alpha testing

Betawatch: Pathfinder Online isn't dead yet (March 24, 2017)

You could be forgiven for kind of thinking that Pathfinder Online was dead in the water, but it turns out that there's still hope. A surprise announcement stated that the game is moving forward once more, that it's going to be finished, and that there's reason to be hopeful from here on out. So if you're a big fan of the game or what the designers originally promised, don't give up just yet!

Other beta news this week was... well, let's face it, it was weird. What do I mean? See for yourself.

See what I mean, though? It's been a weird week. Perhaps you can feel a bit better about the week by checking on the list just below, which has all sorts of games on it. Of course, some of them may have crept into a different test status without our notice, which is also weird, so please let us know in the comments if you spy that.

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Kickstarted survival sandbox Planet Nomads hits early access on April 18

Planet Nomads is one of those gorgeous sci-fi multiplayer survival sandboxes that's been kicking around on our Make My MMO list for so long that I'd almost forgotten about it. Not anymore!

"After the 2+ years of caring, cuddling and upbringing, Planet Nomads has finally grown up tall enough to get out there and fight for its future," studio Craneballs (best name ever) says, as the actual "survival" update has this week arrived in the game's alpha, and the early access is now slated for April 18th.

The game originally pulled in $140,000 in Kickstarter funding in early 2016 -- no mean feat the past few years. Another game for our new survival sandbox column, eh?

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Dauntless recruits bold and beautiful warriors for its alpha program

Will you be among the first members of the public to pick up your oversized weapon and go monster hunting in Phoenix Labs' co-op RPG Dauntless? You might have a chance if you sign up for the alpha, which you can go ahead and do right now.

As the game eyes a 2017 release, there's a lot of testing that needs to be done between now and then. First up are a series of invite-only alpha tests (covered by an NDA) that will take place over the next few months. These tests should begin in late April. After that will come the open beta "later this year" that will allow players to stream and discuss the title.

"Much like the floating islands of the Shattered Isles, Dauntless will shift, grow, and evolve over time," the studio said in a press statement. "We will be rolling out our closed, invite-only alpha tests over the coming months to help us deliver the best experience possible to players later this year. As a prospective slayer, this is your chance to play Dauntless early and contribute to its development. We can’t wait to jump into the thick of battle and take down behemoths with you!"

Dauntless received Massively OP's PAX East 2017 award for "Best Multiplayer RPG."

Source: Alpha sign-up page, press release

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Crowfall reflects on its 'unrelenting series of updates'

It's a little hard to believe, but we've now been watching Crowfall develop since late 2014, going from a teaser announcement through a successful Kickstarter and arriving at the current pre-alpha testing. For this week's founder's update, the dev team decided that it deserved a moment to reflect upon all of its accomplishments and progress to date.

The team pointed to an interactive timeline chart from German fan site Crowfall Community that marked all of the major (and minor) milestones of the project from 2014 through 2017. It's a pretty handy resource if you want to get a big-picture view of the game's progress.

ArtCraft provided a pep talk, free of charge: "Obviously, this chart shows how much we have accomplished, and that’s great to see! … but it also shows something MUCH more important: It shows a cadence, an unrelenting series of updates that make the game a little better every month [...] If that cadence proves anything, it’s that these challenges will also be tackled in due time. This game will emerge, and when it does, it’s going to be awesome."

Source: Crowfall

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The Survivalist: Massively OP's guide to multiplayer survival sandboxes

Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.

I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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Ship of Heroes touts Unreal Engine 4 progress ahead of Kickstarter bid

Since our community has City of Heroes on the brain of late, let's recall that there are no less than five games inspired by the late superhero MMORPG on the way, each in a different state of development. One of the newest entries on that list is Ship of Heroes, possibly the most similar to the classic game, except for that whole "oh yeah and the city's on a spaceship" twist.

This morning, Ship of Heroes' Heroic Games posted a press release talking up its Unreal Engine 4 progress.

"Epic Games is excited that Ship of Heroes is being built using Unreal Engine 4," an Epic rep is quoted as saying. "Ship of Heroes is developing quickly and we look forward to having another MMO in the market based on our technology, and the community of artists and coders that utilize it."

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Star Trek Online preps Reckoning update for consolers in April

PWE announced this afternoon that Star Trek Online will drop the Reckoning update on console players next month on April 18th -- that's a pretty quick clip for console players, who just got Agents of Yesterday mid-February. Heck, PC players only just got Reckoning in January. What's in it? A brand-new-to-you featured episode, the new crafting school, two Tzenkethi-themed space queues, and the new space battlezone.

"Season 12 – Reckoning centers around the new featured episode, Of Signs and Portents. Captains will join the Lukari on a mission to investigate weaponized use of protomatter in a new region of the Alpha Quadrant. Further evidence leads them to the Tzenkethi, a highly intelligent, militant species who plan on using the deadly substance to build a bomb capable of wiping out entire planets. Teaming up with legendary Klingon General Rodek (voiced by actor Tony Todd), the Alliance must find a way to stop the Tzenkethi from enacting a potentially cataclysmic attack. Season 12 also unlocks expansive new content for players to discover, including the Lukari Restoration Reputation, the new Kits and Modules Research School, a full space battlezone and two new space queues, Gravity Kills and The Tzenkethi Front."

Don't forget there's a double experience bonus event running this weekend!

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Three games you've never heard of: Lothgar Online, Little War Online, Age of Rivals

When I add news to our newsroom for our reporters to pick up, I often add links that just say "such-and-such a game exists" -- because just existing is what's new, or at least new to us. Today, we had three of those, and I'm combining them all for this quick look at three MMOs and orbiting games that you've probably never heard of: Age of Rivals, Lothgar Online, and Little War Online.

Lothgar Online

Lothgar Online (Asylumsoft) launched yesterday. Let me warn you upfront: If you aren't into retro pixel graphics and hardcore gameplay, you probably won't like this MMO. The devs, who are also the folks behind the similarly styled Elderlands, call it an "Online RPG built in a classic style, paying homage to 1980s RPGs," and yes, that means PvP, corpse looting, and attunement in addition to a giant world, guilds, skills, and questing. On the other hand? There's no cash shop either. Old school isn't always a bad thing! (via Reddit)
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Legends of Aria begins focused testing, delays Steam launch

Legends of Aria is shaking things up from the old Shards Online paradigm. In addition to the name change and broader focus, the fantasy title announced that it is going to adopt a "more conventional MMO testing platform" going forward.

"Future play-tests will now be conducted in phases of focused testing, geared towards specific areas of gameplay in preparation for final implementation," Citadel Studios said in this week's newsletter. "To accommodate the need for extra testing periods, our Steam launch will coincide with the release of the Legends of Aria Beta instead of Alpha 2."

The current Alpha 1 test will conclude on March 26th, to be followed by Alpha 2's start on April 28th. The team said that its taken a shine to the concept of a single large official server (in addition to the private ones) and that it will start to talk about all of the changes in store for Legends of Aria on March 31st in a new development blog.

Source: Newsletter

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Castles get an upgrade in Gloria Victis

If players or guilds are going to put the effort in purchasing and building up a castle in Gloria Victis, they are going to be rewarded with one fine-looking structure. Thanks to this past week's alpha patch, the biggest building in each of the six main settlements has received new and improved models for the keep's final form.

The patch contains an additional hodge-podge of changes, including the ability to interact with non-dialogue NPCs, bigger buffs for countries being dominated by others, and smiths that sell better wares than before.

The team also reported that it is continuing to work on making combat look and feel better: "We know, that combat/animations overhaul is long overdue and community is getting impatient, to say the least. So, just a quick heads up for you guys: we are polishing. It’s a long, yet rewarding process, as we are tweaking little details over and over again to exterminate bugs and make sure it feels great to roam and fight."

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Betawatch: The Repopulation is back in the saddle again (March 17, 2017)

It has been an odd and not altogether happy ride for The Repopulation, but the good news is that the game is back into a playable state. It's also the exact same game from when it got shut down, so if you were expecting some huge changes, you will be somewhat disappointed. And, you know, there's the whole change in ownership that's left a bad taste in many people's mouths. Still, it's online!

Other beta stuff also happened this week as it turns out. Which is good and hopefully will be less depressing. Let's see.

Some of that still found a way to be sort of a downer, huh? Well, you can check out the full list of games in testing below, perhaps that will bring you more joy. As always, let us know if something hopped test phases in the comments! We're trying to get rid of all the cash shops that take your money in supposed beta tests, but they're remarkably resilient. Some of us suspect there's a hive.

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Sea of Thieves discuss playtest experiences - but still no release date in sight

What's going on right now with the piratey Sea of Thieves? The game is currently in its technical alpha (the best kind of alpha there is!), with the team occasionally posting developer gameplay videos to entertain and enlighten the masses.

In this week's Tales from the Tavern Podcast, the team discusses those play sessions, the recent additions to the game, and a studio update. The team also hinted at some things to come, such as "putting emergent things into the world to mess with the players."

Curious about when Sea of Thieves will be coming out? Previously the team had said "early 2017," but in the show comments, they clarified that "we haven't announced a release date yet. Fully focused on the Tech Alpha for now!"

Check out the full hour podcast below!

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LawBreakers rolls out massive patch today with first closed beta test

Nexon's CliffyB-designed online shooter LawBreakers enters its first round of closed beta today.

Back in August, dev studio Boss Key told fans it was going "back in the lab" to work out some of the kinks and take into account feedback from alpha testers.

This weekend's closed beta event, which runs until March 19th, trots out those lab-baked changes, including Discord chat, three new roles, two new maps, an updated UI, fresh tutorial elements, achievements, a balance update for most of the original roles and modes, and performance optimizations. There's also some testing going on with regard to customization and stashes.

Launch is still planned for later this year; you can sign up for future beta rounds on the official site!

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