dev blog

Rend sends out first wave of pre-alpha invites

In a small planned surprise, Frostkeep sent out a wave of unannounced pre-alpha invites for Rend this week. The studio says that the additional testers will prove most helpful as work continues to get the survival sandbox ready for early access. More waves will be coming soon, so don’t feel shy about signing up.

The team went on to pen a dev blog about its skill system, which sounds fairly similar to other games out there. There are no limitations as to how many skills you can work on, so go nuts. Leveled-up skills lead to better efficiency as well as unlocked crafting recipes and helpful perks.

As in most survival sandboxes, you’re going to start out at the bottom rung of the gathering ladder, punching trees for their wood and also because they deserve it. Y’know, it only now occurs to us how poorly these so-called “survival” games actually prepare players for a real-world survival situation.

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Take a peek at the development of Crowfall’s winged fae assassin class

OK, so “minimum viable product” is pretty much the worst thing an MMO dev can say about her game. But how about “minimum viable powers”? That’s the descriptor for the philosophy underpinning Crowfall’s power development, a new dev blog by ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today.

“We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat,” he says. “We are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e., the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions). In other words, don’t freak out about anything at this stage.”

As his chief example, he uses the Fae Assassin, a “stealthy, quick-attacking, stabby-stab type that utilizes poisons and has positional-based attacks,” to assure backers that the team didn’t accidentally forget about stealth and illuminate the game’s wing and poison mechanics. There’s also a dive into the Sin’s UI, which demos passive and active skills, the power bar, and modes like stealth. Definitely worth a look if you’re the type of gamer who prefers stabbing from the shadows (or, y’know, running away from people like that).

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Feast your eyes on one of Project Gorgon’s ongoing graphical updates

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard MMORPG gamers say they love everything about the weird and wonderful sandbox of Project Gorgon… except for the dated placeholder graphics. Welp, that’s what the last couple of crowdfunding rounds were meant to fix, and today we’re getting a fresh look at improved textures and models in the alpha.

“This particular iteration of Serbule is focusing on three things: the textures and models in Serbule city (some of which are already live), the terrain (the grasses, trees, and so on), and the sky,” says Elder Game in its blog post today. “Graphics work always seems to take vastly longer than I hope it will. Part of that is because it needs to be tested on lots of hardware — and we don’t have a full set of testing hardware, so we also have to try to ‘simulate’ low-end machines, which requires some development work. But it’s coming along, slowly but surely. Here’s a few screenshots. They’re a couple days old, and the game already looks a bit different from these, but it will give you an idea of where we are in the process.”

Check out the whole dev post for an explanation of each shot (especially that nighttime image). The tiny team has also been hard at work on crafting skills too, in particular brewing. But I can’t stop looking at those skies.

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Neverwinter’s Shroud of Souls endgame quest comes with a new companion

Endgamers are getting lots of love in Neverwinter’s Shroud of Souls campaign. That’s the takeaway from today’s PWE dev blog, which covers the new “featured quest” en route for endgame players, underpinning the storyline of the content.

“The quest begins with the appearance of a strange shadowy tower in the skies above the skies of the River District of Neverwinter,” the dev blog says, setting the stage. “Wraiths now creep around the back alleys and shadows, draining the life of anyone unfortunate enough to wander nearby.”

Rewards for the quest include “a unique chest piece draped in the dark essence of a powerful necromancer that lets the weak survive when their foes do not” as well as a Netherese Arcanist companion.

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Valiance Online on alpha, Steam, and the character generator of your dreams

Expect “big changes” in the way Silverhelm Studios handles superhero MMORPG Valiance Online’s development going forward, the indie group tells future players and testers in a new dev post today. Silverhelm says that about five months ago, it “shifted from a feature implementation and prototyping development stage to an aggressive content development and content testing phase,” with a renewed focus on transparency, the map, content coding, tools, mob scripting, and the character generator (shown down below), all in the service of preparing for an alpha release and then, eventually, release on Steam.

“Our marketing team is also gearing up for Alpha release, and building their launch campaign for the project. Alongside them, our business team is preparing for the Steam launch and resuming talks with interested investment parties as they start planning to strengthen our infrastructure’s integrity. Our plan is to have the Alpha run for at least 1-2 months. The first phase of testing will be reserved for those that have donor status with the project. As people donate money they will, of course, be given immediate access to the game. They will also receive all of their accumulated donor rewards that are available in the game at that time. Over time we will also add additional testers drawn from people registered on our forums and later, open testing to the public at large. The Steam launch is pivotal for us and is anchored loosely on how financial negotiations mature with interested parties, and how well the Alpha is received by our players. We’re in no rush to Steam, and it has always been our goal to have a well-established and highly refined product before heading to that market.

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SWTOR sits on a brand-new superweapon

Now that we’ve watched The Last Jedi teaser trailer a few hundred times and steeled ourselves for a potential Death Star Number 4, SWTOR would like to interest you in its own superweapon. When Update 5.2: The War for Iokath releases next week, players are going to work to uncover the truths behind the machine-dominated planet and its terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad secret. The team put out a dev diary that outlines some of the activities available for players on this new planet.

The devs say that players will be able to make a difference on the future of the game’s storyline: “You’ll need to make the ultimate choice between Republic and Empire, a decision that will impact the fate of Iokath and the greater galaxy. As the Alliance Commander, depending on your choice you will join forces with former Companions Malavai Quinn or Elara Dorne. Together you’ll fight to decide who will be victorious and claim the superweapons power.”

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A trimmed-down Star Citizen 3.0 alpha is coming this summer

You can stop fidgeting about what might or might not arrive in Star Citizen this year: Cloud Imperium has released its promised development roadmap for the rest of 2017. The studio stresses that quality will trump everything, that estimates are merely estimates, and that the schedule isn’t all-encompassing, but the words “3.0” and “persistent universe” and “planetary tech” have been enough to send Reddit into a tizzy of excitement.

It’s also sent the community into a tizzy of concern, as it appears the original plans for 3.0 have been trimmed down to get it out the door this summer, with many of its features pushed off to later patches later in the year. According to the newsletter, this is partly the result of Behaviour Interactive ending its subcontract for Cloud Imperium (you MMO folks will know it as the studio behind Eternal Crusade).

Check out the whole shebang below.

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Hellion wants its systems to be breaking down more

Hellion has a systems problem, in that its in-game systems are just too darn functional and well-maintained. That would be terrific news if you were a homeowner or a sane spaceship captain, but for a survival sandbox, it makes the “surviving” part insultingly easy.

This is why the team announced that it will be doing a full systems rebalance in the near future in order to gum up the works somewhat. “One of the problems at the moment is that most systems are something that you just switch on and then forget about,” the team said. “We aim to change this in a meaningful way. We want players to feel the difference between a ‘fully working’ and a ‘barely operational’ system, as well as how multiple systems function together and how problems with one system can cause a cascade that affects multiple parts of the ships and stations.”

The trick for the team is to have things decay and break down enough so that maintenance is a challenge and not a chore. Other projects on the team’s list include a UI revamp, making station modules feel more useful, and programming items to respawn in logical (and not random) locations.

Source: Hellion

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Osiris: New Dawn’s April patch boasts level design, melee, and dungeon improvements

Survival sandbox Osiris: New Dawn has a new dev post and video out this week discussing just what is coming in its “massive” next update, “from entirely new level designs to a reworked melee system to highly enhanced graphics.” It also includes a new ship, passenger turret control, fall damage, inventory QOL improvements, proper dungeon AI and party system, vehicle damage, the Ranger class, and water (!). The level designs mention refer to Proteus II, which is getting “a wider variety of biomes and locations to discover.”

“We are targeting April 27th for this release, and we hope to have a beta branch live for testing on April 20th,” writes studio Fenix Fire

The game originally hit Steam’s early access program back in September of last year. You can check out the upcoming feature video below.

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Rend’s mix-and-match class system is deeper than it appears

Start small, grow wide: This is the class philosophy in the upcoming survival sandbox Rend. While there are only four classes in the game, players will be able to quickly differentiate themselves from others as they level up and make important decisions about how to develop their characters.

In today’s dev blog, the team outlines how the class system will work. Players will choose a mix-and-match pairing between a primary and secondary class, with each combo offering a different experience and set of tools than the others. Then players can earn and spend talent points to flesh out those roles.

“One of our main goals when designing these classes was to give an actual choice to the player. Each class has a benefit and a drawback, sometimes in the same talent tier,” Frostkeep said.

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Here’s how Neverwinter’s ‘Stronghold Marauder’ guild events will work

When the Shroud of Souls campaign launches for Neverwinter in May, people in guilds will be treated to a special type of event called Stronghold Marauders, a new dev blog on the official site explains today.

“The Stronghold Marauders event pits guilds against hordes of enemies in order to protect reward caches spread around the exterior of the guild’s stronghold,” Senior Content Designer Charles Gray writes. “Fighting will increase in ferocity with each wave of enemies sent to steal your rewards and enemies will occasionally bring a few surprises to catch unobservant guilds off-guard. Every five waves, there’s a brief respite in the attacks when guilds can elect to take their rewards and retreat into their stronghold, or they can signal for more carts to come and add additional rewards. However, additional rewards also result in yet tougher enemies being enticed to come and attempt to steal not only the new rewards, but the existing ones as well.”

Naturally, there are nice rewards for guilds and guild members who participate, including 600 influence once per week. Unguilded peeps, looks like you’re outta luck.

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Elder Scrolls Online illustrates the Warden’s cold, nature, and summon abilities

If you liked Tuesday’s quickie video of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Warden healing plant spell, you’re going to like today’s dev blog too. The new-with-Morrowind, bear-toting hybrid class is featured again with a complete list of its abilities and spells, including the Green Balance line (nature-based heals and boons) and the Winter’s Embrace set (cold-based shields and storms). The best is surely the Animal Companion skill line, however; it allows you to summon everything from falcons and fetcherfly swarms to netches — they’re the floating jellyfish critters.

Just put my name on this class already, ZeniMax! We’ve tucked the two new demo videos down below.

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Crowfall’s destructible castles are hungry hungry hippos

One of my favorite early MMORPG PvP memories is from Dark Age of Camelot, where I liked to position my Huntress atop my side’s keep battlements to fire down on the Hibbies and Albies swarming below. But of course, we didn’t build that keep; we just claimed it, so losing didn’t hurt much beyond our pride. In Crowfall, however, you’re going to have to rebuild and hold the strongholds you’re fighting over in the game’s Dying Worlds campaigns.

ArtCraft Associate Producer Max Lancaster has a dev blog out today explaining just how it’ll work. “Strongholds will use a capture-and-rebuild mechanic,” he says. “In these worlds, players will fight over the ruins of existing castles and will need to collect resources from neighboring ‘points of interest’ (POIs), specifically mines, mills and quarries, to rebuild the defensive structures in those strongholds. These POIs will be heavily disputed, so be prepared to fight to gain (and maintain) control of them. This is done by ‘feeding’ resources into what we call hungry spawners.”

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