Furcadia's 'Second Dreaming' meets first funding target
On the morning of 28 November, the project met its its base funding goal - $55,000 - for which DEP and spinoff Catnip Studios pledge a web-based client (to be offered on Facebook and elsewhere), and a new Furcadia website. All backers may choose a new feature and avatar from a list: the winning choices will also be added to Furcadia.
While the sale of virtual items (or digos) provides sufficient funds to keep the service running, development has slowed to a crawl; according to DEP, core team members have not been paid in two years, and most have found other jobs. *
Furcadia's creative director Dr. Cat (Felorin) is to host an "Ask Me Anything" for potential backers on Reddit at 2PM CST on Wednesday November 28, and will be a guest on Twitch TV's TopWizard channel on Saturday December 1 at 3PM CST. Funding ends December 14.
Artists' mockup of the proposed Furcadia web-client interface
The new web client is to be written in Haxe, a language which can compile to bytecode using the Flash runtime. It also has varying support for a variety of web and desktop languages, offering the potential for use of the new client on other platforms.
Flash support will allow the game to be be distributed through online game websites, though this may impose a width restriction.
The Kickstarter project still has over two weeks to run. However, as game producer and designer Emerald Flame notes:
[...] the 55,000 base goal is a bit short of what we actually need to produce the product. The first few stretch goals will help make up the difference for that and give secondary projects the funds they need
Initial stretch goals cover the creation of a new Furrabian Nights map (animated preview [18Mb WMV]), a system for mixing avatar attachments, personal user pages, social network integration, paid packages to support groups, online editing and a new iOS app. More has been proposed; a new central area, bonus content creation tools, visual script editing, a music editor, and a HTML5 version. However, reaching these funding levels seems unlikely.
A team of third-party developers will be working on the project, although if sufficient money is raised, it may be possible for the original staff to quit their day jobs and return to work on Furcadia. These young developers - featured in the project's Kickstarter video - may obtain part-ownership in Catnip Studios, currently owned and run by DEP partners.
Many pledge rewards are on offer; from test access, a digital print (sketch), the Angelcat avatar and varying levels of golden dragonscales (in-game currency; $1 store credit each), to personal in-game visits, one-on-one chats with Dr. Cat, heartbonding ceremonies and opportunities to add custom avatars or entire dreams (locations) to the game. At least eleven people had pledged $1000 or more prior to base funding.
Furcadia has long been promoted at furry events, but while its creators acknowledge its heritage, they prefer to bill it as "the magical world where the animals have learned to speak and walk upon two legs" and "the premier Social MMO", due in part to the size of the furry audience:
We started Furcadia as a business venture, as well as wanting to make something good for people to enjoy. We knew that the furry fandom was too small a market to make a living from. All our previous games were aimed at a larger audience, so this one was too. We also knew that a significant percentage of our players would come from the furry fandom, and that's fine too - we enjoy furry conventions, furry websites etc. ourselves. But we don't want people to think it's only for that fandom, or that furry fandom's what it's all about.
I think we brought a large number of new people into the Furry Fandom in the 1990s, and nobody realizes that. [...] We had a lot of our regulars come to our table and our room parties and tell us their Furcadia names. Some people found Furcadia through the fandom, but a LOT found the fandom through Furcadia too. (online chat)
Discussing the Kickstarter in-game, Felorin was optimistic:
We need more platforms, more features, and most importantly, a way to play directly on the web. [...] I think once we have Facebook support & attachments we'll be fine. [...] Most people don't want to download software and run installers, they just want to hop onto a web page and start playing. [...] While we're building a web version initially, if the codebase gets good enough, we might eventually look at building versions for Mac, iOs, Android, or even do builds for Windows native using the Haxe version. For now, though, we're going to stick with the C/C++ client we already have for Windows, which is pretty high performance, optimized and tested code.
He also highlighted the need for a viable third-party economy:
Indeed, a few already make real money from portrait commissions:
Freelance furc art is my full-time job.
One regular user had mostly positive words for the service:
I joined Furcadia because I'm a furry. It's hard to find good furry communities that aren't heavily yiff-oriented. Furcadia is one of the few.
In fact, Furcadia has a variety of areas and dream standards, from E8+ to Adults Only. The provision of segregated areas for erotic discussion (Furrabian Nights), mature roleplaying (Hawthorn) and socialization (the Acroplis, and the new Olde Town) helps to reduce player friction, while the strong force of 'beekin' volunteers decreases the need for paid staff to address issues.