cloud imperium

Studio known primarily for Star Citizen.

The Daily Grind: Is ‘griefing’ possible in an open PvP sandbox?

I was snooping around the Star Citizen Spectrum forums last week when I bumped into a topic that made me back up my snooping truck for a second look. The author attempts to define “sandbox” as a “newer classification” than themeparks, which will make vets grin for sure, but then it goes on to argue that by definition, there’s not really any such thing as griefing in a sandbox as all activities are on the table.

2014 me already argued – successfully, I’d like to think – that PvP isn’t a crucial element of MMOs, let alone sandboxes, so I won’t do that again. But what I did want to home in on is how we ought to be defining griefing. I’ve always thought of griefing as having nothing to do with what is technically legal or socially acceptable in the game but about literally causing grief. Not trying to win, or trying to take something for yourself, which seem like perfectly reasonable activities in any game, but specifically making causing grief in other players your primary goal of your activities, whether or not you’re playing by the game’s particular rules to do so. For example: camping newbie spawn points even when the game doesn’t reward you for doing so. Consequently, it’s just as possible in a game that forbids PvP as one that enables it.

Do you agree with the OP? Is it possible to grief in an open PvP sandbox?

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Star Citizen on some of the big ships of alpha 3.1 and the St Patrick’s Day event

I hope you like starships because in this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, you’re getting two whole segments on just that. Ship Shape #1 focuses on the Aegis Reclaimer, while Ship Shape #2 is all about the Tumbril Cyclone. OK, so the Cyclone is a vehicle, but close enough. Both will indeed launch with alpha 3.1.

It may seem unlikely, but the team is doing a St Patrick’s Day event too, complete with prizes – including the Constellation Phoenix.

“The Community team will be holding a screenshot contest over the weekend. We want to see how you and your friends are ringing in St Patrick’s Day in Star Citizen. So starting tomorrow, get in the game and celebrate however you see fit. Then share you party images and we’ll choose our three favourites. Just remember to wear some green clothes!”

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Star Citizen’s Around the Verse talks persistent universe progress and optimization

Were you in the audience for this week’s live filming of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse? Probably not, but some superfans were. Don’t worry; no actual film was harmed!

The episode include two major segments this round. The first focuses on progress made on the persistent universe; specifically, CIG says it’s rewriting the visor vehicle status holograms and working on camera presentation, vehicle displays, planet tech, procedural distribution of stuff like outposts, weapons, shops, character customization, app quality, the UI, persistence bugs… really, it’s everything. Even PGC!

“Teams in Austin and Los Angeles have been working on the Service Beacons which marks the beginning of the player generated content. Although this is only the beginning, for 3.1 we’re planning on allowing players to pay each other for services such as personal transport or combat assistance.”

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One Shots: This is too weird for even me

I like to think that I have a fairly open mind when it comes to accepting strange sights and races in fantasy MMORPGs, but Final Fantasy XIV seems hellbent on finding my breaking point. Literal cat-fish might just be that. It’s too weird for me, I’m out of here.

“Looking for NPC comic relief?” Vincent asked. “I give you the Namazu. Half-cat, half-fish (?) and I’m pretty sure the person who came up with the design was half-baked. The other shot I took on the way back to Castellum Velodyna (Beast Tribe quest hub) just as the fog was about to lift…”

When you’ve just made Moogles look normal and mundane, you’ve really accomplished something.

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Star Citizen talks ship progress, character customization, and what’s not making the 3.1 alpha

Another week, another episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse. CIG’s Los Angeles branch kicks it off with a check-in and says it’s reorganized itself a bit to get stuff out faster. Of note, that substudio is currently working on the Tumbril Cyclone’s flight prep stage, the Anvil Hurricane, the Consolidated Outland Mustang, and the Anvil Terrapin – the middle two are aiming for the 3.2 alpha – as well as clothes, armor, legacy gear, the alien facial rigging, and ship optimization. The best part is easily the character customization work, but otherwise, it’s a fairly sparse episode.

CIG does note that it’s fine-tuning what’s going into 3.1, as some “features for Alpha 3.1 have moved from an in-development state into polishing” while others have been pushed off “into the 3.2 release.” So, game dev.

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Star Citizen deep-dives Squadron 42 living AI, opens up Aegis Vulcan sales

This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse episode is actually more about Squadron 42 than Star Citizen. To illustrate how the game is coming along, CIG digs into the Idris frigate, using it as an example environment where the NPCs are simulating reality with AI schedules rather than just standing around staring blankly into space waiting for you to return.

“The goal of the Idris was always to create a ship for people and we want you to walk around the ship and see these people going about their lives, doing whatever their role is and generally just doing whereas that they wanted or have to do. So in doing that we have every character on the ship has their own name, their own rank, their own role on the ship and that spreads among all the different disciplines.”

Meanwhile, if you had your eyes, heart, and wallet set on the Aegis Vulcan support ship that went up for sale to VIPs last week, rejoice as it’s now available to the plebes too with a brand-new splash page breaking down all its key bits. It’s $185, with packs running up to $950.

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Star Citizen’s new $185 Aegis Vulcan support ship is so ugly it’s cute

On this week’s episode of Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts bookend segments on the ship pipeline in the game. Did you know Star Citizen has introduced 114 ships, vehicles, and variants since the start of development? Neither did I. Here comes another one: the Aegis Vulcan. The adorably ugly and chunky ship is essentially a utility starter support spacecraft that packs in repairing, refueling, and rearming. Says CIG,

“It’s a versatile support ship. It’s there to support other ships. It’s not great at combat. It’s not great at transport. It’s not great at racing. It’s there for helping out with other ships. So if you’re that sort of person that is interested in the not more active combat side but helping others, then this is a really great entry into that, because it does allow you to help out massively for ships that run out of fuel, ships that have minor damage, ships that run out of ammo and any of these ships could be stuck out in deep space. They can call for your help, and you can go out there and give them just enough to get them where they need to go to. It’s sort of like the space AA or AAA for America. You call them up. They give you just enough to get to where you’re going, and then you can do your full repairs, rearm, refuel there.”

It’s also for sale as part of the early VIP optioning system. It’s $185 right now (warbond price), and it is actually scheduled to no, it won’t make it into the 3.1 alpha (thanks Dividian).

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.

“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”

I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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Perfect Ten: The tabletop GMs behind MMOs

One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.

Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.

I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.

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Star Citizen’s Cloud Imperium reps meet with California Better Business Bureau

Cloud Imperium apparently met with representatives of the Better Business Bureau in California for an “introductory meeting” that the Star Citizen studio described as “cordial and constructive.”

Polygon reported last night that that meeting with the consumer advocacy group was arranged at the request of CIG following the news of two high-value ($25000 and $16700) refund requests that had allegedly been given the runaround (and indeed, refunds after a long period of time are seldom given by CIG at all). One of those fans had apparently filed a complaint with the BBB.

But BBB CEO Steve McFarland seems pretty pleased with the way CIG, which is not a member of the BBB, is handling backers, particularly in regard to the public roadmap of the game’s production. He said that his goal for the the meeting was “to encourage CIG to improve communications and transparency on their production schedules to existing and new clients that may reduce confusion and frustration on future product/revision deliveries” – delivery issues apparently being “the most common BBB consumer complaint.”

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Star Citizen is balancing the crap out of ship weapons as the Crytek lawsuit drags on

Chris Roberts is joined by CIG Leader Writer Dave Haddock for this week’s episode of Star Citizen Around the Verse, during which they check in with multiple studio reps who reinforce the decision to move to quarterly releases as well as better organize projects within the individual studios to actually deliver 3.0.1. And the deep-dive this week? It’s all about weapons. Pew pew. Specifically weapon balancing.

“We want to make sure that each weapon type – say the scatter gun – is relatively balanced towards a cannon weapon type or a hypothetical beam cannon type,” Tech Designer Andrew Nicholson explains. “So the scatter gun will do more damage that a regular cannon but obviously it’s rate of fire is slower. And we just make sure that all these parameters fit in the correct range that we give them on a per size basis, and that nothing is too strong or too weak.”

Meanwhile, the Crytek lawsuit continues. As of yesterday, the judge in the suit canceled the hearing with oral arguments set for today, noting she would be considering the existing arguments for and against dismissal.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 156: Downfalls and uprisings

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin mull over the fate of MOBAs, investigate Alganon’s nebulous state, talk about why subscribing to an alpha test might not be the smartest thing in the world, and more!

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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The Daily Grind: What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018?

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Camelot Unchained: Yes, it’ll have a sub, but it won’t be $15. Mark Jacobs re-confirmed that it’ll be less than the industry standard down in our comments a few weeks ago. It’s been rattling around in my head since then as subscriptions just keep popping up in the news. Star Citizen has an optional sub in alpha. Age of Conan just lowered its subscription rate. And the biggest subscription MMO in the world seems to have no problems moving a bajillion expansions, driving token prices to fluctuate. Did we hit rock bottom? Are we just watching the price reset in a new era?

I’m currently paying $13 a month for an old-school game because nobody else has content that even comes close. I wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for an MMO I couldn’t wait to play. In fact, I was prepared to pay more than $15 for CU. Would you? What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018? And what would you expect from an MMORPG charging a subscription?

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