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Improbable’s plan for rescuing the MMO genre from ‘nuclear winter’ involves a crapton of money

Improbable keeps popping up in news stories relating to MMOs lately — that’s thanks to SpatialOS, what the company is calling a “distributed computing platform for building large virtual worlds for gaming.” The platform is now in use on MMOs from Identity and Worlds Adrift to Chronicles of Elyria and Metaworld; its most recent partnership was announced last week with RuneScape studio Jagex, and it’s already working with Google to bring the tech to “hundreds” of developers.

GI.biz has a great interview out with Improbable CEO Herman Narula today that illuminates what the team worth over a billion bucks (an extrapolation based on the fact that Japan’s SoftBank’s half a billion dollar investment bought less than a 50% stake in the company) is focused on. It turns out it’s mostly video games — but it’s also bigger than video games.

“Our long-term objectives, and it is long-term, is to literally create other worlds,” explains Narula. “Not just in the context of gaming, but in the context of being able to solve really important problems. This core problem of massive distributed systems and engaging large-scale virtual worlds, is as important and significant as AI or space travel. It is just as important for the future of what our experience will be like as human beings in the world, and how we are going to solve some of the most pressing problems that we have. […] A lot of people just can’t believe that we think games are important. They are incredibly important and they’re going to be more important. Hypothetically, one day, if 100m, or 1bn, people entered simultaneously into a virtual world, that would cease to be a game, that would be a country.”

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Rockstar delays Red Dead Redemption 2 to 2018

Rockstar Games announced last night that it’s delayed Red Dead Redemption 2 to spring 2018 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, a result of the fact that it’ll be Rockstar’s first rodeo on this generation of consoles and “some extra time is necessary.”

“We are very sorry for any disappointment this delay causes, but we are firm believers in delivering a game only when it is ready,” writes the studio.

It’s an interesting time for the game to be making headlines again. Rockstar began teasing the title last autumn, originally setting a fall 2017 date, releasing a trailer, talking up the “online multiplayer experience,” and leaving PC fans to fret they’d been forgotten. In just the past few weeks, it’s seen the rise of a challenger in the previously barren American West MMO subgenre in the form of Wild West Online, which is embracing both its MMO nature and the PC platform.

Take-Two’s stock closed 9% down yesterday; its quarterly earnings report from this morning, however, shows the parent company has little to worry about, thanks to net revenue increasing by 26% over the period.

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Destiny dev admits to drawing dungeon inspiration from World of Warcraft

For all the allergies Bungie has to admitting the Destiny games are MMOs, the dev team is not shy about admitting that it drew inspiration for the shooter’s dungeons straight from one of the biggest MMORPGs of all time.

According to a recent interview, Destiny Game Director Like Smith talked about how much he loved World of Warcraft and wanted to recreate the feel and flow of that MMO’s group dynamics in Destiny’s raids.

“Taking a raid from a non-shooter and bringing it into a shooter is about translating the feelings, it’s not about actual specific mechanical translation,” Smith said. “The feelings that matter from cooperative gameplay are those around other people making things easier — it’s about being able to see the impact everyone has on the success and failure of the group.”

Smith said that the team is focused on improving some of the weaker elements of Destiny with this fall’s Destiny 2. “We want to unhide the fun of Destiny,” he said.

Source: Glixel via Gamasutra

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World of Tanks demonstrates how to chill games criticism on YouTube in three easy steps

The World of Tanks community is in uproar this week over the removal of a prominent YouTuber from the game’s developer-backed promotional program and the deletion of a critical video in a move that smacks of censorship.

YouTuber SirFoch’s latest WoT video [NSFW] aggressively berates Wargaming for overt pay-to-win tactics with its $80 Chrysler K Grand Finals premium tank in what is legitimate but profanity-laced criticism. But after its publication, Wargaming demanded he remove the video, expelled him from its program, accused him of “slandering [the] brand,” and apparently then threatened to abuse YouTube’s copyright claim tool to kill the video and cause him lost revenue on future videos – at least according to the chat logs provided by SirFoch.

“We asked him to remove the video because he abused his status as a contributor and the content he received from us to create a video that defamed our company image with the tone and language he used,” Wargaming rep Ph3lan told Kotaku. A second statement from the company insists it’s not censoring the YouTuber and effectively accuses him of lying about threatening to censor his future videos. (In fact, it appears Wargaming didn’t directly threaten to censor future videos but rather threatened to lodge copyright claims in perpetuity to deny him monetization, having the same effect. There’s also a forum Q&A where Wargaming repeats that refusal to remove videos would cause the studio to “go through YouTube” to achieve its ends.)

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen has now raised $150M in crowdfunds (May 20, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen officially broke the $150,000,000 crowdfunding mark, propelled along by gamers sinking large sums of cash into the latest concept ship. As Relay points out, the original Kickstarter year for the game brought in only about $7M; since then, the game has raised between $28M and $36M every year since, with the biggest year to date being 2016. On paper, the game isn’t on pace to break that record in 2017 so far, but the fansite’s estimation that it might pass $200M this year if Squadron 42 launches as planned isn’t unreasonable. (Thanks, i-Spy, Zander, and fastcart!)

Wild West Online also announced that it won’t be seeking Kickstarter funds after all as it’s already received full funding from investors. That means it probably won’t be back in Make My MMO again since it’s not crowdfunding — but take a peek at our exclusive interview on the game from earlier this week all the same.

Meanwhile, Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter pushed on toward $3M, ROKH’s early access launched as planned, and Crowfall concluded its teaser week with a massive reveal: Classes won’t be racially bound after all, and beta should hit before the end of the year.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.

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Second Life bunnies doomed to death

If Second Life had a mascot, other than a pile of soiled sex toys, it might just be Ozimals. These are adorable little bunnies that can be bred to produce all kinds of rare and interesting patterns and could interact with AI scripts. There’s apparently been a thriving industry and subculture raging around these fluffy hareballs that’s involved marketplaces and real-world money.

Well all of that activity — and many of the Ozimals themselves — is coming to a sad end today. Earlier this week, the operator of Ozimals received a cease-and-desist letter ordering the market to be shut down. It turns out that the bunnies were cobbled together using intellectual property from different owners, leaving the critters vulnerable to such legal maneuvering.

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Betawatch: Crowfall lets races and classes mingle at will (May 19, 2017)

The teaser week for Crowfall is over, and it turns out the tease was all about decoupling races and classes altogether. No longer will all centaurs belong to the same archetype! Make a centaur everything! Of course, you could conceivably play races other than centaur, but why would you do that? You wouldn’t. You can prove you wouldn’t when the open beta arrives by the end of the year.

We’d like to end there, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve got to talk about things other than centaurs this week. For example, the other items on our list here.

And that’s everything. Unless you count all of the other games we have down below in various stages of testing. You can let us know if one of those games jumped into a later test phase in the comments; it’d be silly, really, but it happens all the time.

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WoW Token value soars on Destiny 2 Battlenet news

WoW Token prices have soared following yesterday’s surprise announcement that Destiny 2 will be published on Blizzard’s Battlenet app (yes, that’s what Blizzard called it). Players ran amok speculating on the currency, which they are guessing may influence the shooter come September, while others are hoarding in the hopes of using it to buy a copy of the game itself. Buyers in Europe sent the price up to over a quarter of a million gold; Americans were seemingly less impressed (or less concerned about potentially higher international prices for the game), as on this side of the pond the currency peaked at 140K gold per token and fell faster.

This isn’t the first time an announcement like the Destiny 2 one has caused a major market shift. Back in February, Blizzard revealed that WoW Tokens would be redeemable for Blizzard store currency, driving the cost so high that it was no longer a wise investment for paying off subs. This most recent spike, however, is even bigger — IcyVeins has declared it an all-time high for the currency.

Blizzard reps have previously said that the token is a harmless tool that makes “people happier,” though only a small fraction of players participate in the market.

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Star Citizen’s latest concept ship sale has already raised almost half a million bucks

Currently on sale in Star Citizen right now is a new concept ship, the Aegis Eclipse, on sale now for $250 for VIP backers and soon to be on sale for everyone else too. CIG has not given out ship stats, so you’re buying it blind if you’re buying it early, or you can wait for the full reveal today. You’re also buying it with cash (not credit) if you’re buying it early — part of CIG’s ongoing attempts to curb melt-down credit hoarding and exploits. The ship has thus far raised $400,000.

The sale is further teased in this week’s Around the Verse episode, in which the team checks in with the LA studio for a recap of its work on the new item system, plus there’s a behind-the-scenes update from multiple members of the team spread out over the world working on lighting and fog.

In sadder news, Rogue-Jaсk, a prominent Russian Star Citizen and dedicated translator of Star Citizen news, has passed away. Friends and gamers are currently posting in an effort to see him memorialized in the game come launch.

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Destiny 2 may not launch simultaneously on PC and consoles

Properly excited about Destiny 2’s announcements yesterday? We don’t blame you. But there are a few points you might wish to consider. For example, keep in mind that you may not be getting the game on day one; a release date is officially not set in stone for the PC version, and it may be a bit later than the console version. This is partly due to the fact that Bungie is well aware PC players will want things like field-of-view options, text chat, uncapped framerates, and so forth.

There’s also no word at this point on whether or not players will be able to have any sort of cross-pollination between the console and PC versions, although the team knows the demand is there. None of this is meant to demolish enthusiasm, but it probably does affect your enthusiasm to know that the PC version will offer more graphical options but might show up later. In summary, check out some raw PvP match footage below.

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Emil Chronicle Online closes its last server

It’s the end of the line for one long-running Japanese MMORPG.

Emil Chronicle Online, also abbreviated ECO (no relation), is closing down its very last server in August, MMO Culture reports. The anime MMO first launched in Japan back in 2005 and was gradually licensed out to other countries and regions over successive years. However, most of those other versions were subsequently shuttered (such as the English version back in 2010), leaving the Japanese server as the sole survivor.

The game went free-to-play back in 2009 and included some pretty wacky stuff, including the ability to morph into a marionette and the opportunity to roll as a machine race called (we kid you not) Deus Ex Machina. Check out a trailer below for a sample of Emil Chronicle Online’s flavor.

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Cyberpunk sandbox MMO Exile Online launches new crowdfunding effort

Don’t count cyberpunk sandbox MMO Exile Online out just yet. While the game’s Kickstarter didn’t meet its $45,000 goal last year, its developers continued work and are now rolling out GoFundMe campaign in its place.

“After our initial Kickstarter campaign did not receive the full funding, we realised we needed to do a lot more work,” the team wrote on Facebook. “This is our first in a series of planned phases of funding on Gofundme. We have decided to divide our goals up into milestones rather than seeking one huge lump sum. This way we can complete planned and announced milestones and prove to our pledges that their funding is being used wisely. The pledge levels will remain largely the same as before and we will increase the pledge levels at a later date to include the larger ones.”

Most recently, the devs have released a stream of updates on Facebook focusing on maps and says it’s “been making great progress on the mission system.”

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The Survivalist: ARK Survival Evolved discusses early access, launch, and wipes

Could ARK: Survival Evolved finally be launching? That’s a question many survivors would love to see answered soon. Unfortunately, we can’t provide you with any date as one hasn’t been announced. But it appears there could be a light at the end of that tunnel thanks to a Studio Wildcard interview earlier this week in a podcast dedicated to the survival genre.

If you are a fan of survival games as I am (and chances are high if you are reading this!), you might really want to check out Infection – The Survival Podcast. ARK fans especially will be interested in this week’s episode 122; it features a lengthy discussion with Kayd Hendricks, the senior technical game play designer. Hendricks touches on many subjects, including the team, early access, wipes, launch, narrative, and more. Even without a launch date, it’s really worth a listen/watch; a couple of his remarks really struck a chord with me.

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