This past summer, ARK: Survival Evolved finally officially launched, ending its stint as an early access game just three days before PAX West, then promptly announced its second expansion on the first day of the convention. There wasn’t even a week between launch and the second expansion’s unveiling, and there will be fewer than two months between the two launches; Aberration is scheduled to launch in October.
While at PAX, I sat down with Studio Wildcard Senior Producer Navin Supphapholsiri, who thanked fans for supporting the game: “We really appreciate the support for the past two years. Just to see how far we’ve come along, it’s all thanks to the community.” Then we talked about the launch, about Aberration, and about the team’s focus going forward.
While the full Hi-Rez portfolio wasn’t in attendance at PAX West, Hand of the Gods was on-hand with a fan tournament as well as machines to introduce folks to the game. Devs were also available to discuss this tactical SMITE spinoff. I sat down with Lead designer Scott Lussier and Executive Producer and VP of Design Scott Zier to talk about the game’s name, its progress, the reception at the convention, and plans going forward.
In fact, one of the tidbits Lussier shared is that the Japanese pantheon is next on the list after Hindu is released later this month.
Remember a few weeks ago when Star Citizen confirmed survival mechanics like eating and sleeping? Welp, add pooping to the list. This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Around the Verse focused on the game’s stamina system, which touches on the character’s needs and risks and notifications about them, including “getting drunk, needing to go to the toilet, all the little things that can affect the player temporarily, and then we can expand this to go even to stuff like long-term diseases, depressurization sickness, radiation sickness – all these things that won’t be something the player can get rid of instantly.”
Meanwhile, the three City of Heroes spiritual successors teamed up for a panel at PAX, Shroud of the Avatar honored a player’s father, Dual Universe hit 10K backers, Dogma: Eternal Night implemented combat, and Chronicles of Elyria demoed jousting, plus so many goodies from PAX! 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.
PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.
If you were hoping that another title would pick up the idea of a voxel world and run with it, you’re getting your wish. I met with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, at PAX West. He showed off the pre-alpha build of his company’s voxel sandbox, Dual Universe. After zooming across the planet, building a ship, terraforming, and then blasting off to the moon to do it all again, I believe this subscription-based game (which begins its pre-alpha for backers on September 30th) may very well be the home that players who’ve been wishing for a voxel-based world have waited for.
Baillie defines Dual Universe: “We give more creativity freedom to the players: They can build the ships they want, the environment they want, the houses they want. It’s about freedon to create anything you like.”
The team behind Star Citizen is on the floor at Gamescom talking about 3.0, which would be pretty awkward if that update wasn’t already playable. (In other words, yes, super awkward.) The good news is that they can explain, apparently. At least the team brought part of the patch with them? And they’re confirming survival mechanics? And you can catch up on their live presentation?
Aw, heck, let’s just move on to other beta news, all right? Yes.
- The recap for the first OrbusVR beta is now available, delayed slightly by massive flooding issues. In the real world, just to be clear. The next test is planned for September 15th, so get your headset ready if you have one. (If not, well… as you were.)
- Bad news for The Repopulation fans; after everything the game has been through, the new developers are struggling to get the game’s next content patch together. This story needs a happier present, much less a happy ending.
- Eugh, let’s get some good news. How about Dual Universe kicking off pre-alpha on September 30th? Yes, “pre-alpha” is kind of ridiculous, but it’s something.
- All right, that’s not washing the taste out of your mouth? How about Moonlight Blade hitting its final closed beta test? That’s not actually a release date or anything for a localized version, but it’s closer, right?
- This just isn’t being optimistic. Let’s all sit down in Ever, Jane and enjoy a relaxing game of cards instead. Yes, cards. That’ll fix everything.
Perhaps we’ll all have better fortune down in the list. You remember the list, don’t you? It’s a list of games in testing, but there’s always the chance that something has jumped phases without us noticing, so we encourage you to let us know in the comments. Seriously, we appreciate it.
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.”
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree break down the big Guild Wars 2 news, celebrate FFXIV’s momentous milestone, muse about Dual Universe, and more! We also have a special interview with H1Z1: Just Survive Creative Director Ben Jones about the massive overhaul to this survival sandbox.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
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.”
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.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen dropped more than just its work on procedural planets and moon: It also posted its 3.0 production schedule report, which shows that Cloud Imperium will once again delay the release of alpha 3.0, chiefly from a desire to polish and work on the UI. 3.0 is now scheduled to go fully live in late August following a month in the hands of the elite Evocati player testers, which lines up nicely with Gamescom.
Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar raised another $100,000 during a stream, City of Titans demoed its costume-building, Mystic Worlds narrated a ton of Star Citizen fanfic, OrbusVR recapped its sixth closed alpha test, and Albion Online is gearing up for launch in just over a week.
We also added the wacky OARPG Global Adventures to our watch list; its Kickstarter is live now. You might remember studio SubaGames from its revivals of both Luna Online and Dream of Mirror Online!
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’ve got our eye on.
If you haven’t picked up a founder pack for Dual Universe, you’re going to want to rectify that soon. Novaquark wrote in a recent Kickstarter newsletter that it plans to end the purchase of founder packs come September 7th, the anniversary of the sci-fi sandbox’s successful Kickstarter.
“Obviously we couldn’t extend it forever and now it’s time to move on to the next stage,” writes the studio. “After September 7th, we will temporarily disable the Crowdfunding portal. No new pledges or upgrades will be possible once the portal is disabled. We will reopen the Crowdfunding Portal later in Q4 2017 with new Supporter Packs. Supporter Packs will include different rewards than Founder Packs and the Lifetime Subscription reward won’t be available anymore.”
So how’s the game itself coming along? Not too shabbily; this week Novaquark posted pre-alpha footage of a ship flying seamlessly from a moon to its planet. That seems to be a theme today, yeah?