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Star Citizen’s cargo system sounds quite amazing

If your gaming preferences begin and end with combat, you might find the latest Star Citizen design blog pretty boring. If, on the other hand, you value non-combat gameplay and wish that the MMO industry valued it, too, Star Citizen’s cargo system may pique your interest.

Cloud Imperium’s virtual world will allow players “to more fully interact with their environment than any previous space game.” Cargo will be used both to customize your surroundings and to build a shipping empire or work the black market. The blog outlines how previous genre games have separated the pilot from the cargo with icons and menus, whereas Star Citizen will allow “maximum interaction directly with in-game objects.”

The developers have created a system called Grabby Hands — detailed in four separate videos — that enables extensive interaction without the need to create unique animations for each object in the game.

[Source: Design blog; thanks Cardboard, Cotic, Rioinsignia, fastcart, and Darkwalker75]

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French MMO DOFUS heads to tablets and the big screen

You might think a game launched in 2004 not named World of Warcraft might be curbing its ambition here in 2015, but if you’re talking about French MMO DOFUS, you’d be mighty wrong. Ankama and Wizcorp this week announced that the game is due for a tablet version with a refreshed mobile UI. The downside is that it won’t be “synchronized with the desktop and streaming version, available on dedicated servers,” meaning tablet players will be starting fresh.

Desktop players have a new update of their own to look forward to; Raiders of the Temples of the Twelve launched this week and infested the game with brand-new bounty monsters.

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The Powerplay update will change how you play Elite: Dangerous

The next big update for Elite: Dangerous centers around the Powerplay system, and it’s enough to change the way you see the game world. Powerplay allows players to ally themselves with various galactic powers, at which point their actions begin to directly influence the nature of the galaxy and the local power structure. Every faction has its own ethos and way of taking control of systems, and players can take part in that while earning rewards for protecting factional interests and furthering the cause.

Players will also have access to two new ships, an overhauled mission system, and new drones for tasks such as collecting cargo. It promises to be a pretty significant shot in the arm for the game, justifying a rather bullish prediction that Frontier Developments has made that estimate 22 million GBP in revenue by the end of the financial year.

[Source: Newsletter, London South East; thanks to Cotic and Colin for the tip!]

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Koster on Star Wars Galaxies’ combat and social connectivity ‘glue’

MMO designer Raph Koster is back with yet another post-mortem on Star Wars Galaxies, this one the second part of his “living society” discussion. Get your HAM bars and stimpacks and carbines at the ready, folks, because this episode begins by explaining the game’s combat.

I adored it, but Star Wars Galaxies’ combat was the sort of combat that you played in spite of how bad it was. “Combat in SWG was a disaster,” Koster agrees.

He reveals that combat was always intended to be “at the heart of the game” and that SOE chose RPG combat over action combat “for the sake of a larger audience.” The studio was hoping for a tactical card game feel, but it didn’t work.

“With the loss of long-range server updates (the result of a lack of CPU power on the deployment servers), the distinctions between the professions turned to mush. HAM never had any bounce, and timing attack made no sense. You could incapacitate yourself with a special.”

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Guild Wars 2 talks up PvP tourneys, app development challenge

ArenaNet can’t stop talking about competitive Guild Wars 2 PvP here lately, and today brings us a blog post focused on the World Tournament Series Championship. The next set of champions will be crowned at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany on August 8th.

Prior to that, there are qualifiers and ESL matches galore in which teams will need to place highly to secure an invitation to Cologne. The full post has all of the eligibility requirements as well as some verbiage about playing for $50,000 USD.

In other GW2 news, ANet has partnered with Overwolf to create a contest for coders that will reward the top 20 app developers with “over $15,000 USD in prizes.”

[Source: Announcement post]

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Elder Scrolls Online’s PS4 beta starts tomorrow

If for some reason you want to play Elder Scrolls Online on a console (I dunno, maybe you hate UI mods and bleeding edge graphics?), you don’t have much longer to wait. ZeniMax’s themepark MMO officially launches on June 9th. If you’re a PlayStation 4 owner, you’ve got even less time to wait, since the beta starts tomorrow.

You’ll need an invite, and those started going out today, according to the PlayStation blog, so check your inbox. The beta test grants access to the full version of the game, but it’s worth noting that your progress will not carry over past launch.

[Source: PlayStation blog]

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Disney’s Club Penguin suffers layoffs

Club Penguin may not be one of the first games you think about when it comes to virtual worlds, but that’s kind of a blind spot; the title has been operating now in the family-friendly market for a decade. Unfortunately, the developers behind the title have taken a bit of a blow now, with Disney reportedly laying off as many as 30 employees in the US, Canada, and the UK.

According to a local news source, the Brighton office is to be shut down outright, which leaves the developer with its LA office and its Canadian office. There’s no official word on numbers or what caused the layoffs beyond a general statement by Disney Interactive about streamlining teams:

Disney Interactive continually looks to find ways to create efficiencies and streamline our operations. As part of this ongoing process, we are consolidating a small number of teams and are undergoing a targeted reduction in workforce.

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CCP would like you to buy some EVE ship SKINS in its cash shop

CCP is ramping up the focus on its cash shop thanks to a new dev blog examining EVE Online’s ship SKIN system. Ship skins are purchased in CCP’s item mall and may be bought or sold for ISK on the in-game market prior to activation.

SKINs are used by activating them on a character, which then grants that character permanent access to the SKINs that persists through ship and pod loss. CCP is also adding time-limited SKINs as drops to EVE Online, but currently has no plans to sell them for real money.

[Source: Dev blog]

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Top 25 companies accounted for 65 percent of 2014’s $83.6 billion games market

Twenty-five companies accounted for 65 percent of the $83.6 billion games market in 2014, according to a report at Newzoo. Leading the pack was Tencent, the megalithic Chinese publisher, followed by Sony, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Activision-Blizzard.

Tencent experienced 37 percent growth last year, while additional firms with MMO ties including Nexon, Square-Enix, and NCsoft placed in Newzoo’s top 25.

[Source: Newzoo]

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Pathfinder adds holdings and outposts

Goblinworks rolled version seven of Pathfinder Online’s early enrollment out to backers last week. The update adds holdings and outposts, though CEO Ryan Dancey says that they will be “iterated substantially” with new features and polish over the next couple of early access revisions.

Version seven also tweaks targeting, crafting times, resource replenishment, ranged attacks, monster hit points, and more.

[Source: Release notes]

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Koster on Star Wars Galaxies’ dynamic world

Raph Koster isn’t done talking about Star Wars Galaxies yet, and that’s good news for fans, aspiring designers, or really anyone who realizes that MMORPGs can do more.

Koster’s latest blog post focuses on Galaxies‘ dynamic world, which he describes as ahead of its time given its detail, complexity, and the fact that DVD drives weren’t widespread when the title shipped in 2003. “A huge part of the ‘living world’ quality of Galaxies came down to the idea that we shouldn’t necessarily know what was in our world,” Koster writes. “That it should be surprising us, as well as the players.”

In a nutshell, Koster and the rest of SOE’s design team opted for a system that was sorta like “marrying Photoshop layers with procedural generation.” It’s far more complex, of course, and you can read all the details at Koster’s blog.

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