Former KingsIsle Entertainment Creative Director J. Todd Coleman officially announced the start-up of his new company ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. today. Coleman, along with a leading executive game producer, Gordon Walton, has also unveiled his latest game - Play2Crush. Take a look.
This company, headed Coleman and Walton, is the "secret project" that has been underway ever since Coleman's leaving KingsIsle back in January of 2013. Nearly two years later, our answers are here!
J. Todd Coleman's Background
If you're reading this here, you probably know J. Todd Coleman from his work on MMOs Wizard101 and Pirate101, for which he was the Creative Director, but he also worked on Shadowbane, and has multitudes of experience in the gaming industry, having crossed paths with many other professionals. Coleman says, in the official press release, "In the last decade, Gordon and I have had the opportunity to work with almost every game artist, designer and engineer in Austin. We drew on those contacts to recruit a team of all-stars..." Coleman is now the CEO and Creative Director of ArtCraft Entertainment.
Gordon Walton's Background
Chances are, you've at least heard of some of the games Gordon Walton has worked on. He was the Executive Producer for Ultima Online, Star Wars: Galaxies, and Star Wars: the Old Republic. Walton notes, in the official press release, that "Todd’s creative vision is what makes this partnership work, and my job is to ensure his vision gets realized." Walton is now the President and Executive Producer of ArtCraft Entertainment.
The Adventure Begins
The idea behind ArtCraft Entertainment is a unique one. Coleman says this: "...[W]e’re building something completely different, completely unique. We believe the MMO industry has grown stale. It’s time to create something new." This creates a number of interesting potential scenarios. J. Todd Coleman and most likely Gordon Walton will be able to easily draw from a now well-established fan base to develop an audience before their games are even near going live. This begs the question, however, "How many people can afford three games?" Will this new game draw away from KingsIsle's? Will the fan base divide between the two? At this point, one thing is certain: this is the beginning of a very long and very exciting new adventure for both these two wonderful developers and the counters players who follow their work.
Although not a confirmed title of a game itself, the idea of "Play2Crush" is that the MMO industry, as Coleman notes, has grown stale.
"WHERE DID WE GO WRONG? There was a time when our industry took CHANCES. Our games didn’t have to appeal to everyone, and we didn’t judge ourselves solely on mass market success. With amusement park games, it’s impossible to lose. With sandbox games, it’s impossible to win. If you can’t win and you can’t lose, then WHAT'S THE POINT OF PLAYING? I don’t want to kill more rats, fill another experience point bar or collect another meaningless badge. I want to play a GAME, against PLAYERS where my actions, my decisions and my SKILL will determine if I win or lose. Allies. Enemies. Alliances. Betrayal. Risk. Conquest. To compete with THOUSANDS of other players for a chance to claim the THRONE. Even if I lose, the experience won’t feel hollow. I don’t want another worthless trophy.
I WANT TO PLAY TO CRUSH."
Currently, the only website up and running from the new company is the Play2Crush site, which advertises the first title, coming in the near future. You can enter your email address to get a beta invite by visiting that site HERE.
A New Kind of Game
The idea of what is currently known as "Play2Crush" is that each decision and each action in the game is more significant than in other games. The beta registration reads "Sign me up! I want a game with real skill, real risk, and real consequence." That's an interesting concept, and one that leaves the doors wide open for what the game might actually be about.
Factions and Allies
The most notable of hints is the banner on the website, also pictured at the top of the post, with twelve different symbols that remind me of the Game of Thrones factions. The symbols must all represent a different group, each with a different purpose. My guess is that they're similar to schools in Wizard101 or classes in Pirate101.
Upon being confirmed as being part of Beta Group #1, I received an email which said something interesting at the end: "One final note: this is a game for teams. Now that you're on the beta list, you might want to invite a few friends. You're going to need them." This is also an interesting new dynamic from Wizard or Pirate. While easier in Pirate, soloing in doable in Wizard, at least to an extent. In this new game, it sounds as if this will not be so.
Beta Release Date
There's a countdown clock on the Pay2Crush website that puts the assumed release date on February 24, 2015. J. Todd Coleman stated that earlier beta groups (i.e. Beta Group 1 versus 2, 3, and so on) will have access to the game earlier, so this may be when the game opens up for the first group of beta testers, or it could be that once a certain quotas of testers has expressed interest, beta will be opened up immediately, and the game will actually be released to the public on that date.
One Door Closed...
It's funny how fast two years has gone by. At the point Coleman left KingsIsle, it felt like an opportunity lost, and many speculated on why he left, including reasons that might not have been suitable (and still might not) to share. However, the announcement of this newest game makes loud and clear the fact that Coleman is as active as ever in the gaming industry and KingsIsle fans have a new company, and soon a new game, to add to their lists.
Will you be trying J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton's new game?
Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!