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[Column] General: The Golden Age Redux

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,607MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

With Richard Garriott's big announcement today of his new RPG in development and with the successful funding of the PlaneScape RPG, it appears the RPG is on the rise. We've got some thoughts to share about this most recent development. Read on!

If I were to make an MMO in 2013 it would be titled “The Age of Kickstarter”. For decades our culture never really thought in terms of crowd funding for entertainment. Entertainment in any form has always been issued to us by a music executive, a film producer, or a game publisher. Now there are exceptions; independents that battled their way to the top and made it, but these stories are few and far between. So here we are in 2013 and instead of flying cars, we have the ability to invest in our own entertainment. For MMORPGs, I definitely think the genre has turned a major corner, especially with the announcement today by Lord British about Shroud of the Avatar. It’s another in a long line of luminaries from the early days of the MMO coming back to make a new game, a new world, and they couldn’t be coming soon enough.

Read more of Garrett Fuller's The Golden Age Redux.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • ScorpionOneScorpionOne Mechanicville, NYPosts: 190Member Uncommon
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

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  • RaventreeRaventree Yourtown, MNPosts: 456Member

    I like the idea of Kickstarter getting some niche products developed without the big name publishers that people hate *cough* EA *cough* dictating how fast they will do it and what corners they will have to cut.  The closest thing to DAoC 2 that is out there is being delivered by Kickstarter, so that can't be a bad thing.  On the other hand, I wonder how many little companies that can't actually deliver these games will come to Kickstarter and get funding just because they have a good idea and demo and either fail to deliver or just keeping coming back to the trough again and again.

    Currently playing:
    Rift
    Played:
    SWToR, Aion,EQ, Dark Age of Camelot
    World of Warcraft, AoC

  • bliss14bliss14 eleva, WIPosts: 565Member
    Where the *&^# is my jetpack?
  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member

    These 3 are worth a look. Love the more direct communication/interaction with the devs and at least these guys genuinely are interested in what the players can say and come up with from pricing to design and so forth. :)

    "Oh, sugar, you just gone and done the dumbest thing" did not see this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portalarium/shroud-of-the-avatar-forsaken-virtues-0

  • jakinjakin somewhere, ONPosts: 243Member Common

    I'm sometimes surprised by the amount of venom the "suits" get from the gaming public.  Don't mistake that as whole-hearted support for the big businesses involved in game publishing, but if only for sake of balanced arguments, consider the role that "suits" play.

     

    How many games only saw the light of day because some guy with his eye on the money told his bright-eyed designer that the game "has to ship now".  Yeah - it might have released buggy or unfinished, but at least it released.

     

    Could Vanguard have used a couple more people with a firm hand on Brad making sure he hit milestones?  Probably.  What about Garriot's complete re-imagining of Tabula Rasa in the 9th or 10th hour?

     

    Designers are idealists and all about big-picture ideas.  Sometimes they need backing by people who aren't drinking the Kool-aid and have their eyes on the mundane things like money and timelines.

  • ketzerei84ketzerei84 Boston, MAPosts: 67Member Common
    Originally posted by ScorpionOne
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

    TR remains my favorite MMO to this day. However, Mr. Garriot's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist to those working on a TR emulator. Which puts him in the same class as Apple imo - greedy, proprietary bastages...

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  • birdycephonbirdycephon Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 1,314Member
    There is something about kickstarter that makes me feel ill. Maybe its just the ammount of risk involved. I mean, whats stopper ng people from just collecting the money and running off with it?
  • TalmienTalmien Hopewell, NJPosts: 78Member

    Only time will tell if kickstarter is really going to work out for games. So far I haven't seen a completed game thats been funded through kickstarter, maybe I'm just not informed well enough. There seems to be an awful lot of money being thrown at some of the developers, and I'm worried its all going to go to waste.

     

    Or as someone said they'll just keep coming back to the trough. We've already seen some games start second or maybe third rounds of funding through kickstarter, which to me seems to be go completely against what kickstarter is. You get funding once, and then make good on those promises.

     
  • KanethKaneth Posts: 1,925Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by adrikthorsen
    Originally posted by ScorpionOne
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

    TR remains my favorite MMO to this day. However, Mr. Garriot's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist to those working on a TR emulator. Which puts him in the same class as Apple imo - greedy, proprietary bastages...

    He's protecting his IP, which is never a bad thing in my opinion. It also could mean that he has plans to do something with it at a later time.

    More on topic:

    The idea of Kickstarter or crowdfunding games is interesting, but will it really allow as much creative freedom as we are hoping? Perhaps it will allow for too much creative freedom. Many ideas are great in theory, but fail miserably in practise. How are we, the gaming public, to determine what is ultimately a bad idea or a great idea? These companies can decide what to show us and when, so it's going to be a huge risk to put money towards games. Moreover, if you look at what some of the bonuses for the different levels of donations net you, some folks will be tempted to toss hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a gamble. Of course, it's their money.

    Could this be the time where the MMO world changes? Could the next couple of years bring us as much change to the genre as 2004 did with WoW? Will one of the notable personalities in the gaming world, like Garriot or Jacobs, bring us the next big thing in gaming, funded by the gamers?

    Myself and many others have said over the years that it would most likely be a smaller indie company who brings us the next great idea in gaming. We may be closer to the next big thing.

  • WightyWighty Westbury, NYPosts: 664Member Uncommon

    The gaming industry certainly goes through cycles... This is not different than any media outlet as mentioned regarding film and music... Kickstarter is basically doing for independent and "first growth" (wine reference) game developers what You Tube did for music and film artists... It took the corporate red tape out and let the fans elevate those who shined, and also trashed those who didn't make the cut... This also watered down things making finding gems like looking for a needle in a haystack. We are seeing this with some respect in Kickstarter.

     

    The MMO industry hit such a stalemate in recent years where a successful MMO went from 100k -500k subs to chasing that WOW 8-10Million subs that WOW created... AAA MMO's develop games trying to capture this "holy grail" audience by investing huge into production value that never mattered in the past such as voice acting and over produced cinematics that try to lure players in like a movie trailer would... But these games are content DEAD... they are all front loaded with story and cinema that makes MMO's feel more like single player games.

     

    The kickstarter revolution which was lead by Brian Fargo (Wateland 2) and his team on the Single player side that lit a fire under many of these "first growth" developers who at this point in their career don't want to be told by people 1/2 their age in the "modern gaming era" what sells anymore... Hell many of these games came out before some if not most people were even born! The Kickstarter movement allows these developers to put their ass on the table and let their long term fans contribute to games made in the devlopers original vision... In many cases they are hugely successful as a result, exceeding KS goals and in some cases even stretch goals...

     

    Richard Garriot as much as I respect his earlier works was one of the first to sell out (to the EA monster) he today is like the George Lucas of gaming... You compare his deeply passionate and complex earlier works like any Ultima prior to Ultima 5 to his recent Portalarium crap it is clear he is only in it now to pay for some more rocket fuel... I can  not be sure todays Richard Garriot can produce such a quality experience that was so apparent in say Ultima 4... What I expect now is some Jar Jar Binks hack of a game using "Shroud of the Avatar" (Ultima franchise is now in the EA wheelhouse) to maybe beat Richard Branson to Mars as his passions have clearly shifted...

     

    Garriot at one point (IIRC) touted how "facebook gaming" was the future... except Mark Pincus (Zynga) beat him to it.

     

    I really do not know what to make of this new project but I hope my scepticism is wrong...

     

    P.S. I'm drunk...

    What are your other Hobbies?

    Gaming is Dirt Cheap compared to this...

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXPosts: 1,415Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by adrikthorsen
    Originally posted by ScorpionOne
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

    TR remains my favorite MMO to this day. However, Mr. Garriot's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist to those working on a TR emulator. Which puts him in the same class as Apple imo - greedy, proprietary bastages...

    Are you sure that wasn't NCSoft?   And Tabula Rasa was a hybrid of Garriott and NCSoft design, having been redone just a few times less than Duken Nukem Forever.

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXPosts: 1,415Member Uncommon
    The general sucking up to the big names in the field gets funny sometimes.  You'd think especially that as journalists interested in gaming arena, some folks might drill down for more informed opinons than  'His name was on the box, he's a GEEENIUS!'

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • black_isleblack_isle IstanbulPosts: 239Member Uncommon

    Seen this comment made on kotaku about Garriott's game;

     

    "a million dollar kickstarter from a man who lives in a castle, has been to space, and made the lowest tier reward a tribute to himself. eh, no thanks."

     

    Million times this.

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Pittsville, VAPosts: 5,211Member Uncommon
    Developers abandon the comfort of big money backers to avoid their tyranny. Why would you believe they'll listen to a peanut gallery when making their indy projects? Kickstarters owe donors nothing more than a good faith attempt. I forsee a lot of really bent egos when developers start making what they want to make, good or bad, not what the crowdsourcing public demands. We may get some really good games out of it and some really epic failures.

    "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ScorpionOne
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

    Well stated.  I very much enjoyed aspects of Tabula Rasa.  The base offense/defense against the Bane in particular.  UO was one of my first online games, and I enjoyed it, until the Goonie types rampaged out of control.

    Tabula Rasa could have been SO much more, if it hadn't become a political foot ball between the upper level suits at NCsoft, and RG.  But truth be known, much of his focus was on his trip to space, so I fault him as well.

    This video gives some sense of some of the fun that many of us had.  Its too bad things turned out as they did.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JODmTeAplaM

    And this was the original official video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0B_w12sNPGo

    I hope we can get some good, enjoyable games out of the Kickstarter system, before the various government groups strangle it with their endless regulations to "protect" people.

  • WraithoneWraithone Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 3,592Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by birdycephon
    There is something about kickstarter that makes me feel ill. Maybe its just the ammount of risk involved. I mean, whats stopper ng people from just collecting the money and running off with it?

    "Risk"??  Hell, the worst that can happen is that you lose some money.  Do your own research and make your own choices. Don't back a KS project for more than you can afford to lose.  I can always make more money. What I can't do is come up with an entertaining game, at any given time. 

  • jonrd463jonrd463 Tacoma, WAPosts: 598Member
    Originally posted by Wraithone
    Originally posted by birdycephon
    There is something about kickstarter that makes me feel ill. Maybe its just the ammount of risk involved. I mean, whats stopper ng people from just collecting the money and running off with it?

    "Risk"??  Hell, the worst that can happen is that you lose some money.  Do your own research and make your own choices. Don't back a KS project for more than you can afford to lose.  I can always make more money. What I can't do is come up with an entertaining game, at any given time. 

    Exactly. If anything, you take a greater risk purchasing a $59.99 game based on the multimillion dollar marketing hype that says "Trust us! It'll be good!" By contrast, you see a game on Kickstarter that strikes your fancy, offer up $25, and then you have a voice in how the game will be developed.

     

    What I really love about this KS revolution is that the more niche genres that have gone by the wayside in the mainstream due to homogenization are now able to rise up. A lot of old-school single player RPG fans have been left out of the loop in favor of things like Bioware's dysfunctional romance simulators or FPS/RPG hybrids that rely more on player twitch than character stats. Now, there's Project Eternity, Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns (which looks fantastic in a recently released Alpha video) that harken back to the original golden age of CRPGs, and none of that would have been possible without crowdfunding.

     

    "You'll never win an argument with an idiot because he is too stupid to recognize his own defeat." ~Anonymous

  • KhalathwyrKhalathwyr Denton, TXPosts: 3,138Member

    Pretty much what I said here when Project Eternity and Shadowrun Returns were just starting their KSs and Wasteland 2 had completed theirs. Kickstarter is the savior for the old school gamer as well as the OS developer. The suits today aren't gamers and could give two shites about what gamers want. They are only interested in what smoke and mirrors can grab the most amount of initial sales with the least amount of effort and time.

     

    Vive la niche! Vive Kickstarter!

     

    I've spent more money on Kickstarter Games in the last 6+ months than I have on actual modern games available in stores and if my favorite developers continue to offer up their deep, fun RPGs in that old school style mode I will only buy games that are Kickstarted as I can reliably see what is going into the game and be along for the ride while it is made. KS allows you to purchase games made on the ideals you find fun instead of gambling your money on what some non-gamng suits / money grubbing investors think is "Paris Hilton Hot".

     

    "Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."

    Kickstarter 2 / Naysayers 0

  • TanemundTanemund Orange, CTPosts: 102Member Uncommon

    I find myself enthusiastic about and worried about this idea.

     

    As a geek, and therefore, an outsider of sorts, I love "independence".  Anything that steps outside the normal way of doing things is something I'm ready to give half a chance.  The idea of a "grass roots" movement starting the next wave of games tickles my fancy because it seems that we geeks are taking back our own.  Lately everyone seems to want to be classified as a geek, and that makes me (at least) who has been a geek all my life, a bit nauseous.  I mean all those people who wouldn't have anything to do with me now want to be exactly like me.  I guess anyone who finds their "lifestyle" going mainstream feels the same way.

     

    World of Warcraft brought an invasion into MMO space.  Quite literally the zerglings came in and suddenly it was hip to be square (Huey Lewis reference) and play a video game online.  That's when the gaming companies started to try make MMOs.  It hasn't gone well and its left those of us who played MMOs in their infancy (when 200,000 subscriptions was a lot) feeling jilted.  For me MMOs were the pen and paper games of my youth come to life and then someone took that and grossly disfigured it into something I didn't recognize.  With all that as a given then yes I'm excited to see where Kickstarter takes us, even if it takes us right back to where we were ten years ago.

     

    However, I'm also worried about this because of the amount of imput the playerbase can have.  I've been around gaming long enough to know that gamers agree on exactly nothing.  Witness Mark Jacob's concept.  It's barely passed the drawing board and there are hundreds of posts telling him what people want and don't want in the game.  All of those posts boil down to "I want my favorite part of my favorite game in your game."  To me its a toss up between which is worse;  the suit who pushes an incomplete game out the door or the player base who creates a ten humped camel of a game by claiming ownership of a game by virtue of giving it money to start. 

     

    The other thing that worries me is this strange amnesia that Kickstarter has generated.  For example, think about how literally just a few years ago the words "Mark Jacobs" were dirty words to people who played DAoC.  He was the guy who brought us Trials of Atlantis (the event almost universally pointed to by ex-DAoC players as their reason for quitting), the guy who sold Mythic to EA and the guy who brought us the first attempt at what everyone was praying was DAoC 2, Warhammer.  Now out of the blue he dangles Hibernia, Midgard and Albion in front of us again and asks for money and for some reason we're supposed to be willing to shell.  Wasn't it just a few years ago that the Tabula Rasa disaster happened?  Yet a few flowery posts full of promises and a trailer and somehow all is forgotten?

     

    My point is the people who are leading us in this bold new direction are the very same people that led us to where we are today; suffering under the yoke of bad games generated by mega companies who are trying to produce the next World of Warcraft instead of trying to do something new and innovative.  And the crowd they are appealing to are the very same people who felt betrayed by those who are leading us in this bold new direction.  Taken in that light I'm not so sure I'm jumping up and down about Kickstarter gaming.

     

    Time will tell, I suppose.

     
     
     

    Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

  • PsiKahnPsiKahn Woodside, NYPosts: 126Member
    The question I'm asking is whether people who could actually use the funding money to "kickstart" their design studios and make original content are getting boxed out by big names who are in it primarily as a way to presell copies of their game and not have to bother with publishing, even though they could easily attain the requisite funding.  Where in Garriott's pitch did he make the case that he Kickstarter is the only way he could fund this game?
  • DavisFlightDavisFlight Talahasee, FLPosts: 2,556Member
    Originally posted by birdycephon
    There is something about kickstarter that makes me feel ill. Maybe its just the ammount of risk involved. I mean, whats stopper ng people from just collecting the money and running off with it?

    Even after years, there are still people this ignorant about how kickstarter works?

  • BlindchanceBlindchance WhywouldyouliketoknowPosts: 1,081Member
    Originally posted by ScorpionOne
    I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I would love to see Lord British bring back Tabula Rasa in some incarnation.  That man has such ideas.  And I really wish him luck and pray to God that old school MMO's start to come back again.

    You aren't alone on this one. I enjoyed TR beta, however I couldn't justify paying 15 $ per month The game  lacked content and it's pvp was rather poor, but with some sandbox elements, player controled terriotories, bases, it would be an amazing game. 

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    If anything, the MMO "industry" may finally be reinventing itself. Instead of spending hundreds of millions trying to make the "one game that will bind them all", we are seeing multiple smaller productions focusing on specific niches.

     

    Perhaps it's a combination of the fact that mega-games simply aren't giving any decent return on investment, coupled with a massive increase in the size of the potential online playerbase. It's actually  a viable proposition to make a game that only 5% of the total playerbase will play, because that 5% nowadays is equal to double the number of subs that any MMO had at it's peak 10 years ago.

     

    You don't need to spend a 100 million to make a great game. You need a good design and devotion to your product and your intended fanbase. And don't try to aim at a fanbase that consists of "as many people as possible", because that is not a defined target audience. Instead, that is the road to ruin...

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXPosts: 1,415Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by SpottyGekko

    If anything, the MMO "industry" may finally be reinventing itself. Instead of spending hundreds of millions trying to make the "one game that will bind them all", we are seeing multiple smaller productions focusing on specific niches.

     

    Perhaps it's a combination of the fact that mega-games simply aren't giving any decent return on investment, coupled with a massive increase in the size of the potential online playerbase. It's actually  a viable proposition to make a game that only 5% of the total playerbase will play, because that 5% nowadays is equal to double the number of subs that any MMO had at it's peak 10 years ago.

     

    You don't need to spend a 100 million to make a great game. You need a good design and devotion to your product and your intended fanbase. And don't try to aim at a fanbase that consists of "as many people as possible", because that is not a defined target audience. Instead, that is the road to ruin...

    Nice post!  Hope it does indeed evolve that way....for everyone's sake.

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • KhalathwyrKhalathwyr Denton, TXPosts: 3,138Member
    Originally posted by PsiKahn
    The question I'm asking is whether people who could actually use the funding money to "kickstart" their design studios and make original content are getting boxed out by big names who are in it primarily as a way to presell copies of their game and not have to bother with publishing, even though they could easily attain the requisite funding.  Where in Garriott's pitch did he make the case that he Kickstarter is the only way he could fund this game?

    Speaking for myself as a game consumer, I'd say it isn't hurting the "true" startups at all. I have taken part in 7 kickstarters so far and all of them are projects being made by people who have previously shipped a game that was successfull and that I have played. I would not take part in a Kickstarter ran by a true startup consisting of folks who I have never heard of or that have not successfully shipped a well recieved game.

     

    Sure they could probably easily attain the requisite funding from publiishers or investors. However, in doing so they are subject to that same publisher or investors influencing the development process which often affects the game negatively.

     

    Additionally, there is nothing to stop all these established industry vets from making games with new IPs but in the same old school style that obviously there is still significant demand for. They are probably mostly using established IPs at current with their first endeavors in Kickstarter to see if it's viable. We could start seeing these same old school guys launch new IPs via Kickstarter.

    "Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."

    Kickstarter 2 / Naysayers 0

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