Crowfall is about to take its next step into a larger world. The PvP MMO announced that it’s preparing to layer a live environment on top of test and internal servers as part of its move toward an eventual release. The live environment will feature a more refined and persistent build than what players are used to seeing on the more experimental test server. It will strive to stay up 24/7 as much as possible, be available to a wider pool of backers, be more stable, and be wiped only when absolutely necessary.
The team indicated that this server is a big deal for the development and testing, representing another major step forward: “The live environment will eventually become the live game. We will only wipe it when absolutely necessary and it will be up all the time (outside of normal maintenance). This deployment is one of many necessary transitions that will get us to launch.”
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
Crowfall’s Mark Halash and Thomas Blair are back with another Q&A video for the game with questions provided by backers. Starting off, Blair says that the “big world” push ArtCraft began half a year ago has more or less accomplished what the team wanted, and now it’s ready to move on to campaign worlds.
“We’re adding at a lightning pace,” he says by way of explaining some of the testing issues the game’s suffered earlier this month, but the studio’s in more of a polishing phase now. Also among the highlights?
- “Guilds are pretty standard,” with the exception of sub-guilds. Eventually, guild tools beyond the community chest will be expanded.
- No progress on mounts and caravans yet. The Campaign Worlds are slated for dev time first.
- The Bard is a discipline right now instead of a class as the team is experimenting with how it all works. Classes have more overhead (like animations), whereas disciplines are fairly cheap to roll out, plus more players can take advantage of the new content. “We’re not done yet” with disciplines, Halash says.
This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
Shroud of the Avatar’s Summer Telethon concluded last night, having raised from players $115,000 and unlocking multiple stretch goal rewards for players, including balloons and special pipe smoke shapes.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of news to emerge from the hoopla is that Portalarium is apparently using the SeedInvest platform to solicit investors in a new $2M equity crowdfunding campaign, akin to the one Crowfall studio ArtCraft carried out late last year.
It’s sent Reddit and the official forums into a tizzy as players and detractors question the game’s $25M valuation, its plans to fully launch in 2017, the story wipe apparently coming, and some of the features touted in the investment briefing that aren’t in the game, like trade routes, a fully player-driven economy, town capture, and console/mobile functionality. The investor pitch notes that the game has more than 64K “volunteer testers” (copies sold?) and over 150,000 “player registrations,” with a cash position of just over half a million dollars and a monthly drain of $230,000 in operational costs.
We have reached out to Portalarium for clarification this morning and will report back when we have better information, but be aware that it’ll be hard to get financial quotes out of them while the equity investment campaign is live.
When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.
But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.
It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.
Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.
I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?
Just when you think the MMO industry is predictable, it jukes and jags all over the place, tossing out surprises left and right in an attempt to shake you off its tail (or to pull you in, we haven’t decided on that one yet). Marking one of the most unpredictable news weeks of 2017, Bree and Justin ride out westerns, space operas, and fantasies with aplomb.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
It is reasonable to assume that anyone who has spent a bit of time playing MMOs is familiar with the basic concept of passive powers. They’re powers you don’t click to operate, they just… work. But Crowfall is taking the concept a bit further with its passive powers, as players will start with a variety of passives from race, class, and any disciplines chosen. At this time, three can be slotted, but these powers are not limited to selections like beating things up with more power.
For example, are you just starting to gather? You can equip gathering passives which will allow you to gather more resources when you’re just starting out. Have an otherwise great weapon with an awful power cost modifier? Equip a passive to drop your power costs again and balance it out. Invested a lot of points in leadership? Equip the Group Leadership skill and unlock powerful buffs as long as you’re in the lead of the party. It’s a multi-faceted system, in other words, and there should be no shortage of interesting combinations to build for dedicated players.
Following Crowfall’s titanic reveal of expanded and new features earlier this week, the dev team sat down for a seven-hour livestream event yesterday to go in-depth on the race/class pairings, powers special effects, disciplines, and environment improvements.
On the off-chance that you don’t have seven hours to spare to comb through all of the streams for important information, one kind player cobbled together a list of highlights from the team. Of particular interest was confirmation that Crowfall’s open beta will launch by the end of the year. The OBT will proceed the game’s soft launch, so expect 2018 to be a big year for this PvP MMO.
You can watch part of the stream event after the break.
After the astonishing reveal yesterday that Crowfall is decoupling its races and classes to offer more build freedom, what will you make? This burning question prompted one player, Tinnis, to put together a survey on the forums that allows fellow fans to construct their own class and then compare it with the rest of the crowd.
By choosing race, class, and disciplines, players can start to plan what they’re going to make when Crowfall officially launches. There are certainly a lot of options, and so far it’s fascinating to see what the community is choosing. You can take the survey yourself or skip ahead to view the results!
Crowfall’s teaser week is over, so what was the tease? “Massively expanded character customization options,” ArtCraft says, confirming some of the earliest hunches that the game will break up the race/class paradigm. It’s also getting a hefty graphics upgrade.
“ArtCraft Entertainment is pleased to announce that it will be adding one of the most requested additional features for their sandbox ‘Throne War’ MMO Crowfall: massively expanded character customization options. The developer has also overhauled the graphics in partnership with the Unity Spotlight team. […] With the new character customization players will now have the freedom to choose their character’s race and class combination from a wealth of options, rather than the original system of specific ‘archetypes.'”
OK, that was actually worthy of a week of teases. Check out the videos! (Also — sandbox, eh?)
With well over two weeks to go in its Kickstarter campaign, Ashes of Creation has already outpaced similar efforts from Chronicles of Elyria ($1.36M raised) and Crowfall ($1.76M). In fact, with over $1.84M raised so far and 19 days to go, it looks increasingly probable that the project is going to easily clear two million and surpass the Kickstarters of Shroud of the Avatar ($1.91M) and Camelot Unchained ($2.23M).
This also means that the $1.75M stretch goal to include an underground area is now sealed in stone. The team teased this subterranian zone by saying, “The Underrealm will be a rich environment where bioluminescence abounds in the fauna and flora that exist here. These deep caverns and underground valleys will provide new destinations for civilization to develop. Bringing the node system into the depths of the world, may awaken darker creatures than the surface. Be careful…”
The next funding stretch goal is to include social organizations such as thieves guilds at $2M. If you missed our Friday livestream interview with the Ashes of Creation team, make sure you rectify that!