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Flushing Money Down the Drain?

Victor Barreiro Jr. Posted:
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This week’s title mashes together two concepts so very thoroughly that I’m not sure if my Landmark avatar has hemorrhoids or my mind does.

To put it simply, after chuckling at the reveal of bathroom amenities in Landmark, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of game I’d come to write about.

I‘ve spent the better part of an hour wondering about whether or not I should back any further crowdfunding initiatives, whether they come from established companies or independent groups. The reason for that is because I struggle to see why development of “toilet props” is something I should legitimately find enthralling.

If you’ll indulge me though, I’ll certainly give a thorough explanation for this thought in my head. Just bear some preamble about Landmark to begin with.

Toilet Humor?

The context for today’s writeup comes from the September 10 update notes for Landmark, in which they introduced what I call “Toilet Props” into the game.

Simply put, you have a bathtub, a sink, and a toilet as part of the game’s latest props, as well as some chains and hooks, which have rope connections on them so you can attach other items (such as rope-like props) to the chains.

In my mind, the chain props, connected to rope props, would create the a fake flush prop you would use to flush a “ye olde commode.”

Normally, I’d be enthused by this hilarious addition and come up with a ton of humorous toilet related jokes, but I suppose there’s a certain sense of burnout to be had  After the introduction of PVP, you’d start hoping Sony Online Entertainment would go full steam ahead and plow through some obstacles to make more meaningful content.

Instead, aside from technical fixes and an expansion to guild sizes, that’s all there is, it seems, for this week.

That is one of the reasons I’m let down this week, but that is not the main reason why I’m more vocal about my displeasure.

The “Toilet Prop” Movement

The reason why I’m bringing this up today is because this feels like the start of what I’m going to call the “Toilet Prop” movement in crowdfunded games.

You sell a product that works, but is missing pieces – or in the case of Pathfinder Online you sell a really good idea and charge subscriptions for the alpha. – and you ask gamers to throw their money in a bowl to help you out.

The problem is that bowl is actually a toilet prop, and somehow you feel like you flushed money down the drain because of a variety of factors.

You could be like me, who’s impatient with Landmark and Everquest Next and wants more than what’s being offered. You could be one of those fellows who feels let down by a change in the development cycle (Pathfinder).

You could even be let down by companies that don’t say much these days about the development of the games you supported them for in crowdfunding (Just dropping Torment: Tides of Numenera for RPGs here).

Those are all valid feelings. At the same time, it’s also valid to defend the reason behind supporting a game. It’s cognitive dissonance – having two competing thoughts in your head unsettling you because they’re both seemingly valid thoughts – at its worst.

Scrubbing That Bowl of Filth

If your mind is filled with doubts, then it may be a good time to step back for a few minutes, assess the situation, and then count your winnings and losses accordingly for a better accounting of what you’ve experienced.

In my case, I earlier reasoned out that I couldn’t support more than the lowest possible price for access to the game (US$20). I played it, I had a good time, but I know that I could be having more fun elsewhere while the game is being developed.

At the same time, it’s made me think about game mechanics, business mechanics (discussions with a non-gamer dad, go figure), and my own fiscal responsibility, which includes this write-up.

All in all, while it feels like money down the drain right now in my head, there’s still that feeling of “Hmm, I paid a decent amount for fun, and I learned quite a bit too,” in the end. That’s certainly a better thought experiment outcome than the one I have in mind for other endeavors I’ve backed in the past.

How about you? Any thought experiments and perspective checks come to mind from your own crowdfunding or Landmark-esque adventures? Let me know in the comments.


Landmark: Creating the Battle Arena

Landmark: Ready for Combat!

Pathfinder Online: Early Enrollment Delayed


Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr. / Victor Barreiro Jr. maintains The Devil’s Advocate and The Secret World columns for MMORPG.com. He also writes for news website Rappler as a technology reporter. You can find more of his writings on Games and Geekery and on Twitter at @vbarreirojr.