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Q: What is Crowdforging?
A: Crowdforging is a commitment from Goblinworks to the Pathfinder community to engage directly, continuously, and meaningfully on all aspects of the Pathfinder Online project.
Some examples of this will include ways for the community to vote on matters involving the direction, scope and pacing of development, systems to provide feedback on the design as it progresses, two-way communication between the community and the developers to ensure transparency, player councils who will represent the whole community and be consulted on a wide variety of matters both involving the design and the development of the community itself, and regular, formal communication to the community from Goblinworks that will track the progress of the game and identify places where community input is desired.
Unlike a lot of traditional game designs that are delivered nearly feature-complete and where feedback from players is limited to bug hunting and mechanical balancing, Pathfinder Online will have a much more community-driven development process. Many game features will be developed and implemented based on prioritization choices made by the community and they will be added to the game through a process of continuous iteration during Beta - the Crowdforgers who are Early Enrollees will be involved not only in playing the game but in shaping its very nature.
Even after Release this process will continue and the community will remain fully engaged with the development team as we shift from building basic systems towards adding additional content and making refinements and improvements to the game.
Q: How exactly does this Early Enrollment work? When do I get to start playing?
A: Early Enrollment is our way to seed players into our Beta testing of the Pathfinder Online MMO. Because we wish to test our systems by slowly growing our player population, we will be regulating the number of new players that will be able to enter the game for the first nine months. These players will be the Early Enrollment ones.In this Kickstarter, we will be filling up these available slots on a month by month basis based on how soon a backer has made a pledge to any of the three Crowdforger levels. The Crowdforger Pioneer pledge level has 2,000 slots per month available for Early Enrollment. The first 2,000 Crowdforger Pioneer backers will get an invite into the first month of the Early Enrollment Beta period. Then the next 2,000 will be invited in month two. The third 2,000 in month three and so on, until we have all 18,000 slots filled. The same goes for the 500 slots for the Crowdforger Buddy level and the 200 slots for the Crowdforger Guild level.
We will continually update our main text to reflect which month current backers will fall into. If someone who pledged earlier cancels their pledge or their payment fails at the end of the Kickstarter campaign, we will move everybody up one slot and you may actually get into an earlier month during Early Enrollment.
Crowdforging & Phases I - III:
The Beta period is not about bug fixing. We expect the game to be stable, not bug free. There will be bugs to fix in any MMO for as long as the game operates.
What we don't expect to do is any server wipes after we begin the Beta. We also don't expect to have operational problems where the load on the servers exceeds their capacity. That's part of our core strategy of working from a small start and growing in a controlled manner.
// Commentary: Receiving early feedback on players via Analytics AND player responses to unscripted scenarios I think is an excellent step by Goblin Works - though the description of "paid beta" is open to debate/discussion! For comparison on the importance of live feedback to the developers: Video: Guild Wars 2's programming tricks revealed