Crowdfunding Fraudsters: Sacrament From Kickstarter To Paytreon

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Fraudster:
2
a:  a person who is not what he or she pretends to be :impostor;

Today’s Crowdfunding Fraudsters come in the form of Sacrament, a game that describes itself as a sandbox for everyone, by a small team of people who have no idea how to build a game. Remember Greed Monger and how that project went? Jason Appleton was just a businessman who evidently got the idea that video games were like a vending machine that you just put money into and the game came out. If you look around the room you’ll see neither Appleton or Greed Monger, the latter was canned and the former ruined his reputation in the gaming community.

But let’s cut our teeth and dive into yet another independent “developer” made up of guys who don’t have any experience making games but played some games and are pretty sure they’ve got the gist of it down. Like an obese man who eats a lot of cake and decides to open a bakery, the folks at Ferocity Unbound are pretty certain that their years of experience raiding and presumably crossing their arms and harrumphing at how the current crop of MMOs and free to play suck, and how much better it would be to go back to a time when MMOs all had subscriptions and companies went bankrupt like it was going out of style.

Sacrament has already tried and failed to obtain crowd funding, via a Kickstarter campaign that raked in just a couple thousand out of $250 grand. Now the company is looking towards Patreon, demanding monthly payments for a game that doesn’t exist and may never launch, by people who might not have the know-how to deliver on their promises. On the other hand, the benefit of Patreon is that unlike Kickstarter which requires a real product, they aren’t actually obligated to return any of the money should the project go belly up. Gamers with too much expendable money can pledge upwards of $50 per month.

If you’re interested in donating more than fifty grand, you can go ahead and contact the developer directly.

So instead of making this cut and dry, I took a little look at Sacrament’s website only to be overwhelmed with a gigantic wall of text that says pretty much nothing. Donald Trump couldn’t make a wall out of empty promises this great. You really need to see the kind of stuff that this developer is promising.

Naturally, Sacrament will have no levels.

We chose, instead, to take out the levels and incorporate tiers, which work as a difficulty scale. Some players will live in tier 12 where their difficulty is at its cap, some will find that grouping up and taking on tier 16 is where they love to be, others will simply take on the game until they are bleeding at the fingertips. We wanted the players to be able to go back and forth between tiers seamlessly and feel as if they were still earning their fight rewards.

You might be asking yourself “what does any of this mean? How do tiers work if there are no levels? What do the tiers signify? How do you rise up in tiers and how is going from tier 1 to tier 12 any different from calling them levels? What are the difficulty differences between levels?” Sure, the description of one of the bigger mechanical changes doesn’t actually contain any information on how the system works, but that’s not important. What is important is that this system is for you, the player.

Tell me more!

PvE will consist of 20 tiers. The first 15 tiers will have three zones – or locations – dedicated to the player’s progression through each tier. The final 5 tiers will be raiding tiers (larger group overworld content and actual 24 and 36 player instanced raid content) where you will have to beat all of the raids in order to flag yourself and move on to the next tier. Let me be very clear here… You will have no character levels, only tiers to show your strength of character!

No character levels, only tiers, right. Makes perfect sense. Hey this isn’t one of those games where there are no “levels” but instead the game uses skill levels that are effectively the same thing, right?

If a skill maxes at 100 and you achieve it in PvE then step into the Arena for the very first time. Your Arena rank is 1 your skill is downgraded to the max for that rank, let’s say 5. As soon as you reach rank 2 your skill is now 10, hit rank 3 and it is automatically 15, so forth and so on.

Thought so.

Sacrament is not your typical theme park MMORPG where the player is led by the hand from start to finish on a leash. While it may be an easy way to ensure players go exactly where the developers want them to go so they can literally control content, Sacrament’s content design is strong enough not to force people to do any quests. From the moment of inception of this game, there were a few key elements that existed before even writing any concepts down, and this was one of them.

Absolutely no hand holding. You’ll be leashed through each tiered zone, but they will not hold your hand at any point through it. It’s completely different from current games, just like how the tier system is completely different from levels. It’s totally different guys! Nostalgia, Everquest, this new generation, am I right?

But let’s talk about grouping. Since your game has no levels, there shouldn’t be any problem with two players of varying experience getting together and knocking down a boss for some sweet loot, right? I mean, the whole new thing about MMOs is allowing players to group up with their friends without having to wait for the lower guy to level up.

Unfortunately, since you are not flagged for the tier, your items are not assigned to the primary loot table and so seeing them drop will be less likely. However, even when one does drop you cannot loot it off of the corpse and cannot hold the item until your tier. This is one of the incentives of flagging for each tier. You’re still getting a sufficient amount of experience and currency drop (equal to what monsters in your tier would drop plus 5-10% per tier above your own) to give you plenty of reason to take on the more difficult content.

Sacrament is very friendly to people who want to group with their friends, just don’t expect to get any loot without the game holding up a giant middle finger. Also hold the phone here, experience in what? Your game has no levels, so what is the experience going toward? And why does gear need a specific tier flagged to use? Once again, how are tiers any different from levels when you are locking away loot, areas, and the ability to not just loot but equip gear? In the end, what is the difference between “you need to be level 12 to equip these pauldrons” and “you need to be tier 12 to equip these pauldrons?” Other than the completely user-unfriendly mechanic of having the game deny loot because you’re not high level enough, an issue that every other MMO seems to have figured out.

It should also be noted that while the game does penalize you for taking on content above your level, there is no penalty for farming content below your level. No handholding garbage, you got that? This is a hardcore game for hardcore people, now stop farming things stronger than you and start farming things weaker than you. Alright, tell me about the raids.

Side note, I honestly didn’t expect the raids to be this ridiculous. I’ve included just a small snippet of how Sacrament has thought up its raid bosses, but just get a load of this example.

At 75% of the boss’s health he roars and a Yeti comes down into the fight. The Yeti boss cannot be directly damaged by players, but summons waves and waves of adds that must die within proximity to the Yeti causing fire damage that burns the Yeti’s flesh and fur until it is dead. Once the Yeti is dead the boss will then obtain a small shield that cannot be damaged by players directly and will summon a wave (or two) of adds that must die within proximity of the boss to drop the shield and allow for the raid to continue to DPS the boss (if enough of the enemies are not killed within proximity of the boss then another set of adds AND a mini boss spawns again); this will happen once every 30 seconds.

I’m not even playing the game and I’m already searching for the unsubscribe button. Do they expect people to put up with this? This is about a quarter of the boss fight description, and it is described as a “mild raid” to boot! It not only sounds convoluted but frustrating and just one gimmick played over and over and over again. The first raid you hit is a 12-player PUG dungeon at tier 5, which if you read above is when people actually start seeing each other. Yep, the game starts off your interactivity with a 12-man dungeon. These don’t sound like game pitches as much as the ramblings of a mad man who went insane while playing World of Warcraft Vanilla and now runs around town trying to put together a 40-man raid on Walmart.

But that’s not enough, I need some ridiculous concept shoe-horned in for the sake of “hardcore” street cred. Give me a boss that can murder everyone in a zone.

The PvE/Crafter raids, Blended Raids, are unique and designed for your Epic Quests for both PvE players and Crafters. These raids will force the PvE players to fight off hordes of NPCs to provide the Crafters opportunities to create items that will allow the raid to progress or speed it up. Sometimes the Crafters must craft an item that prevents all players from dying to a zone wide one shot or build a wall that can allow players to hide behind it while the boss goes on a rampage.

This is all I’m going to specifically talk about as far as game mechanics go, you can probably anticipate where the game is headed by what I have written above. You can find everything at the main website, but it’s all a bunch of the same convoluted, overly-complicated functions you find in similar games. I not only have to question the marketability of a game that forces players through these ridiculous, multi-tiered raids, but I question the abilities of the developers to implement such complicated systems.

So let’s look at the three founders and their bios. If they don’t immediately tell me about 90’s nostalgia, you can count my money withdrawn.

I started playing MMORPGs with the first EverQuest, though I missed the launch by about a year. I was an active duty Marine at the time with two deployments, so leveling up through the game wasn’t nearly as enjoyable for me as playing the game at any level. I kid you not… I spent two years between Orc Highway in GFay and Crushbone. Yep. It was a blast, too!

MMOs of the 90s were fun and enjoyable; they’re where I cut my teeth in MMO gaming. Creators of recent MMOs have missed something. Many are so caught up in recreating the success of one title or another that they miss the mark when creating a fun game to play.

Gaming is my passion. From the first time I picked up a SNES controller and popped in that Zelda cartridge, I’ve been fascinated by video games.

Alright, nostalgia is one thing. I’m going to need to see your credentials. Do any of you have development experience?

Nearing the end of our time with ESO we had begun to discuss the concepts of a new game with two of our friends, Kraive and Ahdora, and I quickly realized that between the four of us we had quite a bit of insight and information. I drew up some documents to see how much information about game systems we could come up with and a month and a half later we had an entire game hashed out. I’m talking from the ground on up.

To my surprise, shortly thereafter I was asked by one of those friends if Kraive and I would give input on an idea he and his brother had for an MMO. I was even more surprised to find that it matched so closely with my own idea about the direction in which a game should go. Thus began a whirlwind collaboration on concepts: the beginning of what was to become Sacrament. In just a few short months, we’d hammered out the vast majority of our core game concepts. Things went from a dream to very real, very fast.

Personally I’m a long term player. Many can look at the sheer number of titles I’ve played and assume I’m one of the locusts, travelling from game to game until the next one comes along. I played Everquest for 6-7 years, I met my wife during a short break but I had intended to return to EQ. I had tried the other titles of the time but EQ was where I always returned.

So we have a development team made up of the “idea guy.” Alright, so you don’t have any credentials. Can you sufficiently play to the 90’s kid gamer?

This game addresses concerns that have been expressed by the gaming masses for years. Concerns that have heretofore either gone unanswered, or have been given only lip service. Sacrament offers so much to so many different kinds of players. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this project, and I cannot wait to share this with everyone. Consider Sacrament nourishment for your starving gamer soul.

I could use some nourishment, because reading through the website was exhausting.

This is what happens when the gaming press pays attention to every indie dev with a failed crowdfunding campaign. What isn’t surprising is that the game has a very small following of players willing to throw a substantial amount of money into the void, people who will no doubt be yelling at the press for not properly scrutinizing the developers a couple of years down the road when they dissolve pre-alpha.

Sacrament’s Patreon hasn’t started yet, the developer is still fleshing out details. May the buyer beware.

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