Category Archives: Kickstarter

I backed Crowfall… but have you?


TL;DR – In case you do not want to read my excessively long ramble, go check out the Crowfall Kickstarter.

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If you’re reading this shortly after I published it, there is less than 24 hours left in the Kickstarter Campaign for the upcoming MMO entitled Crowfall by ArtCraft Entertainment. They have, by far, exceeded the initial goal of $800,000 and may potentially double that by the time it ends so there are no concerns about them not having the funding. But I’m probably getting ahead of myself…. you may be wondering what Crowfall even is.

There is of course a description on the official site that you can read but my quick take on Crowfall is that it is an MMO that is blending MOBA and RTS experiences with the persistence of a traditional MMO. You have your character who lives in the “Eternal Kingdoms” which don’t go away (MMO) but you have these other worlds that are like a mix of a RTS and a MOBA which are not permanent but like an extended campaign or raid. If you play League of Legends, for example, your “Summoner” is your main character while the match you’re playing is more like the campaign. Sorta. The RTS side of things comes in more with the world building and sieging. You know what, instead of me failing at describing the game, I’d recommend checking out their overview video for the Kickstarter:

Now that I have that out of the way, back to my point. So I backed Crowfall. I did it early on (within the first few days) at the Bronze Patron level but after a few weeks, increased that to the Amber Patron level. If you look on my Kickstarter account, you’ll see I don’t back much and, when I do, I generally back it around the price of what I’d pay for the game at retail. Basically I keep my investment where I show support of the game but wouldn’t really lose more than I would if I bought a game at the store, played it, and realized I didn’t like it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I can be a little jaded and grumpy. I’ve sat on both sides of the fence as a gamer and a game developer and it’d be fair to say I have become a casual MMO’er. I haven’t really found one that has caught my attention long-term in the same way the Ultima Online, or Everquest, or Shadowbane did. Not to say I haven’t played a ton of them, but usually it is a few months here and there and then I drop out for a while or permanently. But there is something about Crowfall that is making the fanboi in me get a little sunshine which is why I increased my backing.

I will point out I’m biased. I’ve worked with some of the developers at ArtCraft on other projects. Gordon I just worked with while at BioWare for Star Wars: The Old Republic (and yes, I still italicize that… hard habit to break!) and Todd actually is the one who gave me my break into the game industry at Wolfpack Studios on Shadowbane almost 15 years ago (where does the time go?!).

For me, Crowfall goes a bit deeper than just wanting to support my friends and colleagues, though. You can see more than a little bit of influence of Shadowbane in Crowfall and I spent 8 years of my life on that game. Actually more if you count the time I built a guild (The Fallen) for it and worked on a fan site (anyone remember SBVault) before getting the job offer. I loved the concept of Shadowbane and wanted to see it become a reality so I have a lot of blood, sweat, and tears wrapped up in that.


But Crowfall isn’t Shadowbane nor is it Shadowbane 2. It is Crowfall. And as a game by itself, I think it has a lot to offer both MMO players and the industry. I’ve become bored with a lot of MMOs because most of them are very themepark oriented and, the truth of the matter is, I’d rather play an RPG with multiplayer and some friends than a themepark MMO. When it comes to an MMO, I want something where I can leave my mark on the world. Where my actions have influenced it and when I come onto someone’s radar, it is generally a “whew, thank goodness” or “crap, it’s that damn Ashen Temper”. Y’know, like Cheers. But with swords and sorcery. And fighting. For me, it is all about the social dynamics and I want an MMO that supports that.

I would love for the industry to learn that making a cookie cutter of the “king of MMOs” isn’t necessary and that competitive player-vs-player combat (for a reason) in an open world can be successful when done right. Currently, the only MMO that truly shows that is Eve Online although there are various graves of MMOs that tried and didn’t have the longevity for one reason or another. And I know at least back when I was assisting with game design pitches, investors and publishers were wary of PvP games… they wanted a WoW-killer. In my opinion, you don’t have to be a WoW-killer to be successful.

So why am I writing this long post (and thank you for anyone who actually made it this far… we all know I can ramble)? Crowfall has made its initial goal and many stretch goals. The stretch goal I really wanted they have already met (the Caravan system) although I will admit, it would be nice to get another rule-set (the Infected) and the Tournament system. But I’m here hoping to bring some last minute visibility to those of you who may not have been keeping up with the game or you haven’t even heard of it and it is something up your alley that you’d like to see succeed. And, let’s be frank, making an MMO is not cheap. So while they have met their goals, it’s not like the support won’t help in multiple ways.

Do I have concerns? Of course I do. I already said I’m jaded and grumpy. I listen to a few podcasts about the game and when they get a little overly fanboi, I do cringe a bit (shout-out to Crowns And Crows and Gold And Glory). But I also know Todd and Gordon and other members of the team and I give them more than the benefit of the doubt. And I’m biased. Someday when my daughter is off to college and I can be more frivolous with my money, I want to get back into game design. And my dream has always been to create an MMO where player actions matter. So having more than one MMO out there that proves they can be successful is great because it gives me something to play and shows it can be done when done right.

So my long ramble made short is this — go check out Crowfall and if it looks like something you’d buy, go ahead and back it. The $36 or $40 backings are actually great because they are cheaper than the base game ($50). And since they have already met the 13K Backer stretch goal, you’ll get a free month of VIP Membership which, going by industry standards now is about $15. So for $36, you are getting a $65 value. And that doesn’t count the extra land parcels for those of you who like city building (the 14.5 Backer stretch goal). And if you’re someone who likes to help out in testing, the $100 backing gets you into Alpha 3 where your efforts and voice may hold more weight. Anyways, check it out!


The Camelot Unchained Kickstarter

About a month ago, the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter launched. You can read the Kickstarter page or the official website if you’re unfamiliar with it but here’s the not-so-quick blurb:

City State Entertainment, led by online game pioneer and Mythic Entertainment founder Mark Jacobs and code guru and CSE co-founder Andrew Meggs, needs your support to make the next great Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) for the PC and select tablets (stretch goal dependent). As one of the very early online gaming developers (circa mid-1980s) and the creative driver behind Dark Age of Camelot®, Mark has seen online games grow from an unloved, mostly ignored part of the industry to a major driving force. He believes the time is right once again for a small, barely known studio to craft a title that can compete in today’s market, just as in 1999 when Mythic Entertainment began work on Dark Age of Camelot.

Camelot Unchained takes one part classic legends, adds a twisty little apocalyptic passage, and mixes in a whole batch of creativity to birth not just another “me and my WoW-clone”, but a unique RvR-focused MMORPG. It is against the backdrop of an almost unrecognizable world that our game unfolds, and as a player of Camelot Unchained, you can expect the following:

  • Camelot Unchained is a subscription-based, RvR-focused MMORPG. RvR is an acronym for Realm vs. Realm® (this term is a registered trademark of Electronic Arts), which we call TriRealm™ for the interaction of the three main realms.
  • The game will feature RvR-based leveling tracks for all classes. No PROGRESSION VIA PvE (player vs. environment), loot drops or other such systems are currently planned. All leveling will come from engaging in the game’s RvR-based systems, whether by fighting other players, capturing objectives, and/or crafting objects to help in RvR. There will be NPCs but you cannot use them to level your character.
  • You will have the choice of playing any realm on each of the game’s servers except that you may play only characters from the same realm on any single server. In other words, one server = one realm.

Considering my background in MMO gaming and the fact that I enjoyed Dark Ages of Camelot (DAoC) and would of played more of it if I wasn’t so invested in Shadowbane, this one became a no-brainer for me. I started to follow the updates and figured I’d help fund it before the last day came along.

The other day, I got a Google Alert for a mention of Shadowbane on VG24/7 which was for the article “Camelot Unchained: surviving the freemium apocalypse” where a nice nod was given to Shadowbane (hey, for all its faults, it was hella fun!):

“It’s really a question of looking at Camelot, looking at other RvR games – whether it’s Guild Wars 2 or Shadowbane – and other games that have come out across the last 20 years of MMOs and go, ‘OK, what things are in these games that frankly, we don’t want to see in our game? What things can we improve on and what do we want to expand on, given a pure RvR setting?’

It was more so a nice article to remind me that I hadn’t backed it yet. So I went over to it and, I have to admit, I was quite surprised when I saw they didn’t make their goal yet. By T-1 I figured they would be well into stretch goals, especially considering the fact that they had so many backers within the first 24 hours. In fact, within the first 8 hours, they passed the $500,000 mark!

I’m obviously interested in the gameplay and a fan of the genre (being MMO) but it wasn’t just that which made me think they’d be past the set goal by now. First, Dark Ages of Camelot was very successful and much loved so figured they’d get a lot from that. Mark Jacobs isn’t necessarily an unknown in the industry (much the opposite). They did a great job of getting that groundswell well before the Kickstarter even launched. Piquing people’s interests with teaser videos, letting out little snippets here and there, basically just getting a good amount of buzz before it even started. And the goal itself wasn’t lofty. Two million to make an MMO isn’t really that much when you think of how much goes into it and when they originally launched, I wondered why they set it so low (considering all of the above).

But here we are, 21 hours before the Kickstarter concludes and it is only at $1,883,318. Is it still doable? Definitely. A good surge of backers can easily get them over the next $117,000 or so they need to fund it.

My question to everyone, though, is why isn’t it as successful (at least as I thought it would be)? And my interest isn’t just in this but also in games getting crowd-sources (especially MMOs). If you didn’t back (and happen to be one who would back a Kickstarter), why not? Didn’t know about the Kickstarter in the first place? Not a fan of the concept? Tired of MMOs? Too many dragons?

Update: And look at that; 19 hours to go and they already passed their goal with $2,023,462 pledged!