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.
If I had to pick a PAX West booth to give an award to for sheer fun factor, it would go to Digital Extremes’ new board/card/computer game combo The Amazing Eternals. (I’m not alone: The booth also got an award from a magazine!) The retro bowling alley vibe — complete with bowling shirts, orange shag carpet, and wood paneling — combined with the awesome old TV console frames on the monitors just screamed funky and fun.
Did that same vibe translate into the game? Yup. It was prevalent when I got to dive in and try a couple of matches. Admittedly, the first one was less fun, but that’s because I jumping in totally blind; the enjoyment spiked up quite a bit more after talking with Lead Game Designer Allen Goode and actually learning about the game. And now you, too, will have that same info so you can have a blast in your matches — or at least know better what’s going on!
Look up there, in the sky! Is it a producer’s letter
for DC Universe Online
? Is it a state of the game post? Nay, it’s both!
Last month’s large-scale stat revamp changed the game from the top to bottom, and now that the dust has settled somewhat, the team said that it is “thrilled” with the response to the changes. It also laid out the plans for what it will be doing in the game short, medium and long term, such as nerfing low-level mobs, updating the game’s gear and progression systems, and providing other avenues for players to earn skill points.
In a tantalizing teaser, the letter also showed a picture of what looks like a faster skill point adjustment UI that gives players the ability to respec much easier than before.
Massively OP’s Eliot recently concluded a tour of duty in DCUO and was pretty disappointed in what he discovered.
Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just
fond of video games; I’m also
fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online
, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.
So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.
Apparently I am a pot-stirrer. On my side blog, Bio Break, I like to throw out conversation starters every now and then, and one such recent post concerned side quests. Namely, I mused about getting rid of them altogether in MMORPGs. This generated a lot of interesting conversation around the subject among other bloggers.
In An Age said that side quests are vital for pacing: “Pacing, meanwhile, is all about enhancing the main story. How do you enhance a story? By fleshing it out. Giving context to its development. Allowing breathing room in which to digest the latest narrative bombshell. Bringing the world in which the story exists to life.”
“I’m a fan of side quests if they’re done well overall. I don’t expect every single one to be breathtaking storytelling,” said Gaming SF. And Bhagpuss goes the other way: “I have to wonder whether, rather than putting side quests on ice, it isn’t the main quest itself that should be deep-sixed. If side quests add breadth and depth to the world, don’t main quests try to put that world in a box and close the lid?”
Fenix Fire CEO Brian McRae is “not having fun either,” according to his latest dev blog on the Osiris: New Dawn Steam page. His comments are in response to what he characterizes as the “recent negativity in the reviews and forums” regarding the survival sandbox’s messy and experimental early access development, which “breaks [his] heart,” especially when he agrees with the harsh feedback.
“One of the inside jokes in the AAA studios is ‘whatever mode the devs play on is nightmare mode to the general audience’. I think this is totally true for Osiris. We play the game a lot, myself for multiple years. Plus, I know where everything is because I put it there. That said, the last time I played the game I had a similar experience to what I’ve seen in the reviews and forums. I spawned near sunset in a dust storm. The dust storm when on for WAY too long, it’s a bug. Anyway, I made it to the continent and was attacked by 3 crabs, 2 gnats, and a couple more things. I was playing as Ranger and had no hope with my melee weapon (I play 3rd person usually). When I died my character had that weird ragdoll bug and my character turned to a spaghetti mess. Unity’s way of handling these ragdoll errors is to remove the object, meaning my character was not there when I spawned back in so I couldn’t raid my body and get my supplies. I felt lost, frustrated, hopeless. I thought, ‘I see the potential but this is crazy hard and not fun’. Sound familiar?”
It has been a whirlwind week of news and reveals for Lord of the Rings Online
players. Standing Stone Games
finally pulled back the curtains of the new expansion, simply titled Mordor
— and to make things even more exciting, the first beta test of the region went up on Bullroarer to give players a hands-on preview.
Unlike some other writers here on staff, I do not like playing betas and going through new content before it goes live for real, so I will not be participating on Bullroarer (I’d prefer my first time to be for keeps!). However, that doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the news or the previews! There’s so much to take in and digest, so this week I want to thumb through the reveals and preview videos to share some of my reactions to what we’ll be seeing when LOTRO: Mordor comes out later this summer.
Whether you walk, ride, or hobble (you took fall damage, didn’t you?) into Mordor, the important thing is that we are all going there in 2018. So what will we find?
most recent expansion, Journey to Un’Goro
, one deck has come to dominate pretty much all others — and Blizzard
now says that it is high time it left the meta
The studio announced that it would be nerfing the key card behind the “Quest Rogue” deck to stop this runaway train: “The Caverns Below is uniquely powerful versus several slower, control-oriented decks and played often enough that it’s pushing those decks out of play. This change should help expand the deck options available to players both now and after the release of the next expansion.”
Meanwhile, over in China Blizzard has had to employ a… creative solution to get around a law that forces video game companies to state the odds obtaining desired items in lockboxes (of which Hearthstone’s card packs are considered). Instead of allowing players to purchase packs directly, Blizzard now encourages players to buy quantities of arcane dust, after which they will be gifted “free” packs that require no such revelations.
Massively OP Patron Jackybah has a question for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s probably going to kick up some dust. He wonders whether MMO developers recognize and “serve” a particular subgroup of their players enough — specifically, the group of players that do not want to actively participate in social grouping (for dungeons) or social banter (in guild chat) but still want to contribute to and participate in an online world.
“In quite a number of games I feel that the game forces a player to group up to be able to see content and/or get higher-level gear,” he writes to us.
There’s a lot of layers to unpack here — non-social gamers in social spaces, the current state of MMO group content, and even the fundamentals of MMORPGs. Is our Patron right, and if so, is it a problem studios should be addressing? Let’s get to it.
This week’s episode of Star Citizen Around the Verse sees Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts and Eric Kieron Davis bookending Foundry 42, Ship Shape, and solar system segments. From the Foundry 42 Frankfurt office, Development Director Brian Chambers checks in to discuss new hires, level design work, landing zones, atmosphere mapping, buddy AI, enemy reactions, planet surfacing, outpost lighting, environment art, and multiplayer persistent universe gameplay testing (yay!), while Ship Shape is aimed at you motorcycle lovers.
“Being able to see your footsteps in the snow or have your vehicle kick up dust while speeding across the desert are those little details that’ll make you believe that you’re really in those environments and be much more immersive, and you know me – I love immersive,” Roberts chimes in.
The best bit is easily the solar system segment, but I’m biased – I married an astrophysicist. The devs explain how they use the Solar System Ed (SolEd) to build out the parts of their galaxy in the service of the Star Map, making use of volunteer astronomers and other scientists to vet their ideas for scientific plausibility. Fun!
Dust off your transmedia synergy bingo cards: Wargaming’s
just announced a cross-promotion with the Warner Bros.-backed, Christopher Nolan-produced historical war film Dunkirk. Here’s your fast history lesson:
“The evacuation, known as the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk,’ took place from May 26th until June 4th, 1940, when hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were trapped by advancing German forces on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. As the battle raged around them, many were transported to safety by the combined efforts of both military and civilian vessels. The history of this massive mobilization and the hopeful, personal stories of those involved will unfold in the film Dunkirk.”
Wargaming is promising a commemorative event in World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes. Dubbed Remember Dunkirk, it’ll include a “series of emblems, missions and more” rolling out through July. The movie itself hits theaters on July 21st. The promo trailer is tucked down below!
Back in January, we learned the fate of The Repopulation: The Hero Engine team from Idea Fabrik would be taking over development of the game from its original developers at Above & Beyond following a lengthy dispute between the two that took the alpha offline for more than a year. It returned online and relaunched on Steam earlier this spring, promising an update in May after major issues were discovered in the code.
And here we are now in May, and the new team says the staging build is nearly live. The latest dev post promises that the “core vision” is still in line with A&B’s, will stay away from pay-to-win, will expand “to include multiple play styles” for PvE and PvP, will consider new and different rulesets, and will lay the groundwork for “future expansions.” The update is dubbed Condorslug, “first and foremost the start of the renovation to replication within every game system, at its very core this is about bug fixing and trying to get things in a much better place.” Expect new shaders, redone heightmaps, new textures, and yes, wipes.
Oh yeah, and expect to shell out some dough too, as the studio is “aiming to re-enable the purchasing of higher tiers” once the dust has settled.
So what about that weather we’re having in Osiris: New Dawn? OK, it’s unlikely that anyone will actually utter that as a conversation starter, but even so, did you know that Osiris has a robust weather system? The team posted a pie chart (the tastiest of all charts) to show the frequency of the five weather types: clear, hazy, dust, storm, and fog.
Last week the sci-fi survival sandbox updated to its 1.116 build, adding in new features such as flares and primitive crafting workstations. It may be the future and all, but who says that stone ovens can’t be useful? For all of the additions, there was one subtraction: The team removed the OMPA robot for some more work.
If this game is your bag, you might be interested to know that there’s an official Discord channel to facilitate conversations and socializing!