citadel

See: Citadel Studios

Legends of Aria’s alpha has begun, infusing the Shards Online sandbox with MMORPG

Back at PAX East, MMO players were startled but pleased at the revelation that Shards Online was getting a massive revamp as well as a new name: Legends of Aria. The key to the switcheroo is the shift from being “just” small-scale player-run shards to a full-scale MMORPG with a heavily expanded map hosted by the studio as well.

Today, after a few minor delays this spring and a combat overhaul, the game’s alpha is officially live.

“The land mass of the game has been increased by 10-fold, mounts have been added, combat reworked, the UI overhauled, archery has made it in the game, and so much more. 2 of the 8 new regions have been unveiled, with more to come as Alpha and Beta progress this summer. […] Basically, this gives fans of Shards Online what they’ve been asking for – a bigger, bolder, truly MMORPG version of the game.”

Citadel Studios has an interactive world map as well as a PvP killboard online if you just want to gawk, but you can actually play right now too with the purchase of a $40 founder pack.
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EVE Evolved: Is EVE Online becoming too safe?

EVE Online is often painted as a harsh universe without rules where you could have your entire net worth destroyed or swiped right from under your nose, a reputation that has been well-earned over the past 14 years. Emerging in an early MMO industry that was rapidly becoming obsessed with keeping players safe and happy, EVE stood out with its harsh death penalty and anything-goes ruleset. Stories of high-profile heists and massive battles are still the main types of news that come out of EVE, a narrative that underpins much of the official marketing of EVE even today. It’s been something of a double-edged sword for the game’s popularity, attracting some players on the promise of emergent PvP-oriented gameplay and dissuading others with the threat of extraordinary loss.

Despite this outward appearance, the past few years have seen an odd shift in EVE‘s development direction with the apparent goal of making the game a lot safer. Small improvements such as the Weapon Safety system and warning popups help prevent players from making fatal mistakes, but it’s the citadel asset safety and reinforcement timer mechanics that have been most striking. Player-built citadels are completely invulnerable for all but a few hours per week, and even attacking them in that short period is a painful experience as you have to defeat it three separate times over the span of a week and none of the station’s contents even drop as loot. Highsec is now littered with hundreds of structures that simply aren’t worth attacking, and I’m forced to ask whether the citadel reinforcement mechanics are overkill.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss gameplay being designed with loss-aversion in mind and lay out some of the problems with the citadel asset safety and reinforcement mechanics.

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Legends of Aria delays next alpha test to May 12

The Game Formerly Known As Shards Online (which can also be represented by an abstract symbol or its new name, Legends of Aria) announced a slight delay in the start of its next alpha test to finish getting all of its digital ducks in a row. Alpha 2 has been rescheduled for May 12th, although the team will be streaming a demo of the game on Monday, May 8th, for those who find that the waiting is the hardest part.

In the meantime, discussion is swirling about concerning the game’s first prestige class, the Knight. Prestige classes offer more specialization and complexity for those who want a more focused character, and the Knight is keen on becoming a damage mitigation expert with the ability to stun his opponents.

Gaining access to the Knight will require some work: “In order to access The Knight, a player must meet certain prerequisite skills and obtain the Knight Prestige Scroll. Once unlocked, the prestige skill will be added to your skill list and occupy the equivalent of 1 skill at Grandmaster level (100 points of your total skill cap). All prestige classes begin at first level and progress via an experience system. Players may then unlock advanced abilities as they progress to subsequent levels.”

Source: Newsletter, Legends of Aria. Thanks Pepperzine!

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EVE Evolved: Low-security space has lost its identity, but it can be fixed!

When I first discovered EVE Online back in 2004, it had been out in the wild for just under a year and was a much simpler and friendlier beast. There were fewer than 50,000 players in total and most of them were flying around in tech 1 frigates and cruisers, either mining, grinding their way up top level 3 mission agents, or PvPing. Most corporations lived in the relative safety of high-security space and warred with each other for all sorts of reasons, and some power-hungry corps tamed the lawless nullsec regions to hunt battleship NPCs and mine ores containing valuable Zydrine and Megacyte.

Low-security space offered a tempting middle-ground for players back then, a place you could go to reap better rewards than highsec but at the cost of a proportional increase in risk. Pirates faced much lower consequences for attacking another ship unprovoked there than in highsec, and the areas around stargates and stations were kept safer by automated sentry turrets. The delicate balance between risk and reward in low-security space began to fall apart as the sizes of player groups in EVE increased and ships got better at tanking the damage from sentries. Nearly a decade later and with very little done to revamp the area, today’s lowsec still suffers from this legacy and has lost much of its identity. But how can this problem be solved? Hints may come from recent rumblings at EVE Fanfest 2017 on the future direction of PvE.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the reasons I believe low-security space has lost its identity and a few of the ways CCP could inject some much-needed personality and speciality into this neglected area of the game.

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Legends of Aria rewrites Shards Online’s combat system

When Legends of Aria emerged from Shards Online, it changed more than just the name. In the first Aria-era dev diary, the team explains that the combat system for the upcoming MMO has evolved since its previous version.

“Our conclusion at the end of our Shards Online Alpha was that we had taken combat many interesting places and stretched the possibilities within our engine,” the devs wrote. “Our systems had become overly complex as a result of years of ongoing live development. To realise the combat dynamics and the relationships between skill choices that we desired, we needed to engage in substantial change.”

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s moon mining overhaul and the future of conflict

Just under four years ago at EVE Fanfest 2013EVE Online‘s Executive Producer Andie Nordgren took the stage and delivered an epic long-term vision for the game’s future in which players will one day explore deep space and colonise previously undiscovered star systems. Developers have been tackling this enormous vision one step at a time ever since, and today we have a versatile set of player-built Citadels and Engineering Complexes for corporations and alliances of all sizes. As we approach the four year mark, we’re now about to hit another major milestone in Nordgren’s plan with the release of Upwell Refinery structures and a total overhaul of EVE‘s resource-gathering gameplay.

CCP released a devblog last week revealing details of the new Upwell Refinery structures and a whole new gameplay system for moon mining that sounds pretty damn impressive. Rather than simply deploying a static structure that provides a permanent stream of moon minerals, new moon mining structures will physically rip a huge chunk of the moon’s surface away and drag it through space to a refinery for players to mine. The new mechanic will transform moon mining from a relatively secure source of passive income into entirely active gameplay, with far-reaching consequences for alliance warfare. This forms one part of the promised resource-gathering revolution, which we’re sure to hear more about at EVE Fanfest 2017 this week.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I drill down into the details of the new Upwell Refineries and moon mining mechanics, and ask what effect this will have on the rest of the game.

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EVE Fanfest will play host to deadly plague this weekend

In a macabre move, EVE Fanfest 2017 (this coming weekend!) is merging game activity and convention to bring its players in contact with a deadly plague. Oh, it’s a fictional plague (we assume), but still it will be very interesting to see how CCP involves players first-hand in a game-shaping event.

What’s going on is this: Right now in EVE Online there’s this horrible, completely fatal Kyonoke Plague spreading across several systems. When players arrive at Fanfest, they’ll find themselves part of the plague quarantine while trying to collectively figure out how to combat the disease. The end result of this event will then affect the MMORPG going forward.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 110: Legends of Aria’s Derek Brinkmann

Join us in welcoming today Citadel Studios’ Project Lead Derek Brinkmann from Legends of Aria (fka Shards Online) for an hour-long interview about the game’s rebranding, new MMO focus, and upcoming alpha tests!

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:

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CCP’s live-action EVE Online ARG looks like the best thing at this year’s EVE Fanfest

Got your tix for EVE Online’s EVE Fanfest 2017? Ready to set aside your in-game enmity and play nice with your fellow gamers for a few days — or not, depending on what sort of corp you’re in? Decided cowering in your house watching streams is the wiser choice?

Good news for you then no matter which way you roll: CCP has released a detailed blog post today laying out the structure of this year’s event. Expect the usual round of keynotes, panels, debates, and player presentations, plus beer, a check-in with the Project Discovery scientists, a 2v2 single elimination tourney, more beer, tours for people who got dragged along and want to see Iceland’s beauty, and beer. But the best bit looks to be a genuinely cool live-action game called The YC119 Kyonoke Inquest:

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Legends of Aria begins focused testing, delays Steam launch

Legends of Aria is shaking things up from the old Shards Online paradigm. In addition to the name change and broader focus, the fantasy title announced that it is going to adopt a “more conventional MMO testing platform” going forward.

“Future play-tests will now be conducted in phases of focused testing, geared towards specific areas of gameplay in preparation for final implementation,” Citadel Studios said in this week’s newsletter. “To accommodate the need for extra testing periods, our Steam launch will coincide with the release of the Legends of Aria Beta instead of Alpha 2.”

The current Alpha 1 test will conclude on March 26th, to be followed by Alpha 2’s start on April 28th. The team said that its taken a shine to the concept of a single large official server (in addition to the private ones) and that it will start to talk about all of the changes in store for Legends of Aria on March 31st in a new development blog.

Source: Newsletter

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 108: PAX East power-up

As Massively OP is on the scene at PAX East this year, we’ve got plenty of juicy news and interviews to discuss on the show! What game is coming to console this year? What secret is Eliot hiding? Which MMO just got a name change? Find out in today’s episode!

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:

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PAX East 2017: Citadel Studios on Shards Online’s switch to Legends of Aria

Big changes for MMOs frequently involve giving up almost as much as you gain. Not so with Legends of Aria, the not-actually-new title from Citadel Studios. Legends of Aria is Shards Online, you see, but it’s also not Shards Online. It’s everything you liked about Shards Online, but it’s also placed into a larger context in which the ideas behind the game can have more space to develop and grow. If you liked the game before, you’ll like it now, but if you didn’t like the game before, you might think a bit more fondly of it once you see the changes.

The short version is that Legends of Aria has a robust “main” server set up. That means a large-scale map, plenty of things for players to go find, and a variety of different regions with different environmental effects. It is, in other words, a full-scale MMO which you can play as much as you’d like. But it’s also a full-scale MMO that allows you to look at what the developers have done and say that you don’t like it… and then make your own version of the game server.

We spoke to the folks from Citadel at this year’s PAX East. Read on!

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