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The Artcraft School of Integrity

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I Questioned Their Financial Integrity

One of my common talking points when discussing crowdfunded projects, is the need for some form of financial integrity.  Is money being spent wisely, and are backers being respected in what it’s being spent on?  It’s a question that’s always on my mind when I visit indie and crowdfunded projects.  Art Craft Entertainment may be made up of professional developers, but they started the project with our money. 

I was pretty happy with what I saw while checking out their Austin offices, which are currently temporary.  The team is borrowing space from another local group in the industry, but are looking to move into their own space soon.  I suspect that, along with the holidays, is why we won’t see any more testing until February.

The Champion and other core archetypes introduce systems shared by hybrid archetypes.

The question of financial responsibility had come up, though.  That was when Gordon Walton may have made my favorite quote of the entire year, “We don’t spend money on anything other than people.”  I love that so much, and it was even better as it came from a guy working on a laptop on a folding table in a borrowed office. 

As Gordon pointed out, the most important investment in making games, is the people that make it great.  Nice things are great when you work for EA and have gobs of money to spend on retention, but indie projects have to be fueled more by heart.

Todd and Gordon both talked about how important backer money was to them, and how they work to stretch it.  Even down to the point where they’ve looked for deals on used furniture.  Todd even made the joke that the folding furniture they were currently borrowing was likely better than the furniture they bought and would have in their new space.

The team has also looked for ways to monetize Crowfall beyond the gifted money from fans.  To me, that suggests a team that is very conscious of their being a crowdfunded project, and the need for integrity when it comes to spending backer money.  The words they choose reinforce that feeling as they refer to “backer” money rather than “our” money, as others have in the past.

Backers made a game happen that would have been hard to pitch to any publisher, and that’s something the people at Art Craft Entertainment are very aware of.

I Questioned Wrapping This Up

I could go on with so much more from that conversation, but I’ve been told my word count is… aggressive.  It’s not like I don’t have a lot more to say.  For instance, I questioned Todd on his staunch adherence to his vision of the game, and strong opposition to changing major concepts based on feedback.  It’s not something I totally approve of, but I have a massive amount of respect for a guy who takes his vision that seriously and stands by it.  Though, his position is obviously far more complex than that modest statement on the matter, so don’t take that to mean he ignores feedback.

It seems to me that a wiser course might be to push the project’s direction a bit more than he’s inclined based on what players like and don’t like.  Though, Todd and Gordon have been in this game a long time and know what they’re doing, so while I question something like that, I do it knowing I could easily be wrong.

But I only bring it up to point out how receptive these guys are to that sort of conversation.  Todd may not change what he’s planning to do as much as another might, but he has no problem having that conversation with someone who questions his path.  To stay that true to a vision and still welcome dialogue says a lot about a person’s integrity and strength of character.

There you see why while I may have questions about where Crowfall is going, and how fast they’re getting there, I don’t really have many actual concerns.  It’s a project run by a team that’s consistent and steady, and a team that puts quality only slightly behind treating their backers respectfully.

That said, I am very anxious to play around with the Eternal Kingdoms and see how those systems work out, so chop chop gentlemen!

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Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.