Friday, September 4, 2015

Pathfinder Online Looks to be Over Before it's Done - Goblinworks Lets Go Nearly it's Entire Staff - Ryan Dancy Resigns

Now THAT's a Dead Goblin

Remember the Pathfinder Online Kickstarter? It was basically to raise seed money to get larger investors interested in the property. My God did Paizo push this hard and fight back against the naysayers.

Of course, the game system itself had nothing to do with the actual Pathfinder system - it was using the name and maybe setting material but that was all.

In any case, it's all gone bust now:

Lisa's Community Address

Posted by: Mike Hines Sept. 2, 2015

To the Pathfinder Online Community

From the beginning of the three year journey to create Pathfinder Online, the one constant has been the support of our community and for this I thank you.  We have had ups and downs including heated debates on design, implementation and overall gameplay.  We have literally battled together (or against each other) and I know you enjoy playing the game as much as I do.  I also know that the community comes together during tough times, and it is probably no surprise that we are currently in a tough spot right now.  There are a number of things that have occurred in the past two weeks that you need to be brought up to date on.

As we have been on this journey to create Pathfinder Online with you for over three years now, we have striven to be as transparent as possible with you.  We just shared the following message with the community during our weekly Keepside Chat.  In full transparency, here is a quick run down of the state of our game:

-EE10.2 is on ZOG for final testing and should roll out to live on Thursday or Friday morning.
EE11 is targeted for the end of September

-Ryan Dancey has had to resign from the company for personal reasons (Lisa Stevens will be acting CEO)

-Finances are tight at Goblinworks, which has resulted in the layoff of the majority of Goblinworks staff

-CTO Mark Kalmes, Art Director Mike Hines, and Designer Bob Settles continue to push the game forward (your monthly subscriptions are what keep these three employed and the server up)
Goblinworks is in talks with multiple game publishers to take the game on and bring it to Open Enrollment

I know that is a lot to take in, so I will share what details we can below:

Game status (EE10.2 and EE11)
We are in final testing before pushing EE10.2 to the live server with its fully revamped and improved new player experience, buy orders for the auction house as well as auction sales histories, settlement chat, and the new crystal ogres monthly event, as well as turning the previous event (The Wrath of Nhur Athemon and its Shadow counterpart) into an ongoing escalation, and making a bunch of bug fixes and improvements.  The team has been working hard on this and on EE11 for most of July and August.  EE11 is done in design, almost entirely done in art, and just needs a bit more programming to get it to the point where we can test. It will take settlement activities to the next level by allowing you to customize and build your settlements the way you want to.  Building a settlement will be a large group task, with lots of raw materials to gather and refine before buildings can be erected.  We will also have the dark elves monthly event ready, providing more PVE content for those who are focused on that aspect of the game.  The core team has the goal of shipping  EE11 by the end of September, and we'll keep you updated on our progress.

Ryan Dancey
Ryan Dancey needed to resign from the company for personal reasons.  We were very sad that he needed to leave us, but supported his decision because it is in the best interests of Ryan’s life outside Goblinworks.  In Ryan’s absence, the board of directors has appointed me Acting CEO.

We have always known that we would need a certain amount of money to make Pathfinder Online a reality.  Some delays in getting the game to market coupled with some anticipated funding falling through have left us about 75% short of the money we need to finish the game (emphasis mine) and bring it to Open Enrollment.  We knew that we could cut our burn rate (the rate at which expenses burn your cash reserves) by having folks participate in Early Enrollment and that was always the plan, though we never thought that the Early Enrollment subscribers could carry the company to Open Enrollment.  We knew we needed that full investment amount to do that.  We had numerous times this year where the full funding was dangling in front of us only to be snatched away at the last moment.  Very frustrating, but we moved forward and kept looking for somebody to come through with the money we needed to see the game through.

Due to the commitment that you have made to the game, your current subscriptions are able to keep the core team employed and the servers live.  We will continue to move the game forward with that team and keep the servers live as long as the continued financial support from the community is there.  But that means we need you, the Pathfinder Online Community, to continue to support us with your monthly subscription fees.  They are very literally what is keeping the servers paid for, and keeping our core team employed, working on EE11, and talking with various potential partners about purchasing the game so they can finish it. If you wish to see the game through to its finish, we need you to support it financially for the next few months, and if you know people that want to support it, encourage them to subscribe now.  (During this period, we will offer only month-to-month subscriptions.)

On August 28, we had to lay off the majority of the Goblinworks staff.  Continuing to push the game forward are CTO Mark Kalmes, Art Director Mike Hines, and Designer Bob Settles.  We have been keeping the staff abreast of our efforts to find funding for Pathfinder Online and that we would likely have to lay them off on the 28th.  We felt it was super important to give our employees warning so they could plan their lives accordingly.  Their efforts to line up new jobs led to some of the rumors about layoffs.  So why didn’t we announce this earlier?  Because there was and still remains a chance for Pathfinder Online to get its funding and continue forward, so it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that we would have to lay the staff off until Friday, the 28th.

For the past few weeks, we have been shopping Pathfinder Online to a number of other game publishers, looking for a good fit to take the game on and fund it over the finish line.  There have been quite a few companies coming out of the woodwork to discuss this with us and we are in ongoing talks with a number of them about the possibilities.  More companies enter the fray every day.  These kinds of things take some time, though we are motivated to see them through as quickly as we can.  At any moment, one of these publishers could agree to buy the game and we could quickly ramp up to full tilt again.  Due to confidentiality, we can’t provide information on these negotiations.  Rest assured that you will be the first people we tell when there is news we can share.
This isn’t a super rosy picture, but we aren’t dead yet!  The Goblinworks team and the Pathfinder Online community have been underdogs for pretty much the entire project’s history.  But we have persevered and survived.  Sometimes it is darkest right before the dawn.  When I was at White Wolf, we were close to having our electricity and phones shut off in the month before Vampire: The Masquerade released and became a huge hit.  At Wizards of the Coast, we had to lay off the entire staff for 9 months before Magic: The Gathering launched and became one of the most successful games in history.  You have my word that I will work relentlessly to find the right partner to take Pathfinder Online through to the finish line.  The team has brought the ball down the field to the red zone, and now we just need somebody to punch it over the goal line.

I will be hosting another Keepside Chat on Wednesday, September 8th at its normal time of 5pm PST.  You can join the chat live by going to:
Port 3093

The ability for us to make Pathfinder Online has always been entirely dependent upon you, the Pathfinder Online Community and the support you have given us.  I would like to thank the Pathfinder Online community for your fierce dedication, support, feedback, and drive to see this game made well.  The only reason to make Pathfinder Online is you, our customer.  I hope you will stay with us over the next few months as we search for that proper partner to finish the game.  It is your support, literally, that will allow this to happen.  Without you, there is no Pathfinder Online.

You have my eternal gratitude,

Lisa Stevens
Acting CEO
Goblinworks Inc.

You can go read the original and the FAQ at the Goblinworks blog.


  1. I decided to back the Kickstarter because I had hopes that it would truly be a different style of MMO... I liked many of the concepts that they described for making it different from World of Warcraft. I especially liked the idea of it being a bit of more dynamic world, where you could ignore certain mobs, but at a risk of having them evolve in intervening time into a more dangerous threat.

    My problem came from when I got my notice that enrollment was now open, and we could start playing... I knew it wasn't going to be WoW, but I definitely expected more than the MeH that I experienced. I found the graphics to be a bit too dull, and the interface was too clunky to make me want to play. I logged in maybe three times in the three months that my pledge earned me, but I didn't get to exercise any of the benefits that were promised because they hadn't been implemented yet... I would have much rather waited until the game was closer to public release that have had my time wasted on the gamma version of the game... presumably, I can reactivate my subscription and pick up where I left off, but frankly, I don't have the money to invest in a game that played at a level that I considered primitive 10 years ago... Maybe WoW has jaded me to how an MMO should be, but I just felt that everything was too flat... there was no good dimension to the world, the colors were muted, and the animations were not there at all...

    I also was not impressed with the package of PDFs that were given out as a stretch goal -- so many of them turned out to be freebies Quick starts or samples that anyone can get without having to invest any money in the first place.that I was so underwhelmed. Heck, I think most of the ones that had value, I had already received from backing other Kickstarters, so they weren't of any value to me... so I was glad that I didn't let it's existence influence me at all.

    So when I received my email notifying of the shake up and changes, I can't say that I was surprised. I would hate to see the game go belly up since there are so many other people that seem to enjoy it and want to keep it going. I do not wish ill upon Goblinworks at all, but I just cannot bring myself to feel anything in either direction regarding how things have evolved.

  2. It was horrible.. so so horrible...

  3. I did not back (I generally stay away from video game Kickstarters because they are even less stable on average than other media), but I did have hopes that they would be able to get a working game out of a beta state.

    I hope they find a buyer, but MMOs are at a bit of a saturation point, especially if they don't bring something new and unique to the genre. I hope for the best for the Goblinworks staff and fans.

  4. That picture's not perfect, since unlike Goblinworks Harry Osborn came back from the grave and went on to great things before imploding again =)

    1. Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin in that sequence. Far as I know, he died in the '70s and never came back.

  5. I remember this sounded far too ambitious, but Paizo actually had me convinced this might work. Didn't really follow it, though, or put any money toward it.

    Sorry to everyone involved that it didn't work out.

  6. My experience was rough. I kicked in at the level to form one of the early guilds, only to have everyone who was to join me flake out. Then, I saw the book I was to get in the local game store before I got mine. Then I learned the actual game had very little to do with Pathfinder. I logged in once and goofed around for a couple of hours before I quit and uninstalled.

  7. Is this some kind of video game? I don't even understand what they are selling.

    1. It's a multiplayer RPG video game. It's supposed to offer a different sort of experience than say, World of Warcraft.


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