tl;dr: Sascha absconded, leaving debts behind.
At about Christmas time 2017 I was contacted by a colleague who has just started working with Sascha Srdoch, to help them with a project which was aimed to be crowd-funded by an ICO. My original review of the ICO white paper, which recommended quite a lot of possible improvements, including to the business and economic models of the game, was not accepted (well, a few typo corrections were accepted, to be precise), and attempts to advise Sascha to hire a better team to rewrite the white paper were unsuccessful because of "lack of funds." In retrospect, this should have been an obvious red flag.
A few days later I was contacted by Sascha to participate in another way: by writing the game backend, the server-side component which needs to coordinate the activities of the players, offer them tasks (riddles), track where everything is in the game world. I accepted it, because it's pretty much the type of project I regularly do. And I'd say that that part was done pretty much ok; there were delays in data entry (locations in the world), some minor bugs, a bit more of miscommunication, but even though the deadline to do it was short - about 6 weeks - it was feature-complete and robust enough to power the pre-ICO alpha/demo, and then some.
However, the mobile app development was, well, insanely bad. Again because of lack of funds, in addition to the under-staffed local app developers, some cheaper developers were found in India, which have overstated their competences. And I think that such choice of developers is kind of a huge red flag, because the app is what the players see, their experience of the game. They will never directly see what's on the server side (except for critical bugs and outages) but they will interact with the app - hopefully - on a daily basis. Front-end is where you don't want to cheap-out. And yes, sadly, there were the usual miscommunications between the local app dev team and the Indian one, each blaming the other for bugs, which was only emphasized by the remote team not wanting to use Git for the Unity app code. WTF, right?
[Edit: After talking to them some more, as a reaction to this post, I'd like to say that the Indian team were not as bad as I've originally described them, they were for the most part severely overwhelmed and were a bad match for the requirements of this project. In better-managed circumstances, it is likely they would have delivered an ok alpha version -- though after the hypothetically successful ICO, a team with more experience would have certainly needed to rewrite most of the app code.]
I've brought in some of my friends and colleagues to participate in the back-end side of the project - sorry once more, guys - and when we were introduced to the Indian developers, the number of WTF's per minute escalated pretty much astronomically. And not only for the code - it became painfully obvious that project management was, let's say, not one of Sascha's strong sides.
As the ICO deadline approached (which was set pretty much in advance, before most of us were attached to the project, and when we advised it was too optimistic, were ignored), it became painfully obvious that even the basic features will not work as advertised. When even a second Indian team couldn't port the Unity app to iOS (the original was done for Android), we realised that the project lost pretty much half of its audience.
The ICO came and passed and we are all grateful for even the limited success it had, which was almost 600 Ether collected. The original goal for the ICO (soft cap) was set by Sascha a long time ago (effectively $5m), and it was soon clear it was set too high, and was effectively unreachable.
All of this is kind of par for the course - it's a risky business - and if it had all finished at that point, by parting ways appropriately and wishing each-other luck on other projects, that would have been fine. But then came the worst parts of this whole engagement. Soon after the ICO, Sascha has literally disappeared without a trace.
We had a brief contact one day when he sent us a photo from a hospital bed - but nothing actually meaningful was said. During all that time, he was regularly active in the Telegram group, pretty much holding the line that everything is fine. On the other hand, he has de-registered his cell phone number ("the number you are calling is not in use"), ignored us on WhatsApp, Facebook, e-mail, whatever else we were using to communicate, and for a time it looked like maybe even his Telegram account was used by someone else. However, that was not the case.
I was persistent and finally got a message from Sascha effectively saying the project has failed, there was no money left, and that we should wait. Which wasn't much but was at least something, and for me, it would have been acceptable. However, soon after that I got another message from him saying that the project was doomed from the start because the major private investor (M.U.) has withdrawn pretty early, that he has gone into debt in order to realise the project even in the state it was, and that because of that, he has absolutely no wish to fulfil his obligations to us -- "talk to the investor, it's his problem." That's some nasty attitude there.
I wish to note that the nature of our business together was contractual - we were not partners or stakeholders, but hired per-project to do a narrow part of it. It was not a "we'll pay you if it succeeds" kind of deal.
Since then, he's deactivated his e-mail and deleted his social media accounts, so there's no way that I know of to contact him. Since our part was done and we're are no longer active in the project, such as it is at this point, if anyone from the extended team who has access to the web site reads this, I hereby ask that my name and the names of my colleagues are removed from the active teams' roster.
So with Sascha's thoroughly unprofessional attitude after the ICO, and heavily suboptimal project management before and during it, it seems like there's a cautionary story here to tell.
There were two aspects of Sascha that I admired: that he really did put his heart and soul into the PR parts of the project, and apparently, has carried it out with his own money, literally boostrapped the whole project himself (if the tale with the investor was true). He appears to have actually done almost all of the communication on social media, forums, chats, by himself (though sometimes through other user accounts). If a project could succeed on PR and enthusiasm for screen time alone, this one would have been a success. I believe he had good intentions.
I like some of the ideas of this project: using a game to attract people into the world of cryptocurrencies (though, mind you, it seems like it was conceived at the very peak of the cryptocurrency bubble at the end of 2017, when it looked like everything is going to the Moon), and the edu-excercise parts of it, where people would get to know their towns better. I have no doubt that some variation of these ideas will be successful.
As for the CryptoHunt game - luckily, ICO refunds are handled by the smart contract code automatically, with or without Sascha - so at least there isn't much direct financial damage to the investors. The servers were shut down some time ago, because recurring bills were unpaid, so unless something changes, the game is currently unplayable. I feel bad for everyone who had great hopes for the project, including the members of the team, and can only hope that we've all learned something from it.
Edit: I'm asked a lot: what could have been done differently? The project was strangled for cash, but that's normal, almost every new project is. Maybe the bootstrap funds could have been allocated better to get quality Unity developers instead of quality YouTube exposure, time management could have been better, of course. The soft-cap for the ICO could have been much much lower. At the end, it's never just one thing. OTOH, Cryptohunt is still a good idea. It deserves a better incarnation.