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Helenius

Buying a "developer" spot on the new Richard Garriot project

31 posts in this topic

Hey Gamedev.net

 

I've been a long time lurker, can't seem to find any other post resembling this.

 

The kickstarter project for Shroud of the Avatar, has a pledge for $400, which sounds as follows:

 

Want to be a part of the Development process? This is the level for you! Gain access to the private Developer Chat/Forums and help participate in guiding the game (estimated Developer Chat/Forums access in April 2013). You also get to help create a character in the game as well as name them. When everything’s said and done, we’ll put together a PDF document of various concepts and design documents.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/portalarium/shroud-of-the-avatar-forsaken-virtues-0?ref=live

 

 

I've never really developed a game, but it is my dream to become one at a point, and currently working on an education towards it.

 

What would your assessment be of this "developer" position be?

 

 

Pros:

I like the overall concept of the game, and have a lot of experience with Ultima Online and feel like it has been one of strongest MMORPG's ever, and therefore think I can add something to the game

I have played almost all MMORPG's to ever launch on the western market(Including some korean/japanese that never made it to the west)

 

Cons:

No idea how much I will get heard, or how they will take in critique/new ideas.

$400 (It's not that I can't afford it, and it is something I would like to do, so I could add it to my CV or something silly like that,or I could look at it as an investment of some sort)

Edited by Helenius
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Thanks for the link!

 

That looks awesome, and is the first MMORPG I've seen in a while that actually looks exciting, with all the hundreds of WoW-clones going around.    I played Ultima 3 back in the day and loved it.   

 

Good thing the game won't be out for a while, might distract me from my own development smile.png

 

In terms of the dev package, it does sound pretty interesting.    I don't think it would replace the more in-depth process of joining a hobbyist/indie team, but as a supplemental project hopefully you could pick up some nice gamedev tips from their talented team.   I'm tempted to try it myself, good find!

 

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I agree, you definitely won't be in the "real" developer forums, or have access to their internal ticketing system, feature lists etc.

 

But even so, it sounds like there will be some opportunity to talk directly with their dev team, at least to a limited degree.

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Here is a reply from their own forum:

 

You will have direct access to the Developers through a Developer only Forum, and be a part of the development process through discussion and feedback not available to other pledge levels.

 

https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/?topic=question-about-developer-pledge

 

Still seems a lot ambigious. But atleast they said that you are able to give direct feedback on their forum.

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This is from their FAQ:

 

And if you contribute to our Kickstarter at the Developer level or above, we will bring you into the inner design circle. In addition to getting general design ideas from you, you will have the chance to lend a voice on even the more contentious issues involved in game design. Some examples would be: PVP – Where, when and under what conditions? Persistent Housing – How can we make a housing market that creates opportunity and engaging gameplay? These are just a few of the design ideas we will be discussing in our Developer Roundtable discussions.

 
 
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Is that really different from most games? It seems like most companies have a forum you can post on before the game is released. Developers usually read the forums, to some degree.
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Is that really different from most games? It seems like most companies have a forum you can post on before the game is released. Developers usually read the forums, to some degree.

 

It's fairly unique in that it costs $400 instead of being free, making it a more exclusive group where your access to the dev team is greater.   Maybe that is a common practice and I just haven't heard about it before.

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According to the current page, the number of spots available that are at the $400 or above is about 2,500 (there's one category that's All Gone, so I'm unsure how many where there, but judging by the other categories its probably 100 or so)

 

So, it does seem unlikely that they'll let 2500 people play designer in any more meaningful way than simply giving community feedback. Having 2500 people be designers of a game seems like a bad idea anyway, so I agree with the people above who say it'll be just like community feedback.

 

Which makes me wonder to what degree are the opinions of those 2500 people going to be more important than general community feedback? And if 2500 is not too small of a number, if they're the only ones they'll be accepting major feedback from.

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But if this level of access as suggested/implied is sufficient to a person's wants then by all means invest. But I will be honest, I would personally prefer $400 to go into helping one of the indie game's being developed by one of our members for example gnoblins or ruinvalor (examples used without permission ) where such an amount while still small would be a hell of a lot more helpful, as well probably depending on the project give you access to an alpha/beta and the chance to make a suggestion that is more likely to be heeded. 

Good points, thanks for the suggestions!   

 

One benefit I do see from this general approach, at least from the company's point of view, is they presumably will find it easier getting player feedback than sifting through the typical "nerf class X" rants you see.    

 

Then again, I guess game companies already are doing this to various degrees by asking for private input from Guild Leaders and other key community members.  Maybe the overall problem of effectively processing player feedback is more manageable than I am expecting.

 

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Any sensible indie developer will listen with attention to any reasoned feedback from their fans - and won't charge $400 for the privilige.

 

And seriously - an exclusive group of 2000+ is not exclusive.

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Any sensible indie developer will listen with attention to any reasoned feedback from their fans - and won't charge $400 for the privilige.

 

And seriously - an exclusive group of 2000+ is not exclusive.

 

But this isn't just a small indie team, and their forum will probably be littered.

 

Also, any of the none "developer" ranks might not be interested in this "feature"... So it's still a maximum of ~2500.

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So they just listen to the careless rich people then although there is most likely no correlation between not minding to pay $400 for the tiny chance of people listening to you in a mass of 2500 and being able to provide thoughtful contributions?

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What impresses me the least is the fact that the presentation makes great promises about a lot of great details (though without being too concrete), and some screenshots/movies rather concretely suggest how some mechanics will work and things will look like, but on the other hand it states that no design document exists yet, as this will be created after input from the "developer backers".

 

The way these "be a developer" spots are marketed is most deceptive too, in my opinion. What you'll get is certainly is not what you think when you read the description.

 

Somehow, all of that gives me a bit of an impression of vaporware (or even worse, fraud), which is not something I'd expect from someone like Richard Garriott.

 

Also, some of the details (such as housing limited to a few dozen city spots) appear to be very much oblivious of real world problems that someone like Richard Garriott would obviously be aware of. Did they really say MMO and few dozen in one sentence? You're kidding me.

 

Having very limited housing is a direct invitation to gold farmers, unless houses are totally useless. If you can only get hold of a handful of these, you can easily sell them for several thousand dollars each. Who wouldn't go for that?

I remember LOTRO had a big deal of trouble with that right after launch, although they tried very hard to make house squatting as hard as possible -- and there were many hundreds of houses, which were pretty useless apart from "prestige" and "decorating fun" and having a chest with a dozen extra storage slots.

Now, in contrast to that, consider few dozen houses that are very useful.

 

This makes me wonder if it's really Richard Garriott behind that project. It's hard to imagine someone with 3 decades of experience would make such obvious design mistakes. Maybe it's some guys at Portalarium making the game, and RG isn't involved at all (apart from lending his name), or maybe it's some entirely unrelated impersonator, who knows. In any case, it gives me a weird feeling.

Edited by samoth
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One of their team admitted on Twitter that the Kickstarter is more of a focus group than a fundraising campaign. They want to get an idea of what paying customers want from the game, and to have people hand over money in advance for the privilege. Cunning really.

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One of their team admitted on Twitter that the Kickstarter is more of a focus group than a fundraising campaign.

 

That would explain why the amount being asked for is so low. I had been wondering about that given the real costs of doing an mmo on the scale they are advertising would be an awful lot more.

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Further updates:

 

Lori Treleaven about 4 hours ago

It's my understanding that the developer package is like a more exclusive forum where the developers can discuss ideas and get input from the fans... without the flooding of a free public forum. Not that people paying $400 are any more important than those that can't spend that, but there's more chance that those people will want to help the game rather than troll/hinder it. In turn, those people get sneak peeks into whats being worked on, and can feel like their opinions are heard because there aren't as many voices in the mix. It sounds like helping with an NPC is the only semi-direct impact on the game that tier grants you, and the rest will be general discussion where they may or may not decide to implement your ideas.

I wouldn't expect any further direct involvement than that, but if there is, they should definitely make that clear as that would be a bonus. smile.png

 

 

 

Creator Portalarium, Inc. about 4 hours ago

@Lori ~ You are correct, the Developer package includes access to a private, Developer Only forum where Developer level Backers will be able to interact directly with the Developers. Not that our Developers don't also participate on our official forums (https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/…), but the more detailed, behind-the-scenes discussions will take place in the members only Developer forum.

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According to the current page, the number of spots available that are at the $400 or above is about 2,500 (there's one category that's All Gone, so I'm unsure how many where there, but judging by the other categories its probably 100 or so)

 

So, it does seem unlikely that they'll let 2500 people play designer in any more meaningful way than simply giving community feedback. Having 2500 people be designers of a game seems like a bad idea anyway, so I agree with the people above who say it'll be just like community feedback.

 

Which makes me wonder to what degree are the opinions of those 2500 people going to be more important than general community feedback? And if 2500 is not too small of a number, if they're the only ones they'll be accepting major feedback from.

At this point the only way they can do to have something managed is through polls and other voting system rather a plain discussion with developer. I guess it's sort of interaction you can have with Getsatisfaction platform .

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But this isn't just a small indie team, and their forum will probably be littered.


That's kind of the point.

Look - it's really not my problem how you (or anyone else) chose to spend their money. Just be aware that the only thing the $400 buys is a fancy title and access to the private cheerleading section of their game forums. This is not a small indie team - that makes them very unlikely to be interested in the opinions of random internet people. Even if they were, it would be the dumbest focus group strategy ever to limit input to a group of people who've spent a significant sum of money (i.e., people already guaranteed to be positive to whatever Garriot creates). Though perhaps that is how the developers think (cf. Treleaven's quote above), in which case the project is sure to crash and burn. Working within an echo chamber is never a good idea.

To get back to the OP, I'm not quite sure what you hope to gain by this. It is your dream to become a developer; what makes you think this will help?

You don't want something like this on your CV: a prospective interviewer would ROFL, before binning the application. You are not going to get any development experience. You are not going to get any design experience (unlike Jon Shafer's recent KS project, there is not even the promise of getting a sneakpeak at their design docs). There is - as far as I can tell - nothing here that helps you along the path to being a gamedev. The only reason to spend that kind of money that I can see, is if one is an Ultima fan(atic).

If you want to pursue that dream, you have to keep in mind the golden rule: finishing is all that matters.

Go and build something - even if it is just to mod an existing game. Having something - anything - to show that you have had a significant hand in building and completing, is infinitely more useful on your CV than listing games on which you are a beta tester. Build a game (something small) - and you will learn a lot more about what it takes to be a game developer than you will ever learn from a thousand forum posts by Garriot.

Incidentally, the Jon Shafer mentioned above started out modding Civilization III and ended up as lead designer and developer on Civilization V).
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Go and build something - even if it is just to mod an existing game. Having something - anything - to show that you have had a significant hand in building and completing, is infinitely more useful on your CV than listing games on which you are a beta tester. Build a game (something small) - and you will learn a lot more about what it takes to be a game developer than you will ever learn from a thousand forum posts by Garriot.

 

I definitely agree this is far less of a learning experience than creating your own game.

 

But, it isn't an either/or proposition.  Most people have at least a little time to multi-task and work on different things (or else we wouldn't be posting here  tongue.png).   If you consider the forums as part of your time bucket for education, I see nothing wrong with it and in fact do think there is some chance (not to be counted on, just a possibility) that senior developers maybe including Garriot himself will post useful gamedev thoughts on their private forum.    

 

Just so long as it doesn't take too much time from your own projects, and the money loss isn't cumbersome, I think it could be a good experience.   Maybe not as good an experience as giving feedback to hobbyist group where you are more likely to get 2 way interaction going, but it could be good nonetheless particularly if that style is your favorite genre as most (realistic, well managed) indie groups aren't making MMORPG's.

 

One other thing to mention is that although the number 2500 has been used in this discussion, their fund raising pace slowed down a lot the last few days.  It is more likely to fall closer to 500 or so people.  Throw in the fact that not everyone will be active (though most probably will be, at $400+), and people have different interests (art, graphics, server, story, music, gameplay), and it might not even be an overwhelming amount of posts for the particular game aspect you are interested in.  

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I honestly don't believe it would be "a good experience". Might you learn something? Maybe. But you might not. There are plenty of places you can discuss things with developers as they work on their existing games, and you can do it for free - eg. here, Twitter, on their blogs, etc.

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You are probably better off getting to know indie developers. I doubt that a company like that would take a player's opinion with the same weight an indie team would. That does bring up the question, where are all the open source games?

 

- Jirachex

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As an update to the kickstarter success and the guarantees for those people to take part in the design process, I think the following article might be of interest

 

 

I think most game designers really just suck - Richard Garriot

 

What's interesting to this, is the two updates made to this post by Richard Garriot, which could on one hand - legitimately be said to try and clarify his own words and meaning more clearly than as taken by PC Gamer and Gamasutra.....or on the other hand -  just as legitimately argued by critics that his updates are belated attempts at damage control after having based a large part of his Kickstarter on the guarantee of access to Pledger's being provided deeper involvement in the game design process.

 

My personal opinion: Regardless of the where the truth lies, Richard Garriot might be a great game designer but his media relation skills aren't that great.

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