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To Catch a Unicorn

Tim Eisen Posted:
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There is an old story in MMORPG fandom. One that happens every time a new game is announced. Every cool idea ever uttered on a MMORPG forum is open game! Every concept a possibility! Every hope and dream attainable! To achieve these never before seen cans of epic cool developers head in one of two directions, they either create their own engine from scratch, or they take a pre-existing game engine and use it for their MMORPG.

When studios attempt to climb Everest years go by as the time to launch begins to loom. Deadlines slip. Goal posts are moved. Finally, all those hopes and dreams are scaled back or crushed entirely in order to make a thrice-delayed launch date. Years later the game finally has many of those hopes and dreams but lacks the player base to enjoy them. Creating a game engine is difficult. Creating one for a MMORPG harder yet.

Rather than risk the money eating Sarlacc pit that is making their own MMORPG studios often opted to bolt MMORPG gameplay onto an engine that was never intended for such taxing behemoths. Not unlike the former, the later results in a laggy game with features downscaled or removed. Unlike the self-made engine the Voltron engine is never able to live up to the massive demands of the MMORPG. The game never rises to its promises and players soon abandon all hope and move on. A horse can pull a car, but in doing so that car never fulfills its potential.

These are the stories of too many of our games. It is one born of a single detractor, the fabled MMORPG game engine. The end result of either path is more often than not the same, studios bow in defeat to the god of game engines.

Crowfall fans have often wondered how confident Artcraft Entertainment is in their engine. MMORPG fans have often wondered why a studio hasn’t built an engine specifically for MMORPGs then licensed it for other studios to use. The answer to both has unveiled itself as ArtCraft Technologies, Inc (ACT) and the “Artisan Engine”.

As stated in the press release “ACT will focus on providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games, based on the technology behind their flagship title, Crowfall”. ACT aims to remedy the MMORPG developer’s plight by offering up an engine built by MMORPG developers for MMORPGs.

According to Artcraft President and Executive Producer Gordon Walton, this will save game studios millions of dollars and years of time. Furthering just how strongly they believe in the Artisan Engine they brought in Josef Hall the co-creator of Wizard101, Pirate101 and Shadowbane to head this new division. Hall also spent several years as the VP of Development and production for Kingsisle Entertainment and was prior the co-founder of Wolfpack Studios along with Artcraft’s own J Todd Coleman.

While neither bit of news is directly related to the progress of Crowfall itself we can read between the lines to better grasp how what it means for us. With the amount of experience he has in the industry, it’s highly unlikely Josef would have boarded the crowtrain had he not seen enough internally to feel comfortable with his move. Bringing in another industry legend to head their new division and announcing both in the same press release is an indication of the seriousness and confidence Artcraft has in their technology, their company, and their game.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry