Project Gorgon is much-loved around here, winning best indie MMO several years running thanks to its dogged devotion to being, well, the weirdest and most creative MMO around, with antique graphics and a tiny team to match. But one thing is hasn’t pulled off yet is a formal launch, as it’s been lingering in early access for three years, and now it’s finally retooling its entire monetization scheme, something studio Elder Game has been hinting at for ages.
Saturday night, the company announced a new VIP membership program that is launching today. “This program gives players extra benefits while they are a VIP member,” the studio explains. “The intent is to give players another way to support the game’s development while getting useful benefits for doing so — kind of like becoming a Patreon patron.”
It looks like the base sub settles out to around 12 bucks, less if you sub further in advance; it’d be just $8.33 a month if you sub in a 12 month-block, for example. Players will be able to use Steam sub, in-game VIP tokens, and even claimable VIP time from the game’s crowdfunding campaigns. The devs do warn that “if you want to save your VIP time until the game is out of beta, just don’t redeem the VIP time until then.”
In exchange for the sub, players are picking up more character slots, more inventory slots, more item-transfer slots, more saddlebag slots, and character spreadsheet access. Perhaps the most interesting bit is that the sub comes with access to the new Autodidacticism skill (I told you this was a weird game). The skill allows players to gain experience in skills while offline, akin to systems in EVE Online and the dearly departed Glitch.
“It’s intended to help players who can’t play as often as they’d like, or who want to slowly level ‘alt’ characters. Of course, we’re worried about this skill giving VIP players too big of a gameplay advantage over non-VIP players. We don’t expect that to be a problem due to the many limitations and restrictions on the skill (see below), but even so, we’ll keep an eye on the rate of advancement. We want Autodidacticism to be a ‘secondary’ way to level skills, so if it ends up feeling like the easiest or most efficient way to level a skill, we’ll fix it. Autodidacticism is a non-combat skill.”
Elder Game calls the VIP plan a “huge milestone” that “represents a new stage of the game’s development” but stresses it won’t be “mandatory.”
“We’ve talked about the VIP plan for years, but didn’t want to implement it until we were in a solid place technically, where we could leave the ‘prototype’ stage and enter the ‘production’ stage,” the devs note. “And we’re finally ready to enter that stage! That’s super exciting for us, and hopefully for you! We’ve been extraordinarily careful with the funds we’ve earned from backers and purchasers, and it’s let us develop the game slowly for many years — and in fact we can continue to make the game at our current rate of development indefinitely. But we’re finally in a place where it makes sense to hire several more people and widen our production capacity. This is incredibly exciting: we’re talking about better graphics, more content, and lots more polish. (We’re honest with ourselves and know this will never be as polished as a ‘AAA’ game… but we can eventually come pretty close!)”
We’ll be updating this post once we have patch notes for the rest of today’s update. (Update: They’re up now!)
Further reading (abridged version!):