On this week’s show, Legends of Aria’s Derek Brinkmann returns for another interview about how the indie MMORPG is shaping up as it goes through its “final” alpha and heads toward beta and launch. We also dig deep into the mailbag to gripe about gambling!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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When I spoke to Elite Dangerous’ devs at this year’s Frontier Expo 2017, the company’s first fan expo, they admitted that communication went dark for a time. But it wasn’t for any worry-worthy reason: No, it was because the devs were preparing for Beyond, the big update road map for 2018 that was revealed on stage at the con. And what a reveal it was! The crowd was quite excited about the announced features spanning four updates throughout the year, including squadrons, fleet carrier ships, a codex, new ships, improved mining, revamped planetary graphics, and more. As Lead Designer Sandro Sammarco said, “Elite is an ongoing project. It’s not finishing any time soon.”
Along with the big news reveal, I also spoke with Chief Creative Officer Jonny Watts and Producer Adam Woods about these updates that focus on three areas — core game, narrative, and new features. This is what I learned.
Spurred on by my excitement for Guild Wars 2
‘s second expansion, Path of Fire
, I reached out to ArenaNet
shortly before release to secure a post-launch interview to ensure all my most burning questions could be answered. I drafted my questions not long after launch, and while I most definitely wished to discover whether the initial launch hiccups affected the immediate uptake of the expansion, beyond that I sought more information on the development of such a decisively different expansion than Heart of Thorns
This launch diary installment will share ArenaNet’s responses to my PoF questions: Mounts, elite specializations, and the new maps were huge topics of discussion aside from the more general launch and development questions I had. Read on!
Pantheon and MMOs like it are bringing our dream future one step closer (or at least, Lt. Barclay’s dream future), Brad McQuaid suggests in a new interview this week. MMORPG veterans know McQuaid as a pioneer of the genre, first with EverQuest, then with the stalled and now sunsetted Vanguard, and now with the upcoming MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.
“I want to be immersed, I want to escape into a fantasy or sci-fi world. [MMO developers are] making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck. Letting people recreate the 1930s or build new virtual worlds – that’s what MMOs are, they’re the genesis of that. Because they involve real people and that social aspect, because they’re so immersive – and will be even more so in the future, with VR coming – I lose myself in them. I don’t sit there thinking I’m playing a game; I’m really there. And that’s what interests me.”
McQuaid says the MMO is not dead and that he’s working to change that perception by catering to an “underserved” audience of virtual world gamers and “abandoned MMO fans.”
The folks at Procedural Worlds have a new interview-slash-testimonial from Crowfall Lead Environment Artist Jon O’Neal, in which he talks up that company’s enviromental design tools as employed in the service of building the Crowfall world, but he also talks a bit about the game’s 2015 Kickstarter and the point of the platform. O’Neal opines that the game’s Kickstarter was not about getting money and then making a game. “That’s not really what Kickstarter’s about; it’s to show interest to the real investors,” he says, since whatever Kickstarter brings in presumably won’t actually cover the game, just a “proof of concept.”
We reached out to ArtCraft about the statements for clarification, as we were unaware that the Kickstarter was intended to fund a proof-of-concept. That’s because it wasn’t. ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman told us that O’Neal simply misspoke on camera.
“The goal of the Kickstarter wasn’t a ‘proof-of-concept’,” he told us. “We already had a proof of concept: That is what we showed in the campaign’s video. The stated goal of our Kickstarter campaign was to build a ‘core module’ of the game. A proof-of-concept usually includes a fair amount of throw-away work, whereas the core module is the foundation of the actual game. It was created using parts of the PoC + a ton of new systems and content.”
Forbes has a new interview
out this week with ArenaNet
President Mike O’Brien all about the Guild Wars franchise, beginning with something most people have probably forgotten: Classic Guild Wars
was inspired as much by Magic The Gathering as by MMORPGs, specifically in the idea that card games allowed players to collect far more skills than they could use at a time. The strategy for playing such a game came in choosing which skills to tote along, not in how many skills you’d accrued.
Eventually, however, the team wanted to expand the world itself. “You can’t go halfway on a world,” he argues. “A world is such a powerful thing. It’s where your friends are. It’s the relaxing place where you hang out in the quiet moments between challenges. It’s the home that you grow to love, and that you’re ready to fight to defend when the story asks you to. We came to realize that the world wasn’t the setting; the world was the game.”
And that led ArenaNet to Guild Wars 2, with its focus on horizontal progression, character customization, and social systems. In fact, O’Brien suggests megaservers amounted to crucial tech for the development of the game and its social emphasis.
Over the weekend, the studio behind crowdfunded RvR MMORPG Camelot Unchained released a hefty chunk of its ongoing beta one document, revealing extensive insight into the way the game’s social systems will be laid out. Parts of those social systems will look familiar to MMO players, such as groups (Warbands), guilds (Orders), and raids (Battlegroups). But there are more layers to contend with, including perma-groups or mini-guilds (Permanent Warbands), as well as project-oriented raids (Campaigns), all designed in the service of an ambitious RvR-centered MMO that makes space for soloers and small guilds by not over- or under-privileging the largest teams in the genre. That’s the goal, anyway!
CU boss and MMORPG veteran developer Mark Jacobs, whom many of you know personally thanks to his ubiquity in our comments section, gamely answered about a thousand of my questions over the weekend, which we’ve compiled into an absurdly long interview about how to properly smush together all these groups into a social system sandwich that makes everybody happy. There’s even a Star Trek quote and a bonus question about Warhammer Online’s development and CU’s budget at the end!
I strongly urge you to check out the original doc first, as the interview assumes knowledge of the basic terminology and structure of the game. Fair warning: While Camelot Unchained’s document is almost 6000 words, this interview itself is close to 4000. You put Jacobs in a virtual room with me and my questions go on forever, and damn if he doesn’t answer them exhaustively. It’s a whopper, but it’s worth reading for a glimpse into what could be the future of MMO community planning.
You’re probably well aware that today is that holiest of geek holidays, Talk Like a Pirate Day. AdventureQuest 3D is certainly not ignoring it; the cross-platform MMO is getting into the spirit (and rum) of the season with the return of Captain Rhubarb.
Ol’ Cappy doesn’t have any quests to bestow, but his booty is overflowing with treasure with which he will part — for a price. If you’re rich enough, you can buy your way to a piratey outfit (or a naval commander, if you’re also more prim and proper).
The team also opened up about its harrowing experiences of operating in Tampa during the recent hurricane strike. AQ3D fell upon emergency plans to keep running and came through it just fine.
This past summer, ARK: Survival Evolved finally officially launched, ending its stint as an early access game just three days before PAX West, then promptly announced its second expansion on the first day of the convention. There wasn’t even a week between launch and the second expansion’s unveiling, and there will be fewer than two months between the two launches; Aberration is scheduled to launch in October.
While at PAX, I sat down with Studio Wildcard Senior Producer Navin Supphapholsiri, who thanked fans for supporting the game: “We really appreciate the support for the past two years. Just to see how far we’ve come along, it’s all thanks to the community.” Then we talked about the launch, about Aberration, and about the team’s focus going forward.
What is Chronicles of Elyria? We first learned about the game and its goal to redefine the MMORPG genre back in 2015. Since then, CoE has been developing steadily, especially after the huge influx of capital gained through Kickstarter and then on-site crowdfunding. Folks could follow the progress through numerous dev blogs, videos, and even the chance to test bits of gameplay at various PAXs. Some bits of that development, however, have raised questions; prospective players have voiced concerns about the pay-to-win and gankbox stigmas, the complex tribe system, and the admittedly broad scope of the game.
I sat down with Executive Producer Vye Alexander and CEO/Creative Director Jeromy Walsh at PAX West to discuss these issues and more.
Nothing may quite compare to last week’s big server evolution
in scope of change for ArcheAge
, but there are
more changes coming over the next couple of months. The good news is one of those involves corgis! Who doesn’t love corgis?
At this year’s PAX West, I talked with Trion Associate Producer Seraphina Brennan – whom many of you will remember as a former Massively writer from many years ago when we were under AOL! – about ArcheAge’s third anniversary this month, the remainder of the 3.7 update with its lunagem overhaul, and the release of expansion 4.0 with its new ship, cross-server arenas, improved crafting UI and tutorials, and currency conversion. Let’s dig in!
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.'”