Paizo has just announced (literally, earlier today) their intent to get into the world of computer gaming by licensing the Pathfinder rules and world for an MMO, with games in the works. It’s going to be (loosely) based around the Kingmaker adventure path, second in popularity only to the originator, the Rise of the Runelords path. And Kingmaker is a perfect fit: it’s open, it’s broad, it’s established, and it’s a perfect building ground for empires to rise and fall.
I’ve been kind of curious why Paizo hasn’t branched out like this yet: yeah, economic feasibility, spreading the game’s IP out, the risks of developing games, and all that. But licensing Golarion means money, it broadens the label’s appeal, gets new players interested, and besides, we haven’t had a good tabletop-based CRPG since, what, Baldur’s Gate 2? Unless you count the fan-patches for Vampire: Bloodlines.
The new company who got the license is Goblinworks, a name that should please most Pathfinder aficionados: Paizo’s had a thing for goblins since Classic Monsters Revisited, if not before, so having goblin in the name gives them a leg up in the street cred department. Their relationship with Paizo sounds pretty strong, so provided the game doesn’t go the way of the WoD MMO or other vaporware, it could be an interesting new step for the Pathfinder license.
Note that Ryan Dancey is one of the forerunners of this project; this interests me for two reasons. First, Dancey is the person you can hold accountable for Pathfinder, M&M, True20, Spycraft, and more, because he’s the guy who pushed to open the OGL floodgates for D&D. Second, he’s a former CCP employee—I just was talking about them and their relation to White Wolf a few days ago, and from what I remember Dancey was one of the RPGers working on the World of Darkness MMO in CCP’s Atlanta (White Wolf) offices.
Dancey’s CCP relationship is what makes me most interested. The reason CCP was a good fit for WoD was because of its hands-off mentality: instead of focusing on designer-driven content, like World of Warcraft and its perpetual updates of new zones and dungeons to raid, CCP’s EVE is all player-driven. It’s up to the players to make things interesting, and they take the game’s freedom to its fullest, hence EVE’s harsh learning curve and reputation as a breeding ground for scammers, griefers, and political intrigue run amok. Much like with the backstabbing World of Darkness, I think that style of play would fit the squabbling River Kingdoms quite well.
That’s most of why I was interested in seeing the WoD MMO finished product; if the Pathfinder RPG does go that route—the freeform chaos of the CCP player-driven-content model instead of the pointless grind of a WoW clone—and the press release on the GoblinWorks page does mention its sandbox nature. If it’s true, they may indeed have my money.