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]

Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s beta drop RNG

Never before have I seen Guild Wars 2’s Dry Top and the Silverwastes hive with such activity as we’ve seen this week. In case you’ve been living under a rock since the announcement, the bright sparks at ArenaNet decided to make gaining access to the next round of beta testing a little more interesting by introducing a rare portal item drop from enemies and event chests in both zones that guarantees beta access. The quirky level 80 zones mentioned above aren’t exactly my favourite spots in Tyria (read that with a high-pitched Irish lilt that’s dripping sarcasm, folks!), so high-tailing it through these areas most definitely feels like a grind to me.

In this issue of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to talk about my views on the RNG method of assigning beta spots and a brief synopsis of my portal-hunting strategy. For full disclosure, I’ve put two days into scouring the area so far but have had no luck in looting a portal just yet; there’s nothing you can do to absolutely guarantee that you’ll find a portal, even if your methods are solid. If you’re still searching too, perhaps you’ll find my ramblings useful as you go! Good luck with your search, and happy hunting, everybody!

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Everything you need to know about Crowfall’s combat testing

As nifty as Crowfall‘s mechanical goals are, they’re not going to help the game much in the long run if the fundamental combat engine of the game isn’t fun to play. It’s a game that lives and dies on the strength of its PvP conflicts, after all. So it’s a good thing that the team is thinking hard about making sure the first thing players test is a very stripped-down and intensified form of the combat engine, as outlined in the most recent development article.

Players shouldn’t expect to see all of the archetypes in motion here, nor should they expect to see a finished outline of what archetypes are capable of doing. The idea is to test the core engine and the flow of battle, to make sure that the process of fighting other players (and possibly monsters) is fun and worth doing. Current plans are to start letting players in to test all of this out in the summer, so until then you’ll just have to survey the details about the test closely and get your combat-testing pants on. It’s assumed you have special pants for this.

[Source: Milestone 1: Combat Testing]


Crowfall’s store is (partly) up and running

You have not played enough of Crowfall to form an opinion on how it plays. You haven’t. It isn’t playable yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start buying in-game goodies to have when you finally can play the game, right? Yes, the game’s store is live on the official website, with plenty of options for future players to drop some cash and get cosmetic stuff whenever the game can actually be played.

Before you start rioting in protest, it’s important to note that the store is more “present” than “omnipresent” at this point; there are several categories simply marked as “coming soon” with no entries listed, and the only part that’s really working according to design at a glance are the bundles. Whether or not the ability to buy things sight unseen for the game is a good way of supporting its further development or a naked pre-emptive cash grab is left as an exercise for the reader.

[Source: Crowfall store]


Landmark’s big wipe is happening today

After riding a roller coaster of delays the last couple of weeks, Landmark fans can finally hop off with this bit of good news: The mega wipe is on for today! Originally scheduled for April 29th, this full-character and claim wipe was bumped to May 5th, and then postponed again until May 11th. But after clearing the necessary testing hurdles, Daybreak has announced that things are back on the second schedule’s track; servers are going down today at 1:00 p.m. EDT today. If you want to say goodbye to all your creations, now is your only chance. The game is expected to remain offline for at least 48 hours and possibly up to 72 hours to implement all the changes, which include new landmasses, new biomes, and changes to the crafting, achievement, and harvesting systems.

[Source: Wipe announcement]


Pantheon boasts Unity 5 visuals, prepares internal alpha test

Could it be that Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is starting to look… really pretty? A new in-game screenshot of Avendyr’s Pass shows how far Pantheon’s visuals have progressed, thanks to the upgrade to the Unity 5 engine and the addition of Art Director J.P. Targete to the team.

In addition to discussing the game engine upgrade, Pantheon’s May dev update talks about preparations for the game’s first alpha test. The team is making “great progress” toward Alpha 1, which will contain a level 1 through 10 experience with five classes.

If you were hoping to be in on this test, the team has some bad news for you: “Alpha 1 is not a public build of the game — it will be internal only. The goal of Alpha 1 is to create a robust testing ground where all of our foundational systems and mechanics are present and testable in the context of actual gameplay. […] Alpha 1 is the proving ground and primer for Alpha 2, when we will most likely open the doors to the first round of players to experience the game.”

[Source: May 2015 Update. Thanks to Kinya and Reht.]


Shroud of the Avatar adds first player-run town in release 17

Release 17 for Shroud of the Avatar has landed, bringing with it one of the most revolutionary additions to the game yet: paver decorations for decks and patios! OK, maybe “revolutionary” is a strong word for it, but for those looking to create a stunning backyard, it can’t but help the effort.

The new patch came out last week and contains far more than paving stones. Release 17 added in the game’s first player-owned town, eight improved adventure scenes, additional crafting events, the Summon Phoenix skill, player titles, and more. Players who take the Release 17 tour can earn themselves an exclusive (to this release) fez hat.

[Source: Update of the Avatar]


Win an Echo of Soul closed beta pack from Massively OP [All gone!]

Free-to-play Korean action-MMO Echo of Soul lands in North American closed beta today. If you’re eager to play, then you might just get a chance today, as publisher Aeria Games has granted Massively Overpowered 10 closed beta keys and “dungeon legend” founder packs to give away to you.

The first 10 folks to clicky the key distro button below will score a key. Read on for a key and full instructions, and good luck!

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SkySaga opens up the desert for Alpha 4

A new biome is coming to SkySaga with its fourth alpha test: the desert. Of course, this being SkySaga and all, the desert promises to be a pretty cute and adorable place to visit, apparently drawing inspiration from the American southwest.

The team’s been dropping hints about what kind of flora and fauna players will encounter in the desert, including an “odd-looking” cave critter. In addition to the desert, windows will be coming with this update to allow for even more varied structures. Alpha 4 is scheduled to go live “really soon,” and you can get an advance glimpse at it in the trailer after the break.

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Brunelleschi is the staging ground for a ‘Mythic Renaissance’ civilization

Set in a “mythic Renaissance” that blends together history and fantasy, Brunelleschi: Age of Architects is an ambitious social builder that aims to give players tools to build an entire civilization from scratch.

The new title, which is currently shooting for approval on Steam Greenlight, not only contains player cities, but a wide variety of economic, social, and political activities. Players can construct cities, raise armies for war, generate fortunes from trade routes, engage in the free market, establish governments, choose a religion, and aim for one of the five Lordship positions to rule the game.

We’ve got a couple of trailers for you to evaluate after the break, so let us know if you think this type of game will work!

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Make My MMO: May 2, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Pathfinder Online made some noise about the future of its settlements feature. Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey also made headlines by imploring Pathfinder fans to recruit new blood from the larger MMO community.

In other news, Star Citizen summed up its April progress with a lengthy studio report and dropped a couple of interesting persistent world info nuggets in the process. You can read the rest of this week’s crowdfunding news roundup after the break.

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Star Citizen’s April report contains some interesting persistent universe nuggets

Star Citizen fans, I hope you have a cup of coffee or some other caffeinated beverage, because it’s time for the space sim sandbox’s April monthly report. As per usual, Cloud Imperium studios from around the world have checked in to report on their progress over the past 30 days, and it makes for an interesting, if lengthy, read.

CIG Austin’s persistent universe design team teases their work on the upcoming social module. “Where does a player start when he/she logs in? What do they experience as they participate in various activities around a landing zone? What happens when they interact with REDACTED??? All very important questions that ultimately helped shape the design for shopping, storage, NPC setup, and more. We’ll continue to break these down even further as we progress into next month,” the team explains.

There are also a couple of interesting blurbs about Star Citizen’s occupations, including the Pioneer, the Mercenary/Escort, and the Bounty Hunter.

[Source: April report; thanks John and all our tipsters!]


Betawatch: May 1st, 2015

So why isn’t Pathfinder Online attracting more players? Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey apparently feels that it’s a matter of the game’s fans not stumping for the game aggressively enough in places that aren’t focused around discussing the game. We should also mention that the game is rolling out plans for the next iteration of settlements, but that feels like he’s getting what he wants.

Other news from around the betaverse:

You want more? Well, why don’t you just jump on past the break to a huge long list of games in testing that we keep past the break every week. We’re predictable like that.

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Skyforge’s PvP promotes skill over gear

One of the Holy Grails of PvP in MMOs is to emphasize player skill over all else, including gear. It’s a difficult route to take, but Skyforge looks to be attempting just this in order to stand out in the industry.

“Due to the fast-paced action-based combat in Skyforge, PvP basically requires fast reflexes and quick thinking in order to succeed,” one Skyforge PvP guide remarks. “Players will have the opportunity to PvP in ways they cannot in other MMO’s because gear will not be unanimously required in order to perform well.”

The guide lists several other unique features of Skyforge’s PvP, including wide class customization, a myriad of game modes, and the opportunity to progress solely and fully through the PvP game if so desired.



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