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.
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?
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!
“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!
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
Developer CCP Games made its first foray into the console FPS market back in 2013 with the incredibly ambitious DUST 514, and things didn’t exactly go to plan. The core FPS gameplay wasn’t exactly up to scratch, and the tenuous realtime link with the EVE Online universe didn’t hook enough people in the long-term. DUST shut its doors last year, but hope for a successor came in EVE Fanfest 2016 when devs hosted a live playtest of an early work-in-progress EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova that’s being built from the ground up.
The game was a huge hit with attendees last year and CCP’s Snorri Árnason confirmed that long-term plans for the game did potentially involve territorial warfare and some kind of economic link to EVE. No new information had been released on Nova since that test, but this week at EVE Fanfest 2017 it was confirmed that CCP is still working on the game. Development of Project Nova has now been moved to Reykjavik to be closer to the EVE Online dev team, which is a good sign that it may graduate from prototype status to a full-fledged production game. Check out our coverage of last year’s Nova playtest for more info on how the game plays.
Did you think that EVE: Valkyrie had been out for a whole year? Before you saw the headline, that is. Actually, perhaps you did anyway, perhaps the game is one of your favorite titles. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to know that its first anniversary celebration offers doubled experience for every player for each mission flown for an entire week.
The event ends on April 4th, but you should have time to fly plenty of missions between now and then. Whether it’s a welcome addition to a game you still play regularly or an excuse to dust off a VR headset and play once more will depend on your personal preferences.