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

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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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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

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.

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. 0 Share this post Link to post Share on other sites 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. 0 Share this post Link to post Share on other sites 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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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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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. 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. 0 Share this post Link to post Share on other sites 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.

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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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