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]

Elite: Dangerous welcomes pilots to close quarters combat

Players have a new way to experience Elite: Dangerous with the advent of the close quarters combat (CQC) mode. The beta test for the new mode began yesterday and includes several new ships and outfitting for CQC.

Close quarters combat is a timed arena mode that pits players in quick firefights in smaller ships against each other for rankings and rewards. Players can utilize the game’s matchmaking service to find opponents quickly. CQC is available on PC, Mac, and Xbox One.

The new CQC ships that came out with the 1.4 beta patch are the Federal Assault Ship, the Federal Gunship, and the Imperial Eagle. There are also a mountain of bug fixes, tweaks, and optimizations going on, so pilots will definitely want to read up on the patch notes and check out the CQC trailer after the break.

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WildStar enters the second phase of free-to-play testing with real money, explains Runecrafting changes

The first stage of testing for WildStar‘s free-to-play conversion has been a success on the whole. Sure, there have been aspects that veterans didn’t like, such as the Sprint changes (which are being altered anyhow, allowing players to turn off the always-sprinting option), but the majority of the changes have been well received. So now it’s time to move on to the second stage, and that means that the game needs you to spend cold hard cash.

The second stage of testing will be removing all automatically granted NCoins and will award the player only NCoins that have actually been purchased. Lest you worry about spending coin on something that’s about to be wiped post-testing, there will be “test” NCoins added to the beta servers while the “real” NCoins remain in your account to spend on other NCsoft games or on WildStar once it finishes its free-to-play conversion. Check out the full rundown for all the goals of the second phase of testing.

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Wild Terra delivers an isometric sandbox medieval world

Looking for an up-and-coming sandbox that isn’t some weird jumble of voxels? Wild Terra would respectfully submit that you check out its isometric medieval world as a possibility.

Survive, craft, build, fight: These are the core pillars of the Wild Terra experience. Juvty Worlds expects that players will shape the game world and build up towns and castles while fighting each other through the open PvP system. There’s also “realistic animal behavior” for those tracking and hunting beasts.

Wild Terra was formerly free for anyone to access, but as of August 25th the team had to rope off the game to paying customers due to the strain on the server. The cheapest early access bundle that will get you into the game goes for €9.99 (just over 11 bucks in US dollars). The devs project a release date for the end of 2015.

You can watch the trailer after the break.

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This is how Crowfall has evolved over the past 16 weeks

Crowfall’s latest video is a 25-minute affair that shows you how the crowdfunded PvP fantasy title has progressed from stacks of Post-It notes, index cards, and little round stickers to a playable virtual world over the past five months.

The piece is titled Combat Strike Team, Milestone 1, and as you might expect, it features an in-depth look at a 16-week development sprint courtesy of design lead Thomas Blair and designer Tully Ackland. See for yourself after the break.

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Camelot Unchained’s newsletter recaps August, looks to DragonCon

Camelot Unchained fans, I hope you have a caffeinated beverage and a lot of free time, because the 13th edition of the game’s newsletter is here and it’s looooong.

It recaps all the development updates for the previous month, as well as the current stealth stretch goal, which CityState says is coming along nicely and which has been well-received by the community. There’s also a state-of-the-build update penned by Brian Green, as well as details about the dev team’s upcoming trek to Atlanta where they will show off the game at this weekend’s DragonCon.

And of course, there’s a whole lot more to the newsletter. Click the link below to read it for yourself.

Source: Newsletter #13; thanks Flying Dutchman!


Crowfall kicks off pre-alpha testing in the Hunger Dome

Yes, the day has come for Crowfall fans when the game stops just being an idea and becomes reality. The first round of pre-alpha testing kicked off last week with three archetypes (the Knight, the Confessor, and the Centaur Legionnaire) fighting against one another in the Hunger Dome. Players are being invited in waves, with both pre-alpha and alpha 1 testers getting invitations to bulk out the testing corps.

There’s no NDA in place for fans, so as the population swells (slightly) you can expect to see and hear more about how the game actually plays. Although the tests are focused on combat mechanics, the test is also making sure that things like logging in and patching are working properly. If you’re a backer at the appropriate levels, keep your eyes on your email for the notice that you can get in and start playing.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMO testing experience you’ve ever had?

I know I’m not alone in feeling beta-fatigue. I hear the same things I feel from you folks in our comments and from our writers too. We’re tired of being asked to pay to perform QA duties for game studios. We’re tired of games rushing to “open beta” soft launches so they can make a quick buck. And maybe above all else, we’re tired of having so much of the game experience spoiled before the “real game” begins.

I didn’t always feel that way, though. When MMORPGs were few and far between, I gobbled up testing experiences, which meant that while I alpha’d classic Anarchy Online (yes, it was that bad) and love to tell the “monsters-that-way sign” story from Horizons, I also got in on the ground-floor with insanely fun betas like Asheron’s Call’s and Star Wars Galaxies’. I even got to test a very early version of World of Warcraft thanks to a dear friend, and I pretty much had to be dragged back out of it because I had such a great time.

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Not So Massively: HOTS’ ranking woes, LoL’s server move problems

League of Legends finished setting up its new North American server in Chicago, reducing ping times for east coast players but dramatically increasing them for those on the west coast, Hawaii, and Alaska. As Heroes of the Storm‘s competitive scene continues to grow, players are unhappy with the new matchmaking system that uses hidden stats and the new rank placement system that is giving inconsistent results. CounterStrike: Global Offensive broke League of Legends‘ record for the most Twitch viewing hours for a game in a single day, and players discovered a strange bug that could explain some of the game’s apparent hit registration problems.

Star Citizen released the first step in its persistent universe with the addition of its social module this week, and laid out its plans to expand the system with a new asteroid mining station social zone and working shop facilities. Diablo IIII released its highly anticipated patch 2.3.0, adding Kanai’s Cube to the game and overhauling crafting and rifts. And Armored Warfare announced its new base-building mechanic that gives each player his own military base that provides various passive bonuses.

Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!

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Atlas Reactor’s alpha signups start today

Trion wasted little time getting its newly announced Atlas Reactor turn-based PvP thing in front of gamers. After revealing the title at PAX last Friday, the company has announced that it is now taking alpha signups. and, oh guess what, the alpha starts today.

Atlas Reactor attempts to meld fast-pace combat with simultaneous turn-based gameplay. How does it come off? You can read Larry’s hands-on impressions from PAX to find out. assuming you’re not already in the alpha!

Source: Trion press release


Gloria Victis is now twice as large

Gloria Victis has updated and now boasts a game world that’s twice as large as before, including new locations to capture and upgrade. The alpha-state fantasy sandbox boasts new NPCs along with new animations and behaviors which “improves the living world illusion,” according to a developer press release.

The blurb also mentions expanded reward offerings for backers, with everyone at the “Count” level or above now receiving a digital art book that chronicles the game’s development. There are also two “exclusive documents” in GV’s store which detail the creation of the world and which come bundled with “Baron” packets or above.

Finally, Gloria Victis will soon implement a new version of its equipment system, with “intensive tests” scheduled to begin soon.

Source: Press release, screen gallery; thanks Stan!



Camelot Unchained’s weekend alpha sounds pretty successful

Did you check out any of Camelot Unchained’s alpha test over the weekend? If not, you missed a solid round of testing, according to today’s news update. Mark Jacobs writes that despite a snag brought about by the game’s cloud-based servers running out of hard drive space, the rest of the weekend test was basically flawless for nearly 60 hours.

“As I’ve said before, and I’m not sorry to repeat myself, our client/server tech is more reliable, for this stage of development, than any other game I have ever worked on,” Jacobs explains. “This is by no means meant to discredit the work I or other teams have done before, because frankly, the Dark Age of Camelot team was great and true, and the game was also remarkably solid, even during beta. However, the difference is that this time we have built our own rendering engine, using a physics system that’s usually client-side on a server, and have client/networking code that can already handle larger-scale battles without it turning into a slideshow (and the battles it can handle are only getting larger!).”

Source: Afternoon update; thanks Flying Dutchman!


Worlds Adrift shows some real emotion

The developers behind Worlds Adrift want the game to have a lot of customization options, but that doesn’t mean much if the characters aren’t animated correctly. That’s the subject of the most recent development blog on the official site, which shows off a variety of different emotions that will be available for player characters in the game.

Some of the facial expressions previewed will be available as manual emotes; others will be simply a result of action throughout the game, like swinging a weapon.  Check out all of the various faces and facial animations on display; it certainly looks like you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get emotional.

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


In ARK: Survival Evolved, a poo-slinging monkey is your best friend

While taming dinosaurs to do your bidding is a feature attraction of ARK: Survival Evolved, there are certainly many other types of animals willing to partner up with ambitious humans. One of these is the Mesopithecus, a small monkey that can be a big help.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: The monkey can and will fling poo at your enemies (hey, better them than you, right?). But it also wears a cute hat, harvests plants, and can be flung over walls to unlock doors from the inside, so concerns over hygiene might be forgiven.

You can check out the Mesopithecus in its short spotlight video after the break.

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