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World of Warcraft’s new communities system aims to bring players together in Battle for Azeroth

Among the various features and additions coming with World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth this summer, communities has gotten buried in all of the excitement. Yet this tool may generate some excitement when players experience it in action.

Blizzard Watch has a preview up of how communities work now that an early version is up on the alpha server. Communities will allow players to create cross-realm groups in addition to regular guilds (guilds will automatically become their own communities as well). The idea is that players can fashion specific types of communities and keep everyone in touch across the game.

There is also an option to create groups based on Blizzard’s BattleTags, in case you want a community that spans multiple Blizzard titles.

The article notes that many of the community features have yet to be activated, so there is a lot that we have yet to learn about the flexibility and function of this system.

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City of Titans restructures its development approach thanks to Unreal’s plugins

Due to the scattered locations of City of Titans’ team members, the devs have long since attempted a modular approach to building the superhero MMORPG. However, this format started to “break down,” and the team stepped back to look for a different approach.

This came in the form of Unreal Engine 4.18, which finally allowed its users to attach plugins to other plugins. After that version came out, the City of Titans team had a path forward and spent a few months restructuring the project to function within this new framework. Thanks to the change, the team said that the pace of development should be much better.

“Now that plugins can work with other plugins, all of the various game components can be plugins,” the devs said. “This means that interdependency and modularity are no longer mutually exclusive — they can be both at once […] Because everything is in the same place, everything — to the extent anything this complicated ever does mind you — just works.”

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Bless Online outlines key changes for its Steam release

When Bless Online launches on Steam early access next month, the version that western players experience won’t be identical to the client that is already running in Korea and Japan. This is because Neowiz is making a few important changes to tailor the game to a different audience, and in a new dev blog, the developer explains exactly what those changes will be.

Bless’ combat system has received the most attention in the transition. Neowiz revamped how rhythmic combat works, giving players a choice of skills to make up their combo rotation. Generally, combat will be more action-oriented and become “more difficult.”

Other adjustments include restructuring how skill acquisition and leveling works, adding more ways to obtain skill-leveling gems, choosing party benefit buffs to incentivize grouping, adding newbie friendly tutorials, giving monsters special skills, and improving the content pacing.

Source: Bless Online. Thanks Brother Maynard!

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Crowfall improves its time-based skill leveling

Similar to how skill training works in EVE Online, Crowfall uses a time-based skill-up system that accrues points whether or not the player is online. The dev team took some time recently to evaluate how the system was working out in testing and decided that it could benefit from some improvements.

While a dev blog goes into depth on the minutiae of the tweaks, the gist is that the entire system will accrue points in a “time bank” for players to spend on skill nodes when they log in each session. Many of the skill trees have been streamlined as well.

VIP players are going to have an advantage over regular players with this system, as they will get a much larger time bank (30 days vs. three days) and the ability to train two types of skill trees at once instead of one.

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Betawatch: Defiance 2050’s closed beta, ESO’s Summerset on the PTS (April 20, 2018)

Beta testing for Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset expansion – as well as the free update 18 that’ll launch alongside it – began this week as the chapter rolled out to the PTS, with plenty of glimpses at new housing and wearables on the way. What else is new in MMORPG testing this week?

Did we miss anything? Drop us a note in the comments, then check out our traditional list of all the bits and bobs currently malingering trucking along in some form of testing.

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Old School RuneScape starts mobile beta testing

The first wave of invites have been sent out for Old School RuneScape’s mobile closed beta, and the test has begun.

While both versions of RuneScape will eventually come to mobile, it’s the 2007-era Old School RuneScape that is going to launch first. With 5,431 players invited into the CBT, it’s good to see movement on this front. Jagex said that the title will come to mobile devices some time in 2018.

“The appetite for #OSRSMobile is extreme,” the studio said, “and we’re quite keen to make sure that you know what to expect from us. We’ll be collating feedback, and distributing surveys to the testers, over the week of the test. We’ll then look to report our findings to you as soon as possible. We’ll have a better idea of what to expect next in terms of testing, and we’ll keep you informed as and when we’re able.”

Source: Touch Arcade

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Star Citizen deep-dives the guts and glory of the character customization system

Cloud Imperium Narrative Director Dave Haddock joins the Around the Verse crew for this week’s episode of the Star Citizen community video. The majority of the studios, the devs explain, are already moving on to the next quarterly release – that being the 3.2 alpha.

But the highlight of the episode is the first iteration of the character customization system that rolled out in 3.1. It’s a pretty complicated system under the hood that hooks together everything from facial structure, hair, eyeballs, and then colors and textures for all of those bits, all properly tagged and linked together to make it easy for artists to add new assets. Hats and hair pose problems too, as any MMO player who’s even been annoyed by clipping can attest. The whole episode is below!

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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth turns on Dark Iron Dwarves and Mag’har for character testing

The first batch of the second wave of allied races are available for testing now on World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s alpha test. Dark Iron Dwarves and Mag’har Orcs have been added to character creation, which means that if you want an Orc that’s slightly less corrupted or a Dwarf that’s extra-crispy, that’s now an option. And that’s just one of the many changes with the latest build, because of course it is.

Players can also experiment with new ability changes including a significant rework to Arcane Torrent (the Blood Elf racial), more of the Uldir and Warfront sets, and new dungeons to test out. There’s also the miscellaneous elements found in the latest build, of course. We still don’t have an exact date for the beta, but based on all of the things that have been mined, it looks to be growing ever closer all the time.

Source: Wowhead (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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MapleStory 2 unveils North American website, closed beta starts next month

It seems like a no-brainer to bring the sequel to the popular MapleStory westward. And yet we’ve been waiting for a while now to see any movement on the MapleStory 2 front. The good news? Movement spotted.

Nexon America opened up the official MapleStory 2 website this past week and is now taking signups for the MMO’s beta test. There are some giveaways and promotions in the meantime, and when May 9th hits, the western closed beta will begin. Nexon isn’t making this title global, however, so be sure to check to see if your country or region is included.

MapleStory 2 is a huge step up from its predecessor both in visuals and content. It offers pretty adorable 3-D cubed worlds, interesting classes, and player housing. “MapleStory 2 features powerful tools to let all of our players truly customize their own corner of Maple World, from character customization, designing special outfits, building your own dream house and so much more,” Nexon said.

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BioWare: Anthem will be ‘unlike anything you’ve played’

While not going into any details about the progress of Anthem’s development and testing dates, BioWare nevertheless attempted to prime the pump for fans’ expectations this week.

BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson wrote the first of apparently several upcoming posts on Monday in which he acknowledged the studio’s failures in delivering more stories for Mass Effect: Andromeda while also putting in a plug for a brighter future with Anthem. Hudson said that Andromeda’s DLC stumble led to BioWare “refocusing” its mission by not losing sight of the world, character, and storytelling in its games.

“It’s in that spirit that we are working through production on Anthem,” Hudson said “a game designed to create a whole new world of story and character that you can experience with friends in an ongoing series of adventures. It will be unlike anything you’ve played, but if we do it right, it will feel very distinctly BioWare.”

Source: BioWare

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Betawatch: Radical Heights springs out to predictable lows (April 13, 2018)

Good news, Boss Key fans! After the studio pretty blatantly gave up on LawBreakers, it turned around and quickly launched its next project, a battle royale title dubbed Radical Heights. It sprang to life on Tuesday, and then it… sort of limped right after that. The numbers do look at least slightly better after the rest of the week, so hooray? Maybe?

Looking back, I started that paragraph with “good news.” I’m not sure why I did that.

Other beta news? Hey, sure.

Other beta titles? Oh, listed below, as we do. If you notice something jumped test phases without our noticing, do let us know down in the comments. We really appreciate it.

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Lazarus sponsors a free weekend in order to break its game

What’s the fastest way to ruin your house? Throw a free party to people with no inhibitions, of course. So what’s the fastest way to break an online video game? Drop the price to zero for a weekend and throw the doors open wide.

This is the current plan of Lazarus, the early access space shooter with a Groundhog Day complex. From today through Sunday the 15th, the game is running a stress test with the intent to “break the game” so that the team can prepare it for a global launch in the future.

It might be a challenge to break Lazarus, as the team has made significant server improvements to handle the load. Other recent changes include upgrades to the NPC AI, a streamlined tutorial, and an anonymous data logging tool to help diagnose connection issues.

Source: Steam

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WoW Factor: Updating data in the wake of Battle for Azeroth’s release announcement

Hooray, we have a release date for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth instead of just a release window! And contrary to what many skeptics (myself included) expected to get, it is actually quite a bit faster than other releases. But as you all have no doubt noticed by now, my love of math means that I’m hardly sore about this. It just means that there’s another data point to consider when we look to the future.

So let’s talk about this new piece of information while using the same information from the column in which I made a reasonable estimate, based on this new information. Again, I think it’s important to note how much faster this expansion is actually releasing compared to prior expansions; it’s significant, even if it means that the people predicting things like June were being wildly wrong about “optimistic” predictions. (After all, pessimistic predictions were equally wrong, just in the other direction; my own estimates were off by 2-3 months.)

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