This week in MMO crowdfunding, the much-anticipated indie sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe dropped a starship-load of tutorials on ship construction, the interface, territory, and more. They’re aimed at folks in the pre-alpha, another weekend of which kick off earlier today – it’s a nice chunk of backers, if the activity graph posted to Twitter earlier is any judge. (Cheers, Cotic!)
Meanwhile, HEX launched on PS4, Star Citizen confirmed it’s still granting refunds but isn’t launching S42 this year, Legends of Aria wrapped up its alpha, and Albion Online launched a new trial program.
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.
Welcome back to another edition of Betawatch, the game where literally everything is in early access forever. Except Closers, of course, which is open! I never get tired of that. Yes, Closers Online is running a fully open alpha this weekend, which I guess is what we do now when open beta is actually soft launch. Regardless, you can play it and check it out. What else happened in the world of eternal testing this past week? Let’s see…
- Go Project Gorgon! It put your crowdfunding to work on a programmer to overhaul the in-testing UI.
- OrbusVR kicked off its third round of closed beta testing. Backers could also take part in Dual Universe’s second pre-alpha, which begins tomorrowday.
- Both Legends of Aria and Prosperous Universe put the wraps on their alpha testing.
- Crowfall talked up its action harvesting, while Ship of Heroes went all pew-pew with lightning.
- H1Z1 changed its name. Again. This is its third try and it’s still in early access! So is PUBG; it broke 2.3M concurrent players last weekend. Not too shabby.
- Don’t get your hopes up about Star Citizen spinoff Squadron 42; it’s not launching this year. Star Citizen itself is still busy breaking alpha 3.0. But Bless Online is definitely coming (to us) in 2018!
- Conan Exiles, on the other hand, will stay in testing an extra quarter.
Did we miss anything? Other than Eliot, who will be back in action next week? Send it along to us! And in the meantime, check out our ongoing list of MMOs-purporting-to-be-in-testing that we’re watching.
Crowfall isn’t content to make gathering as dull and repetitive as in other MMOs, which is why the team is putting great stock in its so-called “action harvesting.” This system has come under further refinement following its introduction a few weeks back, and the devs were on hand this week to demonstrate why you’ll need to be on your toes when you’re cutting down that tree or scrounging through that bush.
One of these refinements is the addition of “energetic harvesting,” a skill that uses the new action pips to trigger buffs during the process. Players were also shown several of the optional disciplines that a character can equip, such as Logger, Quarryman, Lookout, Hoarder, and Survivalist.
ArtCraft informed the community yesterday that it has started to send out instructions for guilds to reserve their names. “Hey, Crowfall Kickstarter backers: Watch your inbox for guild name reservation info. Newer backers can reserve guild names in November,” the studio posted.
MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.
“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”
I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?
Over the past month or so, Crowfall has been steadfastly working its way through the list of the dozen races that will be available during the game’s remaining testing and launch. As of today, that list is complete.
The last three beastly species are given the spotlight treatment, with racial traits for each revealed. The noble Centaur is more hardy, has an extra boot slot (because… four hooves!), and can kick players who attack it from behind. The fierce Minotaur is more dexterous, can regenerate some damage that it is dealt, and is immune to stuns coming from its front. Finally, the small but scrappy Guinecean gain more effects when they eat food, can wear three rings, and can double-jump with the best of them.
As with the other races, these three can only be paired with a small subset of classes. The Centaur can choose between Knight, Champion, and Cleric; the Minotaur picks from Ranger, Champion, and Myrmidon options; and the Guinecean may choose to become a Knight, a Cleric, or a Duelist.
Testing for Crowfall is still in full swing, and that means that when you watch something like the most recent hour-long stream, you do so with full knowledge that everything in the game can still change. Case in point: For a very long time, the game has encouraged every class in the game to wear any weight of armor the player desires, with each weight having its own strengths and weaknesses. You can still mix and match armor types, but the next patch will change the system so you’ll have to equip a minor discipline to use armor that’s not normally used by the base class.
Other previews include the Knight’s ability to choose between blocking and dodging attacks, the multiple different types of bow on display, and the upcoming dual-wielded pistols for Duelist characters. You can check out the full video just below, but be warned, it is an hour long. Don’t start watching if your boss is coming over in five minutes.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, I hope you’ve got your special black Star Citizen VIP card because CIG has invited concierge-level backers — sorry, space whales — to what it’s calling the first of many “pop-up parties” this coming Tuesday near its LA, Austin, Frankfurt, Wilmslow, and Derby bases. The studio’s also issued its monthly report, which coincides with the latest Around the Verse, during which it was revealed that the long-delayed alpha 3.0 is finally in the hands of the Evocati player testers. (Thanks Josh!)
Meanwhile, Valiance Online confirmed sidekicking, Crowfall discussed its soft launch checklist, Dual Universe hit pre-alpha, The Exiled extended its free-to-play trial, and Shroud of the Avatar delayed its launch.
Stay tuned for more from FrontierExpo as MOP’s MJ is there checking out Elite Dangerous!
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.
Is this a real game? Did this happen again? Wild Buster added Serious Sam alongside Duke Nukem. We must acquiesce, neither is in the first alpha test; this is a small test, runs through October 9th with a little map, little squads, lots of guns, the lore is odd. If you want to play it, there’s an IndieGoGo that’s on. Now that’s done.
Readers! We have more news. We put it in a list, read it now, you can’t resist.
Now that we’ve gotten Queen references out of our system and shared some other news with you, we feel comfortable showing you a list of games in testing. If something in here has soft-launched without us noticing, please, let us know down in the comments. Things get missed sometimes, you know how it is.
Happy October: It’s time for another Crowfall Q&A. ArtCraft’s Thomas Blair and Mark Halash and sit down to answer questions from high-end Crowfall backers. Of note, they cover multiple skill trays, exploration trees, bow content, particle effects, double-dipping skill trees, tome caps, win conditions in testing vs. final, and harvesting tools. Respecs are still on the table (it’s a post-launch feature), and vessel-swapping is hoped to make it into the 5.4 test. The duo further address the extreme lag from the last test, admitting that new stuff being tested is still being optimized, hence the slowdowns.
They also answer a provocative question about a checklist and production schedule for the soft launch. “There’s definitely a schedule,” Blair says. “Do we share it? No! Because we don’t want our feet held to the fire for everything little thing that we have to rearrange.
“For us it’s kind of a living document. Some things have to slip around, like, ‘Hey, this thing that we planned to do two milestones out just became super easy, or we had to do it anyway to get to the thing we wanted to do.’ And that happens all the time. So we get pretty transparent after we do a thing and when it’s at a very high level, but we’re not going to give you ‘here’s our schedule; hold us to these things.'”
Even Crowfall, as progressive as it is with its racial choices, must bow to the ironclad law of MMOs that state, “Every fantasy game must contain, at the bare minimum, a human and Elf playable race.” So it is written, so it is obeyed.
That doesn’t mean that Crowfall’s take on these races is quite so stereotypical. This week’s dev blog outlines the history and lore behind these two species and their sub-races. Humans and Nethtari are quite similar, although the latter’s fire runes and superiority complex sets them apart. Likewise, a true nerd will learn and memorize the variations between High Elves, Sun Elves, Moon Elves, and Wood Elves. Together, they form the great houses of Hogwarts, right?
Crowfall’s racial picks aren’t just cosmetic; each species has its own inherent passive and active perks. For example, Humans toggle on a damage boost, Nethtari sport a fire DoT, High Elves have greater intellect, and Wood Elves can camouflage. Which will you choose?
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Elite has finally begun to sound “dangerous” indeed. After just a few days of owning players, the alien race that “returned” to the game’s universe in its long-awaited 2.4 update has finally begun suffering casualties at the hands of players. In fact, it appears the first player to down one of the Thargoids’ ships was none other than the player who caused the massive drama over last spring’s Salomé event. This is because time is a flat circle and karma is literally dead. It’s not entirely clear that the Thargoids are really the bad guys here, but when has that ever stopped us before?
On Massively OP, we chatted with Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs, who explained just how the game’s social systems will differ from what MMORPG players are used to.
Star Citizen also continued inching along the path toward alpha 3.0, reducing its bug count last week by two.
Meanwhile, Legends of Aria began its final alpha, Shroud of the Avatar patched up to R46, Albion Online released Joseph, Valiance Online posted its latest roadmap, OrbusVR discussed its artificing skill, City of Titans posted the finale to one of its lore series, and Pantheon gave players a look at how its art is coming along via stream (thanks, Reht!), plus Brad McQuaid explored his vision for the Holodeck future of the MMO.
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.
The man who pretty much wrote the book on many MMORPG systems shared another piece of keen insight about a pitfall in many competitive systems. In a short blog post, veteran MMO designer Raph Koster explains why competitive structures end up stagnating and faltering as “winners” gain rewards, become untouchable, and gradually choke out any competition and growth.
“Systems that don’t destroy their kings on a regular basis end up destroying the kings and the citizenry. And life under a king is never advantageous to the citizens, either,” he writes. “This is game design: set up your system to cause ferment, not stability and inevitability.”
Perhaps this is why Koster was attracted to the Crowfall project, as this PvP-centric MMO is devoted to knocking over the board and resetting its pieces on a regular basis.
The Stoneborn of Crowfall are not dwarves. They sometimes get referred to as dwarves, but it’s a ridiculous name because they’re as large as normal people. They’re also not a normal race, either, as they’re less “living creatures” and more “elemental creatures created at the dawn of time.” Also, every time one of them dies, that’s one less member of the race; again, they’re not living creatures and can’t reproduce. Oh, and they’re also a playable race, so this should work out well.
In-game, the Stoneborn are all male (because that’s apparently the default the gods chose to create) and boast increased strength, durability, and resistance to knockdown. They can also slot a special racial skill to make themselves more durable for a short span of time, one of the benefits of being literally made from the ground. So while they’ve got elements of dwarves, you can rest assured that they are not dwarves. They’re not even small enough to be called dwarves.