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How one MMO flash game racked up 75 million players

The Bard once famously wrote, “There are more MMOs in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And we are reminded of this once more as our attention was drawn to an online game that (a) we had never heard of, yet (b) has accumulated over 75 million players since its launch.

This game is Transformice, an indie platforming MMO that launched back in June 2015. In Transformice, players become little rodents obsessed with finding and retrieving cheese. Players have two minutes in each round to get the cheese or die, but physics and ever-changing rules lead to hilarious consequences. Once players get enough cheese, they are granted shamanistic powers to help or hinder other players during subsequent levels. Also, there are hats.

Creator Melanie Christin gave a postmortem on her game at GDC 2017, sharing how this game that was developed in three weeks was leveraged into a massively successful MMO. Her talk candidly discusses some of the challenges and mistakes that the team experienced in the journey from an unknown indie to a powermouse title. Check it out below!

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Colony MMO Seed secures additional funding

Last week we reported that Klang Games is making an interesting-looking colony survival game called Seed that is utilizing SpatialOS to create this expansive virtual world. Now Seed might be in a better position than ever to make it across the launch line, thanks to additional funding secured by its developer.

“The Berlin-based developer Klang Games has secured additional funding to power the creation of its AI-driven strategy MMO, Seed. The undisclosed amount comes way of Greylock Partners’ Discovery Fund, David Helgason of Unity, and the investor Joi Ito,” Gamasutra notes.

Klang has also hired a Harvard law professor to help shape Seed’s political structure. What, you thought you’d be able to create your own little utopian colony without having to resort to elections, voter fraud, and Twitter mishaps? That would be just straight-up covfefe.

Source: Gamasutra

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Seed lets you build your own colony using SpatialOS

Not to be confused with the extremely short-lived 2006 sci-fi title of the same name,  Klang Games’ Seed is an upcoming MMO where players will guide and nurture small colonies of people attempting to settle on a strange world.

While there isn’t much revealed about the game so far, we do know that you will be in charge of multiple characters, more reminiscent of an RTS game with survival mechanics than a straight-up RPG.

Seed utilizes Improbable’s SpatialOS,” the studio said, “which allows Seed to be a persistent, continuously running simulation, with all Seed-Universe game logic running and living on the technology’s powerful server.”

So what is up with all of these development studios flocking to use Improbable’s SpatialOS in their online titles? Check out a recent GDC talk where multiple dev testimonies are given about the platform and its appeal after the break.

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Greg Street discusses balancing League of Legends for all skill levels

How do you balance a video game? It’s kind of an ongoing question, but it’s also one that Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler) has been answering for years with work on both World of Warcraft and League of Legends. He gave a panel on exactly that topic for League of Legends at this year’s GDC, and you can now watch that hour-long talk in the video just past the break. And it’s a worthwhile topic from the start because he’s talking about balancing not for the best players or the worst, but for everyone.

This is important; balancing for new and inexperienced players only produces a game that doesn’t have the depth needed for long-term play, while balancing solely for veterans creates a game that’s impenetrable for newcomers. So how do you make a game that’s fun for people getting into the genre for the first time as well as people who eat, sleep, jungle, and repeat? Check out the video below (courtesy of Gamasutra) for one possible answer.

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Massively Overthinking: It’s the end of The Secret World as we know it

I think I can speak for most of our staff in saying that in November when Funcom first promised a “major upgrade to both retention and acquisition mechanics and content of the game to counter the declining revenues” in The Secret World, no one expected this.

Ditto in February, when Funcom said it was going “relaunch to broaden the appeal of the game through [a] redesigned new player experience, major improvements to gameplay including combat, [the] introduction of new retention systems such as daily rewards, [and] adjustments to the business model, including allowing access to the story content for free” — people murmured “NGE,” but no one even considered that the studio would dump MMO players overboard in pursuit of ARPG fans.

But in retrospect, the cagey language and lack of actual updates in the game were right there all along, as was the casual maintenance-moding of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan.

For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to consider Funcom’s plans here — not the rumors and leaks but the set-in-stone plans — and reflect on what they say about the studio, the game, and the genre on the whole. What do you think about Secret World Legends?

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Chronicles of Elyria recaps development over the month of March

It’s been a busy time for Chronicles of Elyria as the development team has worked on putting together a portion of the game to show off for GDC and PAX East. If you’ve missed the recent developments, the game’s official newsletter is the place to get caught up on everything from the addition of female models into the game to the presentation offered to crowds in a Boston auditorium. (You can also catch that below the break, if you’d prefer.)

The studio is also planning a live Q&A session streamed online on March 29th, so if you’re eager to find out more about surviving in the game world you may want to tune in. (It contains more valuable information than just “don’t let your health bar empty,” presumably.) There’s also more information planned on the prologue area showed off at PAX East in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re wondering what specifically makes this dank abandoned mine more interesting.

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MMOs you’ve never heard of: Lothgar Online, Little War Online, Age of Rivals

When I add news to our newsroom for our reporters to pick up, I often add links that just say “such-and-such a game exists” — because just existing is what’s new, or at least new to us. Today, we had three of those, and I’m combining them all for this quick look at three MMOs and orbiting games that you’ve probably never heard of: Age of Rivals, Lothgar Online, and Little War Online.

Lothgar Online

Lothgar Online (Asylumsoft) launched yesterday. Let me warn you upfront: If you aren’t into retro pixel graphics and hardcore gameplay, you probably won’t like this MMO. The devs, who are also the folks behind the similarly styled Elderlands, call it an “Online RPG built in a classic style, paying homage to 1980s RPGs,” and yes, that means PvP, corpse looting, and attunement in addition to a giant world, guilds, skills, and questing. On the other hand? There’s no cash shop either. Old school isn’t always a bad thing! (via Reddit)
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Snag an AQ3D ‘GDC blade’ from Artix and Massively OP

Back at GDC, AdventureQuest 3D whipped up a special in-game sword for folks who stopped by the booth: the GDC Blade. But as Artix’s reps told me, the studio felt bad that regular players — who couldn’t attend GDC — weren’t able to pick up the blade.

That all changes today, as the studio has granted Massively OP 1000 codes for these exclusive swords for our readers! Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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Conan Exiles on this week’s patch, The Purge, and a ‘partial wipe’

DualShockers has a new interview out with Conan Exiles’ Joel Bylos. It’s from GDC, but it’s still worth a look given that it includes info on this week’s patch. For starters, expect to see the new decay system (it’s been renamed as the “ruins system” now), the planned dye system, new weapons, and the promised thrall updates — eventually, players can expect alchemists, engineers, sorcerers, and beastmasters as thralls. Don’t expect mounts until summer, though. Crafters, a heads-up for you: Since crafting progression is getting a revamp, “players will get to repick all of their recipes.”

The Purge is also a hot topic for future updates — basically, it’ll be a massive AI invasion with special thralls and an eye toward wrecking your server’s best stuff. Can’t let that happen, now can we.

Meanwhile, following player outcry over the excessive duping and exploiting going on there, Funcom has announced it will partially wipe the official servers.

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League of Legends on LGBT representation and pro team mistreatment allegations

League of Legends will probably introduce non-straight characters eventually, a new interview on Polygon with Riot Games’ Greg Street suggests. The publication asked Street questions about LGBT representation during GDC 2017, noting that Blizzard’s Overwatch (particularly Tracer) has proven that it’s a hot topic and something millions of gamers want to see. League of Legends currently has over 130 characters to Overwatch’s 24, but Street says that Riot has to be careful what it adds lest one region or another blockade the game.

“We owe it to the players and, I think, to the world to do something like that. […] What I don’t want to do is be like, ‘Okay, team, next character, whatever you do, has to be lesbian.’ I don’t think we’ll end up with something good there…. From the beginning, it has to be the character’s identity. I’m sure we’ll do it at some point. I don’t know which character or when it will happen.”

If and when it does happen, Street says, it’ll likely be in “storytelling outside the game.”

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The Stream Team: An AQ3D afternoon with Artix in Ashfall

Did someone say story? AQ3D recently released its big Ashfall update, the game’s first big story-driven saga, and you know Massively OP’s MJ is all about the story! She’s excited to pop into the new dragon-filled lands of lava and explore. Even better, she’s bringing Artix along as a guide (or as someone to get her killed — you never know with him). Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for a fun time exploring and chatting about the game. Maybe Artix will have some GDC stories to share!

What: AdventureQuest 3D
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

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No Man’s Sky reaches 1M players in its Foundation era

Love it or hate it, No Man’s Sky was the buzz around the video game water cooler last year. And while the space exploration title received major backlash following its shaky launch, creater Sean Murray said that last November’s Foundations update propelled the game to a million players (in some way, shape, or form).

In an interview from GDC, Murray performed a post-mortem on the game’s launch, saying that the team only expected about 14,000 players on day one — and became quickly overwhelmed when a half million explorers showed up to party. He noted that the relatively small team (nine employees) and the fact that the game started to run out of money during development were factors in the difficult release.

Meanwhile, Murray is focused on developing even more procedural generation for all of its projects: “Making really neat, weird engine decisions, and letting them dictate a cascade of problems: It’s cool for me to be able to stand up and say to talented people like yourselves, we’re looking for that kind of thing.”

Source: Ars Technica. Thanks BabaGra.PL!

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Funcom shares its future plans for Conan Exiles from the GDC show floor

It’s full speed ahead for Conan Exiles development this year, with no plans to slow down the game’s pace over the next several months. Funcom has released a video from the GDC show floor detailing the game’s development plans for the next year or so. The bad news is that it’s not a quick video, clocking in at just a bit below 15 minutes with the bustling sounds of a convention in the background. The good news, of course, is that it is a thorough video.

Players can look forward to seeing small updates to the game every one to two weeks, with larger mechanical updates coming along every few months. The first major update will include siege warfare and all of its associated frills, while the second update includes NPC armies attacking player structures to provide something of an endgame scenario. Check out the whole video just below for more looks into the future of the game.

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