Crowfall studio ArtCraft has apparently suffered a round of layoffs

    
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Tiptoe through the something-or-other.

We’ve got some bad news for fans of Crowfall: It appears that the team behind the game, ArtCraft, is going through some layoffs. The news initially came from Valerie Massey, who was the Director of Community at ArtCraft at the time of its Kickstarter through June of last year; she’s currently the Senior Community Manager at Dual Universe studio Novaquark.

I’d like to say the game’s subreddit is on fire, but it’s relatively quiet; the one thread about the layoffs suggests that a key engineer, Thomas “Hanse” Eidson, was among those laid off. The transcript of the stream conversation with Hanse says the “team was let go,” that the layoffs came without notice and were the result of marketing that “fell flat,” and that “the guys that made the game are not on the game anymore.”

“RIP Crowfall,” he wrote. “I was high on the game. I’m now free. It’s hard to let this shit go, but I’m a tad salty.” Eidson has been in the MMO industry for two decades, with credits on Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and DC Universe Online.

The Redditors further speculate that J. Todd Coleman himself was also moved to the company’s second project. Our condolences extend to the rank-and-file developers affected.

Readers will recall that Crowfall was Kickstarted in 2015 and went through numerous revisions, delays, and investment rounds over the last six years. It launched in July, making it one of the biggest crowdfunded MMOs to ever fully launch; almost immediately, it was beset by concerns that its player population was too low for a dedicated mass-PvP title and that its marketing was non-existent. Those concerns were ultimately met with code changes to mask player counts and a marketing campaign in late July, along with recruiting campaigns and patches. In fact, the game’s most recent patch came just a week ago, when ArtCraft’s Gordon Walton sat for a lengthy interview with our own PvP columnist.

We’ve reached out to the studio for a statement about the future of the game and the remaining team and will update when we have it, but we note today is a holiday in the US and we might not get a formal announcement until tomorrow. [Update: The studio declined to comment.]

Source: Twitter, Reddit. With thanks to Brad.
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Alyn
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Alyn

The first time I ever heard of ArtCraft or Crowfall was on another gaming forum back in January of 2015. Apparently this was the “call to battle” from the producer/director to the gaming community at the time. It was somewhat controversial, I suppose because it “felt” somewhat in your face toward all the current mmo’s at that time-

“If you’re here, it’s because you’re looking for something.

Something deeper than a virtual amusement park. More impactful than a virtual sandbox. More immersive. More real. A game where decisions matter.

We are, too. We’ve been looking for years, and we still haven’t found it…. because it doesn’t exist. Yet.”

This was the first or leading statement about the game to be produced at that time, Crowfall. Ah, now let’s us see, did “we find something” here? Just asking-

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somber_bliss

They tried to do too many systems and unique character models and forgot about a little something called gameplay.

The Weeb formerly known as Sray
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The Weeb formerly known as Sray

This game is not on Steam, Epic Games, or XBox for PC. Four years ago or so, I’d have said that doesn’t matter, but things have changed. Today, without a massive pre-existing fanbase (ie. Riot Games or Activision-Blizzard) or long history on it’s own (Guild Wars), the PC market practically requires you to be on a larger sales platform. Even though they probably don’t require third parties, even EA and Ubisoft don’t rely solely on their own platforms. This game is not available on any of the primary PC gaming destinations, and that is a costly mistake.

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Slaasher

“marketing that fell flat…”
What marketing?
Game companies have A LOT to learn about real marketing as none of them really do any of it. An advertisement and an interview here and there is not marketing lol.

Reader
Stilvan

I think I have an 800 dollar package or something – it comes with some virtual kingdom or whatever. I have no interest in logging in. Dunno why. Probably a mix of bad buzz and a more mature assessment of what I want in a game that this doesn’t provide. I helped some people get paid to do what they love; I’m good with that.

Reader
2Ton Gamer

Not gonna lie, I backed the lowest tier and gave it whirl a little while back even though it was not really my thing. I was intrigued about the crafting I heard a few talk about and seeing as how much of a crafting fan I am that was enough for me. I agree with many here that the gameplay was clunky, but I think overall the base premise of it being only a PvP campaign and yet them focusing so much on lore and history just made it unappealing to me. For that much lore I would have preferred a PvE game, which this could have been, even if the market is a little stale for the tropes they used. I did not have a problem with the art style or the races used. Customization of your characters was not a thing either so it lacked that personal touch, but had it been PvE focused and with the decent crafting it had I think it could have been better positioned to do something. Honestly I would have enjoyed this on the Switch as a PvE lite-MMO if they had gone that route.

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laelgon

Not surprised, but disappointed. I’m still having fun with the group I’m playing with, but even before this I’d say most of the regular players have had concerns about the game staying afloat.

They are working on QoL features, and the performance in big fights is miles better now than it was at launch. The game is getting better. It’s a race against time for them at this point.

Reader
Arktouros

You Corvus bros came through the other night, had a good laugh at WHax’s moaning about it. I’m 100% with you and only reason I’m playing at all at this stage is because of the people I’m playing with being so awesome. I think WHax is going so hard because they know this is going to be the last real campaign for the game.

Performance is crazy better. I remember the slide shows from the first dregs with only 200 people in zone and the game works great now with 250. They’re improving the game, it’s just too much to improve and getting rid of devs isn’t going to help them with that. There’s just no game to play once you’re done.

Personally I think the world-wide server map setup is killing the game right now too. There’s only 4 active maps in NA East. There’s 4 medium/large alliances. So every night people just load up their zones on defense and wait out the timers which is so unfathomably boring to play. So basically the only way to win score wise is to attack off hours things no one wants to wake up for. I mean LOL Synapse 34 man guild #2 score oceanic time zone guild btw.

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laelgon

They really need to get handshake sieges in so at least there are fights happening. The current meta of zone locking is definitely one of the factors killing interest. It’s either we flood the zone and win just by preventing the other side from bringing numbers, like the other night, or we’re the ones getting locked out. Either way it doesn’t make for an exciting evening of gameplay, just a lot of virtually standing around, shooting the shit on voice comms.

They made a game that’s built from the ground up to reward forming the biggest possible zerg, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but without the mechanics to handle what happens when people do exactly that.

It’s probably too late, but I’m of the mind that they should maybe take a break from the Dregs for a bit and just focus on faction verse faction campaigns. Have sieges going on every hour or two. Emphasize getting people into individual fights with more direct rewards for winning a siege rather than chasing points. Create an environment where new players have a support system of veteran players without having to immediately join a guild upon starting. It’s hard to get people motivated in a month-long campaign when the rewards all come at the end and people spend so much of it not really fighting.

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Arktouros

Handshakes will fix some issues but not all of them. Like scenarios where one side is shoving 150-175 into a zone so you can only get 100-75 to defend/attack that will help for sure. However last I saw there’s nothing stopping me from handing 400k to an alt guild and buying out my own siege to prevent anyone from attacking it. The same non-combat issues will persist.

But yes it is very boring, thankfully as a scout my job is never dull as I play a grand game of “Hide and Seek” haha.

I don’t really have solutions for Crowfall because there’s too much need for too much. It’s like taking GW2’s WvW mode and making a whole game out of it except the keep/towers are time locked and you can only take outposts and mines. There just isn’t much game there and given their rate of development they’ll need years to add it.

Blazing Coconut
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Kickstarter Donor
Blazing Coconut

This is one of the fundamental problems of a PVP territory conquest game. No one wants to log back on and find that all your stuff is wrecked and you didn’t get to even play. It’s the same fundamental problem of shadowbane repeated again.

I don’t know that there’s a great solution. People don’t want to be in a game for hours on end to defend their stuff. If nothing happens then you wasted several hours. If you’re not there and something happened you’re pissed. And on the few chances that something happens while you are there you get good action. But it’s a fundamental problem that still has not been solved. The problem is no amount of code is going to come up with a solution for this. It’s a social problem.

If there is nothing to do when there is no sieges, that becomes your other problem. Giving people lots to do and advance with just means that the PVP balance gets thrown out of whack. So I’m just not entirely sure the concept is something that will ever work on a large scale.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

Anyone who had a go at me, and told me I was wrong, for pointing out all the different ways the game had a terrible launch and was about to go absolutely nowhere, is welcome to say sorry at this point. I can wait.

Stefan
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Stefan

Actually, a broken clock is right twice a day seems more fitting here.

Also is that an avatar picture of Richard Garriott? As that would be rather ironic if it was when we are speaking of failed projects.

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

It’s not and, just reiterating, this is a chance to say sorry – not continue to flail around and get upset that Crowfall turned into Crowfail on launch day, when 2/3 of its backers didn’t even bother to show up to play it. Have another go.

Stefan
Reader
Stefan

Not sure why you feel entitled to anything, doomsayers have been around for a long time and their statements generally have no basis.

Does appear to be a cry for attention so going to not go further into this and end once more with,

A broken clock is right twice a day.

Raleigh-St-Clair
Reader
Raleigh-St-Clair

LOL, whatever dude. Let’s cut to the chase. How much did you blow on Crowfail? Because you seem to be super touchy about. Perhaps less trying to play pop psychologist about people you’ve never met and just come clean with that? If you’re such a fan of psychology, let’s try the ‘talking cure’.

Stefan
Reader
Stefan

hmm, super touchy indeed, so touchy that i almost go round demanding apologies from random people on the internet on news articles ;)

I own the kickstarter base back, i think bronze but never really got round to playing it as as the game progressed under development my interest in online gaming changed and only followed the development of the game from a distance.

It is not uncommon for me to spend a little bit of money on kickstarter projects that i believe try something different, their success or failure is not something i get really hang up on as i see it in a risky investment into a creative project without any returns.

Now not sure why you are so upset about all of this, i guess perhaps you got ganked one to many times in a PvP mmo or you hold some sort of personal grudge, who knows i doubt it is something interesting so no need to elaborate yourself.

Yangers
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Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

I have no idea idea what this game is about, but are you just typing copy-pasta?

You aren’t Jarod from high school are you? /s

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somber_bliss

Hope this attention has made up for the lack there of from mum and dad. At first I thought it was a joke then I see you were serious about wanting apologizies. Holy moly.

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Bruno Brito

Uh…calling CF’s DoA was literally the standard when it launched. Everyone did it. You’re not special.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

As much as I advocate for Pve games, I am genuinely saddened by crowfall not doing well ouf of the gate. The game has a lot of good ideas imho.

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bahramnima

when you lunch your small indi game close to several other mmos specially new world, you will lose large number of attention and many people wont give your small game a chance when they are busy with other mmos.
Crowfall lunched near new world beta and asian mos like bless unleashed and sword of legend online.
terrible lunch window with terrible marketing with mediocre game.
if they would lunch it a year after all of these mmos some people who are tired/bored of other mmos might have give this one a chance.

Reader
Rndomuser

Launch window is meaningless if your game is bad. There are plenty of people who are not interested in New World but still want to try MMORPG games, as well as plenty of people who can play multiple games at once, especially since New World doesn’t have monthly fee. And you won’t attract many of them if your game is bad, which Crowfall obviously is for many people. Same exact thing goes for marketing – it is a waste of money to advertise bad game.

And plenty of people already gave this game a chance. Including many Twitch streamers and viewers. There used to be dozens of channels on Twitch, with 30k peak viewers. Right now there are only 2 streams of this game on Twitch and only 46 viewers left, because most of the people who tried it or who used to view it being played have already left. This is less than number of streamers and viewers for games like EVE Online (which is not a fun game to stream in first place).

Stefan
Reader
Stefan

Why did nothing happen with marketing?

I know the game has its issues and it being a pure PvP MMO without any PvE to name unlike in Albion and EVE there are outlets for things other than pure PvP, but still why was the launch so silent?

I wonder with the assets being there if something else will be made out of it, most likely not a MMO something lesser in size and less complex.

That being said is there any talk of the game being shut down? because people are saying it is already game over, yes the lay offs are big and will impact any future plans significantly but if we look at Heroes of the Storm, the small team actually does rather well in keeping the game up and running including balance, no real no content or heroes but still very much active.

However i think the New world will fill up the void for many that a better balance between PvE and PvP content.

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Arktouros

Marketing the game in it’s current state would be like going down to your local bank and asking for stacks of bills and then just lighting them on fire.

From what I can tell from the veterans I play with Artcraft lost a good chunk of playerbase with huge changes to critical game systems in 2020. Prior to that it was a lot of fucking around with off the wall ideas and seeing what sticks for years. By the time they announced release there was basically no one playing beta at all. So the theory is that they “launched” the game to get players back so they could keep getting feedback to keep developing the game. As they said, they always just did see launch as a time to stop wiping and collect money.

There’s no official talk from them for shutting anything down, and generally no response at all out of them. Communication is not a strong point for them.

Stefan
Reader
Stefan

I followed the game development loosely with ties to a guild active in it but even there the signals were mixed i never was able to get into it due to a host of reasons, one being it requiring you to be fairly active and invested not really a game to play casually.

Things also changed a lot like i remember there used to be dedicated crafters of sort, guess they tried to do all sort of things at the end and it did not turn out quite right.

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Arktouros

That’s really funny because I find the complete opposite to be true in regards to playing it and it’s why I’m losing interest. Once you’ve leveled up, gotten your vessels, gotten your crafting disciplines and gathering disciplines and respective belts all maxed out there’s not much left to do. Now I just raid log for fort/keep windows then log back out kinda forced to play it casually.

There’s still absolutely dedicated crafters, and getting to a point where you’re crafting at peak efficiency is a huge initial investment. However once that investment is over there’s nothing left to really do except squeeze out crafts every so often. It’s all front loaded, which any competent and organized PvP guild will crowd source that time/effort upfront and be done with it.

Stefan
Reader
Stefan

In all honesty i am just speaking of how much time i think it would take to maintain it all, how much effort i would have to put in to be considered a contributing guild member, so it could be that my estimates are way off.

Yes i know the race combinations and such where you needed dedicated crafters and even gathers to get all done but at first it was a bit different, vaguely remember that stoneborn were even reserved for it but speaking of years ago now so could be wrong.

I do not mind sandbox games but for me something was lacking to motivate me to make that plunge.

Reader
Arktouros

The current meta varies for crafting/gathering.

Gatherers you want Guineas for the most part because they hit Dex/Int breakpoints to mnmax those stats that add critical, critical amount and spot weakness. With good jewelry/tools it’s very easy to cap out or near cap out on skill (my guinea has like zero strength but 90+ quarrying/mining). You can do it with a few other combos, but you can hit all this with a green body so it’s low threshhold for hitting those breakpoints.

Crafting Guineas are nice because of the extra ring slot which can save needing to go up a level. Like I can hit 20/20 experimentation points with only a blue body where as others have to hit purple body. That’s basically the extra ring slot in action giving max stat cap with a jewelers burl on the jewelry. However racially preferred crafters (IE: Human jewelcrafters, dwarf blacksmiths, etc) aren’t bad either just take a bit more effort.

Getting to max on a crafter is a ton of work and requires a lot of back and forth cause you need to min-max a necro, alchemist and jeweler to pull it off all bouncing back and forth up till they’re maxed then the rest is pretty easy. Maintenence isn’t a huge issue with good gatherers because you get colossal amounts of resources especially motherloding. With a good motherlode team you can down a node in under 5 seconds and get a huge explosion of ore/gems.

Like anything it’s about team effort/setup, then easy maintenance at less than a few hours a week. Now finding a group of people you don’t immediately hate and are full of egos the size of the moon and everyone works together for a common cause without trying to make you a slave…? Now that’s the real time investment.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

As a veteran Crowfaller. I can attest to them losing most of their die hard fans, myself included in early 2020. Well they lost a ton of people from 2018-2020. The alpha and beta tests were trainwrecks.

We gave a ton of feedback on how to make the game better and they straight up told us we had no idea what we were talking about pretty much, only to later include some of that feedback, but it was to late by then we were already burned. Todd seems super ego centric, reminds me of Garriot. They gave out tons of false promises and didn’t deliver on hardly any of them.