Daily Archives: March 29, 2013

This Kickstarter and That Kickstarter

Lord British carries on, but his Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter project is coming to its close.  There are just nine days left to go at this point.  He is past his goal and sitting around the $1.2 million mark.


I have said in previous posts that this Kickstarter project is more of a marketing exercise than a financing necessity.  That it is being run to a plan.  And that even Lord British giving a controversial interview was part of that plan, though that seemed to go off course a bit.

And while I am sure I sound cynical at times… during waking hours is generally when this is so, though I am told I sometimes snore in derisive tones… I do not see this who process as not necessarily a bad thing.

Not a bad thing at all, really.

Lord British… and since he is putting his name at the top and playing the role as primary spokesperson, I’ll keep referring just to him… has availed himself of a useful publicity tool that brings with it many benefits, not the least of these is that it can turn a profit while getting the word out and getting his real fans to self-identify and invest themselves… emotionally and economically… in his proposed game.

And the plan continues.  They hit the checkpoint the other day where they announced additional benefits for each of the different pledge tiers.  This was not spontaneous at all.  This was a method to get people already on the hook to up their pledge.  Who doesn’t want an immortality fruit for just a few dollars more?

Available only to backers, you will receive one Immortality Fruit seed. With the Farming Craft you can plant the Immortality Fruit seed, which will bear a single fruit. When eaten, this fruit will fully heal you, and leave you with a single seed which can be planted and harvested, over and over, for all eternity. The Immortality Fruit seed can be transferred between players.

As far as I can tell, this did manage to shake a few more dollars out of people’s pockets, as I am sure his opening up pledges to PayPal users.

The plan though seemed to be based on a specific tempo.  The philosophy behind it appeared to be to make this as much of a spectacle during the 30 days of the project, with minimal information available before the kick off.

Every concrete detail we know about Shroud of the Avatar… including the name… has come since their Kickstarter has launched.  It has been a concentration of focus.  No warning.  Shock and awe, if you will.

And this interests me because not only is another industry veteran, Mark Jacobs, planning a Kickstarter campaign, but he is doing it in a very different way so far.  He and his company, City State Entertainment, have been talking about what they are planning for a while now.  They started their pre-Kickstarter awareness campaign back at the beginning of February.


We know the name already.  Or at least we think we do.  It is Camelot Unchained, with a faint “working title” scribbled in along side.


Mark Jacobs has laid out a series of design principles around the game cover things such as balance, crafting, socializing,  and taking chances, even bringing in another team member to cover graphics and the looks versus performance aspect of design.

They are already previewing and getting feedback on the backer’s tiers they plan to offer and some of the incentive concepts they plan to run with as part of the planned Kickstarter campaign, including something called Founder’s Points.  Those were mentioned in the Camelot Unchained newsletter if you subscribed to the mailing list.

I also said that that would be prizes and pie for all. Well, maybe I did not mention pie but I know I mentioned prizes so here is the first one. Everybody who has subscribed to our mailing before the Kickstarter launches will receive additional Founders Points. What are Founder’s Points you might ask? Well, stay tuned for the developer diaries to find out.

We haven’t gotten that developer diary entry yet.  These points will be redeemable for something, and you’ll get a few extra if you bought their March on Oz game, though they will be tracked based on the email address you use… and crap, I used a different email address for iOS purchases, Amazon payments, and signing up for email lists.  So I’m probably going to miss out on some points on that front.

But we still do not know when this Kickstarter campaign is going to kick off.

All of which, as I said above, is very different from how the Lord British campaign went.

Part of it is, I am sure, due to the asymmetry of the situations.  At one level it is two industry veterans playing to their fans and trying to revive what they felt was great about some of their past. And, oddly, both sold past companies to Electronic Arts and are now building on IPs similar to what they did in the past.

But Lord British has better name recognition and probably a bigger fan base built up over time.  This was no doubt helped by his Lord British character being part of the games and by the fact that his Ultima series of games spanned two decades.  We tend to remember that and not Tabula Rasa.

Meanwhile, Mark Jacobs, whose last great work was Dark Age of Camelot, has to live in the shadow Warhammer Online and a fashion designer.  So he has to build up some momentum in advance that Lord British could probably achieve on name recognition alone.  And then there are the teams behind the games.  Lord British shows all the games that his Shroud of the Avatar team have touched on the Kickstarter page, while Mark’s lineup is… a little more whimsical.

Still, even with the different relative positions and project goals, it is hard for me not to compare these two projects, at least when it comes to their Kickstarter ambitions.

Lord  British has made his million dollar goal, though he hasn’t exactly sped through the stretch goals.  Still, he can claim victory.  And he still has more than a week left to go, so there could still be a big surprise reveal on the plan.

Meanwhile, we do not even know how much money Mark Jacobs will be asking for.  Or when he will start asking for it.  And given how front-loaded all of the work has been so far, I will be interested to see how the Camelot Unchained 30 day funding campaign will unfold.  What is he holding back?  What reveals does he have in his pocket, waiting for just the right time?  Who is he going to insult in a controversial mid-campaign interview?

I can hardly wait to see how it plays out.

Oh… and if a good game or two comes from all of this, so much the better!

Anyway, expect that I will follow Camelot Unchained as vigorously as I have Shroud of the Avatar.


This just came in email, indicating at least that the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter is closer than I thought.  Also, they updated the CU web site since I wrote this.  Things look different and all links may not work.  Also, “working title” appears to have gone missing, so it looks like it will be Camelot Unchained.

Pardon the Delay!


The bad news is that Kickstarter campaign for Camelot Unchained is not going to start today. The good news is that our project is currently in review. As soon as Kickstarter approves our project, we will announce the official Kickstarter launch date. We have no reason to expect that it won’t be approved next week but our project is rather “complicated” as there are a ton of moving parts, including 30 very detailed reward tiers, all the individual rewards, Founder’s Exchange (the store), etc. Due to that complexity, the holiday and the typical studio issues of weather/illness/CPU going boom/etc., it took us just a little bit longer than we thought it would to put it all together so please accept our apologies for this brief delay.

We are going to take advantage of this “downtime” to post material from the campaign, starting with our pledge tiers. Our plan is to break up the tiers into multiple blog posts with the first part going up, on our brand new website, later today.

We will let you know the Kickstarter campaign’s starting date after our project is approved. Again, sorry for the brief delay but when you see our Kickstarter presentation next week, I hope you will agree that it was worth waiting for, even if the wait is just a wee bit longer than expected.


Blizzard Blindsided by Diablo III Auction House Popularity

While the auction houses reduced the fraud and effectively killed grey-market transactions between players and item- and gold-farming companies that hurt the online Diablo II community, Blizzard did not expect players to use them on the scale that they started to as soon as the game launched. Almost every player uses one or the other, according to Wilson, and nearly half use them regularly.

GameInformer article on Jay Wilson’s GDC 2013 Presentation

Two comments on this.

The first is, of course, that this revelation is months too late.  We were bitching about this sort of thing last fall. (Read my comment on that post.)  Hell, I brought it up in June of last year.

The second is, what do you mean you did not expect it?  Have you guys actually played the game?

The itemization that I experienced was such that nearly every single equipment drop I got was not only many levels below being useful for my character, but also many levels below the monsters dropping it.  Unlike Diablo and Diablo II, where gear you had to grow into was relatively common, I never got a drop like that in Diablo III.

Okay, there was crafting too...

Crafting wasn’t much better…

So I went right to the auction house to sell the useless lower level gear in order to buy gear closer to my level.  And I assumed that this was all part of the master plan to make people use the auction house.  I got that sense almost right away that low level drops were all part of the scheme to prime the AH pump.  He says right there that nearly every player uses the auction house at some point.  The strategy totally worked!

Now they are saying that it wasn’t intentional?

I cannot tell if I should be skeptical or flabbergasted.

In the article, he said they are working on a plan to fix the auction house problem.

Diablo II Shop

While avoiding this again I guess…

This I gotta see.

[Related: Green Armadillo and Player Motivation]