There's a whole lot to digest in this month's Dark Age of Camelot producer's letter, but perhaps the most significant is the move by Broadsword to introduce a microtransaction system into the game some time this spring.
Initially, the cash microtransactions will be used for cosmetic appearances, although the devs said that it will be expanded to include other, non-pay-to-win options: "Once this system is in place and working smoothly, we'll be able to work on the much-requested quality-of-life features like race, gender, and name respecs as well as potentially account to account character transfers!"
The team admitted that it may have pushed out game changes "too far, too quickly" last year and promised to revisit those this year. Other early 2017 projects include nerfing pet classes, retuning several hybrid classes, launching a new PvE campaign next month, and getting out the new forums and website by this summer.
Idea Fabrik is forging onward in its plan to re-start The Repopulation game servers, forum posts from the last couple of weeks suggest. The company told fans that it's been working on transferring data to Steam.
"Once the transfers are complete, we're still going to have the usual spin-up time and make sure that there isn't any data/bit-rot, making sure that everything is working correctly, etc.," Community Manager Christopher Riley told backers a week ago in response to questions about when the test server would resume service. "So as of this post it should be about 2 weeks after the transfers."
Another post indicates that "a few" of the 10-man team in fact worked on The Repopulation prior to its ownership transfer.
This week in MMO crowfunding, we did a retrospective on why crowdfunded MMOARPG Hero's Song failed. It's almost as if Justin knew (cue spooky music) because two days later, Hero's Song's John Smedley and most of the Pixelmage team showed up at Amazon, announcing a new studio and a new game for the shopping giant's games division. In other words, don't expect Smed back on Kickstarter any time soon.
Meanwhile, Star Citizen's alpha 2.6.1 went live, we poked around TUG's status, Elite Dangerous demoed its upcoming "Holo-Me" character creator, The Exiled prepped for next week's launch, Ruin of the Reckless entered its backer test phase, and Camelot Unchained hinted at beta.
Read on for more on what's up with MMO crowdfunding over the last few weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we've got our eye on.
One of the many content chunks and upgrades landing in Neverwinter
when Cloaked Ascendancy
launches next week is... lockboxes. In fact, PWE put out a new dev blog
today on the Many-Starred Lockbox landing on February 21st, taking a page
out of Star Wars: The Old Republic's
Potentially in the lockbox for those who buy keys? The Arcane Whirlwinds legendary mount, the multi-spell Tome of Ascendance, and a number of packs tailored to mounts, artifact equipment, artifacts, companions, enchantments, and costumes, some of which are shown in the gallery below.
But whom are we kidding -- you're never gonna get these.
Further reading: Andrew's piece on gambling vs. gaming, Larry's ideas for making lockboxes suck less, and this article telling us to get over them.
Emily "Domino" Taylor, long-time EverQuest franchise crafting wizard at SOE and now Daybreak, announced that she's leaving the studio at the end of the month -- just a week after Landmark sunsets, in fact.
"I love SOE/Daybreak & am super sad to leave, but it feels like time to return home to Canada, and remember what shoveling snow is like!" she tweeted. "More news on new job once I start. Fear not, I shall still tweet food and cat photos, and shall lurk around the world of Norrath."
Amazon Game Studios announced yesterday that it had picked up MMORPG genre veteran John Smedley to helm one of its up-and-coming online game studios. Today, it published a blog post with a photograph of the team, which appears to show that Smed brought along with him several familiar faces from Pixelmage Games. Well, more than several -- it looks like the bulk of the team, minus some of the artists and AI expert Dave Mark.
Shown in the photograph is Smed (hiding in the back!), along with Scott Maxwell, Steve Freitas, Andy Skirvin minus a beard (nice try, Skirvin, but we're canny), Michael Hunley, Jay Beard, Bill Trost, Toby Brousil (pretty sure), Matt McDonald, Jim Buck, Steve George, Paul Carrico, and Michelle Butler. Which is almost all of 'em. No need to worry about whether those guys landed on their feet after their studio folded seven weeks ago-- Smed's new Amazon studio is basically Pixelmage Games, though to be fair, we don't know what its name is or the particulars of the game it's working on.
With just a week to go until its early access launch on February 23rd, indie "social sandbox" The Exiled -- formerly known as Das Tal -- has nailed down the fee structure of its game packages.
"Everybody gets to play for free for seven full days," Fairytale Distillery's Alexander Zacherl told us. "Then it's a one-time fee of $19.99 to continue playing as long as you want. If you want to get some cool skins, titles, pets or the art book and soundtrack, then you can pay more. But you can never buy in-game power, which has always been super-important for me."
The Nomad Pack ($19.99/€19.99) is the cheapest buy-in, with one character slot per season, one permanent character name reservation, plus perks like an avatar, title, frame, unique skins, and dance animation. The Seeker Pack ($39.99/€36.99) adds to that package an additional character slot and name reservation, plus a 15% fame gain boost and an extra daily challenge slot.
What the heck is Crossfire? It's a game that makes quite a bit of money, according to SuperData; we're talking in the "massive numbers at the top of the list" category here. And yet it hasn't really gained much traction in the west for whatever reason, as evidenced by the fact that this piece could open off with "what the heck is Crossfire" and most of our readers were probably nodding. So the fact that Smilegate is opening a European branch to help push the brand should say something.
Smilegate Europe's biggest push will be getting Crossfire accepted as an eSports venue, although it's probably facing an uphill battle against existing Western favorites such as Overwatch. Still, more games is a good thing, isn't it? Time will tell if this push finally breaks open the western market for the title or ultimately fails to make a dent.
MMOs, like any other hobby, have their own terminology. We have the term "newb" for new players, "noob" for players who aren't actually new but still make new player mistakes, and "n00b" if you want to sound like an insufferable weirdo from the aughts. But we also have a lot of terminology that just plain doesn't work any more for a variety of reasons, like "pay-to-win" and "hardcore" and so forth.
That does not, however, mean that we do not need our specialized terminology. Indeed, while some of our older vocabulary is not up to the tasks of modern games, I think a great deal could be accomplished just by adding some new words to our lexicon. So let's create some brand-new terms (or codify existing ones) so that we can, in fact, have shared words to describe scenarios that we encounter on a regular basis.
Yesterday, ArenaNet's Mike O'Brien announced to forumgoers that longtime studio Art Director Daniel Dociu "will be leaving ArenaNet" and Guild Wars 2.
"Daniel Dociu will be leaving ArenaNet," O'Brien writes. "Daniel has been defining the art direction for ArenaNet since 2003, before the launch of Guild Wars, and the impact he’s made on the studio and industry will be seen for years to come. It’s been a pleasure to work with him. Daniel, thank you for thirteen wonderful years creating worlds together. We’ll miss you. We look forward to your continued success."
Taking over for Dociu is his son, Horia Dociu, who has worked on the Guild Wars franchise art team since 2003 himself.
If you wondered what John Smedley was up to following the death of Pixelmage Games and Hero's Song in December, now you have an answer: Amazon Game Studios picked him up to run a sub-studio in San Diego.
"We’re excited to announce an all-new Amazon Games Studio based in San Diego and led by industry veteran John Smedley," says a PR blast from AGS today. "John’s pioneering work helped define the modern MMO, and his influence can be felt in thousands of games that followed. He helped create the blueprint for fusing massive game worlds with vibrant player communities, a vision that we share at Amazon Game Studios. That’s why we’re excited to announce that John has joined Amazon Games Studios to lead an all-new team in San Diego."
Apparently, Smed and his team are "already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world."
Carbine Studios reeeeaaaally wants to make it worth your while to subscribe to WildStar. It already has a "signature rewards" program for subbers that showers players in goodies for subbing, but the game's upcoming primal matrix system (horizontal advancement, basically) will offer even more.
"With the upcoming Primal Matrix system we’re adding even more value to Signature by increasing member Essence drops by 50%! That means with every 2 Essence a non-Signature member would receive, you’ll get 3! Gain Essence faster to progress through your Primal Matrix unlocks faster, and get to those sweet, sweet bonuses."
If you've been a subber for three months (not necessarily in a row) in the period between January and the start of June, you'll also be picking up some firework mount flair (shown above).
At the tail end of last week, Frontier pulled Elite Dangerous: Arena from sale across all platforms.
"We’ve been looking at our metrics which suggest that the vast majority of new and regular Arena players tend to play Arena through the main Elite Dangerous client rather than the standalone Arena one," Senior Community Manager Edward Lewis explained to fans. "We’ve made the decision to remove the standalone version of Elite Dangerous: Arena in order to reduce the number of builds that have to be maintained and managed across Steam, Xbox One and in 2Q'17 PlayStation Network, as well as clarifying the choices for new players of Elite Dangerous on these storefronts."
Arena has been a standalone product for only a year and ran $7.50 in that mode. Apparently, it was no longer worth it to maintain in that format, although of course it can still be played as part of the original game. As RPS points out, we can probably assume Arena will never launch on PlayStation either.
Frontier continues to sell three digital download versions of the game running from $29.99 to $59.99.