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  1. #1

    Turbine Kickstarter

    I just pledged some money for Obduction (the new game from the Myst/Riven folks). That got me thinking.

    There are so many new features for LotRO that people want - way too many for Turbine to develop all of them. Some might pay for themselves (store items like the Turtle stone), some might not. Turbine has no guarantee that people will want something enough to buy it.

    What if instead they followed a Kickstarter-like model for some features?

    Turbine could invest a relatively small amount of money to describe the enhancement, and estimate its cost. For example: Turbine estimates a feature would cost $100,000 (just a random number). They post a kickstarter for it. If enough people pledge enough money, they charge those people what they pledged (perhaps with different reward levels), and develop it. Those people would get the feature automatically. Others who wanted it (but didn't pledge) could buy it later with money or TP.

    It might not be practical for small items (such as a new mount) -- too much overhead. It probably wouldn't work for very large items (a whole new zone with quests and such) -- the risk of underestimating might be too high, and the delay between paying and receiving would be too long.

    But for a lot of things, it could work pretty well. It certainly works well for thousands of Kickstarter products.

    Just off the top of my head I can think of lots of features that might work well, such as:

    - Hayoo's Tavern Revelries
    - improved housing
    - improved kinships
    - new PvMP zone or new creep class
    - a new skirmish or raid
    - a new hobby

    You could spend a few hours in the Suggestions forum, and get tons of ideas.

    I for one would gladly pledge for certain features. And others I wouldn't be interested in at all (but if others were, that's great).

    Turbine would get the money in advance - far less risk on their part. They would know for sure what people wanted and were willing to pay for.
    Last edited by Beleg; Nov 06 2013 at 02:22 PM.
    [CENTER] [URL="http://my.lotro.com/character/landroval/mosby/"][COLOR=cyan]Mosby[/COLOR][/URL], Founder of [URL="http://www.thepalantiri.net"][COLOR=gold]The Palantíri[/COLOR][/URL] kinship (Landroval) - [URL="http://lotro-charts.tumblr.com/"]LotRO Charts Tumblr[/URL] - [URL="https://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Category:Translations"]Runes & Translations[/URL]

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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    They would know for sure what people wanted and were willing to pay for.
    I think it could work. But it's interesting no existing MMO has tried it yet. At least none to my knowledge. I know of a few new MMO's that are using crowdsourcing to get going so it seems like it's an idea that existing companies could tap into.

    But the fact that they haven't may mean something. I can't imagine no one at Turbine, Cryptic, Funcom, Triton, ect... haven't thought of it.

    One issue I could see would be the backlash of bad PR if they put forward an idea, and either cancel it because it lacks support... Or worse, it gets funded, but they can't put it into the game for 6+ months.
    [charsig=http://lotrosigs.level3.turbine.com/0520a00000023bdbd/01006/signature.png]undefined[/charsig]

  3. #3
    I wonder if the problem might be more related to manpower. The existing developers are all very busy working on improving the game. You cannot hire a temporary new coder strictly to implement a Kickstarter project. The hiring process is expensive, the learning curve is time-consuming, and you're not going to get the best talent for a temp job. On the flip-side, you can't just hire a "Kickstarter coder". Even if you could guarantee back-to-back projects to keep them occupied and funded, the next project might be outside of their area of expertise.
    --= Windy Acres Ranch -- http://SteelAndMagic.com =--

  4. #4
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    It would be cool, but probably not effective.

    Go read some feedback from people that have run Kickstarter projects. While they all say it's a genuine experience it's also a huge amount of work and stress (way more than you'd expect from the outside). Not something you want to do for a side-project. Also inside a large corporation like WB there is probably way too much red tape involved to get this going anyway. Crowdfunding involves quite a bit of risk on both sides, it's very easy to get bad press if things don't work out as expected.

    From the outside it looks easy: Let people decide with their wallet how much they want this before we make it. But as with most things there is a lot more involved than you'd think.
    Used to play: 85 Champ / Captain / Runekeeper / Guardian, Guild Master of everything but cooking.
    Playing now: Hellcat / King Tiger / GW Panther / IS / KV-5 / M4 Sherman and more

  5. #5
    Some other developers are using kickstarter or similar and having a lot of success with it.

    Trouble is, I'm done sending money to Turbine.
    Helm's Deep Devamp killed my long time toons. Currently bouncing around between post-HD newbie alts (a warden and champ) and other games.
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  6. #6
    These rules:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kickstarter Guidelines
    1. Everything on Kickstarter must be a project.
    A project is something with a clear end, like making an album, a film, or a new game. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced as a result.
    Lotro is the project. A modification isn't a project. MMOs are never finished.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kickstarter Guidelines
    Kickstarter cannot be used to fund software projects not run by the developers themselves.
    2. Control flows downward from Time Warner to Warner Brothers to the Warner Brother employee that runs Turbine. Further down thru the management layers within Turbine to someone like Kate Paiz.

    See:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines
    for more details on the kickstarter guidelines.

    Kickstarter is designed to get money to fund an independent team of creative people create something from nothing. One example I can think of the creation of a 4x space game called StarDrive by an independent game company called Zerosum using Kickstarter. Stardrive maybe Zerosum's only game. They went with a Synapse game engine, Got Iceberg Interactive to publish the game and it is available via Steam.
    Unless stated otherwise, all content in this post is My Personal Opinion.

  7. #7
    Well sure it doesn't have to be a real Kickstarter project.

    As I said in my OP, something like Kickstarter. It could be completely done within Turbine, as part of their budget.

    I agree it's not likely to happen in any case (let's face it, none of these suggestions is). But it would be interesting see. Even if it wasn't real money, but just a pledge to buy something for a certain amount if Turbine created it. Though that approach would be ripe for abuse, no doubt.
    [CENTER] [URL="http://my.lotro.com/character/landroval/mosby/"][COLOR=cyan]Mosby[/COLOR][/URL], Founder of [URL="http://www.thepalantiri.net"][COLOR=gold]The Palantíri[/COLOR][/URL] kinship (Landroval) - [URL="http://lotro-charts.tumblr.com/"]LotRO Charts Tumblr[/URL] - [URL="https://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Category:Translations"]Runes & Translations[/URL]

    [COLOR=Silver][I]As glides in seas the shark, Rides Mosby through green dark.[/I] -Melville[/COLOR]
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    Well sure it doesn't have to be a real Kickstarter project.
    The next problem is the Federal laws, regulations and rules which then lead to the plain English Kickstarter guidelines. The Feds wrote the controlling government documents with the intent to provide althernative method to funding to new start up companies who want to create a product versus the traditional:

    1) You got to have money first. Like being wealthy.
    2) You have to sell your soul to get money from a Venture capitalist.
    3) Other similar methods.

    The government wanted to prevent:

    1) For profit companies from using this mechanism to get free dollars for product development so that the company can make even more profit.

    2) This method being used to get donations for some cause. Like the "Buy Steak for Yula". Or helping the Red Cross.

    If Turbine gets involved in this process then Time Warner has to make sure it is done per the law. There has a fear of a the potential of a big nasty expensive Federal law suit. Why would Turbine, Warner Brothers or Time Warner get involved to raise say 50 thousand dollars? The down side risk is a million dollar expense in the form of a law suit by the government. Plus all the reporting expenses that bleed away a portion of the 50 thousand dollars.

    If Warner Brothers thought that 50 thousand dollars of extra dollars would make a significant improvement in Lotro they would give Turbine that money. 50 thousand dollars is like a penny to us for a company like Warner Brothers.

    Assuming Warner Brothers earns dollars every hour of the year. That is 308 thousand dollars and hour. Assume a 40 hour work week --> 1.3 million an hour or 54 million a week (50 weeks in a year).
    Last edited by Yula_the_Mighty; Nov 06 2013 at 07:27 PM.
    Unless stated otherwise, all content in this post is My Personal Opinion.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleg View Post
    - Hayoo's Tavern Revelries
    - improved housing
    - improved kinships
    - new PvMP zone or new creep class
    - a new skirmish or raid
    - a new hobby
    The size and scope of some of that could be quite large. Given dev comments (both by Turbine and by Koster) in the past, I suspect that doing SWG-style housing for LOTRO would cost well over $500K. Maybe even $1M.

    Assume $500K, and assume that 10% of 150K active players are willing to kick in some bucks to make it happen. That would mean the average donation would need to be nearly $40, which is quite a lot for a single game feature. If that's remotely accurate, it would also explain why Turbine hasn't undertaken doing it themselves and selling it in the Store. When considering projects, many companies look for an ROI of at least 3, maybe more. If it isn't high enough, they'll do something else (because the opportunity costs are too high).

    Back when SWG was under development, Koster made the statement that he was pushing as hard as possible to get all the big systems like housing built before the game even launched. Why? Because in his experience, they almost never got done later. Once corporate beancounters started doing ROI calculations on each feature, a lot of the stuff he really wanted to do would never get done. He was undoubtedly right.

    Khafar

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khafar View Post
    ...Back when SWG was under development, Koster made the statement that he was pushing as hard as possible to get all the big systems like housing built before the game even launched. Why? Because in his experience, they almost never got done later. Once corporate beancounters started doing ROI calculations on each feature, a lot of the stuff he really wanted to do would never get done. He was undoubtedly right.

    Khafar
    We don't need something as complex as SWGs housing system. We must not forget that there was a lot more to it than just placing everything everywhere.

    First of all there is the "everything" factor. Most items in Lotro don't even have a 3D model, creating one for every item would be a lot of work already.
    Also in SWG I was able to have 1200 items in my house, Lotro's DB software is way too slow to handle as many items.
    SWG also feautured free placing of houses in the landscape, player cities, custom built shuttle ports, shuttle camps (Meaning that every player on the camp sees the temporarily placed camp as travel location on his map and can select it => dynamic travel routes)

    All this stuff in Lotro we don't need. A free positioning system would be enough to start with.
    At the moment we have these stupid hooks. Every house can hold a given number of items. The DB info is hook nr ... contains item nr ... with a rotation angle of ...
    That's 3 numbers multiplied with the count of hooks the house has, very little data indeed.
    A free positioning system means that we have 3 coordinates,3 angles and the item nr. That's 7 numbers.
    Also it would be nice to be able to place everything everywhere and be able to place at least 4 times the number of items we can place at the moment.
    So let's say we have roughly 10 times as many values to be transmitted than we currently have. I don't know if the Lotro DBs and the server communication can handle that.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neumi View Post
    So let's say we have roughly 10 times as many values to be transmitted than we currently have. I don't know if the Lotro DBs and the server communication can handle that.
    Storage/Traffic requirements are probably not the main issue here, though entering a house is already causing issues with loading everything, where you can move but not turn (and animations frozen) until it's finished. But with a free placement system you also need controls to handle it in 3d space, collision detection (and physics if you want to get fancy) to avoid placing items in impossible and/or illogical positions, that too is far from trivial to get right in a userfriendly manner.
    Used to play: 85 Champ / Captain / Runekeeper / Guardian, Guild Master of everything but cooking.
    Playing now: Hellcat / King Tiger / GW Panther / IS / KV-5 / M4 Sherman and more

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Neumi View Post
    All this stuff in Lotro we don't need. A free positioning system would be enough to start with.
    At the moment we have these stupid hooks. Every house can hold a given number of items. The DB info is hook nr ... contains item nr ... with a rotation angle of ...
    It isn't the data that is a problem. It is the supporting code. One of the biggest issues is that the Lotro rendering engine does not handle clipping. Free placement would result in a horrid visual experience where objects are partially or totally inside of each other. Resolving this issue via a graphical placement interface that does not allow us to place objects to go into each other. Turbine would need some of collision system when you release an object in the air so that they bounce off each other. I suspect this kind of core level change would be very expensive.

    Other issues are the poor database access speed. It can take many seconds where you are frozen as the current objects in your house are loaded and rendered. Adding more items will make this loading problem worse. For me it is barely tolerable. I hate to face a 30 second lock being only about to spin in place.

    How many people at what price point will buy this enhancement? How much would it cost to fork the code into houses with hooks and free placement houses? It may not be feasible to fork the code base. Would people accept that all their items are sent to escrow when this housing update goes live? You want to put stuff on your yard or in your house - pay 10 - 20 - 40 dollars for the upgrade.

    This kind of situation is always a problem in software applications that have only one live version. The companies I work at we have multiple live software versions. We do not provide anything beyond crash and security fixes for the older versions. At some point our customers either upgrade to the newest version or they stop using it.
    Unless stated otherwise, all content in this post is My Personal Opinion.

 

 

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