Crestfall

So everyone seems to be talking about Crestfall Crowfall, the latest unreleased Jesus game from veteran Jesus game developers. Included amongst them is the perennial nostalgia favorite, Raph Koster, bringing up the consultant rear. Or as I like to call him, the M. Night Shamamamalan of video game design. I mean, I’m looking at his Wikipedia and I’m seeing a huge blank starting from around 2006 onwards. I’m not a game designer, of course, but if I were, I would like to think that the people who deserve recognition are, you know, actually making games people are buying. Maybe even in the last five years!

In any case, I’m not exactly sure why we’re supposed to care about Crowfall right now. I suppose there’s a deep, philosophical difference between straight, corporate PR advertisements (e.g. Guild Wars 2 manifestos) and… Kickstarter campaigns, right? It used to be that these companies paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising into the face of a skeptical audience, but now the script has been fully flipped:

As of 10pm EST, 2/25/15.

As of 10pm EST, 2/25/15.

That is an average of almost $92 per backer, by the way.

What I will give Crowfall some much deserved credit for is its very evocative premise:

We are Immortal. The Gods choose the best of us to be Champions. They send us to the Dying Worlds to fight, to collect the souls of Damned. The Mortals fear us. They see us as Executioners and Scavengers. They call us Crows…

That has a lot of juice. It neatly solves the conceptual problems of “why do worlds reset” and “why does my character respawn” and even “why am I doing this?” You can almost immediately hear the fanfiction being written – perhaps you’re not a champion, but a slave forced to collect food for a parasite god. Or you’re condemned to your own Sisyphean torment. And were these worlds “dying” before a bunch of hungry godlings showed up? This description greases the wheels even further: “The Shadow Worlds lie closer to the Hunger, where even the Gods dare not tread.” What do the gods fear from the Hunger that you yourself don’t? Mmmm.

But that is where this whole Crowfall hype thing both begins and ends with me. I mean, how many “genre-saving MMOs” are we up to now? Who is still playing ArchAge or Wildstar or whatever? There is jaded cynicism on the one hand, sure, but irrational exuberance (at best) is the other. Maybe everyone is just happy it’s not another endgame raiding MMO, I dunno. I do think we would all be better off pumping the brakes a bit so we can actually see what Jesus features make it off the cross of development.

Talk is cheap. Actually delivering a product that anyone still cares about when released is more difficult.

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Posted on February 26, 2015, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. For me there are two major differences.

    1: Nothing they have stated remotely sounds wishywashy “appeal to everyone” like a lot of games state. It’s not hard to see them deliver the core game, and soon (alpha this summer), and have it be what we expect (play a PvP-focused MMO on limited-time shards with specific rules and victory conditions).

    2: Nothing they have stated is a “4th pillar” easily identifiable disaster, where immediately you know its not going to work out.

    Are the two above a pretty low bar? Hell yea, but that’s the MMO genre for the last bunch of years.

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  2. It might turn out to be a good game. In no way will it be anything I would recognize as an MMORPG.

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    • You know, that is an exceedingly good point.

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      • I think you may be conflating “MMORPG” with “virtual world.” Sure, it’s not a virtual world, much of it isn’t even persistent. However:

        MMORPG
        – massive. Yes. Everyone plays in the same universe as with Eve. Arguably more massive than games that play on a number of separate shards.
        – multiplayer. Absolutely. It will be a game of ganging up, soloing will probably be completely horrible.
        – Online. Check.
        – RPG. Yup, your play is based around a persistent character whose qualities and attributes develop over time.

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  3. I am not sure if we are following the same game here since I did not get any Jesus vibe and the rest you got from this game. To me it sounds like a game targeting a certain type of audience (mostly those who wants fantasy EVE) and being honest about it rather then the next Big Thing To Everyman.

    I did not fund it since I am not fan of PvP (I suck at it) but my hope is that niche games like this succeed so that one day we can get nice PvE games like this too.

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    • You’re right, the devs themselves aren’t really the ones pushing the Jesus game narrative. I’m primarily referring to everyone else hyping the game up the ludicrous, “genre-saving” levels.

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  4. AA design wise is solid. AA’s problem was always being dragged down by the F2P business model, and being mismanaged comically by Trion on top of it.

    Sub AA run by CCP? I’d still be playing that game.

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