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Richard Garriott Interview - Part 3

Crowdsourcing Content

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Richard Garriott at Unite 2013

Warren Schultz

During Unite 2013, I sat down with Richard Garriott de Cayeux to discuss his Kickstarter-backed project, Shroud of the Avatar.

Previously, we discussed the general state of development on the project and crowdfunding, as well as the crafting system and economy.

Is there anything in specific you’d like to talk about regarding Shroud of the Avatar?

Well I think from our standpoint is, when we believe that we're done with the game in eighteen months, now twelve months, however much time is left, that we will find the full measure of the players that want to come rejoin us. But from our perspective, some players have been asking why are we still in fundraising mode. And the answer is, because we still really need more money to finish the game. It is just that blank. And so, we still probably need to raise through the end of the game, another million dollars. We know we’ll find it one way or another. We know we could find it through publishers, but we’re trying to put off perhaps indefinitely that decision. But a strategic partnership is not out of the question.

But the people who are supporting us already, by the way, are supporting us phenomenally. So, we are trying to get out of the mode of squeezing the blood out of turnips, so to speak, because the community we have is phenomenal. Not only in their contribution support, but to art, design, sound, and all kinds of other areas. But we’re trying to get the onlookers off the fence, and on to, basically, preordering the game, just to make sure we don’t have to go to other funders.

 How has that been working, using the contests to source game assets from the community?

 It’s working out great. We’re not only doing asset contests… So our process works like this: the very base assets, the common world reality assets, we’re just finding those on the Unity Asset Store. They’re phenomenally good. Whether that’s terrain, trees, you know, 80 percent of that, we’re doing on the Asset Store.

But, you’ll find that almost every tree on the Asset Store is a pine tree variation. Straight up and down trunk with some branches. No oak trees. It’s weird. So, we’re having to go back and make more interesting trees, which is unfortunate for us, because I’d rather buy a generic piece. So, as much as possible, we’re getting our generic stuff off the Asset Store.

Then, there’s sort of second class, which is medieval fantasy generic, but not quite reality generic. But these won’t generally exist in the Asset Store, so these we give out to the community. And so we need barrels and chairs, and other things, which a lot of it exists on the asset store, but not in the right resolution, or the right reality-looking versus cartoony-looking, so we try to give some specifications of what we’re looking for, and the community has phenomenally, and very quickly produced all that we need.

Then we go up to things like characters and creatures. On creatures, for the natural side, it is already very prevalent on the store… but often not at the level of quality we’re looking for. So what we’ll do is versus the model from scratch, we’ll import those models, refine those models, and then what we’re going to be doing is giving those models back to the original creator. Because a deer is a deer is a deer. We don’t mind a deer showing up in somebody else’s game.  It’s going to show up there anyway. And we feel so pleased that somebody’s created deer was 90 percent of what we needed, that when we go fix it up a little bit, if the person then wants to use it, we flip it right back. If that helps you make more money, with the already great work you’ve been doing on deer, have it. And as our way to kind of say thank you to the community.

Same thing is true for things like dungeon sets. It’s really funny, you have these people who sell these wonderful sets castle walls or tunnels, but they’re always sort of… they’re building the map they need to build, and they’re building the assets they need to build for their game. But often, often invariably, there are some pieces that are missing. Like, you know, they have right turn, but no left turn. And you go, “Gah, I need a left turn.” So you make a left turn, and we’ll be giving those back to people too, so that set is more useful for other people also than when we found it.

We are gaining a great deal by being a part of this community, and we are trying to make sure we do similar and give back.

And then the last thing is, the pieces of art that are unique points of interest for us, or the avatars for us, we are doing those from scratch ourselves. And we will be providing those back to the community eventually, but not right away, because those are some of our secrets from a gameplay standpoint.

 What do you do to incentivize the community for its output?

 It varies. For art, we’re actually paying for it. For art, we just become their first buyer, so to speak, on the Asset Store, and then we let them keep selling on the asset store immediately.

For things like dungeons that are going directly into our game, we’ll use those as contests, say, X dollars of virtual assets in our game, whoever the winner is. Or bump them up one pledge level to getting a nicer house or whatever it might be. So it depends on the nature of the content.

And now we’re wrestling with people making music for us. We have a handful of talented musicians creating audio assets. And so far, they haven’t asked for anything. We want to give them something, but these guys are just having a great time, creating foley work and making some really nice music. But we’ll have to figure out the best way to give them value for their contribution.

But I’m just shocked at what high quality the creators are out there now, to be able to proceed with.

 

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