To almost no one's surprise, Crowfall's big announcement this week, and the result of the website countdown we discussed previously, is a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter has been a huge success for those development studios who take the time to do things right, and the folks at ArtCraft Entertainment have had no problem hitting that $800,000 goal they established just a few days ago.
But in addition to the Kickstarter campaign, J. Todd Coleman, Gordon Walton, and the rest of the ArtCraft crew have called down a storm of new details that is sure to appeal to most MMO lovers in one way or another.
We had several people on the ground in Austin earlier this week getting ready for the big outpouring of information, including interviews on Characters and Warfare, Universe and Economy, the Pantheon of Gods in the game, details on Voxel Farm, an exclusive video, and more.
So I sifted through the infolanche of interviews and the Kickstarter details to find the parts that I'm most excited about, including some aspects of the game that I think will be beneficial to current MMO gamers looking for something new, and those looking to fall in love with an MMO created by people who have the experience to do things right. Here are my top three:
3. Your character build can fail
During Red Thomas' interview with Coleman, the discussion turned to the possibility for a player to gimp themselves. This type of learning has always excited me as I get increasingly frustrated with games that hold your hand. "If you want to be a chef, you probably shouldn’t go for that computer science degree," Red pointed out in his article. "Most games would prevent you from doing something that silly, but then they also would prevent you from finding a cool way to use that computer science degree to make your chef completely unique from every other one out there. The freedom to fail is an incredibly powerful, and often overlooked, tool. I’m really glad to see these guys are taking advantage of it."
2. Crafters really matter
I'm a big crafting fan, and to know that crafters will matter to the campaigns in Crowfall is exciting. Keeping the battle going in real life is dependant on so much more than the front-line fighters. Just look at the war effort in the United States during World War II as a perfect example.
In Crowfall, preparation time is needed to build supplies before the campaign gets too involved. "Best of all in my mind, it means campaigners will need to keep lines of supply in mind, not because of some generic in-game mechanic that prevents them from capturing the next point of interest without some mystical lay line connected to it, but because you’ll starve to death otherwise," Red continues. "That opens up a host of opportunities for raiding and scouting."
Scouts will be needed to find out what required materials are available on campaign worlds so crafters know what they'll need to make to help their army survive. And scouts will also be needed to gather up the really rare and hard-to-find materials from deeper in the Dying Worlds so crafters can make better gear. "I suspect scouts and craftsmen will be the two most important skillsets to have as each campaign starts," Red predicts.
1. A truly living (and dying) world
We've all heard the "living world" moniker before in MMOs, and I do believe that some of the early adaptations of that (Warhammer Online's public quests, Guild Wars 2's dynamic events, etc.) were good starts for the time, but Crowfall's Dying Worlds concept allows the developers to drastically change the world much more quickly than could be done in annual expansions like we're used to seeing.
"ArtCraft will be able to get as crazy as they want, try new items and new rule sets, new mobs, and anything else those insanely brilliant people come up with, and anything that doesn’t work as intended gets blown up in short order anyway," Red says in another interview with the team. "Things that do work well, will continue on in the mix to be recreated in another campaign."
In the Kickstarter video, Design Lead Thomas Blair describes it best. "It's like a bunch of massively multiplayer games of Risk all running together at the same time."
These worlds are not only living and dying all around us, but they're procedurally generated and unique. "At the beginning of every campaign players are dropped into new worlds that are unknown to them," describes UX/UI Art Lead Billy Garretsen. "They don't know where they are, where they're going, or what's around them."
But these worlds aren't just a blank canvas of voxels as you might have found in the early days of Minecraft; these worlds each have their own reasons for existing. Mike McShaffry, Principal Engineer for Crowfall, explains these reasons. "Not only do you have to explore the physical worlds, but you also have to explore the different rules that can change from campaign to campaign, such as how strong magic is, what races are present, and what technology you can use."
Crowfall's Kickstarter campaign has already reached its $800,000 funding goal with more than 25 days left to gain even more financial backing and to add additional stretch goals. The developers promise greater rewards with early backing of the game, so check it out and see if it's something you might consider supporting at this stage.