The Needles

The Needles: "Crowd Contributed" Game Development: A Grim Dawn Breaks

Andy Chalk | 9 Feb 2010 17:00
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A brief history of Titan Quest: It bombed. Before it even landed on store shelves, it had earned a reputation, wholly undeserved, as not just a bad game but a horribly buggy one. Its failure catalyzed the downfall of Iron Lore, the studio that created it, less than two years later.

But then a funny thing happened. A community began to form around the game. A small handful of stalwarts who knew and loved Titan Quest from its early days was slowly but steadily reinforced by others, like me, who picked it up because it was cheap and were surprised to discover just how well-crafted it really was. Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, the one and only expansion, was released in March 2007; Iron Lore breathed its last in February 2008. Yet the Titan Quest community lives on even today, making mods, posting videos, writing tutorials and discussing every aspect of the game, a small but dedicated and very active group.

That's the sort of story that gives heart to people like Arthur Bruno, the former lead gameplay designer at Iron Lore who is now the manager and lead designer at Crate Entertainment, which he co-founded in early 2008 with former Iron Lore art director Eric Campanella. "I knew we designed a lot of replay value in TQ but honestly I would not have guessed that the game and community would have endured so long and remained so active," Bruno said in a recent Q&A. "The big surprise was last autumn when the number of active users on the forums actually started to grow. I think it's sad that such a loyal community has gone so long without another game in the series."

So loyal, in fact, that when Crate's debut project Grim Dawn came to light, Bruno, an active member of the aforementioned forums, started receiving messages from fans who wanted to help out. A lot of messages. "Our plan was to just do a stealth launch of the website and start slowly building up traffic but this just sort of took off," he explained. "We actually put up the pre-order in response to continuous emails we had received from fans who had heard about the project and wanted to donate in some way. The idea really originated with those emails from fans and we can't claim much credit for the initiative behind this funding model."

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