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]

H1Z1 will offer optional ‘monthly passes’ for battle royale

Daybreak president John Smedley has informally announced via Twitter that the studio’s zombie survival MMO H1Z1 is getting a sub — sort of.

“We’ve decided to offer a monthly pass for BR [battle royale] for $6.99 (699 SC),” he tweeted. “It’s coming in the next few days. We are seeing much higher usage of BR and we’re very excited about it and wanted to offer an alternative to event tickets.”

Smed first floated the idea of a season pass for the battle royale game mode back in February, when he polled his followers for suggested pricing for such a pass. “H1Z1 is not just a game,” he reminded them. “We view it as a platform for other games. Battle royale is just the start.”

The game is in early access alpha on Steam.

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Eternal Crusade kills early game modules to focus on founder’s access

Changes have been afoot over at Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, and new Senior Producer Nathan Richardsson posted a second State of the Crusade post to explain why the team is shifting some of its focus away from previously stated plans.

Richardsson said that the new main goal of the team is “focus and development velocity.” One of the changes that came with this re-prioritizing included the cancellation of the early game access modules, which he said were a “blocker” that diverted team attention and resources away from what truly matters.

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Crowfall promises VR support in exchange for 15,000 backers

Bet you didn’t see this coming. As it ticks down its final Kickstarter campaign week, Crowfall has added a tantalizing stretch goal if the project passes 15,000: The team will add support for virtual reality to the game.

“Thanks to Unity 5’s native support of Oculus (and we’re hoping Vive at some point!) we are excited to say that the possibility is in our grasp,” the team posted this morning. Crowfall’s Kickstarter just recently passed 13,000 backers and has six days to go.

The team also posted a couple of videos showing early Knight animation and the creation of new Duelist art, both of which you can watch after the break.

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Skyforge begins second closed beta on March 24th

If the first week-long test of Skyforge just whetted your appetite, you’ll be able to get a second helping very soon. The game is kicking off its second closed beta test on March 24th; previous participants will be welcomed back and joined by new invitees. Even if you’re picking up where you left off, there’s plenty of new content in the second test to try out, starting with four new classes for you to unlock and use.

Aside from trying out Archer, Necromancer, Kinetic, and Slayer, players will have access to a new open world zone in Naori Island, 8v8 Superiority PvP, two new squad adventures, a new five-person dungeon, and the new CUBE-style instance dubbed Nedder Test Area. There will also be special PvP events taking place during the two weeks of testing. Would-be players who aren’t lucky enough to get into the tests but still want to participate should consider picking up a Founder’s Pack, which provides definite access to this and all future betas.

[Source: CBT2 Announcement]

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Origins of Malu begins early access on March 20th with PvP only

Origins of Malu will be launching its early access program this Friday, March 20th, with a buy-to-play hybrid model. The indie sandbox will initially limit its access to the game’s PvP battleground, although the alpha will expand into MMO territory “approximately a month” later.

The initial release will include five characters and two battleground modes. The team is hoping to have the next update out on April 3rd; it will include additional spells, more character customization, character persistence, achievements, loot, and an inventory system.

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Crowfall hires former CCP exec as new community manager

Crowfall continues to add experienced industry veterans to its team, as ArtCraft announced today that it has hired Valerie Massey to be the new director of community management.

Massey is CCP’s former senior director of public relations and communication and is enthused about the new project. “When it came to MMOs, I felt like the magician’s assistant who has seen the lady get sawed in half too many times. The magic was gone. But when I heard about the concept for Crowfall, I saw something unique on the horizon at last. I had to be a part of it,” she said.

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Landmark is abolishing claim upkeep

Landmark landowners who are weary of mining copper to keep their claims will soon earn a reprieve. While today’s hotfix disables the ability to pay using Station Cash, next week’s patch will remove copper as the upkeep currency. In fact, players will no longer have to pay upkeep at all! Instead, players will maintain their land ownership simply by logging in. The system is simple: Players will have an upkeep timer that will reset every time they log into the game. As long as a player logs in before the timer expires, his or her claims are safe.

How long is this timer? That part’s not quite as simple. Each player has a base timer (seven days for new players, and the personal maximum upkeep pre-pay length for current players) that grows by one day for every two days of logging in. That means that not only does the timer reset each time a player logs in, but it also increases to give a longer buffer.

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Pathfinder Online adding leadership ranks and vaults with version 6

Next week, Pathfinder Online will continue its alpha rollout with the early enrollment version 6 patch. The team posted a features overview yesterday to help highlight the big changes from the rest of the patch notes.

Coming with version 6 are leadership ranks for companies and settlements, shared vaults with permissions lists, milestone feats for each of the four adventuring roles, and more interesting and unpredictable monster attacks.

The team also posted the dates of the next two patches. Early enrollment version 6 will arrive on March 26th, with version 7 coming on April 16th.

[Source: Early enrollment v6 overview]

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Crowfall eyes artifacts and relics as a new stretch goal

With eight days left in its Kickstarter campaign, Crowfall is pushing hard for last-minute stretch goal milestones. In addition to mounts and caravans if the project reaches $1.3M, the team will hand out a pig pack animal if the 14,500 backer mark is reached and add the God’s Reach ruleset and an artifact and relics system to the core module if $1.4M is donated.

A new dev blog attempts to explain why artifacts and relics are a worthy addition to the PvP title. These are items that are lootable in campaigns that can be brought back to a player’s permanent home and installed to bestow special benefits on that character and home world.

You can watch the devs, ahem, crow about having the 20th largest Kickstarter video game campaign of all time as well as cover the new stretch goals after the jump.

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Line of Defense reevaluates F2P plans after shaky free weekend test

Following a tumultuous free play weekend, Line of Defense creator Derek Smart said that the game may or may not go forward with a free-to-play option and will certainly not be doing any similar open weekend tests.

Smart wrote a post-mortem of the weekend in which he addressed complaints and “disingenuous” Steam reviews of the early access test. “What we have seen this weekend by letting everyone in, is precisely the reason that we priced the early access tiers so high back in [September] so that we only attracted the few people who want to help us test and improve on the game,” he wrote.

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Landmark will have just one more character wipe

Ever since players learned Landmark will definitely have another character wipe, we’ve all been very eager to know all the details. Those details are now in: Producer Terry Michaels has posted answers that address the most frequently expressed concerns. For one, this character and claim wipe combination, which will occur on or near April 29, 2015 (after the Qeynos competition concludes), does not herald the start of open beta. And two, although there will be a claim-only wipe before open beta, this is the last character wipe. Michaels emphasized,

We’re taking this opportunity to do the *only* character wipe we intend to do. That’s correct; we no longer believe it will be necessary to do a character wipe when we transition from Closed Beta to Open Beta. We *will* do a claim-only wipe when we transition to Open Beta in the future so that everyone who purchased the Trailblazer pack will have their 2 days head start to stake their claim in the world of Landmark!

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Shroud of the Avatar tops $6 million in crowdfunding

Shroud of the Avatar has amassed over $6 million in crowdfunding along with over 150,000 backers according to the tracker widget on the fantasy title’s website.

In other SotA news, Update of the Avatar #116 features a recap of the dev team’s SXSW appearances, an extensive look at changes to player-owned towns, and a Release 15 postmortem video roundtable featuring Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Tracy Hickman, and more. You can view that after the break

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Sex and horror will mix in Revival

Revival is definitely aiming for a mature rating, as the horror MMO is also hinting that sex will be a part of the game. The team said that it will do a blog post on this topic soon, but on a livestream a dev said that there will be risque armor that will be worn not for combat but for engaging in carnal pleasures.

Currently the team is working on an interactive map of one of the game’s key locations, Crowns Rock. If you can’t wait to see what that will look like, you can at least read through a description of what it might be like to walk through that Lovecraftian village.

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