Could Kickstarter have made World of Darkness possible?

This World of Darkness article is sort of a good read. I say sort of because how many times have we read an MMO story about managers asking for one unconnected feature after another, code being reworked, and a game that is in development forever not going anywhere? The answer is often. Hell, I’d bet most released MMOs that have done decently even have a similar story.

Moving past that, the point I want to make today is that Kickstarter could have made WoD possible, for a number of reasons.

For starters, I guess the IP is a big deal (I’m not familiar with it), and big deal IPs attract attention on Kickstarter. Combine this with the fact that you don’t need millions and millions of dollars to make an MMO via Kickstarter these days, and had WoD set a target of, say, 1.5m, I think they would have gotten it.

Second, the Kickstarter route means you are selling access to stuff like alpha, which means more people giving you feedback earlier and really driving the game to some sort of release state. This of course doesn’t guarantee you end up with a good game, but it at least moves you to actually finish it or get it to something resembling a more complete product. And while you never fully want to be designing based on what your players/fans are telling you (cough: AV), if you properly filter the feedback it should be a benefit to the overall game.

Finally, the Kickstarter route somewhat lowers the standard IMO. You don’t need to deliver a full bells and whistles MMO, just a solid core that primarily appeals to those who funded you and others like them. If the initial budget is 1.5m plus whatever extra comes your way, you don’t need 500k subs to recoup that, which means if your MMO is only great at 1-2 things specific to the goal/IP, that will work.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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13 Responses to Could Kickstarter have made World of Darkness possible?

  1. Asmiroth says:

    So you’re saying that a poorly managed MMO in development for 7 years with access to millions in funding would have been a success by following a more low-budget approach?

    That is one hell of a leap in faith on CCPs part.

    Shitty management is shitty management, no matter the cash. Sort of similar to Firefall – who fired their director to get new funding.

    • SynCaine says:

      Well the Kickstarter thing only working if you assuming it isn’t CCP making the game. CCP doesn’t need Kickstarter.

      • Asmiroth says:

        Ah, well then that does make a lot of sense. The concept sounded interesting and niche seems to work well on Kickstarter.

  2. kalex716 says:

    Just to play devils advocate… This was written from the perspective of a developer who was burned pretty bad, in a bad situation.

    If early prototypes, leadership, and concrete direction all looked good from the Atlanta team, I suspect it would have been much tougher for the directors in CCP to see good reasons to brick them so hard, and move resources around as much, and undermine their progress.

    If you can imagine, those early displays sucking, then the confidence wasn’t earned. The fail cascade began thereafter.

    Most failures in the game industry have very similar stories to this one. Its insightful to anyone interested in looking behind the curtains.

    I also want to reiterate a long standing position i’ve taken around here. New, and fresh ideas, are much harder to execute on, and thats why we see so little. Cookie cutters and clone, have a clear road map to success from square run, and thats why we see them so much more often. They are safer investments.

    Ideas for video games are easy, executing on them is the hard part. In my opinion, Kickstarting a project doesn’t change the realities of execution (they just remove a few of the blockers), and the fact that we haven’t seen mass appeal games come out of any of those projects fruitfully yet, means the verdict is still out.

  3. C. T. Murphy says:

    I’d love to see a World of Darkness MMO. I’ve never played the tabletop, but my brief exposure to the setting via Troika’s Vampire the Masquerade was plenty to get me on board. I think a Kickstarter would definitely work, especially considering its success for Pathfinder’s own MMO entry.

    No idea who would make it, though.

  4. carson63000 says:

    Have we seen any evidence that it is possible to build even the solid core of an MMORPG for 1.5 million?

    My days in the games industry are a long way in the past.. but my recollection is that even a decade ago, that sort of money would not go very far at all. Especially if you needed to rely on middleware, you could easily spend a big chunk of that budget on licenses.

  5. Poetic Stanziel says:

    CCP would shit away all the money and there would be nothing at all to show for it.

    • Red says:

      Pretty much. CCP got lucky with eve. They’re continuing to fail in everything else they do indicates that they don’t have a clue.

  6. No. KS won’t make WOD possible. Games are made by people. Great team will most always make a great game. WOD team probably sucked because just like 38 studios, they were fully funded and still could not even show ANYTHING gameplay related.

  7. Preben says:

    Kickstarter could make it possible, CCP couldn’t realize it though.

    It’s very obvious that mangement at CCP is incompetent. If you look at what their company does well, the core concept of eve’s sandbox world, and then look at how CCP has been trying to expand… Well the two don’t exactly match.

    Walking in stations? Cool, but gameplaywise it’s really just a 3D chat room.

    Planetary interaction? Well it’s one of the few things that actually works, but why didn’t they instead improve the mining part of the game?

    DustXXX? Integrated into eve, it might have been a cool concept but it was really just MAG in an eve setting, and MAG went bankrupt so what CCP was smoking to think they wouldn’t also fail is beyond me.

    Project Legion is the same thing as DUST except it’s for PC, but if you wanted a F2P shooter with massive combat on the PC you’d probably be playing Planetside 2 – and even that game is struggling.

    That Ocolust Rift exlusive simulater game I haven’t even bothered remembering the name of. If it actually integrated into EVE, cool, but it doesn’t so it stood to become another useless niche game before CCP decided to bind it to a gimmick technology almost nobody is going to buy.

    WoD was their one shot at a real future, I mean, eve is probably going to be rocking for years to come but it’s not going to grow much beyond where it is. It’s possibly even going to face real competition from Star Citizen which seem to be doing many of the things CCP wanted to do.

    The eve-universe in a WoD setting where people could actually walk around with characters and do somesort of modern action based MMO combat would have been a blast though – and it would have no real competition because nobody else is doing a rough sandbox with a real economy.

    Now I don’t think eve is going to go away anytime soon, but it all depends on star citizen – if that game is eve + simulation, well then eve is as good as dead.

  8. Thomas says:

    There is absolutely no way you could make a decent MMO for 1.5 million. It’d be almost impossible to do it with 15.

    For comparison, the single player RPGs of Wasteland and Pillars of Eternity each took about 4 million. Just the art 3D modelling alone for the isometric Chibi based single player RPG Project Phoenix cost $100,000. If you scale that to MMO size, there’s your 1.5 million budget without any design work, any animation, any textures, concept artists etc. Double Fine’s singleplayer point and click cost more than $1.5 million.

    And if people had invested in it, it would serve as an excellent example of why kickstarters are dangerous. They would still had to solve the gameplay problems they hadn’t solved, they would still have management troubles, experience problems and expectation problems. All the money would pour down the hole of mismanagement.

    • Thomas says:

      Creating a _single_ character in Skullgirls costs $150,000. Game development is cheap, but it’s not that cheap yet. The big MMOs cost well over $50 million to develop, even going to $200 million plus. If an average AAA game costs $50 million for the singleplayer, how can you scale that to an MMO?

      Not making it AAA you can definitely do one cheaper. As long as you restrict it’s scale hard enough, make it fixed camera 2D, non-theme park and a pretty small singeplay RPGish sized world. But that’s still probably at least $10-20 million:

  9. sid67 says:

    Could 5 people working on a project together for three years put together a quality MMO?

    I’m resourcing 5 based on a $100k burdened cost per person per year. That’s about 75-80k in salary. And let’s assume some profit sharing so that senior professionals would be willing to work for that wage.

    I supposed that’s within the realm of possibility IF they were each talented and shared a strong vision and passion, but I would call it extremely unlikely. And that’s just to resource the project development.

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