Eve-ish MMO Crowfall Makes A Million On Kickstarter

If I were to say to you “Eve-inspired, voxel-based swords ‘n’ sorcery MMO on Kick-” well you’d already have punched me in the face and fallen asleep, let’s be honest. But look, okay, I was cynical too. It’s 2015, surely we’re not trotting out the same old fantasy lands and promising them to the uninformed in return for cold hard moolah. That’s just the very surface level of Crowfall [Kickstarter page], though – the meat underneath is far more interesting and is what has the project rocketing past a million dollars with more than two weeks left on the clock.

Perhaps the greatest strength of this pitch is the obvious and infectious enthusiasm of the dev team, particularly from J. Todd Coleman. He and his team have clearly created something they believe in and have the necessary skills, experience and business savvy to back it up. There’s an honesty to the entire pitch that’s great to see. They know they can’t make the grand vision for $800k, but already-secured private funding and the possibility of stretch goals means they’re able to promise a “core module”:

  • Multiple persistent multiplayer worlds
  • 12 character archetypes with an advantages and disadvantages system of customisation
  • Voxel tech for fully destructible environments and procedural generation
  • PvE and PvP
  • Crafting systems
  • Player-owned, permanent areas
  • The first rule-set of free for all PvP with no set allegiances

From there ArtCraft will expand their ideas. What’s best about these systems is they seem scalable to the number of players, the main hurdle of many unsuccessful MMOs. Lower populations can simply be provided fewer worlds to conquer, making them fight more often. One of the reasons Eve Online, obviously a heavy inspiration for Crowfall, has become such a phenomenon despite a miniscule playerbase in comparison to its competitors is the one-server nature of it. You don’t need a million people to create interesting political dynamics if they’re all trapped in a box together. Big Brother does it with twelve.

This helps to alleviate the worry, as Adam pointed out when we were discussing the game in RPS HQ, that growth will stunt and the game will slide into obscurity. I’m also a bit concerned about the lack of details in an otherwise very well put together pitch. Even if they’re not final, give me your current ideas for stats and how loot is distributed, what a dungeon might look like or practical examples of how I’ll interact with other players. This update post does a little of that with regard to how campaigns work, and there’s some still-too-vague details in the additional videos on ArtCraft’s YouTube channel.

The current estimate for release of the first module is Winter 2016, with various tests kicking off this Summer. A final copy of the game will run you $40, with that scaling up depending on how early you’d like access. Funding’s done of course, so wait and see’s as viable as ever.

28 Comments

  1. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Might be upping my pledge at some point, this is one of the most promising things right now.

    Most importantly, though, it looks doable and with it’s feet on the ground.

  2. Jip says:

    Obvious Game of Thrones inspirations in there, which is not a bad thing. I like the look and idea of it though.

  3. Veldzhes says:

    Actually i got some Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber vibe from this one. (I mean, aside from the obv Game of Thrones inspiration which they mention themselves explicitly)
    Which is always a good thing.

  4. Foosnark says:

    Gordon Wwalton and Raph Koster?

    If only they had Garriot this would be the dream team of suck.

    • -Spooky- says:

      With Sid Meier & Peter Molyneux? Agree ..

    • Jenks says:

      I wish there was a way to automatically filter awful opinions.

    • PostieDoc says:

      Ultima Online was a superb MMO, at least until they split the world into two and it lost its edge.

      • Kala says:

        Absolutely, and UO was a huge influence for EVE.

      • Foosnark says:

        My memory of UO was a “game” where:

        — Every monster in the world would be killed by other players and you had to hang around waiting for a respawn.
        — Tiny songbirds attacked armored human beings riding horses. And did damage.
        — When I went AFK once for 20 seconds to answer a knock at the door, I hid behind one of the approximately 10 billion houses that littered the landscape… and still came back to discover that I’d been murdered, my horse had been murdered, and the murderer hadn’t bothered to say anything or loot me. Because that’s the kind of game it was.
        — People stood around saying “bank” and “hail” at walls.
        — Being a miner meant picking up a rock from the ground, dragging it in front of you, shuffling to the other side, dragging it in front of you again, and hoping you could get out of there before being murdered.

        That was not a good time.

  5. xfstef says:

    1. This world and concept is quite new and complex. I don’t think they have what it takes to do it, just by looking at the size of their team and their previous experience in the gaming industry.
    2. Their whole marketing scheme seems to revolve around the GoT universe, concept. It’s a good way of raising awareness for their game but it doesn’t mean that the end game will actually look and feel like something taken out of GRR Martins books.
    3. Those graphics look dated, much too dated. If they need to keep that level of graphics / art design just because of the build-able and destroy-able terrain feature, I’d rather they don’t. We have enough Minecraft clones, just STOP !
    4. Saying that your MMO is actually going to be an RTS as well makes a lot of people raise an eyebrow and go “fascinating”. Explaining how that will work however, that’s a different story. They haven’t convinced me of their system. Basically I didn’t understand their system. RTS stands for Real Time Strategy and when I heard them say the campaigns are going to last months, the real time part of RTS seemed to just blow up into smoke. No, I don’t want to play the same map for whole months at a time. Just imagine the amount of players that constantly join and leave servers on MMOs. This vision of theirs sounds really ridiculous. I’d much rather play an RTS-like event that lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours at most than drag it on for months at a time and have guild leaders constantly harass their players to get in game and get stuff done. There are tons of MMO player base factors that they didn’t take into consideration. Again, I highly doubt that they can pull this off.

    In conclusion I give no hope to this project. It might be possible and it could be done, but I am not convinced that these are the people to do it. They are relying way too much on attention grabbing by way of siding with very popular brands (Minecraft, GoT) for me to believe that the game itself is their main focus and not the marketing and / or branding.

    • -Spooky- says:

      Nothng wrong with Unity 5 and full “voxel” enviroment. Sry. Static maps are a no go this days. Red Faction is way to old to prove the right thing in game development. Period.

    • BlackMageSK says:

      4. One of the two leads on this was a lead on Shadowbane, which actually did this MMORPG as an “RTS” quite well. It’s a format we haven’t seen since WoW got big but a few really old MMOs had done it before.
      The general idea is that players can claim and build on land as long as it is available. This lets them acquire resources and accumulate wealth, but the land could be attacked and seized by other players. And there’s only a finite amount of land. The benefits of having lands are big but the risk of losing it is also big so alliances and politicking escalates quickly. There’s no theme park setting, it really is just here’s a world, let the players write the stories kind of setting. I was kind of sad that these kinds of MMOs just kind of up and vanished for the last decade so I’m glad to see someone trying to bring them back.

    • zentropy says:

      1. Fair point, we’ll see.
      2. I sure hope not. Inspiration is all good, pure plagarism not so much.
      3. Guess that comes down to personal taste. Really enjoy the aesthetic myself.

      Surely we should all be sceptical for obvious reasons. Honestly though this looks like the first ‘mmo’ since forever that I might actually play – if they can pull it off that is.

  6. aliksy says:

    Looks mildly interesting, but it really depends on how it plays. If the combat is as satisfying as, say, Dark Souls or even Guild Wars 2, then maybe I’ll be interested. If it’s a ‘stand there and trade blows’ thing like old-timey MMOs then no thank you.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, it all depends on how various things; the combat, world generation, strategic goals etc actually work. Though from the video footage and considering the dynamic environment it looks to be more GW-action-y.

      The concept of endless new randomly generated worlds in an MMO setting is fantastic. But some random generation gets old really fast. What you really need (and what games like Spelunky succeed at) is for the randomly generated features to be meaningful. Like, if it generates a town on a hill or a fort in a valley that has to impact how you play, that has to be a meaningful feature in terms of how you approach fortifying the place/blowing it up/gathering resources/whatever. It has to be more than just endless, samey iterations of meaningless backdrop.

      So the way I see it the combat, trade/crafting mechanics and everything else need to interact with the randomly generated landscape in meaningful ways, a tall order for sure. But I look forward to seeing exactly what Crowfall becomes!

  7. Honigsenf says:

    wow, 9 backers paid the 10k pledge
    guess it was from people who never will play the game

  8. derbefrier says:

    It sounds like a cool game but I will wait and see how it turns out before throwing money at them

  9. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    The idea is nice, I suppose, although not necessarily my cup of tea (especially with the “players who happen to be top dog decide the rules” type of thing). Aside from the technical challenges, I wonder if they have looked a what they really need to make something like this. $800000 seems fairly little. Maybe they intend to use a lot of procedural generated terrain and generated campaigns or something.

    • melancholicthug says:

      “They know they can’t make the grand vision for $800k, but already-secured private funding and the possibility of stretch goals means they’re able to promise a “core module”

      Right there in the article.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Also it is indeed mostly about procedural stuff.

  10. Ryuuga says:

    Sounds like a really risky project. Even with the best of teams and lots of funding, MMOs are not easy. Kudos for trying to innovate, though. Pvp everywhere is not my cup of tea, and I’ve kind of given up on MMOs, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some innovation in the field. Maybe that could spur what I’d love to see – some colorful super-casual fantasy dungeon-crawler focused on combat & loot which I could play through with one friend. Sorta like WoW done like Borderlands? I do miss some of that dungeon 5man & raids in WoW, but I never could find time for a game as big as that again.

    • BlackMageSK says:

      There are a few games like this out of Korea. Try looking up Rusty Hearts or Vindictus and other F2P games in that vein. These Korean games usually stay super-casual until the very end where the whole community basically turns into poison, but the entire content up to then in enjoyable with just a single friend.

    • nullward says:

      You should try Dragon Nest. Another Korean game brought to the US. Free to play, very fun action-based combat, colorful visuals, and awesome attack animations (seriously, the attacks are super-satisfying to pull off). The story has a lot of dramatic twists and the writing is surprisingly good, in my experience.

      Personally, I love the idea of a MMO-ified sandbox universe with randomized rules, but it sounds like the play experience could be very unstable. What if the rules are sucky for the world you choose? They would need a voting system, like a Yelp for fantasy worlds… either way, I am interested, but skeptical.

  11. Carlos Danger says:

    Still waiting for an MMO that has robust crowd control implemented again. Friendly fire would be great as well.

    One day, perhaps….

  12. cyrenic says:

    That video triggered my PTSD from rabidly following Shadowbane’s development. That game had a lot of great ideas but some really terrible implementation.

    I’ve long thought about how cool a constantly resetting MMO would be, but I won’t be throwing any money towards this kickstarter. If the release comes along and they have a fun, playable game; I’ll think about spending money on it.

  13. alert says:

    There have been loads of attempts to replicate Eve in a fantasy setting, none have worked particularly well (unless you go back in time to UO or something). The economy is key, nobody who follows Eve seems to understand this. You risk a lot by fighting, and character skills aren’t nearly as important as organisation and player knowledge. Character skills shouldn’t be what principally determines success. Perpetuum (another Eve-like) fell into this trap, and never recovered once initial interest from GS and other groups dissipated.

    Also, aren’t people sick of tanks and DPS and all of that stuff? I get the feeling this will be like Warhammer Online/Age of Conan and all those other MMO’s with a few sandbox elements. People queuing for some janky, weightless siege battle to flip some castle to a different colour for a while, with nothing changing in the long term.

    Hope I’m proved wrong though, we need more truly ambitious MMO’s.

  14. Oosik says:

    Darkfall, Firefall and now Crowfall…what is it with MMO’s and fall?