Whittaker stopped answering any problems on Steam and passed this on to someone else to deal with as he obviously didn’t know how to answer or correct any issues with the game itself as we all know now that his coding is terrible to say the least.. Any coding that he did for Alien Vs Predator damaged the game so much that another team was brought in to fix the damage caused.

“Working with Keystone was the absolute worst decision for our game. I view Jane as a despicable liar and a coward. As soon as it was apparent that he was lying about what he was up to regarding Rogue Islands he stopped answering my messages. I argued and argued with them about responding to the false claims they were making on our Steam forums. Jane could not even answer to these people himself and his colleague had to step in for him. I am embarrassed that we ever trusted them to handle our game. As soon as the contract was ended we reverted Rogue Islands to how it was before they took control. Unfortunately the damage to the reputation of the game has not been easy to undo”

Quote: Jasmine Ritchie, Big Fat Alien

As soon as Big Fat Alien managed to get the game code back from Keystone Games they pulled everything which had been implemented and reverted the game back to how it was before Whittaker got his incapable hands on it.

As a team, Kiaran and Jasmine Ritchie themselves certainly know what they’re doing as far as game development is concerned. Kiaran himself has proven experience working with Bioware on Mass Effect 2 and Anthem, Lucasfilm working on Star Wars: Clone Wars movie and TV, building software tools for Capcom AAA game development just to name a few.

Jasmine Ritchie has spent her time over the last 10 years trying to make Big Fat Alien a success as an artist as well as the company owner. With the background the two people have, they could have made Rogue Islands a bigger success by releasing the game themselves, but as I mentioned above, the lure of Whittaker’s fake background was just too much to ignore for anyone wanting to release a game.

My main issue with the false background that Whittaker did create over the last few years lies solely with the Media. Why didn’t any of them do a background check on his claims before going to press to promote him? 80% of our finds about Whittaker have come from the internet and searches, yet press outlets took him at his word and were happy to print his lies. Personally, as soon as anyone contacts me trying to have an article published about themselves I will take to the internet to do a background search to see if anything they claim is actually true. Any article that has been published about Whittaker was all from his own mouth; not one outlet actually contacted him seeking an interview, it was always him reaching out to them. There’s a reason that before Keystone Games it was nearly impossible to find anything online about either Andrew or Jane Whittaker, they didn’t exist, especially to the mass extent Whittaker claimed.

I thank Jasmine for reaching out to me and giving me a quote to use with regards to their personal involvement with Whittaker. I do hope that lasting damage hasn’t been done to this game due to his incompetence as the game does promise so much.

EDIT: After sending this article over to Jasmine after publishing, she did reply with a little more detail and would like to share this; it touches on lies that Whittaker would use to sell himself, something he has done over and over for the last few years..

My biggest issue with Keystone/Jane was his constant lying. To us and to the Steam community. He posted often about how they had a full dev team working on the game, adding “enormous new features and updates”. Of course behind the scenes I was being told the same and he kept promising to consult me on features and changes. I believe all this lying by Jane ended up affecting the sales. People could see the “devs” promising big changes and nothing ever coming of it.  


I want to clarify our backstory and how we got involved with them in the first place. Kiaran and I worked on Rogue Islands on and off over the course of four years. In the spring of 2017 our funding fell through and we were desperately trying to get Rogue Islands in a state where we could sell it. During our early access period we were contacted by Denis Murphy, who used to work for them. We had no more money to continue development on our own so we ended up making a deal where Keystone would continue development. Jane greatly overstated his abilities and the work they did before the official launch was broken and we were never consulted on the changes. 
At the start of the contract with Keystone we handed them the code base so they could continue development. Because our funding had fallen through Kiaran took a job in a new city and we sold our house, bought a new one, and moved with our three kids in tow. It was an incredible stressful period in our lives. Our hope was that Keystone would take the game we made and help to reach a large audience and support feature development and big fixes. Instead we slowly realized that they were unable to contribute anything meaningful. It was quite hard for us to be let out of the contract. Keystone insisted that they had poured so much money into development that they needed to regain their investment before we could go our separate ways. Eventually Keystone did let us walk away, I believe that they were also realizing how much Jane had lied about his abilities. Everyone I used to have contact with at Keystone has disappeared. I requested for months after our contract ended for them to take down our artwork from their website and Twitter. I was always ignored. After the contract officially ended we reverted all the changes that Keystone made.

Quote: Jasmine Ritchie, Big Fat Alien

Keystone didn’t pour that much money (if any) into the development of Rogue Islands. How could they with a development team of just 4 people? But of course, Whittaker always insisted that it was a team of 40 if anyone asked. I guess that extra zero kept getting pressed by accident when he was spouting his bull to anyone he thought he could make money from!


Next we move to PeaHead Games, someone I am sure regular readers of AIR Entertainment are aware of, creator of Neon Sword.

Japes, the power and mind behind Neon Sword was already working with Keystone Games when I joined the team.

I met Jane after Denis contacted me on twitter, I’d only just started posting the first few screenshots to Neon Sword. After speaking for short while I mentioned being from Hull. It was at this point that Jane came in to the chat saying he was also from Hull. He started talking about fate and how it was meant to be, he sent over an article about Atari CEOs coming to his house in Hull when he was just 14. I was pretty amazed that my game Neon Sword had been noticed by such a prominent Game Developer. We arranged a Skype call later that night, In the call Jane asked me what I needed help with I said nothing but Audio really, and he told me how keystone was a triple A company and had a large team of over 40 developers including world class sound designers that would help me with the sounds I needed, [Editor’s note: We know there was only ever a team of about 4 people if he was lucky working on any development] he also told me he had first hand contact with the top youtubers and streamers.

He then started trying to sell keystone games to me “We have a special agreement with Unity, Microsoft, Steam, Sony and Nintendo meaning we don’t have to pay any royalties to them, meaning you get a bigger cut and almost all our percentage goes to charity, and how he had a big PR team that would help with trailers so on.”

Jane spoke a bit about his “career” as a game developer and his time working at Bullfrog with Peter Molyneux working on Syndicate another cyberpunk game, Denis at the time asked him what Molyneux was like, Jane laughed and was like “Yeah don’t ask”. I mentioned Populous the beginning which Jane mentioned working on and I’d spent years playing it, I mentioned the sound the shaman makes Jane didn’t seem to know what I meant which hit me as odd but hey it had been 20something years since it’s release, I guess it’s easy to forget.

After the Skype call Jane tried adding me on Facebook I accepted I had and not long after received another message about downloading Hipchat, I did and I logged in where there was just me another Indie and one developer, I had been assigned a private chat room, in this private room I’d asked Jane where the rest of the developers were. His reply was that they hadn’t all downloaded Hipchat yet which, okay, maybe this was a new thing just for the publishing.

Not long after I’d asked about a steam page in which I was told it would be created for me; this was March – May 2017, which I was happy with the excuses he gave at the time. I had started posting screenshots early on in Neon Sword’s development as I wanted to have people see the game from start to finish.

Jane was always name dropping in skype, and one that stand out the most was when we were discussing favourite films. I had said that I’m a big fan of The Matrix and BladeRunner, Jane then said about being able to get Harrison Ford or Keanu Reeves to do VO as a narrator as he knew them from his time working at MGM! I took it with a pinch of salt and decided to start digging into his life after that. I found a lot of inconsistencies, such as the games he had worked on and so on, I kept it to myself and carried on developing my game.

I decided to ask Andi )owner of AIR Entertainment) to be my narrator figuring Jane was just bloating a career to boost his sales. Jane from then seemed to be pissed off with me, constantly being short and not replying for weeks (bear in mind we had to run every screenshot we posted through him), so I was going weeks on end without posting. This meant that I had gone from posting weekly updates to anyone following the development to not even monthly at this point.

Not long after that Rogue islands developers joint Keystone, and Jane took over development, he rushed it to full release and I sat and watched the steam forums and every stream I could find, not one big youtuber was streaming and Jane said he had these people in his pocket,

Quote: Japes from PeaHead Games

So, even in this early stage of Keystone Games, Whittaker was bullshitting to everyone about his non-existent time at MGM and easily being able to get the likes of Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford on board. I personally was told by Whittaker that Harrison Ford had signed a contract to provide some VO (voice over) on Homicide Detective, yet Whittaker could never produce a signed contract as proof when I asked to see it. Then, I was also told that half of the Harry Potter cast were also voicing the game as well as Sir Kenneth Branagh hearing my VO and being extremely excited to meet me in person and work with me, of course, it never happened, and none of the names he ever dropped appeared in the Keystone Game group chat. Someone had set up a fake email address of Warwick Davis on the chat, but of course, that account was never once online in the whole time that I was part of Keystone Games. Its actually surprising considering they claimed that he was on board as a company director. If I had been in that position I would have wanted to know exactly what was happening at least once a week.

Also please note that Japes had the sense way back then to start to dig into Whittaker’s background, something that not one Media company did at the time. Of course, he found very little to support any of the claims that Whittaker made, the only things that did ever pop up was his fetish for little girls socks and maybe one random article about AvP. It was only since the birth of Keystone Games that any false history was generated by Whittaker himself to try and back up claims he made. 2 articles (which have since been removed by the publishers) were his goto articles all the time and were shared frequently, yet those publishers have confirmed that they suspected bullshit from the start, but admitted not looking into most claims at the time. It was only since we started to dig deeper and find a lot of the fraudulent claims he used that they removed the articles due to physical evidence he didn’t do anything that he ever claimed.

The main issue with Whittaker is that when he was challenged by Japes with regards to his false claims and due to this he wanted to remove his game from the hands of Keystone and go solo once again, Whittaker then did his usual trick and start to try to turn his name in to dirt as well as lie through his teeth.

Jane is great at twisting people’s words to suit his own defence and outright lying to others. Mike is a part of our investigative team and has apologised to Japes confirming that at the time he had no choice but to believe Whittaker as there was no way of contacting Japes to find out his side of the story. Also, whenever there were group chats or group Skype calls (he even did the same on a phone call to me) and was asked anything he was uncomfortable with and didnt have an immediate response, his wife was always needing assistance, yet he had been on a skype call for over 2 hours and never once felt the need to check in on her during that time, it was always when he couldn’t answer a simple coding question or avoid questioning about payment. He did the same to me when I started to question all the supposed Hollywood stars that he claimed were working on Homicide Detective; the excuse came and he hung the phone up hardly giving me time to thank him for his time talking to me and to say goodbye.

Whittaker is great at promising so much yet delivering absolutely nothing. I remember whilst in the chat group Japes continually asking for a key to be able to develop using Unity Pro, something that takes less than 5 minutes for any professional development team. After 6 months of continually asking and being fobbed off with excuses by Whittaker he eventually produced one. I guess the development of that game as it wasn’t near completion took a back seat as there was money to be made elsewhere at first.

I am sure that he has a direct HipChat set up with another Indie team that he is planning on conning at the moment, Bad Panda Studios. I personally tried to point out his fraudulent claims when Andrew Rosa published his first Whittaker interview and one of the Bad Panda team immediately rushed to Whittaker’s defence. No matter how many quotations I used as well as proof delivered, he refused to believe a word that was being said. In some instances his responses really did sound like Whittaker directly coaching him as it was worded as Whittaker would type. He is great at running to HipChat and telling people that whatever is being said about him is wrong, but he will never publicly try to defend himself. He was happy enough to take all the glory initially on the comments of that YouTube video posting his usual fake articles yet as soon as he was challenged fell quiet and started to demand/beg Rosa to remove any negative comments made.


Next, I move on to a developer who was approached by Keystone Games at the time to publish his game, but luckily he did his own research as well as asking for proof of a marketing plan for the release of the game as well as financial statements, something which should be pretty standard from any developer being approached by a publisher but was refused any of it. The person in question did personally reach out to me about his experience with Keystone Indie but has asked for his name to be kept from the quotes as his game has been now fully released.

Let me recount the events.

 
A guy called Denis Murphy from Keystone (he was the game relations/procurement manager or something like that) reached out to me sometime in mid to late 2017 over our game ******** VR, which was already gaining good traction in the VR community.
He wanted to see if we would be interested in representation through Keystone. 
I got introduced to Jane W who gave me the same rah rah about how Keystone stood for charity, how they are financed by Microsoft, how he’s good friends with Bill Gates, how he donates money he earns from his games to the little girl with no limbs, how he hires the disabled, how they are working on this ‘great’ game called Homicidal Detective, how he created and worked on classics like Populous, AVP, etc.
He also sent me that infamous weird picture of his ‘fused’ legs in socks and told me the story of the Siamese twin. [EDITOR: Please see this article and image of a girls sock] I didn’t know quite how to make of it but I gave him the benefit of the doubt, given that it was such an incredulous story. 
He asked me about my country – Singapore. Trying to build a cordial relationship, I offered to send him some foodstuff from Singapore. That was when he gave me his address.
Personally I was more interested in getting on in talking shop. Eventually he got the message and introduced his partner – Richard Chapman – to discuss working together.
Richard was introduced as a very successful and prominent lawyer he claimed worked for MNCs and had ‘tons’ of experience working in the games industry.
Having run creative businesses for 20 years now, I wasn’t an easy sell and asked many questions.
Right off the bat, I asked them for their publishing agreement and marketing plan. He sent them and I must say they were quite professional except for some issues I will mention below.
*Publishing agreement – One thing odd that struck me about the publishing agreement was a clause that said they could transfer the publishing agreement to another company if they needed/wanted to. It was a red flag as usually, in such case, the publishing agreement should end automatically. It is clear now that Jane had intended to transfer the agreements he signed to his new company – Blue Socks.
*Marketing plan – The marketing plan was vague and did not contain projections, which should be the basis for discussing monetary advances, which they of course declined to provide despite ********’s proven market traction.
Finally I asked for the following – their financial commitment toward the game and an official bank statement to prove that they would have the money to carry out the marketing they promised.
Once I did that Richard Chapman shut down the conversation – saying that it was apparent I did not trust them.
Jane then reached out to me privately to apologize and said that he would like to continue to be ‘friends’ and all that BS.
Since then, we didn’t talk much.
Along the way, I saw spectacular failures of games that were published under Keystone, and thanked my lucky stars that I was so careful.
And then I saw your articles and videos.

So, Richard Chapman shut down the conversation as soon as they were asked for financial statements. Well, I wouldn’t trust a new publishing/development company either that has no track record anywhere in the industry, but even established companies provide the financial statements as well as a Marketing Plan so the developer has a chance to see if that plan is good enough for his/her product, not just take someone on their word, and as we all know now, Whittaker’s word counts for absolutely zero.

It’s also not the only story of a company being approached by Keystone Games, the developers of Nippon Marathon which was published by PQube Games in the end had also been approached by Keystone Indie. They had reached out to PeaHead Games to get his feedback on his experiences with the team and they decided to decline to invitation.

Throughout all of this, there are some very obvious similarities. Whittaker cannot code any better than I can (and I admit I can’t code at all), but is a master of bullshit pushing responses and developers further behind than they ever were.

As long as there was the promise of immediate money, Whittaker was more than happy to push a game out for release and let anything else fall into the background, so all his focus was on Rogue Islands at the time. Even Homicide Detective was forgotten about for a short spell and you would have thought that as a development company, the onus would be on their own title, not an Indie title that Whittaker destroyed when he got his useless hands on it.

Any and all of the Indie Developers that were ever involved with Keystone Indie were just dropped without warning when Whittaker moved everyone over to Blue Sock Studios with money from Keystone, yet Keystone Games is still a registered company but in no way trading. I’m waiting for Whittaker to eventually go back to trying resurrect the company at some point as he is in the process now (since my first article exposing him) of removing most of his internet footprint. Blue Sock Studios website has been removed and transferred to Jane Whittaker .com which seems to be his base to publish all the fake documentation and photographs that he has collected over the years. Keystone Games has (this week) now gone into site maintenance rather than shut down the site completely, again after my first article exposing them for the monetary fraud.

Whittaker has either blocked my personal accounts or deleted his own accounts across social media since all of this news has come out which everyone is obviously viewing as an admission of guilt. Surely, if his claims within the industry were true he would be fighting them and proving anything falsely published like he tried to do once in an interview that he had published. I don’t remember the exact title, but it was with regards to how he was a ‘victim’ of attacks due to his name being Jane Rachel Whittaker (even though he was born with the name Andrew John Whittaker and no mention of a conjoined twin either for the record) and how he was ordered by Atari to change his name to Andrew. Just how screwed in the head this guy is I’m not sure, and I don’t think I really want to know either, however there is so much more that we have found which we will bring to light at a later date here.

We would still love to hear from anyone who has had dealings with Whittaker in any way, shape or form. Please feel free to email the team.

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