ArtCraft Entertainment’s Crowfall may end up being one of the most unique and innovative MMOs ever kickstarted. Many of the game’s backers certainly seem to think so. Featuring a developer pedigree with credits in games like Shadowbane, Star Wars Galaxies, and Wizard101, the phrase “it’s like Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” resonated with nearly 17,000 backers. The Kickstarter campaign ended with over $1.7 million raised in March of 2015.
Crowfall’s appeal has steadily increased since and even more people are looking forward to its eventual launch. More than the fans the game has picked up since its successful Kickstarter, I wanted to check in with some of the fans that were with ArtCraft Entertainment’s upcoming MMO from the beginning.
Who did I interview?
- Scree, a Crowfall superfan, vocal community member, and guild master for Obsidian, a Crowfall-exclusive guild. Scree frequently tweets about Crowfall-related events on Twitter @thescree
- Ethan Macfie, writer at MMOGames and blogger over at his MMO-focused blog, The Errant Penman. He can also be found on Twitter using the handle @ethanmacfie.
- Nick Shively, North American Editor at MMOGames. He tweets often about video games @Nick_Shively.
Scree, the Crowfall Superfan
What made you decide to invest in Crowfall? Which tier and which rewards did you end up going for?
I think most people are driven to play games that either look interesting, look like something you can have fun playing, or recently invoke some sort of historically similar feeling. I think Crowfall and Camelot Unchained are two such examples of this. Crowfall and its two lead’s J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton come from very respected projects; Shadowbane, SWG and Ultima Online. I think, however, that Shadowbane was what sealed the deal for me.
I have such fond and vibrant memories of Shadowbane, despite the horrible mess that it ended up being. It was impossible for me not to back this game.
I put $250 into the Kickstarter during the actual Kickstarter. It was a phenomenal value and impossible to pass up. I would have spent more, but unfortunately, the rewards vs investment just weren’t there at the higher levels (mostly cosmetic items I never care about). I’ve also spent considerable resources and time in creating a guild for the game.
Have you followed the game closely since its Kickstarter ended?
I am an active and vocal member of the Crowfall community; Sometimes perhaps too vocal. I do not agree with every decision the developers have made and have put in considerable effort to let them know when their designs come up short (in my estimation and opinion of course). Nothing bothers me more than people who don’t speak up early in a games development like this. Who merely paid the fee to get into an early playtest (and rarely provide meaningful feedback).
I have told them to their face how I do not like the current iteration of Combat and think it could be a major factor in this game’s failure. Thankfully, however, the developers are very good at listening to feedback and adjusting their course if too many people don’t like something (or at least they tell you they acknowledge your concerns).
Which feature(s) are you most excited about?
The signature defining feature in Crowfall for me is the fact that campaign worlds end. It’s a big deal to me (and it should be to people interested in PvP MMOs). All of the historical PvP titles you have out there, from Dark Age of Camelot to Archeage to Elder Scrolls Online (?); they all share a common fact that the worlds never change. That piece of terrain you like fighting on? It’s never going to change.
No one ever wins either. There can’t be a victor. In most MMOs the war is never-ending. Battles can be won or lost, but ultimately their meaning and significance are diminished to the point of irrelevance. Sure some players might give up and the appearance of victory is present, but ultimately the game doesn’t make that distinction. Victory is important in the Crowfall game because it gives every action meaning and long term consequences.
Crowfall addresses both of these by allowing Campaigns (think of them as servers with unique geographies) to end. Some campaigns might take a month some maybe six months. Yet they end and new worlds can be spun up to take their place; and by new worlds, I mean geographically unique procedurally generated worlds (which are then populated by the devs).
What do you think makes Crowfall a particularly interesting game to run a guild in?
Crowfall is going to be EVE-like in the way the meta-game handles political intrigue. I think what’s most appealing to me is that each campaign will be handled on an accelerated basis. If a campaign ends in three months, there isn’t likely to be any “stagnant” periods of inactivity during it. There will always be wheeling and dealing going on. The fact that someone can win, will also impact how guilds live or die. Lose too many times and people might run away from your organization.
I think the most successful guilds in Crowfall will be ones that have a diplomatic core that complements their offensive and defensive capabilities.
I really enjoy commanding forces in a battlefield situation. I have since playing Guild Wars 2. It was part of the inspiration that pushed me to make a guild. I also look forward to commanding an entire army that can stealth. The possibilities are endless in the sandbox that Crowfall is creating. I can’t wait.
Are you still happy you backed Crowfall? Would you do anything differently, knowing what you now know?
It’s a gamble. Yet as someone who coined himself the Cynic, its time gamers stood up and stopped complaining about the misery that’s been handed to us in MMO form. MMO’s have suffered a misbegotten existence since World of Warcraft. Every developer saw $$$ and didn’t care or were entirely ignorant about the needs of the community. As a result, we received theme park after theme park and the blame is squarely on our shoulders. We were so desperate for something better that we didn’t actually pause to reflect on the long-term goals of a game. If we had, we might have been more cautious when buying into the likes of Wildstar or Elder Scrolls Online (or X, you can insert any MMO from the last 5 years really).
Seeing as how we don’t yet know how Crowfall will turn out, it’s hard to regret the decision to back Crowfall. Even if they screw up half of what I consider a must-have to succeed, they probably still have a title worth playing. So yea, I’m happy I backed them. I wish I could give more to them, but they just haven’t come out with anything enticing enough to do so.
I’d still recommend Crowfall to people, and I do still recommend it to anyone who will listen. I’m still deeply engaged with the community and the developers. They are great partners with their fans and that’s not just lip service. They’ve stumbled along the way, but who wouldn’t in creating a game of this size and scope with the resources they have available to them? I’m harsh but fair in criticizing them, and I think they know that someone like me has the games best interest at heart when I disagree with a course they are taking.
I think all of this really says volumes about the company and the game they are creating. So no, I wouldn’t do anything different knowing what I know now.
Ethan Macfie, MMO Blogger
How did you end up learning about the Crowfall Kickstarter campaign? What convinced you to back it?
I was actually a little late to the party as far as Crowfall Kickstarter backers go. I only found out about the game in the last week or so of the campaign’s duration after the game had begun to garner positive press in the MMO media, so I had to get caught up on everything rather quickly before eventually making the decision to back the project.
Unlike a lot of people I know, I’m not really a prolific Kickstarter backer. Though I have a few packages for games like Star Citizen and Albion Online, neither of those are for more than $30, with both giving me either a steep discount or simply a lot more value than I would get if buying into the game at launch (and both of these purchases came after funding Crowfall).
Crowfall though – Crowfall was definitely one where I’d say I backed the product rather than just buying into it a bit early. It was a bit of an impactful decision for me, being the cheap bastard that I am, so I wrote about what exactly was going through my mind at the time in a blog entitled,Nostalgia for Past Foes, or How I Gave in to Crowdfunding and Crowfall Got All My Money.
What it really comes down to is thinking about the way MMOs used to be and that, at the time, there really wasn’t anyone who appeared to be making a game that looked even remotely like them. I want an MMO where players actually rely on one another to get things done. I want one where players working together can create unique and memorable experiences instead of just going through the same scripted encounters ad nauseum.
Even now it doesn’t look like MMOs of that fashion are going to be made unless the players speak with our wallets through funding platforms like Kickstarter, so when Crowfall came along and needed our help to get the project underway, I was happy to pitch in to try to bring that vision to life.
How much did you have to spend? Get anything cool for your investment?
I bought in at the $250 price bracket. It came with basically all of the usual stuff you’d expect: forum badges, many years of subscription, a few exclusive mounts, housing tie-ins, guild name reservation, and the ability to name an NPC of some sort. What got me to that specific tier is that it was the first to include the game’s Physical Collector’s Edition.
Ultimately, though, backing a project like this is more about putting your money where your mouth is than it is gaining access to rewards (and if I could choose a reward, that reward would be equity, not digital fluff). Without crowdfunding, it’s dubious that the types of MMOs I really want to play will actually get made, particularly with the reluctance of AAA development studios to do anything innovative or remotely creative. Crowfall was one of the first big MMO Kickstarters to do well, so even if the game itself doesn’t turn out well, I’m certain its success was a part of propelling other MMOs to crowdfunding platforms that might not have been made otherwise.
Nick Shively, MMOGames North American Editor
What drew you to Crowfall’s Kickstarter campaign?
At the time of Crowfall’s Kickstarter campaign, it offered something that no other MMORPGs had successfully implemented. There are so many MMOs based on PvE that just happen to have some PvP thrown in, but the only other game with dynamic, conquest-based PvP (at least on a large scale) is EVE Online. Unfortunately, while there are many interesting facets of EVE Online, the combat in the game is fairly lackluster and the game itself is very time-consuming.
The idea of combining a persistent personal world with constantly changing PvP scenarios is what ultimately drew me in. That way I can join in a campaign if I have time, but there’s really no pressure. Furthermore, between battles I have the option to shape my own Eternal Kingdom as I see fit. Therefore I can PvP or PvE when I see fit and not necessarily when the game dictates.
Did you have to invest a lot to get the tier you most desired?
The backer tier that I finally decided on was quite expensive, but not overwhelmingly so. I really wanted to be involved with Crowfall during the beginning development process and alpha access required a couple hundred dollars. Thankfully, the Amber tier came with enough additional content to actually justify the cost of getting early access. If purchased individually, the package would have cost a bit more than when bundled together.
Have you followed the game since? What do you think about its progress?
Initially, I followed every little update that Crowfall had and attempted to get involved with every available playtest. However, things have been moving rather slowly, as should be expected with any MMO, and now I only pay attention to the major updates. It’s more difficult to watch a game develop slowly than see huge chunks of progression.
The last time I playtested the game, there were quite a few issues but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. I personally had an awful connection to the game and could barely move without rubberbanding. The combat was also a little clunky with large player hitboxes that caused issues with body blocking and relatively slow animations that made it very difficult for melee classes to land attacks.
That being said, Crowfall is still in a very early development state and it’s likely that many things will change before it even begins to think about an official release.
For all things Crowfall, be sure to check out MMOGame’s other coverage of the game on our dedicated Crowfall page.Related: ArtCraft Entertainment, Backer Survey, Crowfall, Kickstarter, MMORPG