Exclusive Interview - Fractured Heads to KickStarter & Why You Should Care
With Dynamight Studios revving up its Fractured KickStarter as of today, we had the chance to chat with Jacopo Pietra Gallelli, the CEO of the studio. He's got a lot to say about the game and why it matters in today's game space.
MMORPG: You’ve published an enormous amount of information about Fractured, but can you give us a brief overview about the game?
Jacopo Pietro Gallelli: Fractured is an open-world, isometric sandbox MMORPG, based on SpatialOS. It features all you would expect from a sandbox MMO, such as a player-driven, crafting-based economy, classless character development, housing, world colonization and territory control. It follows a B2P business model with an item store that only offers cosmetic perks.
On top of the above, it strives to introduce several innovations to the genre:
- It's the first MMO where the race the player chooses has far-reaching consequences on gameplay mechanics, from the type of society the character lives in to the ways it can interact with other players.
- It features a unique take on horizonal progression that allows the player to enjoy the freedom and level playing field of a MOBA without losing the persistence and sense of progression of a real MMO.
- It redefines the concept of dynamism by making it so that nothing in the world is ever static and immutable. This concept is embedded everywhere in the design of the game, from combat to environments, from crafting to world colonization, and made technically possible by SpatialOS.
As you've mentioned, there's a lot to be said about Fractured – and anyone interested in finding out more can dive into the Feature Spotlights posted on our blog!
MMORPG: How long have you and your team been actively working on Fractured from concept to where you are now?
JPG: The project started in January 2017.
The first months were spent researching the right tech, fleshing out the design of the game, and making long-term plans on the business, development and editorial sides. We've then made the project public in June 2017. We received a positive feedback from the community and the press, so we knew it was worth moving on.
MMORPG: How many developers are working on the project and what experience do they bring to the table?
JPG: Seven people as of today, including myself and the other two co-founders of Dynamight Studios. A couple other professionals are ready to enter the team in the coming weeks. We have various degrees of experience in the gaming industry – some a couple years, some a dozen. Me and the other founders have first-hand experience working on MMOs specifically with the indie title Linkrealms – a project that didn't work out so well but taught us a lot.
It goes without saying that we're an overall young team that can't boast any "legend" of the MMO industry among its ranks. That's why we've been working on Fractured for a long time before getting it on Kickstarter, showing as much gameplay as possible and gathering a community over 30,000 members strong. We're defined by our results, not our names.
MMORPG: How would you classify Fractured? Is it an MMO? An RPG? An ARPG? Some combination of all?
JPG: A sandbox MMORPG. Our combat system takes inspiration from classics like the Diablo series or Path of Exile, but calling Fractured an ARPG could make people think it's all about dungeon crawling and defeating swarms of monsters. That's definitely not the case!
MMORPG: Why the isometric view as opposed to other camera views more traditionally associated with MMOs?
JPG: First of all, fans of isometric MMOs are not a small niche. They're plenty, and we know many of them (ourselves first!) are unsatisfied with what the market has to offer today.
Moreover, isometric games are the kind we are most passionate and feel most knowledgeable about. Our love for MMOs was born with Ultima Online, and our culture as gamers was largely shaped by genres such as classic RPGs, action RPGs, and MOBAs.
Finally, choosing the isometric view allowed us to cut down development costs significantly, both on the art and on the programming side – a very sensitive topic for a small team.
MMORPG: What makes Fractured unique compared to other games currently out there?
JPG: Fractured was born to solve all the issues that, in our opinion, are the reason why sandbox MMOs have been historically condemned to be a niche product.
First of all, the genre is typically not inclusive. Hardcore PvP rules tend to alienate players who enjoy a friendly and cooperative environment, while the ubiquitous grind makes the average sandbox MMO unsuitable for those who don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a single game.
Another big issue for the genre are static worlds: the economy is typically influenced by the players, but the rest of the game is not. Environments are static, and combat is no better, proposing the usual tab-targeting and auto-attack mechanics that have been around for 20 years.
We believe no other sandbox MMO has tried (or is trying) to tackle these problems all at once.
MMORPG: You are bringing Fractured to Kickstarter. How much funding are you asking fans to provide and what happens to Fractured if the goal is not met?
The goal of the campaign is quite modest - €100,000. That's not the total budget required to complete the game, of course.
For us, Kickstarter is a way to immediately expand the team, broaden our audience, open a new line of communication with our supporters and receive further feedback on our ideas. The pledge packs on sale on Kickstarter will be moved to fracturedmmo.com once the campaign is over, and monetization will go on from there.
We're obviously going to be disappointed if Kickstarter doesn't work, but it's not the end of the world. Dynamight Studios is a financially stable company. Careful business planning, coupled with backing from the three founders and private investors, make us feel safe about the future of the project. Moreover, we are already in touch with a few large game publishers that have shown interest in Fractured – which clearly speaks against the rhetoric on publishers not being interested in innovation.
MMORPG: We’re sure it’s no secret that there is a lot of Kickstarter “burnout” with many funded projects not reaching the “finish line” or disappearing altogether. What do you say to skeptical readers?
JPG: I absolutely understand skepticism about "yet another crowdfunded MMO". However, I'd like to invite readers to analyze why some projects ended up the way you mentioned (as opposed to the many who reached completion or are progressing well – let's not forget about them!).
In our opinion, projects that have shut down or are years past deadlines are likely hurt by two core mismanagement issues: overly optimistic financial planning and the inability to keep ambition in check. On the other hand, successful ones had realistic designs, focused on building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and iterated on top of that.
With Fractured, we don't want to reinvent the wheel. We have identified the biggest issues that plague the word of sandbox MMOs, and we're creating a fun sandbox MMO that fixes them. We're been at it for one year and a half now. Progress is good – and hopefully all the gameplay we're showing proves it. Costs stand below estimates thanks to SpatialOS. We're really excited about how things are going, and I hope I'm able to convey that!
MMORPG: Please add anything else you’d like our readers to know.
JPG: Since we've made the Fractured project public, we've taken a completely open and transparent approach to game development and our relationship with the Fractured community. We want to keep things this way.
If you're intrigued by Fractured but you're not confident in supporting us on Kickstarter yet, we invite you to sign up on fracturedmmo.com and become an active member of the community. Any kind of feedback, including criticism, is well taken and helps up grow, so let your voice be heard!