Ahead of E3, ZeniMax’s
Matt Firor sat down with Gamasutra
for a streamed interview on The Elder Scrolls Online
, focused chiefly on Morrowind
. It’s a bit of an odd interview, as the publication kicks things off by characterizing the game as a F2P title and suggesting that the MMORPG genre hasn’t seen a paid expansion in a long time, which may surprise those of you playing SWTOR, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2
, or Final Fantasy XIV
. But Firor weathers the question, explaining that Morrowind
is intended as a jump-in point for players who’ve never jumped in before, and yet it’s accessible for vets too.
“In the old days, what we did is we brought out an expansion, and the only people that bought it were experienced players because you had to be X level in order to buy it an enjoy it,” Firor explains. “That’s the difference between Morrowind and those days. Anyone can just jump in and have fun.”
He also touches on the differences between the era of Dark Age of Camelot and Elder Scrolls Online (hint: It’s about grind). It’s a long stream but worth it for Firor’s commentary.
If you haven’t yet played the most recent Star Trek Online
update on consoles, you might not be aware that you’re going to be doing a fair amount of work alongside Lukari explorer and pioneer Captain Kuumaarke. (There’s your minor spoiler for the day.) We had a chance to sit down and talk with Kipleigh Brown, the actress who voices Kuumaarke, about the experience of voicing the character and about working within the existing continuity as both a performer and a fan.
And make no mistake, Ms. Brown is a fan; she loves talking about doing her best not to fangirl out when being directed by LeVar Burton in her on-screen appearance on Enterprise and her overall enthusiasm for the franchise as a whole. For her, what got her really invested in the universe was during the original run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when she was lucky enough to catch “The Measure of a Man” and become fascinated by the central premise of the episode.
Last time, I told you my Secret World Legends tour with Creative Director Romain Amiel was too big to fit in just one Chaos Theory. Luckily, we aren’t restricted to just that one! After talking about the monetization and lockboxes, customization, and a bit about combat, we can focus on other facets of the revamp. Specifically, I’m delving into the accessibility of the new game. We’re told a big push for the revamp and relaunch was the fact that The Secret World had barriers to entry and retention that led to the loss of too many players for the conspiracy-laden game to remain viable. So SWL needs to hit that nail on the head. Does it? Honestly, I think it takes a mighty swing and lands fairly true. As much as I love TSW, this title does appear to be more accessible.
On top of accessibility, we take a long look at the new Agartha as well as touch on lairs, scenarios, open beta and launch. Grab a conduit and join us for the second half of the highlights of my tour and talk with Amiel.
Have you got the urge to explore? ArcheAge’s Erenor Eternal
launches this evening, bringing three brand-new zones for players to gallivant about in. Of course, as with every large named update, there’s plenty more content
than just pristine sod to prance upon in Auroria. On top of a new level of gear, a new skill progression, and new battlegrounds, Erenor Eternal
includes significant crafting changes and a big revamp of the tradepack system. Although my personal focus was riveted on the tradepack revamp, I was more than happy to get a peek at the new zones with Senior Producer Merv Lee Kwai as we toured and talked about the upcoming changes.
Last week during its seasonal telethon, Shroud of the Avatar’s lead developers surprised watchers by announcing an equity crowdfunding campaign that allows players and other parties to invest directly in the game.
To try to glean more information about the state of the company and the decision to launch this year, we fired off an interview to Portalarium’s Richard Garriott. But one extremely tricky (and frustrating for everyone) issue that crops up with these equity crowdfunding interviews is that the SEC has implemented strict rules for what studios can talk about, meaning they are not legally allowed to discuss deal terms with the press. In fact, if we mention specific deal terms of their campaign in this interview, we can get them in trouble, which is obviously not our goal here. For example, we asked additional questions about the company’s financial position, who has invested in it, what happens to Portalarium if the investor round fails to meet its minimum, whether the game’s income is currently covering its costs, and how the game’s valuation was determined, but Garriott couldn’t answer in fear of running afoul of SEC regulations.
So we’ve proceeded with what we can discuss, and investors can ask questions in public on SeedInvest where everything is posted in accordance with the law.
I may or may not be in that secretive NDA-locked closed beta of Secret World Legends — I’m not telling. But there is something I can tell you. A number of somethings in fact. Thanks to an open tour with Creative Director Romain Amiel, I was able to ask questions while gallivanting around, checking out the revamp of my favorite game ever. We talked about combat and dungeons, monetization and the patron system, and customization and the dressing room as well as open beta and launch. I didn’t get all the info I set out to, but there’s a good bit to chew on — enough that I have to split this report in two!
Even though the game isn’t finished, my first impressions are definitely favorable. As a five-year veteran and ardent supporter of the original Secret World, I do think this version is more accessible, both in gameplay and in entry (well, once it leaves closed beta at least). Here is the first half of the highlights of my tour and talk with Amiel.
A few weeks ago as pre-launch hype for Marvel Heroes Omega
on console was reaching its zenith, we reached out to Gazillion
with questions about the PC version of the game that so many of our writers and readers have played for the last few years. The PC community has seemed torn between wanting to support the game as it expands (figuring that a rising tide lifts all boats) and wanting more communication and content for the existing version of the game (because feeling like the red-headed stepchild is no fun). So we spoke to Creative Director Jesse “Orren” Decker to get those concerns and questions aired. Read on!
Massively OP: The PC rollout plans for 2017 made my heart sink because it seemed clear to me (and people on the forums, apparently) that PC is on the backburner for the rest of the year. Are we wrong in thinking that?
Jesse Decker, Marvel Heroes Creative Director: There are three new pieces of substantive gameplay content on the schedule and two characters that play quite differently from our current roster. On top of that, there’s the massive Omega update that will add another difficulty tier, new itemization, and some enemy improvements. We think that’s pretty ambitious for a six-month time period!
It would be wrong to say that Final Fantasy XIV
is the work of Naoki Yoshida
alone, but it’s sure easy to make the mistake. The director and producer of the game has a near-legendary status among fans due to his intense personality, his friendly demeanor, and the single-minded dedication to the game. In the time since the game’s relaunch, he’s become the face of the entire development team, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon with the release of Stormblood
Obviously, my focus during the media event was finding out as much as I could about what was going on with the actual mechanics of the expansion, but I also got a chance to pick Yoshi-P’s brain a bit regarding more specific reasoning behind existing changes and what changes were yet to come. But as someone who played Machinist extensively, my first question was both obvious and straightforward: Why the big change to castbars just to revert it in the very next expansion?
Yoshida laughed and said he was quite familiar with the associated “Bard Mage” jokes, lest anyone be unsure.
A new piece out on the PlayStation blog is picking at MMO players’ Project Titan scar.
Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan explains that after the seven-year Project Titan MMO collapsed, its dev team was partially scattered, the remainder tasked with coming up with a new game — in six weeks. Kaplan’s team whipped up three pitches: two MMOs (one in a Blizz universe, one in a new one) and a shooter, which ultimately became Overwatch.
The magic, Kaplan argues, came from taking MMO class concept art from Titan and turning the subjects into fully formed individual characters.
“‘[Chris Metzen] lit up to the idea that they were no longer classes but heroes, characters, people,’ says Kaplan. ‘It wasn’t the sniper; it’s now Widowmaker, and she’s a cold-blooded killer turned by Talon who used her to assassinate her husband. That was a way cooler story than just, hey, it’s the sniper, pick what nose you want and if you want the long or the short hair. It was a character, a human being. So Chris instantly said, Yes! This is what we should do.'”
The rest, as they say, is history; Blizzard went forward with the Overwatch pitch. Still, I can’t help but wish we’d gotten to see those other two MMOs.
If you are a fan of action and anime, you might want to keep your eye on Kritika Online
. Although this game has been out for years in Korea, it is just now making its way to the western market. En Masse, best known to MMO fans for its shepherding of the western version of TERA
, is localizing and publishing this anime title, which will start letting players in to play the closed beta starting tomorrow, May 24th. In preparation of this closed beta launch, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk shop with Senior Product Manager Brian Knox. In between slicing and dicing bosses in a couple of dungeons, Knocks shared some tidbits of what players can expect in this new game. Along with that hands-on time with a mid-level character during the interview, I was able to log in and experience the game as a brand-new adventurer. Here’s how it all went down.
Stationeers, an upcoming multiplayer survival sim, marks Dean Hall’s (DayZ) third attempt to create a space station title. In a recent interview with PC Games N, Hall seems confident that this one will make it across the finish line.
“The other day we set a record of 28 players playing, with excellent bandwidth usage,” he says. “It was fantastic. It was the first time we’d run a playtest with a large number of players that had no major errors, so that’s putting us on the road to release.”
Hall talks about the features that are going into the game, the ones being adjusted, and the ones being left out due to resource limitations. He’s hoping that trading between stations will make its way into the game at some point, but Hall is more concerned with creating a “great core game loop” that was present in other successful early access titles like Prison Architect and Rimworld.
Stationeers is slated to come to Steam early access some time this year.
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.
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.