Get ready for a flood of information from Conan Exiles. Funcom admitted that it had been dropping the ball on talking with fans about what’s going on with the game — a fault that it wants to correct starting post-haste.
“Unfortunately haven’t been the best at communicating recently, something we’re going to be addressing (and hopefully improving upon) today,” Conan Exiles’ community manager posted on multiple sites. The post went on to promise a weekly meeting with the entire dev team, during which notes will be taken and compiled for a regular Monday post to the community.
If you can stomach even more communication about the early access sandbox, check out this Gamasutra interview with Creative Director Joel Bylos in which he talks about Conan Exiles’ Zelda influences, the rocky rollout of the Xbox One version, and the studio’s decision-making process.
With $2.7 million raised from fans and $12.5 million total in its pockets from multiple sources, ArtCraft has a wealth of money on which to build Crowfall. The studio also has a wealth of experience with crowdfunding, and in a new interview, Gordon Walton shares what he and the other leaders at ArtCraft have learned from running one of the more successful MMORPG Kickstarter campaigns to date.
The five key lessons that Walton shared were: Crowdfunding is a test of a product’s market viability, that it’s important to sell a product and not a dream, that different crowdfunding platforms require different approaches, that studios need to bring their loyal fans out for these campaigns, and that it’s vital to communicate clearly and often.
“The real trick is always about finding the right customers, who want to be part of your business, they want to support you,” said Walton. “A lot of entrepreneurs are more focused on their product than their customers. If I have any advice for people, it’s ‘always think about the customer first.'”
Just because SMITE
weren’t available to play at PAX West
doesn’t mean that there wasn’t stuff to learn about the games from Hi-Rez!
I got the low down on Hi-Rez projects from Scott Zier, who is VP of Design at Hi-Rez as well as executive producer of Hand of the Gods. We touched on multiple topics, from the flagship MOBA and the shooter to the MIA mobile title and the new mobile title. As Zier said, the studio always has a number of projects going at any one time: “We’re very much a multi-game studio.”
While the full Hi-Rez portfolio wasn’t in attendance at PAX West, Hand of the Gods was on-hand with a fan tournament as well as machines to introduce folks to the game. Devs were also available to discuss this tactical SMITE spinoff. I sat down with Lead designer Scott Lussier and Executive Producer and VP of Design Scott Zier to talk about the game’s name, its progress, the reception at the convention, and plans going forward.
In fact, one of the tidbits Lussier shared is that the Japanese pantheon is next on the list after Hindu is released later this month.
If you’ve been away from H1Z1 for a long time, you need to known that Daybreak’s been making it easier to get back into the game, both for former players and for newbies.
I spoke with Daybreak Lead Systems Designer Tony Morton at PAX West about the recent combat update, and he showed off the upcoming combat practice feature.
“What we’re doing is system by system and segment by segment,” he told me. “We’re kind of gutting it; we’re starting over from scratch in a more systematic standpoint.”
While there were plenty of established games on hand at PAX West 2017, there were also a few new ones offering players a taste of the future. Survived By by Digital Extremes is one of those new games. Announced just two days before PAX began, it had stations set up allowing players to dive right into a dungeon and experience the 2-D pixel game. And that’s exactly what I did while talking to Producer Ryan Jackson about permadeath, classes, crafting, and the story.
Jackson told me that the game is actually set in a cross section of the world tree. The tree is sick, however, and can’t seem to heal itself anymore, and it’s being invaded. He said that the mystery of what is happening is what DE wants players to unravel as they play in the first act of the game. Closed alpha will be starting soon, and folks can sign up for it on the official site. I actually can’t wait to get back in!
Eurogamer’s just published a long Gamescom interview with Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts on Star Citizen, and anybody concerned about the state of 3.0 and its long delay and missed windows should probably give it a read — it may not change your mind, but it’s the gospel from the boss’ mouth. Also it’s significantly more entertaining than debating space poop.
Roberts first won’t agree that the 3.0 alpha, when we finally see it, constitutes beta. “With 3.0, the game is moving into a phase akin to Early Access,” he says, as “3.0 is the first time you’ll have some of the basic game loops and mechanics,” the first slice of the game with “proper persistence for your character, ship and items in terms of what their state is, their location is.” Terms like beta and early access, he says, are “just labels.”
“People still think of the old way [of making games], like my past games. We’d talk about a game for years, we’d show it, but no one would have their hands on it ’til it was out. There was an obsession with ‘when will it get released’. Even with those [traditional boxed] games now, they get patched, they add things, make things better over time.”
Although much of the RIFT
demo at PAX West
focused on showing off the Celestial Storm update
, it was another aspect that captured my attention. While I was speaking with Senior Design Director Simon Ffinch as we toured around the Celestial lands (in god mode once Ffinch discovered he took a level 11 into the level 100 area!) and watching players participate in a zone event, I learned the stories behind a number of Easter eggs peppered throughout the game. Games will always do new content and updates, but how many honor their fans by adding them into the game?
You don’t have to be a massive MMO studio to have a big showing at PAX West – Intrepid Studios proved that. The indie studio developing Ashes of Creation had a large booth with a giant TV broadcasting videos, hands-on demos for players to see what the game is about, a merchandise counter (which appeared to be doing good business), plenty of devs on hand to answer questions, and a full panel to discuss the game’s progress and plans to a large audience. And Founder and Creative Director Steven Sharif was on hand the whole time to talk about his game with everyone who came by. As he told me, “That’s our job here today, to expose more people to [AoC’s] potential.” He wants players to know that it isn’t about promises without delivery
Between a demo and a couple of interviews, I had the opportunity to chat with Sharif about the game a few different times. We talked about classes, crowdfunding, and character customization. I also got to team up with a group and run through a short PvE adventure narrated by a dev, testing out skills and exploring a few features. Then I delved into a PvP match. And yes, we also discussed the red hat controversy.
En Masse recently introduced
the newest class coming to Kritika Online
, and while visiting the studio’s offices during PAX West 2017
, I was able to dive in and play it. This Psion class — a combination of swordsman and mage — generates psychic swords to slice, dice, and generally Ginsu her enemies to pieces. One skill even allows her to throw her blades, which combined with her guns (bound to right click) gives her good ranged options during battle. As I am not the biggest fan of in-your-face combat, I appreciated having options to move me outside of melee range and keep attacking.
It’s all about the controller: My En Masse Entertainment PAX West
office visit last weekend included a hands-on with TERA
Now, I have played TERA before, and it isn’t a game I have returned to with regularity, though I do still return and dabble. Interestingly enough, after this experience, I learned that things might have been different had I been playing the game on console.
As much as I didn’t really like and wasn’t used to movement (I didn’t get the hang of looking the direction I wanted to), I really enjoyed the combat with the controller during my demo. I discovered actually preferred TERA’s combat on the controller than on the keyboard, so I agree the dev’s words: “It’s TERA’s true action combat that makes it such a great fit for consoles and game pad controls.”
When I visited the En Masse offices during PAX West, it was a crash course in learning how to use a controller — which I haven’t picked up in years — as I was introduced to Closers, an episodic anime online RPG. The game has five different characters players can choose from from the Black Lambs, each with its own personality and dialogue with all the NPCs. For my hands-on, I played Seha (a melee swordsman), but there is also Sylvi, Yuri, Misteltein, and J.
Devs noted that the story of Closers is very important; the game itself is story-driven. The characters are all teens with psychic abilities brought together as a team to fight back the interdimensional monsters that are pouring into New Seoul (Old Seoul was devastated during the last invasion) through portals.
These portals, of course, need closing.
If I had to pick a PAX West booth to give an award to for sheer fun factor, it would go to Digital Extremes’ new board/card/computer game combo The Amazing Eternals. (I’m not alone: The booth also got an award from a magazine!) The retro bowling alley vibe — complete with bowling shirts, orange shag carpet, and wood paneling — combined with the awesome old TV console frames on the monitors just screamed funky and fun.
Did that same vibe translate into the game? Yup. It was prevalent when I got to dive in and try a couple of matches. Admittedly, the first one was less fun, but that’s because I jumping in totally blind; the enjoyment spiked up quite a bit more after talking with Lead Game Designer Allen Goode and actually learning about the game. And now you, too, will have that same info so you can have a blast in your matches — or at least know better what’s going on!