Pathfinder Online: The Way Ahead
I’m a big fan of gaming. Whether that’s video games, board games, or pen and paper role playing games. When Pathfinder Online was first announced I was looking forward to what the Goblinworks team could create. Next to Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder is one of the most popular tabletop role playing games. It seemed like a natural fit for a great PvE centric MMO. I was even excited enough to back the project on Kickstarter after they created the first tech demonstration. Subsequently PFO became a lesson learned for me and why I no longer back video games through crowdfunding.
By now most of us know where this story ends. The leader of the project Ryan Dancey is no longer with the studio. Lisa Stevens the CEO of Paizo has stepped in and is trying to right the ship. Lisa sent out a letter at the end of last year and it looked like they had finally found a white knight to purchase the game from them and continue development, contingent upon financing. Based upon Lisa’s most recent letter it would appear this funding did not come through.
Paizo hired a consultant group to help determine at this point what to do with the project. Based upon the results of that study Paizo has come to the conclusion that no large studio is going to bail them out of this mess. They do, however, believe with work the game could fill a niche in the marketplace. With that Lisa has committed Goblinworks to a one year timeline to implement a set of features that they believe will represent the game well.
Like I mentioned at the start. I’m a fan of gaming. I hate to see any project fail but this one has floundered around for so long I almost wish someone would just put it out of its misery. It’s been an abject failure up until this point. In my view Pathfinder Online only serves to diminish the brand. The fan in me though applauds Lisa for having the determination to continue to spend money in an attempt to build this game into something a larger audience can enjoy, and to continue to support the current community. Clearly the game in its current form has a small committed player base that is tenacious enough that Lisa would even consider this path. If not one would assume Paizo would just scrap Goblinworks.
The biggest take away for me is that the uncertainty of whether the game will continue is pushed aside for the next 6 to 12 months. The roadmap ahead recognizes that they will not have a growing player base over that time period while they complete this feature set. After that point Lisa plans to to unveil some type of marketing campaign in a push to get more players to try the game.
The following is the roadmap sent out by Lisa to the community:
ROADMAP TO OPEN ENROLLMENT
May 2017: EE 12
More Meaningful Territorial Control
- Give Settlements more control over who can use their facilities (bank, auction house, crafting queues and trainers), including those in alliances and those on blacklists.
- Let settlements select a 3-day period for their PvP windows to be open and require 48-hour minimum delay on feuds.
- Bring back support, but provide partial support to learned ranks above those supported by Settlement Level.
- Protect hexes that have at least 4 allied neighbors from attack.
- Add shrines to settlements that can only be used by allies.
- Restrict Outposts to only producing bulk resources at the upgrade level of the Holding.
- Allow more PvP in Monster hexes.
- Allow less PvP in Shield/NPC hexes.
- Give Holding owners control of PvP rules in their hexes.
- Change Azlanti Crystals to rare but unrestricted drops, and drop recipes for combining/separating them.
- Add elite (T3) variants of selected T2 escalations.
- Make enemies attack all nearby characters, not just those in a party.
- Polish retargeting system so enemies do a better job of finding alternate targets and spreading out when they lose or can’t reach their original targets.
- Show upgraded art for upgraded Holdings and Outposts.
- Let allies bank, train and craft at holdings, and restrict others from regaining power.
July 2017: EE 13
New Daily Activities
- Add Gushers for gatherers to find and exploit.
- Allow raids on Holdings to steal bulk resources during PvP windows.
- Occasionally send invaders from nearby escalations to raid Holdings during PvP windows.
Story Quest for New Players
- Give new players a quest storyline to follow that offers a more structured introduction to the world.
- Add mule doors to appropriate Holdings.
- Rebalance resource distributions between hexes.
- Add Town Criers to Thornkeep that point new players toward existing settlements.
- Pull banner companies into feuds between founding companies.
- Introduce Azoth, which can be used to improve crafting/refining output or converted into game time.
September 2017: EE 14
- Make weapons use slotted ammunition and rebalance ranged combat accordingly.
- Add new escalation with new enemies.
Auction House and Vault Improvements
- Add ability to just show Active Bids.
- Auto-fill max/min prices with character’s recent prices for that item.
- Add Take/Deposit/Transfer All option to appropriate windows.
- Introduce Player Housing, which can be placed in settlements.
? Experiment with Line of Sight restrictions for ranged combat.
November 2017: EE 15
Upgradable Settlement Structures
- Add ability to upgrade settlement structures.
- Distribute +1 and +2 structure kits.
- Tax settlement users to help pay for upkeep.
- Add a Development Index system to regulate settlement growth and territorial expansion.
- Make Bags of Holding and Rings of Protection functional.
- Release a Pathfinder Online Core Rulebook PDF to introduce tabletop players to the game in a familiar format, and to serve as a reference guide for all players.
- Add selectable Alignment for characters.
January 2018: EE 16
- Add system for enchanting items.
- Allow creation of social companies to act as friend lists.
- Provide tools to make it easier to find friends online, chat with them and invite them to parties
- Schedule challenges for the community to tackle together.
Odds and Ends
- Leaving this milestone a little light so we can be flexible around the holidays, with the intention of pulling in some tasks that didn’t quite make the cut and some new tasks that come up along the way.
- Log in characters who have been offline for a while at shrines.
March 2018: OE
Polish, Polish, Polish
- This milestone is all about getting the game polished up and ready for Open Enrollment.
- Focus on getting all existing feats and items functional.
- Fix bugs.
- Allow selection of deities to follow and restrict feat usage based on that selection.
- Align Temples and Cathedrals to appropriate deities.
- Make sure all Daily Deals are functional and distribute them to players.
- Match colors of listed items more closely to tiers.
I’m marking my calendar for March 2018. At that point I’ll jump back in and give the game a look. I don’t imagine enough will change to encourage me to make a go of it but for the sake of the community I wish them the best.