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Goblin Squad Member

Pax Rafkin wrote:

Thinking that "sandbox" requires open PvP for content was a mistake. I realize this was a decision driven by a meager budget but it really never gave PFO a chance. I don't think Ryan, or anyone else, had bad ideas. The budget forced bad ideas.

They should have realized during the Kickstarter that most of the support was from the TT players who just wanted the goodies.

Let's say there's a game called 'PFO'.

Let's secondly say that game has a number of features:-

- Single Shard World
- Build Player Run Settlements
- Dynamic Resource Extraction
- Virtual Economy

I can't remember the rest. No why chose these features?

1. EVE is a template for niche to organic sub growth (business model)
2. Longevity increase over time through iterating the simulation via player-driven gameplay
3. Early game can be developed on a budget etc

Ok, if I'm honest, this is VERY LOGICALLY SOUND !!!

However we have implementation and presentation as well as expectations.

If I look at those features, I don't see a Single Individual Avatar as the core UX (User Experience). Nope, it's a higher/bigger more epic scale of narration.

That to my mind is where the design first went wrong. IE PFO being a WOW/EVE thing.

And you know what that's what it was aiming for.

The design is wrong based probably on perspective of design but that also crucially fits with technological problems to harness:-

* Networking for large groups of players (this is the major area to tick) BigWorld Engine was lost and tbh that was that.
* GUI + UX: Too much on the GUI and too little on the UX meant the game looked appalling and played appalling because the demand on graphical assets and networking were too high!

Ok, let's look at things, how to solve those two problems and synthesize the design with those features (well chosen by Dancey).

I'll point out a few things and try to post a summary GDD (keep gaw dang saying that..)

1) NETWORKING: SPATIAL OS or there's a few other companies doing this. That had to be the beadrock for single server simulation.
2) The WOW Platform (GUI + UX) is wrong wrong wrong for this type of scale of game!! Sure it may be possible if you're Star Citizen but just look at the pressure they're under by the fans for that and they still have terrible networking at present in dev. You have to have to simplify this.
3) The big kahuna on perspective which I'll add to my GDD that transforms the possibilities as well as the expectations.

Really for PFO to have even had a chance, it would have needed to get going with Spatial OS (plugs in with Unity btw). But the WOW Platform choice was also a fatal system error.

Curiously there's another mmorpg out Chronicles of Elyria or something which seems in direct competition with PFO's ideas and is using Spatial OS...

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:
I don't believe Ryan ever understood the analogy of my arguement when I tried to explain, he was trying to create a nascar event, but was also handing out speeding tickets. It is not fun to watch a race at 40mph on a simple oval track. It is even less fun to be a driver in that event.

Yeah, there was too many different markets for the same idea, it became very confusing. Don't work off market data imo: Use gaming intuition for what works and what does not and use other tools to feedback on that "works" criteria.

I read a lot of Ramin Shokrizade's stuff. I think he's been very useful for structuring some ideas. Odd to see he's working on a new project a sort of floating islands minecraft type thing. Anyway one idea of which was:-

PvV (Player vs Victim) compared to PvP (Player vs Player).

I think therefore really you have to remove the former and work towards the latter, and more so the more the latter is a form of cooperative or social combination. In fact I think it's possible to do something with PvV but in such a way that the "victim" actually finds it rewarding! Not only that but the top PvP is massively social is the pinnacle of game play for the PvP players.

I will try to labour on with things, I'm not so good working under pressure and have too many projects on atm. A final write up would clear these ideas up.


On another note, just saw some early footage of Crowfall. It looks better graphics than PFO but it also looks like yet another old mmo, the same conventional mmorpg platform curse again. At some stage without a kind of innovation of core ideas, the appetite for playing these games I think diminishes, the experience is just too desiccated.

And on yet another note, there's another Baldur's Gate game out that looks very immersive story and world stage wise. I bet a lot of people who like PF would like that sort of thing. Probably get Paizo writers to drum up some stuff too.

But the idea I have is Kingmaker, different, but if you look at internet games I think that too could be very lucrative.

Goblin Squad Member

Andas wrote:
BrotherZael wrote:


Well I mean, it is ALPHA, last I heard. Having a crap-ton of bugs that they then work out with the help of the players was the whole point, wasn't it? The "develop the game alongside the creators" idea?

Unless I misunderstood the year I spent investing 20 hours a week into these forums and the development prior to it's release.

So, if that is really what caused all this, then I really am saddened because that sounds like we the players let the GW team down in a hard way after all the promises of being ready for the bugs and the lower-tier graphics and whatnot.

Sorry, my expectation of a minimum viable product did not match up with Goblinwork's minimum viable product - so I was one that never activated my account.

Nothing I saw from any forum posts or other media was enough to convince me to start paying for access. I think there were a lot of people like me.

Andas is right, or at least this explains my decision too: Never touched the game in the end.

Well I did spend Sunday (Easter) drafting out a GDD, and it's far from complete. But it did remind me that Bigworld loss of Middleware is probably the most important reason PFO did not take off. Losing that Networking tech was the killer. I'm sure the loss of finance did not help.

However I noticed a tech solution:-

Improbable: SpatialOS

And it fits with Unity.

That said, any mmorpg is going to put helluva lot of pressure on the networking nonetheless. So it seems to me even with such new tech solutions, the answer is to strip the game down to the story-generation core as much as possible and build from there.

In some ways this is pure chance: If PFO had been decided to build a few years later with SpatialOS and Unity... who knows...

I personally would have changed a lot of things such as the entire player agency and not focus on an avatar character with all the value of the player's actions in that one object. If this is done all that nonsense about griefing and anti-social motivation can be removed. That's really essential for group dynamic social rewards.

Goblin Squad Member

Savage Grace wrote:

As far as being "blob friendly" that's something any sandbox faces.

I was just mentioning the hazard of balancing having things worth fight for with being careful not to overly reward the blob.

The game needs to reward people for recruitment and social cohesion while not handing the entire game to one big group.

I usually try to describe it as: numbers ought to give you overwhelming localized power where you focus, without giving you overwhelming global power.

It's good if the biggest powerbloc's numbers allow it to control a good hex near them. It's bad if it means the entire map is theirs to do with as they please. We don't face EITHER situation, at the moment, because there aren't things valuable enough to fight over, yet.

This is a major area to think about for design. I notice that Stellaris will have 32 player multiplayer games. In fact Stellaris and it's ilk have a very very very very lot of lessons to teach about making a story simulation ""mmo-rpg"" imo. More of that later when I write up the GDD summary. Perhaps on Sunday and off with it.

But also player agency to be able to move anywhere. That is something that I think could be tackled very interestingly so you avoid these blob/zerg issues.

You know the armies idea was one of the best for PFO: At the right scale it is very possible.


I'm curious where does the interest in PFO a/c's come from? I mean that with reference to what was pointed out the major detractor as above was paying during an alpha as it were and an uncertain future. It is perhaps postive that there is interest even at this low ebb, for future developers.

It probably was critical losing that funding, but even so, I still think even with 20m or 50m the going is tough for these mmorpgs.

Now cutting all that tech overhead and making something very specific to Pathfinder Community and tailoring for example one "region" as a 32 player region... surely that is too sparcely populated... nope... not if the design is clever. And imagine these "blocks" become the LOCAL POWER whereas GLOBAL POWER works entirely differently - armies at war and when is war: Maybe x2 per generation as per World Wars?

For me it's about coming back to those ideas in the blogs, making them work.

Goblin Squad Member

BrotherZael wrote:

I hate to be that guy, could someone, perhaps avena or bludd, give me a quick PM to recap me on just what the hell happened between release and now that caused "blob-friendly", "financial holes", "Ryan being fired", etc. that is the PFO as it exists now.

My own fault for being outa the loop but... well even links to relative articles would be sweet xD.

edit: maybe even relevant articles too!

It would be wrong for me to say I know, because I did not follow or enquire closely when the game went into "delpha" (that's a great coinage term: A mix of alpha and delpha ie being made but being paid).

But we can high-level point out even if it misses the specific details:-

1. Absolutely brilliant, bordering on genius design blogs.
2. Just enough cash (crowdfunding, paizo, other investors) to fund development.
3. Target of subbing perhaps 5k+ of the kickstarter crowd monthly
4. Growing at a projected rate during that time of subs
5. Ploughing investment back to get the game from MVP to about 20-50k a/c's. Not unrealistic for these big mmorpg things comparing numbers.

Remember PFO got much further than a lot of mmorpgs have done. There was another cool idea mmorpg, completely forgotten it's name trying to get deved for over a decade.... it too had great ideas and again another one where you get turned into a cow or something that's still around and a few others. So lots of quirky mmorpgs and comparing PFO did well.

BUT - all of them: For the experience they're trying to generate to the financial requirements and market quality demanded: They all are never going to break-through. It's too technically demanding requiring too much money eg EQN.

So when MVP and the subs at 3. did not really hit it was always going to be a case of running out of cash without that growth spiral. Then I think Ryan must have put in so much work and burnt out and out of options and probably very disappointed as you can imagine. So it needed the skeleton crew approach...

Given it's already got a lot of investment and assets in it ie pipelines and whatnot, maybe some company will also do a financial gamble on it with some spare cash to make the risk-reward calculation with?

I'm sure others can fill in a lot more details than I can.


The thing that interests me is not any of the above, it was always "more likely" to go this way than not, going into the kickstarter is knowing that for a mmorpg.

What interests me is taking the good concepts and putting them into a form that is practical and focused on the quality of experience of players that is possible to implement.

* Flag system
* Infrastructure extensions of characters
* Economic Engine and resource diversity

It's all there that's the focus! Not the conventional mmorpg platform tech that's a dead end.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:

Now that I have divested myself from the game, I looked back at some of my earliest posts going back over 3 years ago.

Germaine to this discussion, all I can say is.... Damn if they only made the game they described in the blog posts!

The early ideas of the flagging system, were what really sold me on the game. Unfortunately, they never really got the PvP system right, it was never open enough and just far too limiting and without risk or reward.

It's great to hear some of the community voices again! A good community and I think most were all looking for the quality stories that pathfinder provides?

The flagging was very important. Now imagine flagging not just for pvp but all sort of range of things "the characters" will tend to do, not do and so on?! Now we're getting somewhere.

Of course the effort on the flagging had to be one of the major systems (behaviour or methods) that was much more priority and for that a price has to be paid: Graphics much less prioritized.

This is where the whole thing fell into a financial hole.

The funny thing is the people who said you could not have pvp would have seen something that they would have accepted that was not pvp but was story through pvp as natural as any other such action.


The other thing you realize from SWG's is that a lot of story generates from players who experience on the edge of what is possible, what they know of the game systems ie they do something very rare or even "first" not for competition but because they're doing what they do and something unexpected happens that generates a huge story gold result.

With this, a system that devs can tamper and tinker with and unveil over time different things as they're "discovered" and developed.

One area this comes to is, given enough time, does technology, a body of knowledge grow? If so, could catastrophe "lose" such knowledge?

Goblin Squad Member

Yes those group sizes combined with player agency, that's not how I see the story of a radically different game being best served as above, the issues of zerg-pvp takes over.

I think it would be great to see really interesting stories: They might be brutally violent or they might be intricate and fantastical exceeding players' expectations and so on but all players being really compelled by the stories the characters develop.

What it seems is that players believe interactivity is the way to directly experience these stories in mmorpgs, that I think may come about more with those virtual headsets where you are/the character is swinging that sword lopping off goblin heads; the approach I suggest is more about producing interesting written story and relations feeding into that zigzagging linear narrative formed.

PFO idea of careers was one of it's best ideas. Imagine that instead of the boring avatar running around, you free up the player to concentrate on the interesting things, not the manual and mundane that you get so much of with the tab-target conventional mmorpg platform experience.

Goblin Squad Member

Bringslite wrote:

@ AvenaOats

Hi Avena. Nice to see you perched around still. :)

This Mythical Dream of the new MMORPG "platform", different from the ground up, could you describe exactly what you mean and how it would work or perhaps link to a previous post?

Thank You,

I probably did leave enough material on what it would be in some of my older posts, but given there's a lot of them and they're usually overly long (accused of being word salad worthy!) it's probably pointless to dig 'em up...

I really want to write it up in one place as GDD summary for concept, but with so much on my mind, I just need a clean slate and a lot of coffee and I can sit down and let the creative side of thinking pull all the strands together and get the 'dratted' thing done.

It's not something you can mention a few aspects of and people "get it". Has to be like a complete painting then you see it.

However an example of how radical a change:-

A huge never-ending demand and especially so for RP'ers as I often read is for what is so widely known as "character customization".

It's really important. But obviously it's really intensive on assets. So the solution is if your avatar is not heavily on the graphics then the solution for aesthetics is:-

A Portrait picture that you can customize dramatically. Secondly the customization is far more in the stats and range of stats covering many more categories per character. These stats in turn interact in a large range with the world. However they are not stats according to a power-curve! They are very different; though they are reduced to the specific career that the character tends to specialize as. But they would change according to the story and in turn input into the story. This is a major thing to add: A recording of actions and events engine and then extend it's functionality to "narration flow" with the player inputting too.

Now the key is that the customization and stats work not for power but for story like this:-


And the solution? Is player choice not player complete agency. So how do you resolve the linear choice? Simple! All those parallel worlds choices are rooted in time. The beauty of the path taken is the fact all the other paths were not and that is the life chosen, the story told.

I will write it up some time...

Goblin Squad Member

@Ckorik : If you go with the Kingmaker core, then you remove a lot of the old tropes of mmorpgs:-

* Levels
* Immortality
* Change Identity
* Player agency
* Player interactions
* Community building

From that all the old problems; old game play are removed. Who knows if taking such an approach would be something players would find to different to what they would prefer? But it would actually be story-driven even if graphics would be very much less emphasized.

@BrotherZael :

It interests me that you can have stories in books or movies, then the TT shared story, so the idea of a digital large community, it is something interesting. Overall I believe that's what the original idea was all about but got lost in the technological implementation; the same old tropes from the conventional established mmorpg platform that works against that idea.

Goblin Squad Member

1. Yes PF TT crowd was not the intended market hence the dissonance.
2. Irrespective the brand along with Tab-Target combat were merely a set of "knowns" to launch with and reduce risk from an already risky MVP plan.
3. The intended market was PvP crowd to build the game before the growth after 3yrs or more would lead to Themepark elements and expanding the market eg 20-50k target.
4. Once you go with Tab-Target etc you go with either PvE combat or PvP. Only PvP fit MVP development model. The risk of bad mouth from TT brand was acceptable risk to:-
5. Gap in the mmorpg market to get 1st mover adv and convert the old wow players (millions) to a more sandbox style of experience. That was the financial gamble rationale iirc going with MVP.
6. The conventional mmorpg platform proved to be the bottleneck that was too costly both technically at that budget but also market expectations are so high for the same old platform. eg ArenaNet spent millions on their combat and still really tedious.
7. Experience is what counts, the original sin of pvp or rule set servers is different approaches to solving that problem away from themeparks both seem to have failed (EQN) whereas Star Citizen appears to be working considering the money tells the bottom-line story best.
8. Agree you want to see those cores from PF in the game. The emphasis was right however Kingmaker, the platform was the problem making those 2 elements sunder.
9. Agree PvP crowd is the wrong crowd to make a mmorpg for and wrong for a story-centric mmorpg also.
10. IP/Brand if the game was successful would have opened up another market, but I think the best thing about Paizo is the story generation experience they have and that was not able to be utilized in the conventional mmorpg platform.
11. WOW clone may have had better word of mouth but above reasons precluded it, especially the financial investment calculation risk some but win big.
12. Digitally making the world of GOLARION for thousands of players then from that adding the PF specific slice. That would leverage the digital platform maximally for the brand.

Goblin Squad Member

@BroaderZael -

Yup, but emptiness is not just visual, above all it's interactive. The great problem with the "conventional mmorpg platform" that so many have made is that visually they have to be incredible looking to sell to market to compensate for such lack of simulation. Notice UO had simulation galore and EVE via a sort of "spiral growth" of systems over time. I don't think PFO could activate that spiral due to the inherent "conventional mmorpg platform" not even if it spent 100m on it.

That said what is imo interesting about PFO is that the GDD that Ryan put together as a blueprint is mainly still very very strong. I noticed the first loss of coherence in it was the old capstone levelling issue and PvP issue and indeed the loss of the sort of D20 style of combat itself. The Kingmaker however was perfect except it needs a totally different platform to make it, which in turn WOULD (not could!!!) indeed resolve the previous inconsistencies.

So the merit in the GDD keeps the torch alight as it were.

Yes, I made similar choices; been studying too. The objective of an mmo-rpg for me is not a major lifestyle choice, it's simply to have a big world that has many player interactions and stories to pop in and out of. I think the philosophy to lure players back in or stress them to come back is not a good one even if there is commercial pressure to do so. I think it needs to be a social (not pressure) calling to come to the game most of all as well as a story curiosity to want to see what could happen next and to write the next chapter/saga in the players' own story impact on the world.

Goblin Squad Member

EQN Landmark is officially - DEAD!

Goes to show even a themepark sandbox is as challenging to pull off as a pvp style sandbox ala fantasy eve. All because of the MMORPG Conventional Platform I'd assert. Millions poured in, talent, the wishful or hypeful following of many leading to no result. It's been like this in mmorpgs forever (as far back as early 2000's iirc remember) and it's not going to change either to conclude... who's next? Carbine just axed 70 jobs (wildstar?). Crowfall will face problems and CU may feel like PFO ie 10 years ago style of mmo. Certainly it is doom-laden genre.

All the same old opinions as we saw with PFO more or less. PFO did well given it's budget to where it went. But it suffered as I say for the key reason...

Ckorik wrote:
Perhaps there is a magic bullet that will someday make an open PvP game that will be immensely popular - but without a large budget to experiment on design to get it right - I don't see how that aspect of the game will help find an audience.

There is no silver bullet as you probably guessed already. As I say, it's the MMORPG PLATFORM that has to change. If this happened, then for example you can square the circle that is otherwise impossible:-

1. You separate PvP from player death.
2. You include death as a part of life irrespective of violent death (what used to be called PvP but in the new form is not).
3. Death is a permanent end and beginning all in one and the player feels good about this.

All just become systems - no need for the enormous bloat that the MMORPG Platform creates. The big challenge is the network code to ensure that the world interacts with the players and the players interact with the world and each other.

PvP was always the old MMORPG Platform trope or convention to do that cheaply and effectively than the other out-moded convention PvE. Hence any time you talk in these terms you already multiple the future problems to come; even before you begin the old experiences repel the story rpg crowd and attract the wrong crowd hackers/exploiters/griefers etc.

ryric wrote:
As another point, I really couldn't figure out what made this game "Pathfinder." To me, Pathfinder is the game system and the adventure paths, and this game had neither of them.

The classic dungeoneering could very easily be added if you changed the MMORPG Platform. It was actually a module that could have been done very easily as an instance style addition if the graphics were a lot less demanding on asset creation. But for the main game ie world creation of Pathfinder,

Savage Grace wrote:
While tabletop PvP is usually poor entertainment, PFO is based on PF's Kingmaker concept and that is going to be, by its very nature, competitive if each subscriber wants a chance/possibility to rise to power or influence a rise to power.

Answers the question. The main game would be world creation in which you then make the modules for adventure paths/dungeons of classic style of party group experience. Personally I would have made these closer to Torchbearer ie survival-exploration at last 60% to 40% combat. With a reconception it's possible it would also be easier to make it more like a miniature version of the baldur's gate style props for story leading to the main course of hacking to the end boss showdown and reward.

But the Kingmaker was the key focus. It got swallowed by the MMORPG Platform (Game + Engine) outcome.

Duffy wrote:

For me personally the intended design of PFO encapsulates Pathfinder and most tabletop RPGs pretty well. To me they're group storytelling systems with rules to resolve conflict. That conflict can be between players or with the GM via NPCs. The specific rules aren't that important and the setting is flavor and suggestive, not a hard fact.

Now that seems very heavily based on how I play TT: we always homebrew our adventures and regularly mess with the systems even if we love them. Pathfinder is our default d20 fantasy system right now.

I've got a great idea or system that resolves the problem. The problem is that in pvp the player feels the zero-sum outcome too intensely and indeed the outcome zero-sum is too extreme and yet if it's not extreme it's not impactful on changing the world. Indeed PvP is too powerful a way for players to play to mess with other players: Huge motivator. In fact players should mess with others but not on their own terms necessarily or partly so!

People don't mind losing against the GM who should be modulating the challenge in service to rich story outcome. Risk should boost the richness if it's included either way.

One of the big problems is people also want to be the hero in a world of averages. This is a big problem few mmorpgs ever tried to solve, eve up to a point. If a system is created it has to solve this huge problem also, as big and connected to pvp and indeed informative on power bloat or inflation too of the world. With large numbers, comes proportion/ratio on all things so they fit the "ecosystem" which itself as per PFO must serve an economy which shapes players decisions into logical story enhancing choices.

The idea of endlessly sending hero-champs into a part of the world to attack players is absurd gameplay and story.

Goblin Squad Member

Ah I did actually forget how good you are with the pen! I secretly pride myself as "a bit of a word-smith" but then such golden illusion cannot be sustained when it comes into contact with the real thing! Hehe. Are you still writing, Being? What else?

Stories. I've watched great films. The Martian, Another Earth, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night etc, I've read some great books: Starship Troopers, The Man In The High Castle, The Forever War and more...

But I have not played and abandoned MMOs because I do not find great stories there.

There is conflict and that is one way of describing stories, nothing much news-worthy until a conflict happens that sets of an exciting chain of events.

I think what it comes down to is World.

And I think how to make a world in a compute game is Simulation.

This to my mind points the way. Maybe I can write this darn thing up tomorrow and get it off my chest.

Being wrote:
We could best tell if a real solution was discovered by playing it.

Yes indeed. But if we look at stories as our plan. We ideally need a template that suggests the best way of doing these in computer games to design around or based on before no doubt the solutions almost start working themselves out as you tread new ground...

That's the feeling I always got from the genre-making games of the 80's. They made it up as they went along and it sort of all came together - but it invariably was based on a great concept then trial and error fiddling.

Being wrote:
I don't think beating down a hex filled with whatevers quite fits that bill.

No, or if it does it is to a smaller market or a more competitive market. This is for me a "convention" now of the technology, the MMORPG Game Platform.

If you rip that up and remove it and create an entirely different platform... this is the new vision I would argue. Such concepts as "grinding" I think then do not apply or if there is grinding it's not how we know it.

The player themselves changes, the game creates the world and the player manages the story with the odd direct agency at the appropriate level, for example quests and the core pathfinder tt expectation. You just have to have something that apes this.

You know the old game Elite it was tiny, less than a modern email but it created so much story!

Goblin Squad Member

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Good to see you around Being! Miss the good community that was once here all looking for the future of storytelling.


There's merit in the MVP approach to a lean start-up and agile development with the customers. But as pointed out the valid status of MVP to the customers is crucial/vital.

On PvP, I think it was reliant too heavily on this will be fantasy-EVE and those players will fund the game atst as this approach was the most extreme way to alienate the core fans of the IP...

Hindsight and all.

But, actually it comes back to the deepest intentions. What are we actually trying to create?

For the Pathfinder IP it's very clear: Stories and Social Stories at that.

As I previously said the WOW Platform standard, that is a technical barrier that is imo unnecessary and leading away from story generation and leading excruciating standards of requirement for development and for market and for performance and indeed attracting the wrong crowd of mmo'ers not rpg'ers. All these made the MVP impossible under these conditions. So what conditions would MVP have worked for the design?

If a real solution was discovered or presented, how could we tell/recognize it?

The more interesting thing is however, the reaction that people might have to it. Do they see through it's new form and say "yes that will bring me the sorts of stories I crave!" or will they say, "I can't accept that that will immerse me in the world of pathfinder, I'm sorry it just does not work for me." ?

The measure might be how easy is it to identify possible stories that already could be played out in MVP, may be one way to approach recognizing a winning solution and it's subsequent relative ease with which further story types might be added/developed from that baseline.

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

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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...

http://paizo.com/paizo/news/v5748eaic9s92?Obsidian-Announces-Pathfinder-Lic 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 mmorpg.com 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 mmorpg.com 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

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