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 studio Motiga suffers another round of layoffs

Motiga has announced another round of layoffs for the staff working on MOBA Gigantic. “Our financial situation is such that we are unable to continue supporting the entirety of the studio at this time,” Chris Chung writes, explaining that the layoffs are both temporary and significant. As for the game itself,

“While we intend to continue supporting Gigantic game services for as long as we are able, the reality is that a decision of this magnitude will impact all departments across the studio, an impact that will be felt by our community of beta testers as the services they depend on will operate without the key staff on hand to support those services.”

Chung says that negotiations with investors are continuing “aggressively,” with the aim to rehire employees furloughed.

The studio laid off 16 people in early December, saying that it felt it needed to delay the game into 2016 and lay off employees in order to stretch its development budget.

We extend our sympathies to those affected.

Source: Official site. With thanks to Marnick.

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Nerd Kingdom is ‘strongly considering’ making TUG free in some form

As TUG engages in the process of transferring over to a new engine, Nerd Kingdom continues to discuss what it’s thinking in regard to the game’s future monetization model. The long and the short of it? The studio is “strongly considering giving TUG away for free” but doesn’t have specifics about what that will entail.

According to a new Kickstarter update, the studio says that making money off TUG will focus more on “aesthetic, not gated content.” Fortunately, this isn’t a decision that needs to be made right away; the studio has over a year to come up with the best business model for the game.

Speaking of making money, the studio considers it quite important that talented modders have a way to earn cash from doing their thing. By empowering modders, the studio hopes to encourage them to enrich and grow the game in amazing ways. “Quality control is first priority,” Nerd Kingdom wrote. “Not everyone can just monetize (Skyrim fiasco).”

Source: Kickstarter

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Pumpkin Online downgrades from MMO status, aims for beta by winter

Let’s do a catch-up post on the development of the non-combat dating sim Pumpkin Online, shall we? Back in October 2015, the team decided that it needed to switch graphics engines, going from the Hero Engine to Unreal 4. This move was coupled with the decision to downgrade the game from an MMORPG to a multiplayer title spread over several small (or even single-player) server populations.

In November, the team was hard at work on the fishing system and the multiplayer chat system. By December, however, the team was feeling as though it was falling behind on its planned two-year development schedule but said that it would work hard to get a playable beta by the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017. Meanwhile, the sleeping and mailbox systems have been added to the game.

More good news came with the most recent newsletter: “We’ve officially started world building with adding buildings. The first village we have all the buildings for so far is Spoonie Island. They are not textured yet, but we will be placing the buildings in town to get a feel for how we may want it to look.”

You can check out some of Pumpkin Online’s progress in a new alpha video after the jump!

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The Division’s open beta confirmed for February 19

Last week’s rumors of The Division’s open beta have proven true, as Ubisoft has finally confirmed.

“Whether you’re a veteran of the closed beta or this is your first time stepping into an Agent’s shoes, you’ll be able to jump into the open beta from February 19-21 on PS4, PC and Xbox One,” says the studio. “Also, Xbox One players can get started a day early with exclusive 24-hour early access beginning on February 18, but players on all platforms can preload the beta starting February 16.”

The open beta will include a new story mission and grant all participants an in-game reward come launch day.

Ubisoft says it’s “resolved most of the PC cheating issues” that plagued the closed beta. “All of them will be resolved by launch on March 8.”

Source: Official site. Thanks, Adam and Dmitri.

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Star Citizen’s 10 for the Devs on the shooters that influence its combat

Star Citizen Animation Director Steve Bender and Technical Director Sean Tracy helm the game’s latest Ten for the Developers video, in which they spend air time discussing questions on animations (yes, major injuries will be reflected in animations), announcing that they are working on character weight sliders, and confirming that humans won’t be able to just rip alien armor off bodies and slap it on without some effort.

Perhaps the most interesting question is about movement, taking cover, and analogues to FPS combat. “There’s a distinct connection within Star Citizen that doesn’t exist in majority of first person shooters, where the third person and the first person assets are the same assets. That took a lot of, sort of, engineering figuring this out,” Bender explains. “Star Citizen, from a feeling standpoint, is going to be a little bit different than a lot of the games that you’ve typically played. It’s not really a Call of Duty, but then again it’s not a Battlefield 4, but then it’s not an ARMA 3, but then it’s not a Crysis 3. […] We’re taking sort of pieces of each of those, building something something new, and utilize what I like to call competitive analysis.”

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Take a look at the endgame setup in Bless Online’s current beta

The level cap is going to be where you spend the lion’s share of your time in any online game just by the nature of the games; there’s no real way around that. So what does the endgame currently look like in Bless Online? Steparu has taken on the role of intrepid explorer and compiled a look at the game’s current PvE endgame dungeons as well as what the max-level PvP looks like.

In the former case, the game currently doesn’t have any sort of group finder in place, so successful completion depends not just upon knowing the mechanics but also upon knowing the culture of loot distribution. All bosses drop crafting materials rather than gear, which means many runs are necessary to actually craft something. Meanwhile, the 100 v. 100 PvP battlegrounds seem to be very lag-heavy for little reward, but the game’s open PvP earned Steparu’s praise and enjoyment. Check out some of the (many) videos on this content just below.

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Reserve your Black Desert character names today ahead of beta 2

Black Desert’s name reservation period opens this afternoon at 1 p.m. EST as promised. Pre-order players can swing over to the name reservation website this afternoon, log in, and claim Legolas999 to their hearts’ content. Hooray!

Explorer’s and Conqueror’s package owners are further invited to the second beta test that begins next week.

Daum Games has collected feedback from the community during the first Beta test in December and has made several improvements to the game. Players jumping into the second Closed Beta next week will be able to observe the following changes and features:

  • Revamped Karma system, which balances player kills and death penalties
  • Addition of voiceovers
  • French and German localization
  • Addition of tutorial videos
  • Adjustments to experience gain
  • Maximum player level of 55
  • Improved user interface

The game officially launches here in the west on March 3rd.

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Indie MMORPG Sacrament releases landscape flyover video

Remember Sacrament, the ultra-difficult, jack-of-all-trades MMORPG by indie dev Ferocity Unbound Core Studios? In apparent cooperation with the studio, YouTube channel OP Game (no relation to us) has released a flyover teaser video of the game.

“Here is the FIRST EVER VIDEO LOOK AT THE INSIDE OF OUR GAME!!!” Co-Founder and CEO Layenem has written on the game’s official forums. “As we push to build this we want to keep you in the loop. This is a LONG process and we don’t EVER want anyone to feel like we’re not communicating enough (every single day probably won’t happen too often lol). So tell us ways we can keep you involved and make you feel like you’re a part of this overall team!”

The video, which is primarily in-engine landscapes (though there are a few unfinished character models and shadows poking in on occasion), is embedded below.

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Landmark preps March update, demos claim time and camera controls

Daybreak’s Emily “Domino” Taylor has posted an update on Landmark’s status on the official forums. After announcing that a new Landmarks of Landmark competition is on the way, she explains that the team has been busy behind the scenes in preparation for a March update that contains bits that were intended for January.

“[W]e have been hard at work for the past few months refining plans and adding new features, aka ‘awesome stuff’, as well as some necessary back-end stuff too that’ll keep those voxels running smoothly. Due to how many changes are happening right now, we have decided to adjust our previous plans and we will NOT doing the smaller update we had hoped to do in January, instead we’re going to roll that up into the next big update so it can all be tested together. We anticipate that next update happening in March (did we mention there’s a lot of new awesome stuff we’re working on?) and it should be a pretty huge one. And as a reminder and heads up, there is at least one and possibly more claim wipes coming in the future, so while you wait for this update is a good time to work on templating things you want to keep – in particular we recommend templating larger builds in modular pieces, just in case claim sizes/shapes change. We look forward to getting the next update out to you so we can hear your thoughts and get your help testing our changes!”

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Shroud of the Avatar previews structures, templates, and regions

The Shores of Malice are currently being designed for Shroud of the Avatar, but they don’t look particularly malicious on a whole. Unless you find evergreen trees and lovely coastal vistas malicious, anyhow. Still, there are dungeons, traps, and the usual assortment of threats to any adventurer’s well-being on the shores; it’s just that the primary focus with the most recent community update is on the look of the place, which is less “doom awaits you” and more “gorgeous landscape photography.”

Players who aren’t as in to coastal regions can also check out a preview of the Entrance to Artifice, a secluded and mysterious location hidden in the crags of the Rumor Peaks. The community update also previews some of the new player town templates and the new greenhouses available for use in the game. The greenhouses, to the best of our knowledge, are not in any way meant to be malicious. Depending on what you grow in them, probably.

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Pocket Guild offers pocket-sized MMORPG action without the first three letters

If you’re fond of MMORPGs and you have an Android device, Pocket Guild is hoping you’ll give it a go. It’s everything you could want in a portable massively multiplayer online game, just without the “massive” part. Or the “multiplayer.” Or “online.” But it’s definitely portable. It’s all of the fun of an MMORPG without all of that MMORPG, in other words.

So, yes, this is meant as more or less a single-player RPG, just with the added layer of abstraction wherein you are supposedly playing an MMO. It is meant to include things like guild drama, farming dungeons, and managing loot distribution within your guild. There’s no release date planned just yet beyond “soon”; you can check out a trailer for the game just below.

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Wild Terra’s official trailer: One character from peasant to pugilist

Pining for an isometric indie sandbox? How about a “massively multiplayer life simulator” like Wild Terra? We’ve been following the game since last fall; while its aesthetics have more in common with Ultima Online than Black Desert, its mechanics cleave to those of modern survival MMOs, with realistic wildlife scripting, town and castle construction, crops, crafting, and dynamic maps.

Over the weekend, developer Juvty Worlds released the game’s official trailer, which depicts a farmgirl as she’s driven gearless from the safety of her homestead by brigands and slowly rebuilds kit and keep, one dead bear at a time.

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The Division on endgame, player looting, and pay-to-win

The Division has plenty of PvE objectives to propel you through a doomed and decaying New York City, but a large part of Ubisoft’s planned endgame consists of PvP inside the walled-off Dark Zone.

Ubisoft’s Magnus Jansen told Mashable that within the walls of the quarantine zone in the middle of Manhattan, players can attack each other, and any loot they grab in the zone is lootable by other players who take them out. “And since calling in a chopper for hazmat extraction alerts everyone in the vicinity, trying to get away with your loot also makes you – and others – a target.”

As to the PvE endgame, he says, “Rest assured, there’s PvE endgame for you, and there’s going to be goals and challenges and things to aspire to for you and your group. Difficult things that you really want to set your sights on and accomplish.”

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