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Crowfall MMO Kickstarter campaign begins

UPDATE: Ding ding ding - $800k goal reached in three days.

UPDATE 27TH FEBRUARY: Ding! In three days Crowfall has surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $800k. It's not far off the pace set by another Kickstarter MMO, Camelot: Unchained, which eventually finished with $2.2m. As the makers of Crowfall mentioned below, in this piece, they'd be happy emulating that.

Wrote they in a Kickstarter update: "This is a huge vote of confidence for our vision, and our company. We are inspired by your passion and honoured by the faith that you have placed in us. We won't let you down.

"We set out to find an audience to support us in creating something different, something innovative... and now we have, we are going to do exactly that. Thank you for making this happen."

We're now in the territory of stretch goals, the first of which are female centaur characters and enhanced particle effects at $1m, and character mounts and caravan transport at $1.3m.

ORIGINAL STORY 24TH FEBRUARY: The crowd-funding Kickstarter campaign for massively-multiplayer online game Crowfall has begun.

This is the game I wrote excitedly about recently (and I'll write more about very soon). It's an MMO where players fight other players on procedurally generated server-sized worlds that, over the course of months, eventually die.

But characters don't die, they persist. They live in an Eternal Kingdom worlds. However, if characters there want resources then they have to fight on the dying worlds for them. And the more resources you have, the more power in the Eternal Kingdoms you have. There's a fealty political hierarchy in play.

It's an MMO made by a new company called ArtCraft Entertainmet, created by two people with an incredible amount of experience.

J Todd Coleman is the creative brain. He's the man who made Shadowbane, that inventive old PVP MMO that Crowfall is very heavily inspired by.

"We jokingly call [Crowfall] internally the unholy love child of Game of Thrones, Eve Online and Shadowbane," he told me in a lengthy phone interview.

The other half of the equation is Gordon Walton, whose career in managing MMO projects goes right back to Ultima Online. More recently he was co-studio director at BioWare Austin for Star Wars: The Old Republic. That's one of the largest MMO productions ever - there were 550 developers on it when he left, he told me.

These guys know what they're doing, and they know what they want. "Our medium was stagnant, over-dominated by a single organism," Walton said, referring of course to World of Warcraft.

Coleman continued: "We used to have really crazy ideas that we would try to see what we could do when you aggregate millions of people into a virtual space, or even hundreds of thousands. And we just stopped doing those because everyone knew they 'right way' to build these games.

crowfall

Crowfall is in some shape already. Good shape, by the looks of things.

"What you're seeing now with crowd-funding is a resurgence of experimentation. And interestingly enough it's coming from the same guys who experimented the first time: Richard Garriott [Ultima Online, Shroud of the Avatar], me and Gordon, Mark Jacobs [Dark Age of Camelot, Camelot: Unchained], Brad McQuaid [EverQuest, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen]."

Crowfall began as a project two years ago but has been in development at the hands of a team for a year. The team now numbers 17. The Kickstarter goal is $800,000 although more than that has already been invested, mainly by Coleman and Walton.

If the community can fund the rest of Crowfall, "That would be ideal," said Coleman. Then the game would only be answerable to the community. But if that doesn't work out, Coleman and Walton are confident they can raise money elsewhere.

"I don't expect us to be anywhere near Star Citizen," Coleman added, "but if we get anywhere near something similar to what Shroud of the Avatar has done, or Mark Jacobs has done with Camelot: Unchained, that would be fantastic."

They're going to launch the game in a series of successive pieces, like Star Citizen did - building a series of modules, testing them, then putting them altogether. "We're going to have people playing in the alphas this year," Walton concluded. "And we hope to finish the core module of the game, basically the base - all the pieces working together - by the end of next year."

A larger article based on my hour-long phone call with J Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton will follow.

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