The Pathfinder Online dream, (or is that debacle) is over. All that remains is for the vultures to tear away the final scraps from the rotting carcass. It gives me no joy to say this, but I do admit to a certain feeling of “I told you so. Why exactly has this gone down the toilet so badly?
The reason is the leadership, or lack thereof. Ryan Dancey, who resigned for personal reasons, (yeah, right), and of who the company is so very sad to see him go, (my guess is that an office party was held with the remaining staff before they were all sacked as well), was just terrible in his role. Is it possible that everything this guy touches turns to shit? For me it became clear that PFO was going to have a serious problem way back in 2012. I was posting on their official forums at the time and Ryan convinced the Pazio crowd to spread the news of the online version of the game to those only playing the tabletop RPG. So these experienced gamers came across to the forum and they had a look at what was being offered. And they made some good constructive criticism.
Which Ryan took pretty damn badly. He set his rapid fanboiys onto them, you know the types I mean. The ones that have invested their entire emotional existence into something so that any words against their dream will be taken as a direct personal attack. Ryan Dancey was the King of the fanboiys. I was stunned. But I was also happy, because the curtains had been opened and the end result was clear to see. Clear to see if you weren’t a fanboiy. The thread that opened my eyes was this one. Captain Marsh comes in with some good questions and valid concerns. The fanboiys pile on to mock and belittle while never once addressing his arguments. And then Ryan Dancey enters the fray to try and finish the guy off. Amazing stuff to read, particularly with hindsight. Notice Lisa Stevens, the Goblinworks CEO, entering the discussion at the end to try and salvage the situation. Why she didn’t sack Dancey right then is beyond me.
Ryan set about creating a game that he wanted to play, and probably about 20 other people. All the while charging potential players outrageous sums, (if I remember correctly, it was roughly $1000 to play alpha), for a chance to play a buggy game with graphics that looked like they crawled out of 1997. The original vision was exciting. But over the three years that vision crawled inexorably towards the vision of the fanboiys, leaving the original project a tattered hulk.
Their economic plan was to charge a few people a lot of money to play the game. As any good goblin will tell you, that ain’t the way to make money. You want a lot of people to not pay very much. Then all you have to do is keep some of them. How many did they keep? Go and have a look at their forum and see how many people have responded to the news of their imminent demise. In the beginning, new threads would receive hundreds of replies.
Look, these guys raised something like $1.3 million over two kickstarters which is a hell of a lot of money when you consider what games like Life is Feudal are putting out for a fraction of the cost. Instead of using that money efficiently, they went on a mad recruiting drive and hired a bunch of full time people, (I think it was around 20). You don’t have to be a genius to calculate 20 full time game designer salaries over three years and see what it will cost you, ( a lot more than their kickstarters raised). This is why kickstarter is overall a bad idea. With no accountability for all that money raised, a lot of people have paid for a bunch of people to work on a giant turd for three years.
Pathfinder will finish up soon, mark my words. And people will conveniently forget that it happened. But the next time you see a kickstarter for a game, remember what happened here. And whenever you come across a situation where fanboiys shout down any reasonable discussion, it’s time to pack up and leave.