This week in MMO crowdfunding, HEX announced it is officially coming to PS4 on September 9th under a hybrid HEX: Card Clash moniker, which “marries the PC version you know and love with an all-new and improved PS4tm client” and allows gamers to “play seamlessly with players from both clients, and compete for weekly cash prizes.” Says the studio,
“Ever since our Kickstarter, we knew there was the desire to curl up on the couch with a nice game of HEX. We originally envisioned this as tablet support, but as HEX evolved it became clear that there were still some significant hurdles to making that a reality. From both a coding and a UI perspective, HEX requires some significant magic to faithfully reproduce the PC experience you know and love in a different medium. While we are absolutely still planning to come to tablet, we began to wonder if we couldn’t get you couch conquerors HEX just a little bit sooner.”
Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar launched R45, Crowfall players put together a crafting calculator, Valiance Online streamed its alpha, Grim Dawn released gameplay of its upcoming Necro class, Ashes of Creation pegged December for its “alpha zero,” and Camelot Unchained said it’s overdelivering on tech. (Thanks, Zophie!) Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Those looking for mild juicy controversy need to go no further than the high-strung lands of Albion Online. This past week on Reddit, a poster accused a Sandbox Interactive guild member of showing favoritism by leaking advance patch information so that guildies could prepare for changes well in advance of the rest of the community.
The studio responded in the thread, confirming that a leak took place, but saying that it was from a tester or testers in a “closed combat test” and not a staff member. “The info leak described in the OP comes from closed combat tests that we run with selected players now and then,” Sandbox Interactive said. “While these tests are under NDA, any player taking part in such a test could in principle leak that info.”
Taking this incident as a wake-up call to the danger of having a source of helpful information shared with only part of the community, SBI promised that going forward it would publicly post the purpose and outcome of these closed tests to level the playing field.
I’d like to be able to say that Albion Online is no longer under siege by DDOS blackmailers, but unfortunately, the most recent one was yesterday, as detailed by the new status page.
The attacks haven’t stopped development of the live game, however. In Sandbox Interactive’s latest roadmpa post, Game Director Robin Henkys spares one paragraph to discuss DDOS countermeasures before hurtling into upcoming content. “We’re aiming to bring you 3-4 major updates per year and these updates will consist of a healthy mixture of new features and improvements to existing systems,” he says.
The first of those is codenamed Jospeh and should arrive in late September or early October. Expect it to include a 5v5 arena mode, improved loot chest spawning, two new high-end expeditions, new abilities, heavy improvements to the interface, smart casting, reworked animations, and a balance pass for combat and items.
How is World of Warcraft like the wild west of American history and legend? Something about Barrens chat might come to mind, but blog Coffee Cakes and Crits has another view on the connection between the two.
“One of the ‘codes’ of the Old West was that you did not have to tell where you came from or why you were in the West,” he writes. “This code is exactly the same in the World of Warcraft. You don’t have to say what you do for a living or your military background or level of education. You don’t even have to claim a gender. It is what you do in the game that matters and you can go as far as you dare to try and, hopefully, try again. This is a very good thing.”
Continuing on with our tour of the MMO blogosphere this week, we’ll see a gut reaction to the Secret World TV series announcement, impressions from the Path of Fire preview weekend, and more!
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen surprised backers by removing all “aim dates” from its weekly production schedule, which is intended to provide a roadmap toward the (very delayed) 3.0 alpha release. CIG instead provided two graphs it says will give a “more accurate look at where [it is] trending” – check those out down below. (Cheers, Cotic!)
In more meta news, Fig announced that a game promoted through its equity crowdfunding platform actually generated profit for investors, a first for the company. That game would be Kingdoms and Castles, which according to Polygon netted $1M in sales and consequently provided a 100% return to investors through Fig (double their money). It’s not an MMO, of course, but several MMORPGs have turned to this type of equity crowdfunding since it became legal last autumn, including Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar.
Meanwhile, Albion Online continued suffering from extortionists’ DDOS attacks, we kicked off a month-long deep-dive into Shroud of the Avatar, Dual Universe scored a huge chunk o’ change in its run up to alpha, Pantheon published its monthly newsletter, and we got the details on the superhero MMO panel at PAX, which we’ll be attending in person (thanks, cyanpill!).
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Albion Online emerges this week extremely battered and bruised after a prolonged series of DDOS attacks against the game and even demands for ransom payments by the perpetrators to make it stop.
Hopefully it’s in the past now as the studio has taken steps to shore up the game’s defenses. For players who found themselves bereft of a game experience, Albion Online is gifting some extra subscription time as compensation. All players who have been subbed between July 17th and August 11th will get an extra week of game time credited to their account (this is on top of an additional week of subscription gifted for launch issues).
“Properly defending against well-executed DDOS attacks is a very challenging task, and far harder than a quick Google search might suggest,” the team posted. “In close collaboration with leading experts in the field, we are making significant progress. Recent attacks have impacted the server’s performance, but generally were not successful in bringing it down. Our defenses are constantly being optimized and fine-tuned. Having said that, we are not in a position to give the ‘all clear’ just yet.”
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Albion Online.
As we’ve been reporting, the newbie sandbox has been absolutely plagued by a long series of nasty DDOS attacks since at least early last weekend, causing repeated server outages and extreme frustrations that have continued into today. Developer Sandbox Interactive has characterized the outages as the “result of a concerted effort to bring Albion Online down with a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS),” which the developers believe is retaliation for their actions against goldsellers who swarmed the game at launch. The RMT company or companies also reportedly served the studio ransom demands, but the studio declared it will not give into blackmail.
In the meantime, the servers are still up and down like a seesaw; the latest DDOS began less than an hour ago, and while Sandbox has already apologized (repeatedly) and told its fans it’s consulting with experts and working on defensive infrastructure, players have begun questioning the developers’ ability to solve the problems – some even questioned the DDOS and blackmail attempts themselves.
I’ve more than once joked with our writers and readers that Massively OP is not an uptime monitor, but we’re making a special exception for the beleaguered Albion Online this week. As we’ve previously reported, the newbie sandbox has been suffering a series of nasty DDOS attacks since early last weekend, causing repeated server outages and extreme frustrations that have continued into today.
Sandbox Interactive has characterized the outages as the “result of a concerted effort to bring Albion Online down with a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS),” which the developers believe is retaliation for their actions against goldsellers plaguing the game. Furthermore, as we noted yesterday, Sandbox says that it’s been served with a ransom demand from the attackers, which the studio characterized as a “blackmail” attempt for money that it will not give into.
“It goes without saying that we will never give in to them. As every black mailer will know, it’s the worst thing you could ever do. Of course, every blackmail attempt and DDOS attack is being reported to the relevant law enforcement agencies, too, though realistically the chance to catch somebody is quite slim. Having said that, sometimes it does happen, and if it does, we will pursue every case to the fullest extend possible, no matter where the offender is based – above activities are a crime in every jurisdiction in the world and it’s always possible to find a local law firm to represent you.”
On Saturday, we reported on a series of nasty DDOS attacks on the newly launched PvP sandbox Albion Online, which unfortunately continued throughout the weekend and took the servers offline for play.
“The current server outage is the result of a concerted effort to bring Albion Online down with a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS),” Sandbox Interactive told players on Saturday. “This is most likely in response to our recent actions against gold sellers to coerce us to not interfere with their illegal business. We’re working with our datacenter to find ways to mitigate this attack.”
Yesterday, however, Sandbox devs told players that they had actually been served with a ransom demand from the attackers, which the studio characterized as a “blackmail” attempt for money.
The servers are currently back up; hopefully, they stay up. Judging by the replies to the tweets, I’d say the playerbase is getting antsy.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen posted its monthly studio report along with its updated 3.0 production report as it works on the “User Experience Polish Pass.” Players tracked only two delays in this report: the UI and the mission system AI. Cross your fingers that the Evocati test access begins next week as planned (it’s actually looking pretty good).
Elsewhere, Albion Online was slammed with a DDOS attack yesterday, which the devs say was “most likely in response to [SI’s] recent actions against gold sellers to coerce [SI] to not interfere with their illegal business.”
Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained teased testing for beta 1 backers, Path of Exile launched its latest expansion, Crowfall profiled a dev, Dogma Eternal Night tinkered with its mission system, Descent Underground released a demo on BrightLocker, City of Titans returned to Twitch, and Global Adventures successfully funded on Kickstarter.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Now that Albion Online has officially launched, what’s the verdict? It’s a little hard to get a feel for that, since I haven’t seen a huge crowd heading off to play it, but I do know that there are some that have been waiting for this colorful sandbox MMO.
Occasional Hero posted his launch impressions, saying, “Playing Albion feels a lot like going back to RuneScape. It’s an isometric, crafting-focused, click-to-move game where players have to compete for resources. Even the graphics are similar […] If I get to the endgame and everything I need is walled inside PvP zones controlled by massive, EVE-style guild conglomerates, I won’t be sticking around. Sadly, from a lot of the player feedback I’ve been hearing, it sounds like that’s what a lot of it is going to end up being.”
And SparkoMarkoGaming has done us all a service by blogging through his first few days in the game. “I knew what to expect from playing the beta and nothing seemed to have changed in the gameplay,” he noted.
Continue with us on our journey through MMO blog essays in this week’s Global Chat! On deck is a look at Star Citizen’s alpha, an evaluation of Secret World Legends, and a look at gamers’ “play personalities.”
Every game is going to have issues when it launches; the good ones acknowledge those issues and keep players updated on the state of those issues and their solutions. Albion Online has run into some growing pains since its launch, and the developers are working hard at fixing the biggest ones, discussing the issues behind overcrowded areas, lag in larger fights, and periodic server reboots. Creating instancing for high-demand specific features like banks, for example, will allow players to access those zones even when crowded while keeping the rest of the world non-instanced.
Ultimately, the team is going to compensate all active players with an additional seven days of subscription time as a means of amelioration for the issues they’ve encountered. It also might help soften the blow for things like the most recent patch coming with a shiny new data rollback, which is resetting character data by 15 minutes. Not enough to end the world, but you still notice it; it’s the growing pains of a newly launched game.
Update: Patch notes for today’s update are now live!
People are playing Albion Online, which is a good thing for the game. However, it’s less good when Caerleon has more than a thousand people trying to get in it, since that’s the point at which no one can get into the city. Since all of the zones around the city are full PvP and all of the Outland portal zones are also full PvP, it’s not exactly a safe situation for players when the city is suddenly unavailable. But the issue is being addressed with teleporters.
Teleport stones have been added to several locations, allowing players to teleport to the Caerleon bank and back out to both the Outland zones or the adjacent regions with ease. Should issues arrive, teleporters can be easily changed without server restarts. The developers also note that this is a temporary solution, with a more permanent one planned for the next patch; until that solution is put into place, you can enjoy access to some emergency teleportation.