Hey PvE sandbox fans! If Fortnite isn’t on your radar yet, it should be. MOP’s own Andrew Ross dubbed it “Crowfall for PvE zombie fans” following his demo at this year’s E3. It’s got lobby matchmaking, with a procedurally generated world, short matches, some persistence, gear crafting, item decay, outposts, character unlocks, and co-op — as Epic Games put it, “We know that players want co-op games where they can go play with their friends. There’s a lot of people out there that aren’t about killing other people.”
So if you’re one of them, today’s video is for you.
“This weekend at Rooster Teeth Expo in Austin, Texas, Epic Games premiered A Hard Day’s Night, a cinematic short based in the universe of the studio’s upcoming action-building title, Fortnite. Created in-house at Epic Games using Unreal Engine 4, the short gives fans a taste of the action players can expect when the game becomes available for players later this month.”
Crowfall’s ramping up the dev blogs this week with a fresh one on the skills system. “Skills are one of the main methods of character progression,” ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains. “Skills train passively over time, whether you are offline or online, and they are based on the account, not the individual character. This means that when you train a skill, you get the benefit of that skill across any character on your account for which that skill is beneficial.”
The devs’ original plan was to have players train up from 1 to 100 in each skill, but as designed, that system didn’t cause players to feel as if they were making much progress. “It’s hard to get excited about a .001 gain per point,” Blair quips.
To fix it, ArtCraft’s changed up the model such that “the time it took to gain 20/100 points now equates to one pip” and “stat gains now ‘build up’ until each pip is earned.” Requirements that players complete training in a skill to jump ahead to the next skills have also been reduced or eliminated. Just know that the skill trees are due for a huge wipe and restructure thanks to the archetype skill overhaul.
Last month, we included Crowfall among the games discussed in a Massively Overthinking roundtable that focused on MMO monetization running amok. Why? Because Crowfall has one of the spendiest cash shops in the genre, and it’s not even out yet; indeed, one of its palaces is $7000.
That subject is one ArtCraft has addressed today in a new dev blog, which argues that the price is fine because it’s intended for large guilds.
“The price is high because when 100+ players work together to buy something, the total adds up quickly,” J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton jointly explain. “That last part is key. These strongholds are WAY, WAY overkill for use by a single player. Much like in real life, purchasing a giant Imperial Palace doesn’t make a lot of sense if you intend to live alone. The purpose of these larger strongholds is to support large player groups. They provide a mechanism to centralize buildings and exist so that guilds, streamer audiences, or even a loose-knit collection of merchants and crafters can work together, pool resources and create social spaces.”
Do you like numbers? It’s summer, you shouldn’t have to think about math! That’s OK, the Crowfall team will deal with that for you. In this week’s new dev video Q&A, Design Lead Thomas Blair and Senior Game Designer Mark Halash take on the recent “number squish” and how to display numbers that matter during combat and crafting.
Of course, it’s not only counting really high. The devs also talk about an overhaul to the character sheet, how resource drops works, the progression model, the difference between disciplines and classes, and how they are restructuring skill trees.
Check it out after the break!
Ah, character creation: the best part of so many MMORPGs. So how’s it working for Crowfall? A new dev blog out this week from ArtCraft explains that the archetype separation announced last spring has necessitated a change from the old system of archetype statues in-game. Now, UX Design Lead Billy Garretsen says, the system is much more like you’d expect from a traditional MMORPG: You’ll pick your race and class from lists and get a default vessel, then choose gender, hair style, face, and head shapes. The best part is the ads and disads system.
“Once the look is settled, it is time to alter the character’s stats and attributes through Advantages and Disadvantages. Every race and class combination will yield a pool of Creation Points that can be spent on Advantages to provide stat benefits in various categories. Alternatively, you can opt to apply Disadvantages that will decrease your stat values but grant you bonus Creation Points that can be applied on further Advantages. For example, Eagle Eye will grant increased accuracy with ranged weapons, while Dim Witted will lower Intellect, but grant points that can be spent to further increase Strength.”
One of Crowfall’s most important systems — if not the crux of the entire game — is its campaign system. This repeatable PvP experience will come in many varieties and feature a beginning, middle, and end. But its first beginning is coming soon… very soon.
ArtCraft announced on Tuesday that it is preparing to commence its first test of the campaign system on the test server. Campaigns have a lot to offer for players, including the fog of war, a cartography skill, a day and night cycle, forts, keeps, and resource points. The sides will play tug-o-war with a conquest slider, resulting in either a win for order, chaos, or balance.
The team took great pains to stress that this is “more test than playtest” and that bugs, performance problems, and a lack of real balance would be present. “When I say First Campaign Test, please don’t read that as our-first-fully-functional-campaign-that-we-can-all-play-and-it-will-be-like-a-released-game! … because it won’t be that,” the team said.
The other day when I made a rare venture out of my E3 coverage den, my slightly younger brother asked, “Hey, did you hear about a game called Fortnite?”
Now, my brother doesn’t explore gaming like he used to. His MMO days are behind him. He wasn’t even aware of Super Mario Odyssey, so his asking about Fortnite was far from expected, especially since I’d learned something I think a lot of MassivelyOP readers will want to hear: The game is sounding a lot like Crowfall for PvE zombie fans.
So yeah, li’l bro, I heard about Fortnite. I even sat down with Fortnite’s Executive Producer Zak Phelps from Epic Games and talked to him during E3 2017 about “monsters,” survival games, and getting PvE fans in there.
There’s no doubt that a lot has been happening recently with Crowfall’s class and race structure, particularly following following May’s announcement that the team is separating race-bound classes to allow players more mix-and-match freedom. There were bound to be one or two questions concerning all of this, which is why the team fielded an hour-long Q&A session yesterday on Twitch.
One of the interesting reveals that came out of the chat is that each of the races will receive their own racial discipline with various bonuses. For example, humans are more versatile stat-wise and can use a side-step dodge move, while Wood Elves are trailmasters who can camouflage themselves while standing still.
The team also talked about cartography (which includes the interesting feature of being able to pickpocket other players’ maps), how it’s working to beef up healers, and what’s going on with Clerics (they’re coming soonish).
We’ve got the full Q&A session for you after the jump, and as an added bonus, we also tossed in a video with the team discussing what’s going on with the Alpha 5 build.
Hey, look over there — a shiny!
Crowfall Principal Programmer Chris Ledwith, the newly dubbed “AI Guy,” explains in a dev blog today that the shinies of Crowfall’s Big World development have distracted the team away from AI — and now he’s on a mission to rectify that.
“The problem that we faced was that the code was in dire need of an update to make everyone’s prior work on the AI shine,” Ledwith writes. “The code was originally written for simpler, relatively flat maps, with no dynamic placement of buildings or props, in a very static world; it made a lot of convenient assumptions about the environmental conditions an AI could find itself in. This system was written pre-Big World, with Band-Aids applied over time in an attempt to keep it ‘just good enough’ in lieu of spending too much time away from more immediately pressing work. Finally, we decided that we had to turn it off for at least a couple of core reasons: behavior and performance were not up to par.”
Wait, don’t get distracted by shinies again! Ledwith gives a couple of examples of beasts whose pathing needed work before laying out his grand plans for parcels, building placement, and baby gates for mobs. Take a peek at the whole outline on the official site.
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?