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back to article Multimillionaire Brit games dev wants your cash for Shroud of the Avatar

Multimillionaire games developer, moon rover owner and space tourist Richard Garriott has taken to Kickstarter to try to get funding for his new video game. Shroud of the Avatar game on Kickstarter Garriott, aka Lord British, is looking for $1m to make Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, which gamers have been describing …

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A lesson to EA

Ultima was simply wonderful (Excluding 9 as release was forced too early). I have lots of great memories of Ultima 6 and 7 especially. If Garriot can capture the wonder of the old titles then he's on to a winner.

I hope EA look at the speed of his funding and realise what an absolute cock up they made of the series by ditching him. Without Lord British, Ultima is nothing.

Get funding people.

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Re: A lesson to EA

Case in point: Ultima IX was not released too early. It was a product of Duke Nukem-itis, a result of the dev team being shuffled off and rotated far too often while new greenhorn developers were brought in, ad nauseum. And all the while Lord British was too busy with Ultima Online to give a crap about the languishing mess Ultima IX had become. "Development hell" would be an understatement. Can't even blame EA for Ultima IX's state, the blame lies on His Highness' shoulders completely.

A real pity too...if you read the original Bob White script from '94, you can see they originally had some great ideas, far better than the shit they gave us.

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Re: A lesson to EA

Interesting read the Bob White plot thanks for pointing that out. Whatever happened to 9 it's best forgotten, maybe a fan remake will fix it some day.

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multimillionaire seeks funding?

Owns lots of stuff worth lots of money but cash poor so he can't just bankroll it himself.

Being rich must be harder than it looks.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

I think it is more about seeing if the market is there, also why spend your own money when people are so willing to just give it to you!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

So if the company you work for wanted to fund a new product line, would you loan them the money? suppose said new product flopped big time and you lost all your money.

It's called keeping your own personal money and wealth separate from your business and it's a pretty sensible idea.

Also with Kickstarter you can gauge interest in advance. If you don't get the funding you don't make the product, simple as that. This is a much better proposition than producing the product and then discovering that nobody really wanted it.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

@AC 11:49

This is nothing like that. This is more like you decide that the company you own should build a new product but instead of financing it properly you ask for hand outs from potential customers.

I have nothing against Kickstarter and have contributed to a couple of projects myself but if you're a multimillionaire you should fund your own projects. Like the rest of the successful business world do.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"I didn't get rich by writing a lot of cheques, Mr. Simpson"

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JDX
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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

>>if you're a multimillionaire you should fund your own projects. Like the rest of the successful business world do.

Well done for showing your utter ignorance of "the business world". A sizable business venture will typically require tens of millions, and no sensible businessman would put a large proportion of their money in one project.

"The rest of the successful business world" rely on attracting investors and partners precisely so they are operating at lower risk.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

Well, look at what happened to Kingdoms of Amalur. Eric lost his own money as well as other people's, so using only other people's money appears quite sensible, no? Even if it comes across as a little selfish, or whatever...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

>Get funding people.

Yeah, right. Me thinks: Only if I get a percentage of the profits back

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

@JDK

""The rest of the successful business world" rely on attracting investors and partners precisely so they are operating at lower risk."

Yes, but investors and partners share the risk and also the reward. Any discount in the Kickstarter price over retail really doesn't account for the high risk of nothing ever appearing.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"Well done for showing your utter ignorance of "the business world". A sizable business venture will typically require tens of millions, and no sensible businessman would put a large proportion of their money in one project."

The difference being that most business ventures seek investors who will expect a return on their loan. Lord British is seeking hand-outs from people who will still have to pay for his product once it's completed.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

I'm personally getting tired of this kickstarter shizzle.

Plenty of companies with existing wads of cash and publishing history and wealthy people are using it essentially as a way for getting up-front public funding for products that they could well-afford to finance themselves. It's rather destroying the original point of the idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

>Get funding people.

Yeah, right. Me thinks: Only if I get a percentage of the profits back

Uh, you fund it and in return you get a copy of the game and maybe some tat to go with it. Kickstarter isn't for selling shares, generally.

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JDX
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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

>>Lord British is seeking hand-outs from people who will still have to pay for his product once it's completed.

Are you sure about that? Did you even both looking at the site? Getting a free copy of the game/CD is pretty normal on KS assuming you pledge a non-trivial amount... in this case $25 gets you a copy of the game as well as access to the beta program.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"I'm personally getting tired of this kickstarter shizzle.

Plenty of companies with existing wads of cash and publishing history and wealthy people are using it essentially as a way for getting up-front public funding for products that they could well-afford to finance themselves. It's rather destroying the original point of the idea."

I agree, but I have to wonder; do we blame businesses for seeking free cash when they're legally beholden to their shareholders to reduce costs and risk wherever possible, or do we blame the fools handing over their money with no strings attached to already rich companies/entrepreneurs?

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WTF?

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

> I'm personally getting tired of this kickstarter shizzle.

Yeah, they should use bank loans like everyone else.

Geez, FFS, I can see that you've never owned your own business before.

The vast majority of business is run this way. The only difference with Kickstarter is that anyone can get involved.

I think it's a fucking good idea and I wish more business was conducted in this way. That way we might get a lot fewer turkeys as well.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"Are you sure about that? Did you even both looking at the site? Getting a free copy of the game/CD is pretty normal on KS assuming you pledge a non-trivial amount... in this case $25 gets you a copy of the game as well as access to the beta program."

Yes I'm sure about that. If you donate less than $25 you get nothing. If you donate $25 and you're one of the first 5000 to do so, you get a free copy of the game, otherwise you get nothing. Likewise, if you donate $30 and you're one of the first 5000 to do so, you get a free copy of the game, otherwise you get nothing. You can still donate all the way up to $5000 and get a free copy of the game but the rewards for paying over the retail price are spurious at best.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"Yeah, they should use bank loans like everyone else."

Why not? Instead it's asking an already indebted population to take the risk.

"Geez, FFS, I can see that you've never owned your own business before."

Gosh, haven't I? Or maybe I just didn't expect people to pay in advance.

"The vast majority of business is run this way. The only difference with Kickstarter is that anyone can get involved. "

Yeah, like Neal Gaiman's wife. That wasn't parasitic of her, at all.

"I think it's a fucking good idea and I wish more business was conducted in this way. That way we might get a lot fewer turkeys as well."

No; not if you pasue to think about it. The way we traditionally do business is that if a turkey is released, nobody buys it and the company take a loss and maybe go under. With kickstarter, you can deliberately release a turkey, send out all those 'free' copies to people who paid in advance, then pocket the cash and laugh. It is NOT good for quality. Furthermore, the free-for-all way it operates positively encourages scam artists.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"Yes, but investors and partners share the risk and also the reward. Any discount in the Kickstarter price over retail really doesn't account for the high risk of nothing ever appearing."

The Kickstarter policy is that you don't get charged until the fundraising period closes, and ONLY if it makes the goal. I should know. I helped to Kickstart the Carmageddon reboot, and I only got charged when the Kickstart period closed (after beating its fundraising goal by a comfortable margin).

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"I agree, but I have to wonder; do we blame businesses for seeking free cash when they're legally beholden to their shareholders to reduce costs and risk wherever possible, or do we blame the fools handing over their money with no strings attached to already rich companies/entrepreneurs?"

No strings attached? When it comes to games, barring a cheap donation, the most common reward for your contribution is a copy of the finished product. Sorta like a very long pre-order, IOW, so they just get your money a little early and use it to help actually develop the game. Less of a gamble that way, and both sides win. They get an advance on the production and you help to ensure the end product actually appears.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"No; not if you pasue to think about it. The way we traditionally do business is that if a turkey is released, nobody buys it and the company take a loss and maybe go under. With kickstarter, you can deliberately release a turkey, send out all those 'free' copies to people who paid in advance, then pocket the cash and laugh. It is NOT good for quality. Furthermore, the free-for-all way it operates positively encourages scam artists."

I will admit there's a bit of "caveat emptor" involved (check what you're funding), but to elicit donations for a much-desired project and INTENTIONALLY respond with a turkey? In today's era of social media? You'd be inviting a Twitter Storm...for starters. The phrase, "You'll never work in this town again" springs to mind.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"Sorta like a very long pre-order, IOW, so they just get your money a little early and use it to help actually develop the game. Less of a gamble that way, and both sides win. They get an advance on the production and you help to ensure the end product actually appears."

Except with a pre-order, you typically know the product is going to be completed, and have materials in advance (trailers, screenshots, etc.) to get an idea of what state the product is in prior to paying for it. If the game somehow doesn't work out and gets canceled, you won't have to pay for it. Even if you change your mind for whatever reason, pre-orders can be canceled from most retailers. Even so, pre-ordering games itself encourages poor development practices, as developers and publishers know they can push a game out in an unfinished state, and still profit off of it. The same goes for kickstarter, but there you don't even have that minimal protection against getting an unfinished game, or even no game at all. There's certainly less of a gamble for the developer, as they profit no matter what they do. The consumer is in a much worse position though, and its a complete gamble for them.

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Stop

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"The Kickstarter policy is that you don't get charged until the fundraising period closes, and ONLY if it makes the goal."

That in no way ensures that you won't get sent a cardboard box containing a turd.

All it ensures is that the project will be started. It does not ensure the quality of the project or even completion. You - the customer - are shouldering a risk to buy a product.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"I will admit there's a bit of "caveat emptor" involved (check what you're funding), but to elicit donations for a much-desired project and INTENTIONALLY respond with a turkey? In today's era of social media? You'd be inviting a Twitter Storm...for starters. The phrase, "You'll never work in this town again" springs to mind."

Well, you'd never admit that you ripped people off, obviously. But you can cut corners, rush, and release a product that costs 10% of the cash reaped in.

As to "You'll never work in this town again": That's optimism. In the actual bricks and mortar world there are tons of companies which do exactly this kind of thing, trouser cash, go bankrupt or disappear, and then turn up 3 months later to do it all again except with their mum listed as the company director. It's wishful thinking to believe that it can happen less rather than more in an on-line, faceless environment.

Kickstarter is a haven for fraudsters and well-meaning but incompetent innovators. Both can take your money and leave you with the proverbial turd in a box, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

Come to think of it, it's fantastic for money laundering, too. Get a partner to set up a kickstarter and channel it dirty funds. It comes out nice and clean at the end.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

Surely the only real question here is. Would this project see the light of day if it wasn't for Kickstarter?

Clearly KS is a way of mitigating risk, it also puts a cap on the "project" thereby solving two of the biggest problems facing product development.

I agree that it plays out rather well for the owners in that they have all dev paid for and if it's successful beyond it's KS crowd it'll be almost pure profit ... and it's a nice bit of advertising too.

But the flip side is that the games don't get made and we have to put up with playing shitty stuff like Halo and WoW.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

The Producers anyone?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063462/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

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WTF?

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

...so you are saying that a kickstarter project is no different from buying games in a regular store? I've certainly bought some bricks that way and when you take it back to the store they can't refund you your money "because you might have made copies!" (butbutbut it had this fantastic DRM system that is supposed to protect against such things but instead crapped all over my computer?).

I have put up money in two kickstarter projects. Part of the fun is seeing if anything will come of it. (LSL remake + SpaceVenture)

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"If you donate $25 and you're one of the first 5000 to do so, you get a free copy of the game, otherwise you get nothing."

Take another look at the kickstarter project. Since they have reached 5000 punters at the 25 dollar level, that pledge level is now closed off.

The next level is still open (391 left as of now). I.e. you're not betting on being one of the 5000 first. As long as your cash is accepted, you are already qualified.

It is almost as if someone has done this before.

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WTF?

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

Guys, you don't seem to understand what Kickstarter is.

You are ***NOT*** giving them a loan, not even an interest free loan! You are giving them the money outright, for free, forever. You never get your money back. Never, ever.

There are only two things you get: to fund someone else's money making venture, presumably because you really want to sell you a copy later. And, but only if the specific kickstarter says so, you might get some junk or perhaps even a 'free' license to whatever it is being produced.

Kickstarters are all a complete rip-off.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

@JDX

Kickstarter is not about asking for loans: as a donator you do not get paid interest, you don't even ever get your money back!

Kickstarter is basically people asking for *COMPLETELY FREE* money.

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Stop

Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

"...so you are saying that a kickstarter project is no different from buying games in a regular store? "

No.

Not even slightly.

Firstly because funding anything on Kickstarter doesn't automatically get you a free product. You are *giving them money*. Sometimes you get free stuff, but mostly they just want you to give them money.

Secondly - assuming they agree to give you the product - you are buying on pure speculation. If you buy a game in a shop, you are a fool not to at least read a review first, maybe ask what friends think of it, or play it over at a mate's house on their X-Box. You can make an informed buying choice. Heck: You can even look at screenshots on the box or ask the staff if desperate.

None of that is applicable with a KS project. You are buying potential vapour-ware, based on whatever the person *who wants you to give him free money* decides to tell you. It is totally different from buying a ready product in a shop.

I have funded nobody's Kickstarter projects. Spending my money on beer is more fun and rewarding. I also would love to publish a few things at some point in the future, but don't expect other people to pay me in advance for it all and take all the risk for me.

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Re: multimillionaire seeks funding?

Isn't that what "advance sales", "investors" and "venture capitalists" are for?

I rather thought Kickstarter was a device to get marginal projects with limited appeal to market, not for them with enough dosh to attract their own backers to get gifts of money from the masses to fund another installment of a popular franchise with minimal effort or need to wine and dine anyone.

Who does he think he is, an Investment Banker?

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FAIL

Two words

Tabula Rasa.

Money kept in my pocket thanks.

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Facepalm

Bias

Multi-millionaires don't tend to make their money by spending it unnecessarily.

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Bon chance Lord British

Given the power of the Apple II and other similar computers around the time, Ultima was a great example of what could be done when the right ingredients were pulled together. Ultima Online was the next progression and for me was my entry in to MMOs. The problem for me is that since Ultima Online came out, I have never found a suitable next step. I've tried things like DDO, Guild Wars and others to finally decided I did not like them enough to keep investing time.

I'm hoping that Lord British can once again bring together the right mix of fighting, crafting, adventuring and living in this title. I'm glad, after his dealing with both EA and NCSoft that he is doing this under his own company and reaching out the community for help. I'm backing this effort and look forward to participating in its development and success.

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Re: Bon chance Lord British

Some of us would say that Ultima Online was a complete regression. As far as I'm concerned, Ultima Online killed Ultima (especially if you know the history of the development of Ultima IX).

If Garriott is going to see a single penny from me again, he would be wise to ignore everything they crapped out for U:A, and take a good hard look at what made Ultima VII and The Serpent Isle so god damn good. Ultima VIII, AKA "Super Avatar Brothers" isn't worthy of a mention.

I like Lord British but right now my money is on Brian Fargo and Wasteland 2.

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No way

Given what Garriot did to the Ultima series with the abomination that was U9 no way will he get another penny of my cash.

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New Ultima?

Well, I would only support this if Richard Garriott runs this better than he ran the development of Ultima IX (which became the abomination known as Ultima: Ascention). Having a rotating team of developers joining and then being shuffled off on a regular basis while Garriott wasted all his time on Ultima Online produced one of THE WORST video games I have ever played (and yes, I have played Daggerfall), an utter disgrace to the name "Ultima" and the long suffering fans who waited so long for this abortion of a game to come out.

Are you reading this Lord British? I'd love another Ultima but you have a hell of a lot to make up for. I hope your new game completely ignores the shitfest that was Ultima: Descention.

Let me be the first to say: SYSTEM SHOCK 3. Can we get a kickstarter going for that before EA decides to resurrect and utterly ruin it?

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Re: New Ultima?

Hey, I liked Daggerfall. OK, it was buggy when released. Yeah, OK, it was still buggy when they stopped fixing bugs but it had scope and some of the bugs were awesome - pushing through cracks in the dungeon scenery so that you could walk up the outside of the tunnels and get to otherwise-inaccessible unfinished bits of dungeon they hadn't bothered to delete! (Just remember levitate so that you don't fall through the floor of the world).

But this is online. His Lordship wants to create a less scripted environment and allow non-adventure type play. Good luck to him. With the instant-gratification, power-user, "where's the walkthough?" mentality of so many of today's gamers it will go free2play quickly and tits-up soon thereafter.

One of the "charms" of the original Everquest was that there were a lot of things you could do which the dev's hadn't anticipated, and the code was so tangled that it took forever for them to find out how to stop you. This allowed for creative use of unintentionally situationally-overpowered spells (harmony, I think, was one). Eventually it all succumbed to the demands of the class-balancers who insisted that every class be able to do everything.

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Re: New Ultima?

If Garriott is going to see a single penny from me again, he would be wise to ignore everything they crapped out for U:A, and take a good hard look at what made Ultima VII and The Serpent Isle so god damn good. Ultima VIII, AKA "Super Avatar Brothers" isn't worthy of a mention.

THE WORST video games I have ever played (and yes, I have played Daggerfall)

So agreed with your first sentiment, but Daggerfall? It was awesome... buggy as hell but to this day I can't think of a game with bigger ambitions or a deeper soul...

However, when I started reading the article I was thinking U7 but with todays graphics fidelity, decent spelunking down ten layers of caves with traps, secrets and fascinating creatures (not all out to kill you), storylines and a living breathing world, fascinating characters, then I got to the online part... eugh! Just no...

And also - Tabula Rasa!

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Anonymous Coward

Profit without risk! Awesome!

So if this is a great success, the multi-millionairre makes all the profit, and becomes a multi-multi-millionairre. If it's a flop, or fails to deliver... the multi-millionairre remains a multi-millionairre. Hrm. Well I can see the upside for him...

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Re: Profit without risk! Awesome!

And the upside for the consumer is that big publishers don't want to take a risk on games or inventions they don't think will sell. As consumers we show our support by funding, and we get the diversity back into the gaming market that is desperately lacking. Whether that be a multi million pound Wing Commander or Elite remake, or a $1000 chuckie egg remake.

Or even the Occulus Rift, who in their right mind would fund a VR headset....oh...looks like the market is there!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Profit without risk! Awesome!

Then Kickstart it with the proviso that it'll be open-sourced 6 months after it's finished, for everyone else to download and mod and enjoy for free. The initial funders still get their awesome game, with the added pat on the back they're giving something back to the community from their investment rather than just making someone who's already rich, richer. The multimillionairre with his passion to make a great game still gets to make it, and feels better cos he's sharing it with a wider audience than before. The only downside is no-one makes a huge amount of money from it...

Oh. So that's why no-one ever does it that way.

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Stop

Focus on crafting? That will only work if he figures out a way to keep the bots and 3rd world, gold-selling farmers from ruining the in-game economy. I predict it will take about a week.

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Space trip anyone....??

Shame he spent all those millions on a trip to space last year - he could have funded it himself otherwise!!

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Re: Space trip anyone....??

I'm sure he could still easily fund it himself. Someone who spends tens of millions on a short vacation in space obviously has millions more laying around. Kickstarter has become little more than a way to offer pre-orders on games with no strings attached for the developer, as far as actually being required to deliver a successful product is concerned.

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Ultima Online

It reads like he's trying to re-invent the original premise of Ultima Online. Little things that didn't work such as players policing the virtual world themselves, dilligently trying not to accidentally "grief" each other, somehow magically persuading those that were "griefing" other players to stop. All the magic, lalalala land things that never worked and had to be replaced by game mechanics - which due to the shoddy coding were usually exploitable in some way.

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Does Kickstart Give You Rights?

If a dev gets kickstarter funds, then sells the idea/app for millions do the donators get anything in return?

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