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!
I admit that before PAX West 2017, I hadn’t logged into Defiance in a long, long time. I couldn’t even say how long. Even so, I still have very fond memories of the hellbugs (isn’t it just so cute the way they try to eat off your face?), so I was intrigued to see where the game was nowadays. How is it doing? Where is it going?
I met with Executive Producer Matthew Pettit, who hooked me up with a character in-game for some high-level Arkfall hunting while we talked about recent updates and future plans for the open-world MMO shooter.
“I can tell you it’s going to be a very exciting year for Defiance,” Pettit told me. And after listening and playing, I think the game is definitely worth keeping an eye on — or maybe even jumping in right now.
Although I’d recently played a bit of Dauntless, I was looking forward to my hands-on at PAX West. That’s because I was primed to see — and hopefully face — a new behemoth. I also spoke with Phoenix Labs’ Encounter Designer Reid Buckmaster about development, reception of the game at the convention, plans moving forward, and of course, behemoths.
One of the unique aspects of fighting behemoths is the fact that you can break off physical pieces of the boss to weaken them and score specific loot. Currently in the beta, there are around a dozen different behemoths, according to Buckmaster, but each of those has different variants between easier tutorial ones, the base versions, and then hard versions that include different attacks and attack patterns. “All told with the variants we have I believe it’s 27 different versions of encounters in Dauntless right now,” he said. “Every encounter has a little something new to encounter.”
Sometimes MMORPG players might get the feeling that game companies will let just about anything slide in order to keep the most revenue streaming in, but that’s not the case with one particular hopeful City of Heroes successor: Ship of Heroes. Studio Heroic Games is predicating the game on a positive atmosphere, which starts from the ground up.
At this year’s PAX West, I sat down with CEO Casey McGeever to talk about the game: where it’s coming from, where it is now, and where it’s going. We discussed funding, rivalries, community, and the wild backstory about the massive ship that heroes will be living on. After that, I attended the CoH successor panel to hear about the three largest superhero MMORPG games currently in development. Let’s suit up and dig in.
When you think about Wargaming
, you don’t really think about characters or troops — you think about war machines. But Total War: Arena’s
inclusion into the studio’s publishing portfolio is not nearly as out of place as it may first seem. Created by Creative Assembly, Total War: Arena
is a lobby-based war game, just like the World of
trilogy. The big differences are the time period and the use of troops instead of vehicles.
And the newest troops to enter the game are the war hounds.
At PAX West, I got to sit down with Senior Producer John King to discuss the new commander Boudica while watching her unleash her war hounds on the battlefield, plus I got to check out World of Tanks’ war stories in person!
If you were hoping that another title would pick up the idea of a voxel world and run with it, you’re getting your wish. I met with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, at PAX West. He showed off the pre-alpha build of his company’s voxel sandbox, Dual Universe. After zooming across the planet, building a ship, terraforming, and then blasting off to the moon to do it all again, I believe this subscription-based game (which begins its pre-alpha for backers on September 30th) may very well be the home that players who’ve been wishing for a voxel-based world have waited for.
Baillie defines Dual Universe: “We give more creativity freedom to the players: They can build the ships they want, the environment they want, the houses they want. It’s about freedon to create anything you like.”
While most of the focus at PAX West 2017
was on the Eclipse expansion
that just released (with its new Atlas, Shadow Tower lobby and bosses, subclasses, and gem reforging), Artist and Designer Kumar Daryanani also shared with us the subject for the voxel game’s next big patch. “It’s going to be very heavily focused on clubs,” he said — clubs being the game’s equivalent of guilds and guild halls. “It’s on clubs, club gameplay, ways of getting people to play together, club activities, reasons to care about their club, and so on.”
Daryanani also offered some of the lore behind one of the new bosses in the Shadow Tower. Darknik Dreadnaught Mark II is actually the result of Darknik (who pilots Spkewalker, the first floor boss) getting sick and tired of losing the battles, so he built a new and improved war machine. That does lead you to wonder what happened to Darknik Dreadnaught Mark I? Daryanani said, “It is somewhere else, for now, but it might make it appearance in the future.” There’s more lore to be had, though. He advised, “Anyone who is interested in the lore of the game should essentially collect all of the styles and then open up the collection window, go to styles, and read through them all.”