Have you heard about the "Pathfinder Online Technology Demo" Kickstarter?

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  1. #1
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    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!

  2. #2
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    We had better hurry!

    More info on this and Goblinworks can be found at Paizo.com.
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  3. #3
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    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.

  4. #4
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    Wonder if my wife would kill me for a 5k pledge

  5. #5
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    They are asking people to eat their entrepreneurial risk of failure.

  6. #6
    The Laughing One

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    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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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxboy View Post
    They are asking people to eat their entrepreneurial risk of failure.
    Curse them! Trying to minimise their risks! It's Un-American! Someone call Ayn Rand! :-P

  8. #8
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    Yeah, this seems a bit of a dodgy kickstarter project.

  9. #9
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    It's pretty straightforward guys; if you think the project is dodgy, don't fund it. Given the history of the company, there is no reasonable chance that you're being maliciously scammed.

  10. #10
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    I am agreeing with Dannager.

    Kickstarter really is all about the free marketplace of ideas. I think that reservations about what the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter is 'really' doing are perfectly fine...and the appropriate response for people who have doubts is not to fund.

    I totally understand why someone would scratch their heads and ask, "What am I really getting for this?" And why they might decide 'Not enough.' And decide not to pay in.

    The whole crowd-sourced funding thing is still pretty new, at this scale at least. There's gonna be bumps...people will try to spin it this way and that, and see what works. So if you see something you're not sure of, or don't like, don't fund it. Let the market speak.

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