“I’m really happy to let you all know that I’m your new associate producer,” Brennan said. “I’ll be joining Khrolan and Amary on the production team side of things, so don’t worry that someone’s going to go somewhere. You’ll still see me posting on the forums and Reddit too, though perhaps not as much as I use to. My time is going to have to go towards behind-the-scenes work and planning, after all!”
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The Albion Online founder community has been none too pleased about Sandbox Interactive’s original decision about what non-founders would get in their starter pack when the game launches a week from today. Albion’s devs intended the starter packs to cost the same as founder packs but offer less value, but as the community flames suggest, the veteran players believed that starter pack folks were getting better stuff than they were, and that wasn’t going to fly.
Welp, you can stop griping; they hear you. In their apology letter, the Sandbox devs wrote that they “simply messed up.”
“The best answer to that seems to be that we were so deep in the echo chamber of finally getting the game out of release that we simply lost the outside perspective along the way,” a forum post from late last night says. “We have previously communicated that Starter Packs would be comparable to Founder Packs, but would have less value for money. We felt that with the 10% extra Gold, the Founder’s house and all the little other founder’s perks we had kept that promise, in particular given that the founder’s gear would no longer be available post launch. We have underestimated how much the looks of the starter mounts matter to many of you.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen dropped more than just its work on procedural planets and moon: It also posted its 3.0 production schedule report, which shows that Cloud Imperium will once again delay the release of alpha 3.0, chiefly from a desire to polish and work on the UI. 3.0 is now scheduled to go fully live in late August following a month in the hands of the elite Evocati player testers, which lines up nicely with Gamescom.
Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar raised another $100,000 during a stream, City of Titans demoed its costume-building, Mystic Worlds narrated a ton of Star Citizen fanfic, OrbusVR recapped its sixth closed alpha test, and Albion Online is gearing up for launch in just over a week.
We also added the wacky OARPG Global Adventures to our watch list; its Kickstarter is live now. You might remember studio SubaGames from its revivals of both Luna Online and Dream of Mirror Online!
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.
It’s really just about time for Albion Online to launch, isn’t it? Less than two weeks to go, now, so the title is winding down its beta on July 9th in anticipation. That also means certain founder packs will no longer be sold after Sunday. There’s a big beta finale planned, though, so don’t worry that it’ll pass without incident.
Of course, betas on a whole aren’t hitting any sort of finale. Look, we’ve got more news about them just below.
- The alpha server list is available for Wild West Online, with a closed alpha planned for some time around the end of the month. More on that as events warrant, possibly appended with a “what in tarnation” for flavor.
- After a long time in early access, ARK: Survival Evolved is finally going live in August… and it’s also gotten more expensive. Apparently sitting through testing problems is worth a lot of karma on pricing.
- Crowfall has shown off the overhauls to its skill tree while assuaging players upset at large land prices by stressing that the biggest plots are meant for guilds. That’s trying to assuage concerns, anyway. It remains to be seen if it succeeds.
- Open beta for Mu Legend arrives in September. That’s it; no snarky comment, no strange observations, just the facts. Sometimes that’s all you need.
And yes, Virginia, there is a list of games in testing just below. Did something slip into a new test phase or tacitly launch without telling us? Then please, let us know in the comments. Or talk about betas you’re involved with, that’s also cool.
Gamasutra is reporting this afternoon that Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet has picked up former Ubisoft Montreal Creative Director Jason VandenBerghe. His new title on the MMO? Director of Design. He explains the move in a Facebook post:
“The tl;dr version is that I went out [to Seattle] on a lark –and then fell head-over-heels in love. [ANet Lead Designer] Isaiah [Cartwright] did an amazing job of setting the table… but it was all the people that I met there there that sealed the deal. It’s a big step. I won’t be making games directly any more – I’ll be studio level, shepherding teams and growing people. I’m… sort of thrilled about how difficult that sounds. It’s exactly what I want to be doing right now.”
ArenaNet is currently working on the finale for Guild Wars 2’s current living season storyline as well as a heavily leaked expansion. It’s suffered a number of high-profile staff departures in the past couple of years, most of them moving to Amazon Game Studios.
You may not have heard of Honour of Kings, but that’s probably because you don’t live in China. It’s one of the most popular mobile MOBAs in the country, racking up an astounding 200 million players (50M of whom are monthly active users) since its launch in 2015. And it’s that popularity that has the government worried, with a state-owned newspaper calling the game a “drug” and “poison.”
In particular, the Chinese government is concerned that kids might be getting addicted to Tencent’s MOBA, hinting that regulations on the title should be imposed. Perhaps to get out in front of government interference, Tencent went ahead and slapped the game with a child lock. Now, kids under the age of 12 can play only an hour a day, and youth ages 12 through 18 are limited to two hours daily.
Tencent’s stock took a sizable hit from the government’s statements, falling 4% initially. The company also runs League of Legends in China and made $3.9 billion from gaming in Q1 2017. Honour of Kings will be coming to the west in September of this year.
Welcome back to another edition of MMOs You’ve Never Heard Of, where we pull together a few interesting little games we don’t want to fall through the cracks, and you pipe up in the comments that you have in fact heard of one of these, because someone is totally keeping score!
Terra Mango dropped into our inbox this week — its devs call it “MMOLBTDRTS (Massively Multiplayer Online Location-Based Tower Defense Real Time Strategy game), but the guys in marketing said we had to shorten it a bit.” It’s a free-to-play mobile MMO with multiple races, combat, research, and troop deployment, all with a focus on collaboration with teammates in a three-way war set kinda sorta in an ARG-like real world setting. Reminding you of a cuter Ingress?
“With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that after much review and analysis, Red 5 Studios have decided to suspend the Firefall efforts on 7th, July 2017. Thank you for being an important part of the Firefall experience and for your loyalty and dedication to the online community. Your efforts and loyalty will not go without recognition, however. Firefall is currently developing a mobile version of the game and all of Firefall’s founders and players will be rewarded greatly in the new game. We will be sure to provide everyone with more updates as we have them. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm throughout the years; we will see you at the next battle.”
Yay, a mobile game. You could also head over and pick up your credit toward Mark Kern’s new game, Em-8ER.
The silver lining (of sorts) is that players should still receive the same points from a single purchase as they would if they converted from dollars to pounds and then purchased a point bundle, so it’s more about parity than just hurting gamers in the UK. Any points bought before July 25th will be unaffected, so if you want to stock up, now may be the time to do so.
Now that Lord of the Rings Online can breathe a sigh of relief that this won’t have the potential to cause issues, it can turn its attention to more important matters. Like awesomely cute sunflower-themed rewards from its currently operating Summer Festival. Hey, it’s important to bring some sunshine into Mordor later this year!
The community is also gearing up for Weatherstock IX, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 22nd on the Landroval server. The massive player-run concert will run twice as long as in past years, with 19 bands participating. Just in case you were wondering, yes, it will be livestreamed.
Last month, we included Crowfall among the games discussed in a Massively Overthinking roundtable that focused on MMO monetization running amok. Why? Because Crowfall has one of the spendiest cash shops in the genre, and it’s not even out yet; indeed, one of its palaces is $7000.
“The price is high because when 100+ players work together to buy something, the total adds up quickly,” J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton jointly explain. “That last part is key. These strongholds are WAY, WAY overkill for use by a single player. Much like in real life, purchasing a giant Imperial Palace doesn’t make a lot of sense if you intend to live alone. The purpose of these larger strongholds is to support large player groups. They provide a mechanism to centralize buildings and exist so that guilds, streamer audiences, or even a loose-knit collection of merchants and crafters can work together, pool resources and create social spaces.”
The Rockstar modding fiasco still isn’t over.
Back in June, Rockstar and TakeTwo began sending takedowns to the operators of modding tools of varying skeeviness, including OpenIV, a decade-old foundational toolset used by countless modders for the Grand Theft Auto series. The legal threats to a community staple, demands that cheater-centric mods donate their profits to charity, and dubious claim that the move was intended to protect Grand Theft Auto Online — which doesn’t allow mods to begin with — caused players to riot across the forums, Reddit, and Steam, where reviewbombing caused GTAV’s rating to plummet, in spite of Rockstar’s relatively noncommittal statement that the companies “generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties.”
The good news is that this means OpenIV is back in development. The bad news is that one of its biggest projects is toast.
The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.
But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.
That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.