Crowfall is a game being developed by ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. It was made possible via crowdfunding on Kickstarter and is going to be unique in several different ways.
First is the background of the people involved. The two guys heading up ArtCraft and developing Crowfall are J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton. Coleman is known for directing Shadowbane, Wizard 101, and Pirate 101. Walton is known for executive producing Ulima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and SWTOR (Star Wars : the Old Republic).
I used to play Shadowbane. In fact, it was the very first MMORPG I ever played. As MMOs go, Shadowbane had a relatively high learning curve, was presented as a pseudo sandbox, and was a very immersive experience. Since then, it has been the type of game I’ve been waiting to come out again (for 10 years now), where player interactions are much, much more important than just grinding (grinding is a gaming term for doing the same thing over and over again to accrue some sort of resource).
It was the Shadowbane name that brought my attention to the Kickstarter, Original Crowfall Kickstarter. Even without any real work done on the game yet, just hearing Coleman and Walton talk about their vision prompted me to pledge. I was obviously not the only person out there excited by the prospect of a new MMO for serious role players and PVPers because by the time the Kickstarter closed, ArtCraft had generated almost 1.8 million USD.
Since then, I have been checking in with what ArtCraft has been doing every week or two and I have not been disappointed. For those curious, the Crowfall official site is Crowfall. Since the Kickstarter until now (9/11/2015), the company has raised an additional half million dollars in crowdfunding. What’s more, they’ve raised additional funding (and will continue to do so) while honoring the original Kickstarter backers who shared their vision. New backer packages will confer less value upon game release than the original Kickstarter packages.
ArtCraft has also been very open about the development process including videos of where they are at in production. It’s incredibly interesting to see how the development is panning out. IT geek that I am, I chuckled when I saw they use Agile project management methodology and use sticky notes on a wall to track their sprints.
It’s also interesting to hear how ArtCraft plans to stretch the money they’ve gotten as far as possible. One way they are being thrifty is by making each character an archetype. By archetype, I mean each class in the game looks different from other classes, but players within that class will only use that race/look. This is similar to what Blizzard has done for all the Diablo franchise games. Effectively, by not allowing players to customize things like height, build, race, etc., the studio saves funding on armor skins, particles, cut scenes, etc. ArtCraft has communicated that most of the classes will allow players to choose character gender, which I think all players appreciate.
Ladies! It’s worth pointing out that all the female characters in this game wear realistic and interesting armor/costumes. This isn’t the type of game where heroines are somehow protected by chainmail bikinis. Nor is it DDO where everything is a shade of brown and outfits are not interesting. I get the feeling that the ArtCraft art department has really hit the right note with look and feel of characters; they’ve created just enough realism to not be silly and added just enough fantasy to not be boring.
The non-human characters look interesting too. Other than the elvish Frostweaver, the other characters don’t adhere to common fantasy racial tropes.
About the game:
A lot is up in the air right now for Crowfall. I know this because I obsessively check the website and forums to see what new tidbit has been announced. However, we do know a few things for sure.
Basically, one of the ways Crowfall will be differentiated from other MMOs is by how little in the game world will actually be permanent. What I mean by that is there is something called the “Hunger” that devours worlds. In my mind, the Hunger is kind of like the Nothing from Neverending Story mixed with ebola mixed with crystal meth.
The point of this is that every Campaign World will only last for a few months before the world dies and everyone starts all over again. This mechanic prevents huge, powerful guilds from perpetually owning a server until/unless they get bored and move to another game. It will create gaming seasons where a new start is possible to enact new plans or settle old scores.
What makes Crowfall an RPG is that there will be skills to develop, lore to learn, trades to polish, and at the end of every Campaign World, individuals and guilds will be able to take things back with them to the Eternal Kingdoms. The Eternal Kingdoms, true to its name, is basically an entire realm devoted to player housing.
What’s more, the Eternal Kingdoms will be a game to itself and display fealty (who reports to who in-game) in a meaningful way. Eternal Kingdoms sounds like a cross between Minecraft and Civilization, where one can build a whole city and one’s rank and pecking order in a guild matters in a pyramid scheme type of way. The benefit of being part of a larger or more powerful EK will presumably be increased foot traffic from other players. This will probably be most important to crafters to get more customers for what they are selling.
The game will have a player-driven economy so Eternal Kingdoms will probably not be the beautiful but empty experiment in Wildstar by Carbine Studios. Presumably, Eternal Kingdoms will be important or interesting to players in more than just an aesthetic way, creating a bustling hub for player interaction.
The game itself outside of Eternal Kingdoms is being advertised as PVP heavy. In fact, there are several different Campaign Worlds described, some of which devolve into religious factions fighting, some are guild vs. guild, and some can be a free for all. It all sounds very exciting and I am most stoked about the fact that combat won’t be the boring tab-clicking, skill rotation that most other MMOs have devolved into. Crowfall will feature a skill-based, action oriented gameplay style.
Most recently I’ve been enjoying the snippets of Crowfall lore that ArtCraft has been releasing. In fact, some of the new lore for the in-game gods has just been released and it make my inner geek do jumping jacks. Some divine art:
Last but not least, Crowfall is going to have destructive environments via the use of voxels in development. I’m not an expert so if you want to learn more about voxels you’ll have to google it, but this is kind of huge. It means that strategies such as tunneling into an enemy base or drilling a hole through a mountain will be possible. Heck, I’m predicting that some powerful guild after the launch while try to build a base similar to the Mines of Moria.
I’m highly suggesting anyone into MMOs, open world games, PVP, RPGs, or any mix of these genres to take a look at Crowfall. I think it’s going to be a really intense, super fun game. Crowfall is supposed to be released in Jan. of 2017, but I think it may be delayed a bit. That said, anyone who backs the game gets access the Beta and the Alpha depending on how much is pledged.