The new MMO hotness - at least until the next Kickstarter - is Ashes of Creation, which has surpassed $1.5m in funding from hungry fans. That’s a lot of faith in an unseen digital product, especially when compared to something like the Weta Workshop Heavy Hitters Kickstarter which raised $935k for a very impressive looking boardgame.

The Kickstarter is pretty standard, offering beta access and various levels of shiny limited pixels for getting on board. Nothing terribly compelling, though two people have taken up the $10k ‘Avatar of the Phoenix’ pledge, so I guess a launch party in Vegas works for them. I’m not that interested in beta play, something I discovered once receiving the Crowfall beta invite. I dutifully installed, logged on, made a mighty minotaur, found an entirely empty world, and logged out again. Haven’t been back, but I like the idea being able to once things get a bit more interesting.

Having become intrigued by AoC based on their node hype videos, it was surprising to find that the Kickstarter actually made me less inclined to support the game. Which I’m sure wasn’t the intended effect. The main problem is the incredibly boring race options. Bhagpuss sums it up perfectly:

There’s quite a lot of new information (or at least new to me) on the game itself. It details the eight races and the eight class archetypes for a start. Boy, do they look bland. When I heard they were starting with eight races I was hoping for the chance to play something other than the usual: human, human with pointy ears, ugly human or short human. Ashes of Creation gives you Human, Elf, Orc and Dwarf. So much for that, then. Also, splitting your four races in two does not give you eight races. Just sayin'.

Precisely. Like SWtoR before it, AoC has taken a fantasy world that could be populated with literally any kind of creature, and given us a choice of four humans. So dull! Our only hope for something different comes from the just revealed $2.5m stretch goal, which teases of a mysterious ‘beast like’ Underrealm race.

Some kind of…shadow monster? With a tail?

Less worrying, but still kind of blah, are the character classes, which fit every archetype like a glove, with little imagination. They even go so far as to name the tank class a…‘Tank’. I only wish they had gone the whole hog and called the healer ‘Heals’. I’m kind of hoping they are reverting to some kind of vanilla MMO basics in order to reinvent the whole paradigm. The pedigree of the team would support that admittedly hopeful hypothesis.

Speaking of the team, it’s a little concerning to see the 13 person team includes all of one woman, and she is (of course) the Community Manager. Which is a vitally important role, but it reeks of the (still sadly true) corporate cliche of the only woman on the management team being from HR.

Despite all that, I happily jumped on board at the second lowest tier. Friends asked what was the point of Kickstarting (and Syp asked himself the same question, and that’s a valid question given the sub model. For me it’s worth backing these things just for the gentle entertainment of seeing progress and updates and vaguely participating in the entire process of making a game. Once the inevitable mid-development malaise sets in, I’ll just be skimming - or more like ignoring (hi, Crowfall) - the email spam.

But then will come that magical day when we can logon to a brand new world and see what wonders and mysteries it reveals. Worth $40, easy.