Crowfall isn’t content to make gathering as dull and repetitive as in other MMOs, which is why the team is putting great stock in its so-called “action harvesting.” This system has come under further refinement following its introduction a few weeks back, and the devs were on hand this week to demonstrate why you’ll need to be on your toes when you’re cutting down that tree or scrounging through that bush.
One of these refinements is the addition of “energetic harvesting,” a skill that uses the new action pips to trigger buffs during the process. Players were also shown several of the optional disciplines that a character can equip, such as Logger, Quarryman, Lookout, Hoarder, and Survivalist.
ArtCraft informed the community yesterday that it has started to send out instructions for guilds to reserve their names. “Hey, Crowfall Kickstarter backers: Watch your inbox for guild name reservation info. Newer backers can reserve guild names in November,” the studio posted.
MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.
“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”
I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?
Over the past month or so, Crowfall has been steadfastly working its way through the list of the dozen races that will be available during the game’s remaining testing and launch. As of today, that list is complete.
The last three beastly species are given the spotlight treatment, with racial traits for each revealed. The noble Centaur is more hardy, has an extra boot slot (because… four hooves!), and can kick players who attack it from behind. The fierce Minotaur is more dexterous, can regenerate some damage that it is dealt, and is immune to stuns coming from its front. Finally, the small but scrappy Guinecean gain more effects when they eat food, can wear three rings, and can double-jump with the best of them.
As with the other races, these three can only be paired with a small subset of classes. The Centaur can choose between Knight, Champion, and Cleric; the Minotaur picks from Ranger, Champion, and Myrmidon options; and the Guinecean may choose to become a Knight, a Cleric, or a Duelist.
Testing for Crowfall is still in full swing, and that means that when you watch something like the most recent hour-long stream, you do so with full knowledge that everything in the game can still change. Case in point: For a very long time, the game has encouraged every class in the game to wear any weight of armor the player desires, with each weight having its own strengths and weaknesses. You can still mix and match armor types, but the next patch will change the system so you’ll have to equip a minor discipline to use armor that’s not normally used by the base class.
Other previews include the Knight’s ability to choose between blocking and dodging attacks, the multiple different types of bow on display, and the upcoming dual-wielded pistols for Duelist characters. You can check out the full video just below, but be warned, it is an hour long. Don’t start watching if your boss is coming over in five minutes.
Happy October: It’s time for another Crowfall Q&A. ArtCraft’s Thomas Blair and Mark Halash and sit down to answer questions from high-end Crowfall backers. Of note, they cover multiple skill trays, exploration trees, bow content, particle effects, double-dipping skill trees, tome caps, win conditions in testing vs. final, and harvesting tools. Respecs are still on the table (it’s a post-launch feature), and vessel-swapping is hoped to make it into the 5.4 test. The duo further address the extreme lag from the last test, admitting that new stuff being tested is still being optimized, hence the slowdowns.
They also answer a provocative question about a checklist and production schedule for the soft launch. “There’s definitely a schedule,” Blair says. “Do we share it? No! Because we don’t want our feet held to the fire for everything little thing that we have to rearrange.
“For us it’s kind of a living document. Some things have to slip around, like, ‘Hey, this thing that we planned to do two milestones out just became super easy, or we had to do it anyway to get to the thing we wanted to do.’ And that happens all the time. So we get pretty transparent after we do a thing and when it’s at a very high level, but we’re not going to give you ‘here’s our schedule; hold us to these things.'”
Even Crowfall, as progressive as it is with its racial choices, must bow to the ironclad law of MMOs that state, “Every fantasy game must contain, at the bare minimum, a human and Elf playable race.” So it is written, so it is obeyed.
That doesn’t mean that Crowfall’s take on these races is quite so stereotypical. This week’s dev blog outlines the history and lore behind these two species and their sub-races. Humans and Nethtari are quite similar, although the latter’s fire runes and superiority complex sets them apart. Likewise, a true nerd will learn and memorize the variations between High Elves, Sun Elves, Moon Elves, and Wood Elves. Together, they form the great houses of Hogwarts, right?
Crowfall’s racial picks aren’t just cosmetic; each species has its own inherent passive and active perks. For example, Humans toggle on a damage boost, Nethtari sport a fire DoT, High Elves have greater intellect, and Wood Elves can camouflage. Which will you choose?
The man who pretty much wrote the book on many MMORPG systems shared another piece of keen insight about a pitfall in many competitive systems. In a short blog post, veteran MMO designer Raph Koster explains why competitive structures end up stagnating and faltering as “winners” gain rewards, become untouchable, and gradually choke out any competition and growth.
“Systems that don’t destroy their kings on a regular basis end up destroying the kings and the citizenry. And life under a king is never advantageous to the citizens, either,” he writes. “This is game design: set up your system to cause ferment, not stability and inevitability.”
Perhaps this is why Koster was attracted to the Crowfall project, as this PvP-centric MMO is devoted to knocking over the board and resetting its pieces on a regular basis.
The Stoneborn of Crowfall are not dwarves. They sometimes get referred to as dwarves, but it’s a ridiculous name because they’re as large as normal people. They’re also not a normal race, either, as they’re less “living creatures” and more “elemental creatures created at the dawn of time.” Also, every time one of them dies, that’s one less member of the race; again, they’re not living creatures and can’t reproduce. Oh, and they’re also a playable race, so this should work out well.
In-game, the Stoneborn are all male (because that’s apparently the default the gods chose to create) and boast increased strength, durability, and resistance to knockdown. They can also slot a special racial skill to make themselves more durable for a short span of time, one of the benefits of being literally made from the ground. So while they’ve got elements of dwarves, you can rest assured that they are not dwarves. They’re not even small enough to be called dwarves.
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.”
Instead of looking back at MMORPGs this week, the crew of Battle Bards launches forward into early access! What would a show about music from MMOs that aren’t even officially out yet be like? We’re going to find out in this wild and woolly episode!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 106: Early access themes (or download it) now:
Remember this lovely ranger lady from Crowfall’s original concept art? We sure do, since we’re pretty fond of using it. Turns out in the new split archetypes system, she’s a half elf, a race that’s the subject of the game’s latest dev diary. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair describes a race familiar to most fans of fantasy RPGs.
“Half-Elf children are different than their Human counterparts, and these differences become increasingly apparent as they mature into adulthood. In terms of facial features, they age more slowly, but make quick gains in terms of height, strength and agility. Among Human settlements, stories abound of Half-Elves who live in forests as animals, stealing children and livestock and reverting to savage ways. This causes them to be looked on with suspicion and sometimes outright hostility. It is not uncommon for a Half-Elf to be outcast from certain conservative communities – which often leads them into a life of banditry and crime, further perpetuating the cycle of distrust and enmity.”
Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
Yesterday, ArtCraft posted a live Crowfall Q&A video showing off what the devs are calling “action harvesting” – and it caused a surprising amount of uproar in our comments. Essentially, the game will simply put players into a harvesting mode with a special skill bar. Instead of clicking, grabbing, and darting off, you’ll be finger-dancing skills on the node.
Incidentally, it’ll also leave you exposed to enemy attack, but the chief complaint was actually that it’ll be a boring timewaster, the sort of things other MMOs have tried in crafting and rejected because they’re fun a few times and then, a chore.
Today, the studio’s gone into more depth on the system, explaining that the changes “mesh” with the game’s action combat and were actually inspired by the game’s ongoing power tray redesign as the devs played around with trying to build harvesting that wasn’t just a click to get stuff.