We ask tough questions. Whether the devs answer them truthfully — or at all — is on them! [Follow this category’s RSS feed]
Identity is an open-world, cops-and-robbers sandbox, and it isn't asking you for money. That's because it was already Kickstarted to the tune of almost $150,000 back in 2015. It's a real-world MMORPG with a focus on roleplay, economy, and yes, the dark side of human nature.
Developer Asylum Entertainment sat for an AMA on Reddit Friday -- here are a few of the highlights:
- Custom server admins can enforce a "new life rule" -- when you die and return, it's as a new character -- but the official servers won't. NPC police won't patrol the world, but players will be somewhat restricted, such that players can't raid each other's homes. "On official servers, we have a stress system in place to discourage random attacks or griefing. [...] You won't be able to shoot from inside your vehicle. We want to discourage random acts of violence for the sake of roleplay." There will also be safe-zones for player gatherings.
- "Identity's prison is very much a game within a game." Players will join factions, attempt prison escape, create weapons, undertake a trial, or just chill out and chat until their time is served. There are no player prison guards (they said they couldn't make it fun).
- Character customization will be limited to facial features, tats, jewelry, piercings (and presumable gender, skin color, etc.) but not physique, at least not for launch.
"Don't waste your time learning Klingon, it ain't no use," Luna sang way back in 1996, but clearly, they had never met Britton Watkins, a man who's made a career out of learning, creating, and teaching made-up alien languages and is now working on Star Citizen.
In fact, that's what this week's Around the Verse is all about. The series is back, kicking off its first episode of the year with a special edition featuring veteran Hollywood conlang linguist Britton Watkins, who's putting his fluency in Na'vi and Klingon to work creating the written and spoken languages of the Xi'An and Vanduul (the latter of which is portrayed by Andy Serkis above) in the Star Citizen universe.
"You’re doing motion capture with live actors, so they need to be able to pronounce everything, so the phonologies of these languages are pronounceable by human beings, 100%, and they will be pronounceable by talented game players and other people who want to learn to make those sounds," Watkins explains.
One of best parts of attending conventions is talking with the devs. And during my trip to Hi-Rez Expo 2017, I spoke with a number of them about a variety of topics, learning more about the games as well as witnessing their contagious exuberance for their projects first-hand. I spoke with lead designers AJ Walker, Rory Newbrough, and Scott Zier about SMITE's Season 4 changes, Paladins' Season 1, and SMITE Tactics' possible PvE mode respectively. President Stew Chisam also added a tantalizing tidbit, sharing news about the upcoming addition of more limited-time adventures in SMITE. Let's dive in!
If you enjoyed the variety of the one-off arenas Xing Tian's Mountain and Fafnir's Winter Wonderland as I did, this next announcement should make you happy: New adventures will be a regular occurrence! Did you catch when devs mentioned them in previous notes? If not, you are in good company; Chisam noted that these new events were pretty much a hidden line announcement. But he elaborated on the topic for us.
Early this afternoon, ArtCraft Entertainment's J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton answered investor questions about Crowfall's equity crowdfunding venture, which closes out on Monday. We've collected some of the highlights.
Coleman says investors are "making a bet" that there's an "eventual win" in terms of an IPO or buyout or some other way. In the gaming business, he says, most companies that have a win, "get acquired." He wouldn't say that's even remotely in the works, but it's a possibility for companies like ArtCraft and is one way investors might profit from their investment.
When asked whether the raise was initiated because the company needed money, Walton explained that the company didn't realize they'd be able to do a raise like this (because it was enabled by a brand-new law last fall); in fact, ArtCraft ended a different raise to open this one and had run one prior to the Kickstarter as well.
"Do [we] need more money? Yes, we do," Coleman says, but he stressed that every company needs and wants more money. He said he now believes the game will cost in the $11M-12M range, up from the original $8M estimate, thanks to mistakes, new features, design changes, and the Travian localization partnership, among other things.
Past, present, and future. While the totality of a game studio encompasses all three aspects, we often focus on only one or two at a time. Over the last week, we heard a great deal about Hi-Rez Studios' present during Hi-Rez Expo 2017, from the tournaments (congrats to all the winners!) to what's immediately in the works for its roster of games. But there are still the two other sides to the studio to consider. And these are the sides I explored in interviews with President Stew Chisam and VP Brian Greyson. Specifically I wanted to learn if the company had plans to connect its past with its future in regards to Global Agenda. I was also curious as to what other directions the SMITE franchise might take.
The fun will begin next month with LOTRO's Update 20, which will feature precursor events leading up to Mordor. Speaking of which, the Mordor expansion might be coming as soon as Q2 or Q3 2017 (Cordovan indicated June or after as a possibility). "We've wanted to do Mordor for so long," he said.
The team has "really big" content and gift plans for the game's 10th anniversary, and will continue to work on shoring up the technical side and reducing lag. There are also plans for a post-expansion update for later this year.
So what was the reason behind the move from Turbine to Standing Stone Games? Cordovan hedged a bit, saying that it was a corporate decision in the works for a year. "It aligned with everyone's interests in a way that I think will be interesting for everybody involved. An opportunity came up and we were able to make this happen," he said.
Listen to the full interview (it's the first segment of the show) after the break.
By now, it might be apparent that I am a bit enamored with the upcoming cross-platform SMITE Rivals. (Hey, it's the only game I active seek out PvP in!) I've certainly really enjoyed playing the game; it is fun and not just a little addicting. But I have also enjoyed talking with the Project Lead Brian Greyson, Producer Randy King, Lead Designer Chad Wilson, Tech Designer Colter Cvach, and Designer Sean Watson throughout Hi-Rez Expo 2017 about the game. From formal interviews to informal conversations to quick chats between matches, we tackled topics like the copycat concerns, design decisions, tactics, and the future. I even tried to learn more about monetization -- a hot topic in the online gaming community right now. Read on!
When you follow the development of MMOs, do you ever find yourself wondering who these people are making the games and what is their story? After all, developers' backgrounds and experience is carried forward into these new games.
Crowfall fans will not find themselves in the dark about Gordon Walton. It turns out that he's pretty chatty when the subject is his own life. In the second part of an interview series, Walton traces his game development career through the 1990s. Even if Crowfall isn't on your radar, you might want to give this a watch to learn more about the life and times of a game designer.
Give it a watch after the break!
Many of us think of these triple-A games as part of the giant corporate machine, and unfortunately, there is a part of the game industry that is that money-making monstrosity. However, when you look at a game like SWTOR, you see passionate people who really want to make a great Star Wars game. You find Irving and Boyd both were there when the game launched on this date five years ago: December 20th, 2011.
We've had several tips this week from players concerned about Hero's Song. One, for example, suggested that several employees had left Pixelmage Games and noted that the testing and community staff had abruptly ceased interacting with the public at the beginning of December following the launch of a patch. Others floated the rumor that the game's early access showing on Steam predicted the shutdown of the company.
While neither confirming nor denying the rumors, Pixelmage's John Smedley did tell Reddit that money is an issue in a post earlier this afternoon.
"Sorry for the lack of news or updates. To put it bluntly here part of being a startup means money is tight and funding is a major part of what we have to do as a startup. We're working through some things and I appreciate your patience. Sorry for not being more transparent on this particular issue but the simple truth is sometimes there isn't much that we can say. More info soon."
We have reached out to Pixelmage for more information, but the studio does not currently have a statement it's willing to share.
Earlier this month, we got a curious press release from a new gaming studio called Cold Iron. I might have skipped over it but for the fact that it was drenched in names I recognized from the old days of Cryptic Studios -- Craig Zinkievich, Shannon Posniewski, and Matt Highison. They're working on a "high-quality AAA online action game" that probably isn't a traditional MMORPG, but I wanted to probe for more details anyway, especially once we learned the studio is already fully funded.
We spoke with Cold Iron Founder/CEO Craig Zinkievich on just those topics; read on for our whole interview!
Cates said that there are a lot of new decorations coming in Patch 4.1: "I wasn’t originally planning on doing that much new for 4.0, but got a bit carried away when I saw the wealth of new assets available. So… I ended up making a lot. But when I saw all the assets available for Alittu… I knew there was a basis for a mind-blowing 4.1 update themed around that hub. So that is coming, and I cannot wait to see what craziness the dimension community creates out of it."
He did confirm that there are at least five new dimensions and one guild diimension in the works, although all of these might not come out in 4.1. He also explained why Trion decided to put a hard cap on the amount of aventurine that players could gather through minion missions (the short answer is that it will allow the studio to offer better rewards).