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Goblin Squad Member. 3,162 posts. No reviews. 1 list. No wishlists.


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Goblin Squad Member

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It's more that you have to go back to reconsidering the design/concept based on your intentions then working out the underlying of your intentions. What are they?

For me I have a vision of an MMO- but I think it's my vision and not shared enough - so far.

Hence to go back and work on the intentions that fits the Paizo community and build something different (not the usual isometric design of the NWN/Pillars genre) but something similar but different and new and extensible.

I did not make that clear so far, because I've been thinking of writing up the basis of it and posting it, if I get a chance (between a cold and variable work calls).

One of the keys is to create a world that is changeable and one that induces the creation of stories, their recording and then distribution amongst the community. That's the first step. And digital games already have some answers on those things to hand and for a lot less money. I don't honestly think the graphics requirement is nearly as high as Pillars goes for more as a product than as a service which I think is what is needed to match and merge with TT and to bring the TT another digital arena to game in/amongst their peers.

Goblin Squad Member

Ratpick wrote:
AvenaOats wrote:

Looking at those successees the DEISGN had to do 2 things differently:-

* Emphasize Paizo Pathfinder Community 1st
* Not go after the PvP Combat mmo crowd - wrong crowd to go for to create a community based product with Pathfinder brand IP.

But that's sort of my point: compared to the sort of numbers you need to sustain a healthy MMO community the section of the Pathfinder community that is also interested in playing an MMO (nevermind the type of MMO) is really small. Even if you go after just the Pathfinder community there's only so many people in that community who really absolutely want a Pathfinder MMO, and those numbers are simply too small to sustain any kind of MMO community.

And that's pretty much the crux of the matter: no matter the technology or design you've got, it's pretty much nothing unless you've got the players. The sort of numbers that you'd need to sustain a healthy community in Pathfinder Online are simply unfeasible, especially since, as I said, Pathfinder as a brand does not have a lot of recognition outside of the tabletop RPG market.

Pretty much where I got to.

* Complete change in concept of mmo.
* Even reducing THIS down to a non-MMO but coop community type of experience for the Paizo community itself. A technology platform for the Paizo pathfinder products that happens to also be a game.

I look at World's Adrift eg the clouds and that looks really fun. It's all about physical simulations.

But Paizo, Pathfinder is all about story-generation for a community around a very malleable IP for this purpose. The more you look at story-generation the more exciting it becomes and the better and cheaper the fit to Pathfinder. I already noticed on the PFO forums ppl were attempting to write up stories... just goes to show.

Goblin Squad Member

Ratpick wrote:
I know hindsight is 20/20, but I think the failure of Pathfinder Online to get off was not due to technology (although that did play a part) but even more inherently one of concept.

Hindsight can be summed up very easily: It's use is looking only at the "the bottom line" which is summed up by a poster in the PFO forums:

We all know the MVP was not met for EE release and many feel that what the projected MVP set out may have not been enough. The undeniable fact however is that they had to launch the game to bring in the revenue to finish it. This I believe is where we where miss-sold this game.

The feeling for me is that the $1m kickstarter was hugely under priced. This game needed at least $3m but as I've said before, this game probably couldn't have generated that kind of funding.

Instead they took a gamble and speculated on those passionate about the game and pathfinder to back it through the last $2m. It didn't work and now we are waiting on a backer to fund it.

Coming back to the "reason", it's a systemic reason, not a discrete hierarchy reason as per:-





5) ART

That's merely order of derivation, not hierarchy. Namely, the design as fine, and the plan was brilliant (business plan) but the design hit a snag with the combination/interaction between ENGINE + GAMEPLAY = PLATFORM. Hence from that you had to go back to the Design what you're calling concept.

Ratpick wrote:
There is potential in a sandbox MMO, but Pathfinder Online was always marketed towards Pathfinder players first and MMO players second. This is pretty clear when one looks at the Kickstarter rewards for Pathfinder Online's two crowdfunding runs: while some of them offered in-game benefits, there were also many things offered in those Kickstarters that were only of benefit to you if you were already invested in the tabletop RPG.

Imo, you are mixing things up. Effectively GW knew they could lean on the Paizo community via rewards and incentives to fork out and thereby boost the Kickstarter.

Then it comes down to the feasibility of the "platform" as the above starkiller quote points out. And that's why I suggest a lot of the demands of that platform are art assets and then immense challenge to code combat that would be old-school anyway... all before you're even seeing any of the best of the GDD which imo the innovation was in the Kingmaker components. Choosing the conventional platform to THEN add those off was the problem hence given the feasibility of time/cost.

What you notice with Albion Online is that it's economy + everything based around the economy in terms of the gameplay.

They pulled what Ryan wanted to do with PFO off, using a simpler art asset or type of platform to represent the game.

Now looking at that, and asking would THAT really serve Pathfinder? I've got to admit, that again emphasizing combat seems to be the area that does a disservice still. UO was more of an RP experience interacting with the world. So how could that RP/virtual world representation of Pathfinder really be done?

Ratpick wrote:
I mean, beyond the name Pathfinder, what did PFO offer to sandbox MMO players that other games weren't promising? The only big name attached to this game was that of Ryan Dancey, and most people outside of tabletop RPG circles only know him as that guy who worked on EVE Online for a while....

That's definitely a huge advantage from hindsight we can see with Mark Jacobs (who incidentally did set 2m and then not "just enough for dev" but "enough plus investors and his own cash and ks" to fund full dev) or Lord British and their NAME and legacy fans of their previous games.

Looking at those successees the DEISGN had to do 2 things differently:-

* Emphasize Paizo Pathfinder Community 1st
* Not go after the PvP Combat mmo crowd - wrong crowd to go for to create a community based product with Pathfinder brand IP.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

A point worth mentioning as above, one of the most superficial criticisms of PFO was that they took a coop TT game and turned it into a FFA PvP game.

You know if you looked at the sun "coming up" in the morning, sail across the sky all day from East-West and then "sink" under the horizon in the evening: You'd say exactly the same thing! And who could blame you? For millenia that's what it looked like, what it did repeatedly and hence "that's how it worked". Except it didn't.

If you remember one of the core reasons to emphasize PvP was:-

* Tab-Target PvE is "rubbish".
* And expensive

* Tab-Targe PvP is a little more interesting
* Much less expensive (or so it was hoped)
* The real jewel of PvP was not necessarily the elegance of the actual combat but the CONSEQUENCES and CONTEXT to it that made it hopefully in that oft used-phrase: "Meaningful!"

But the entire idea of Sandbox PvP is predicated upon the fact that Combat via a 3D avatar is the central gameplay interaction of the game and then over time more non-combat roles would pop up, probably as multi-alts.

Here is some of the most awesome potential that Ryan's wonderful GDD harbours. But the combat engine requirements for this "platform" were simply too trying both technically but also to market PFO as a PvP game also.

In the PFO forums this quote caught my eye:-

Honestly, the two biggest things that were not in this "MVP" were the basic UI stuff (tabbing through windows, being able to log in and out, etc.) and most of all better social and chat tools for player interactions.

Busy week, got a cold (not gold!) and Winter Is Coming: I'll try to write-up that infernal doc I keep prattling on about. Promises to keep...

"Understanding the problems before starting on solutions."

I think we're really starting to understand the problems? If you thought that was hard, just wait until you see the solutions: Revolt and Revolution; there's bound to be blood spilt and civil war between "true believers" and "real believers"!!

Goblin Squad Member

LazarX wrote:
AvenaOats wrote:

THopefully (not hypefully!) quoting Martin makes up for all the gibberish I've posted so far! Or paizo log off page: "If Someone Asks if You Are a God...". These "If Questions..." are what a game could be/should be built around if a method how to do so could be worked out?

Pulling this all back to Ryan's great GDD, that aks a lot of these questions of MMO Virtual Worlds that don't seem to have been done or pulled all together before in a more simulated imagining of what it would be like in such a world.

One area of the GDD that has to change to reflect Martin's final quote above: Mortality.

What exactly do you mean? Caprica aside, I don't think you're going to find much traction to a game where your first death is your last. Eve Online succeeds very well despite the fact that players themselves are by game conceit, immortal.

The essential problem with Pathfinder Online was that the expectation was that the Players would provide the world with content via PVP, empire building and empire smashing, instead of going by the quest/storyline model of more traditional MMORGs, including D+D based Neverwinter, thus saving the need for heavy development. The approach WORKS for Eve, and it works well. Dancey clearly expected to import that model to Pathfinder. The problem being is that chugging through forests isn't as fun as flying starships.

Imho, if you are making a game where combat is the core gameplay, then then trend is towards physical simulations via technical achievements that develop such engines that can handle this. If you're making tab-target combat games you're already making a game from 10yrs ago.

One of the reasons as per Ryan's post is it's tested to scale appropriately. Yet there's been evidence that mmorpgs with lots of combatants fighting at once is not merely a performance challenge but actually is not very exciting gameplay for players either aka "Zerg".

So imho if those considerations hold, then you have to make a choice:-

1. Is your game going to have combat as it's core gameplay system of player interaction? If so, then you got to go with the tech and try to focus on the quality of physical simulation for a number of players in a persistent space and work around group sizes that maximize that: Probably not that large a number of concurrent combatants I would guess?

2. Combat is sure popular. If you demote combat, then you must have something that's as or more compelling. I'd say social interaction systems above and beyond combat should be the focus of the MMO- game to create a virtual world: Not merely geography but psychological landscape. Now if you can come up with systems around that "somehow" (lol!!) it sure does scale a lot more conducively than 1. is capable of hence tab-target trade-off.

I think in such a reworking it would be possible to do something very different with mmorpgs and provide hence a very fresh experience.

To come to the question, it then makes perfect sense that life-death are not merely win-loss states from combat either PvE or PvP, but part of a spectrum built on a wider concept altogether:-


This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

It does remind me of Martin's other phrase: "Winter Is Coming".

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
Gambit wrote:
Avena, dude, man, just say WoW clone, much clearer and everyone already knows that term. ;)

If it were a WOW clone, or a clone of just about anything else, it would have been more successful.

I wish Lee Hammock was able to just re-skin Fallen Earth, basically bringing most of its mechanics over.

* Crafting (rated 5th best of all time)
* Factions (PVP, Faction Based Skills, Faction Based Gear).
* Combat (melee, ranged and mounted)
* PVP (Voluntary Flagging, Zone Flagging, Faction Based)
* Gathering (Zone based)
* Not completely tab targeting, you still had to keep the target in
the target zone.
* Hit location for more damage and better protection.
* Full Loot

The graphics would have been about the same, circa 2009.

I don't know enough about Face Of Mankind to really comment, but I always did like Lee Hammock!

My own general opinion is that as per the idea of mmorpgs running with a "conventional platform" because of tech challenges and financial constraints... such potentially future shining lights such as:-

* Camelot Unchained

* Crowfall

I think have a good chance of being fun, but STILL being games that are just another mmorpg in a crowded genre where the players are ever more transient as more online options exist.

So even if PFO had the quality that these 2 will be able to open their mmorpg accounts with, it would STILL be a huge challenge even at that stage. Probably enough to be profitable? Maybe that is enough.

Whereas I look at Star Citizen or World's Adrift and I see some fundamental changes to the platform, they're Post-MMO games to use Vince's coined term. And on the basis of escewing the "Conventions of the Platform" they are technically accurate; not merely "marketing The Emperor's New Clothes" which fit remarkably like the old ones.

Goblin Squad Member

@Gambit: Haha, good to see you have a sense of humor!

Yes, it needs more work, it's also interesting for other perhaps invisible reasons atm but that's no matter at all. Your humor is what wins out! Let's go:-

Here's the dilemma:-

1. Relevant to the discussion: Ryan rightfully discarded the Themepark concept of mmorpgs and went with Sandbox.
2. He unfortunately imo made a crtical error in taking "WOW" or conventional tropes of MMORPG as givens and hence building his vision from the GDD on those fundamentals.

Hence I tried to merge the 2 ideas: WOW + ENGINE. But to little avail. In the above talk by Vince from Bossa Studios, he uses the term perhaps that fits best: "PLATFORM".

Engine + Game Systems = Platform.

The conventional manifestation of mmorpgs is mixture/merging of both.

We could call it the "Conventional MMORPG Platform"? What suggestions do people think they can coin?

Goblin Squad Member

Coming back to World's Adrift for one final time, this presentation I think demonstrates how essential the engine platform can be depending on what type of game you are making:-

Develop 2015 Highlights Vince Farquarson, Bossa Studios

And in writing in this interview:-

Co-founder of Bossa Studios Talks Worlds Adrift

1. Tech platform is essential
2. Pick your battles: the sky probably helps with this game (less land to worry about).
3. Distribution of players appears to even so be an important way to manage the server on a single-shard persistent world.
4. A breathe of fresh air getting rid of the old tired tropes such as xp which don't necessarily fit the game or need to eg player-skill and player-knowledge instead.

Henrique Olifers, co-founder of Bossa Studios wrote:

“There are many, many reasons why MMORPGs were and still are not the “in” thing to do,” Olifers said. “Most importantly is the fact they’re all the same, going after the same players, doing the same things, just dressed up differently. Massive games that diverged from this formula like Eve or World of Tanks are successful in part because they’re unique and address their niche. Second to that is the fact it’s difficult to solve many game design challenges in massive multiplayer due to technical limitations.”

“This is where the Improbable platform comes in, removing from the equation issues such as sharding, instancing, non-persistency, server load and so on,” Olifers said. “It enabled us to create a truly unique MMO that has none of the tropes of MMORPGs, thus putting Worlds Adrift in its unique space, thanks to its unique design features. Internally, we don’t even call Worlds an MMO, as we force ourselves to stay away from all the established solutions and features.”

Traditional MMORPGs have been around for a long time, employing systems like leveling, choreographed events and scripted NPCs. I wondered if there was any risk in alienating the fanbase in making a game without all of these things. Olifers said that there would be a risk in not forgoing these things because there are a lot of companies doing traditional MMORPGs and a couple doing them very well. He went on to say that there was no need for Bossa Studios to walk into that space.

“What I can tell you, with my player hat, is this: once you are in a massive online environment where you can shoot an arrow — a physical arrow — that can be dodged by good reflexes or deflected by another object; when you can swing at an enemy from the top of a tree and push him from the edge of a floating island into an abyss; when a flying ship comes crashing down into the ground with parts flying all over the place and hitting players, taking down trees, leaving salvage behind in its wake… there’s no turning back.”

Goblin Squad Member

The Forums, there's no beating around the bush: They are absolutely terrible. There's no diplomatic description, especially for the "crowdforging" concept (wonderfully coined word we all came up with). Again this was what got my antennae twitching even before the forums confirmed that crowdforging was not really more than a shell of an idea without the actual idea being do-able:-

Q: How the hell could the devs implement "Crowdforging" using "WOW ENGINE" or indeed any MMO that uses this development? Plenty of people have said, fans are not devs and should not be anywhere near development. I kinda think however for these persistent worlds you want a basis where the community are part of the "building"; I suppose another valuable take-home from PFO is build an Engine that is conducive to that idea in some way; How? That is a very very good question. EQN seems to have suffered this problem too with it's Landmark schism before SOE turned into Daybreak and Smed departed.

But you have to look at the community and what it was able to "talk about" within forums. I think a big indicator that things just were not going to work in a way where the game would create a community was the incessant conversations on PvP and then backwards and forwards "I'm gonna git you sucker!"

Too many people find that a complete turn-off as well as no place to jump into the conversation either. The War Of The Towers probably was a consequence of Delpha + boot-strapping dev via PvP. There's probably a bit more "magic" flying a spaceship in vast space in 2003 than WOW avatars double-timing over tedious terrains in 2015.

Sure it's easy to "pick the bones" of the game with hindsight's vision.

Here's some really interesting thoughts from George R.R. Martin to turn what Pathfinder Online's communicty could be having a conversation about and seeing such ideas breathe life into a virtual world game space:-

Fictional dragon fights aside, Martin addressed the impact Tolkien's meticulously detailed Middle Earth saga had on the world of epic fantasy, especially in regards to world-building. Martin suggested that the mythos, history and languages of Middle Earth — as detailed in Tolkien's posthumously published Silmarillion — was perhaps more important to the author than The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings books themselves. "Readers now expect a fully realized 'secondary world,' as Tolkien called it," Martin said. "So certainly that's what I set out to create in Westeros."

Though these days that doesn't always happen, Martin joked, saying that a lot of fantasy writers, himself included, don't start writing with a fully fleshed-out world in mind. While Martin said he built Westeros as he wrote his books, he also noted how important his rabid fans were in helping him realize his fictional universe.


Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it's not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn't ask the question: What was Aragorn's tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren't gone – they're in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?

In real life, real-life kings had real-life problems to deal with. Just being a good guy was not the answer. You had to make hard, hard decisions. Sometimes what seemed to be a good decision turned around and bit you in the ass; it was the law of unintended consequences. I've tried to get at some of these in my books. My people who are trying to rule don't have an easy time of it. Just having good intentions doesn't make you a wise king.


The war that Tolkien wrote about was a war for the fate of civilization and the future of humanity, and that's become the template. I'm not sure that it's a good template, though. The Tolkien model led generations of fantasy writers to produce these endless series of dark lords and their evil minions who are all very ugly and wear black clothes. But the vast majority of wars throughout history are not like that. World War I is much more typical of the wars of history than World War II – the kind of war you look back afterward and say, "What the hell were we fighting for? Why did all these millions of people have to die? Was it really worth it to get rid of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, that we wiped out an entire generation, and tore up half the continent? Was the War of 1812 worth fighting? The Spanish-American War? What the hell were these people fighting for?"


Truth is sometimes hard to hear. Two of the central phrases are true, but they are not truths that most human beings like to contemplate. Winter is coming and Valar morghulis – all men must die. Mortality is the inescapable truth of all life . . . and of all stories, too.

Hopefully (not hypefully!) quoting Martin makes up for all the gibberish I've posted so far! Or paizo log off page: "If Someone Asks if You Are a God...". These "If Questions..." are what a game could be/should be built around if a method how to do so could be worked out?

Pulling this all back to Ryan's great GDD, that aks a lot of these questions of MMO Virtual Worlds that don't seem to have been done or pulled all together before in a more simulated imagining of what it would be like in such a world.

One area of the GDD that has to change to reflect Martin's final quote above: Mortality.

Goblin Squad Member

@ Schedim

Interesting and always like learning new words!

Some topics are more divisive than others in communication eg Religion and Politics. One Indian friend said they were bordering on taboo subjects out there where there is such diversity it is not a practical way to "small talk", iirc.

I think this connects to your last comment.

However if Pathfinder Golarion World had been created in a different way then that is the real function of fantasy or sci-fi to ask such difficult questions in a different context that then ALLOWS people to explore such subjects as by-products of other engagements.

In these worlds I want to see racial hatred between say dwarfs and elves, I want to see religious fanatics sacrificing a sentient being to their dark gods, or the fact that the wilderness is almost instant death to the common folk where heroes rise above and are able to protect the people and go on adventures beyond time-space, or hold a conversation with some immortal omnipotent being: How would such a conversation actually be carried out and so forth and so on...

The digital form of these I think could massively enable community scale stories.

Goblin Squad Member

Que sera, sera... perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Or crack a crude joke: "Zed's dead, baby... Zed's dead."

Either way, the optimistic or the pessimistic, alleviate uncertainty is a better choice.

When I log out of PF_online forums I'm often redirected to such gems as:-


New Pathfinder Tales novel releases!

From critically acclaimed author Howard Andrew Jones comes Beyond the Pool of Stars, our newest Pathfinder Tales novel and an adventure of sunken cities and jungle exploration, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Mirian Raas comes from a long line of salvagers—adventurers who use magic to dive for sunken ships off the coast of tropical Sargava. With her father dead and her family in debt, Mirian has no choice but to take over his last job: a dangerous expedition into deep jungle pools, helping a tribe of lizardfolk reclaim the lost treasures of their people. Yet this isn't any ordinary dive, as the same colonial government that looks down on Mirian for her half-native heritage has an interest in the treasure, and the survival of the entire nation may depend on the outcome.

THAT is what I want more of. World building, to harbour emotions, creativity, unbounded horizons etc etc. The sort of stuff I have read in the rare refined fantasy novel or the superlative beyond worlds and words sci-fi novels.

Goblin Squad Member

I think they are all good points, different components to a total consideration; looking at one facet on a diamond at a time is the analogy I find most pleasing, personally:-

* Duffy: Possibly favourite way of seeing PFO: The integration of many systems to create an interesting virtual world simulation of Pathfinder.
* Bludd makes a good point about "PvP'ers as a market".
* Kemedo: It needed by contrast to be about Pathfinder, creating the WORLD.

I found a new MMO in dev only recent, the developers are Bossa, of whom I have indeed played their iOS offering Deep Dungeons of Doom, a neat little roguelike-like albeit messed up by IAP. Anyway they've built their new MMO idea off:-

A New Engine


Improbable is developing an operating environment that makes building simulated worlds possible. Worlds which can be run in real time, simulating the behaviours and interactions of millions of entities. Spaces with their own rules and properties that a multitude of people can simultaneously change, explore and visualise in as many different ways as developers can imagine.

Simulated worlds provide unique insight to those asking questions of complex systems. As well as enabling completely new experiences in gaming, simulated worlds can solve significant problems in areas as diverse as defence, energy, city efficiency, health, and finance.

All the above is merely informative and illustrative. I checked out their:-

4) GAMEPLAY video

Would say based of very short first impressions of ~2minutes that the engine succeeds at creating a whole "different feeling" it is in my personal impression "NOT WOW ENGINE" experience.

Definitely cannot say how good a game it is, but it is already successfully different. Whether or not that difference is more fun is another question.

I hope this update finally captures what I've failed to fully convey over the last 2 pages. I feel we're getting nearer.

Of course what makes Golarion/Pathfinder interesting is the lore as Kemedo pointed out, it's "MYTHOPOEIA" quality. How to represent that? I don't think graphics/art is the highest in the list to do that.

Goblin Squad Member

* I realize this thread is somewhat lop-sided to say the least. There's a lot of my own views with less than I hoped the views of the community that has/had existed here for some years.
* I've taken on board the criticism of some of the presentation of ideas shared here.
* To reconceptualize in yet another way, the essence of the argument put forward, if anyone is interested in such things (still):-





5) ART

Here is a perfect "formulation" of a game from concept to actualization.

What I think has often gone wrong is that the mmorpg genre is driven by the standards of todays mmorpgs ART/VISUAL REPRESENTATION that the Market expects.

From this working backwards you then set the ENGINE fundamentals. I believe this is the problem. With the current standards the cost and dev of mmorpgs is in a very risky zone (Big IT Project syndrone).

But also the problem is working backwards from the market. Not matching at all stages the "Player mental model" of the game design. I think Ryan appreciated some and a lot of this via his 2) PLAN stage (mvp/ee/bootstrap via pvp). To guess he compromise was critical according to 5) ART the 1) DESIGN.

Something Raph Koster noticed was that social networks such as facebook somewhat took a chunk out of the USP of mmorpgs in sharing a social interactive online space. One thing Facebook got right obviously was linking people to their own communities ie 1) Design right back back far far to the drawing board, again.

Ie if you review/reassess the whole design conception from much more basic fundamentals about what is the intention of the game system and for whom etc, you may derive a lot more away from the present visual conventions that the "mmorpg engine" seems to churn out all the time?

Not to belabour the point...

Goblin Squad Member

Blame the genre, which has morphed into "it must follow these conventions" of which I try to coin it "WOW ENGINE".

Who says a Virtual World has to be created this way for many people to enjoy?

The problem is "Big Project IT" syndrone kicking in with mmorpgs - not community-building but eye-candy consumption.

I had last-minute work all of today so could not write-up my minor scaled-back idea of the new genre beyond mmorpgs, tailored to Paizo and Pathfinder. Hopefully, Wednesday-Thursday (work evenings then).

@LazarX: Strong post, that's what I'm saying all the millions only produced what you describe. How could you spend cash on a game with break-even or profit but with the maximum benefit to Paizo's Pathfinder IP and Community of players? That's the right question to be asking! :-)

Got to admit, I miss the good community here :'(

Goblin Squad Member

It makes a big difference having an established studio of high experience and track-record quality doing a similar genre to what they're used to using a well-known IP.

Of course, PFO's real reward was that as a start-up GW's was primary share-holder if it went big.

I'm sure a cRPG from Obsidian would sell well.

What I would propose is a digital game service that complements the actual TT game, not emulate it as such as a cRPG attempts as per Pillars of Eternity etc.

The requirements here:-

1. Low cost to make
2. Strong match to community
3. Technologically proven to be very do-able
4. As a service built as per modularity, extensibility
5. Harness community as much as possible to input into it.

I have a grand idea for more "MMO-" features but the reality is they are simply no longer within Paizo's possible scope. So this idea is part of the modular first and some of the second ONLY modular component of that full vision. Something that adds value to the current TT system and uses both Paizo products, staff and community of players...

Well I'll ping this up over the w/e.

Goblin Squad Member

Tbh, the card-game is a very strong and logical start to the digital online market. They're all the rage atm and an intuitive fit for PF players to slide into, I'm sure... ense

As for a Pillars of Eternity Design, given that's what Obsidian are good at;

"What's Next Is Obvious"...

I have an idea that is not obvious, until you see it. Dang, I'll write it up this w/e and post it. I think Bludd is correct, it won't be MMO, but it will be VERY specific to the Paizo Pathfinder community of fans: A product/service to complement their TT game and extend it beyond.

Goblin Squad Member

True, it is because:-

1. I've gone on and on for 2 pages now without actually explaining the hypothetical "alternative".
2. It does not matter how many times you say something or in how many different ways, all you'll get is conventional reasons for PFO's failure or conventional reactions masquerading as reasons... more of the latter unfortunately.

What I'm saying is that bits of criticism are not very useful, whereas a case built up with different opinions and contributions engaging, well it might lead to something constructive, such as consensus on a consistent conclusion as to where PFO failed.

And it's a shame it did. But when I compared the present mmorpg genre to various other game genres in digital games, it's really a very unattractive genre to both developers and players both for time and money.

The online social prospects it seems still manages to carry it though.

Goblin Squad Member

I did not know that expression but looked it up, a very humorous phrase, indeed! Half-way through the first book so I am late to the party.

However application to Ryan's direction, it is misleading imho to personalize this. Ryan did enough to divulge to "EXPLAIN" the reasons for his direction chosen which then formed the basis for a lot of the GDD.

Now if we replay those basis, you can see how much of the GDD document is decided upon from it. And I don't find a huge amount of fault in that process... in fact I'd stick to what I said before: It's one of the best Designs for mmorpg I've seen.

The trouble is the implementation phase and again to contextualize, that's much further than many such attempts even if it's shorter than a full gold release (with more money and narrow scope of ambition).

But to repeat, if you look at the basics or givens HOW TO IMPLEMENT PFO, then you find the real problems. It's very tempting to say x went wrong and here's why hence here's a better answer. That's relative and probably won't lead anywhere either. In fact that's about 99% of comments by players in mmorpg forums.

The major problem how to implement PFO is the what I'm coining the "WOW ENGINE" technical concept of an mmorpg (=/= as the actual WOW Engine). If you remove this, you entirely have to re-evaluate many of the tropes of the genre and you have to access each part of those, how well do they serve the original intention you have for making a game of pathfinder?

If you take this approach you do actually come out with a set of solutions that makes the heavily modified GDD radically different. Not because you've taken the original and crossed bits out and added bits to "improve or rectify or ""correct"" it" to then make PFO's future brighter or hopeful (Hypeful?) but because you've changed the basis/basics of translating your intention into an implementation that pulls together.

That process involves significant sacrifices, but then that is the essence of practical implementation NOT genre-defined implementation. Ryan believed that he was chasing market share that could be adequate to fund PFO through development then possibly lucrative once at gold at the requisite quality to be suitable for ex-wow, current bored wow players etc to find PFO liberating my comparison as the next mmorpg to move onto.

I never agreed that was the thinking to use, even if it's strong "by the market numbers". The genre is stale. Gamers are fickle but they do like freshness. The research shows that they also would like if the market was offering it Social Online Virtual Worlds.

Let's pop out of the mmorpg hole for a moment. Take some of the superlative FPS games, that in some respects are more visceral more adrenaline-fuelling and involving than their corresponding action movies. I was looking at Vermintide for a fantasy version and that looks more interesting than most fantasy sword and sorcery movies that rely so heavily on old conventions to then be the props to the set-pieces (the actual meat of the movie) the action sequences and Vermintide looks superior from that pov with it's FPS butchering of rat-men and coop option.

I would anticipate Star Citizen may get the press saying in a similar way that Mass Effect > Avatar for sci-fi that it is a better sci-fi experience than many of the Hollywood sci-fi movies. It's a feat to aspire to. Looked at through this particular prism, this is the promise I see for a remodelled fantasy mmorpg but perhaps not in comparison with movies but with books? And that is why the whole concept would be so radically different.


What's the take-home for PFO? If any of the above holds a grain of use, it is that:-

1. It's immaterial to personalize the direction of the game design though to acknowledge the creator is just, to call it "Ryan's GDD".
2. Given my central argument's single point criticism: If it holds, then it means there's very little use in modifying what is currently created to keep the show on the road; once that given was taken, the whole design has a systemic fault in it for this level of funding. IE if magically 20m was given it's a go, to create another clone mmorpg - only. But I don't see that magical condition as even not likely.
3. There's another way that's do-able for a few million and possibly via Early Access even less to begin with, that would fit Paizo's gameplan for their IP, except they're not in the market any longer for risky game dev.

To point 3., it's probably of academic interest only and they may not even agree anyway with this new vision. However via the development process, the solution is to hire small teams for different components of the game that are veterans of that particular component, that is a modular separate. This is one of the heaviest difficulties of mmorpg development removed via this method. It's also a good fit for Paizo because it would also leverage their community directly too.

Goblin Squad Member


You're right.

PF = 'Party of class adventurers'.

PFO = Kingmaker Campaign Scale level

PFO failed with the revised Capstone idea to combine the two. Adventuring was relegated.
This is due to lack of derivation as above. Instead super-imposing a fit PF onto a MMORPG skill-progression system that could not fit it.

What that means imo is change of yet more fundamentals to all align...

Goblin Squad Member

I like your approach, Duffy. Taking a step-back and observing the wider picture.

Your first paragraph is I suppose setting that scene as opposed to any specific semantic insight.

Your second paragraph is an important extra-dimension. It's been noted before that one of the key magical ingredients in some older mmorpgs with multiple servers = RULE-SETS. But that itself is not the magic phrase or the secret sauce... ALONE. For that you have to have communities. And for communities something even MORE fundamental... To come back up to the surface and breath some more replenishing oxygen (!) and leave that sunken glittering treasure (for now) the different communities are drawn by the different rule-sets according to their self-selecting interests and that means like-with-like and that means SOCIAL.

This is the key to huge revenue from the business pov.

On your third paragraph that is where I was with PFO: The rules for one server. However almost all that did not "make the cut" to date. Namely in a phrase: "The code and asset volume did not translate to high player value fast enough!!!"

Again all this is 101.

So we arrive at your last paragraph and agreed. But why?

And why does the lack of speed mean we need more funding for even longer to reach the goal?

To me that is not looking back at the bottle-necks that prevented "work done" => "player value". Either:-

* Too much work to create value for this project ie present method is simply too poor a ratio. MMORPG Design model is wrong.
* Too much work on features/areas/basics that don't translate to value yet ie building the bones is itself too expensive and that's not even a guarantee that the "meat" itself will necessarily convert to player value; an untested assumption. DELPHA Business model of boot-strapping is wrong.
* All of these or either of them are compounded problems by "Death Spiral": Not enough players take notice => Media takes notice (or does not take notice!) => Impacts on revenue loss => Impacts on investor confidence => Reduces what the devs can actually develop => Worse game at slower rate => Moment is gone.

Most arguments have asserted I believe that the DELPHA model is the culprit. Some arguments that the type of MMORPG design model is the culprit namely PvP and some of those have said the TT player base (?) is the culprit.

I think it's possible to finally create a summary of all these arguments and how they are inter-lacing with each other:-

* Pricing Model of Early Enrollment for MMORPG: MVP at mercy of market
* Hence price to value: The actual gameplay itself was not developed strong enough.
* Sandbox PvP Design overlay on the Pathfinder IP, not a good fit hence Ryan's GDD doc is to fault
* I'm arguing even deeper: The MMORPG concept itself needs is no longer a good market fit for games-players ie it does not attend to their needs sufficiently and you get a death spiral as well as "themepark trap"
* We can go even deeper again: The concept has to fit the actual community itself to be a Social Online design that then needs a technical implementation and then business model.
* But yet again we must go deeper! What is the fabric of "a community"?

Now if you answer that final question, you are finally ready to DERIVE higher and higher levels of intention that are a synergy of working parts and instead of a "Death Spiral" combining all levels to failure; we generate a "Virtuous Spiral" at all scales.

Goblin Squad Member

I've heard high praise for it. To me however it looks like any old dungeon-crawler with the combination of Dungeon Keeper DM option and custom options which is definitely a good thing, but still a dungeon-crawler.

Players tend to choose what they know, so it will probably pick up a crowd.

What excites me for example about SC is the sheer breadth and sense of size in space.

I think for fantasy what would really impress me would be the sense of scale to the world. A place where time flows, histories are sown and the wheel of the world spins with and without players' presence.

Goblin Squad Member

Kryzbyn wrote:

I think that perhaps "make it feel more like TTRPG" and "make it feel like an MMO" are at odds. NWN and DDO never felt like MMOs to me. I haven't played Neverwinter (the MMO) so I dunno that it can't be done, it just hasn't as of yet.

You mention SC, and yeah they are steadily moving toward completion, but honestly, that won't feel like an MMO either. There won't be a hotbar,you won't level, you won't even have classes or skills to raise. You will get better at doing things, by doing them in game and learning how to do it correctly. In SC's case, with what it's trying to be, I'm ok with that. It doesn't need to feel like an MMO.

This is all IMO, of course.

You smack, bang, wallop right on the money.

To change what we believe an MMO-RPG to be, means difference to the MMO- and difference to the -RPG. One of the driving reasons is to cut dev costs down as much as possible. Innovation comes from understanding what has gone before, and either through new technology changing the boundaries themselves or reconfiguring what is possible within current boundaries.

In fact speaking of boundaries that's one of the worries with the IP brand here. The idea circles around stories. And you need a fairly open canvass to be able to paint all sorts of stories. It is notable that "bad events" seem to make for the stories we retell rather than "the good times" as described in The Hobbit for example. And as we know there are many bad events in Golarion: Slaving, Massacre, Evil Other-worldly monsters and worse. These are not presented for their gratuity value nor their striking visual aspects... they are very important ingredients in the whole story: Without them you don't learn the value of survival or trust in a settlement where each indivdual is also attempting to secure more for their own future as well as their groups. The worry is how far would Paizo allow such stories to get quite dark in abstract way of course. Hence even if you achieve a really good game, that itself poses it's own problems between what the game is intended to do and what it's players when they take control find themselves wishing to express of themselves?

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Honestly, I always felt that PFO catered too much to the TT crowd and too little to the crowd that actually likes PVP and MMOs. But I'm feeling a bit alone on that front. :P

The idea was to replace the TT PF crowd with the MMO PvP crowd as far as I can see. All the talk about TT being a non-growth industry and MMO being a growth market poised between Themepark Era to Sandbox?

As said, the community is itself a big challenge, as per DF forums which were quite ugly tbh, and no disrespect to people who like that. I'm "new to Paizo" but they always get good word for their community-centric approach: Why not make a game cheap enough in budget but exclusive to PF Society members to purchase first? The key is to find the right concept however. Later extensions to other "communities" could be developed as the game is scalable. What I think the PF Paizo community like are things such as:-

* World Building details
* Character biographies
* Adventure paths
* Role-Play theatre moments
* Diversity and more diversity in a strange world
* Their own imprint on the world to use for story material in different forms later etc.

Goblin Squad Member

Kryzbyn wrote:
There has got to be a way to make an MMO that feels like an MMO AND be a workable sandbox. There are many different ways to skin a cat, as the adage goes. Just because (imho) Dancey's implementation of his vision was unsuccessful, doesn't mean it can't be done.

It's heartening to hear such considerations and I fully believe it's possible. The tricky part is the social online dynamics! But I have an inkling there too: If making a PF game, then why not make it "more for" actual TT PF community as the core community??

Different Rule-Sets and different shards interconnected are a way to do this albeit in a manner that still connects them to the same shared world but removed also. I notice SC dev has a number of modules to it's development, and that seems an approach to work with.

Goblin Squad Member

deinol wrote:
Andas wrote:

I guess what they are trying to tell you AvenaOats is that the term "WoW Engine" primarily and immediately calls up the graphical engine of the game used by WoW while I think you mean the "WoW look" as in presentation.

Referring to it as the "WoW Engine" sidetracks the reader off the point you are trying to make and frankly confuses people.

Not trying to give you a hard time, but I have had to read your posts multiple times to get what I think is your point. (yes, you can call me dense)

I don't think you're dense. AvenaOats is throwing around terms that don't seem to have a common meaning to the rest of us.

AvenaOats wrote:

The great concept of Pathfinder was meating (pun) head on in a clash the WOW Engine specifications for combat eg skill-training progression system plus actual mechanics due to servers and graphics and animation and of course all impacted design such as multi-classing vs fixed classes in contention with progression and hence pricing business model.

I have no idea what that sentence is supposed to mean.

Skills vs classes have no relation to pricing model.

I'm also trying to figure out in what ways Pathinder Online is at all like WoW besides a 3D interface and playing online.

You know some of the reactions on the official forums to the 3 threads I pasted above are of this kind. That is another argument I did not address the fan reaction is accusation against PFO. I can be addressed:-

There's a coinage for this: "HYPEFULLY".

I was very hypeful for PFO, but I underestimated the WOW ENGINE as I've been calling it, that was my mistake. Perhaps not the only mistake, the layer even lower than this appears to be in need of innovation too which has played on my mind a lot despite coming up with a good GDD, am I too fallen foul of lower assumptions, just as I think Ryan did? That is a worry.

Goblin Squad Member

It seems to me the criticism that PFO had very little to do with Pathfinder has it's apotheosis in the "WOW ENGINE" manifestation despite the now established wisdom it was "pvp" in a pve IP. The same with WAR as I remember Warhammer World became WOW ENGINE Warhammer world. The conflation is deliberate, even if the confusion is not. Perhaps that's the way forward:- WOW-ENGINE-PFO, WOW-ENGINE-WAR, etc?

Personally the graphics seemed more or less fine to me, but "the feel"; how do you measure that fresh experience that sometimes ignites a new genre? People are "wow this, wow that..." in this genre, afterall.

Now if you had such an effect or value in a game but it needed DELPHA funding... could you say you'd not spend money on it? Imo it would look and feel and play very very little like WOW. What about PvP I hear you next say? What if even PvE players did PvP and enjoyed it...


Goblin Squad Member

"Themepark Trap" - Tick

"WOW ENGINE" - Cross

I can't boil the central argument down any more.

The arguments against the GDD are don't think are the major ones
The arguments against Unity again are not the major ones
The arguments against the devs talent are not the major ones
The arguments against the pricing during DELPHA are not the major ones

All the above are contributory.

But the major argument I'd contend is via the implementation according to the concept of a "MMORPG" = WOW ENGINE for "that market". Ryan was adamant that a certain graphical look was imperative to capturing the mmorpg market.

Some of the comments on PFO is that it looked like a MMORPG from early 00's or mid 00's. But also I suspect "the feel" is what is also being described in the summary form of "looked".

The technological constraints are a component of the cost and the quality and those over time. It seems to me there was merit in "boot-strapping" development forwards. I think PFO's failure suggest modifications at x10 less the cost (and initial scale) and x100 less the weight of industry standards expections from the player market also.

To reduce dev of an mmo from 10's millions or even 100's to under that itself was a major innovation. But the actual concept of mmorpg itself I think needed innovation to circumvent the technological constraints: The problem with the current PFO is that a great deal of the final code and assets don't translate directly into player value.

One of the biggest signs that the design itself was creaking to fit together was the Cap Stone change due to the Skill-Training. The iconic adventurer classes were being pushed through the "WOW ENGINE_combat" meat-grinder to fit the game. An early casualty.

The great concept of Pathfinder was meating (pun) head on in a clash the WOW Engine specifications for combat eg skill-training progression system plus actual mechanics due to servers and graphics and animation and of course all impacted design such as multi-classing vs fixed classes in contention with progression and hence pricing business model.

It's a fascinating story, is it accurate? I thought about it enough and the problems seem to me to point that way. However I don't believe "The Simulation Dream" is dead for Pathfinder not if a whole new concept is forged.

Words Are Wind. WOW ENGINE is wind through the fingers atm. A new design and maybe we can hold Golarion in the palm of our hands...

Goblin Squad Member

@Chuck: I do remember a lot of your former posts probably around 2012 even or way when PFO was more of an idea than a business?

So of course I responded to your view with respect.

>"It does seem the reliance with PFO was too much on competition."

I personally thought it a risk worth taking given the PvP crowd would fund the game to eventually create PvE stuff. Ryan was often quite scathing in putting off people from PFO and I suspect it was very much with a view to such a future, fully knowing many who tried during EE would be burnt and not look again.

However, I think the solution is different, and it must involve more cooperation as the basis for a design with Pathfinder.

I said in another thread, "the key is basing the pvp rule-sets on groups of players". A big problem is the zerg effect of open world pvp. I still think there's merit in Ryan's idea of roles however and I think it's possible to design a game with them but it would require a completely radically new formulation so much so the resultant game would look quite unlike any other mmorpg and in fact not really a mmorpg anymore but a new genre.

One of the central ideas is if it were still Pathfinder is to be as inclusive of the PF TT players as possible. The idea is that Online Social games must be SOCIAL and that requires pre-prepared communities. And the idea is that it must function to be complementary to what Paizo is doing with the TT RPG PF stuff... and perhaps vica-versa even, dare I say it.

People Like You.

Goblin Squad Member

I think there is indeed a huge aggregate of evidence in support of my criticism that I try to coin as the "WOW ENGINE" problem, that if true makes PFO absolutely nothing exception in the mmorpg development chronicles and that is enormously empowering to future attempts I would contend.

I've tried to be as pacific as possible albeit length becomes it's own limitation by putting people off, so this is a final criticism and I think I've successfully avoiding complains or condemnations either whereas some of the posts offering criticism have conflated the 3 which makes communication a little harder as emotions ebb and flow at an emotional time. Enough prose and Proust!

There's 3 useful threads at the official forums (Even I find it hard not to complain demonstrably about how bad those forums are for a game selling the concept of "crowdforging" so there you have it):-

This is the lowest score I've ever seen give a game and they've always been accused of being shills. I think it's fairly balanced piece of criticism personally that does of course do a dog-walk for the discursive "shoulda, coulda, woulda" hounds; part of the review's function is the generate comment afterall:-


The game did have some quality ideas but it was just too large of a scope for too little money. It also had some really terrible design decisions. Tying experience gains to the amount of time the account was active was a poor choice to say the least. They were also unable to get character movement to feel normal. Your characters could always jump too high and moved to odd. It was just a poor experience.

Another problem with the project is it never really felt like Pathfinder. In its pen and paper form Pathfinder is about taking your characters on grand adventures.

Obvious fan reaction is still "raw" atm, but those are criticisms I find too: The core one being the cash to scope issue. EE itself could work if that ratio was smaller and more realistic. That's the key one I call the "WOW ENGINE" problem eg that character movement. Then of course the other issue the TT PF crowd.

Here the MVP idea is called into question, but as above, it's the WOW ENGINE that doomed PFO in a catch-all term to use.

Let's face it, those three words are what killed this game, with sub-par graphics that feel like Everquest 1, and a game system that expects a player to spend hours outside of the game to figure anything out.

The only way to compete, would be to offer something different and unique. After reading the design plan for the game, I was quite intrigued. Being an old Ultima Online player, I really became accustomed to skill-based character development as opposed to level-based character development, and I was happy to see PFO was going the route of the former.

YES! That is what is needed - "something different and unique"! The Design offered that, but the WOW ENGINE turned it into the same old...

I actually got this idea from Richard Bartle:-

The Decline of MMOs


Re-use of technical assets. We saw this in the days of text MUDs, when people would take a complete game engine and use it to cre

ate a new game curiously similar to the new games everyone else using the engine created. The worlds would change but the games wouldn’t. Of course, if you have invested millions in making an MMO engine it makes sense that you would want to use it for more than one product, but if little changes except the setting then eventually players will see through that. Production lines create identical products cheaply – that’s the whole point of them. It does mean the products are identical, though.

Other derived criticism:-

* Graphics
* UI
* Animation
* Unintuitive
* Down-Time required to understand
* Charging for "DELPHA" (I coin this term too): It's not alpha, but it sort of is, but then it's definetly not Beta-standard but it's being charged as a Beta Release which would be Delta, so it's "DELPHA".

Agree with all those except the last one: YOU can charge for "DELPHA"! Plenty of games have crowdfunded to success. Happy Days amid all these storms.

What was wrong was the Scope:Cash ratio due to... WOW ENGINE.

Anyway if want good criticism and can filter your emotions from the complains or condemnations that sometimes creep through all the above links are valid points and contributions and majority good constructive criticism.

I think this chapter closes now. The PROBLEMS chapter. The next chapter may not be published, I may send direct to Lisa and Ryan and that chapter is: The SOLUTIONS chapter.

I invested cash into PFO but was able to recoup it all. However more valuable I invested a great deal of learning and my time hence thinking about PFO and the mmorpg genre and before the EE days such a great community here perhaps all here sharing the same desire; daring to dream "The Simulation Dream"??

Goblin Squad Member

jemstone wrote:

I'd like to ask that people stop with the mis-appellation of the Unity Engine, as the "WoW Engine."

Unity as a software platform has nothing to do with World Of Warcraft and the two terms are not interchangeable.

I have a lot of opinions and concerns about how poorly Unity's technology was implemented in PFO to this point, which I might or might not share. But it is misleading and confusing to continue to refer to Unity as something it's not.

Thank you.

I would suggest you ask questions, instead of making directives that are from a misapprehension.

I coined the term "WOW ENGINE" to drive a point a very simply point home. It derives from a sh-ton of research I've done on the subject. But as with any communication half the onus is on my own efforts and the other half is on other parties.

There is no such Middleware called WOW Engine. That much is obvious. But if you want to discuss Unity-4, well it was a huge huge blow to GW not getting BigWorld Middleware instead, when that happened my inner monologue was:-

"The Bably will be still-borne without even a chance to breath."

Yes, I was really devastated when that announcement half-way through the second kickstarter came about. It's probably one of the single biggest contributions to PFO's failure; and such are the fine margins of chance and a little luck: It's why I won't condemn any of GW or complain with what they did. I will criticize constructively however and the most constructive I can be apart from posting another Design Doc is to single out the "WOW ENGINE" as the design basis to represent the Game Design Document.

The shadow of WOW on MMORPGs:-

Ryan Dancey wrote:

World of Warcraft cost $75 million. It nearly bankrupted Blizzard (it's the reason Blizzard agreed to the tie up with Vivendi). ... To compete in the post-Warcraft world you needed a Warcraft budget. But Blizzard didn't stop investing in Warcraft. So you needed to invest what Blizzard had to develop Warcraft PLUS what Blizzard had invested since...

...I think the market is littered with the dead games who all pursued a very specific strategy: Make a theme park MMO that targeted people who like playing World of Warcraft. ... I'm reasonably certain that doing that over and over and expecting a different result was not an effective use of time, money or talent.

..In my perfect world, Pathfinder Online will be to EVE Online what World of Warcraft was to EverQuest.

The Core Gameplay Experience as per WOW:-

Ryan Dancey wrote:

We'll begin Early Enrollment with a combat system that looks very much like WoW. That's because it's easy to implement, well understood, and familiar to most of our target audience. There are all sorts of elaborations and alterations that could be made to that system, and some of those things will likely be Crowdforged into the game over the long term. The longer the term, the more elaborate the system will become. We're talking years not months.

This is one reason that so many games use the WoW-style combat system. It's proven to scale to the sizes they need, and its been validated by millions as being more than adequate as a game mechanic.

Some MMOs have tried to be different and have received a variety of pushback.

EVE's system has a fairly lengthy increment; I think it's 3 seconds. As a result of this you can't "fly your ship" - instead you indicate direction changes by clicking on the starscape and by using predefined maneuvers like orbits and "go to x" style commands.

This drives a lot of people away from the game. They came expecting a flight simulator, and instead they got a ferryboat simulator.

It also means that the choices you make are fairly important. You're going to send a lot fewer commands to the server during a fight in EVE than you will in Call of Duty, therefore each one carries a higher impact on the win/loss result. It's unforgiving of errors in judgement or lapses in concentration.

So the closer you go towards "action" style combat, the more likely the conventional wisdom believes you'll come to losing half your target audience.

We're not trying to create a lot of stuff nobody has ever done before.

This industry is full of innovative, great ideas. There are more great ideas than there are successful games.

What we're trying to do is to use the best of what people have done before in new and interesting ways, learning the lessons of the many, many games that have gone before.

Some scraps but I remember all this and once this choice was made the rabbit hole of that type of combat and everything else that stems from it, became the huge burden for GW. I always felt uneasy about going with tab-target same old same old done to death core game experience. Everyone has played that for decades... and it's so challenging to dev for for mediocre results.

Ryan Dancey wrote:
...UO was envisioned as a "world simulator",

This direction is where PFO should have focused on "World Simulator" of Golarion/River Kingdoms.

I was just observing Gloria Victus' new movie for Unity-5 and it looks very good graphically, the combat is far better than PFO, but it still looks like a crowded field for that type of experience and not a million miles different and fresh for players to extend the thoughts here.

Goblin Squad Member

Ah it maybe your heart's content, but I'm not sure it sounds like your "heart's desire"?

The intention for PvP in PFO was as Ryan described to create a world populated by roles eg assassin, diplomat, merchant, bandit and many more. Strangely "Adventurer" seems to have got butchered with the skill-training system.

The intention was never to ostracise players into the derivatives of you can choose PvE and or PvP game modes ie vs AI or vs the invariable online personality that loves crushing other players like a sort of The Terminator: "It will absolutely never stop until you are dead! It feels no pain, no emotion..." Crikey - no thanks!

Seems a bit chicken-egg: But too many potential players saw PvP > PvE and from the above memory of "PvP Market = Terminators" crossed out the game as an option entirely.

The key I think with PvP is competition vs cooperation game play. It does seem the reliance with PFO was too much on competition. For a game with Pathfinder roots, it is better to emphasize cooperation. LOL and WOT have competition that is popular but that lesson can be learnt I think too.

In that regard, I hope what comes next is not obvious until when it comes only then does it seem obvious to apply to the OP's title suggestion.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
Bringslite wrote:

A: When we first starting to think about making Pathfinder Online, Paizo hired Ryan to create a design document that would be used as a template for making the game. The Paizo team approved that document and that has been used as the marching orders for the team ever since. That won’t change now that Ryan is not with the company.

That is also the game that I still want. The marching orders need to be changed. Now they can be with the least fuss and muss.

Lisa needs to understand that those marching orders came from someone who had no experience in the development of an MMO, a sorted history in the MMO industry and nit a very good track record in marketing (which was supposedly his strong suit).

Bottom line, Paizo got duped by a snake oil salesman. If they hope to get someone else to pick up the development / publishing of PFO they have to be prepared to protect the Pathfinder IP, but not the design document. That might require a complete wipe of everything they have done up to this point.

Although your experience and strong eye for scepticism mean it's not a good idea to disagree with you (!) or aver an alternative opinion, I still think the design document was pretty darn good. Several of Ryan's key ideas for lean development were strong:-

* pvp core game loop in essence as first population of players much cheaper than PvE
* simulation around economy the key take-home from eve
* and more but won't spoil the surprise...

You have to look at the baseline: Most of the mmorpg indie devs flunk in some manner either number or pitching an idea or dev or funding or just terrible reception by players!

If you look at CU and Crowfall, a lot of their funding >2m is based off established mmorpg fanbases of older mmorpgs before the Themepark era really took hold.

Ryan did well all things considered without such pedigree albeit leaning heavily on Paizo...

... and that's where it went wrong as I said, the 3 incompatibilities:-

* TT PF market needed to be harnessed
* MMO pvp market needed to be harnessed
* WOW ENGINE was wrong way to deliver

My conclusions is that PFO due to the WOW ENGINE is beyond salvage. I imagine that is backed up by facts:-

1. Player response very turgid
2. Investors looking at 1. and the investment bracket of a few mill, no point in investing what already looks like a market reject.
3. Even with cash it's throwing good money after bad on that WOW ENGINE, as someone else said it would still take huge amounts to get to the level of polish that these half-way-house mmorpgs in this engine require.

I did not want to be so explicit or so bleak, for decorum's sake to others invested in the game and the slim chance some cash comes along. But it is merely x1 of many random people on the internet's opinion even if I do say it now.

This is my opinion so much so I've left the mmorpg genre as we know it now, never to return. I was working on a mini-project to categorize mmorpgs in the hope that such a universal picture would be useful to conceptualize the genre and hence find solutions, but then I decided the actaul fundamentals in so many of these are all wrong ie the WOW ENGINE and it would be better to trash the entire genre and start from scratch!!! Kinda reminds me, when a kid, after making camps/bivouac's and finding it immensely fun there was only one thing almost as fun: To trash them and start again!

I think for players of your mindset Bludd the game such as Mount and Blade, Chivalry, Life Is Feudal, Gloria Victus ie Medieval Swordplay FPS perspective ie a merging of some MMO- features with these types of Multiplayer PvP with high combat quality and visceral butchering and territory control is probably the future??

KitNyx wrote:
The game was touted as having PvP and being a sandbox. I have no particular feeling about the first, but needed the second. A sandbox signifies the existence of tools necessary to interact with the sand. I guess I have just gotten too spoiled playing games like Minecraft and Landmark.

It was actually a subset of sandbox: Simulation and indeed Crowfall even got this marketing correct doubly so with reference to both EVE and Game Of Thrones as well as simulation:-

It's like Game of Thrones meets EVE Online" - a new MMO by J Todd Coleman (Shadowbane, Wizard101) and Gordon Walton (UO, SWG, SWTOR)

We call it a Throne War Simulator

Sandbox -> Modify:-

* Objects = Terraforming modding
* Rules = Rule-Set modding

And/Or both those. See Shards Online.

Simulation -> Build systems that integrate with each other and player inputs feed into to create complex reactions and effect/outputs. More systems more emergence, but fundamental rule-sets do not change, they're the basis of the world-building.

Eg EVE Online and the meaning of 'sandbox'

The problem was all the frankly dev needed that was never going to really start adding value to the game via these systems THROUGH the dev MEAT-GRINDER of eg animation, combat and all that stuff eg jumping too high as kept mentioning.

Bringslite wrote:
It is obvious now that the pathway to get there was planned too tightly without leeway for many things not turning out as projected. Also that the balance between PVP and PVE focus was miscalculated. AND the priorities of implementation were badly misjudged.

0. Marketing tag (I'll point this out later)

1. Prioritize what most players want first (I'll point out later how)
2. Bring in the TT PF market (I'll point out later how)
3. Now what you say about what we call PvE is interesting, as per my funny layer-cake thing above the inner cylinders are something else, THEN 3 layers OUT you have PvE then the next layer is PvP. So yeah, more PvE for the economy. PvP attaches differently. Remember with the WOW Engine and cost of dev PvP had to come first given the choice.
4. Populate the game ie stuff full of cool pathfindery things asap via rapid asset deployment ( not possible using WOW ENGINE!).

But you can't do any of this if you WOW ENGINE is in the way! So that's what caused the team to take too long, too not be able to offer fun in the code soon enough and to not be able to deliver the maket expectation of quality of 2015. Again the value of PFO's failure is taking as a Given you need millions to make a really complex game with this engine.

Just see CU, it will probably do RvRvR quite well, but I do wonder what happens if players play it for a few months then decide: Done that, what next? Why do players get to that stage with a persistent game?

tl;dr: I keep dropping that phrase until the penny drops... took me long enough so no great shakes.

Goblin Squad Member

Bringslite wrote:

The same original design that we read about is probably a very diluted or... summary look at the real Design Document.

I think that I grasp most of what you are pointing out here Avena, I really am not sure that it is the actual engine that you mean or the actual formula of the style/feel.

When I say that the original presentation is what I hope can be gotten back to, I mean it. That doesn't mean that more of the "Four Pillars" do not need to to be strengthened and developed. If they are trying for a blend, or a "meeting place" between the extremes, i.e. Hardcore PVP vs. Builders and PVE entusiasts, then they need:

*That PVE content drastically improved,

*the PVP tuned with real consequences (for the penalty parts) and with tighter limits [that still means lots of ways to PVP, but not 23/7/365 forced on anyone].

*Whatever is missing to hook and retain people that try the game.

I disagree that the old standard cycle (the sandbox ecosystem) is dead. It is the ever hungry cycle that is a perpetual motion machine.

WOW ENGINE = 3D AVATAR that takes up a good chunk of the screen, usually skill abstraction is 75% hence Tab-Target and everything is built off this. This is now a half-way-house (lol: Name of my local!) designs have to really branch out and specialize now. Star Citizen proves this:-

* A bit of wing-commander single-player
* A bit of multiplayer w-c
* A bit of FPS
* Some Elite
* Some MMO-

You are a spaceship multiple, or a crew or a FPS gun or a 3rd person running around.

What Ryan always used to say about PFO EE is that some major sacrifices had to be made at that 2yr dev cycle of a 5-6yr release and that's true... but the sacrifices were NOT ENOUGH I would say!

It's brilliant of you to link that Ecosystem Sandbox because THAT is what should have been the "engine" of the game! Ryan said the beating heart was the economy but he did not get that translated past the WOW ENGINE. Well I'll bash out my mini-thesis and perhaps I have to send it direct to Ryan/Lisa. I doubt it will be used, but I think I'm right and if so that is worth something.

Just coming back to PvP, as with the model above, outer rings is where most PvP would be. It does not make any sense without writing up then you "get" what model is really describing. The thing is to make PvP work via rule-sets that can are can be modified depending on the particular group of players... as I said there has to be sacrifices and on first appearances that sounds like PvP is relegated... far from it!

Goblin Squad Member

Drejk wrote:
AvenaOats wrote:
As said, the key is RECONCILE both markets in the single game design document as opposed to either eliminate either either irreversibly or sequentially.
Can they [STRIKE]truly[/STRIKE] be reconciled, though? The wants of targets in both markets are quite different, and often at odds...

No and Yes. Not truly, but with a shift yes. I mean if you think of people ONLY as Market A; Market B... Market N etc, then this is only accurate within a narrow reference: People are all sorts of contradictions. So with that in mind I grab this picture off google:-

Concentric Cylinder Stacks/Shells

On the RHS. I position PvP in the outer most layer and at the very pinnacle of the inner-most cyclinder for different types of PvP. This insulates the core population however the top pinnacle acts as the most momentus game/world changing potential... via strictly controlled but immensely destructive if triggered PvP. The outer layer is much smaller scale PvP, daily sort! Enough to be a wasp at the picnic type of irritation. But as you can see it's very wide and that means it has many forms but they are incidental to the inner cylinders.

If you remember in mmorpgs the argument is around Venn Diagrams: Separate Sets, tiny overlap or Sub-Set or perfect symmetry of overlaps of sets.

Generally that's how it's thought of: But it's very limiting that way: The cylinder nested sets is the key.

Goblin Squad Member

Sepherum wrote:
AvenaOats: I have long thought you had valuable things to say about perspective and playability, even the business model itself. But I think a cooperative game for Pathfinder ought to be based on online modules created by fans for a single player and/or party-based RPG. MMOs have hard sledding right now. I think that world-building features should be designed in conjunction with the peeps who make POS systems for restaurants. I'm serious. I once walked into a fine dining gig in downtown San Francisco and taught myself the Aloha system as I was bartending a busy restaurant. Command sequences that make sense to the average person, redundant screen popups and an intuitive interface so a neanderthal such as myself can make online Pathfinder adventures. Advanced users of course could shut off that stuff and make more refined inputs (outputs?).

Yeah, agree... that's why in the design I will bash out I got that essential base: Covered !! :-)

That's the first step to reconcile the TT RPG crowd's expectations. Though there's a twist in the tale/tail.

Ryan even said making this in PFO was goign to take huge amount of resources: It's a big big reason why the WOW ENGINE was the culprit.

The other thing you say is really important too:-

In the game around a large community, you need lots of niches for lots of different types of playstyles. THere's tons of talk in mmorpgs about how you can never please everyone eg Raph Koster blogs, but you can with a particular design go a long way to pleasing a lot more people and as you say a big chunk of them is the players who want their place in the world but to lead a simple role IN THE FIELD they want: Then like magic some amount of dev ratio to very happy players. A big field is "Make It Simple" for players to play and get fun and self-select how much they are able to censor off their own stories from needless complexity eg the skill-training system sounds like a nightmare tbh and should be scrapped in a new design imho - contentious but it needs to be modularized.

ie that Player's mental model of the game pov where all the dev needs to keep focusing back to. And yet again another reason WOW ENGINE is horrible.

Goblin Squad Member

Thazar wrote:

I still firmly believe the issue was not the game engine. Myself and many others never even looked at the game or saw an example of play. I personally know a half dozen or so people who backed the kickstarter in my local town and every one of them gave the game a pass when it went to heavy PvP to the point it even affected getting resources for crafting. Pathfinder is not about PvP and a game with the name Pathfinder in the title should not focus on PvP in my opinion.

I think modeling it on any of the RPG games out there would be fine. The graphics are nice to have... but tons of people still play the old gold box games... Bards Tale, Balder's Gate, etc and the graphics where horrible. Many games have new "versions" done by kickstarter that sell very well and make a profit without any PvP. That is what an RPG TT game should go for... and MMO RPG.

I covered this in the other thread, already. It's at the basics of the whole "discussion"> "What is your intention if you choose to make a digital represenation game system from Pathfinder IP?"

Route 1: In effect you could easily make as you say successful Game Products.

Route 2: But the intention all along was to make a Game Service.

I think there's a number of reasons: There's the "gamble aspect" which because PFO was lean even the bad result now looking at the odds before was still accountable - I estimate. Now, with TT market, it is there but OGL and I think 3D-Printing and Online allow players to cut out the middle-man such as Games Workshop is going to go down the drain shortly, Ryan talked about similar themes. What Paizo has done very well is create a community and it's that that makes it viable business. When you lose some ingredients in that status, it's like colony collapse disorder or something, I'm sure the relevant quote could dug up. Games Workshop have gone for Route 1 and spinning all their IP's into licenses all over the place to make cash quick...

So, anyway, taking all the above preceding, there was STRONG emphasis on Route 2. if the business model could be modelled - which Ryan did quite well in fact. Also it took into account the emerging market of online social games and young kids entering the next age bracket looking for the next sophisticated online game experience from Penguin or wizard online or other sources besides.

One thing to remember is a lot of the initial playerbase during EE, by Yr2 or so of OE probably would have left the game. IE a different market would emerge to play PFO over time. So the initial PvP yes was a problem to a lot of the market, but not inherently the prime problem given different conditions and the pvp market would have floated the game... bludd et al make that case from their own experiences eg DF and I agree with it.

To really get to the meat of the matter in one single, simple sentence for clarity: The TT system is immensely robust at creating "Theatre Of Mind". I don't believe that problem can be worked into the computer nearly to the required level. Instead what the computer is good at solving is "Crunchy Systems".

Namely what you're promoting (and fair enough) is:-

* TT RPG group stories
* Online version of TT RPG group stories

You get choice of 2 products of 1 IP.

What I think is better is:-

* {Online World of Golarion(TT RPG Group Stories) Entire Community Story-telling}

Goblin Squad Member

Bringslite wrote:

A: When we first starting to think about making Pathfinder Online, Paizo hired Ryan to create a design document that would be used as a template for making the game. The Paizo team approved that document and that has been used as the marching orders for the team ever since. That won’t change now that Ryan is not with the company.

That is also the game that I still want. The marching orders need to be changed. Now they can be with the least fuss and muss.

I'm probably out of line but as I said the failure of PFO does I think teach a useful lesson: The WOW Engine has had it's day. It's a halfway house and the future of the genre is not going to look so similar at all, but of course until you see it you just cannot figure out what it will look like.

Gambit wrote:
Sadly we will never know, but I fully believe that this game would have been (more) successful if it had gone full on Star Wars Galaxies style sandbox instead of UO/EVE/Darkfall style sandbox.

You're right we cannot know and is worth stating. I agree with the point about SWG in terms of it nullifying the terrible press PFO had to fight from day 1 over the PvP from BOTH TT and MMORPG markets of players!!!

However, Raph Koster posted a number of interesting summaries of SWG and I can't shake the feeling it was a game "of it's time" and hence any useful lessons from it are somewhat closed off for "our time". As you say maybe what you say is right or not and we cannot say, but my vestigial memory of reading those blogs concluded on that gut feeling. If we look at the current "doing ok" kickstarter mmorpgs, the ones that tapped directly their intended market eg CU (daoc rvrvr) and Crowfall (Koster + Shadowbane/SWG/UO) they're more "on song" to their intended players aren't they? Hence SWG leaning is adequate. However as per business model the pvp crowd for the minimum playable game was Ryan's key to then expanding from that point.

As said, the key is RECONCILE both markets in the single game design document as opposed to either eliminate either either irreversibly or sequentially.

I think Ryan was very very close... and I think some criticism of him has been too savage in a savage genre: In fact blame the genre is my verdict.

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

- Oscar Wilde

Goblin Squad Member

I've had a long day running around outside today, so that's why I'm scribbling here "told you so" in a nasally and annoying tone... so please forgive me, on that account, but if I can contribute to the discussion positively, here's the question in it's most abstract form:-

Sepherum wrote:
The next obvious step for Paizo is a Pathfinder game along the lines of The Witcher, Dragon Age Origins, and especially Pillars of Eternity. There's no need to rush anything and there is a built-in market for the game and a rich world to exploit. A game whose mechanics are intuitively easy to follow for TT fans is still very possible without violating the OGL.


Essence of Question wrote:
"How Can We Make A Pathfinder Digital Online Game... BEST (which way is best to do this)?"

Let's step back and start where we need to start: "What are your intentions in doing so?"

Now this is the most important question to ask and if asked correctly all subsequent problems should make sense: Whether or not they're do-able or feasable or useful, those are other questions but within the context of the above they make sense even if they don't give an exact answer, to briefly think ahead.

I think the answer is that the Paizo Pathfinder IP Brand must have a gaming community around it to "bring it alive" or "mindshare" or whatever you want to call it and then convert that into your commercial enterprise or whatever else.

There's a very nice connect here between:

1. The best form of digital game design for community = Online Interaction Systems
2. The most profitable business model of digital games is indeed via online group monetization and transactions

So already you're narrowing down if your intention above is so how best to incorporate those qualities?

In general there's a number of ways for players to positively interact online:-

1. Making materials for each other (virtual $)
2. Existing in the same virtual simulation and affecting that (status of world is it a better or worse place? and of self and others and in relation to all the above?)
3. Generating shared game stories with each other and for selves (Experiences: This is the fruit of the above too as they're virtual, here positive experiences is what we'd normally just say is fun, but there's literally a well of crack to be tapped here and it's not the sort to give you a sore tummy in the morning either but the sort to give you a bounce in your step on your way to work the next morning).

Now with the TT you get a small party who share great stories together. Don't compete with that imo. What you want is loads of PF players around the world sharing the same Golarion world space together as an addition to TT but in a different form that is COMPLEMENTARY to the TT game not EQUAL to it, but EQUIVALENT in some form. Of course that means it does not need the D20 system... necessarily which always pops up in the topic: A question without an answer it would seem.

Now I think the guess of what the intention was is good. The problem was the mmorpg WOW ENGINE it took to get there.

If so, the right adaptation to use that word from another thread is understand what the problems are to convert the intention in the best way. And guess what? In the computer games industry there has been many people working on KNOWING WHAT THE PROBLEMS ARE in the design of games that can be made use of! Except the mmorpg developers as Bartle points out: Keep making the same mistakes.

A lot of the emphasis in this thread is only 3. but in coop/4-party systems to emulate Pathfinder.

Goblin Squad Member

Summersnow wrote:

The vision of the game presented during the kickstarter was an extremely inaccurate picture of the game. Weather the game as it stands now was Ryans vision, or what we ended up with based on monetary, software, hardware or time limitations is unknown.

There was so much left to the backers imagination during the kickstarter phase that the project never had an honest chance.

I do not think anyone can honestly say that when they read the 1-2 paragraph description of characters and skills during the backing phase they system that was ultimately implemented is what they pictured and hoped for in there head.

I know what I pictured them describing as MVP and ready to start charging subscription fees is still somewhat farther along then the game is right now.

I would like to see the game survive and grow to the point I expected it to be at the MVP release as I think under proper leadership, i.e. just about anyone but Ryan, it could be a game worth playing.

Won't repeat what I said above which applies to the above. But to add, the key thing with the lean start-up method was the quality of the founder community and the match of the game to their Mental Model's of the Game in a very highly satisfied rating eg that old Market Segmentation blog. And I think where PFO was losing it's way was NOT finding a solution to accommodate TT PF community atst as thinking PvP community would be a good founder community: I think the combat in WOW ENGINE mmorpgs simply has to be really good. "Mount and Blade style" or bust it seems for PvP?

But the thing I wanted to add in connection was this: The forums never were prioritized for the early community. This suggested the link between devs-players was all at sea to me.

Honestly this is big but I hope as much as it is scathing, constructive criticism. I suspect there was the idea that the big pvp guilds would move in with their own forums etc and they'd also fund the rest of EE/alpha/"delpha". One of the big-sells of PFO was "Crowdforging" but what I realized at one point is that I could have a great idea and it never was going to see the light of day due to the WOW ENGINE. It also seems settlements needed those big zerg guilds and again loses too many people who want something a bit smaller for themselves to play as an individual within a society = the massive draw of the mmorpg or virtual world CONTEXT. The lack of forum priority was imo a big suggestion that things were too stretched between the devs offer of a game and the players' mental model of the game. It's why I decided not to play EE or recommend it to others. The "Crowdforging" simply wasn't on offer and the incredibly poor provision of forums was the most visible sign of that.

Goblin Squad Member

You have good thinking Drejk. I can stitch together you useful thoughts.

Drejk wrote:
I would prefer greater stress put on the lore and rich world but that is not exactly in line with the initial idea that the players should be primary source of content (which I personally strongly dislike and which disinclined me to the Pathfinder quite early).

YES. What EVE is and should be called is a Simulation of a type of Virtual World. The sandbox moniker is too broad. It's more rigid basic rule-set that then allows emergence from players actions within those systems. This is an excellent problem for a computer to solve and indeed MMO- should be a good problem too to network 000's in the same game concept.

Again, I think the Scale of Kingmaker fits this. Really there needed more bravery to not go for the WOW ENGINE graphics. To create an area of Golarion and the River Kingdoms with Seasons, Weather, growing food and long production cycles and steady building. All this was planned but the WOW ENGINE made it a huge huge task for the devs to do.

Drejk wrote:
the whole "EVE Online" approach to gaming is nothing like the sorts of stories that people who play Pathfinder are really interested in playing


2. Sci-Fi ships
3. Space

I guess all those helped EVE and did not help PFO. The problem I've found and you even find it on this excellent community is that the pvp mmo gamers are extremely aggravating to each other and to anyone else. It's just how they do things and they like the fact "Might Makes Right" because it's extremely hard evidence of some form of superior gameplay and that STATUS through JUST TRIAL does possess a certain "je ne sais quo" that is indeed quite appealing if you boil off the posturing and cussing and bantering and baiting!

But I think what Ryan, Paizo and Goblinworks Holy Grail is is to create a new community online around their IP. To secure it's future via planting a new seed (albeit mmorpg appears to be barren soil).

I think you're right the sort of people into fantasy are drawn by something else than the eve pvp of starships and I think I know what.

Drejk wrote:
The PvP was one of the main reasons why the project was less than appealing to significant part of the fanbase. The second one was not using d20 rules, but using d20 rules or close approximation of them would make the PvP and sandbox aspects unplayable making it a lose-lose scenario.

I've got a solution just need to write it up. Reconciling these knocks out the PF TT vs MMO PvP contradiction. The other solution is the removing the WOW ENGINE problem. For example the game world was literally a MODEL WORLD. It did not feel like an epic fantasy geographical vast wilderness. This goes straight back to what Drejk said above.

Gambit wrote:
I think the Crowfall game is going to do what Dancey intended with PFO, and do it far better and more successfully. Not a game I am personally interested in, but it will be interesting to see its final product.

Ryan always talked about along the lines of "Doing for WOW what EVE did for UO." Imho, Star Citizen will be the next "WOW" ie leap forward in the MMO-RPG space. And there's a very good reason why it is not really considered an MMORPG but atst will do what MMORPGS used to do but a lot better and with less of the huge amount of legacy junk in the WOW ENGINE genre it's become.

As for Crowfall, I'm sceptical, it will have polish which may work out well in terms of return for money, but I'm not getting that thrill of excitement and fun I got when I read PFO's design docs, or when I read about EVE or Star Citizen's designs. PFO had the bare bones to be a really interesting fantasy simulation virtual world, but not with the WOW ENGINE, we've learnt something very useful from the failure of PFO; which is sad news as Lisa rightly mentioned: Some nice people and friendly community here and a fantastic (lazy pun intended) IP.

Goblin Squad Member

It's interesting, but I don't think any of the above posters fully understood what Ryan's Design Document was actually designed to do:-

1. Lean start-up budget = Middleware + Kickstarter + Strong Brand (+ good marketing hehe)
2. Needed a lean Game-Design too = Sandbox PvP (because that's what a whole host of crowdfunding etc games are doing too!).
3. At first there very much is/was a market for pvp and one sold as eve or game of thrones (even better tbh as Crowfall has blatantly done).
4. IF this took off and funded dev for several years: Guess what? Much more PvE content would have been added which is expensive but the game would have been funding it.

So to say it was a terrible idea to go for PvP is imho not the problem. The problem was not being able to use the fanbase of TT and not use the WOW ENGINE. by USING the WOW Engine it would have been possible to develop a game design model based around the good bits from Kingmaker. By not using the original fanbase, you kill half the inherent initial interest which are the most vulnerable bits of the project life-cycle.

For example, the good design of a beasts of burden with mules is a great idea, but it looks like there was a lot of technical issues to make this type of gameplay work and be fun. It certainly took too long to get into the game via implementation hurdles than knitting the entire game together design reasons. This type of feature could have been huge for the economy of the game for example and fed many other game systems wonderfully eg breeding mules on farms role, bandit role etc using various Rule Systems.

Goblin Squad Member

Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
As I have said from the beginning, I think the tilte Pathfinder Online has been extremely misleading - there is little of Pathfinder the ruleset in PFO - rather I have argued that it be called RKO - River Kingdoms Online.

You're very close. The best (and really really good) bits in Ryan's design doc wer not Pathfinder TT but Kingmaker Campaign:-

* Economy
* Kingdoms
* Armies
* Buildings
* Wide Society of Roles

The bits that dragged PFO down:-

* Combat tab-target
* animation bar is extremely high for 3d WOW avatars
* Multi-class skilling never squared the circle of PF Classes eg capstone
* Networking must have been a huge huge challenge for a single-shard server.
* Open PvP gave it a terrible press it was always working against

etc there's a lot of "magic" in Ryan's Design docs but the translation due to the WOW Engine was the culprit. Ryan took that as a market given and that was the big flaw. But he knew at >million it was already risky to make an MMO. So I guess if he could have gone back to the plan and cut it down again !! Yes, that may have reevaluated the entire MMORPG shape or form for his wonderful design ideas and THEN it might have translated more easily as well as perhaps unifying some loose-ends with that huge assumption squashed opening creativity and finding "going with the grain" not fighting it suddenly materializing?

Goblin Squad Member

I'm pretty sure I'm right...

1. As it's a social online game, GW had to use it's core fanbase of paizo peeps to "buy-in" first. Yet this set at odds with the mmorpg niche which was:-
2. mmorpg ffa/ow pvp.

And from experience 2. crowd are mission impossible. I mean, the tech itself is infernal for mmo- dev but then you have to design social cooperation and competition structures that these players with economy are highly motivated to get around. The only thing keeping them happy is if the tech and game polish are really really high for their pvp harvests and conquering - which was impossible as combat as per GW2 spend huge amounts still for players to criticize it.

Then the WOW ENGINE. Cost to dev scope to quality over time.

In fact from all the above, MMORPG is not the right approach at all.

That engine requires too much hard work on all the froth and fluff and not enough on The Player's Mental Model Of The Game.

Goblin Squad Member

Aren't they signed up with Obsidian for a PF cRPG already?

Goblin Squad Member

Demoyn wrote:
In all my years of supporting Paizo, the one thing that put them above every other company was their ability to adapt (closely related to their amazing customer service). There are TONS of people begging for a good MMO right now. WoW is bleeding players every day. SWTOR is a substandard game kept alive only because of the name on the box and the reputation of the publisher. No other true MMO even compares, but for the first time I've ever seen stubbornness is winning out at Paizo (Goblinworks).

No, what we now call the mmorpg genre is WOW ENGINE games.

I'm not optimistic about CU or Crowfall and I think EQN is somewhat already dead too? If anything PFO suggests that you have to out-WOW still eg SWOTOR to even stand a chance and then it could still go wrong.

What we're seeing is the bits that made mmorpgs potentially unique such as online pvp in mobas or big armies in Warhammer Total War in fantasy genre that is or FPS in Vermintide. Or CRPG Pillars and a new Pathfinder game or single player RPG in Witcher, Skyrim.

To adapt a whole different vision is needed. W whole new lineage leading to species radiation of a new genre from the bones of the dinosaurs.

Goblin Squad Member

A: When we first starting to think about making Pathfinder Online, Paizo hired Ryan to create a design document that would be used as a template for making the game. The Paizo team approved that document and that has been used as the marching orders for the team ever since. That won’t change now that Ryan is not with the company.


Yes, I do about 90%. I think if you want a reason why the game did not make it as hoped, the 10% is the reason and that's as it is with all things at the cutting edge, fine margins in sports, wars, inventions etc.

A great great deal of this work was good and better than good, imo.

However the first big problem was from day 1 the lack of reconciliation between two essential but disparate markets:-

1. Paizo TT market
2. MMORPG PvP market

I never understood the writing off of 1. even if the idea of sandbox required PvP which I fully understand.

The second big mistake was the WOW ENGINE converting the design into the actual ENGINE, it turned it into something not fresh as well as ensuring the budget was x10 larger than necessarily and the tech problems x10 more challenging as a function of spreading the game design so thin. This realization was where it seemed to me the real strength in Ryan's design was never actually going to be realized at the pace of development using such an engine to represent PFO.

Given it won't change now, the assets and code have a market value potentially to publishers that could be valued investments, so that makes sense.

However if the Pathfinder IP is to become a digital social online game, I'm going to write up a game design doc that more or less takes a lot of Ryan's design but wrap it up in a new form. In fact the more I've thought of this new form the less and less it resembles the MMORPG form at all... but building off a young current genre elsewhere entirely with online elements very similar to mmo-.

The exercise here is simply to advance the online social gaming possibilities.

Enough waffle "i know best" from me, until next that is. The main thing is to provide my sincere if flawed feedback and to wish the Paizo/GW crew the best and thanks for their efforts.

Goblin Squad Member

may be gaps in the url.

rom the beginning of the three year journey to create Pathfinder Online, the one constant has been the support of our community and for this I thank you. We have had ups and downs including heated debates on design, implementation and overall gameplay. We have literally battled together (or against each other) and I know you enjoy playing the game as much as I do. I also know that the community comes together during tough times, and it is probably no surprise that we are currently in a tough spot right now. There are a number of things that have occurred in the past two weeks that you need to be brought up to date on.

As we have been on this journey to create Pathfinder Online with you for over three years now, we have striven to be as transparent as possible with you. We just shared the following message with the community during our weekly Keepside Chat. In full transparency, here is a quick run down of the state of our game:

EE10.2 is on ZOG for final testing and should roll out to live on Thursday or Friday morning.

EE11 is targeted for the end of September

Ryan Dancey has had to resign from the company for personal reasons (Lisa Stevens will be acting CEO)

Finances are tight at Goblinworks, which has resulted in the layoff of the majority of Goblinworks staff

CTO Mark Kalmes, Art Director Mike Hines, and Designer Bob Settles continue to push the game forward (your monthly subscriptions are what keep these three employed and the server up)

Goblinworks is in talks with multiple game publishers to take the game on and bring it to Open Enrollment

I know that is a lot to take in, so I will share what details we can below:

Goblin Squad Member

Here's the first on a few blogs on mmorpgs I plan on doing. This one is mostly "background reading" to set the scene for the more pertinent and applicable blogs that will look at what can be done to make mmorpgs more successful "social interaction story-generators". Which I think is what PFO's "Meaningful Human Interaction" is ultimately all about, albeit via different means. Hopefully the comparison (in time) will be useful to both Goblinworks, mmorpg developers and players.

MMORPG Fantasy: Stories And The Quest For The Holy Grail

A Confusion of Campaigns 1: A Review of Games Literature

Goblin Squad Member

Tyncale wrote:

Good stuff. That Emerald Spire Dungeon *must* materialize some day in PFO, it could be one of the main draws to the game at some point, both from a PvE and PvP perspective.

I realize it's a massive amount of work, but it looks to cool to pass on.

I'd strongly advise:-

* Roguelike elements: Procedural modules per level to mix it up
* Torchbearer survival elements: Half the dungeon should be survival gear as well as monster-hunting
* Career specialization: Dungeoneering as a career

Remember content-heavy = costly and dev-time heavy => proportional returns by the player base on usage/satisfaction which means the above "replayability" and challenge/cost.

Goblin Squad Member

Thanks for these GW Team/Ryan. This is sort of exchange of devs-players is the sort of thing that makes MMO- genre stand out from other genres, for me; just one example of such. Keep up the good work!

Goblin Squad Member

@Bludd: Good observations there. As important as the implementation is the presentation. I'm working on something along these lines I intend to write up in a series of (ahem, long) articles in the next few weeks. It's actually based on the consideration that anything different between worlds eg "magic" or "sci-fi" via "What If?" questions MUST be on a scale slider that itself interacts from all that is derived from the usual constants of time and space (aka "...from all things").

@coach: That was the correct path, the path that was informed by sticking to the lore, to the foundations of that IP's world-building. I would call this rule of world building "Proportionality". With it, motivation is affected.

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