If you have an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of months ago, Crowfall and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster wrote up a blog post on the cost of making games. The MMO expert followed that up this week with a much, much more detailed presentation that attempts to show hard data to back up his claims.
Koster said that he used industry contacts and other research to assemble data from over 250 games made from 1985 to today that shows the development cost minus the money spent on marketing. He even goes so far as to break down the cost of dollars per developed byte of information, which is where he sees costs for game falling. He said that when you look at it this way, players are getting a “deal” for games these days.
“Lots of people have made the observation that in terms of raw purchasing power, players pay around half of what they used to in the ’80s,” he notes.
If you’re a Crowfall backer currently logging into the game’s current test phase for the first time because you are too impatient to wait for the game’s delayed soft launch, you’re not alone. And if you’re lost and wandering around trying to figure out what the heck to do because the game has changed so much since its original Kickstarter design docs, you’re also not alone. ArtCraft has a plan, however.
“Although we have a wonderful How to Play page that we work to keep updated, often it gets overlooked, or people are too excited to jump into the game to read it,” says the studio today. “So we set about creating a series of tutorial videos that cover the main aspects of Crowfall. These videos are meant to be brief overviews that will get a new player started, but will still allow for discovery and theorycrafting as they delve deeper into each of these systems.”
Fun fact: You can actually watch the vids from inside the game lobby, so no need to exit out to look up what the hell is going on. The first three are down below, including the basic welcome vid, the harvesting vid, and the gear vid. Enjoy!
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained fans are stocking up on big bags of popcorn because the announcement has been announced! If you care about the future of the game, you’re gonna want to show up this coming Thursday to hear what’s in store. Hint hint nudge nudge. It’s all teased in the game’s latest backer update, which further covers CSE’s progress on the engine, latency, the UI, tools, networking code, animations, and art.
Meanwhile, we got a personal tour of Ship of Heroes, Project Gorgon gently hyped its upcoming early access, Chronicles of Elyria announced it’s abandoned SpatialOS, and Elite Dangerous delivered beta and launch windows for its update chunk.
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.
Earlier this week, ArtCraft posted up its monthly ACE Q&A for Crowfall, and there are some juicy nuggets to behold within! Design Lead Thomas Blair and Senior Game Designer Mark Halash begin by dishing on class design, basically explaining that the studio’s philosophy is to make the classes as cool as possible and then smack them with balance based on what players min-max, all to avoid a “vanilla” experience.
“Obviously we’re going to use best practices and not make anything that’s going to be too terribly broken,” Halash says. “But we’re also not going to be like, ‘Well we’re not going to let you do A and B’ – we’re going to see if A and B are broken first before we take any sort of [action].”
The duo also talk about nerfs for overpowered teleports, combat iteration, race-and-class restrictions, and connected accounts (spoilers: That’s not multiple accounts; it’s just social media account linking). The whole shebang is below.
Can’t decide between your love of two popular geek fantasy franchises? Come on over to Crowfall, and you can enjoy both!
The Crowfall art team is happy to announce that work has progressed on two additional gender/race combinations, the male Nethari and the male Half-Elf. The latter can give thanks to pop culture for his outfit: “The inspiration for their gear was a bit of the Night’s Watch from Game of Thrones and a bit Ranger from Lord of the Rings. Shrouded in dark fabrics and leathers, they blend into the night and the shadows and walk among the creatures of the world without notice.”
These racial options should be in the game soon. Players who pick the male Nethari can roll up a Confessor, Templar, or Assassin, while the male Half-Elf is all about being a Ranger, Assassin, or Druid. Next on ArtCraft’s plate? The male and female versions of the High Elf. So many Elves, so little time.
The maps in Crowfall are assembled in a combination of procedural and hand-crafted generation. Individual bits are hand-crafted, but the maps as a whole are put together using these linking pieces. Players have seen plenty of the stronghold parcels of maps (places where you can build things) and the wilderness parcels (places where you can harvest materials to build things), but the maps also contain adventure parcels, filled with dangerous critters to hunt for valuable materials.
These parcels are also constructed from several smaller parts, but they allow players to feel guided through rough terrain in a different way, complete with cosmetic layers and different possible layouts to ensure that while the parts might be recognizable, the overall map never becomes repetitive. You can check out all of the details in the recent dispatch about how these parcels guide you through danger; there’s also an article about handling your graphics settings in the game’s newest test builds if you just want to improve your performance or the look of the game.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen devs gave a first look at game’s brand-new website, which is due to launch later in January. It’s good news for those of you who’ve argued the existing site doesn’t do enough to explain the game to newbies who haven’t been following the game for years.
High-end Star Citizen backers also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive shindig in May. “On Friday May 4th, we will host a private Concierge event, which will include an intimate tour of our LA headquarters, followed by dinner in the commissary and a sit-down Q&A with Chris Roberts and key devs from the Star Citizen team,” members of the Chairman’s Club were told via email this week. “The event will be filmed with highlights airing at a later date. It will be limited to 60 tickets, going on sale to Concierge members for $350 in three installments [beginning next Friday].” (Thanks, DK!)
Meanwhile, Crowfall talked parcels, Chronicles of Elyria wrote about identity, Elite players are busy rebuilding, and Ship of Heroes spoke to us about its hopes for the superhero MMO genre. Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.
That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.
In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.
And then? The whole system collapses.
As we did in 2014, 2015, and 2016, today I’m going to recap our annual awards and other meta articles from the end of 2017. We gave out 19 formal awards this past year, all in addition to dozens of other recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. It was by far our biggest content dump to date, even bigger than last year!
Following our deep-dive into our awards and the attached reader polls, I’ll be recapping all of the end-year articles in one convenient place in case you missed something over the holidays – enjoy!
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
We can assure you with absolute certainty that after the end of this year, Crowfall will still be willing to take your money. But we can also assure you with absolute certainty that it will no longer reward your money after the end of the year with the game’s current pledge packages, which are being retired on December 31st. So if you want to give the developers money for these specific things? You should do that sooner rather than later.
Of course, lots of additional things are going to be happening with Crowfall next year, so if there’s a package that you’ve been eyeing, the case could be made that it’s a smart investment. Or you could just hold off until next year rolls around. Just don’t ask where the pledge packages went on January 1st; you’ve been warned.
Keybinding is important when you’re playing any sort of game with active combat. Perhaps you really like to have all of your action keys on the numpad, control your movement with the number keys, or some other weird control configuration. Crowfall will let you work with just that when it adds in a new keybinding system designed to give you more control functionality. That means the ability to rebind everything outside of a handful of system-based keys (like Escape and Enter) to whatever you so desire.
The keybinding system will also support modifier keys, so you could have one command bound to C, another bound to Shift + C, and another bound to Alt + C. Last but not least, the control schemes will be modal; you can have a different binding schematic if you’re in the Eternal Kingdoms mode as opposed to one of the game’s campaign worlds. The game already won our Most Anticipated award, so this should help make it just a bit more worthy of anticipation for players.
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Most Anticipated MMORPG, which was awarded to Star Citizen last year for the third year in a row, though it was an incredibly close vote. (And yes, we recognize the irony of Star Citizen mopping up both negative and positive awards.) This year’s discussion on most anticipated was close too, but there’s more a sense of frustration since a lot of the games we’re picking from here year after year are the same – because they still aren’t out.
Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Most Anticipated MMORPG of 2018 and Beyond is…