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]

Shroud of the Avatar talks economy, online vs. offline modes

This weekend's Shroud of the Avatar post is a big one. Update of the Avatar #113 explains how the game's single-player offline mode will function as compared to the online world, with particular emphasis on save games, companions, and spawning rules. Portalarium also says that a few items available for purchase in offline mode (like the castle and keep-sized lots) will not be available online. Finally, there will be no character transfers between the two modes.

SotA tech director Chris Spears also has a lot to say about the game's economy, but you'll need to click the source link below to read it!

[Source: Update #113]

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Make My MMO: February 21, 2015

Welcome back to Make My MMO, a recurring column from Massively-that-was which covers crowdsourced MMOs of both the fully funded and the not-so-much variety. Each week we'll round up the most relevant crowdfunding news stories in case you missed them, and we'll also keep a running tab on active funding drives.

And speaking of that, for the next two weeks we get to write about ourselves in this space, as our Kickstarter is ongoing through March 6th and you lovely backers continue to stick it to the man while humbling us with your support.

Click past the cut for the rest of this week's crowdfunding news. And don't forget to tip us if you see something we missed (especially this week and next as we're still scrambling to get our new house in order!).

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Star Citizen's space mining sounds pretty fun

Here's a novel concept: pounding space rocks into space dust could actually be fun! At least it appears that way in reading the latest Star Citizen design doc, which is focused on mining. "Mining presents players with a variety of challenges requiring skill and intelligence, whereas mindless repetition of a task and idle drudgery are explicitly avoided," explains persistent universe director Tony Zurovec. "There are no aspects of mining that allow a player to simply press a button and wait without concern for a result, or that require players to perform an action repeatedly without some element of thought and/or dexterity coming into play."

Zurovec's lengthy update touches on everything from freelance mining vs. working as an agent to finding an asteroid field and divvying up specialist responsibilities including pilot, scan operator, beam operator, etc.

Then of course there's the selling of space rocks, which sounds like an occupation unto itself when you factor in the transport logistics necessary to sell high, not to mention possible speculation if you opt to purchase storage facilities and wait for the market to trend in your favor.

[Source: SC website; thanks Cardboard!]

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Skyforge preps for NA and EU closed beta

Closed beta testing for Skyforge will be coming soon to North America and Europe, according to a new producer's letter. While Skyforge is already hosting "some CBT activities" in Russia, the science-fiction MMO is working hard on server architecture and localization so that testing can commence in additional regions.

The team has ambitious plans for the upcoming test: "Starting with CBT1, we'll support more players, have more content and features enabled, and will be keeping our test servers up for longer and longer periods of time as CBT progresses. In addition to all the new content you'll come across and adventure in, you'll also get some hands-on time with a few new features in CBT1 including character customization, itemization and upgrades, [and] the marketplace and the greatness system."

Information about founders packs for the game is also forthcoming.

[Source: Producer's letter]

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Pantheon video update shows visual upgrade, new art assets

Visionary Realms posted a new Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen video update this weekend. Creative director Chris Perkins narrates approximately four-and-a-half minutes of footage that shows off visual upgrades that the team have been working on since the first of the year. The video also offers a sneak peek at new in-game art assets.

Finally, project lead Brad McQuaid also posted a new image on Twitter highlighting the visual upgrades. Click past the cut to view the vid!

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EverQuest Next severs ties with Storybricks

Daybreak continues to trim its asset portfolio, as the former SOE studio has cut loose artificial intelligence software company Storybricks from the EverQuest Next project.

"We are not working with Storybricks any more," Senior Producer Terry Michaels said on a livestream chat yesterday. "We made the decision that it was in the best interest of the game to take that work in-house. They did a lot of work for us and we'll be utilizing that. It's not like that work is lost."

The team said that it is "still committed" to making strong AI happen in the game.

[Source: Livestream chat. Thanks to Ranging Berserker for the tip!]

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Betawatch: February 20, 2015

What do you get when you combine the the quirkiness of Glitch or Wakfu with the voxelboxiness of Trove? That'd be SkySaga, the UK sandvox that's finally opening its alpha doors to those of us in North America. Act quickly, though; the offer ends February 26th. What else is new in the land on MMO testing?

Our complete list of MMOs in testing is below.

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Trials of Ascension attempts another Kickstarter campaign

Permadeath, corpse looting, and no mini-map: Will this be tempting enough to get the community on board with donations? Trials of Ascension hopes so, as the fantasy sandbox has launched a new Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising $600,000 for further development. The team says that it already has a product worth backing: "We have a playable prototype on very stable network code along with a solid server infrastructure."

Forged Chaos undoubtedly hopes to overcome its failure from its 2013 Kickstarter campaign. After only pulling in $86,835 out of a $750,000 goal, the studio canceled the campaign and switched to an open donation system.

If all goes well with the campaign, Trials of Ascension is looking at alpha and beta tests in 2016 and a planned 2017 launch.

[Source: Kickstarter, old Kickstarter]

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Shroud of the Avatar's Starr Long on gameplay vs. graphics

Shroud of the Avatar executive producer -- and original Ultima Online director -- Starr Long was interviewed by The Escapist this week. Long discusses his early Origin days, where he worked on everything from the Wing Commander series to a long list of Ultima products.

He also talks about Tabula Rasa, Kickstarter, and of course his newest project as well as his general design philosophy. "If I see a light, I should be able to turn it on and off. If I see a candle, I can blow it out. If there is a door, I should be able to open and close it, to lock it and unlock it. I should be able to take that cup off the table, hold it in my hand, and drink ale out of it," Long explains. "That requires a lot of computing horsepower and a lot of memory, which means you have to take it from somewhere else. The easiest place to take it from is the graphics, but I would always much rather have a high degree of simulation than the best, newest graphics."

[Source: The Escapist]

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Otherland beta test focuses on server stability

Otherland continues its trek back to public consciousness and notability after being dropped by Real-U and picked back up by Drago. Currently, the multi-world MMO is heading into its second closed beta test. This time around the team says that the main focus is on server stability.

"Based on this data, we have made changes to the server in an effort to make them more stable than they were before," the team posted. "[These] changes now will need to be tested to verify that the changes did the job."

Other aims of CBT 2.0 including tweaking DPS balancing, implementing the crafting system, and adding the auction house. The team promises that it will be handing out more beta keys compared to those distributed for the first test.

[Source: Official forums]

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Camelot Unchained teases alpha start, 'major feature'

Yesterday's Camelot Unchained update delivered quite a bit of good news to fans of the fantasy RvR sandbox. City State boss Mark Jacobs revealed the fourth iteration of the pre-alpha test checklist, several items of which have already been addressed, leaving the dev team in a good spot relative to its end-of-the-month alpha goal.

Jacobs says that potential snags may still delay the alpha launch a week or two, but he does promise "one major feature that wasn't expected to be in until this summer" for the kickoff. "It is safe to say that by the time summer comes along, that major feature will be a lot further along than we thought it would be based on our last year's schedule," Jacobs writes.

[Source: Afternoon update. Thanks Amber!]

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The Division is on track for a 2015 release

Getting your next Tom Clancy gaming fix shouldn't be too hard this year. Ubisoft announced this past week that The Division will be coming out in 2015 in addition to Rainbow Six Siege.

Of course, you might not even know much about this open-world online RPG yet, which is understandable. If that's the case, then there's an excellent 12-minute "everything we know" overview video after the break that sums up the progress and features of this post-apocalyptic military title.

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Skyforge's guilds will offer stat bonuses, sub-guilds, and housing

From the sound of Skyforge's first dev diary on pantheons (guilds), it sounds as though joining a group of players will be a near-mandatory move, especially if you want to reap the benefits of cool features like stat bonuses or special missions.

Pantheons will be easy to create but will require effort and resources to grow in its capabilities. One interesting feature is that guild leaders can create several clans to function as sub-guilds that officers oversee in order to share the load of leadership.

Individuals can benefit from being part of a pantheon by receiving character stat bonuses, special missions, and useful items. Pantheons can build up their own bases (strongholds) and participate in wars with other pantheons.

[Source: Welcome to the Pantheon!]

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