Two Kickstarters to point out from friends of the greater rat-slaying community:
Project Gorgon is back on Kickstarter and has already met its goal. The $35 and $50 tiers look like your best bang for your buck. We have occasionally blogged about Gorgon as a boutique MMO, with lots of interesting ideas.
Cultists of Cthulhu is a game in the category of Arkham horror, cooperative with one or more cultists waiting to betray the team. If you are like me and like to judge based on the rules, they are online. It advertises meaningful decisions in bold text, so the game is in the spirit of what we love here, although I cannot speak to the execution. The add-ons look rather pricey.
Our dear friends from Elder Game are giving Kickstarter another chance to get in on their MMO Gorgon, which is in the works and not that far from completion. Development takes time, and time is money, so they need a surprisingly small amount of money to bring the project to fruition.
Over at Elder Game, you can read a lot of the development discussion. I’d like to note four features, all of which are mentioned in the Kickstarter proposal:
- All those Kickstarter projects where they pitch before they start programming? There is a playable alpha of Gorgon today.
- Adjustable difficulty levels. Yes, in an MMO. You can choose the risks you are willing to take with customizable death penalties, or you can play your own challenges that the game will recognize like pacifism and vegetarianism.
- The planned business model is $5/month subscription fee. That is almost free, but because it is not free, I expect a lot of horrible behavior to be suppressed. You’re aware of some of the perversities of “free,” from both players and developers.
- Death xp. There is a “Dying” skill that rewards you for finding new ways to die. Gorgon generally has some interesting ideas about death penalties.
The $125 level is tempting just to ensure that Ethic the Ratslayer appears in the game.
Gorgon has a mix of new ideas and old school approaches that deserve more exploration, and exploring mechanics costs a heck of a lot less than having full voice acting for your game.
If just two hundred people go for the /smite ability, they’re in business.
Eric at Elder Game is just winning all over the place in a post that covers a variety of balance topics. Two sample quotes:
I haven’t played much in years, but as far as I can tell, post Cataclysm, [WoW’s] balancing plan has been to say “fuck solo balance, we’ll just make it insanely easy for all the classes, and then nobody will care enough to complain.” Which… is a valid approach for certain audiences. [Like me! -Sandra]
One of my rules of thumb is that an MMO shouldn’t balance gameplay via tedium. By that, I mean a designer shouldn’t say “Well you could become overpowered by doing X, but you’d have to do X for 500 hours, and who’s going to do that?” MMO players, that’s who. Because of the competitive environment, a lot of them will do whatever it takes, and they’ll curse your name for “making” them do it, all at the same time.
He goes on to explain how playing fetch will be used as a balance technique.
The second quote was an explicit part of balancing the original Magic: The Gathering. The developers balanced the game assuming a relatively small card environment. “This card is powerful, but it is rare, so that won’t be a problem unless people start buying thousands of cards. In which case, our game is a huge success, so no problem.”