Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pathfinder Online, Crowd/Cloud Fundraising, and Kickstarting

Before I get off on too much of a rant, let me assert that I feel Pathfinder is a fantastic system.  I've played it and enjoyed every moment of it.  It not only provides an outlet for players to both run and experience unique content outside of the boundaries computer-programming sets before us, but gives us a place where we, as friends, can relax and be nerdy without the need to feel judged or ostracized for our interests. is - at its roots - a website that allows users to post projects (ranging from video games, to digital media, to books, charity causes, etc.) to the internet with the hopes of receiving funding towards its completion.  There's a good amount of guidelines that those projects have to follow, but that's not entirely what I'm here to talk about.

Massively recently ran a story about Pathfinder Online's newest Kickstarter project.  This made me think for a moment - Kickstarter projects must have finite goals, therefor having more than one Kickstarter related to the same over all project didn't really make sense to me - until I read further.

It appears that the 300k (6x the 50k goal they had initially asked for) goal raised by the first Kickstarter was merely for the Technology demo - which you can view part of on the top of their new Kickstarter.

That's a good place to start really digging into the meat of my beef with this whole thing.  That tech demo is one I'd expect to have seen years ago.  Maybe even so far back as a decade.  It looks like a dozen already released and now-dwindling games.  But I digress.  It's only a tech demo after all.

WAIT A MINUTE, that's the whole point!  A tech demo is usually shown to investors in order to garner interest and future investment in your game.  It shows the people that initially tossed you a few $ that it was money well spent.  That tech demo sucks!  It's short as hell and looks like crap!  Didn't you guys get SIX TIMES THE AMOUNT YOU ASKED FOR?!?  AND STILL DELIVERED THAT.

Where's the WOW factor, Goblinworks?  That video is the most underwhelming thing I've watched in a long time.  It looks like something I'd have expected around 2004. (In fact, it bears a VERY strong resemblance to Everquest II.)  I realize it's a demo of your tech, a display of your competency in developing your game, but what you did was take the money and show me something that really gives me little-to-no desire to play your game.

Dungeons and Dragons Online is considered by most 'hard core' D&D players to be a miserable failure.  And while I'm not one to harp on its free-to-play conversion, it's something that I want to briefly touch on.  Converting your business model after launch is a sign of failure - you can argue about degrees of failure all you want, but changing something means that what you had before wasn't working.

Today, DDO is a ghost town, even though it's free to play.  I can't wait for someone to tell me about how I'm wrong on this one - so don't take my word for it.  It's free and a relatively short download on broadband.  Go try it out, let me know how many people you see talking, wandering around the starter area, or any area really.  Feel free to come back here and tell me I'm right, I love that kinda stuff.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and the game has somehow received a resurgence of new players - truthfully, I love being wrong about video games and seeing them thrive - but the fact is that this happens RARELY.  Most games are money-grab gimmicks to pick up some fast cash in the onset, and then languish in limbo for years providing scarce, buggy updates that most players will mow through in a few weeks, if that.

Why go off on that rant?  Because D&D and Pathfinder are essentially the same thing with different rules.  The game didn't work once - it doesn't translate well into a programmatic system of absolutes.  Part of what makes the D&D experience so versatile and engaging is the human factor.  That is completely lost when played in a video game and bound by its constraints.  Unless they have a living, breathing person on-staff to constantly ensure my game play experience is as unique and engaging as the pen-and-paper version, this title will ultimately disappoint me and many others.  Why set yourself up to fail like that, Goblinworks?

So where did this all come from?  (The rant, not the goblins) A few comments on that original Massively article I linked bluntly stated that what Goblinworks (and to an extent Kickstarter as a whole) is doing is nothing more than "Cyber-Begging", even going so far as to state that it has no place on the internet.  That one made me laugh.

*NOTE Many of these comments have been removed or deleted by the users as of this posting. did a great, albeit a little dated, article on Angel investing.  In case you've never heard of NYC's Broadway, Angel investing has been around long before anyone reading this today was even alive.  It's not something new, and everyone posting on Kickstarter has just as much right to post their goals and ideas on there, asking for funding, then Broadway does to operate today on the backs of people anonymously (or publicly) donating money to their shows so they can operate. 

So when I say this, you should understand that it's not about the "Cyber-Begging" nonsense some uneducated fucks have begun spouting across the internet.  There's really just one reason why I'm even writing about the second Kickstarter Goblinworks put up for Pathfinder Online:

You got 6x what you asked for the first time, and I walked away with a "Meh - seen that before" impression.

Sorry guys, I'm all for helping new games develop.  But a short tech demo that had extra funds to really make an impression on me failed to even make a dent.  Good luck.


  1. Forethought - The idea that changing your business model after launch = failure to one degree or another might have been a bit harsh. Sometimes, you need to adapt to new trends and fluctuations in the market.

    However, that's really not the case with games that drop their Pay-to-Play model in a short time span. THAT is a sign that they couldn't maintain the numbers necessary to keep that format profitable - their market research and gamer retention failed them.


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