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ArtCraft Developer
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Everything posted by Tyrant

  1. Todd and I get in around 8am, the rest of the team rolls in between then an 10am depending on their schedules. We have a team standup meeting at 10am that lasts 10-15 minutes then we all focus on the day's priorities. Our core hours when we expect everyone to be in the office are 10am-5pm. Depending on the day, and daddy duties, Todd and I leave somewhere between 5:30pm and 7pm, It's rare for more than a couple of people to be here after 7pm. We haven't had any official crunch, but more than a few of the folks have taken some of the tougher work home and worked through it to stay on target. We have a really professional team (by design), so we spend almost no time checking up on people beyond the daily standup and end of sprint reviews. Our people want to be working on this, they don't need a taskmaster standing over them. We do spend a lot of time dialoging with people as we start new systems and elements though, it's not unusual to find 2-5 people sitting on the couches outside our offices talking and drawing to get consensus on how a particular task will be tackled. Hope this gives you the insight you wanted!
  2. Todd and I met back when I was running UO and he was building Shadowbane. One thing you might not know is that the game development community in Austin is quite collegial, and almost all the studio and game leaders socialize, even if their companies are competitive. We kept in touch over the years, mostly by having lunch a couple of times yearly. Frankly, we never thought we'd work together because we both tend to work on long term projects and the idea that we could sync up never really occurred to either of us though we certainly liked and respected each other. Early in 2013, we had arranged our normal periodic lunch. As we greeted each other,Todd said "I've got something to tell you" and I (being the brusque person I am), said "No, I've got something to tell you, I've decided to leave Disney and I want to start a new company". Of course, he had been about to tell me he was leaving Kingsisle and wanted to start a new company! We were both bit shocked that we were doing this at the same time, and immediately started talking about the marketplace, what we saw that was not working well and where the opportunities might be for something that would shake things up. In that conversation we realized that we had very similar worldviews and desires around how to build a game company and what kind of products to create. We had a couple of follow-up meetings and within a week or so decided to try working together. And from that start over the next few months we created ArtCraft Entertainment and started the process of creating the vision for Crowfall and the building the team to create it. It's been a blast so far (at least from my perspective!). I love partnering with strong creative people while I worry more about the nuts and bolts of execution, and Todd is certainly amazingly creative guy!
  3. This is the norm for us IMO. Can't be good stewards without listening and interacting.
  4. It's in the queue, but behind some other site functionality that's in progress. Surprising there is not an off the shelf plug-in for it with these forums.
  5. I didn't want a "real" programming job where you had to document your code, and I wanted to code things I cared about. But that was in 1977, what did I know? Crack dealer, not crack addict. (in all seriousness though, I like lots of game types but rarely have the focused time for playing other than for market research, if I had more free time, I'd certainly play more MMO's, strategy games and action RPGs though) Depends on what sweet or savory is served with. Unicorns? Really? They'd look pitiful when the hunger got to them. How about some Llama's instead?
  6. I think my vague hint is : Player bonds What's important to me is that we make a must-play experience for the discerning gamer, an experience that once played becomes impactful to our players life history. When I think of some of my early MMO experiences, it was the most intense and impactful gameplay (and social play) I had ever experienced, and my goal is to build a product/service with that intensity of experience and bring it to as many people who can stand it as possible. I don't think most people want that level of intensity in their play, but for those that do, there is nothing else that compares. And if we can do that, maybe, just maybe we nudge the MMO medium forward some, and encourage other teams to try something else which seems crazy, but might just be more fun than we can imagine.
  7. Pretty sure this was previously answered, but we are *NOT* f2p. It's not the right model for this experience in our view. More details on the Crowfall business model will come out before the countdown ends.
  8. Consumer Equity crowdfunding was "legalized" by the Jobs Act, but no rules have been issued on how to actually do it legally. So as of now, we can't sell equity to consumers, only to "accredited investors" as part of a formal stock offering. If you are a accredited investor, you should PM either Todd or myself, though we don't have a stock offering open right now. P.S. Thanks for the correction from "qualified" to "accredited" investor.
  9. We've done this both ways with previous game services (worldwide servers and regional locked servers). We'd love to service as much of the world as possible directly, but the combination of money to help build the game and most importantly for the players, localized community, service and support may lead us to work with an overseas partner for particular regions. Mega-game corps have that kind of infrastructure and capital, little guys like us, not so much! We aren't locked in as of now, a lot depends on how players respond to our game and our crowdfunding. Thanks!
  10. 02/04/15 - Update from the Founders First, I hope that you guys caught that we put our full team names/pictures/mini-bios on our site earlier this week. We’re very grateful that we’ve been able to assemble this level of talent for our core team. Check them out here! We’ll have more detailed Q&A type interviews with the team members coming over the coming weeks. If you have specific questions for any of our team you might ask them in this thread on our forums, no promises that they can or will answer them all, but hopefully we can answer a few! Now for the meat of this update: We've gotten a lot of questions about funding for Crowfall, so let's talk about money. As you folks know, MMOs are an expensive business. We know, we’ve made a few of them. The costs of an MMO are dominated by the salaries of the people who build it; professional engineers, artists, designers and many other roles that all expect and deserve to get paid. The good news is that today we have more options than ever to fund game projects (beyond the old standby of selling our soul -- and the rights to the entire game -- to a worldwide publisher). In the last few years, crowdfunding has emerged as a new option for raising funds directly from consumers. As most of you know, sites like Kickstarter allow backers to pre-purchase products to support the creator(s) in bringing a product to market. Our company has taken some money (in the form of equity investment) already. We used this money to start our company and begin the development of Crowfall. It's worth noting that Todd and I, i.e. the founders, were also the first two investors. Neither of us are "rich" -- historically, we're hired guns, paid to make games by other people or companies. We believe in Crowfall -- so much, in fact, that we've invested our savings and went without salaries for over a year to get this venture started. We took this risk, and our families supported us in doing it, because we fundamentally believe that there is an audience for this vision. We are fully invested in this project, and in this company. To get this game brought to market, we intend to use every method at our disposal to fund the game through completion. Specifically: We will likely sell more equity (ownership in our company) in the future, We will license some of the overseas rights for Crowfall. We're going to try and keep control of the English-speaking territories. And, yes, we will do a crowdfunding campaign. We aren't asking you to fund the entire game, but your participation is a key piece of the funding puzzle. A successful crowdfunding campaign does more than just provide funding; it also demonstrates "market viability." It shows that Crowfall has a committed audience, and that we're making a game that people want to play. Our story is stronger, and that dramatically improves our ability to sell both equity and license overseas rights. It's a real force multiplier in giving us the resources we need to build a world-class game. To be clear: we have a LOT of experience working with publishers, and if that's the only way to get this game made, we'll do it... but the moment we sign away world-wide rights, we lose some of the control over our vision. Publishers are in the business of creating mega-hits, and the way to make a mega hit is usually to change your design to appeal to the mass market. Frankly, we’ll do whatever it takes to make this game for you (within our legal and ethical constraints, of course) but we would much rather answer to you, our customers. We also believe in the power of Crowdfunding, particularly for games that are innovative and/or tightly targeted to an under-served audience. We also love the intimacy it creates between developers and the core audience. Committed players help keep our development process honest, and consumer-focused. Both Todd and I have experienced decisions being made about our games that were not in the best interest of the players and the game, to serve other corporate interests. We want to cut that middle man out, and work for you: our players. For those of you who don’t feel up to backing a product before it is market-ready: we understand, and we absolutely respect your position. Hopefully you’ll give Crowfall another look, once we bring the game to market. For those of you who are willing to back us: thank you, and please know that we are looking for more than just your money. We want your input, your attention and your passion. Every great game goes through a lot of iteration during development. We are going to be leaning on you, our early adopters, to help us achieve this vision. To keep the game focused on an experience our core fans will love. To help us make the difficult, reality-based decisions about how and where to spend our limited resources. It’s going to be adventure, and we would love you to be a part of it. We believe this game deserves to be made. We hope you feel the same way, and will give serious consideration to backing Crowfall when our crowdfunding campaign launches. Thanks for listening, Gordon & Todd ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.
  11. I would have thought my answer to this would already be clear from what I wrote. We'd be better off building a new game for that audience, than trying to modify a game in midstream to accommodate a different audience. It might work financially but it would make the game it less of what it was. Believe it or not, people that make games are not strictly motivated by money. P.S. I think I am the accountant for ArtCraft btw.
  12. Sorry we missed anyone who tried to find us there. I swung by the booth a few times every day. The TUG guys were great about handing out our buttons.
  13. Ask the TUG/Nerd Kingdom guys at the booth for one. Hopefully they won't run out too quickly each day! And check out their game too, it's another different take on MMO gaming. Todd and I will be at the show but only at the booth some of the time (so much to see and do there!). The setup I saw this afternoon looks like it will be fun!
  14. Welcome to our first Crowfall Team Update! You’ll get an update every couple of weeks on our team status and more as outlined below. Todd will be doing our game and vision updates, while I’ll be talking more about the nuts and bolts of turning that vision into a reality through our team and processes that we can all enjoy! Our entire core team has been in place for ~6 months working on Crowfall, though some of us were working on it earlier than that. We currently have 17 full time people in the office plus several offsite resources. Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing those team members individually on the website in the soon-to-be-launched Team section. We’ve got plenty of experienced MMO folks (this is certainly not our first MMO rodeo!). We also have mixed in a few folks whose experience is primarily in the AAA , non MMO space. We like this diversity in our team make-up, as it pushes the boundaries of what we deliver both visually and in gameplay. Our team is really passionate about the game we are building. Management sets the development goals in conjunction with teams ability to execute on them. Everyone on a team this size gets creative input into the game too, which is a great environment. Having managed multiple super-large teams, getting everyone’s creative contributions is the delightful part of game making that often gets lost when teams get enormous and unwieldy. Small is beautiful! I’ve built and managed dozens of development teams in my career and I’m extremely happy with the team we’ve assembled. We’ll add more people in the future but our leadership is in place and the bones of the team are solid. We feel prepared for what’s to come, while recognizing there are always emergent challenges to overcome in making great games! Thanks for giving us your time and attention. We appreciate it!
  15. Interestingly, the current number one non-English language for our website is Spanish (3.7%), followed by Italian (2.4%) and German (2.2%). We pay attention to this and will have a localization plan for the game, but don't expect any details on this for a while!
  16. Born in Houston, lived in lots of places in the USA (TX, CA, GA, AR, IL, FL, VA) plus Germany. Love Austin, have been here for 14+ years, and hope to stay here!
  17. Tyrant

    PAX South

    While some of us will be at the show, our booth is going to be used by the TUG/Nerd Kingdom guys. We thought we'd ready to show something there but we won't unfortunately! There will be Crowfall buttons there (while they last) if you want some memorabilia though!
  18. Every complaint is investigated, judged against the rules and dealt with. We'd prefer people make complaints against things which are clear violations. If people keep the conversation to a level they would in a public place (where you don't know everyone), there is unlikely to be anything worth reporting.
  19. The shear intensity of UO (along with it being the first MMO for many people, and there is nothing like a first love of course) forged those human bonds in an extremely hot fire. My friend Jonathan Baron used to remind me even before I worked on UO that the human heart doesn't know the difference between virtual and real. Very strong human bonds are often created under adversity and stress, and that was the essence of the UO experience for many. We actually did data mining which showed us that while the hardest core PvP'ers were sticky to the game they were a minority (very vocal, and very impactful to the game environment, but definitely a minority) to begin with, along with the merchants who were often not as engaged in PvP (more acting as arms merchants in a continuous war), with the majority of sticky players being almost exclusively PvE (i.e. only did PvP in defense or rarely). The problem was our conversion percentage of PvE players to long term subscribers was very low. Once Trammel came in the PvE players started converting to long term subscription at much higher rates (and there were way more of them). Anyone who made it 90 days was likely to last more than a year and often two years. Housing was the highest correlation with retention of course for all types of players. I do believe there were better options that we could have pursued and I like your difficulty level analogy a lot. We did crank the intensity down low enough that an essential part of the soul of UO was lost, and I was sad about that even then. Hopefully we'll recapture some of that spirit in what we're working on now and it will resonate with a subset of MMO players who will find a home with what we offer.
  20. If you used the same email you are fine. We just haven't surfaced the beta groups to your profile on the forums yet. No one is losing their spot.
  21. Another interesting thing to note is that the push for bigger audiences leads directly to more "accessible" experiences. (that's code for directed experiences, that are more forgiving, less intense games which cater a broader group of players). There are plenty of big companies out there making those types of games (and plenty of players who want them). We are specifically making our game for players who will like the kind of experience we will create, not trying to cast a wide net to get a mass market audience. We want the folks who will appreciate an intense gaming experience with real risk, winning *and* losing. While we want as many players who are engaged in our game as possible, we won't need millions of players to make our game work. So our game won't be for everyone, and we certainly don't want people playing who aren't enjoying the experience. This is supposed to be an activity we experience as fun after all!
  22. @morrolan Great question from ancient (but highly emotional history)! Yes, I'm the person who is responsible for bringing you Trammel and the dilution the original UO. And I regret some (but not all) of the outcome. My charter as the VP of Online at Origin Systems (and Executive Producer of UO), was to grow the game. The unforgiving play environment that made UO so intense was clearly driving away between 70+% of all the new players that tried the game within 60 days. The changes we came up with to address this problem were a compromise, mostly driven by fiscal, technological and time reasons. The good: After the change which broke the game space into PvP and PvE worlds, the player base and income nearly doubled (we went from 125k to 245k subs). So from a fiscal responsibility standpoint it was a totally winning move. The bad: Without the "sheep to shear" the hard core PvP'ers were disenfranchised. They didn't like preying on each other (hard targets versus soft targets), and they became a smaller minority in the overall game. The real bad though was that the intensity and "realness" of the game for all players was diminished. This was the major unintended consequence. Part of the context during that time was that UO2 was under development, and the plan that was being pushed on us was to shut down UO when UO2 launched (even though it was a completely different game). In fact, my second week at Origin I was asked for a shutdown plan for the game. (My answer: if you are serious I'm quitting today, because some of the players are going to kill (IRL) the people responsible for such a decision. They really didn't understand the emotional attachment UO players had for the game). This continued to be something talked about though continuously, but less after we grew the game. Remember that EA at that time was a packaged game company and they culturally only understood launching new products, not running live ones. Our Live team needed to keep UO vibrant and growing to offset those forces, so we were continuously scrambling for how to do that. I'm proud that UO survives to this day based partially on the momentum the team (and our loyal customers) created. I also learned from my UO experience that it's really hard to change a brand. Inherent in the UO brand was the fact it was a gritty, hard core world of danger. We were not successful in bringing back the (literally)100's of thousands of players who had quit due to the unbridled PvP in the world (~5% of former customers came back to try the new UO, but very few of them stayed). We discovered that people didn't just quit UO, they divorced it in a very emotional way. But we did keep more of the new players that came in by a large margin, significantly more than than the PvP players we lost. If I had the chance to do it again, (and we had different fiscal and time constraints), we would have done something more like keeping the current current worlds with the original ruleset (like we later did with the Seige Perilous shard, which was too late in my view), and make new shards with a more PvE ruleset. One of the benefits of experience is the mistakes you've made along the way, and the pattern matching to avoid old mistakes. Of course this means that you get to make new and even more spectacular (but different) mistakes in the present! I hope this gives you more insight into what happened the UO that you (and I) loved. P.S. Please do remain skeptical, we don't expect anything on faith, but wait until we unveil our entire vision before passing final judgement!
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