I've Come Full Circle!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Not many people would guess this, but my love of roleplaying actually started because of a computer game. In 1980, I discovered one of the first computer roleplaying games, Akalabeth: World of Doom. It had very simple graphics, and gameplay amounted largely to wandering through computer-generated dungeons, killing things, and taking their loot. But I was hooked! I used to go down to my local computer store—Computer World, in Appleton, Wisconsin—and I'd play the game on their Apple II demo setup for hours. (The Computer World staff tolerated my incessant play because it attracted lots of attention to the computer!)
In 1981, I went off to St. Olaf College, leaving Computer World—and Akalabeth—behind. I soon needed to scratch my adventuring itch, so put I up a message on the bulletin boards asking if anybody at St. Olaf was playing Akalabeth. That didn't pan out, but it did lead someone to contact me about a game that was new to me: Dungeons & Dragons. Of course, I fell in love with D&D, eventually leading me to a career of more than 25 years in the gaming business, including working at Wizards of the Coast on the launch of D&D's third edition in 2000!
My boss on that 3E team was Ryan Dancey, and when I left Wizards, I told Ryan that I'd love to work with him again someday. But our lives diverged; I started Paizo, and Ryan went to CCP in Iceland to be the Chief Marketing Officer for the EVE Online MMO. We stayed in touch over the years, and after Ryan left CCP earlier this year, I asked him what he was going to do next. His answer: "How about a Pathfinder MMO?"
At first I was skeptical. I'd heard horror stories about hundreds of millions of dollars lost developing games that were never released. Or games that launched with a big splash only to become zombies within months, their subscriber base dwindled down to a barely sustainable number. But this was Ryan, and I really wanted to work with him again. So I challenged him to convince me—to make me a believer. Over the next few months, Ryan started developing a plan for this Pathfinder MMO, and I started to believe. The plan wasn't 100%, though, so I brought the resources of Paizo to bear on it. Erik Mona, Vic Wertz, James Jacobs, Jeff Alvarez, Gary Teter, Wes Schneider, Sarah Robinson, and more each contributed unique insight to help us come up with a plan for the game—now christened Pathfinder Online—that we could all believe in. What we are announcing today is the result of that work.
Pathfinder Online's journey is just beginning. We've started a brand-new company called Goblinworks to create the game. At the moment, it's owned by myself, Ryan, Paizo, and Mark Kalmes. Mark is one of the top tech guys in the MMO field, and he'll be Goblinworks' Chief Technical Officer. (And we're currently looking for additional investors to help us move forward with Pathfinder Online.)
Traditionally, projects like this are developed in secrecy, with information leaking out in whispers for months before a formal announcement. But we don't want our loyal customers to find out about Pathfinder Online through rumored half-truths; we want you in on the ground floor.
A lot of big picture work has already been done on Pathfinder Online, and it's going to be a bit different from your traditional fantasy MMO. It's going to focus around the characters you create, in a world that will grow out of your interactions, developing the way you choose to develop it. It takes place in the River Kingdoms of Golarion, with our own Kingmaker Adventure Path providing some of the inspiration. There will be an overarching storyline, and dungeons aplenty to explore, but where Pathfinder Online is going to thrive is in the ability of each of you to leave your mark on the world. Do you want to build a castle that you own and control? Go for it. Want to start a town and rally folks to your banner? Do that. Do you want to ally with the neighboring villages to form a new nation—or perhaps wage war on them instead? The choice is yours. Want to become the most feared bandit in the River Kingdoms? The path is available. Want to become the greatest armorer that Golarion has ever seen? All it takes is hard work. If you can imagine doing something in the world of Golarion, we want you to be able to do that in Pathfinder Online.
The fun is just starting! Please use the discussion thread here on paizo.com to interact with Ryan, Mark, myself, and the rest of the Goblinworks crew as we start this new adventure. We're going to be very interactive with you, the Pathfinder community, because we want this game to be YOURS. Stay tuned for blogs, trailers, and other teasers as we move forward. In true Paizo fashion, we will keep you guys in the loop, and listen to your feedback as we progress.
Things have come a long way since Akalabeth. Join me for the ride and help make Pathfinder Online the best MMORPG ever!
CEO, Paizo Publishing