Global Endemic Online Suffers from the Kickstarter Endemic

Clearly, CircleBox Studios never read my first blog post about Zombie Apocalypse Pipe Dream Game 57. If they had, they never would have attempted their utter failure, Global Endemic Online. It takes everything so over the top, I’d almost think it was a parody.

PZ:O had co-op? GEO is an MMO! PZ:O let you barricade a shelter? GEO lets you build an entire city! It’s like a pipe dream on steroids.

The good news is that they only want half of what Shitty Zombie Game Name wanted. The bad news is that that only makes them less realistic. As I’ve stated numerous times, PZ:O‘s budget wasn’t the problem; its staff was. GEO‘s staff suffers from the same ignorance: there’s no evidence (or even claim) that any of them have ever made a game before. More than that, the fact that they’re attempting to make an MMO is actually evidence to the contrary. If you don’t know why, you’ve either never been on an indie game developer forum before, or you’ve been laughed off of it for being one of these guys.

So, the obvious question here is: can a small group of first-time game developers make this pipe dream a reality in 2 years with $600,000? Of course not. It would take at least a dozen very experienced developers that amount of time. And even then, it would still suck. Why? Because there was absolutely no thought put into its design. It’s every bulletpoint feature that’s ever been suggested for a game tossed into a single “design” with no regard for its merit. For example:

“With GEO, you can level your professions nearly any way you want. You can level through battles, raids, quests, missions, you could even do city wars.”

And which of these doesn’t involve battle? Maybe there’s a fetch quest or two that has you harvesting materials? Right away, it’s obvious that these options are fake. At best, they’re layers of abstraction on top of the same basic premise that every other game you’ve ever played has: kill shit to get experience.

“With this bounty board system, you can post any troll, ganker, or just person you dislike on the bounty board with a reward, and someone will hunt him down for you.”

This is the worst idea anyone has ever had for an online game. I’m not exaggerating. It’s encouraging griefing. Anyone with enough money can have any other player killed for fun. You’re not providing a system to kill trolls; you’re giving the trolls more tools. Like I said, no thought was put into this. It’s the most obviously, absurdly exploitable system ever conceived. And CircleJerk Studios made it a bulletpoint for their pitch.

“Another great feature with GEO is you can place houses on the game’s terrain. You can build large cities, and you can even have large city wars.”

I’m sorry, did you say you can build cities? In an MMO? Did you even think for a second about how terrible an idea that is? Of course you didn’t, so let me break this down for you.

If anyone can build a home anywhere, then they also must be able to destroy them. More options for griefers: destroy player cities. And how much terrain is going to be available for this? You’re going to need hundreds, if not thousands, of people playing to make an MMO sustainable. And they can each have their own entire city? How are you going to stop player cities from becoming too dense, and severely lagging – if not crashing – the game? What do new players get to do once all of your available land is taken up by current player cities? What happens to a player’s city if they leave the game for a while? You’ll either have everyone destroying everyone else’s buildings to make room for their own, or a huge ghost town of buildings from players who left.

“What makes project GEO special is the social aspect of the game. We really want to incorporate teamwork.”

Oh, you mean like putting bounties on other players’ heads? I’ll stick with trust falls for team-building exercises, thanks.

“We’re going to film the entire creation of this project…”

Good, because it wasn’t obvious enough that you guys just want to capitalize on Tim Schafer’s successful Kickstarter. The thing is, it’s interesting to watch people who know what they’re doing. When you’re no more (and sometimes less) experienced than the people watching you, they’ll probably just end up thinking how they could have done what you’re doing. And probably better.

So, the ever-important question: where is this money going?

“Software, Wages (far under industry standard… just enough to survive), Sounds and Music, Backer rewards, Kickstarter and Amazon’s cuts, 10% Buffer for all unforeseen costs”

I love that it’s acceptable to not only ask for what you need, but also extra, just in case. And 10% of what? You’re asking for over half a million dollars – what unforseen costs won’t be covered without that 10%? Just how bad are you at creating a budget?

And how is it that every indie developer just wants barely enough money to survive? And how can they pretend like that’s cheap? You want the fans to cover your entire living expenses? And then act like you’re being generous? We’re not talking Lunchables money here; you want your food, housing, utilities, etc. to be paid in full while you work on this game. But oh, it’s below industry standard. What industry? The indie game development industry? Let me tell you something, most indie game development doesn’t pay your bills. People do it on the side of a real job, because they love doing it, not because it will cover all of their living expenses. And no one believes that your $600,000 will leave your small team barely scraping by anyway, so cut the shit.

And what is it with software purchases? If you don’t even have the software necessary to make this game, what makes you think you’re capable of making it? You might as well call yourself a pilot and make a Kickstarter for your own airline startup company – if only someone will buy you a plane, because you’ve never flown before. But the topic of software made me curious about what engine they’re using. Unity has been the go-to for indies lately, but MMOs are a whole other animal. Here was the response I got on the forums about it:

“We are currently using HeroEngine. We plan to further modify the Engine though, but we need some of the funding for a Software Engineer.”

I’m so glad I asked; so many things to pick apart in that answer. First, here is the HeroEngine. If they’re going to be modifying the engine, they’ll need the source code, for a mere $75,000. So already, they know that this engine doesn’t do everything that they want. Somehow, giving a software engineer a bunch of money will fix all of that. This also means that this indie game company doesn’t have a coder. Who’s surprised? I really hope you’re not at this point. As evidenced by the list of funding reasons, they also don’t have a composer or sound designer. So CircleJerk is just a couple of designers and artists? And yet, somehow, the only thing that stands between them and making a revolutionary MMO, the likes of which have never even been conceived of, is $600,000.

Right.

And then, the whimper of a dying Kickstarter.

So, I guess this is it for CircleJerk. Their team will slowly wither away to nothing, not having the absolute minimum funding they need to survive. They will surely perish.

Oh wait.

Again, without the funding, what happens? NOTHING. They keep going, because they really just want to make a game. That’s great. But then don’t fucking act like you need all of this money to make it a reality. Not that I think this game ever will be a reality. You could have all the money in the world, and your completely thoughtless design would still prevent it from even being playable.

I can’t wait for your next Kickstarter in a month, when you will allegedly have gameplay to show. I’m going to make the crazy prediction that it won’t include building your own city.

Until next time, CircleJerk.

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One thought on “Global Endemic Online Suffers from the Kickstarter Endemic

  1. David Winchester says:

    Edifying as always, sir. There’s some good writing and excellent word use hiding behind all that vitriol! My favorite bit was, “You might as well call yourself a pilot and make a Kickstarter for your own airline startup company – if only someone will buy you a plane, because you’ve never flown before.”

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