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Welcome to Alpha

Robert Lashley Posted:
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I have not kept it a secret that Pathfinder Online, in development by Goblinworks, is a MMORPG to which I am truly looking forward. Over the past two weeks Pathfinder has hit a couple of major milestones in its development process and in this week’s column we will take a look at two of them.

A recent trend for studios of all sizes is to turn to their player base for direction on how they should develop some of the features for their game. We have seen this with AAA developers such as SOE and now the public can see how Goblinworks is making good on their crowdforging philosophy.

In the case of SOE they have tried a number of different approaches to solicit feedback from their community. On Planetside 2 they have the Roadmap. This is a custom program that allows users to upvote or downvote ideas, very similar to Reddit, and based upon how popular an idea is SOE will prioritize it for development. With H1Z1 SOE is sticking entirely to Reddit for their community interactions. Goblinworks is currently testing a third party solution that falls somewhere in between those two, Ideascale.   

Much like the game is in it’s Alpha state, Ideascale is considered to be in its Alpha test as well. Members of the community are allowed to post their ideas and other members of the community can either show their support by voting the idea up, or let the author know they do not agree with them and vote it down. Users are also allowed to make comments on why they do or don’t like the idea and they can offer suggestions for change. Authors can tag their posts and Ideascale will recognize similar threads and provide links to those submissions based upon tags. This allows authors to work together and collaborate on their ideas. By default the ideas are sorted by what is popular, users can also sort them by recent or hotness.

One of the hottest ideas on the Pathfinder Ideascale is letting Monster Escalations affect points of interest or settlements. In Pathfinder Online monster escalations take place if the players allow monsters to congregate in one area for too long and the players do nothing to eliminate them. After a period of time stronger and meaner monsters will start to appear to check out what is going on. It is as simple as it sounds. Currently there has not been a definitive answer from the developers if these escalations will be able to interact with settlements and the players are letting the developers know that they want this feature in game. As popular as Monster Escalations affecting POI’s are with its +169 votes on one end if the spectrum, no respawn, or permanent death, has been buried with -85 votes over the past 9 days. It would appear that the Pathfinder community likes to respawn.

The other big announcement is that on June 26th Pathfinder officially entered into alpha testing. This is a major milestone for the game and helps bolster confidence in the ability of Kickstarter to seed MMOs into production. With alpha testing underway on Shadowrun Online, Shroud of the Avatar, and possibly an announcement soon from the City State Entertainment about alpha testing for Camelot Unchained we could be standing on the edge of a new age for small scale indie MMOs to make a significant impact on the way MMOs are developed and the way we play them. I for one cannot wait to embrace some of these games as an escape from the AAA offerings we have received lately.

What about you dear reader? Are you ready to hop on the crowdforging band wagon? Do you think players do not really know what they want and game design is best left up to the professionals? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading. 

Robert Lashley /  Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen

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Robert Lashley

Rob Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen or find him on YouTube @RobUnwraps.