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General: Money, Dreams, and Kickstarter

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,610MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Kickstarter campaigns seem to be all the rage any more for developers to bring the games -they- want to players without the pesky influence of publishers. In today's Devil's Advocate, we take a look at this new trend and offer a few thoughts. Check it out!

Now, Sanya Weathers discussed a variety of reasons why you can't always turn to Kickstarter as a solution for MMO funding in her May 4 Developer Perspectives column. It would be great if you could read that as well. I may retread a number of her points, but I'll also bring up a couple of different things that send my mental alarms ringing when I check a Kickstarter page, even if I have the urge to support that very same project.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: Money, Dreams, and Kickstarter.

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

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Comments

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member

    Not going to support mmorpg's there.

    I love sandboxes, but cannot get into low-budget messy productions. Tried too many times already.

     

    Kickstarter also is not and should not imo be used to fund big projects - and good sandbox mmorpg would require at least 35-50 mln $.

     

    Still I don't mean anything bad to EoC or Repopulation among other projects.

    Contrary - I hope they do well.

    Still I am not gonna buy them, unless they are released and I saw user-made gameplay videos & talked with some people I personally know that played those games and think they are ok.

    Which I am very sceptical after MO, DFO, Xsylon and other relative low-budget sandbox mmorpg's.

  • mightpyromightpyro Toronto, ONPosts: 20Member

    The only way I can see MMO's being funded through Kickstarter is if they go the Torchlight route. Use Kickstarter to fund a small game that shows off what kind of MMO you want to make and then use the profits from when you release the game to fund the MMO.

  • alkarionlogalkarionlog SPosts: 1,125Member Uncommon

    kick starter is a way to get money? yes, its a good thing plyers do it? not really, nothing garantee you will see the game or even if the game will be what you hoped, the vision devs have will alwyas not be what it was made, things changes, also chances to "devs" just take the money and bail out is too big,

    also you should ask yourself would you trust someone you don't even known?

    FOR HONOR, FOR FREEDOM.... and for some money.
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  • KaylettaJadeKaylettaJade Holloman AFB, NMPosts: 144Member Uncommon

    "The Repopulation Kickstarter page is a bit more polished in terms of content, though I'm not sure what the money invested will be used for."

     

    If you don't know what the money is going towards, you failed to actually read the full kickstarter page. They don't have a laundry list of software they need to buy to make the game because a great deal of the game world is already made!

     

    Taken from the Repop Kickstarter page:

    "Even with our very modest target for our kickstarter campaign this will help us to add more of the following into The Repopulation

    • More NPC Species, which may also serve as pets.
    • More refined animations for both players and npc species.
    • Even more armor pieces, hair options, weapon models, etc.
    • More advanced mission templates for an even more enjoyable mission experience.
    • More special effects for abilities.
    • More UI work for better overall usability and visuals.
    • Additional motion capture animations and emotes.
    • Improved cinematic effects for Missions and Engagements.
    • More aggressive beta and release schedule."
     
  • halldorrhalldorr Kitchener, ONPosts: 100Member Uncommon

    In other words, more polish. The game is already looking fantastic and is moving towards an alpha. Much easier to back something that already has a significant amount of work poured into it.

  • joshuahallsjoshuahalls Bloomington, ILPosts: 78Member Uncommon

    Thanks, I am one of lead developers for The Repopulation.  We have had some questions on what is the money going toward and Kayletta pretty much added what we had in the section about why kickstarter.  Money is typically spend in the early-mid parts of development on either tools or people.  Both of them allow to add more functionality or content and depending on where the kickstarter ends up being at, we might look at more additional 3rd party tools.  We mentioned something such as hairfarm in the update as an example of a 3rd party tool that would help us add additional options such as more hair to the game.  We already have some hair options already and you can change those, but tools like that allows us to increase the number significantly.  We already have facegen and body moprhing already in place so that will add nicely as another tool for Character customization.  If it isn't being spent on tools it will be spent on artists to allow them to spend more hours on the project allowing us to get more done over the long haul and shorten our development cycle into Beta and Release.

     

    We understand that kickstarter isn't something for everyone.  You are taking a risk on any project you are looking at on their website and for many it is less about the risk and more about supporting projects they believe are going in the right direction.  Sanya is right in the fact it will be really hard to fully finance an MMO project to bring everyone on on full time through kickstarter, but we have been doing this out of our own pockets (modest pockets) for years now and successful or not, the train keeps on moving forward.  We have months (just not this month) of monthly updates.  Here is one from January of 2011.

     

    http://www.therepopulation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=126

     

    Thanks everyone for your support as we are great to have it and look forward to seeing some folks in during Alpha.

     

     

    Joshua Halls
    Co Owner-Lead Programmer The Repopulation

  • darker70darker70 stokePosts: 813Member

    Sorry Xerves never saw your post ;)

    Firstly the devs behind the game would quite easily carry on regardless of Kickstarter they have between them self funded the game,they have not just decided to get some cash and start from scratch the game was originally on another engine,but they saw Hero as a better tool to work across the internet,so infact the game has been in development for quite some time.

    Their main reason apart from a bit of badgering from the community is to speed up development and take the load of the devs who have so far worked in their spare time for free,so  some paid devs artists or assisted community help is their goal,there is not a rush here they have stated a long Beta as they are determined to get the best game out they can.

    Normally i don't take too many gambles but one decideing factor for me is the constant communication and since i've followed the game since Dec 2011, i feel comfortable that the devs are honest and decent people trying to make a liveing like me and you and not some faceless company regurgitateing the same old crap they infact could have been doing just that as they are talented enough,but they are trying to produce a game that in it's scope in this climate seems quite surreal but it is solid fact.

    The Fact is there is an Alpha this June they have solid foundation and after been in many Alpha/Beta's it is supriseing to see the stuff in the game already, infact i would say that this is a 2nd stage Beta as the technical features are very advanced,so if you want answers ask at The Repopulation forums and i'm sure you will find answers from our incredible community there.

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  • rammur65rammur65 spokane, WAPosts: 57Member

    heh this is the reason why kickstarter exists because fans who actually want a good game and like what they see they can help fund it so all the qqers and the top guy saying what shouldnt be funded is a pointless argument because it people like you guys that makes kickstarter work dont like what you see dont fund the damn projects simple as that when you see a project thats earned a few million dollars worth of fund that says one thing, it says people like what they see and are willing to help fund it.

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member

    Curious if the MMORPG.com team have already dabbled in the dark arts of kickstarter? If so which ones?

    Perhaps that would be too much information/appearing to patronage any one title on this site too much. But for non-mmorpgs that might still be answerable if the former is not?

    To add to the above mmorpgs mentioned: Pathfinder Online have decided on a technology demo; somewhat controversially (maybe this marketing, early dev approach is better fit for mmorpgs?), but nonetheless appear very business savvy and it's drummed up a lot of support already. Definitely a Trust exercise.

  • kryzbynkryzbyn La Vista, NEPosts: 12Member

    Yeah, was wondering myself how Pathfinder Online got missed in an article on Kickstarter.  It's raised 180k in less than a month just for a tech demo.  Maybe it's the exception to the emerging rule?

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,666Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by KaylettaJade

    "The Repopulation Kickstarter page is a bit more polished in terms of content, though I'm not sure what the money invested will be used for."

     

    If you don't know what the money is going towards, you failed to actually read the full kickstarter page. They don't have a laundry list of software they need to buy to make the game because a great deal of the game world is already made!

     

    Taken from the Repop Kickstarter page:

    "Even with our very modest target for our kickstarter campaign this will help us to add more of the following into The Repopulation

    • More NPC Species, which may also serve as pets.
    • More refined animations for both players and npc species.
    • Even more armor pieces, hair options, weapon models, etc.
    • More advanced mission templates for an even more enjoyable mission experience.
    • More special effects for abilities.
    • More UI work for better overall usability and visuals.
    • Additional motion capture animations and emotes.
    • Improved cinematic effects for Missions and Engagements.
    • More aggressive beta and release schedule."
     

     

    He's not the only one to have that question. I messaged the devs directly with the same question. What is actually being funded is not clear outside of 'it helps us pay for development.' There is no specific goal connected to the funding, whereas with other kickstarter projects - games or otherwise - there is a described and identifiable stage of production or milestone directly tied to the funding.

     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • VesaviusVesavius BristolPosts: 7,643Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by fenistil

    Not going to support mmorpg's there.

    I love sandboxes, but cannot get into low-budget messy productions. Tried too many times already.

     

    Kickstarter also is not and should not imo be used to fund big projects - and good sandbox mmorpg would require at least 35-50 mln $.

     

    Still I don't mean anything bad to EoC or Repopulation among other projects.

    Contrary - I hope they do well.

    Still I am not gonna buy them, unless they are released and I saw user-made gameplay videos & talked with some people I personally know that played those games and think they are ok.

    Which I am very sceptical after MO, DFO, Xsylon and other relative low-budget sandbox mmorpg's.

     

    You have missed the point in how someone like Goblin Works is using a Kickstarter for a MMO.

    They are using the funds to build a TECHNOLOGY DEMO in order to show real heavy money investors.

    They are not using the method to build a full on game.

  • JC-SmithJC-Smith Chiang MaiPosts: 412Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    He's not the only one to have that question. I messaged the devs directly with the same question. What is actually being funded is not clear outside of 'it helps us pay for development.' There is no specific goal connected to the funding, whereas with other kickstarter projects - games or otherwise - there is a described and identifiable stage of production or milestone directly tied to the funding.


    Most other kickstarter games are funding a prototype, where we're a couple weeks from begininng testing. In the case of Repop it's a matter of time allotment. At this point in development what remains is primarily content (world design, missions, engagements, armor and weapon variations) and polish (UI, particles, cinematics). Unfortunately being that the game has to date been done primarily by people working in their spare time, as well as some outside subcontractors, it's tough to get as much of that done in a timely fashion as you'd like. 

    The people who are doing those things are generally guys who are doing this in their spare time, but take contract jobs with other projects to pay their bills. That means they may only have 10 hours a week to dedicate to Repop. If you see a jump from 10 hours a week of time to 40 hours a week, you just gained 300% more production. You can get as much done in one month as would have taken four months before. By alloting those funds to the areas that need done the most, you can both accelerate the release schedule and make sure more stuff gets done. With testing beginning shortly, that is very important.

    With regards to one of the above posts mentioning money and how that's not enough to fund an MMO. Repop was designed from the ground up around self-funding. The systems are based on generated content, and the team has generally been at 5-10 people for most of it's 5 years in development. Over the period of that time, the budget has been tiny, because for the most part everyone is working in their spare time and for free. But as we make the final push for launch, we really need to get a couple of important people freed up to work on this full time to improve the testing experience and launch experience for everyone involved. That's the purpose of Kickstarter.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon

    Funding a MMO with kickstarter is laughable.  Just ask 38 studios people.  They flopped with well over 100 million invested.  You won't get that kind of money from a kickstarter campaign.  Even a small MMO is really well beyond something like kickstarter.  

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    Kickstarter is a great place to show potential investors that your project has public support/fanbase. Look at what PFO is doing with thier Kickstarter project, for example.

    Normaly, you have to pay for (very expensive) market research to have some tangible evidence to show that there's a potential market for a product.

    However nothing speaks louder then people opening up thier wallets to show thier interest/support for your project. Being able to goto an investor and say, "I have this great idea for a product and I was able to raise $300,000 with contributions from interested fans of the project to get it started" is miles more powerfull then saying "I have this interesting idea for a project". That's where the real value of Kickstarter exists for MMO developers, IMO.

     

     

  • KiljaedenasKiljaedenas New Westminster, BCPosts: 468Member
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Funding a MMO with kickstarter is laughable.  Just ask 38 studios people.  They flopped with well over 100 million invested.  You won't get that kind of money from a kickstarter campaign.  Even a small MMO is really well beyond something like kickstarter.  

    Quantity does not guarantee quality. Eve Online's initial development costs were 6 million before launch, and look how it's doing now. The quality of the management and design teams plays a very major factor. If I had to spend a certain amount of money to hire developers and had the option of either two brilliant-and-work-well-in-a-team badasses for half my available money or ten questionably skilled guys for all the money, I'd go with the badasses, save half my money and probably come up with a better product.

    Where's the any key?

  • GinazGinaz Calgary, ABPosts: 1,731Member Uncommon

    Ah, Kickstarter.

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    Is a man not entitled to the herp of his derp?

    Remember, I live in a world where juggalos and yugioh players are real things.

  • KothosesKothoses GalwayPosts: 760Member Uncommon

    Everyone is looking at Kickstarter in the literal sense IE Throw money at something to make it happen.  However I think in terms of the gaming industry Kickstarter can provide a different service.  If I were a big publisher looking to make high quality expensive games I would be watching Kickstarter like a hawk to get a feel for what areas are popular amongst the people I want to sell to.

     

    A kickstarter project is not just about the money raised, its about the amount of people it brings on board, certainly for the person seeking funding the money may be the biggest point, but for people like Goblinworks it can serve as a metric of just how many people would buy and sub to the game.

     

    If a kick starter project attracts 100,000 people who all give $1 I would say that it is more successful than one which attracts a 10,000 people who all give $10 even though the end outcome is the same amount of funding.

     

    What we as gamers can do is use Kickstarter to show what we want to see from the studios, you dont have to even give money, just show an interest.  Put a favoured projects link on facebook or twitter post on their discussions on the site, let people know you want to see something that they are offering.   Although the green is always what matters the level of interest can be used as leverage with a big publisher who may then go on to fully fund the game of your dreams.

     

    Promoting thought a new Gaming video blog http://www.youtube.com/user/quinnthalas discussing games, gamers and the internet with gameplay footage as background.

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 7,865Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Kiljaedenas

    Eve Online's initial development costs were 6 million before launch, and look how it's doing now.

    Erm...source?

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Kiljaedenas
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Funding a MMO with kickstarter is laughable.  Just ask 38 studios people.  They flopped with well over 100 million invested.  You won't get that kind of money from a kickstarter campaign.  Even a small MMO is really well beyond something like kickstarter.  

    Quantity does not guarantee quality. Eve Online's initial development costs were 6 million before launch, and look how it's doing now. The quality of the management and design teams plays a very major factor. If I had to spend a certain amount of money to hire developers and had the option of either two brilliant-and-work-well-in-a-team badasses for half my available money or ten questionably skilled guys for all the money, I'd go with the badasses, save half my money and probably come up with a better product.

    Granted, 38 Studios hired far too many people, it was a disaster from the start.  It is also true that you could not make Eve today for 6 million either.  Kickstarter campaigns, so far, rarely go above 1-2 million.  Hence I still think making a MMO using funding like this is something that is not likely to happen.  You need very talented people to make a MMO and I don't see them working for low wages when they are in such demand in the industry. 

  • Pratt2112Pratt2112 Posts: 1,536Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Ozmodan

    Funding a MMO with kickstarter is laughable.  Just ask 38 studios people.  They flopped with well over 100 million invested.  You won't get that kind of money from a kickstarter campaign.  Even a small MMO is really well beyond something like kickstarter.  

    It's not laughable at all if it's planned out well. If there are realistic goals and wise use of the funds, then it could go a long way toward helping see the project to completion.

    Would it be sufficient to fund a MMO capable of satisfying your typical unreasonably self-entitled gamer who demands everything they want in a MMO and then some working perfectly from day 1? Probably not. But then, they're not going to get that from a AAA MMO with millions of dollars invested either, so they'll never be happy regardless.

    Could you create a Kingdoms of Amalaur with kickstarter money? Well, that would depend on if you're able to raise millions of dollars with it. Conventional wisdom would say "not likely".

    But then who says it has to be something on scale of a KoA?

    There are people out there who have created MMOs entirely out of their own pockets without any outside funding, before Kickstarter even existed. Are they AAA blockbusters competing with the likes of a WoW or anything like that? No, of course they're not. But they exist and they offer an experience for a population of people who enjoy what they offer.

  • NixeorNixeor Echo, ALPosts: 11Member

    I see no reason not to help kickstart an MMO that I want to play.

     

    Studios turn to Kickstarter because they need a hand in their game development. Not every studio can afford experienced developers, million dollar budgets, and high end technolofy to compete with those who already have it. Game developers only want to create somthing extraordinary and most gamers just want a great game handed to them. Why not help the developers out once in a while? They work so hard to give you something and you can't even go so far as to show them a little support?

     

    Would you not support the cure for breat cancer because you're a guy? Would you not support police officers because you don't like going the speed limit? Would you not support starving children because you want to spend you own money on Doritos?

     

    Game developers are hard working people who give so much and ask so little. Why not show a little support?

  • KhalathwyrKhalathwyr Denton, TXPosts: 3,138Member

    Originally posted by MumboJumbo

    Curious if the MMORPG.com team have already dabbled in the dark arts of kickstarter? If so which ones?

    Perhaps that would be too much information/appearing to patronage any one title on this site too much. But for non-mmorpgs that might still be answerable if the former is not?

    To add to the above mmorpgs mentioned: Pathfinder Online have decided on a technology demo; somewhat controversially (maybe this marketing, early dev approach is better fit for mmorpgs?), but nonetheless appear very business savvy and it's drummed up a lot of support already. Definitely a Trust exercise.

    Originally posted by kryzbyn

    Yeah, was wondering myself how Pathfinder Online got missed in an article on Kickstarter.  It's raised 180k in less than a month just for a tech demo.  Maybe it's the exception to the emerging rule?

    As MumboJumbo mentions I think it may have been left off because it was for the PFO Tech Demo which Goblinworks will use to secure the money they need to make the game. I think a big difference here with PFO as compared to EoC and TR is that those two companies are made up of folks laregly unknown to the gaming world. That's part of what makes it a tough choice to back them. With Goblinworks you have people who are known commodities in the gaming world that have shipped multiple titles or titles that are very well known. For instance they have folks who worked on Eve Online as well as Fallen Earth.

    Does that mean they will do a better job than the EoC or TR teams? Not at all. Indeed I wish the TR team would send me a testing invite! LOL!

    Personally the Pathfinder Tech Demo is the only MMO related Kickstarter I've contributed to. The only reason being that I just don't know that some of the sandbox titles, like TR and EoC, are going to make. EoC has a ways to go (2015 or 2016) and TR does look like it will launch next year, but you never know. I certainly plan to play TR once it goes live.

    As for single player projects I've back 4 or 5. They all are by people who have easy name recognition if you've been playing computer games since the late 1980s. That, in fact, is my first prerequisite to kickstarter. If I haven't heard of the company or person in relation to gaming OR played something of theirs and enjoyed it in the past, then I don't even bother looking at hte kickstarter. Well, I take that back. I may look, but the odds of me donating are less than .00000000000000001%.

     

    "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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