Crowfall And Much Rambling On Game Types

A number of people are questioning whether Crowfall is asking for enough money to make their game. I don’t really care about that. (But I think they know what they’re doing.)

My main worry is that they’re making an MMO that I won’t like. And they know it. I suspect that’s why they are crowdfunding like this: Real investors wouldn’t support making a game intentionally targeted at a small niche market that doesn’t include mostly-casual PvE players.

But let’s get this out of the way first: I love that somebody is making a new MMO. Even if it isn’t made for me. I hope Crowfall gets made and it’s successful. (Let’s face it–it will get made, even if the Kickstarter fails, which it won’t, because they’ve almost made their goal already they easily made their goal, which I’m sure they knew they would.)

We Need A New Acronym

Why won’t I like it? Crowfall doesn’t sound like the kind of game that I think of when I think of an MMO. It sounds like another game that’s trying to redefine MMO as “any multiplayer game that saves your progress on cloud servers.”

I will now commence some tangential rambling unrelated to Crowfall.

Maybe MMO has always been defined like that. But I wish we could settle on a word or acronym to describe what used to be an MMO–i.e. the big three of EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, and Ultima Online back in 1999. Otherwise known as the games that created the genre.

For me, those kinds of games were built around concepts like exploration and imagination and adventure and story. So when I hear someone say they are making a new “MMO,” that is what I think–that they will be providing something that will spark my imagination and give me a place to explore. (Yes, I score high on the Bartle “exploration” scale.) To me, the lineage of such games goes back to the likes of Dungeons of Daggorath, Dungeon Master, Bard’s Tale, and the Ultima series. (And of course, every pen and paper role-playing game ever.)

Maybe “CRPG” is the word I need to adopt instead of “MMO,” although that implies old single-player games to me. Maybe “MMCRPG.” Ha! That’s better. (I just found a reference to “MMCRPG” in a 1999 Usenet post talking about Asheron’s Call.) Or maybe something totally weird like… ACEQUO! In honor of “the founding fathers.” (Pronounced ACE-Kwo.)

Crowfall Is Not For Explorers

Anyway, back to the point, Crowfall may be an MMO but it isn’t an “ACEQUO.”

Crowfall is being built around (in the words of the Kickstarter) “allies, enemies, empires, betrayal, risk, and conquest.” This is my main problem with Crowfall. I would enjoy a good story that includes those things, but I don’t particularly want to actually experience them. (That’s what “real life” is for.) Crowfall wants to be a Game of Thrones simulator, which I suppose is why people are also calling it a fantasy version of EVE–I don’t know much about the EVE “endgame,” but I gather that competition between corporations is a big thing there. (Possibly the only thing.)

Whatever the case, it’s pretty clear that attacking others and/or defending against attacks is the primary gameplay of Crowfall, and while I can enjoy that in short bursts or “matches,” it doesn’t appeal to me in a long-form “trench warfare” campaign that lasts for months.

Is Crowfall Going To Be Like Planetside 2??

Something else struck me when thinking about Crowfall. They use the tag line, “Eternal Heroes, Dying Worlds.” That idea seems fundamentally similar to modern progression shooters that I most recently experienced in Planetside 2. In modern shooters, you play in “campaigns” to gain experience and unlock more powerful weapons and stuff. The only difference between a shooter and what Crowfall is describing is that they are using fantasy weapons (and a third-person view) instead of guns.

One last thought I had about Crowfall is this: Why are they putting in character progression at all? They compare the game to Risk a lot in their pitch, but a strategy game like Risk requires no characters whatsoever. Why not make everyone equal so the game is actually about the strategy and not about who has the best character? (A question I ask myself quite a lot in MMO PvP games.)

Anyway those are some of the reasons why I’m not donating to Crowfall and it probably won’t be my main game if it ever comes out. It’s the kind of game that I might play for a couple of weeks just to see what everyone is talking about, then never play it again. (Like, say, Planetside 2, and also the vast majority of the games on my Steam list.)

But who knows. It’s still early. If they ever release a free demo or somebody starts streaming it I will definitely check it out to see if there’s anything in it for me. I do like the art style.

P.S. I wonder if playing Crowfall will be similar to WvW in GW2, or Cyrodiil in ESO.

5 thoughts on “Crowfall And Much Rambling On Game Types”

  1. I’m with you on this – I have no interest in Crowfall based on the game’s description. I hear folks getting excited over it, but I doubt I’ll ever be one of them.

    I wish them all the luck in their funding and development, though.

  2. I was going to do a post saying almost exactly what you just said! I might bounce off you and do one anyway. MMO is a really meaningless term now – it’s far too broad to be of any use other than to people outside the audience it interests.

    I’m as guilty as anyone of using the term. It’s just laziness. I do try and use “MMORPG” when that’s what I actually mean but often I just miss off the last three letters. That’s a mistake. UO, EQ and AC were (are) MMORPGs. Crowfall is not. I don’t imagine ArtCraft would claim it was.

    Like you I might give it a look when it goes live. It may well be a good game. I rather doubt it but let’s keep an open mind. Even if it is, though, it will be something entirely separate from and outside of this hobby.

  3. It actually sounds like Crowfall will be good at what it’s trying to do, although the more I think about it, the more I don’t get what it will offer that’s different from WvW and/or Cyrodiil. (Other than using voxel technology.)

  4. Honestly, I think Crowfall may be THE game for explorers. Procedurally-generated worlds are great for that sort of thing, and the Kickstarter even mentions including ruins and other indicators of a previous/current civilization. Story doesn’t have to be laid out in black-and-white, heavy-handed quest text: it can emerge out of the adventures you have out in the wild!

    As you point out, PvP isn’t your main goal in a MMO, but just because things come wrapped in risk-versus-reward doesn’t mean they can’t be just as fulfilling from a roleplaying or adventuring perspective.

    I appreciate that you are hopeful for Crowfall’s future (as am I), but the idea that, “Real investors wouldn’t support making a game intentionally targeted at a small niche market that doesn’t include mostly-casual PvE players” seems to me to be a big reason why MMORPGs have stagnated creatively. I cannot express to you how excited I am when smaller, more indie MMOs come into being. I am not any one type of gamer, but I am so tired of MMOs trying to cater to every type of gamer at once. The end result repeatedly comes out too bland for me to much care.

    I’d love to get a PvE-first game again that harks back to EverQuest, but new MMOs all want to balance around PvP (limiting creativity) or go all action-kung-fu-hoorah (limiting the whole playing roles thing). I wouldn’t mind a new Ultima Online game that attempts to be a virtual world (and not necessarily the PvP free-for-all kind). I am also excited to see where PvP can be taken, so I am quite optimistic for Camelot Unchained and Crowfall to bring something really fun to the table with their more focused goals.

    This genre needs hope wherever anyone can get it, you know?

  5. True, story can and does emerge from experiences and that’s great when it does. I was just trying to say that for me consuming stories about e.g. empires, betrayal, and risk (in the form of PvE quests and so forth) is exciting, but living in those stories (ie. actually building empires, betraying allies, and risking my stuff, etc.) is exhausting. (That’s just my personality.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope I’ll like Crowfall. Reading over the Kickstarter again I can see maybe there will be more possibilities than I first thought. If it will just let me run around without getting stomped flat by a zerg every ten steps I’d be happy.

    (Also I’m not sure I’d characterize Crowfall as a smaller independent MMO. It looks closer to the size of something like Neverwinter to me.)

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