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Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 01:12 PM #1
Hydra (Lvl 25)
Have you heard about the "Pathfinder Online Technology Demo" Kickstarter?
Due to the increasing volume of news about Kickstarter projects, I usually put them on their own site, RPG Kickstarters. This particular project, though, I'm giving a little extra love.
Pathfinder Online was announced in November 2011. Goblinworks, the company behind the game, was founded by Paizo co-owner Lisa Stevens (Pathfinder RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade, Magic: The Gathering), game industry veteran Ryan S. Dancey (Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition, EVE Online), and experienced MMO developer Mark Kalmes (Microsoft, Cryptic Studios, CCP).
The company is now running a Kickstarter project to create a "technology demo", which will then be used to attract investors. It aims to raise $50,000 (at the time of posting this, it had already passed $30,000).
This Kickstarter will fund the Technology Demo of the Pathfinder Online Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. The Technology Demo will be fully playable, integrating account management, character creation, a virtual world server, multiple simultaneously connected clients, middleware used for rendering landscapes and characters, basic game mechanics, and player communications. The demo will only support a few simultaneous users exploring a couple of small locations, so the general public won't be able to play it, but we will produce a short video of the demo that everyone will be able to experience, and a special longer video exclusively for backers of this Kickstarter.
Your support of the Technology Demo will help us raise awareness of Pathfinder Online and will show potential investors what the game is really about. Funding this demo will also signal to potential partners that Pathfinder Online has an audience that's large enough and dedicated enough to allow the long-term success of the MMO. Nothing speaks louder than a ton of people putting up money to show their support of a new concept—that’s the genius element of Kickstarter!
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Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 02:01 PM #2
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 04:55 PM #3
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
There is a fair amount of bashing on Twitter for a Kickstarter that just creates an investor demo. Thinking about it, though, I am really ok with this. I think it is very open with what it is, and I think fans are making as good or better a decision on this Kickstarter as on any other (a lot of times fans are basically funding to see what they want - see the Car Wars support level for SJG's Ogre Kickstarter).
To me, the biggest news is these two bits:
First, as a fan of his work (and because I'm not big on MMOs), the big news is Rich Baker working for Paizo. This should be received as great news by everyone. It is the best of what can happen when someone leaves a company - they cross-pollinate another RPG. Rich Brings a wealth of experience about D&D into this Pathfinder effort. This is a nice side area where he can work without worry of breaking any WotC NDAs, while adding value through his incredible experience in setting, story, and adventure design. Great stuff (and on his blog he had expressed interest in perhaps transitioning to video game work). For WotC fans, this is actually the best way he could return to WotC some day, as it removes any issues that might have existed previously (since he is so well regarded within WotC, the reason may have been cost/fit/ability to rise upwards, etc. and not something that would prevent his rehiring).
The other interesting bit (especially if you like MMOs, or if you worry about the drain on Paizo itself) is that they needed to do this. It may signal that initial discussions weren't doing the things mentioned in the kickstarter: raising investor capital, securing talent, securing technical partners. That's not a huge worry, but it suggests the risk needed mitigation and the vehicle to do so is this Kickstarter. Clearly this will fund, and clearly it is also a clever way to get the word out. But, there is that possibility that the initial attempts weren't working.
So, now we will have a working video demo. It will be interesting to see if that demo reaches its goal of attracting investors/talent/partners and whether further Kickstarters are employed. Could Kickstarter cover all aspects of an MMO, such as we saw with Shadowrun? "Today's Kickstarter is for the Pirate and Gunslinger... if you want us to build them..."
Again, I'm largely ok with that, though I don't want to see companies overextend, especially for paper RPGs. Kickstarter is awesome, but many of my friends who were early Kickstarter fans are starting to realize they haven't just been spending the cash for the month... they've pretty much spent more on Kickstarter than they want to spend all of this year... and they are dialing back. There are only so many "for $30-100 you get a T-Shirt to say you backed it" Kickstarters a person can support.
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 05:02 PM #4
Defender (Lvl 8)
Wonder if my wife would kill me for a 5k pledge
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 05:41 PM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
They are asking people to eat their entrepreneurial risk of failure.
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 06:10 PM #6
Also not a fan of the model they are using, as if Kickstarter has become THE new marketing tool. To be honest, there are far more interesting projects on Kickstarter that actually deliver a product for the consumer and not a tech demo for potential investors...
Now if they were using Kickstarter to actually fund the Pathfinder MMO, that would be different. As much as I like Paizo and what they are doing with Pathfinder, this doesn't feel kosher, if you know what I mean...
Not to mention that the rewards are enormously crappy compared to what some of the recent popular Kickstarter projects have offered. Projects like Ogre, Zombicide, Shadowrun Returns, etc.
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I will not accept that.
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 06:13 PM #7
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 07:13 PM #8
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Pathfinder MMO, and are willing to pay for the technology demo, and you like the rewards, you pay. Yes, this is like paying twice for a game, maybe far more than that. And you might not get anything that really means anything if it falls apart. But, that should be clear.
I suspect we can find a lot of people willing to do this, at least for the short term, for a number of RPG projects. I'm not sure it has legs for a long term strategy (for example, Paizo using Kickstarter always to fund each RPG print book's creation - but you only fund the creation and still have to buy the product).
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 08:17 PM #9
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
I actually thought this was a cool idea at first. Kickstarter is really becoming "the" place to fund new game development. Then I saw the kickstarter goal.
That's where I jumped off. If you read the announcement, one thing they mention is they didn't want to fund development "month to month" because they wanted to gather in "top flight talent", and to do that they need to be solid and long term stability.
I understand that this is just a tech demo, but... ugh.
This is an MMO. This is a vast-complex-HUGE undertaking to get right. It's a large multi-talent project that requires a large team with different skill sets to come on board.
$50K is not even the yearly salary of ONE just out of college developer. Hell, it's honestly barely the cost of hardware for the development environment. $50K is a DROP IN THE BUCKET of what this is going to take. Even for a tech demo.
If they already have the talent, equipment, and spec to accomplish the tech demo, $50K isn't really putting a dent into it. If they don't have that foundation to start development, $50K isn't going to get them there.
To me, it seems like this is a really low kickstarter goal where they expect the overwhelming out pouring support of the community to skyrocket them past the goal. They look at the million, to two million projects out there and go "oooh, us too".
Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but this really seems like it's just a marketing thing to get the name out with the potential to blow up and inject cash to the project. It's not actually helping to "kickstart" the project with such a low goal. The laughably low goal is just there so that they easily make it (they already have), they do the tech demo with the resources and funds already in place, and they drum up interested and excitement for the project.
Which really isn't what kickstarter is supposed to be used for.
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 08:21 PM #10
My concern lies in the execution. Every time WotC has tried to branch into some digital medium it has ended up hurting the core product line. Maybe it consumes all their time, maybe it siphons off money, or maybe it gives investors decision making authority that hurts the brand. Regardless, I just have fingers crossed that Paizo has set everything up to make sure their core products will have everything they need to keep chugging along whether or not the MMO takes off.