It’s time for Legends of Aria to say farewell to alpha once and for good.
The fantasy MMO wrapped up its so-called final alpha test over the weekend and turned to focus on the upcoming beta. During the last alpha, around 2,500 players clocked in over 33,000 hours, providing the team with invaluable feedback for further development.
Speaking of which, it sounds as though there are exciting things ahead for this small but scrappy sandbox: “We will be adding more character to the world, more landmarks, better developed points of interest and more immersive and living cities. Our work is far from done in this regard as we really push to bring the world to life. I’m also excited to announce that two additional cities are being added to Celador. One in the Southern Rim and one in the (soon to open) Eastern Frontier.”
As for the beta itself, the team is not dating it yet, saying that “we are not going to release beta until we are where we want to be.”
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Project Gorgon, Star Trek Online, Bless, Skyforge, Wakfu, Roblox, War Thunder, Aion, Elite: Dangerous, New Dawn, Travian, Astroneer, and World of Warcraft, all waiting for you after the break!
This past weekend was not the first time I have attended a developer’s convention, but Frontier Expo 2017 was one of only a very few times when I have been able to attend the first one of its kind. Last weekend, I got to witness the birth of Frontier Developments’ fan convention, held in London, UK. At 1500 attendees, it may have been a relatively small gathering compared to conventions like PAX or other more established cons, but it was still great. In fact, it offered fans a few firsts of their own! Besides your classic meeting-and-greeting, game announcements with reveals, and after parties (including live entertainment by Jim Guthrie, the musician who created the Planet Coaster music), folks got to try their hand at the studio’s really old games on their original equipment in the Frontier Developments museum.
Even more than that, attendees got to meet and listen to world-renowned experts in the fields of paleontology and astrobiology. Not because these would sell the game, but just because they are subjects of interest to fans. How many studios have offered that?
Now there were understandably a few bumps and learning experiences in this first endeavor, but in all, I say the inaugural FX2017 was a resounding success! It was easily the most chill convention experience I have ever had, and I look forward to next year’s show (and hanging out with the space loach more!). Let’s dig in!
No, it’s not an MMO. Boy oh boy do I wish it were! You know that little old movie franchise, Jurassic Park? If you’ve ever thought you could run a dino-filled establishment better than those who tried in on-screen, you’ll be getting your chance with Jurassic World Evolution. The sim game was shown off at Frontier Expo 2017 and lets players move beyond the movies.
Jurassic World Evolution will allow players to design their own dinosaur parks, with three different development paths to pursue. Those who want to create a bustling tourist attraction (and hope tourists don’t become dinner) will focus on Entertainment. Players who prefer to focus on improving military and security applications of dinosaurs will go for Security. And for those enthusiasts who just want to understand more about dinosaurs, there’s the Science path.
When I spoke to Elite Dangerous’ devs at this year’s Frontier Expo 2017, the company’s first fan expo, they admitted that communication went dark for a time. But it wasn’t for any worry-worthy reason: No, it was because the devs were preparing for Beyond, the big update road map for 2018 that was revealed on stage at the con. And what a reveal it was! The crowd was quite excited about the announced features spanning four updates throughout the year, including squadrons, fleet carrier ships, a codex, new ships, improved mining, revamped planetary graphics, and more. As Lead Designer Sandro Sammarco said, “Elite is an ongoing project. It’s not finishing any time soon.”
Along with the big news reveal, I also spoke with Chief Creative Officer Jonny Watts and Producer Adam Woods about these updates that focus on three areas — core game, narrative, and new features. This is what I learned.
Visitors can sit while vendors run wild! That’s the news that Planet Coaster devs shared on stage at the inaugural Frontier Expo 2017. The free upcoming first anniversary update will introduce new management features, rides, and customization options to the roller coaster building sim. First up: picnic tables. Now park visitors can sit to enjoy their meals, making them happier. Conversely, vendors will become free-range, leaving their shops and moving around around the park. This becomes important because vendors will have energy levels, and in order to recharge after a long shift they will need to go to the newly introduced staff management building (which players can customize to provide different perks).
In addition to those features, more customization will be available, from interchangeable coasters and tracks to four new rides — including a community-requested water coaster. Later, in the 1.4 update, folks will be able to create scenarios and share them on the Steam workshop to play with others. Get a peek at these features in the videos and screenshots below!
First, the player debate in Elite: Dangerous was whether or not players would have to fight the Thargoids. Then, it was over how to fight the Thargoids. Then it was over whether or not they should fight the Thargoids. Now… well, now it’s actually going back to that second point, because the Thargoids are quickly adapting to the tactics used to take them down.
Among the charges are making the anti-Thargoid missiles less effective (due to their increased resistance), making drones more accurate, and changing the ship behavior to dodge incoming missiles rather than simply follow ships engaged in strategic withdrawal. They’re also locking on to ships that have deployed countermeasures now.
You can check out a video on the changes just below, which also discusses some of the potential research vectors for players to continue fighting back against the aliens. Suffice it to say that if you thought players had effectively neutralized the threat at this point… well, not so much.
It is kind of impossible to stroll around the MMO blogging community as of late and not trip and fall into a pool of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire
impressions and opinions. So why not dive in and see what lies under the surface of these experiences?
GamingSF suffered from technical issues that kept him from getting into the expansion initially, but when he did, he recognized that it had some “really nice features.” Why I Game concurs with this sentiment, noting that there are “a lot more nods to exploration this time around.”
“Story is okay, nothing amazing, some funny bits help, and I find it gets better as it progresses onward,” ECTmmo.com wrote. “The actual places you get to travel to and explore in this expansion are what makes it shine, well, that and the mounts.”
We’ve got even more Path of Fire impressions after the break, as well as a look at Star Trek Online, Elite Dangerous, and Ultima Online!
Players of Elite: Dangerous have spent quite a while anticipating the arrival of the Thargoids. There were hopeful skirmishes against the aliens soon after their full arrival, and players have finally managed to take out the ships using specialized tactics. That means the tides of battle may be turning, as you can see the alien ship go down in the video below. Go humans!
Of course, that raises the question of whether or not the Thargoids are actually hostile aliens in the first place because as it turns out… well, it’s hard to communicate with a ship that can destroy almost anything, isn’t it?
While some players are happy to simply treat the ships as an invading alien menace, others have noticed that the strange ships don’t actually attack unless other ships come near them; if left alone, they do not seek out conflict. Does that mean that they’re the good guys? That they’re fleeing some greater threat? That they’re part of differing factions? No one knows. But the theories are flying, and all that’s certain is that the ships themselves aren’t going away.
One of the first players to encounter the Thargoids in Elite: Dangerous provided a video of the encounter, and the bad news is that it doesn’t go well for the player. The craft was already sitting amidst the wreckage of NPC ships and quickly turned its destructive firepower upon the player’s vessel. Considering the barnacles observed throughout the galaxy, it’s clear that players are finding the Thargoids to be unapproachable and frightening threats as they silently pursue an unknown agenda. And the patch has only been out for a day.
Nevertheless, players are finding ways to fight back. One player already managed to rip an organic and highly corrosive chunk out of a Thargoid ship, while other players have noted some odd gravitational signatures around a Thargoid’s frame shift. There are even reports of a fleet taking on a Thargoid and surviving, developing battle tactics that could take one down even if they didn’t succeed on the first attempt (the fleet in question suffered no losses, however). It’s going to be interesting to see how the community continues to respond to these alien threats.
When Frontier’s servers return to service today, Elite Dangerous will have a shiny new update. Patch 2.4 The Return promises “more mysterious and exciting things,” a plain allusion to the “return” of the Thargoids, the extra-dimensional aliens that have previously served as the game’s “scary dogmatic alien” trope and are now here to… well, I guess you’ll see. If you live that long. Muahahah! Sorry. They’re actually kinda cute.
There’s more to the patch, of course, including new save slots and hairdos in the Holo-Me system, new planetary bases in Colonia, bounties and ship purchasing penalties for murderers, an improved inbox, new missions, updates to the route plotting system, search and rescue contracts, improvements to the galaxy map, and a whole bunch of bug fixes.
Back in August, our own Andrew Ross, who’s admittedly more of a PvP sandbox guy than a space sim guy, struggled to love the game, but it’s had a good summer: Not only did Elite pass 2.75M sales, but China’s Tencent poured $23M into Frontier, purchasing a 9% stake.
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.
My husband and I were chatting about the whole Chris-Roberts-is-fed-up-with-trolls-and-date-estimates-that-everyone-knows-aren’t-going-to-stick thing from last week when he said something that struck me. “It reminds me of how people harangue George R. R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) about his next book,” he observed. “They believe he owes them something for being his loyal fans,” which you’ll recall once prompted famed author Neil Gaiman to declare, “George Martin is not your bitch.”
The difference, of course, is that George R. R. Martin can do whatever the heck he wants while he rolls around in his well-earned piles of money because his books aren’t crowdfunded. He quite literally doesn’t owe us anything, even if people who’ve been his fans for multiple decades might feel otherwise.
Crowfunded MMOs like Star Citizen aren’t quite in that position. Technically, you knew when your credit card number hit the screen that yours was a donation toward an idea. Some of the games we Kickstart? They fail. Or they drift in limbo. Or they don’t meet the vision. They aren’t all Path of Exile and Elite Dangerous is what I’m saying. But when those campaigns masquerade as pre-orders, people can be left with the idea that, well, they’re owed what they think they paid for.
Do you feel the MMO you’ve crowdfunded owe you something? Or are you content knowing you donated toward a vision of a better genre?