Dual Universe today etched a date on its pre-alpha launch: September 30th. “Access to this first playable version of Dual Universe will be limited to Kickstarter and crowdfunding backers that have pledged at Gold Founder level and above, prior September 7th,” says Novaquark’s press release today, which characterizes the sci-fi sandbox as a “highly anticipated disruptive MMO.” The forums further explain that the originally planned alpha is in fact not actually ready, hence the pre-alpha label.
“You probably noticed that we’re calling this first public access Pre-Alpha and not Alpha, as originally intended. Why? Because we are not quite ready yet to switch the game into Alpha, but we still wanted to honor our commitment to our backers. This first public glimpse of the game won’t feature a proper game loop as we originally wanted but, after postponing the release a few months ago, we felt like a new delay was not appropriate. We think any additional delays, even though the game is not in the true Alpha state we had anticipated, would not be in keeping with the spirit of our commitments to our community and backers.
“We decided it would be better to give you access to the game at an even earlier state than to delay again. That it would be better to give you a look at where we are, rather than wait again for where we had hoped to be at this stage.”
If you can’t create anything new, just slap together a lot of other things until you get something that sounds and feels vaguely fresh. Hey, we’re not knocking that approach; there have been a lot of wonderful games made that way.
So that’s why we’re trying to keep an open mind about Wild Buster, a newly announced title that incorporates mechanics and style from MMORPGs, MOBAs, action RPGs, and what looks to be a thinly veiled adoration of StarCraft. Developed by Nuri Works and published by Insel Games (Guardians of Ember), Wild Buster allows gamers to choose a specific hero to fight through waves of enemy mobs and enemy players, depending on one’s preference.
The game’s already been out for a while in Korea, but now Insel is working on bringing it to the west at an unspecified date. Early access for Wild Buster will begin next month, and fans should expect an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign this week to help with the localization and gameplay adjustments.
Check out the teaser trailer after the break!
Don’t call them “tiny,” not unless you want your Achilles heel slashed and your hair set on fire while screaming laughter fills your ears. Crowfall’s Fae might be the second-smallest race to come to the game, but the species packs quite a lot into its small package.
Today, ArtCraft revealed details about this race that’s coming soon to the test servers. The Fae are the first race in the game that will boast wings, and their bloodline passive grants them increased stealth movement speed, the ability to double-jump, and the ability to glide. Additionally, Fae can dodge past foes and perform higher crits with a special debuff.
The Fae were originally female-only, but thanks to a Kickstarter stretch goal, they will offer a male counterpart as well. The team said that the race can be paired with the Assassin, Druid, or Frostweaver class: “The Fae will add an interesting new element to Crowfall combat thanks to their natural affinity for stealth and the added mobility of their wings.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen surprised backers by removing all “aim dates” from its weekly production schedule, which is intended to provide a roadmap toward the (very delayed) 3.0 alpha release. CIG instead provided two graphs it says will give a “more accurate look at where [it is] trending” – check those out down below. (Cheers, Cotic!)
In more meta news, Fig announced that a game promoted through its equity crowdfunding platform actually generated profit for investors, a first for the company. That game would be Kingdoms and Castles, which according to Polygon netted $1M in sales and consequently provided a 100% return to investors through Fig (double their money). It’s not an MMO, of course, but several MMORPGs have turned to this type of equity crowdfunding since it became legal last autumn, including Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar.
Meanwhile, Albion Online continued suffering from extortionists’ DDOS attacks, we kicked off a month-long deep-dive into Shroud of the Avatar, Dual Universe scored a huge chunk o’ change in its run up to alpha, Pantheon published its monthly newsletter, and we got the details on the superhero MMO panel at PAX, which we’ll be attending in person (thanks, cyanpill!).
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Dual Universe just snagged a positively massive cash injection. According to a press release posted today, private investors have poured $3.7 million in funding into the sci-fi sandbox MMORPG. That’s in addition to the more than $630,000 the game raised on Kickstarter less than a year ago (a haul that at the time earned the game the title of third most funded video game on Kickstarter that year). Napkin math says the game picked up another $3M in between through on-site fundraising and possibly earlier investment.
Oh, and unlike a lot of games that snap up the “MMO” label, this one actually deserves it.
“Dual Universe is a new type of massively-multiplayer online experience: it takes place in a vast Sci-Fi universe, focusing on emergent gameplay and content building, with player-driven in-game economy, politics, trade and warfare. The vision for Dual Universe is to create the first virtual online civilization. At the heart of Dual Universe is a truly innovative proprietary technology, which was developed to lay the foundations of the game. The CSSC (continuous single-shard cluster) manages one single universe with potentially millions of people interacting in it at the same time. A multi-scale voxel engine enables players to physically modify the world; dig a hole, carve up a mountain or build anything they want, from space ships to orbital stations, at any scale they desire. Novaquark is building a virtual world environment where they hope millions of people will be able to live exciting collective adventures within a vibrant and emergent universe where everything is possible. The company aims at creating a new form of entertainment, where participants are free to create their own stories and environment.”
I really know pretty much nothing about Ultima.
This is only partly my fault. Way back when the Ultima games were a big deal on PC, I was still decidedly locked to consoles, where the options for getting into the series were rather limited. Aside from that, it was years before I really acquired much of a taste for the Western style of RPGs as opposed to the Japanese style… and considering that the roots of that style are half-buried in Ultima (along with Might & Magic and Wizardry, to be very broad and avoid overburdening this header), you can see why I’d kind of give things a pass.
All of this is pretty relevant when it comes to Shroud of the Avatar because you kind of can’t separate the two. No, Shroud of the Avatar is not an Ultima game, but it’s Richard Garriott building the game and inserting himself into the proceedings. It’d be like George Lucas making a new movie based off of Buck Rogers and Akira Kurosawa’s filmography; it might not bear the title, but you know you’ll wind up with something pretty close to wars what are waged across the stars.
When Star Wars: The Old Republic
first released, an old Star Wars Galaxies
argument popped up, and the crux of that argument was this: “No one wants to be Uncle Owen.” If we say that SWG
pre-NGE was the Uncle Owen game, where players could successfully play a simple moisture farmer, and compare it to SWTOR
, where you can be a member of the Dark Council, then we would see that SWTOR
is clearly the winner if we are talking about the sheer number of players. However, SWG
was one of the founding MMOs; it helped kickstart the genre. There were just not that many people playing MMORPGs at that time, so comparing the raw numbers is a bit unfair.
The argument continues. If we look at the story in the upcoming Battlefront II game, we see a kind of Uncle Owen story. The main protagonist of the game is a Commander of a squadron of Imperial soldiers that we have never heard of until now. Her name is Iden Versio, and she is, for all intents, a faceless Stormtrooper. Star Wars fans are very excited about playing through this storyline. I’m one of them.
However, the biggest place where we see the Uncle Owen controversy is in the SWTOR roleplay community, and I believe that if we study their arguments for and against playing a powerful character, we will gain a greater understanding why some storylines work and others do not.
Shroud of the Avatar’s equity crowdfunding campaign on SeedInvest has come to a close, with 518 investors having raised just shy of $700,000 in the round. It was over $700,000 at one point last night but dropped back down as someone apparently backed out.
Perhaps that person put money into the game’s latest telethon instead. As promised, Portalarium has switched over from quarterly to monthly fundraising telethons; last night’s even raised $67,500 and granted “oracle eye” themed stretch goals to players, including home decor, sparklers, and wings.
The telethon stream does feature a Q&A with the dev team on the past release in addition to a “world building tour”; we’ve included it below.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen posted its monthly studio report along with its updated 3.0 production report as it works on the “User Experience Polish Pass.” Players tracked only two delays in this report: the UI and the mission system AI. Cross your fingers that the Evocati test access begins next week as planned (it’s actually looking pretty good).
Elsewhere, Albion Online was slammed with a DDOS attack yesterday, which the devs say was “most likely in response to [SI’s] recent actions against gold sellers to coerce [SI] to not interfere with their illegal business.”
Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained teased testing for beta 1 backers, Path of Exile launched its latest expansion, Crowfall profiled a dev, Dogma Eternal Night tinkered with its mission system, Descent Underground released a demo on BrightLocker, City of Titans returned to Twitch, and Global Adventures successfully funded on Kickstarter.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
In the future, alpha testers (and everyone else) will all be fully replaced by robots, no doubt. But right now, Camelot Unchained is putting bots to work alongside their human compatriots in the form of big bot battles. This week, City State says, it ran two tests with the bots in prep for beta 1.
“We brought in 250 Bots and went up to over 1200 Bots, which ran around LIVE with our Alpha and IT Backers. The majority of these headless clients were ‘melee’ and the rest were ‘archery’ Bots. In some tests, we were able to handle about 2K Bots total (most of the Bots were fighters, the rest were archers), which is twice the number we set out as a goal during the Kickstarter. While we have hit 2K before, these were the first LIVE tests with our Backers using the new animation system and the heavily modified VFX system.”
Even better? Beta 1 backers will be invited to these tests next week.
The studio has likewise been working on client stability, siege engine tech, item damage, and enviroment and item art and effects. Check out the new images and recap vid below!
Earlier this week, we got SuperData’s mid-year report on the booming video game industry, the enormous multinational congloms rolling around in piles of cash-shop money. But that’s just one side of the story. ICO Partners released its mid-year report on Kickstarter video games, and whether it’s good news depends on your view of Kickstarter on the whole.
Essentially, the biannual metrics show that Kickstarter’s total amount pledged peak — at least for successful video game projects — was back in early 2013. The market plummeted in 2014, resurged in 2015 (but not back to peak), and collapsed again in 2016. The pattern isn’t repeating, however. While the first half of 2017 was ever so slightly higher than the datapoints from last year, it’s still far lower than any half-year period prior to 2016.
“The Video Games subcategory is very dependent on hits when looking at the total amount of money raised,” ICO says. “In that sense, the first half of 2017 has been the best semester since 2015. And yet, this is a far cry from the best semesters in that subcategory.”
Shroud of the Avatar’s equity crowdfunding venture has gone rather well: Portalarium declared last night that it has “exceeded [its] SeedInvest target and [is] now reaching new heights,” meaning it’s raised $570,913 toward its original $500,000 target minimum ($465,000 from small-scale investors and $105,000 from higher-end accredited investors), with a potential round size of $2M. There are just over three days left for investors of all stripes to jump in. Don’t miss our interviews with Richard Garriott and Starr Long if you’re still on the fence!
Meanwhile, Portalarium has announced that with the release of R44 last week, it plans to “experiment with extended postmortems that are also Mini-Telethons.” If it proves popular, it’d potentially mean a switchover from the exhausting 12- or 24- hour telethon stream the team does quarterly to a monthly 4-hour fundraising session as the team delivers its release recap and Q&A.
A little under a year ago, the sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe successfully funded its Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $630,000 and officially put this game on the radar for many fans. But how did a game without any recognizable IP, studio, or developers become the third-highest grossing video game project on the crowdfunding site in 2016?
This question is at the center of a new developer post-mortem over at Gamasutra. The team said that it saw Kickstarter as the apex of its marketing effort and not the beginning and thus poured a lot of effort into getting ready for the campaign.
“In all our community engagement, we tried to stack the deck in our favor, giving our fans reasons to tell their friends, families and the whole galaxy that Dual Universe was worth their attention, time and commitment,” the team said.
Of more recent interest is the continued efforts of the team and the progress of the game as it heads toward launch next year. The following dev diary update video looks back at July and talks about ship damage, shows off some new concept art, and more.