If you know one thing about indie MMORPG Camelot Unchained, it’s that CEO Mark Jacobs appears to dwell perpetually in internet comment sections amiably sparring with gamers and attracting loyal advocates.
But if you know two things, you also know that the game is late. Really late. The RvR-centric, PvM-free, anti-lockbox, sub-only MMO was supposed to enter beta three years ago, according to its successful 2013 Kickstarter, but studio City State Entertainment suffered admitted setbacks along the way – both hiring difficulties in the company’s Fairfax, Virginia, location and technical hurdles. Much of that has since been rectified; in 2016, the company launched a second studio in Seattle while continuing to hire engineers and spending the better part of a year completely refactoring its character ability code and polishing up its home-grown engine. But here we are in 2018, still mumbling beta when? at Jacobs and his dogged crew.
Well, we’re finally getting an answer to that question and more, along with a significant blast of hope for the future of the game, as CSE has just received a massive cash infusion to speed up development. I spoke to Jacobs at length – he’s infamous for being effusive – about what’s going on with the game and the studio in 2018. Read on for the executive summary!
The whole saga of development for Bless Online has been a lot of false starts and half-launches (the short version is that the game had its publisher pull out and then it was hastily decided to self-publish), so fans still waiting for news and a playable version of the game are probably unpleasantly familiar with being promised that the game is coming very soon. Really, we mean it. The latest post on the game from the development team contains an interview with director Jae-hoon Jeon, who promises that the game is coming to Steam early access as soon as possible. While he fears that the trial and error process might lead to some hurt feelings, the important thing is getting player feedback about the game’s new directions and refinement.
Most of the work for overhauling the game has started with a complete rework of the game’s combat system to make skills feel more impactful, introducing skill combos and adding in the first pass of skill customization mechanics. The goal is to keep individual fights feeling more interesting, and by extension making moment-to-moment and repeated gameplay experiences from becoming boring. Understandable goals, although you’ll have to wait until the game is actually in early access to see how it all plays out.
If you have an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of months ago, Crowfall and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster wrote up a blog post on the cost of making games. The MMO expert followed that up this week with a much, much more detailed presentation that attempts to show hard data to back up his claims.
Koster said that he used industry contacts and other research to assemble data from over 250 games made from 1985 to today that shows the development cost minus the money spent on marketing. He even goes so far as to break down the cost of dollars per developed byte of information, which is where he sees costs for game falling. He said that when you look at it this way, players are getting a “deal” for games these days.
“Lots of people have made the observation that in terms of raw purchasing power, players pay around half of what they used to in the ’80s,” he notes.
Look, if you want to call me a doomsayer or a pessimist or whatever when it comes to Kickstarter and MMOs, you have every reason to do so. I’ve been saying unflattering things about it since back in 2012, at least. But when you back a Kickstarter, the explicit assumption is that what you are backing is an idea. It’s not an actual thing yet. Hopefully it will become an actual thing, but it is not one at the time you back it. And that means that some of the projects you fund will take your money and then never turn into actual games.
All part of the experience. But have you ever actually regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?
In my case, I do genuinely regret a game I helped fund on Kickstarter, although it wasn’t an MMO (Mighty No. 9 had a different set of enormous problems). But sometimes I wonder if people might not just be looking at games like TUG or Embers of Caerus; I can understand someone who funded Shroud of the Avatar or Crowfall and now feels like the game is developing in a very different direction, one that makes the previous funding a source of regret. So what about you? Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO, either because it didn’t happen or for other reasons?
Are you pinning your hope and hype in Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen for future MMO entertainment? Then you’ll definitely not want to miss out on the January newsletter, which will no doubt do much to stoke the fires of excitement.
A bulk of the letter recaps the team’s accomplishments over 2017, saying that it was a “remarkable” year that saw the start of the pre-alpha testing phase, increased exposure due to conventions, livestreams with the developers, and implementation of new technology.
“My favorite would have to be the memory of watching the first players log in to the first session of pre-alpha testing and begin to scatter all over Thronefast,” wrote Creative Director Chris Perkins. “More than anything else, those moments at the beginning of pre-alpha sealed for me the honor and joy of what I get to do each day.”
A new launched today, and it seems fitting for Massively OP’s MJ. Wait, Hyper Universe isn’t just a universe for hyper people? Oh well, she’s going to dive in anyways and check it out. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a first look at…
What: Hyper Universe
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018
Alien, quiet, and weird — that’s the Anarchy Online soundtrack for you in a nutshell. For the first episode of 2018, the ever-contentious Battle Bards are back to quibble about, gush over, and nitpick the score to one of the older sci-fi MMOs on the market today.
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 113: Anarchy Online (or download it) now:
It’s not Hagrid’s dog from Harry Potter and it’s most certainly not the evil corporation from Mass Effect 2
, but SMITE’s Cerebus
brings both the bite and the bark of these entities to the MOBA.
Cerebus, this week’s new playable character, challenges players to control a three-headed dog from hell with a bad temper. Its tail can spit venom, its breath damages everyone in front of it, and Cerebus can even summon up the souls of the damned to damage and pull enemies. He’s probably not the type to do all this and then roll over for a good ol’ fashioned belly rub afterward, however.
SMITE Patch 4.25 adds a few new god skins, including Sweet Tooth Sol and Brimstone Beast Camazotz, and throws in some more Ragnarok event quests. Get a quick overview of the patch below, and check out our in-depth look at the game’s other improvements!
Yes. There is indeed a yeti with a sniper rifle in the header. Let us all pretend that he doesn’t exist and he might not target us for destruction. His attention is no doubt preoccupied by Just Survive’s January 16th update, which begins with a full wipe and hopefully goes uphill from there.
Don’t get your hopes up too much for a major content patch, however, because this update is mostly about “bugs and fair play.” Probably the elimination of the former and the support of the latter. Daybreak announced that it has made significant improvements to the game’s anti-cheat system and fixed a dupe exploit.
“While we were initially hoping to push this update out without requiring a wipe, escalating abuse of the exploits fixed within indicated that it would be best for our players to wipe out the unfair advantage that these abusers had gained through cheating,” said Daybreak.
A content update is on the way “several weeks” from now with a new tier of construction, raid re-balancing, and the upgrade system.
There’s a heartbeat in Age of Conan after all!
Funcom turned its attention to the maintenance moded MMO this week with a small patch, pleasing a community that feared it would never see more additions to the game. Update 5.1 has a few nice quality-of-life improvements, such as XP for melee fatalities and a whole mess o’ pets available to purchase on the gilded vendors.
The studio also confirmed that the Saga of Zath server information will be “coming soon” to players eager for word on this fresh start, limited-duration shard. The saga server is scheduled to launch in early 2018 and will allow players to roll new characters that can earn special rewards by reaching goals before a certain date.
It’s a good thing that Paragon fans have gotten a detailed and straightforward update on the state of the game and its development future straight from the developers. What may be seen as slightly less good is the context of that update. Put simply, patches and development in general are slowing down because the game just doesn’t seem capable of growing. No matter how many changes are made to the game, its playerbase tends to go back to the same exact size.
This is exacerbated somewhat by the success of Fortnite, which has required additional development staff and has generally served as a major success for the company. That isn’t to say anyone is giving up on Paragon having a future; the development team is working on plans for new approaches to bring players into the game and keep them in the game. For the moment, though, the release cadence is going to slow down a fair bit simply because the game isn’t getting any bigger. Here’s hoping that the team finds the growth trick the game is looking for.
Scraps of hope, brief Twitter conversations
, and small hotfixes: These are the things that the Secret World Legends
community are hanging onto these days as they await any word from Funcom on the larger content offerings that were promised for this winter.
A couple of small patches have recently hit the game to keep that hope alive. The January 17th update patched in functionality that will allow Funcom to run more “systems events.” The studio pointed to the upcoming double anima shard weekend as an example of such an event.
And for those that ended up with a load of unused malevolent snowflakes in their inventory after the winter event, the patch on January 9th allowed them to turn those in for currency.
You didn’t think Star Trek Online
was just busting out a few giveaways for its eight-year anniversary celebration, did you? Because it’s not. The game is dropping a whole lot of events on players to celebrate the occasion starting on January 23rd and running through February 22nd. The grand reward for the whole shebang is the new Bajoran Interceptor
, a Tier 6 ship well-suited to rapid turns and assault maneuvers with an experimental weapon and a specialized console to improve rapid kills.
Players can earn a chunk of the tokens required for this new ship by clearing the new featured episode ending the Tzenkethi conflict, as well as by taking part in the familiar Omega Particle stabilization minigame. You can also hunt for miniature versions of Q throughout Starfleet Academy and the Klingon academy, and these activities also have new fireworks and emotes you can unlock along the way. Check out a retrospective video by the developers just past the break, and get ready to fly your new ship with the blessing of the Prophets.