For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to do something most of them hate: brag! We’ve tried to isolate our favorite personal work from the year and talk about why we think it matters, then identify our favorite work from somebody else on the site this year and do the same. I always tell them it’s easy, but it never is!
Crowns are the microtransaction currency coming to Crowfall starting in 2018, which you can buy like most microtransaction currencies. Guilds are… well, guilds. If you’ve played an MMO you know how a guild works. And you can use crowns to purchase the right to make a guild early, at which point you can get more crowns for having people sign up for the guild. It’s all explained pretty handily in this update about guilds and crowns, you see.
Early guild-makers will received bonus crowns in the guild’s crown wallet for players recruited to the guild, with players warned that any crowns in the guild wallet belong to the guildmaster (which technically does prevent the guildmaster from stealing the crowns, since they belong to the guildmaster). It’s also important to note that anything you buy with crowns should be craftable in the full game, and crown purchases are for Eternal Kingdoms rather than campaign worlds. The full explanation has answers for probably most of your questions about crowns, albeit not actually saying how many crowns things cost or how many you get for a purchase. (So 1000 free crowns could be $10 of crowns or $0.10 of crowns.)
Even games that haven’t technically launched yet are getting into the whole pre-holiday MMORPG frenzy. Take Crowfall, for example: Instead of kicking their feet up and sipping the finest of eggnogs, ArtCraft’s team members decided to release Pre-Alpha 5 today. Maybe it’s to impress their Elf on the Shelf.
Testers have a couple of tempting new options to play with this build. Both the Assassin and Human Male Ranger are available to try out, so you’ve got your pick of stabby-stabby or shooty-shooty. Crowfall has also added crafting stations, more keybinding options, the ability to anticipate and chain skills more smoothly, and something called “Wwise implementation.” Actually, this sounds like a good thing: “That will keep others’ sounds quieter than your own and support sound dropoff.”
Check out the full dev livestream that covers this patch after the break!
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.
For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!
Lest you be dispirited by the fact that Crowfall’s soft launch isn’t going to make 2017 as promised (after also not making 2016), ArtCraft has a post up today outlining all the things the team did accomplish this year. And one of those things happens to involve acquiring another chunk of cash from investors.
“After a lot of discussion over the summer, we decided to do a larger raise to expand our game content, cover all launch expenses and to have enough funds to drive a respectable marketing campaign at launch,” J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton write today on the official site. “We believe this is the right approach, so we pitched it to our investors. They agreed. We are delighted to announce that on December 1st, we closed another financing round for an additional $6 million. This money will be used to fund the completion, launch and marketing of Crowfall. This means we’ll be hiring a few more people, we’ll be able to invest more in our live infrastructure and support more players; and we’ll be able to get some real attention once the game is ready.”
Garretsen says that the UI’s undergone a “pretty big shift” and now has a weighty side-docked UI element that merges the character’s stats, gear, and inventory, a little bit like the UI design in OARPGs like Path of Exile and Diablo. The idea is to boost visibility of the most important UI elements and clarify the game loop and how each piece of your character interacts (as well as deflect criticism that the game felt like a MOBA, and it really shouldn’t given how much goes into character development).
Don’t panic, however, if you just want to play without fussing too much with the numbers under the hood that are less under the hood with the test build’s latest update. “You don’t have to get into the stats to have a good time in this game,” Garretsen assures watchers. The whole Q&A is below.
Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?
If you’re the sort of person who runs screaming from a room and vows to burn the whole house down over the barest glimpse of an arachnid, you are not going to like the newest Crowfall bestiary entry. For one thing, it’s all about spiders. For another thing, it’s all relayed through a creepy bit of in-universe lore explaining just how nasty and subversive spiders are in this world.
Those of you less susceptible to swatting at bare skin at the mere suggestion of a spider on you will still likely be a bit freaked out by the hidden, skittering children of Arachne, Mother of Spiders. It doesn’t help that the in-world lore is written by an actual disciple of Arachne, at that. Just… go read about it, and remember that these are not the sort of spiders you smash idly unless you want to bruise your hand.
Oh, hey, is that one in your hair?
ArtCraft gave its community a heads-up that at the end of 2017, it will be retiring its business model of selling pledge packages in favor of smaller pre-orders. This especially affects the larger bundles of $200 or more, which the studio said will be broken down and sold in smaller increments to those who want a la carte purchases. There will also be three pre-order editions put on sale as the game ramps up toward beta and release.
“In late January, we’ll be transitioning pricing for almost everything in our store to a micro-transaction currency (known as crowns), which function in a manner… well, like pretty much every other online game,” the studio said. “All virtual items will use crown pricing while digital and physical copies of the game, VIP Tickets and a few services will continue to be priced using real-world currency. All existing wallets will be converted to crowns, at the highest currency-to-crown ratio that we offer.”
ArtCraft also mentioned on Twitter that it is teaming up with AbleGamers to help make Crowfall more accessible for those with physical handicaps.
Don’t ever test Raph Koster on MMORPG history, because you’ll probably lose.
The Star Wars Galaxies and Crowfall designer challenged a recent Rolling Stone article and a resulting Reddit thread on its portrayal of World of Warcraft back in its earliest days as the community prepares for WoW Classic. In particular, Koster takes umbrage with the “minimal storytelling” that the piece attributes to the vanilla game.
“[World of Warcraft] launched with probably literally 100x the story of any preceding MMO ever,” Koster said on Twitter. “Helped, no doubt, by spending a minimum of 4x the budget of any other MMO except Sims Online. Anyway, it’s just funny to read an argument that the great STRENGTHS of WoW at launch were its weaknesses.”
The latest Crowfall Q&A video changes tack about halfway through. For the first half, lead designer Thomas Blair and executive producer Gordon Walton helpfully discuss various player questions like how the team is preparing for the next major release and why they haven’t shown up frequently at conventions. But then the video becomes a journey into a side of development we all know about but rarely see – the process of hunting down and fixing bugs in the game.
Picking out specific bugs shows the full interface and the testing process, starting with the reported bug of Roasted Bloodworm causing 12 damage instead of healing it. If you think that fixing it is as simple as changing a plus or minus sign somewhere… no, first it requires hunting down why it has the problem in the first place, looking at all of the components, and so forth. You can see it for yourself in the video just below. (Fair warning, it’s lengthy.)
Now that Crowfall fans have a little longer to wait before the game’s soft launch, they have time to fully absorb this lengthy article on action harvesting. Yes, ArtCraft has been pushing this vision for harvesting for a couple of months now, but there is a good chance that you still don’t know what it means other than imagining a character wildly swinging away, missing a large chunk of ore on the ground, and causing self-inflicted wounds with a pickaxe.
Basically, action harvesting refers to a more involved process of material gathering, complete with its own skill bar and special effects. The studio has continued to iterate on the system, having emerged from brainstorming with “pips” as a resource, 11 harvesting disciplines (including, we kid you not, Grave Digger), 30 powers, and a universal “energetic harvesting” skill. There’s a pattern to swinging your implement, and as players build up more pips, their energetic harvesting skill will proc different effects.
“Because all the buff durations and the pips are so quick to generate, this creates an opportunity for the player to weave a variety of different buff combinations based on their current need,” the studio explained.