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Interview: City of Titans developer address concerns over controversial Kickstarter

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City of Titans

A few weeks ago, Missing Worlds Media started a Kickstarter campaign its MMO called City of Titans. City of Titans is a spiritual successor to City of Heroes, the superhero-themed MMO that shut down late last year. The idea of resurrecting City of Heroes in a different form is noble, but there have been concerns over whether Missing Worlds Media has the structure and finances to pull it off. The Kickstarter campaign requires $320,000 to be successful, and has managed to secure over $477,000 so far. With a little over a week to go in the Kickstarter, we got in touch with Missing Worlds Media to address some of the public’s biggest concerns about the project.

MMOs are not easy to create and maintain. Based on that fact, we asked whether anyone from Missing Worlds Media’s team of over 100 volunteers had any experience with creating and selling a commercial game.

“We’ve got people formerly from Zynga and APB, Crackdown and a number of paper and pencil RPGs,” said Chris “Warcabbit” Hare, lead developer at Missing Worlds Media.

While some of the team worked on reputable titles, they are still considered to be volunteers. One of the concerns I had was the possibility of key team members leaving the project before its completion. Hare said “a shared vision, good leadership, and visible progress on the game itself” will help prevent early departures.

“The better we do, the more people will want to stay around and work on it,” Hare said. “If our core team was likely to leave, they would have left in the year prior to the Kickstarter, when there was no tangible hope of reward, and no expectation of success. Now that we’ve proved that people want this thing we’re making, there is no possible way we’re giving up.”

The financial goal in the Kickstarter campaign is $320,000. Even if City of Titans received doubled that amount of money, it still wouldn’t be enough to create and maintain a fully functioning MMO. Additional finances will need to be acquired after the Kickstarter ends. Missing Worlds Media is considering additional investor support.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing with your full attention,” Hare said. “We’re reaching out to a number of funding sources.”

“We’ve proven we have an audience and market, but we’re not going to approach new investors until we have a more developed project to show them. This is going to be a large investment, one way or another, and we’re going to need to bring our A-Game. This doesn’t mean we have not had interest expressed already, it simply means that we don’t want to move too fast. We are making a game, and we are building it right the first time.”

Hare said any potential investment deals won’t be announced until they are complete. He estimates these deals are about six to seven months away.

“We will have more interest, better leverage, and get better terms, if we have a functioning game when we pitch to investors,” Hare said. “Which is, of course, why we are doing the Kickstarter, in the first place. We need to get the tools to make the game that can be pitched. If we do not get investors, small business loans are denied us, and every potential publisher turns their back, we can still use those tools to make the full game. It will just take more time.”

Hare said “much, but not all of the design, [and] relatively little of the graphics” of City of Titans was complete before the Kickstarter launched.

“Once we have things working, we can perform much of it in parallel, making things go faster,” Hare said. “This is why pre-production on a MMO lasts nearly three times as long as production. We will be releasing sub-sections of the main game as we go, though, starting with the Avatar Creator.”

 “The Avatar Creator will allow us to judge our production speed, and provide early tests of our network infrastructure, as the authentication routines will be needed to unlock certain costume pieces. That specific sub-section is also planned to debut our chat server and a number of social media features.”

City of Titans is expected to be fully playable in November 2015. That’s a long time from now, so there’s a chance appropriate funding can be achieved by then. Either way, this is a very ambitious project that is sure to be an interesting tale no matter how it plays out.

 

 

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  1. Why does everyone think that the team is planning to fund the ENTIRE project with the kickstarter? If this reporter was worth his/her salt, he/she would have read the kickstarter information to learn that, A-WOAH, they’re not planning on funding the MMO with just the money from the kickstarter! There’s this nice little section clearly labeled “budget” that explains exactly what they’re planning in numerical values, even. I’ll copy and paste some of it here, since the reporter couldn’t bother to look for it in the first place.
    “Our first expense is the cost of the Kickstarter itself. This goes to various companies such as Amazon, to Kickstarter, as well as the cost of the perks and add-ons. This comes to about 10% of the total.

    Then there are taxes, which we estimate can run us up to 12% of the total.

    So, before anything else, we’re out $70,000.

    Since we are developing the game using the Unreal Engine, and the Kickstarter counts as revenue, we owe Epic Games, the company which makes the Unreal Engine royalties. That comes to about $70,000, as well.

    We’re rounding up, of course, and estimating based on the best numbers we have available. By rounding up, we buy margin in case an unexpected cost, tax or fee enters the picture.

    This cuts $140,000 right off the top, leaving $180,000 to actually build the project.

    That $180,000 is mostly going straight to software.

    Autodesk’s Maya and 3DS Max. They’re not cheap, and we need them to do the work. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses, and we need at least 24 copies for the art and tech teams to be able to do their jobs. There are several different versions, each targeting different levels of needs, and the 24 total copies are split between the various members to their need, based on the tasks they have.

    We’ll need multiple copies of a few tools like zbrush, Allegorithmic, 8DIO, Photoshop and Illustrator.

    Then we have the costs for the website servers and bandwidth. The more you love us, the more expensive it’s going to get.

    And, finally, a little cash to put a tax lawyer, book keeper and legal professional on retainer. Purely fee for service, but they will pay for themselves in troubles solved and money saved.

    There are a few smaller items, such as RAM for some rendering, some 3D mice, drawing tablets, depending on individual artist needs.

    Anything that makes us produce better and faster. “

    Dana Dreher
    • I hate to pry, but did you actually read this interview article? Chris Hare himself says multiple times in the article that they will need to approach investors. However, none have been approached yet.

      Jenni Lada
  2. Woah, I just realized Mister Jeremy Hill also wrote the “City of Titans Kickstarter is more fantasy than reality.” My aunt is an editor for newspapers both local and larger, and she would have never let a title like that fly. Rest in peace, unbiased journalism. Perhaps an editor should pay closer attention to Mister Hill? Or maybe Mister Hill needs more training in his profession!

    Dana Dreher
    • If your aunt was publishing an opinions piece, with facts taken from the source to substantiate the writer’s point, then I’m sure she would have used a similar title for such an article.

      Jenni Lada
  3. These sounds more like an advertorial than an article. If it is meant to be article, then the writer needs to do more due diligence in research. It reads like a hit piece written by an NCSoft mouthpiece.

    Missing Worlds Media has made no secret that the intention is to use kickstarter funds are to develop the game to a higher state and have a model to show investors and secure additional funding.

    If that fails, they will be able to still complete the game but it will require more time. Kickstarter backers like myself are also willing to provide more support as well. In addition to putting up a significant lump sump for the kickstarter now, I’m also willing to give monthly support as well (in lieu of the game subscription I no longer pay for City of Heroes).

    Angela
    • It is an interview piece. Which means Jeremy Hill interviewed Chris Hare, Lead Developer on this project, and got every bit of information about it from him. Every quote comes from Hare’s Missing Worlds Media.

      Jenni Lada
    • It’s not an advertorial in any way. The quotes in this article came directly from Chris Hare, the lead developer on the game. If you ask him, he will verify.

      Jeremy Hill