Ultima Online isn’t considered the progenitor of the MMORPG genre for nothing: It’s closing in on 20 years of operation next week, to be celebrated at a real-life event outside of Washington, DC, this very weekend, with Broadsword devs and original Origin devs, including Richard Garriott and Starr Long, in attendance.
“The team and I are working hard to finish up the second part of Publish 98 which includes Holiday gifts, new Artisan Festival Rewards and new Veteran Rewards as well as several bug fixes,” Broadsword Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong writes in this month’s newsletter. Some of those fixes revolve around the enhanced client, the current version of the upgraded client that Armstrong has said half of the playerbase uses; specifically, performance during live, studio-run roleplay events is an issue, both in terms of graphical effects and loot.
Early access or no, players expect their games to work right when they’re shelling out money for them. The developers of the reworked Dark and Light are cognizant of this fact, and as such are working hard on a build to eliminate some of the more serious bugs that have been dragging down the game experience in its testing phase.
One of the more notorious issues is the “black screen bug” that continues to keep some players from entering the game itself. Other bug fixes include help with taming Nidhogs and Goblins, preserving data for soul stones, and retaining donation totals for vendors.
“As an early access game, we’re expecting to face a number of bugs ranging from minor to severe — with new content, new bugs are bound to show up as well,” the team said. “Our main focus is to try and make Dark and Light the best experience possible, both in terms of content and stability. We’re working to tweak existing content, like the exceedingly-difficult Ice Cave, while fixing bugs and creating new, exciting content to keep Archos’s Adventurers busy for a long time.”
Curious whether Dark and Light is worth playing (and paying)? Check out one player’s impressions after the break!
This past summer, ARK: Survival Evolved finally officially launched, ending its stint as an early access game just three days before PAX West, then promptly announced its second expansion on the first day of the convention. There wasn’t even a week between launch and the second expansion’s unveiling, and there will be fewer than two months between the two launches; Aberration is scheduled to launch in October.
While at PAX, I sat down with Studio Wildcard Senior Producer Navin Supphapholsiri, who thanked fans for supporting the game: “We really appreciate the support for the past two years. Just to see how far we’ve come along, it’s all thanks to the community.” Then we talked about the launch, about Aberration, and about the team’s focus going forward.
There was a bit of a problem with Lord of the Rings Online’s
first attempt to test its next two dungeons on the test server. Combat music was causing the game to crash, which was most certainly not an intended feature of the design. But now that bug has been fixed, and players can log on to the test server to try out the Dungeons of Naerband and the Court of Seregost
The Dungeons of Naerband (yes, it’s one dungeon) will require a full fellowship, while the Court of Sergost requires a light fellowship. These dungeons are the focus of this weekend’s testing, so the developers are eager for feedback about how the dungeons feel to play and how they’re tuned. If you already tried to jump in once and had issues, you can be assured that those issues should now be fixed, and if you encounter any other problems… well, that’s the point of testing, isn’t it?
Lest you think that Conan Exiles is just about crushing your enemies and all that, Funcom has a new dev diary out today elucidating the game’s building system. Pure builders should skip the PvP servers, the studio says, and slip into single-player god mode or on a server with super-fast harvesting and crafting speed to focus on creating your very own Sim City in Hyboria.
Players of other sandboxes probably already know the drill: You don’t have to just plunk down prefab stuff and can instead build from the ground up using smaller building blocks. “To build truly creative structures it can be important to use a lot of different building pieces and placeables,” cautions Funcom. “Based on feedback from the community we are making additional building pieces with new shapes so you can make even more creative buildings.”
“You can build almost anything you want in Conan Exiles. If you have the time and patience you can even fill out most of the map with all kinds of buildings, castles and cities. Build a sprawling metropolis filled with thralls dancing in the streets, hammering away at their anvils or standing guard. Or perhaps you want to build a humongous castle, filled with all sorts of rooms and dungeons and even labyrinths.”
September looks to be busy for the Crowfall team, as it continues to expand the campaign world and its related testing process. This week, it triggered a small patch that should assist players in getting right to the fun: “Along with bug fixes, we added armor racks to streamline the process of getting geared up so you can jump right in.”
But that’s not all! Coming soonish to the game are several improvements and additions to the environment, including a new beachhead, ground vegetation, rocks, trees, and the like. Also moss! And better snow!
There are plenty of other changes coming, such as some spring cleaning for forts and eventual damage to enemies who spend too long hanging about their foe’s beachhead. The game’s environmental artist previewed these changes and took some questions from fans, all of which you can see below.
Get ready for a flood of information from Conan Exiles. Funcom admitted that it had been dropping the ball on talking with fans about what’s going on with the game — a fault that it wants to correct starting post-haste.
“Unfortunately haven’t been the best at communicating recently, something we’re going to be addressing (and hopefully improving upon) today,” Conan Exiles’ community manager posted on multiple sites. The post went on to promise a weekly meeting with the entire dev team, during which notes will be taken and compiled for a regular Monday post to the community.
If you can stomach even more communication about the early access sandbox, check out this Gamasutra interview with Creative Director Joel Bylos in which he talks about Conan Exiles’ Zelda influences, the rocky rollout of the Xbox One version, and the studio’s decision-making process.
Sometimes altering the deal can be a good thing, even if Darth Vader is in the room. Funcom gave advance notice that it is making a few changes
to the upcoming second round of Secret World Legends
The transfers, which are “likely” to resume next week with the second part of the Tokyo content update will now allow anyone who didn’t use the transfer service the first time around. Previously, it was only going to be a second chance for those who had used the service. Also: “There is no planned cutoff date for the service, but it still can only be used once.”
Meanwhile, a small hotfix today fixed some issues and balance with the Manhattan Exclusion Zone raid and squashed a bug that was keeping some Steam players from logging into the game.
For its first major content update, Dark and Light’s Mysteries of Blackice Peaks proved to be a bit of a mixed bag. While adding more zones and features to this fantasy sandbox, the update was so buggy that it resulted in a rollback. Ouch.
Now, hopefully the game can move forward instead of in reverse. The team patched up its patch last week, fixing several bugs and making the frost cave a lot more dangerous to traverse. The team tried to smooth over the bumps by saying, “Again we’d like to apologize for failing to push the patch live earlier and causing a lot of confusion and frustration.”
That does leave a “black screen bug” that’s keeping some players from getting into the game, an issue that the developers say that they’ve prioritized for a fix. With all of the problems, fans of the game might need to be reminded that there are some positives here too, such as the sumptuous graphics.
With its domination over Steam and 10 million units sold, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has the industry’s direct and rapt attention. But this immense success hasn’t come without obstacles, particularly as the studio attempts to expand and wrangle a monster success.
“The biggest problem we’re having at the moment is the server platform, because we’re trying to develop it on a production system, which is super hard because you’ve got millions of players — literally millions — coming through the doors every day,” said Bluehole Creative Director Brendan Green.
The early access shooter has also seen stiff backlash due to its decision to introduce microtransactions into the testing process. While Green said that the percentage of players expressing dissatisfaction is relatively small, it has still led to a review bombing campaign on Steam.
It might be tempting to become so wrapped up in the endless possibilities and power of Citadel: Forged With Fire’s magic that you might end up forgetting that there’s a building component of the game. Let’s hope not, because now you can build a castle — and not just any castle, but one constructed of pristine marble.
This week’s patch for the early access sandbox added the marble castle set: “This new set offers the complete range of building pieces including walls, floors, roofs, windows, doors, stairs and much more! Not only that, but you can mix and match the pieces with the other existing sets to create appealing combinations.”
There were several other quality-of-life tweaks and bug fixes as well, such as helping players not to drown when they’re completely out of the water. That had to be disconcerting. Players can also lock up their storage chests and not fear that others might come along to pilfer them.
City of Titans studio Missing Worlds Media has just posted a recap of its presentation at last week’s PAX West and a status update on the game.
“For City of Titans, our remaining goals for this year (2017) are to deliver the pre-Alpha for testing, and that we would be finally delivering the Second Chance promised back during our Kickstarter,” the studio’s Nathaniel “Doctor Tyche” Downes reports. “The pre-Alpha release has taken us longer than other games due to our compartmentalized approach to development. It works for us in that we have fewer roadblocks due to our distributed nature of development, but the drawback is that as we integrate, we will find new bugs and challenges to overcome. That’s what testing is for, and once delivered, our progress will continue apace.”
The “second chance,” he says, will allow folks who didn’t Kickstart the City of Heroes-inspired MMORPG years ago an opportunity to do just that, as well as to take another crack at the original Kickstarter rewards. Some of them, anyway.
Resources matter in Albion Online, and major changes to the respawn rates of resources is going to shake up the game’s economy significantly. The latest patch to the game (live today) doesn’t get a new name, but it does significantly alter the respawns of all higher-tier resources. Tier 2 and Tier 3 resources have had their respawn rates reduced to pre-launch numbers, while Tier 4 resources have rates slightly above the original resources. That’s going to alter the game’s makeup pretty significantly.
Of course, players are also going to be dealing with runes and souls dropping from chests at five times their previous rates, so that’s going to alter things even further. The patch also will prevent people traveling to the Outlands and then teleporting right back from retaining any region or portal locks; you’ll have to remain there for at least a minute. Add in the usual array of bug fixes, and voila, you have a small patch that will probably have significant effects upon the game as a whole.