This story is as old as the internet itself. Which is to say, very old – in internet years. A young, nerdy boy sitting in front of his computer, playing video games, hoping against hope that he will grow up to be a game-maker himself. Having no real drive to learn actual software engineering, the boy scours the internet for tools that will help him realize his dreams, with no skill or talent required. And having little knowledge means having no grasp on reasonable expectations. So the boy jumps to the biggest possible game he could think of: a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game. The dreaded indie-MMORPG.
Back in my day, these people would do nothing more than get laughed off of every game development forum known to man. Now they have an outlet to try and con people out of money. Damn kids these days.
So that brings me to Morecraft.
The only thing more disappointing than the unimaginative title of Morecraft is.. well, the rest of it. Shaun Tonstad makes the mistake of actually showing you the game that he is calling “A more beautiful, massively multiplayer, crafting game.” Spoiler alert: if there is one thing this game is not, it’s beautiful. I’m no graphics whore, but Cheese-Its, Shaun, could every polygon in this game possibly be more uninspired? Let’s take a quick look at how you’re selling this game.
Oh, this ought to be good.
- Be DRM free!”
A DRM-free.. MMO? What does that even mean? Will the game be free-to-play? If so, what the fuck would you need DRM for anyway? If not, paying for an account would effectively be the DRM for it, so you’d be lying about that. Also, THIS IS NOT A FEATURE. I understand that it’s a controversial topic, but it’s not relevant to gameplay in any way. Hey Shaun, does your game support gay rights? Because that could be a real selling point for me. Let’s talk about why I would even consider buying your game before you tell me how easy it is to steal.
“Feature beautiful 3D graphics”
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
“with HDR rendering”
Speaking of things that don’t mean what you think they mean: HDR is not a new version of HD. You’re displaying 300-poly character models and trying to sell me on the dynamic range of the lighting? Well, I guess you better hope that those darks are really dark in Morecraft. The less anyone sees of those models, the better.
“With so many block building clones coming out now, we think a beautiful art style and more realistic world redefines the genre.”
The fact that you think that tells me everything I need to know. You want to slap a prettier coat of paint onto Minecraft and call it innovative. That is the saddest thing I’ve heard in a while. And I read Kickstarter a lot.
“But consider that a playable alpha of the game is ready today.”
Let’s first consider how little that means. You can call anything an “alpha”. I’m making a sidescrolling platformer. I slapped together some running and jumping features onto a capsule in about an hour. As I have all of the basic mechanics of the game in, it is now in alpha. See that – it took you years to get to alpha, and I did it in an hour, and with no money. Think about that next time you want to shove $250,000 into your PC to magically finish your game.
“To produce a high quality software title such as Morecraft there are substantial costs involved. The licensing fee for SpeedTree is over ten thousand dollars”
This is relevant because how could we possibly expect you to create trees in your game?! But I guess you’d at least be getting your money’s worth there – the trees are the only good-looking part of the game. It’s the other $240,000 I’m worried about.
“It is only because we’ve built a game engine from the ground up and accrued years of unpaid work into this project that it is at the point now where a few hundred thousand dollars can make a big impact.”
And this is the attitude that I can. Not. Fucking. Stand. Oh, it’s only a few hundred thousand dollars, is it? That’s all? Let’s get something very clear, Shaun: just because AAA developers can blow millions of dollars on a game – after they’ve proven that they can actually make a fucking game – doesn’t mean that you’re oh-so-reasonable for asking for a few hundred thousand dollars for your first title, which happens to be a god damn MMO, which no one in their right mind would ever believe you can pull off.
The FAQ is quite entertaining, though:
“Is it really fun (and not work) to play with blocks?
Is it tedious and time consuming to build?”
Objection, your honor: leading the witness. But I think this one is the most important:
“Is there a time period in the game? What rules exist to prevent a raid by pirates with cattle prods?
We think that pirates with cattle prods are cool. We prefer to not limit anyone’s imagination.“
Let’s say someone wants to skullfuck me and take all of my possessions? Would you not want to limit that person’s imagination? It’s like you’ve never been on the internet, Shaun. We’re not talking about creating a little chaos in the game world all in good fun; we’re talking about griefing. If you have a system in which any player can make everyone else’s experience miserable in the name of freedom, no one will want to play that game, because someone will make their game experience miserable. Some people are not going to play nice unless you make them.
But the good news is that none of this will be a problem.
You can read Shaun’s bizarre story with entirely too many details about how he was in talks with THQ about the game, a Hollywood-style betrayal (which for some reason is no longer a problem for the game), how he wanted to name the game Minecraft before that was a game, and all of his job offers that he presumably didn’t take so that he could pick up the pieces of his long-abandoned game, and to start a new one that he teases at the end. He seems relieved by the lack of funding for Morecraft, and excited to dive back into his new(er) game. Maybe he’ll take what he’s learned here and make a Kickstarter for this new title.
I hope he asks for a billion.