If Game of Thrones would meet EVE Online, Crowfall would be the result. At least that's what J. Todd Coleman, one of the minds behind the project, says. Surprisingly (or maybe not), Crowfall has collected over $1 million on Kickstarter, and the campaign is still open.
Last week we interviewed the two guys that made this possible, J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton. If you want to know more about Crowfall, carry on reading.
First of all, thank you for giving us the possibility to interview you about Crowfall. Would you be so kind to introduce yourself to our readers?
J. Todd Coleman: I was Creative Director of Shadowbane, Wizard 101, and Pirate 101.
Gordon Walton: I was Executive Producer of Ultima Online, The Sims Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and Star Wars: the Old Republic.
How would you describe Crowfall to someone who has never heard of it before?
We are calling it a Throne War simulator, a blend of MMO with a large-scale Strategy game. It's like Game if Thrones meets EVE Online.
You seem to be fans of Game of Thrones and more than once you said that your intention was to bring that feeling and atmosphere into your game. This is very interesting and we're sure a lot of players out there are drooling right now, while reading this words; so what do you mean with that? How are you going to do it?
The environment and art in Crowfall will have that dark and gritty look that can be seen in Game of Thrones. Gameplay in the Eternal Kingdoms will also have the Game of Thrones feel where players swear fealty to each other for parcels of land. And of course in the campaigns the seasons will advance from spring to winter, with the world getting much more difficult as winter arrives.
You are having an incredible Kickstarter campaign right now, which managed to collect more than $800.000 in only three days. How do you feel about it? Which are the reasons for this huge success, in your opinion?
We think it's great that so many people are supporting us! With Crowfall we are looking to return to many design concepts that haven't been seen since the dawn of the MMO. This is really exciting players since all they have been offered by companies in the last 10 years have mostly been based on World of Warcraft style games. Many of the players realize if they don't support games like this in the Kickstarter stage, they would never get made.
Recently you announced that the game will use a buy-to-play model with an optional VIP membership as well. However, these days, MMO games are opting for a free to play model with micro-transactions. Are you sure that your business model is wise? Is it definitive?
We are really behind the idea of a buy-to-play model with the optional VIP membership. It means unlike the free to play model we don't have to design the game around constantly hounding the players for money. Since our lower tiers of Kickstarter backer rewards is a copy of the game for a reduced price, we are sure that it is definitive!
The game seems to be quite unique compared to any other MMO out there, how did you come to the idea of mixing a MMORPG with permanent characters and RTS-style time-limited games?
Many of these concepts were attempting to use are carry overs from Todd’s first game Shadowbane. The concepts were really ahead of their time but limited by the technology that existed back in the early 2000’s. Technology has advanced considerably in the past 15 years so some of these ideas can now be explored. Especially those that pertain to persistent characters and temporary worlds.
Do you already have an idea about when the testing phases open to the users are going to start? What's the plan?
We are following the model that other crowd funded games are using such as Shroud of the Avatar and Camelot Unchained. We will let groups of players in for alpha testing as groups of features come online. Each of these tests is a great opportunity for the developers to take feedback from that group of testers. We are currently working on a release plan for each of the stages.
The entire concept of servers is quite complex in Crowfall. Could you explain what Campaign Worlds and Eternal Kingdoms are? How are these two related?
Each Campaign World is a server or "realm". It exists for a limited time – typically 3 to 6 months -- or until some win condition is met. During this time, the World will change. Each Campaign has four stages: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. With each passing season, the World grows more deadly as the land is consumed by an unstoppable legion of undead -- The Hunger. At the end of Winter, the Campaign is over. A victor is declared, the map is wiped and that World goes offline forever
The player then brings the spoils of the campaign back their Eternal Kingdom and uses those spoils to upgrade various buildings and services. The player can then head back into a new campaign!
Worlds are built with a procedural, voxel-based system; what does this mean for the players in terms of creation/destruction options?
Since the world is made out of voxels players will have many options not seen in many other games. From digging under the ground into an enemy castle, to blowing up chunks of ground below enemy players feet, to dropping large structures on enemies heads. These are all the things we think players will do, it won't be until we start testing when we are sure players figure out even more exciting things we never thought of doing with the technology.
Tell us something about controls and the combat system. Are we going to see a classic target-based system or a freer, action based combat style?
We are planning on using a more action based combat style. There are several reasons for this; in Crowfall most of the rulesets involve some loss of items on death, so we want combats to last a period of time so the player doesn't feel cheated when they lose. Combat systems with tab targeting and lots of AoE tends to lead to giant 'Zerg' style combat, where players just fire at the enemy blob, which we think is lame.
Action based combat tends to look and feel better from an animation perspective. Player abilities feel like they have weight and power. When you smash a player with a big hammer, it feels like they got hit with a big hammer.
In your opinion, why should players play Crowfall instead of any other MMO?
If someone is looking for an experience that doesn't revolve around picking up 6 acorns for some random NPC looking to make tea, then Crowfall might be for them. If someone is looking for long term character growth in environments that are changing every few months. If someone is looking to explode many castle walls on their path to victory.
Thank you for all your answers. Would you like to add something?
We appreciate all the support we have seen from the community and people who are willing to help us get this project off the ground. We hope as the game is built the community will weigh in and help us stay honest to the vision we are providing now. And of course, we hope to see you all in game!