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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Can a group of volunteers really make a superhero MMO?

UPDATE: $320,000 Kickstarter goal surpassed in days.

UPDATE: We're about to find out - the Kickstarter goal of $320,000 has been surpassed in a matter of days.

"The barrier's broken," project lead Chris Hare wrote on Kickstarter. "The walls are down.

"It's going to take a while. We all know that. MMOs take a long time to launch, and we'll probably slip a deadline or two. We will get other things out to you sooner. Parts, bits and pieces that are fun on their own, that will integrate into the final game.

"Someday, we hope to be worthy of the trust you've placed in us. I've placed my name and reputation on it."

It's an astonishing start for City of Titans, but is it the result of a groundswell of support for a new superhero MMO, or the the desires of a fanatic few? The low backer-count of 2389 suggests the latter, although their willingness to stump up an average of $151 ahead is to be admired.

Coincidentally, that's almost exactly what Camelot Unchained's higher-then-usual average donation worked out at - $150 - although the grand total ($2.2 million) was far in excess of what I expect City of Titans will raise.

ORIGINAL STORY: Kickstarter is the home of ideas, exciting ideas, but how many of them have a realistic chance of being fulfilled - not funded but actually realised as the game that was pitched?

And what hope does a group of volunteers organised on the internet have? A little? What about when you learn that they're trying to make an MMO, both game and living online service all in one?

Yet there's always a chance, a Minecraft chance, and this wannabe spiritual successor to superhero MMO City of Heroes is off to a flying start, raising more than $200,000 in a couple of days. The Phoenix Project - City of Titans, as it's known, is well on the way to its $320,000 goal.

The pitch is to make the next online superhero world, where good fights evil with a weird array of wonderful powers. We're promised freedom of character customisation, new kinds of progression systems and stories ranging from civilian to supervillain.

All of that made by "a virtual studio staffed entirely by volunteers" - an outfit known as Missing World Media. Apparently there are more that 100 developers "on the books" with experience from all walks of life. There are no names that you or I would recognise, but there's clear capability, and the pitch itself is transparent, detailed and honest. There's even a short video that runs through some early prototypes, and there's a tentative beta date of mid-to-late 2015.

But can it really be done?

"They said there was no chance," the pitch pre-empted. "They said we should find a new home. We have. We just made it ourselves. Because we dare to think the impossible.

"We are heroes. This is what we do."