We're bringing this List column back from the dead by casting revive. Way back in March 2015, we took a look at the five biggest Kickstarter MMO projects out there. Looking back, we wonder how much has changed in nearly three years.
Here's where we are today for these five games:
- Crowfall - still in development, early access
- Pathfinder Online - largely dead, though still in minimal independent development
- Shards Online - now Legends of Aria and in the first round of CBT
- Camelot Unchained - tentative beta date to be announced 'soon'
- Star Citizen - still in development, alpha testing for backers ongoing
Kickstarter is a massive driving force in game development today. Anyone with an idea and the skills to make it a reality can get their game funded and in the hands of gamers across the world. It’s an incredible time for game development. On the other hand, if a major studio with veterans at the helm want to create their dream project without the constraints that AAA development often entail, they can use crowdfunding to circumvent all of that as well.
Such is the case for all of the games on this list. Each game has big names behind it and even bigger aspirations for the future. Whether it be making a spiritual successor to a beloved MMO of years’ past, or just creating the next great new game for the genre, Kickstarter empowers developers to pursue their passion. We’ve collected a list
The trouble with Kickstarting anything, especially games, is that it’s so difficult to really show proof of concept. You can list out all of the features, talk about your team’s credentials, and show some pre-alpha gameplay, but at the end of the day it’s still just an idea with a few flourishes at this point. That’s the stage that Crowfall is in since its Kickstarter campaign just launched a few days ago.
Crowfall is shaping up to be a potentially amazing MMO, but we still don’t know if it will even become a reality – although that could technically be said for all the games on this list. The open world warfare, throne mechanics, and resetting worlds are sure to ignite some incredible gameplay scenarios, but I have my own personal reservations about how appealing that type of gameplay will be in the longterm. All that being said, it has so much potential, it had to be included on this list.
4) Pathfinder Online
MMOs based on tabletop roleplaying games just make sense. Both are inherently based on balanced rulesets and group gameplay dynamics. As a result, it’s no surprise that Pathfinder Online found success on Kickstarter. If you read the game’s description it’s essentially a combination of all of the most popular buzzwords that are being thrown around in the MMO community right now: open-world, fantasy, sandbox with a player-driven economy and varied character development.
The tricky thing about creating a huge MMO based on an existing property is balancing the fan-service for existing fans with appealing to players that may not be as familiar with the franchise. Pathfinder Online reached its funding requirement over 2 years ago and is currently in Alpha testing. It’s definitely one of the games that appear to be created out of an almost pure love for the source material, which is great to see, and hopefully the final product lives up to those standards.
3) Shards Online
Back in April of last year, our very own Bill Murphy said, “Shards could wind up being the ultimate sandbox MMORPG.” That’s high praise, but it’s rightfully placed. When Shards Online was funded on Kickstarter late last year, it received over double the target amount to the tune of over $100,000. It has creative minds behind it that worked on games like Ultima Online and DAOC, and a fresh, new take on MMO game design is sure to inspire the dormant game designer in us all.
Semi-persistent worlds have existed with moddable game worlds for a long time – Neverwinter Nights comes to mind, for example. But Shards Online is the first true MMO that is taking that concept to the extreme and giving all players the ability to create and modify their own worlds, in addition to the officially created Shards. No matter what gameplay style you’re looking for, there is probably going to be a shard out there for you. They’re lofty goals for a primarily indie team, so time will tell how this one (and all of these, for that matter) turn out in the end. Expect some more playtests to begin in just a couple weeks judging by their calendar.