"Crowfall" Devs Look to Change the World of MMORPGs

Last week a new independent game studio called ArtCraft Entertainment released an obscure and promising press release to the world. The message was composed by founders J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton who promised that they would soon be announcing a game changing MMORPG  called Crowfall. However, the online game wasn't just going to be a spin-off or rehash of today's online games, but rather one that had never existed before. "Something deeper than a virtual amusement park. More impactful than a virtual sandbox," the authors promised, "More immersive. More real. A game where decisions matter." The announcement contained scant images, no details, and little for gamers to go on. But for now the obscurity, along with online forums, are working its magic to help gather steam aboard the hype train. The studio says it's already had 10,000 sign ups for Crowfall's beta testing. However, according to Coleman, Crowfall's announcement was more manifesto than false marketing promises.

“A few weeks ago, we put up a sign-up page for Crowfall...it was a statement of purpose – more manifesto than teaser.” --J Todd Coleman

A bold proclamation to say the least, and one the online gaming community is fairly familiar with. However, unlike many start up studios, Coleman and Walton already have a ton of MMO experience and some successes to help back up their claims. Coleman brings to the table some innovative game play design (Shadowbane, Wizard101) while Walton contributes his experience with extremely successful game franchises (Ultima OnlineStar Wars: the Old Republic).

The studio is engaging in what he calls a “rampant speculation” campaign to try and drum up excitement and speculation about the game. According to Coleman, the strategy is also designed to help start the discussion among future Crowfall players for input into the game’s design. “Because letting you in early gives us an amazing benefit,” Coleman states in a Welcome forum post, “you get to help shape the game we’re making. It’s like we’re crowd-sourcing our design!”

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“Between now and late February…we’re going to be playing a game called rampant speculation. We’ll be dropping hints, screenshots, images, videos, storylines…painting a picture in broad strokes.”

Even though Crowfall is intended to be created by everyone, it’s apparently not going to be created  for everyone. Both Coleman and Walton stress the importance of this exclusivity. “Crowfall isn’t a game for everyone. It’s for players who are looking for a more immersive, more visceral experience. The early response was fantastic, but we still expect to build this community one player at a time.”

“Crowfall isn’t a game for everyone. It’s for players who are looking for a more immersive, more visceral experience."--Gordon Walton

Coleman echoes this belief in another form post: “If you’re looking for a game designed for ‘everyone’, this isn’t it,” he states, “For this game to be successful, we don’t need everyone. We do need you, though, and more people like you.”

Many people in the Crowfall forums are expressing genuine excitement and a hunger for a new type of MMO experience (although there is a bit of a flame war going on between Shadowbane folks and Wizard101’ers). The next six months should prove whether Coleman and Walton have a genuinely game changing idea, or if Crowfall will be, as many are speculating, some hybrid between Shadowbane and Wizard101.