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TullyAckland

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The Shadowbane lore was, for me, one of the most compelling parts of the game.  It deeply affected my relationships with the characters and with the game world, even when it wasn't enforced.  The entire Mourning server was populated with people of this ilk, people who voluntarily imposed restrictions on themselves to fit into the game (even when the game does not require it).  When a MMORPG elicits this kind of emotional investment, I think you know you have something special (above and beyond the rest of the design concepts that are indeed revolutionary).

 

Many of us certainly hope that Meridian could be further involved as a writer with you, again.

 

My question and concern is regarding the various different rulesets.  One one level, strategically it seems as though the rulesets are designed to discourage certain outcomes, such as certain mega-guilds dominating every campaign over and over again.  On another, it seems like a smartly designed architecture that allows for flexibility in modifications, as you have told us, one that accommodates feedback loops and allows for tweaking and experimentation. 

 

But at yet another level, it looks in some ways like an attempt to appease too many audiences.  I'm sure you've seen the response – people invoking labels like "lobby game" and "care bear kingdoms."  Lots of questions about movement between campaigns and how alts function, and whether there will be conflict in the EKs.  A danger with the limited lifetime on each world is of course the lack of consequence.  Some players may simply quit because they'll wait for the next campaign.  

 

Are you worried at all that the limited lifetime (or end-game scenarios) may cause players to be less invested in the game and therefore less willing to play through adversity?  Could this result in a fracturing of the player base (some players only gravitate to certain campaigns and ignore the others)?  Or (without having to reveal the entire mechanics and system), do you feel like you've already considered this in the design?

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The team all has such long (and sometimes tremulous) experiences in the games industry.

 

What are some of the things you did in other games (don't need to name the game) that made you go 'NEVER AGAIN! What a train wreck that idea was!".

 

What are some of the things you knew would not be popular with the players but were forced to do because of outside pressure (like investors or corporate hats. You don't have to deal with that this time right)?

 

Where do you think Crowfall has made the most progress/innovation over more conventional MMOs (I know you likely can't be very specific for this question yet, but that is fine).

 

Not a question but... it is nice to talk with developers at this stage of a game. Once Crowfall gets popular, it will become impossible to hear from you guys (even if you want to, combing through tens of thousands of posts is impossible so you will eventually need that 'forum rep' who sifts through the posts for you) so us fans should enjoy it while it lasts.

Edited by Vell

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For @Mr Coleman is there anything you wished you'd done differently with Wizard101/Pirate101 and the Spiral in general? More specifically in establishing the world, lore, the feel of it all, direction to your team, etc. I liked Wizards because of the lore but there was something lacking almost non-immersive about it that as time went on the questing, the worlds themselves didn't hold my attention as well anymore. There are moments in Wizard101 where lore is very good and truly well written like Avalon and in some places, Celestia lore shines too. But when paired against it's younger brother Pirate101 I feel (and so do many others I've talked to about this) that the pacing, story, lore, and overall feel is night and day. I'm not a complete convert and I'll never walk away from either one (The community is real close knit as you know and I run 2 official sites for both games anyway) but I play Wizards now mostly for the social aspect -- to hang with all the friends I've made there over the past 5 years. I play Pirate101 for the social aspect too but mostly because the story is a damn good one and it keeps me coming back, wanting more. I love story driven games. When individuals see a vision and bring it to life in a game via a beautiful marriage of driven story, gameplay, and aesthetics.


dancing_gengar_icon__f2u__by_shadowninja

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vague hint:

"I <3 D'Orion" 

 

now, to your real question:

 

I am ALL IN on Crowfall.  I've invested a big chunk of my savings.  I left my cushy job.  I gave up my safe little nest, and took a bold (arguably foolhardy) leap into the unknown.

 

Why?

 

Because I HAVE to make this game.

 

March, 2004: Shadowbane basically ruined me.  I put everything I had into Wolfpack; I crunched for years.  I spent all the money that I made from selling my previous company.  I lost friends.  I alienated family members.  I'm not going to go so far as to say "shadowbane caused my divorce", but I will say: it certainly didn't help.

 

We shipped it, yes. and it sold well. But it was riddled with issues (technical, design, and operational) that caused it to bleed players like a sieve. 

 

All that effort, all that cost, all that pain. and it just didn't work. We lost.

 

We sold the company to find a soft landing for the team.   The founders?  No such luck.  Unemployed. 

 

I had invested everything in Shadowbane, and walked away with almost nothing.  For about a year, I basically fell off the grid, didn't do much of anything but think about what went wrong.  

 

I'm over that, now.  I'm not longer haunted by 'this went wrong' or 'that went wrong'.  I'm years past the autopsy. 

 

What haunts me is this: it ALMOST worked.

 

The vision we (the Wolfpack founders) had was amazing.  The vision was right there, so perfectly clear in our minds.  It was tangible.  And, every now and then in development, the rarest of moments.  A break in the storm clouds, the sunlight would pour through like a light from heaven and everything would just WORK.  For a few moments, you could FEEL it.  Ask the folks who played the SB beta, they can tell you what it felt like:

 

THIS IS IT.

 

THIS IS THE GAME.  

 

THIS IS THE VISION.  

 

IT IS REAL.

 

IT WORKS.  

 

 

...and then the clouds would roll back in, fires would erupt all around me, and everything would go to hell again.

 

The idea behind Crowfall -- the original idea that pre-dates Shadowbane, that was born in a pizza joint as a scribble on a paper napkin -- that vision is my white whale.  We had it once, right there, in our grasps.  It was so close!  

 

It ALMOST worked.

 

I've spent every day of the last decade learning how to build MMOs.  Shadowbane was the first game that I ever worked on, remember.  I made a ton of newbie mistakes.  Say what you like about Wizard101, but we had a flawless launch and amassed over 50 million players.  I've picked up a few tricks.

 

I learned what I need to learn about building MMOs.  Launching MMOs.  Running a live service.  and with Gordon here, and the team that we have recruited, we can do this.  We can make this game great.

 

This isn't just a game to me.  I'm on a mission.

 

It is time to right a great wrong.

 

Todd

ACE

*Chrissy Hugs*   Thank you for sharing your heart like this.  I knew that this game came out of your soul and now I feel it too.  The cost was so high to get here with many deep valleys and lovely mountain tops along the way. It is a privilege to be able to assist you in fulfilling your great dream (well ours too). You soul is in this game and it is an honor to help you a bit along the way as you send it soaring.   :)


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vague hint:

"I <3 D'Orion" 

 

now, to your real question:

 

I am ALL IN on Crowfall.  I've invested a big chunk of my savings.  I left my cushy job.  I gave up my safe little nest, and took a bold (arguably foolhardy) leap into the unknown.

 

Why?

 

Because I HAVE to make this game.

 

March, 2004: Shadowbane basically ruined me.  I put everything I had into Wolfpack; I crunched for years.  I spent all the money that I made from selling my previous company.  I lost friends.  I alienated family members.  I'm not going to go so far as to say "shadowbane caused my divorce", but I will say: it certainly didn't help.

 

We shipped it, yes. and it sold well. But it was riddled with issues (technical, design, and operational) that caused it to bleed players like a sieve. 

 

All that effort, all that cost, all that pain. and it just didn't work. We lost.

 

We sold the company to find a soft landing for the team.   The founders?  No such luck.  Unemployed. 

 

I had invested everything in Shadowbane, and walked away with almost nothing.  For about a year, I basically fell off the grid, didn't do much of anything but think about what went wrong.  

 

I'm over that, now.  I'm not longer haunted by 'this went wrong' or 'that went wrong'.  I'm years past the autopsy. 

 

What haunts me is this: it ALMOST worked.

 

The vision we (the Wolfpack founders) had was amazing.  The vision was right there, so perfectly clear in our minds.  It was tangible.  And, every now and then in development, the rarest of moments.  A break in the storm clouds, the sunlight would pour through like a light from heaven and everything would just WORK.  For a few moments, you could FEEL it.  Ask the folks who played the SB beta, they can tell you what it felt like:

 

THIS IS IT.

 

THIS IS THE GAME.  

 

THIS IS THE VISION.  

 

IT IS REAL.

 

IT WORKS.  

 

 

...and then the clouds would roll back in, fires would erupt all around me, and everything would go to hell again.

 

The idea behind Crowfall -- the original idea that pre-dates Shadowbane, that was born in a pizza joint as a scribble on a paper napkin -- that vision is my white whale.  We had it once, right there, in our grasps.  It was so close!  

 

It ALMOST worked.

 

I've spent every day of the last decade learning how to build MMOs.  Shadowbane was the first game that I ever worked on, remember.  I made a ton of newbie mistakes.  Say what you like about Wizard101, but we had a flawless launch and amassed over 50 million players.  I've picked up a few tricks.

 

I learned what I need to learn about building MMOs.  Launching MMOs.  Running a live service.  and with Gordon here, and the team that we have recruited, we can do this.  We can make this game great.

 

This isn't just a game to me.  I'm on a mission.

 

It is time to right a great wrong.

 

Todd

ACE

This is the best post I have ever read from a developer. No, this is the best post realized on a forum that I have ever read. For real.

I mean, I have not seen in my life a group of developers so open to their fans. I mean of course, there ARE devs that communicate with their fans and stuff, but not like THIS! You sir just earned my respect!

 

I have a good feeling about this game. I'm looking forward to play it! It does seem original and original is the key to the gates of popularity in the gaming industy of nowdays! =)

 

Again, thank you for that post, you literally made my day much better =)

 

~Nappi

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Fae Tyrant

 

Male Fae with ears & wings crudely hacked off to hide them while they matured. Everything the assassin fears, cruel and atrong, a natural counter to her archetype. Uses Champion weapon anims, has a very barbarian playstyle but themed with Fae magic. Think shadowstep, old god tentacle snares, using shadow bodies.

 

 

Interesting idea.  Love the brutality of it.  The champion base would mean that it would use the Champion rig -- which might be a little odd, given the size difference.  (It's not apparent from the screenshot, since she is next to a Gryphon, but the Fae are actually pretty small.  the... 2nd?  smallest of the races.

 

Proportionally, though, they might be similar enough to another archetype (like the male Frostweaver?) that we could scale them down and make it work that way. It's interesting -- I hadn't considered using cross-over skeletons as the base for a different gender!  If we could do that with others (like the Male Templar uses the same skeleton and animation set as the Male Knight, for instance) that could be a big, big savings...

 

Great idea.  Thanks for posting it.

 

Todd

ACE


J Todd Coleman

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

[Rules of Conduct]

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Ha. I actually have some questions today. Since you guys are using Unity for the game engine, do you find that some 3d modeling packages are more suited or easier to use for it than others? Blender, Maya, max, etc. Which one(s) are you using?

Edited by XcomVic

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For @Mr Coleman is there anything you wished you'd done differently with Wizard101/Pirate101 and the Spiral in general? More specifically in establishing the world, lore, the feel of it all, direction to your team, etc. I liked Wizards because of the lore but there was something lacking almost non-immersive about it that as time went on the questing, the worlds themselves didn't hold my attention as well anymore. There are moments in Wizard101 where lore is very good and truly well written like Avalon and in some places, Celestia lore shines too. But when paired against it's younger brother Pirate101 I feel (and so do many others I've talked to about this) that the pacing, story, lore, and overall feel is night and day. I'm not a complete convert and I'll never walk away from either one (The community is real close knit as you know and I run 2 official sites for both games anyway) but I play Wizards now mostly for the social aspect -- to hang with all the friends I've made there over the past 5 years. I play Pirate101 for the social aspect too but mostly because the story is a damn good one and it keeps me coming back, wanting more. I love story driven games. When individuals see a vision and bring it to life in a game via a beautiful marriage of driven story, gameplay, and aesthetics.

 

I will touch on this briefly, but W101 and P101 are live game services so I'd prefer not to get into too far into the details. Perhaps, many years from now, I will feel more comfortable doing so.

 

The short answer is, "the more you do something, the better you get at doing it."  At the time it launched, Wizard included a revolutionary amount of storytelling for an MMO.  The foundation of the storyline of the Spiral (the creation of the universe, the structure of how the worlds are connected, the way magic works at a conceptual level) was really set in Wizard.  Pirate took those ideas and expanded on them -- for example, in Wizard, James (Nance, design lead) established that a flying ship could travel from Grizzleheim to Wizard City.  That idea led directly to the Skyways, and the Stormgates between worlds.  

 

We also made it a point to add more hooks into the design where stories could be told without resorting to the infamous "MMO wall of text".  

 

For example, the companion promotion quests and the "chatter dialogue" are an amazing way to add texture to a non-player characters.  Suddenly, we had a way to craft a backstory for each character, establish relationships BETWEEN the NPCs, and we could give each NPC a story arc that comes to a satisfying conclusion. 

 

And, of course, it doesn't hurt that that Meridian is the head writer for Pirate.  He's gifted when it comes to establishing a character's voice -- even when you are limited to 3 "pages" text, each page being less than 144 characters.  basically, he has 3 tweets to convince you that a character is real. Amazing.

 

Todd

ACE


J Todd Coleman

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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@JT/GW Can you give us a run down of the "daily" routine at ACE? From like maybe the morning meeting until end of day. Do you force people to go home? Do you stay there until your last worker leaves?

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I might be a bit late, and I'm not sure if this is a question that's easy to answer, but here it goes!

 

For you developers what's your biggest concern for Crowfall, What's the bugbear that keeps crawling around in your heads filling you with woe, doubt, and concern for the future?

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Now, I have to say this, and this will be a really, really unpopular statement.

 

If hunger week was so "brutal" for ArtCraft, my confidence in you is unfortunately somewhat shaken. Where you creating this content this week, as it was being released? If not, was the act of releasing previously generated content that brutal for the team? I'd love to hear a little elaboration as to why Hunger week was so brutal. I'm already seeing this concern pop up on several gaming forums regarding this statement.

 

I ask this not to detract from the awesome reveals this week, nor because I'm not all-in on Crowfall, because I am. I ask this because I'm seeing people react to this small blurb negitively, people analyze dev quotes as closely, if not moreso, than screen shots and archtype monologues. The forums can sometimes turn into an echo-chamber of hype and while I'm hyped, I also want to keep ArtCraft held accountable because I believe in this.

 

With that all said, Mr. Coleman, why exactly was "Hunger week" so taxing and why should that not be concerning for potential future investors, donators, and players of Crowfall?


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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!

Did you talk about Darkfall Online?

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@JT/GW Can you give us a run down of the "daily" routine at ACE? From like maybe the morning meeting until end of day. Do you force people to go home? Do you stay there until your last worker leaves?

 

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!


Gordon Walton, ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.  [Rules of Conduct]

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

 

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vague hint:

"I <3 D'Orion" 

 

now, to your real question:

 

I am ALL IN on Crowfall.  I've invested a big chunk of my savings.  I left my cushy job.  I gave up my safe little nest, and took a bold (arguably foolhardy) leap into the unknown.

 

Why?

 

Because I HAVE to make this game.

 

March, 2004: Shadowbane basically ruined me.  I put everything I had into Wolfpack; I crunched for years.  I spent all the money that I made from selling my previous company.  I lost friends.  I alienated family members.  I'm not going to go so far as to say "shadowbane caused my divorce", but I will say: it certainly didn't help.

 

We shipped it, yes. and it sold well. But it was riddled with issues (technical, design, and operational) that caused it to bleed players like a sieve. 

 

All that effort, all that cost, all that pain. and it just didn't work. We lost.

 

We sold the company to find a soft landing for the team.   The founders?  No such luck.  Unemployed. 

 

I had invested everything in Shadowbane, and walked away with almost nothing.  For about a year, I basically fell off the grid, didn't do much of anything but think about what went wrong.  

 

I'm over that, now.  I'm not longer haunted by 'this went wrong' or 'that went wrong'.  I'm years past the autopsy. 

 

What haunts me is this: it ALMOST worked.

 

The vision we (the Wolfpack founders) had was amazing.  The vision was right there, so perfectly clear in our minds.  It was tangible.  And, every now and then in development, the rarest of moments.  A break in the storm clouds, the sunlight would pour through like a light from heaven and everything would just WORK.  For a few moments, you could FEEL it.  Ask the folks who played the SB beta, they can tell you what it felt like:

 

THIS IS IT.

 

THIS IS THE GAME.  

 

THIS IS THE VISION.  

 

IT IS REAL.

 

IT WORKS.  

 

 

...and then the clouds would roll back in, fires would erupt all around me, and everything would go to hell again.

 

The idea behind Crowfall -- the original idea that pre-dates Shadowbane, that was born in a pizza joint as a scribble on a paper napkin -- that vision is my white whale.  We had it once, right there, in our grasps.  It was so close!  

 

It ALMOST worked.

 

I've spent every day of the last decade learning how to build MMOs.  Shadowbane was the first game that I ever worked on, remember.  I made a ton of newbie mistakes.  Say what you like about Wizard101, but we had a flawless launch and amassed over 50 million players.  I've picked up a few tricks.

 

I learned what I need to learn about building MMOs.  Launching MMOs.  Running a live service.  and with Gordon here, and the team that we have recruited, we can do this.  We can make this game great.

 

This isn't just a game to me.  I'm on a mission.

 

It is time to right a great wrong.

 

Todd

ACE

 

Awesome!

 

The cool thing about all of this is the more I learn about and is revealed about Crowfall, it starts to look like a game that almost any type of MMO player will be interested in playing.  It has many of the elements that are currently packaged in several different MMOs right now.

 

If you guys can successfully pull this off, you could put a serious dent in some other MMOs numbers.

Edited by Etheric

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Now, I have to say this, and this will be a really, really unpopular statement.

 

If hunger week was so "brutal" for ArtCraft, my confidence in you is unfortunately somewhat shaken. Where you creating this content this week, as it was being released? If not, was the act of releasing previously generated content that brutal for the team? I'd love to hear a little elaboration as to why Hunger week was so brutal. I'm already seeing this concern pop up on several gaming forums regarding this statement.

 

I ask this not to detract from the awesome reveals this week, nor because I'm not all-in on Crowfall, because I am. I ask this because I'm seeing people react to this small blurb negitively, people analyze dev quotes as closely, if not moreso, than screen shots and archtype monologues. The forums can sometimes turn into an echo-chamber of hype and while I'm hyped, I also want to keep ArtCraft held accountable because I believe in this.

 

With that all said, Mr. Coleman, why exactly was "Hunger week" so taxing and why should that not be concerning for potential future investors, donators, and players of Crowfall?

 

The brutal comment was actually "Brutal for Tully", specifically. While we have a ton of assets and footage already in the backlog there's a lot of minor tasks (adding watermarks, cleaning images up, pushing social media and wrangling text from Todd) that needs to be done for every publish. Combine that with the rest of my job (Design meetings, business meetings and communicating with you guys on the forums, press sites and social media) a daily release can be intense!

 

Remember, we're a very small team right now. 


Tully Ackland

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. 

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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