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Kickstarter Aftermath

Greetings from Goblinworks HQ!

It's incredibly exciting to be able to finally say that! Until now, Goblinworks has been a "virtual" company, operating in the internet cloud and camping out in Lisa's office at Paizo. But as of this week, we are moving into our own (temporary) office space.

That's just one of the many results of the successful conclusion of our Kickstarter for the Pathfinder Online Technology Demo. At the close of the project, we had raised $307,843 from 4,212 backers. The last week of the Kickstarter was unlike anything I've experienced before in business, with the support of the community growing faster and faster as we raced towards the deadline. The last 24 hours, when we raised more than $100,000, was truly EPIC!

Monday evening I posted a video to the Kickstarter backers from inside the temporary Goblinworks office. You can see that video here.

Here are some additional images from the office setup:

This is the office before we started to put everything together. Soon this space will be transformed!

Developer machines being built, or as I like to call them: "rowing stations". STROKE! STROKE! STROKE! RAMMING SPEED!

Mark holds 10 Terabytes of hard drives. Welcome to the future!

Putting the guts into the boxes. No, we're not putting 4 video cards in each chassis. That would be too much power, even for Goblinworks. :)

Desks for Mark and myself were set up first. Once we add furniture and developers, this space will be packed!

We'll be in this temporary space about three months, while permanent office space is being built out adjacent to the Paizo office. When we move into our long-term facilities, we'll be close enough to the Paizo team to ensure a close communication with them and a lot of cross-pollination of ideas and brainstorms.

The Middleware Situation

We have finalized our middleware selection. The process was lengthier and more complicated than we expected. We first pursued a unique opportunity which required some fairly complicated legal maneuvers; in the end, we were unable to complete that deal, although we made some great friends along the way, and it's already clear that the effort will pay off in the long run in ways we didn't anticipate at the start.

Our second take on a middleware contract is also a fairly complicated deal to structure and execute, but the terms are finalized, and there is no concern on the part of any of the parties that the final documents won't be executed.

There's a lot of talk in the MMO community about the pros and cons of various engines and options. What middleware is and is not is widely misunderstood; it's such a complicated thing to explain that discussions tend to fall down a hole and lose context with the actual impact that middleware can have on a specific project. We know that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and we've decided that instead of just telling you about the middleware, we really want to show you what we can do with it, so we'll be announcing the middleware platform at the same time we show off the first visuals from the Technology Demo. (Soon!)

The Technology Demo Team

For the Technology Demo, in addition to myself and Mark, we're going to have 8 full-time developers. We've brought in a team that already has experience with the engine we've selected, so things will happen swiftly. We also have a couple of interns who will be getting some "on the job" experience—that's actually one of those unanticipated benefits of the initial middleware licensing effort that fell through!

A big focus of the Tech Demo is on bringing the look of Pathfinder into the digital world; the demo is going to be "art heavy." And while the visual style is being established, we'll also be building out our game design team. They're doing a lot of system design that won't have a tremendous impact on the Tech Demo, but some of the basic concepts they'll be developing may make an appearance. We're expecting to announce our lead designer shortly.

On the engineering side, the middleware has options and extensions that need to be selected and developed. Because we want a certain look for the visuals, we're going to be focusing on graphics engine performance. The middleware vendor is making pretty significant upgrades to their graphic systems in the near future, and we intend to be ready to take advantage of those changes when they become available.

A big part of my own role will be to take care of everything else going on around the project so the developers don't have to worry about distractions: things like coordinating the delivery of the various Kickstarter rewards with Paizo, dealing with facilities and real estate, continuing to promote and publicize the game, interacting with the community online, and meeting with potential investors and other funding sources.

Goblinworks has an opportunity for short-term contract work on the Technology Demo if you are an experienced artist or programmer with prior experience working on an MMO or a AAA title. Because the Technology Demo is being developed on a short timeline, we are only able to consider highly qualified individuals at this time. Applicants would be expected to work in the Seattle area through the end of September. If you feel that you meet the qualifications we're seeking and are interested in joining the Goblinworks team, please send your resume to resumes@goblinworks.com with "Technology Demo Application" in the subject header. The team that works on the Technology Demo will be considered for long-term full-time employment with Goblinworks after the Technology Demo is complete.

Our Thanks to the Kickstarter Team

Without the contributions of Rich Baker, Jason Bulmahn, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, and Ed Greenwood, the Kickstarter would not have been as big a success. In addition we'd like to recognize Crystal Frasier and Sarah Robinson for their support making the graphics for the Kickstarter look so good. And of course, the rest of the Paizo team, who set up bank accounts; figured out the cost of goods for the reward items; graciously allowed us to camp in offices, conference rooms and warehouses; and did the hundreds of behind-the-scenes things that needed to be done to make our Kickstarter succeed!

We Have a Winner—or Three!

Kickstarter backers were able to vote for the themes of three of the Thornkeep dungeon levels. The survey results have been tabulated, and we have winners to announce!

Here are the Kickstarter voting results:

Jason Bulmahn:
Forgotten Laboratory 1284
The Statuary 1189
Haunted Crypts 559
Watery Grave 429
Lord of Webs 296

James Jacobs:
The Enigma Vaults 1380
The Clockwork Crux 1134
The Shrouded Chambers 524
Caverns of the Blind God 371
Fane of the Serpent Fiend 347

Erik Mona:
Sanctum of a Lost Age 1378
Final Exam 927
Dust of the Darklands 714
The Grand Estate 386
The Halls of Refuse 289

The winning levels:

Forgotten Laboratory
The goblins of the dungeon's upper level took more than one trinket from the ancient laboratory that dwells beneath them. The wizard that created these items also performed dangerous experiments, many of which have gone out of control over the years. Stranger still, someone appears to be using the ancient equipment with sinister results.

The Enigma Vaults
In ages past, the mad wizard who dwelt in these halls collected many strange items in his travels—and the strangest of those he put on display here, in a museum-like complex he called the Enigma Vaults. When a group of thieves made their way into the vaults in hopes of a huge payday, they released something far beyond their capacity to control, and now they serve as the thralls of a sinister influence from a dark and distant world.

Sanctum of a Lost Age
Scholars claim the dungeons below Thornkeep were built by the Ancient Azlanti, but how do they know, really? If Rozimus of Tymon speaks true, the third level below the goblin warrens holds survivors of that long-dead empire eager to return to the world and share the lore of their glorious age. They're not undead, Rozimus claims, or illusory phantoms, but true living and breathing High Azlanti! But why does Rozimus know so much about them, and why is he so eager to return to the dungeon he claims almost killed him 5 years ago?

As Jason, James, Erik, and Ed begin work on their levels, Rich has already completed the second draft of his part of the book. This past week, we approved Wayne Reynolds' cover sketch, seen below, and he's now hard at work on the final cover painting!

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