The Kickstarter That is Almost, But Not Quite the Pathfinder MMO

Also Ryan “Steve Jobs” Dancey takes credit for every major achievement in the RPG industry

Well, here, have a looksie. It’s quite an impressive product page, visually. I got about twenty words in before I started laughing. (Well, that doesn’t count the video, which is fucking hilarious.)

You see, in his opening section, Dancey takes credit for a number of things. Some of them are very much his fault – like the OGL D20 licensing, which brought us such wonders as the Book of Erotic Fantasy. It makes sense that they’d list that as an accomplishment, though, since most of the principals of Paizo owe their current success to the OGL’s completely unenforceable wording.

Most of the list of “accomplishments” hangs on the idea that Lisa Fucking Stevens worked for Wizards for ten years. She’s an amazing businessperson, and you won’t hear me say anything other on that. However, it seems a bit ostentatious to take credit for the success of Vampire: The Masquerade and fucking Magic: The Gathering singlehandedly. Sounds a bit like a marketing wash…okay. They’re trying to play up their strengths, to put a successful foot forward. Why are they working so hard to get us to believe?

Wait, wait. Something isn’t quite right here…

We’ve had to do all three of these things in parallel because there are a couple of intersecting “chicken and egg” problems here. Investing at this stage of a project is very much about having faith in the people working on the project—and we have some amazing folks who want to work with us, but they have careers and family obligations, so they can’t just pick up and relocate to Redmond on the hope that we’ll get the funding we need. We’ll also need to show our investors specific details about our financials, which are affected tremendously by the deal we can secure for our middleware—the engine that runs the game. Our business experience and social networks have provided us access to some awesome middleware deals that aren’t readily available to outsiders, but sealing those deals is tied to the staff and funding issues as well. In short, we need to move forward before we can move forward.

Ryan “Steve Jobs” Dancey, Master of MMOs, Swinger of Deals, World Poker Tour Pro, apparently can’t close a contract for a god-damned thing. He apparently can’t convince his friends and family to have faith in this project. He can’t convince strangers with money to have faith in his project. They’ve been doing this for six months, and haven’t landed ANYTHING. Not a single dime, delivered or promised, in value or cash.

As they say in the business world: “Uh-oh.”

Now Dancey wants to crowdsource his funding to build a technology demo so that investors will take him seriously. How cute. I’m sure the $50,000 someone else has put into this game for him will look amazing on a prospectus. Investors will sure think a small demo for a computer game that looks like it came out two years ago shows progress. His friends will flock to work for him when they know he has enough money to pay their salaries for…maybe a month. Possibly two.

Judging by the flock of people that have come to donate (as of right now, it’s at 10% funded just a few hours in), maybe it’ll work. Perhaps his genius plan is to undershoot, and get a BUNCH of money to started out with. Hell, I have no idea what goes on in Ryan “I Can See The Future” Dancey’s head.

What is telling to me is that despite her involvement, Lisa Fucking Stevens is playing it safe. She’s a sound business mind; if she thought there was enough money in this, I have no doubt she could pull $50,000 (and a lot more) out of her business. She does, after all, control the Best-Selling Fantasy RPG! If she had, we could be spelling out the end of Paizo (and with it, Pathfinder).

As it sits, we just get to watch Ryan “Steve Jobs” Dancey play out his mid-life career crisis in public. Give it up, dude. Everything you touch turns to shit. The President of EVE Online had to apologize publically for your direction before they locked you out. You were run out on a rail once your OGL D&D fever dream turned out to be suicide for the brand. You were personally responsible for shutting down the White Wolf print lines.

I look forward to who you’ll blame for this next failure. Oh, let it be Erik Mona. I’d bet he would react well to that.

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16 thoughts on “The Kickstarter That is Almost, But Not Quite the Pathfinder MMO

  1. Are they seriously asking people to pledge money for the privilege of watching a video of the tech demo? Not play the tech demo, but just watch a video of it? Or pay £1000 and get to take part in the alpha when (if?) it gets made? And it’s working?

    You know, I think it’s a not uncommon practice for these things to be free. There are kickstarter projects around where you can watch videos and play demos, and then decide you’d like to pay for the project to come out. I think I’d rather support on of those.

  2. organized says:

    I was going to make a seriously reply to several points made in this post, and reconsidered.

    The personal attacks and profanity are a pretty good indication that the author is possibly a failed game designer, but probably just a troll.

    Certainly your opinions are filled with misinformation and hate.

    • fugaros says:

      I’d be more than happy to debate facts and opinions with you, especially if you’re interested in defending Ryan “Steve Jobs” Dancey. If you look at the rest of my blog, you’ll find I’m generally quite courteous and well-mannered in the comments.

    • Ettin says:

      Oh shit guys, he said RUDE WORDS and made PERSONAL ATTACKS. You can’t use RUDE WORDS on the INTERNET. You’re mean!

      You should be incredibly passive-aggressive about them instead like me.

  3. ledemiurge says:

    Given that he was greatly accountable for AD&D’s dismissal, I hope he chokes on his own sh*t.
    That’s all I have to say.

  4. […] into the deal until we have more concrete work to show them”. This shouldn’t surprise anyone with the level of experience that Goblinworks says it has; that they apparently don’t have a working tech demo says volumes to me. I’m actually […]

  5. Me! says:

    I’m confused. Why do you give him the nickname Steve Jobs?

  6. I have little doubt that the KS is primarily a promotional gesture and that the MMO’s financing didn’t ride on it.

    • Bad Idea says:

      Agreed. Further, I think one needs to look at the Kickstarter in the context of what is going on in Kickstarter these days with properties like Double FIne, Shadowrun, Steve Jackson Games, and even Order of the Stick: A company with a lot of fans asks for a little bit of money, and in return gets a huge pile of cash completely beyond the cost of whatever they were originally selling. And they get a ton of free buzz to go along with it. I’m sure Paizo had $50k to spend, but this way, they get it for free and hopefully a whole lot more. As I write this, they’re already past the goal and up to $80k after a week, so I’m sure they’re going to manage to fund most of the final game development without having to lift a finger.

      Far from being a desperation move, using Kickstarter just makes sense if you have a devoted fan base. Any stigma associated with crowdsourcing in the computer game market got killed by Tim Schafer with a shovel.

      • Bad Idea says:

        That said, if your analysis in the next post is correct, then they’re going to fail to reach enough money to make the crowdsourcing thing actually work for them the way that those other projects did. But I’m sure that was the GOAL when they started it. That they may fail to reach it is just sorta funny.

      • fugaros says:

        The two ideas are not mutually incompatible. Unfortunately, as a publicity stunt, it has mostly failed; the goal would be to walk into investors’ offices with a smile on your face because you asked for fifty grand and your RABID FANS gave you five or ten times that. Shit, the OGRE kickstarter damn near made a million dollars, and they were asking for less than half what the PFMMO one is.

        A lot of popular game kickstarters have done that. Unfortunately, the big posturing and talk by the Pathfinder community have come out to something wholly underwhelming. I guess it’s possible that a realy, live PFMMO kickstarter might earn more cash – but I think it’s more likely that most of the donations have already rolled in.

        I don’t blame the fans, of course. They love their game and want to see something awesome happen with it, and a big man with big dreams is in for the long con.

      • Gilthy says:

        I think you’ll see more and more Kickstarters for (computer) games starting to crash and burn, or just barely make their goal. There is a big, but ultimately limited amount of people backing the various projects, and at some point they will either run out of money to support/donate (having supported a number of games/projects already), or just get tired of the prospect and move elsewhere.

        It’s a bit weird for an MMO Kickstarter to offer materials for a pen-and-paper game. On the other hand, if numbers are right, there are about 6 million D&D players worldwide. There still are over 10 million WoW players (both are just one game, I know). Maybe there’s a wish for cross-pollination? If I had been running this Kickstarter, I’d have offered the full video for donating $1 or $2 or something, and perhaps throw in some cool wallpapers (I would have loved me some custom Wayne Reynolds artwork) for the lower tiers of support.

        And finally, it looks like this Kickstarter is going to end well above $150k, and way above the 2000 supporters they were apparently aiming for.

  7. Lochness_Hamster says:

    all praise The Cult of Paizo™

  8. […] I am without shame, though. I do owe Ryan “Steve Jobs” Dancey an apology. I said some very mean words about him, which I’m quite certain he has utterly ignored since there’s no way he’s the […]

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