As we do every year, today we’re going to peer back into the depths of last year’s staff predictions for the genre and the games within it to determine just how we fared. After all, what would be the fun of making predictions if we couldn’t have a laugh at how wrong we were a year later? So let’s dig in and find out whether we nailed it or failed it!
Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.
For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!
Lest you be dispirited by the fact that Crowfall’s soft launch isn’t going to make 2017 as promised (after also not making 2016), ArtCraft has a post up today outlining all the things the team did accomplish this year. And one of those things happens to involve acquiring another chunk of cash from investors.
“After a lot of discussion over the summer, we decided to do a larger raise to expand our game content, cover all launch expenses and to have enough funds to drive a respectable marketing campaign at launch,” J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton write today on the official site. “We believe this is the right approach, so we pitched it to our investors. They agreed. We are delighted to announce that on December 1st, we closed another financing round for an additional $6 million. This money will be used to fund the completion, launch and marketing of Crowfall. This means we’ll be hiring a few more people, we’ll be able to invest more in our live infrastructure and support more players; and we’ll be able to get some real attention once the game is ready.”
Garretsen says that the UI’s undergone a “pretty big shift” and now has a weighty side-docked UI element that merges the character’s stats, gear, and inventory, a little bit like the UI design in OARPGs like Path of Exile and Diablo. The idea is to boost visibility of the most important UI elements and clarify the game loop and how each piece of your character interacts (as well as deflect criticism that the game felt like a MOBA, and it really shouldn’t given how much goes into character development).
Don’t panic, however, if you just want to play without fussing too much with the numbers under the hood that are less under the hood with the test build’s latest update. “You don’t have to get into the stats to have a good time in this game,” Garretsen assures watchers. The whole Q&A is below.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained’s weekly progress report is on the shorter side (for CSE) given that the game’s monthly newsletter just went out, but there are some interesting tidbits within, including the fact that the studio is considering uprooting the game’s hosting services and migrating elsewhere. The team’s also been working on battlegrounds and warbands, status effects, animations, female clothing, tech stuff, and boats.
In great news for anybody still lamenting World of Darkness, victory seems assured for vampire MMORPG Shadow’s Kiss, whose Kickstarter should conclude on Tuesday with more than double its ask.
Meanwhile, Elite Dangerous patched its patch, Shroud of the Avatar is hosting a Movember team, Valiance Online teased female toons, Project Gorgon is planning its next update early tomorrow morning, we spoke to Mark Jacobs about developer wages, Ship of Heroes prepped its combat alpha, and Star Citizen drove eyebrows to the sky by announcing the pre-sale of land claims in space.
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.
Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?
If you’re the sort of person who runs screaming from a room and vows to burn the whole house down over the barest glimpse of an arachnid, you are not going to like the newest Crowfall bestiary entry. For one thing, it’s all about spiders. For another thing, it’s all relayed through a creepy bit of in-universe lore explaining just how nasty and subversive spiders are in this world.
Those of you less susceptible to swatting at bare skin at the mere suggestion of a spider on you will still likely be a bit freaked out by the hidden, skittering children of Arachne, Mother of Spiders. It doesn’t help that the in-world lore is written by an actual disciple of Arachne, at that. Just… go read about it, and remember that these are not the sort of spiders you smash idly unless you want to bruise your hand.
Oh, hey, is that one in your hair?
ArtCraft gave its community a heads-up that at the end of 2017, it will be retiring its business model of selling pledge packages in favor of smaller pre-orders. This especially affects the larger bundles of $200 or more, which the studio said will be broken down and sold in smaller increments to those who want a la carte purchases. There will also be three pre-order editions put on sale as the game ramps up toward beta and release.
“In late January, we’ll be transitioning pricing for almost everything in our store to a micro-transaction currency (known as crowns), which function in a manner… well, like pretty much every other online game,” the studio said. “All virtual items will use crown pricing while digital and physical copies of the game, VIP Tickets and a few services will continue to be priced using real-world currency. All existing wallets will be converted to crowns, at the highest currency-to-crown ratio that we offer.”
ArtCraft also mentioned on Twitter that it is teaming up with AbleGamers to help make Crowfall more accessible for those with physical handicaps.
Don’t ever test Raph Koster on MMORPG history, because you’ll probably lose.
The Star Wars Galaxies and Crowfall designer challenged a recent Rolling Stone article and a resulting Reddit thread on its portrayal of World of Warcraft back in its earliest days as the community prepares for WoW Classic. In particular, Koster takes umbrage with the “minimal storytelling” that the piece attributes to the vanilla game.
“[World of Warcraft] launched with probably literally 100x the story of any preceding MMO ever,” Koster said on Twitter. “Helped, no doubt, by spending a minimum of 4x the budget of any other MMO except Sims Online. Anyway, it’s just funny to read an argument that the great STRENGTHS of WoW at launch were its weaknesses.”
The latest Crowfall Q&A video changes tack about halfway through. For the first half, lead designer Thomas Blair and executive producer Gordon Walton helpfully discuss various player questions like how the team is preparing for the next major release and why they haven’t shown up frequently at conventions. But then the video becomes a journey into a side of development we all know about but rarely see – the process of hunting down and fixing bugs in the game.
Picking out specific bugs shows the full interface and the testing process, starting with the reported bug of Roasted Bloodworm causing 12 damage instead of healing it. If you think that fixing it is as simple as changing a plus or minus sign somewhere… no, first it requires hunting down why it has the problem in the first place, looking at all of the components, and so forth. You can see it for yourself in the video just below. (Fair warning, it’s lengthy.)
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained continued its ramp up to Saturday Night Sieges. “It’s been all hands on deck as we prepare our siege deathmatch scenarios for IT testing,” City State says, noting the team has been working on spawn points, scenario rulesets, gear loadouts, animations, the UI, healer NPCs, battlegroups, boats, female clothing, and emotes. I am all about those boots and dresses!
The Shadow’s Kiss Kickstarter has also now doubled its funding goal, unlocking game narration and music. Just over two weeks remain to back it; a demolitions stretch goal looms at $60,000.
Meanwhile, Crowfall delayed its soft launch again, Shroud of the Avatar launched R48, Albion Online began a new season of referral rewards, Valiance Online updated to the latest version of Unity, Ashes of Creation talked politics, and Path of Exile announced its latest expansion. 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.
Let me tell you, I’m really glad that Ascent: Infinite Realm already has a publishing deal for the west, because otherwise I would be figuratively biting my nails about the game’s first beta test in South Korea. I only just learned it existed, sure, but it’s a game about steampunk mechs and airships. If we get superheroes and cats, that’s pushing most of my buttons right away.
More beta news? Sure, what the hey!
- Guess what else has hit closed testing? That’s right, it’s Ironsight! Which is also a game including mechs, and it’s also a game with a brand-new trailer for you to enjoy to coincide with beta.
- Wait, has something else hit closed testing? Sort of! OrbusVR is is still humming along nicely, with the fourth beta test ready to kick off, so it’s still doing what needs to be done.
- And is there another title? Yes, there is! Wild West Online started its early access alpha, so you can stroll into the… actually, on second thought, we don’t need to invite Will Smith memes. You can fill the rest of that in yourself.
- Has Crowfall joined the beta/early access/soft launch crew? No! In fact, it won’t be signing on until 2018 at this point, just to give the developers a bit more time. So you can wait longer.
- What about Forsaken Legend? It’s still out there! But it’s not an MMO any more. Or less of one. Terminology is weird.
- Last but not least, why is Lineage 2 Revolution not on this list? Because it launched! Shock and amazement.
That’s a lot of questions followed by shouted responses, but we assure you there is less shouting in our list of games in testing down below. You can still respond to us in the comments, though; we like to hear from you. Especially if some game swapped test phases without us knowing about it. Those are useful responses!
Now that Crowfall fans have a little longer to wait before the game’s soft launch, they have time to fully absorb this lengthy article on action harvesting. Yes, ArtCraft has been pushing this vision for harvesting for a couple of months now, but there is a good chance that you still don’t know what it means other than imagining a character wildly swinging away, missing a large chunk of ore on the ground, and causing self-inflicted wounds with a pickaxe.
Basically, action harvesting refers to a more involved process of material gathering, complete with its own skill bar and special effects. The studio has continued to iterate on the system, having emerged from brainstorming with “pips” as a resource, 11 harvesting disciplines (including, we kid you not, Grave Digger), 30 powers, and a universal “energetic harvesting” skill. There’s a pattern to swinging your implement, and as players build up more pips, their energetic harvesting skill will proc different effects.
“Because all the buff durations and the pips are so quick to generate, this creates an opportunity for the player to weave a variety of different buff combinations based on their current need,” the studio explained.