dust 514

Official Site: DUST 514
Studio: CCP Games
Launch Date: May 14, 2013
Genre: Sci-Fi shooter
Business Model: F2P (Cash Shop)
Platform: PS3

Pokemon Go will end support for pre-iOS 11 Apple devices by March

Mobile users are probably used to the eventual demise of their phones and the nonfunctionality of apps they bought long ago, no matter which manufacturer or operating system is behind their daily driver. Obsolesence is a way of life. But that reality won’t be of any comfort to Pokemon Go players on older iPhones, who’ve been told this week that their time has come.

“In an upcoming update to Pokémon GO, we will end support for Apple devices not capable of upgrading to iOS 11, such as iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c models,” Niantic announced. “This change is a result of improvements to Pokémon GO that push the application beyond the capabilities of the operating systems on such devices.”

So in a nutshell, come the end of February, you’re going to need a newer phone than one from 2012/2013 to play POGO, else everything you’ve paid for in the game will begin collecting dust and you will be playing other games. It’s not currently clear which other devices are destined for the chopping block in the near future, but it does appear that Niantic’s plan is to drop you rather than create a low-load version of the app to keep dedicated customers on older devices, just as it was Niantic’s plan to block all rooted/jailbroken devices rather than sort out actual cheaters.

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The Game Archaeologist: Neocron

It’s the distant future. The high-tech battle armor you wear sharply contrasts with the ruins of civilization that you traverse. You spot an enemy and raise your pulse rifle, firing off shots as you strafe to cover. Technology hasn’t solved the issue of war; it’s just raised the body count.

PlanetSide 2? Nope — this is Neocron, the quite-forgettable MMOFPS from the way-back era. I like to call it “that game with the most regrettable cover art in the history of video games,” but that isn’t quite as snappy.

Going into this article, I have to admit that I previously knew absolutely nothing about Neocron other than the fact that it was a sci-fi MMO that vaguely reminded me of Anarchy Online. Oh, also the fact that nobody I know or perhaps ever will know played it. Was it just a myth? A practical joke to make us believe in an MMO phantom? Only sifting through layers of dust and grime would produce results, so I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.

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Sumo Digital picks up CCP’s ejected EVE Valkyrie studio

Good news for anybody out there worried about the future of EVE Valkyrie: CCP’s Newcastle studio, the one that runs Valkyrie, has been acquired by UK-based Sumo Digital, which isn’t exactly known for VR. According to GIbiz, 34 CCP devs will make the jump to the new group. Sumo Digital has been collaborating with CCP already on Project Nova, the FPS following in DUST 514’s footsteps.

You’ll recall that at the tail end of October 2017, the EVE Online developer announced that it was pulling out of the virtual reality market, with intent to close down or sell off some of its properties while pulling Sparc in-house. Though Valkyrie received an update in the interim, its longer-term future had appeared uncertain until Sumo Digital announced the buyout.

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Ship of Heroes recaps 2017, teases Christmas event, and looks ahead to 2018’s beta

Who says you have to have launched to have holiday events? Not Ship of Heroes. The City of Heroes-inspired indie superhero MMORPG has a new video out this afternoon teasing what will eventually become its Christmas event once the game is in a playable state.

“Meltdown is collecting Christmas gifts by racing around Apotheosis City,” Heroic Games explains. “As he finds each one, he opens it and receives both in-game money (Dust), and a gift that goes into his inventory. We’re also showing picture-in-picture clips of the most important milestones SoH has achieved in each of the last twelve months. Through the PiP, we are sharing an overall tale of success, of moving from a website with a bit of concept art and story, to our current working game prototype.”

The studio is also reminding fans that it’s still planning on launching open beta by the end of 2018 and that donations – with their associated rewards, including access to the alpha – are still open.

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Are rank-and-file devs benefiting from MMO publisher ‘money-grabs’? Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs weighs in

Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.

“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”

But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.

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Slay-to-win: Massively OP’s hands-on with the Dauntless closed beta

The end of September marked a major milestone for Dauntless, the upcoming monster-slaying action-MMORPG from indie developer Phoenix Labs, as it officially concluded its Founder’s Alpha event and made the jump into closed beta. Since then, legions of would-be Slayers have stormed the Shattered Isles, taking up arms to defend the last bastions of human civilization from destruction at the hands (and talons, fangs, or similarly sinister appendages) of the marauding monstrous beasts known as Behemoths.

And as it so happens, I was one of them. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s venerable Monster Hunter series, which pioneered the “kill-carve-and-craft” action-RPG subgenre upon which Dauntless aims to build, I’ve been eager to check it out for some time now. So when closed beta rolled around, I shelled out for a Founder’s Pack and joined my fellow prospects in the frontier settlement of Ramsgate, where I hoped to prove worthy of the Slayer mantle, or failing that, then at least to avoid dying horribly.

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Black Desert devs responds to datamining dust-up with stat transparency and apologies

Remember a week ago when Black Desert dataminers dug up dirt on the game’s so-called hidden stats, only to be booted off the subreddit by mods doing Pearl Abyss’ bidding? Remember how the dataminers just put it all up on a different sub beyond the reach of PA, practically daring PA to follow through on the legal action it threatened dataminers with earlier this year?

Consider the situation effectively defused. Kakao has apologized for creating “confusion among [its] beloved players by failing to deliver accurate information,” promising clarity on those stats. Indeed, clarity is arriving in the form of a producer letter from Pearl Abyss (which also apologizes profusely).

Executive Producer Jae-hee Kim says PA now plans to add accuracy, evasion, and damage reduction numbers to tooltips, noting that while hidden stats seemed like a fun idea originally, there is now too much of a “gap” between people in the know and everyone else. The studio also aims to tweak “ambiguity” on elixirs, boost drop rates party to the node level system, and provide transparency on future stats.

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Dauntless wraps up Halloween, gives testers a reset button

Continuing its mission to teach people across the world that if an animal is big enough it should be killed, Dauntless has pushed out its closed beta 0.2.8 patch this week.

The patch marks the end of the title’s first holiday event, The Dark Harvest. While Halloween in the lands may be over, the challenge of behemoth slaying continues. Assisting in this effort are three new Archonite weapons, more responsive hammer blast dodges, and improved client performance.

The team is also handing closed beta testers a reset button to use as they will: “All players can now reset their account progression via the My Account page. This will NOT remove any account items, such as founders pack benefits, platinum, flares, emotes, sigils, fabrics, and chroma dust.”

Source: Patch notes

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s CCP Games is gambling with the livelihoods of employees

Last week we broke the story that EVE Online developer CCP Games is backing out of the virtual reality games market, closing its Altanta office and selling its VR-focused Newcastle studio. The long-held Atlanta office was acquired in the merger with White Wolf in 2006 and has been hit with several rounds of layoffs over the years, with a major hit in 2011 after the Monoclegate disaster and another 2014 when the World of Darkness MMO was cancelled. The Newcastle studio was the development house responsible for CCP’s VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, and both Valkyrie and CCP’s new VR game Sparc will now be maintained by the London office.

Around 100 staff were laid off in the restructuring, roughly 30 of whom worked in CCP’s headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. Though we were informed at the time that these changes would not impact the development of EVE Online, it since became apparent that more than a few non-development staff were cut. In addition to the EVE PR staff and others that were stationed in Atlanta, all but two members of the EVE community team in Reykjavik have also been let go. There are reports that several GMs and the localisation manager for EVE have departed too, and the mood on twitter from staff in Reykjavik recently is best described as sombre and a little shaken.

In this extra edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into CCP Games’s history of taking risks with staff’s jobs, look at some of those affected by the layoffs, and ask whether there is more fallout to come.

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EVE Evolved: What to expect from EVE Vegas 2017

CCP Games’ annual EVE Vegas event kicks off in less than a week on October 6th, and once again MassivelyOP will be on the ground to get the latest on the future of EVE Online, EVE: Valkyrie, Sparc, and more. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, having sold out weeks in advance despite moving to a larger venue in The Linq Hotel and Casino. EVE Vegas is the largest community event for players in North America and serves almost as a mini-Fanfest for those who may not be able to make it to Iceland.

While the event is mostly a social gathering and an excuse to get drunk, it will also give CCP an opportunity to get critical feedback ahead of EVE Online‘s Lifeblood expansion on October 24th. We’ll hear more about the upcoming Resource Wars dynamic PvE gameplay, get an update on the development roadmap for EVE, and see a variety of player talks and presentations. We’ve also been told to expect some cool surprises this year, and we may get an opportunity to follow up on the recent record-breaking heist and betrayal that happened in-game.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what we can expect from next week’s EVE Vegas 2017. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask players or developers, post them in the comments!

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Legends of Aria begins final alpha

Rest time’s over, boys and girls, so dust yourself off and get back into the thick of the alpha. In this case, it’s Legends of Aria and its final alpha test, which is running from now through October 9th.

The Ultima Online spiritual successor has a lot of new tricks and features this time around, such as more zones, dungeons, cities, and a raid. Players will also find that the combat system has received an upgrade and that character progression offers many more choices.

If you want to get into the alpha test, just know that it will cost you. The cheapest tier that includes alpha access is $40, although the studio is quick to point out that this also comes with a one-week head start prior to the launch.

Once the final alpha concludes, Citadel Studios will gear up for the Steam launch, which has yet to be dated.

Source: Press release

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Massively Overthinking: How will Star Citizen make money after launch?

During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.

“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”

Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.

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Storybricks CEO shares early EverQuest Next proposal documents

It has been a while since the dust settled on late, lamentable EverQuest Next, and even longer since the sandbox MMORPG acquired and then ditched Storybricks for one of its core game systems. Recently, Storybricks CEO Rodolfo Rosini rediscovered a couple of early documents of his company’s work on EverQuest Next, and as these were produced in 2012 before an NDA was signed, he decided that they were fair game to share with the internet at large.

“The first document is the initial pitch after we were told the scope of the game that is now public and it wasn’t clear how many features we would have to develop for the final product,” Rosini said. “As you can see magic was a huge influence on the prototyping stage. The second document was our proposal for a demo of the AI combat system, and that was what helped us advance the discussion for our involvement in EQN.”

It’s certainly interesting to get a glimpse into the fabled MMORPG’s development from Storybricks’ perspective and to once again tantalize our minds with the thought of “what if it had happened this way.” The documents talk about Storybricks creating the “illusion of life” with its flexible scripting program, especially in combat, and how it would be used to adapt and counter players’ fighting styles.

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