Tag Archives: Shadowbane

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!



Shadowbane Lore

So, I’ve been terrible with keeping this site up to date or even getting it into working order initially. Due to some of the fun I’ve been having participating in the Crowfall community, though, it’s forced me to start adding some of the old Shadowbane stuff I have. Which is why you will see a Shadowbane Vault in my main navigation. Right now it just has some of the music and lore but there is still a ton to add.

So if you’re a fan of some great lore, I’d definitely recommend checking it out: Shadowbane Vault.

The Death of Ashen Temper

For those of you just tuning it, today it was announced that I have left Stray Bullet Games, LLC. Also, if you’re into Shadowbane lore or even just a good story, Sam aka Meridian published the first part of the Death of Ashen Temper.

Today has been very surreal so far. Many of the people at Stray Bullet Games I’ve known for years and years and they are so much more than co-workers but all also my friends. Shadowbane itself has been in my life for over eight years and its funny to think back of when I was playing Ultima Online (Pacific Shard) and Everquest (Rallos Zek) and heard of this crazy game called Carnage.net that morphed into Shadowbane. I was so intrigued by the game that I helped moderate the unofficial Shadowbane Forums on Stratics and then later ran the Shadowbane Vault on the IGN Network. Since then, I’ve been the Community Manager, Event Team Lead, and even headed up design on this immense labor of love. I have shed a lot of sweat, tears, and blood over this game. Granted, I’ll still be playing the game, much more openly even, but it won’t be the same.

Monday will start a new chapter in my life. But before moving ahead, I want to take a moment to thank the people who have helped me get here. First and foremost would actually have to be Todd “Warden” Coleman who, for some crazy reason, took in a U.S. Marine and let him (aka me) run the community for the Shadowbane. Also Frank “Kellion” Lucero, Mike “Ramsie” Madden, and Damion “Ubiq” Schubert for seeing the potential within me and taking a chance at directing the future of Shadowbane. There are a a plethora of people I’d love to thank that I’ve met over the years. Chris “Vosx” Mancil, Danielle “Sachant” Vanderlip, Brian “Xanther” Lucas, Jeff “Ashton Kai” Tony, and soooo many others. And of course, if I don’t mention Morigor, she might actually “PK me IRL”. I could easily turn this post into a CD cover (y’know, the music ones that people use to buy back in the day where the artists would thank EVERYONE). But I won’t. I will say that there isn’t a single person I have had the pleasure of working with that I haven’t taken something away from.

Where am I going? I’m not really at liberty to say quite yet. I will say that I am remaining in the Austin area, though. I love this city and not much will tear me away from it in the near future.

Why? Let me clear up any rumors before they start; I am a firm supporter and believer of not only Stray Bullet Games but also the product they are creating. It is a fantastic company and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hold no ill will whatsoever and, truth be told, everyone there I consider a good friend. No, this is about me and my growth in the profession I have chosen.

I was presented with a fantastic opportunity that would take my career to the next level. The easy road would be for me to stay at Stray Bullet Games but I’m not the kind of person who takes the easy road; I’m the kind that will take a challenge if it will help me grow.

I truly wish the best to everyone at Stray Bullet Games; not that they need it. They are not only a company with a wealth of knowledge, talent, and skill but also are also thinking of games as they should be done… They want to make games that are fun to play, first and foremost. Some would say that is obvious but I would disagree.

Well, its time for this to go live; the announcements are about to go up. And maybe its because I’m biased, but if you haven’t read Meridian’s post on the “Death of Ashen Temper“, you really should.

Shadowbane Virtual Gathering [Update]

This weekend we are having the virtual Fan Gathering for Shadowbane in the online world know as Second Life. If you missed the first announcement, I’d recommend reading it before reading this any further. Things have come a long way since that original announcement, mostly thanks to Sachant; she’s been hard at work making sure everything is thought of.

When will it be? Saturday, May 13th at 10pm Central (8pm Pacific and 11pm Eastern). I wish I had realized earlier that this is just after E3… I will actually be returning to Texas on Saturday but should be back well in time for the gathering. While originally we were going to have the gathering at DarkMoon, it has moved to Oblivion’s Roost in Inferno (LOC 37,115,24). This area is actually owned by Anshe Chung who is not only a well-known person in Second Life but also part of the original Shadowbane Community in the guild Braialla’s Presence (BP is now known as Blood Pact and adventures in the lands of Azeroth).

Snarl, the Nation Leader for Den of Wolves, has also been a huge help in getting this together. Just yesterday, he gave us a few things to borrow to make the gathering more festive… dance floors, lights, etc. It all looks great!

So far, the Shadowbane Group has 50 individuals in it. If you are planning on attending the fan gathering, I highly recommend downloading and installing Second Life as soon as possible so you can get a handle on the mechanics (its not that hard) and get yourself joined into the Shadowbane Group.

Once in-game, simply use the “Find” function and under “People” find AshenTemper Senior or Sachant Basiat and send us an instant message (IM) asking to join the group (or just post a reply on here with your name and I’ll add you next time I see it). The “Group” works somewhat like a guild and has its own chat channel so that you can converse with others to get hints, tips, etc. We’ll set you up with a few things such as good teleport locations (called Landmarks), some (virtual) Shadowbane T-shirts, and help you out as much as you can.

If you have any questions or comments, this is the place to do it!

God May Forgive Your Sins

As the philosopher (and scientist) Alfred Korzybski would say; “God may forgive your sins, but your nervous system won’t.“ Before you read too far, no, this is not really related to game mechanics or systems or anything of that sort. In fact, the only relation this little “blahg” post has to games is that it refers to me searching for a job in the game industry. So if you’re not interested in reading something personal about me, I’d stop here.

Some of you already know, late last month Wolfpack was given the notice that its doors would be shutting and, since then, I have been looking for a job. Well, over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing with some really great companies which sort of surprised me. I won’t lie, I am unsure of my standing in the game development circles. I know I’m a “known” in Shadowbane; hard not to know me since I write the articles on the Chronicle of Strife and annoy people in-game with my announcement pop-ups.

Outside of our community, though, I figure I’m more of an unknown. Sure I do a few interviews here and there and I use to be a regular on the old Lum the Mad forums so a lot of the “old skool” is familiar with me. And I have this, my little place in cyberspace that some people check out. But outside of that, I doubt too many people have heard of “Ashen Temper”.

So, the news hits the web’zines about Ubisoft closing Wolfpack and then I put up my post on here about it — and I start getting contacted by a wide variety of people from different companies. This surprised me a bit and actually made me feel pretty good. I won’t lie; it’s nice to have all the things you have done recognized by your peers. Since that initial announcement, I’ve been through quite a few interviews; mostly phone but a few in-person interviews too. What does that have to do with the quote by Alfred Korzybski? Yes, I know, none of you were actually thinking that but I figured I’d bring it back on track, heh.

I’ve worked in game development for a decent amount of time. I’ve done Community Management as a developer for about six years (or will be on June 1st) and I’ve done it from the “fan” side of things for many years prior to that as a Site Manager on various sites such as Stratics, Vault Network, and XRGaming. I’m quite comfortable in talking to people (one of the prerequisites of the job) and rarely do I get nervous about such things. I can’t think of a single interview lately that I’ve actually been nervous about yet.

But then on Wednesday, I received a call from a company that would like to do a follow-up interview in-person. I was really excited at first because this is a great company; it not only has a great history in gaming but a very bright future. In fact, when things were unsure at Wolfpack some time ago (shortly before Ubisoft acquired us and we were unsure if the studio would survive), I interviewed for this position and didn’t make the final cut.

That was some years ago, and I believe I have not only gained more experience in Community Management and game development since then, but I have a lot more street credit. I’m one of the few Community Managers who’s been through all stages of development and launch of an MMO; initial design, alpha, beta, launch, and expansions. I’ve not only seen it all, I’ve experienced it all. And while some people may say “That was only on Shadowbane“, I think they fail to see the fact that actually strengthens my position. I’ve been through the hard times where a game is having technical issues. I’ve worked with probably one of the most hardcore communities in the MMO industry. I have the scars and bruises and I wear them with pride.

Reading all of that, you might think me confident; even over-confident. Don’t let the words fool you. I do realize I have some very good selling points but, at the same time, I don’t actually have that big of an ego and I know there is some great competition out there. So, I’m actually really nervous about this interview. This is one of the few companies I would actually considering moving out of Austin (Texas) to be a part of.

To make matters worse, and speaking of competition, I do know one of the people I’m competing again. My very own assistant in the Shadowbane Community (although, truth be told, she is more of an equal); little miss Mistress of Souls herself. Granted, she is the student and I am the teacher and many companies will take someone more seasoned; but Sachant is a phenomenal Community Manager. This woman could easily become one of the best Community Managers out there if just given the chance to shine and show what she’s truly capable of.

So, that does make me a little more nervous. Of course, there are other things pricking the nerves but I have to admit that I am quite surprised at how nervous I am about this. At the end of the day, they either give me an offer or they do not. The only thing I can do is put my best foot forward and show them what I bring to the table. At least that is what I keep on trying to tell myself. Like I said, I’ve been through quite a few interviews already; which I am very grateful for since being given such opportunities to even be considered to work at these great companies. This is the first one that is actually making me nervous.

That’s all. No interesting game developments or anything cool or interesting for me to talk about. Just venting a bit to relieve some of the nervousness. And if you don’t hear from me for a few days, now you’ll know why, heh.

Shadowbane Virtual Fan Gathering

Some time ago, the Shadowbane Community Team was working on the prospect of having a fan gathering around the same time as the Austin Game Conference. Due to the fact that Wolfpack Studios will be closing on May 15th, 2006, this will no longer occur. With less than a month until that date becomes a reality, it would be near impossible to coordinate and publicize such an event, much less work on a zero budget for it.

Of course, we would like to have kind of final farewell to all of our players. We are contemplating doing something in-game but Sachant came up with the crazy, yet fantastic idea of doing a little get together in another virtual world with a game called Second Life. Second Life is a privately owned, subscription based (although you can have a free account with limitations; I’ve been playing on the free account for a month and having some fun) massively-multiplayer online real-life game. Second Life gives its users tools to add to and edit its world and participate in its economy. The majority of the content in the Second Life world is resident-created. It is basically an interactive chat room crossed with Sims and can be highly addictive.

Why in Second Life? Well, we want to do something more like a fanfest or gathering and not have everyone crammed into Sea Dog’s Rest. In Second Life, we can play music, hang around and talk with people, and just be somewhat our normal selves (at least normal for some of us, heh). And, I must point out, it’s for free (unless you upgrade to a premium account). We have already made some Play 2 Crush and Shadowbane T-Shirts (also the mysterious Meridian Throne of Oblivion shirt). It will basically be a social gathering and our target date is May 13th since some of us will be out on Friday night and Sunday we hope to do things in Shadowbane.

If you are interested, check out and download Second Life here [link removed]. If you sign up, feel (more than) free to refer either myself (ashen at ashentemper.com – fixed to repel nasty spiders!) or Sachant (Sachant at gmail.com – fixed to repel nasty spiders!). If you’re into making your own art and animations, Second Life might be right up your alley.

If you are interested or want to know more, feel free to post a reply to this thread. Also, make sure to check out my crazy question of the week here [link removed] (sorry, only registered users can access this).