Path of Exile is about to get a turbo boost to its performance

Graphical slowdowns due to excessive particle effects look to be on the way out for Path of Exile, as the team is planning some pretty major optimization changes for its upcoming 2.4.0 patch.

The long and the short of it is that, depending on your CPU, these adjustments could result in up to four-and-a-half times faster performance when the screen starts lighting up with all sorts of spell effects, explosions, and corpse gibbeting. The team pointed out that as this only affects the CPU, it won’t make any difference for computers with problematic graphics cards.

“As you can see, without engine multithreading, this has resulted in a 1.9X speedup, and with engine multithreading on we are seeing a 1.5X speedup,” the team posted. “Both optimisations together give a significant 4.5X speedup in this scene compared to 2.3.0.”


Shroud of the Avatar is working on new city templates, lot raffling system

Shroud of the Avatar’s latest newsletter celebrates the additional $200,000 in crowdfunding raised during the latest telethon and recaps the launch of the 33rd release patch, which introduced new areas, the newbie experience revamp, NPC AI tweaks, emotes, and fresh random encounters. Among the newest player-owned town templates headed to the game are the Swamp Islands, which I can’t laugh at because my guild was infamous for having built a city in another game in the middle of a swamp.

“These new templates are lowland islands covered in swampy terrain. We offer two versions, a normal version and one that has an Obsidian Style spiked wall surrounding the large island. While this is based on the original Island template, the terrain has been lowered to better represent a swampy area. This also has the nice byproduct of creating much more flat space for building placement! In fact, this template is only rivaled by the Grassland templates and Inland Forest (a modified Grassland) in available space for building.”

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Twin Saga finishes its stress test and turns servers off before open beta

We hope you got everything you wanted done during the Twin Saga stress test, because it’s done with now. The servers are coming down, characters are going to be wiped, and everything that was on the servers will be lost, like tears in rain. And, hey, it accomplished its primary goals, as the team behind the game has a clear picture of where the servers are weakest and will need to be reinforced.

So when does the open beta start? There’s no firm word yet beyond “soon,” although fans are encouraged to keep their eyes open for an announcement about just that. For now, just fill your mind with happy memories and get ready for when the open testing arrives.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Brandon for the tip!


EVE Online covers the upcoming Command Burst mechanics

There’s more to winning fights in EVE Online than just showing up with the biggest guns. Well-deployed guns make a big difference, as does coordination, as do logistics, and so on. Theoretically, support ships should be in the same category, but a new development post explains that support and the Warfare Link system wasn’t providing enough of an impact and enough interesting play. Thus, the team is cycling in the new Command Burst system, allowing players to receive buffs and improvements from boosting ships.

Command Bursts are new high-slot modules that can fit on ships which currently fit Warfare Links, replacing the old system altogether. Ammo will be required but should be easily made and available for players to use and swap as necessary. Once used, a Command Burst itself will function like a smart bomb, but rather than damaging enemy ships, it provides a wide-area buff to all allied ships. Check out a visual preview below and read up on the official site for a first look at the relevant numbers.

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Atlas Reactor introduces players to Orion, the Empyrean

Most of the characters in Atlas Reactor follow predictable mechanics to generate and use Energy in battle. The game’s newest character, Orion, does not follow those usual mechanics. Orion doesn’t naturally generate energy, but instead builds energy upon taking damage, which in turn empowers most of his abilities or can be spent on his ultimate ability. He’s a support character, but he’s more focused around an unusual style of support involving shared damage.

Orion can place a damage redirection on an ally that sends most of the damage taken by that ally to Orion while simultaneously shielding Orion from damage. He can also place a bomb on allies that will explode when the ally takes damage and use a healing ability, with his basic attack calling down damage in a wider area as he builds up his energy. His ultimate, meanwhile, will do damage in a wide area and heal Orion while also removing all of his energy. It’s a bit of a deviation from usual support characters, but it you prefer someone with a more elaborate set of mechanics, check Orion out when he goes live tomorrow.


Guardians of Ember hack’n’slash MMO launches early access next month

You might remember InselGames as the studio that tried to bring back L.A.W. as Trinium Wars, which didn’t go well in the west and in fact sunsets this week. But now the company is touting a new MMORPG, Guardians of Ember, due out at the end of September for NA and EU fans – or at east those willing to shell out $19.99 to $49.99 for Steam early access.

InselGames is calling it a “unique combination of Hack’n’Slash and traditional MMORPG” with a dual class system, four races, randomized dungeons with difficulty settings, crafting and enchanting, housing, endgame missions, and several PvP gameplay types. It actually has an Indiegogo campaign running now to crowdfund the German localization:

Guardians of Ember is a hack’n’slash game like grandmother’s apple pie: You are missing it and you love it when it’s on your plate! As a small publisher we initally decided to launch the new game from the developers of Runes of Magic and Dragon’s Prophet in English only. But with your help we can start with the German localization right away.”

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That World of Warships Steven Seagal thing is getting weirder

Remember last week when we wrote about how Wargaming has picked up actor Steven Seagal as its spokesman — I’m sorry, “personal Heroic Battle Advisor” — for World of Warships? And you guys were all like, wait, what? It gets better!

Wargaming has put together a video of Seagal visiting the studio. Naturally, they ask him whether he liked his playthrough of the game. “I think I did OK for a first-timer,” he says. “I’m enjoying it anyway.” When asked about his favorite battleship, he replies, “I would have to like The Missouri because I was on the Missouri.” He means in Under Siege, the movie.

And then they make him sign and play a ukulele. Hey, whatever pays the rent, right?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s next major patch preview arrives

The anniversary has arrived, and to no one’s great surprise, we started hearing about the next big Final Fantasy XIV patch. The fact that said patch is going to be releasing in a month did serve as quite a surprise, though. There were lots of surprises contained therein, even. I didn’t expect hard modes for our Ishgardian dungeons until the next expansions, for example.

I also had honestly not expected we’d see patch 3.4 until October to coincide with Fanfest, although I imagine that the flipside of this is that 3.45 will likely be closer to the NA Fanfest dates. Or maybe we’ll just learn more about the expansion at fanfest than we had previously expected. There are a lot of possibilities.  Regardless, we know now that we’ll have some time to play around in the post-Dragonsong world in a month, and that in and of itself inspirse speculation.

Along with, you know, the huge amount of content that we’re being promised for the next patch.

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New report says South Korean MMORPG companies are ‘facing a crisis’

The Financial Times blog has a doom-and-gloom report out this week on the gaming market of South Korea, specifically the MMO genre.

“The country’s online game makers have long dominated the global market for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) but have lost their edge as gamers have increasingly embraced playing on their smartphones,” writes author Song Jung-a in a piece suggesting online games studios in the region are “facing a crisis” in part because giants like NCsoft and Nexon shifted attention to mobile — unsuccessfully.

A lack of mobile isn’t the only problem, either; it’s also the focus hardcore MMORPGs Korea is known for. “Analysts say South Korean companies have focused too much on graphics-heavy role-playing online battle games that are now losing their appeal among gamers, overshadowed by simpler, more speedily paced offerings,” Song writes, contrasting the success of U.S.-born Overwatch and League of Legends with NCsoft’s last “big new online title” Blade & Soul in 2012 and Nexon’s MapleStory 2.

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Mighty Quest for Epic Loot gets execution date

The decision has been made and the order passed down from on high: Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is to be executed on October 25th. The game’s upcoming demise is part of Ubisoft cleaning house as it eliminates several online titles, including Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantoms and Might and Magic Duels of The Champions.

“Please be aware that in anticipation of this we will be closing the in-game and web shops,” Ubisoft posted. “Players have 60 days, beginning today, to spend all their remaining Blings before the servers and forums are shut down. Our vibrant and devoted community of players made developing the game a real pleasure and it is to you that all of us here at Ubisoft want to extend our most sincere and heartfelt thanks for all your enthusiasm and support in making the Mighty Quest for Epic Loot such a great experience.”

Mighty Quest for Epic Loot was released in February 2015 and is a tongue-in-cheek title that allowed players to build their own dungeons while heading off to plunder the other created dungeons in the realm. It also has a surprisingly good soundtrack.


First impressions of World of Warcraft: Legion, part one

It was around the time that I was burning my way through drakes that I found myself nodding in appreciation. This was it, I thought. This was the itch that I’d been missing for so long. This was what made World of Warcraft so memorable, and this was when I finally felt like really going back.

Saying that I was apprehensive about World of Warcraft‘s newest expansion would be putting it mildly. Warlords of Draenor was a terrible expansion, and while you can debate whether it was better or worse than its previous worst offering of Cataclysm, at that point the debate is rather academic, isn’t it? Things are not going well if you’re jockeying back and forth for the bottom spot. The expansion was also coming out after another huge content drought, and combine that with endgame issues, balance issues, and just a general sense of age… could Legion actually ever be good?

I can’t say with certainty that it’ll be great all of the way through. But I can definitely say that what I’ve seen so far holds up well, even without any drakes, because it traffics on that sense of the great big new that makes the game such a joy.

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Chronicles of Elyria team uses tabletop game theory to design its MMO

How does one create a brand-new MMORPG from scratch? One method is apparently using “paper prototypes,” or using the format of a tabletop RPG to test out various systems in a much more controlled environment.

Lead Designer Jeromy Walsh wrote a new post in which he explains how the team is using such a technique in building Chronicles of Elyria: “In case it isn’t clear thus far, paper prototypes are a way of describing complex designs with the simplicity of a table-top game. The algorithms have to be easier to describe and understand, and RNGs become a function of dice rolls. Please note, that doesn’t mean we’re actually creating a full pen and paper role-playing game of CoE, nor a table-top board/card game. Paper prototypes are simply a way to test and experiment with mechanics as early as possible in a game-like fashion.”

To help keep fans up at night, wetting their beds in terror, he also released concept art for one of the unholy creations that the team has dreamed up in its labs: the Pteroguin. Yes, it’s half-penguin, half-pterodactyl, and all out to eat your juicy eyeballs (or so we assume).

Source: Kickstarter


Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 3.4 arrives on September 27th

The third anniversary of Final Fantasy XIV‘s relaunch hit over the weekend, and the game’s development team took the opportunity to celebrate… by talking about what’s coming next for the game, of course. Patch 3.4 is currently scheduled to land on the live servers on September 27th, continuing the main scenario storyline with the Warriors of Darkness after the events of patch 3.3. And, of course, there are new dungeons, new game mechanics, and new items to go along with all of that.

Players will explore both the Ixal homeland of Xelphatol and the Hard mode of the Great Gubal Library, delve into the final section of Alexander, and explore more of the lore surrounding the Scholisticate and Hildibrand questlines. There are also new mechanics on the way, like the Squadron system for Grand Companies, the new apartment-style housing, and new Allagan tomestones. Check out the quick summary for an overview of what’s coming in September.


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