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ArtCraft Entertainment Interview with Todd Coleman, Josef Hall, Gordon Walton

Aaron Couture Posted:
Interviews 0

The team behind Crowfall has been working hard on their MMO. However, more is going on than just a game. Recently, Artcraft Entertainment announced that they would license out their MMO Artisan Engine for other MMO creators in the market. It is something that Josef Hall, formerly of Shadowbane and Wizard 101 fame was brought on board to do. Todd, Josef, and Gordon all took time to chat with us yesterday about the plans for the Artisan Engine and how development on Crowfall is coming along.

Todd began explaining that through the development of Crowfall the team was always searching for certain MMO solutions that just did not exist in the marketplace. Even with a team of veterans with multiple titles under their belts, they continued to seek out different pieces to fit their puzzle. After working out the Artisan Engine to use internally, Todd was actually contacted by an outside company who was interested in the MMO tech. It turned out to be a great fit and the early test run was a success. The engine offered solutions that would save the company both time and money.

Josef came in to explain that it was an interesting opportunity to join the team on the engine level and begin working on ways others could harness the tools. Many of the solutions that were on the market had been created by teams who had never shipped an MMO. The Crowfall team has shipped over twenty of the top MMOs ever created. So, it seemed like a good match.

The Artisan Engine focuses on the engineering side of game building. It allows designers to work on the game side. It offers options for characters, inventory, vendors, and skills. Todd explained that making an MMO is like moving a mountain, you start with the big boulders, but it is the spoonfuls of dirt in the end that take forever. He used secure trading within a game as the prime example. It is not something everything thinks about right away, but it sure better work as a system when it enters your game. If you mess up trading your players will lose faith quickly.

Josef said that the engine is there for developers to focus on content and it will scale up as they create. They are just taking their first steps with it and will announce their first customer later this year. Crowfall will be selective about who uses the engine because they want to ensure quality across all the products. Todd was quick to explain that Gordon and he are working on getting Crowfall out the door first. That is the primary objective. Josef has joined for the engine side.

Todd said that the tech will help Crowfall as well as others, but then can be used to carry forward to their next game, or even third game. With social gaming creeping into every aspect of games, the Artisan engine will come in handy for a lot of future titles. It integrates well with the Unity Engine and the obvious growth vector would be building more for cross platform play in the future.

We could not let the team off the hook without some Crowfall questions. Gordon and Todd were happy to explain that patch 5.7 will bring lots of performance, lighting, and multizone worlds to the environment. Gordon said that the team has been very iterative with their fans and backers, keeping everyone in the loop on their work. They have gained the players trust through this whole process and will continue their open communication. Todd added that they have been fixing a lot of bugs as they go. This has all come from player feedback, which has moved their timelines slightly, however, in the end players know the changes are being done and the game will be better for it.

The team explained that Crowfall now truly feels like a live product. They are almost done with the races and classes and are working on a lot of other major systems within the game. Josef was excited to reveal much more about the Artisan Engine and where things will go in the near future. For now, we all look forward to Crowfall and what ArtCraft has coming up.


Aaron Couture