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.