Alphas & Betas Category

MMOs in various stages of testing and crowdfunding, playable and… not. Don’t forget to follow our Betawatch and Make My MMO columns for a weekly rundown. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Gigantic has plans for bot matches, accessibility, and Windows 7 support

Motiga Community Manager Evan Teicheira has a new state of the game post up for Gigantic today -- a most welcome one as the game laid off another 15 employees earlier this month to "reduce burn rate."

"One of the most important revelations we’ve had during the beta is that Gigantic is complicated – not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that makes it difficult for new players to pick up the game and get over the steep learning curve of the game," he acknowledges. "There are a lot of intricate mechanics that differentiate Gigantic from other games, and only make sense when players understand how each mechanic plays into the much larger picture. For a brand new player, Gigantic can feel like a hectic, fast-paced, visually overwhelming, and ultimately confusing experience. Even for veteran players, it can also be difficult to test new heroes on the live battlefield."

Consequently, Motiga is working on bot matches, balancing accessibility with challenge, Tripp tweaks, chat and voice implementation, an achievements system, new heroes, new battlegrounds and -- drumroll -- the move to Arc, which should allow players on Windows 7 and beyond the chance to play the game.

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Dark and Light soldiers on past delays with new game previews

In the brief time since its Chinese branch announced another delay, Snail Games has put out a pair of previews for its upcoming reboot of Dark and Light.

"Many of Dark and Light's creatures exhibit the features of their environment, both in appearance and ability," says the studio on Facebook in showing off what look to be some nasty spiked sabercats. "You'll need to prepare proper elemental defenses against them if you go exploring in any extreme climate zones. Because they're already acclimated to their environment, taming such creatures will give you an invaluable companion when exploring these regions."

The second piece is an ultra-brief gif of players racing into battle horseback.

A week ago, the game's Chinese website apologized to players for "again" making the decision to extend development, thereby delaying beta until summer. It was originally intended to launch in the fall of last year, as we chronicled last week.

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Kickstarted survival sandbox Planet Nomads hits early access on April 18

Planet Nomads is one of those gorgeous sci-fi multiplayer survival sandboxes that's been kicking around on our Make My MMO list for so long that I'd almost forgotten about it. Not anymore!

"After the 2+ years of caring, cuddling and upbringing, Planet Nomads has finally grown up tall enough to get out there and fight for its future," studio Craneballs (best name ever) says, as the actual "survival" update has this week arrived in the game's alpha, and the early access is now slated for April 18th.

The game originally pulled in $140,000 in Kickstarter funding in early 2016 -- no mean feat the past few years. Another game for our new survival sandbox column, eh?

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Dauntless recruits bold and beautiful warriors for its alpha program

Will you be among the first members of the public to pick up your oversized weapon and go monster hunting in Phoenix Labs' co-op RPG Dauntless? You might have a chance if you sign up for the alpha, which you can go ahead and do right now.

As the game eyes a 2017 release, there's a lot of testing that needs to be done between now and then. First up are a series of invite-only alpha tests (covered by an NDA) that will take place over the next few months. These tests should begin in late April. After that will come the open beta "later this year" that will allow players to stream and discuss the title.

"Much like the floating islands of the Shattered Isles, Dauntless will shift, grow, and evolve over time," the studio said in a press statement. "We will be rolling out our closed, invite-only alpha tests over the coming months to help us deliver the best experience possible to players later this year. As a prospective slayer, this is your chance to play Dauntless early and contribute to its development. We can’t wait to jump into the thick of battle and take down behemoths with you!"

Dauntless received Massively OP's PAX East 2017 award for "Best Multiplayer RPG."

Source: Alpha sign-up page, press release

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Star Citizen's Around the Verse on the benefits of the 'mega map'

Try saying "mega map" 10 times fast! This week's Around the Verse does indeed cover the heck out of Star Citizen's mega map. Lead Gameplay Programmer Rob Johnson says that the intent of the mega map is to eliminate -- or at least reduce -- the annoyance of loading screens.

"We load the Mega Map as we would a standard map. The Mega Map itself is empty, but once the Mega Map is loaded, we actually start to fill the Mega Map with content of various game modes, fire, and object containers. So, we would load the Mega Map, which is empty; load the front end, which is a set of object containers; [and] load the front-end game rules, which tells the game how to work in that game mode. The user would then pick a new game mode to play. At that point we throw away all the object containers. We throw away the game mode, [then] load in the Free Fly game mode and the Dying Star object containers, but we do that via streaming rather than a complete level load, so we are able to shave the vast majority of the load time down to a few seconds rather than long enough to warrant a load screen."

ATV also catches up with the LA studio's work on ship production, multifunction displays, the room system, and the "entity owner manager" -- critical for the persistent experience. Listen up below.

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Meet City of Titans' six heroic archetypes

Thanks to some website spring cleaning, City of Titans made a previously hidden article visible to the masses. This particular page outlines the upcoming superhero MMO's six archetypes, their mottos, and the general playstyle that each will offer.

City of Heroes veterans may be familiar with some of the archetypes here, although some offer slightly different twists. There is the Stalwart, a tank that can take large amounts of damage; the Enforcer, a melee DPS type; the Guardian, a tough paladin-like role; the Ranger, which deals out damage from a long way off; the Commander, which fiddles with crowd control and enemy manipulation; and the Operator, a pet-controlling mastermind.

Each archetype then branches out into three subtypes, such as the Centurion, the Warden, or the Ringleader. Simple math tells us that City of Titans is aiming for at least 18 different classes in its final product.

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Crowfall reflects on its 'unrelenting series of updates'

It's a little hard to believe, but we've now been watching Crowfall develop since late 2014, going from a teaser announcement through a successful Kickstarter and arriving at the current pre-alpha testing. For this week's founder's update, the dev team decided that it deserved a moment to reflect upon all of its accomplishments and progress to date.

The team pointed to an interactive timeline chart from German fan site Crowfall Community that marked all of the major (and minor) milestones of the project from 2014 through 2017. It's a pretty handy resource if you want to get a big-picture view of the game's progress.

ArtCraft provided a pep talk, free of charge: "Obviously, this chart shows how much we have accomplished, and that’s great to see! … but it also shows something MUCH more important: It shows a cadence, an unrelenting series of updates that make the game a little better every month [...] If that cadence proves anything, it’s that these challenges will also be tackled in due time. This game will emerge, and when it does, it’s going to be awesome."

Source: Crowfall

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Chronicles of Elyria clarifies server and domain selection process moving forward

The staff behind Chronicles of Elyria has been on a whirlwind tour of events, and you can read all about it in the most recent dispatch from the team. You can also learn a lot about booth layout, if that's something that you find fascinating. And you can also find out the latest plans regarding the game's server and kingdom selection, which starts with the fact that players are still going to be jockeying for space as predicted. Players will be selecting servers first, then selecting kingdoms in order of influence.

This is, of course, part of the problem, as the game's plans do not wind up including enough land for all of the people who paid to have kingdoms in the first place.

It's worth noting that servers are selected in order of seniority, not influence, so things become a bit muddier, and it's quite possible for you to have a later pick of server and an earlier pick of land within that server due to backing late but having a lot of influence. Players can also convert to a lesser package and receive an advance pick of their chosen duchy, although those picks will also be in order of influence. Check out the full rundown and the details on the upcoming Q&A session in the official entry.

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The Survivalist: Massively OP's guide to multiplayer survival sandboxes

Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.

I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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The Exiled launches Season 2 with a trial extension and a big patch

The second season of The Exiled is arriving, and while that sounds like the preamble to some critically acclaimed drama series starting up again, it's actually a major update for a video game. The Exiled has been in early access for about a month now, and so the second season is arriving to the game with some big shifts, including a new party system for players to group up together and support for the new role of healer. Now you won't just stub your toe and then wait to die!

The 1.1 patch also adds in the diplomacy system, several balance adjustments, and many quality-of-life improvements. New players can now get a free seven-day trial just for downloading the game from Steam, while returning players get two days of free trial status for jumping back in. If you're curious about the game's progress in early access, it seems like the right time to check.

Source: Fairytale Distillery press release, patch notes

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Conan Exiles' big patch today includes wipes and 'Exploit Hunters' program

Conan Exiles' update 22 has arrived this morning, and as teased exhaustively over the last few weeks, it's a biggun, with the ruins system to clean up unused buildings, the new dye system for making your armor purty, new weapons, thrall crafting animations, and a slew of bug and exploit fixes.

But the more pressing news is that with this patch, Funcom will wipe all buildings and inventories on official servers (not private servers unless they choose to join in) as a result of the recent wave of exploits. Player levels remain intact.

Intriguingly, Funcom is also introducing "Exploit Hunters," a clever program designed to reward players who uncover and report exploits to the studio.

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Rumor: Destiny 2 leak hints at September 8 launch

Reddit is buzzing this morning over posters uploaded across the internet that if legit -- and they do look legit -- seem to reveal a September 8th release date for Bungie's Destiny 2.

That revelation comports with Activision-Blizzard's last investor call in February, during which the companies said the game was on track for a fall 2017 rollout and would be catering to a "casual first-person experience."

The posters also suggest a June beta. Is everyone excited about watching the world chase this game and hearing people fight over whether it's an MMO? No? Yeah.

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Ship of Heroes touts Unreal Engine 4 progress ahead of Kickstarter bid

Since our community has City of Heroes on the brain of late, let's recall that there are no less than five games inspired by the late superhero MMORPG on the way, each in a different state of development. One of the newest entries on that list is Ship of Heroes, possibly the most similar to the classic game, except for that whole "oh yeah and the city's on a spaceship" twist.

This morning, Ship of Heroes' Heroic Games posted a press release talking up its Unreal Engine 4 progress.

"Epic Games is excited that Ship of Heroes is being built using Unreal Engine 4," an Epic rep is quoted as saying. "Ship of Heroes is developing quickly and we look forward to having another MMO in the market based on our technology, and the community of artists and coders that utilize it."

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