intrepid studios

Massively OP Podcast Episode 123: Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif

On this week’s show, Justin sits down with Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif to talk about the game’s successful Kickstarter, handling a wild community, and the next steps for this up-and-coming sandbox MMORPG.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Ashes of Creation’s post-Kickstarter pledge store is live

Wallets at the ready, peeps: As promised, Ashes of Creation is following up its massive Kickstarter run with a more local, homegrown crowdfunding effort on its own website, live now.

“We’ve been hearing from the community that many couldn’t participate due to the payment limitations of Kickstarter,” writes Intrepid Studios. “In response to this, we came up with a campaign that benefits both new backers and those from the Kickstarter! This campaign will have new backer goals achievable by previous Kickstarter backers and new backers as they are unlocked.”

Pledges begin at $25 and run up to over $5000, with a whole ladder of rewards for all backers depending on how many gamers jump in. There’s even a trailer to talk you into the deal.

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Ashes of Creation will launch its web store next week

If you’re curious what was going on with Ashes of Creation’s promised web store to allow fans to donate even more money to its crowdfunding coffers following the game’s highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the short answer is that it is coming. Next week, in fact.

Intrepid Studios announced that the web store will go live on June 20th alongside internal email integration for current backers. The team also said that “exciting” announcements are coming during livestreams on June 16th and 30th.

Thanks to deeper pockets, Intrepid has been expanding its development team. Five new members were announced: Lead Economic Designer Rocco Scandizzo (Activision, Vivendi), Lead Technical Designer Akil Hooper (EverQuest II, Fallout New Vegas), Lead Programmer Kevin McPherson (PlanetSide 2, Shadowbane), Senior Character Artist Mat Broome (H1Z1, DCUO), and Programmer Alex (Amazon).


Massively Overthinking: MMO monetization run amok

Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:

The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 120: Steaming into summer

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree welcome summer by talking about SWTOR’s roadmap, Black Desert’s amazing Steam debut, and a troubling Shroud of the Avatar announcement, as well as a mailbag question about casual gaming.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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HuffPo examines Ashes of Creation’s ‘business lessons’

How did Ashes of Creation run the biggest MMORPG Kickstarter to date? HuffPo thinks it knows. The publication has run down a whole list of “business lessons” to take away from the game’s $3.2M campaign, noting that Intrepid Studios took advantage of existing viral networks to Steven Sharif’s “surrounding himself with people that are experts in their own fields.” Transparency and plenty of game footage has been a big boost too, as it helps convince would-be backers that they’re not just pouring money down a drain.

“Intrepid Studios has created a movement in attempting to redefine the MMORPG genre and has appealed to his target audience with laser precision,” says the blog.

Oh, and it turns out that having a crapton of money also helps your Kickstarter venture. “Steven Sharif has stated that he is willing to refund the money back to it’s backers should anything go awry,” HuffPo writes. “This money will come personally from Sharif himself, something that not every young company has the luxury to afford. Nevertheless, there is a level of comfort that comes from Sharif being willing to put his money where his mouth is.”

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Kickstarter to take no action on Ashes of Creation’s campaign following referral program confusion

Last weekend, we ran an article covering PC Gamer’s detailed investigation into Ashes of Creation’s pledge system. At the time, PC Gamer’s Steven Messner wrote that Kickstarter had told the author that AoC’s revenue and profit sharing systems ran afoul of Kickstarter’s rules and that consequently, Kickstarter had asked AoC’s Intrepid Studios to remove Kickstarter pledges from its referral program, which Kickstarter said Intrepid had done.

Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif disputed that, saying that while Kickstarter asked the studio to change the language of its referral program, Intrepid had not actually changed the program itself, meaning Kickstarter pledges were still included in the referral program, which Intrepid says it believe remains in compliance with Kickstarter’s rules.

In heated forum comments about the situation, Sharif also accused PC Gamer’s writer of issuing an “outright lie” and of having an “agenda” and “combative” demeanor. “We know that he wanted to ride the hype wave with the project with clickbait titles and an article that he riddles with reddit links? Really? lol,” he told the game’s official Discord channel.

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Massively Overthinking: 2017’s MMORPG zeitgeist

This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
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Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter has successfully funded at $3.27M

Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter has successfully funded this morning, bringing in a grand total of $3,271,809 US out of its $750,000 goal with almost 20,000 individual backers contributing, thus making it the largest Kickstarter for an MMORPG ever. Intrepid Studios’ Steven Sharif has previously told us in interviews that he has investors lined up to cover his anticipated $30M budget goal.

Reaching the $3M pledge mark unlocked the stock exchange stretch goal, which is expected to introduce “in-depth economic performance metrics for commodities, trade routes, wars, and raids” and allow player investment in nodes and social groups.

Missed out and regretting it? No need: “During the month of June, interested gamers can continue to pledge their support and upgrade their pledges on the Ashes of Creation website,” Intrepid’s PR this morning said (amended below). “No early bird packages will be allowed, but this extended round of pledging is intended to allow folks who could not use Kickstarter payment methods to still show their support. To make the idea even more interesting, Intrepid Studios will soon be unveiling even more stretch goals that all backers (Kickstarter or official site) will unlock.”

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Ashes of Creation hires five new team members, shows off snowy environments

As Ashes of Creation takes aim at the $3M line for its Kickstarter campaign, Intrepid Studios announced that it has made several significant hires to its development team, some of which come from the Daybreak fold.

The hires include Lead Economic Designer Rocco Scandizzo (Psyop Games), Lead Programmer Kevin McPherson (EverQuest, PlanetSide, Vanguard, and Shadowbane), Lead Technical Designer Akil Hooper (EverQuest II, Fallout: New Vegas), Senior Character Artist Mat Broome (H1Z1, DCUO, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest), and Alex Khudoliy (Amazon).

Another interesting announcement is that Intrepid is partnering with Panopticon Labs to develop fraud detection and prevention tools for the game to make it as secure as possible.

Ashes of Creation devs will be on hand this evening at 6:00 p.m. EDT for a final Kickstarter livestream. The team also posted a brief video showing some of the winter effects in the different game environments, which you can watch below.

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Ashes of Creation sprints down the final crowdfunding stretch

This is it, boys and girls. Ashes of Creation is going to wrap up its immensely successful Kickstarter campaign tomorrow, and the only question left is whether or not the game will be able to push across the $3M line to unlock the sheer excitement of… a stock exchange. OK, well, it’ll still be pretty neat to see if that goal is reached or not.

As of the time of this writing, the project has achieved 368% of its target goal of $750,000, netting over $2.7M so far. To help keep excitement levels high — and those wallets open — the developers posted a new half-hour gameplay video with commentary that shows off Ashes of Creation’s pre-alpha build in action.

Check it out after the break!

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Ashes of Creation revises referral program, unlocks Underrealm race, and shows freehold housing

With less than a week to go in its fundraising campaign, Ashes of Creation has raised over $2.5 million and become the most successful Kickstarted MMORPG of all time. This milestone also means that another stretch goal has been crossed, prompting the development of a “beast-like” Underrealm race to go with those boring humans, Elves, Orcs, and Dwarves.

One aspect of the campaign that the studio is being quiet about concerns its slightly controversial referral program. PC Gamer noted that the system originally factored in pledges and reached out to Kickstarter to see if this was allowed. Kickstarter examined the situation and determined that Ashes of Creation was in the wrong and had to separate referrals from crowdfunding.

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Ashes of Creation will let you step into the shoes of a flesh-rending monster

If all of Ashes of Creation’s ambitious claims come to life in the finished product, then it does’t seem like players will wont for things to do. And if adventuring, farming, and trading gets old, there’s always the opportunity to take a vacation in the skin of a monster.

Calling it “fresh to the MMO experience,” the team at Ashes of Creation says that the game’s monster play will allow players to use special coins to take over a mobile boss for a dynamic event. Both the monster attacker and player defenders are judged based on their performance, with all sorts of cosmetics as potential rewards.

In addition to the monster coin system, Intrepid Studios announced the addition of yet another stretch goal: variant spell FX if 16,000 Kickstarter backers are reached. As it stands, Ashes of Creation has raised $2.35M with the help of over 13,200 backers so far.

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