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Ashes of Creation team answers tons of fan questions, gives a preview of the Underrealm

Have a burning curiosity about pixies, testing, and soundtracks? They might have been answered yesterday. In the span of an hour, the Ashes of Creation team tackled around 30 player questions in a developer livestream on Twitch in addition to giving viewers an early look at the first iteration of the Underrealm and Dunir dungeon.

Topics covered in the livestream include the death of the quicktime bar, Fae pets, the persistent nature of the Alpha 2 servers, class balance, tameable mounts, climbable trees, bards, bots, and gold sellers.

The team said that the next phase of its Alpha Zero testing is coming next week and will include more people on the server. So far, the “raw” test has provided a lot of useful feedback that’s kept the team busy doing “tons and tons” of optimizations.

“We are agile and we are so focused on getting things done,” Jeffrey Bard reported. Steven Sharif added that the game production is “slightly ahead or are in a better position than I anticipated we would be in at this point.”

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Elder Scrolls Online breaks out its fourth soundtrack album

Soundtrack lovers, here’s a pleasant surprise for the end of the week: A brand-new album from Composer Brad Derrick and Elder Scrolls Online.

Derrick continues his reign over the game’s score, delivering a 36-track album that includes music from the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and Clockwork City DLC. You can pick it up at iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon for $9.

The Elder Scrolls Online soundtrack was one of Massively OP reader’s top 20 picks a while back. We reviewed the Morrowind expansion score not too long ago, calling it “a much more memorable and moving soundtrack with plenty of nostalgic elements.”

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Chronicles of Elyria is dropping virtual world platform SpatialOS

Chronicles of Elyria’s latest dev blog is out, and it’s more than just a recap of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, although it has that too: It makes the announcement that the game will no longer be utilizing SpatialOS.

“In January of 2017 we began the long process of taking what was mostly an offline, single-player game – designed primarily to validate user experience and gameplay feel – and turn it into a MEOW [Multiplayer Evolving Online World],” says Soulbound Studios. That meant integration with SpatialOS and Unreal Engine 4. But as development progressed, Soulbound explains, it ran into game elements (non spatial systems) that didn’t quite fit the architecture. What’s more, Soulbound argues, the studio was concerned that the game’s large size would make SpatialOS too expensive for it (and therefore for players) long-term.

“Of course, we brought our concerns to Improbable, and over the last eight months they’ve done a fantastic job working with us to try and bring the price down. Unfortunately, it remains an expensive solution for us. To make sure we were prepared, we began looking for alternative technology that could fill any gaps left behind if we were unable to use SpatialOS for any reason.”

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Lineage 2 Revolution counts 5 million players in 2 months

Still scoffing at the idea of mobile MMOs? They’re catching on anyway. Netmarble announced this week that five million people globally have signed up to play Lineage 2 Revolution in the last two months, a feat many MMORPGs on PC will never achieve, even in a free-to-play market.

To celebrate the milemarker, Netmarble is bestowing gifts on players (enhance scrollies) and kicked off multiple events:

  • The Combine Equipment Event (through January 17th);
  • Aymel’s School – Growth Mentor Event (through January 16th), which grants leveling bonuses and free dungeons clearances;
  • and the New Year Celebration Everyday Log-in Event (through January 20th) – yeah, you pretty much just need to log in for free stuff on this one.

Did anyone give it a try over the holidays?

Source: Apple Appstore, Google Play, press release

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League of Legends unbans ‘reformed’ toxic player called a ‘humunculus’ by fired employee

Among last year’s toxicity-in-gaming stories was the one that taught the internet an important lesson: how to spell homunculus. No, that wasn’t it. It was “don’t be a game dev who insults and jokes about your toxic players’ deaths,” or at least, don’t get caught, because at the end of it all, the toxic players will still be playing and you’ll be out of a lucrative job.

We’re talking here, of course, about Tyler1, who was banned by Riot Games from League of Legends back in 2016 for toxicity – in his case, specifically verbal abuse, harassment, and outright cheating. Even though he kept streaming, you probably forgot all about him until October 2017, when Riot’s Lead Experience Designer apparently drank a little bit too much joy and then called him a “humunculus” in public, remaking that it’d be “gucci” if Tyler1 were to “die from a coke overdose or testicular cancer from all the steroids.” Though Tyler1 (wisely) stated he wasn’t upset and had no hard feelings over the insults, Riot still fired the employee.

And while the whole ordeal did cause a noticeable spike in google searches for the word homunculus, which continues to amuse me, it may have also influenced Riot’s decision to unban him, news that he announced on his twitter account yesterday and which appears to have been confirmed obliquely by Riot.

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Black Desert Mobile shares some details about account linking, character creation, and items

Curious about the play experience of Black Desert Mobile? The developers have put out a helpful FAQ about the game’s features, mechanical changes, and so forth, starting by assuring players that you’ll have the same range of customization options you’re accustomed to from the PC version of the title. The actual saved character appearance data cannot be transferred to mobile, but the options themselves will be the same. Assuming, of course, that you’re trying to make a Witch, Giant, Ranger, Warrior, or Valkyrie, as those are the five options mobile players will have to start.

The weight system will still be in place in the mobile version, although its implementation will be slightly different (even characters at maximum weight can still participate in battle, for instance), and the marketplace and item enhancement systems will also be making the leap. Players can also log into the game via phone-based accounts or even with temporary guest logins. For all of the answers you could want to know, how down below; there are a lot of answers, even if they might not all be the answers you would like.

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Gunjack 2 is still alive, lands on Gear VR

Don’t despair thinking that the entire EVE universe is collapsing into a single title just yet; the black hole theory has yet to be proven, and CCP’s virtual reality offshoots are still flying. In fact, Gunjack 2: End of Shift just made the jump to a new platform, announcing its arrival on Samsung Gear VR this week.

The virtual reality shooter, which puts the player inside a capital ship gun turret to blast EVE universe ships, now is available for $9 for Gear VR players. It’s also still available through Google Play.

Fly — and shoot — on, CCP!

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Portal Knights arrives on mobile today

The nice thing about mobile MMOs is that you can still enjoy a video game when you’re out on the road. Portal Knights already let you take it on walkabout with the launch of the game on Nintendo Switch, but now you can also get it on iOS and Android devices via the App Store or Google Play, which means that you never actually need to be apart from it.

At least, not due to hardware limitations. Your boss will probably be a little annoyed if you can’t focus on work because of video games. (Seriously, that’s true even here.)

Players can pick up the title for an entry price of $4.99 before diving into the same sort of multi-faceted gameplay available on the game’s existing versions. Work together with friends, family members, or strangers who also play the game to build, fight monsters, and do all of that fun stuff. Check out screenshots and a trailer just below if you can’t wait to turn your tablet into “Portal Knights platform no. 3″ in your household.

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Tree of Life’s winter festival blows in holiday cheer

Even newer MMOs like Tree of Life are getting in on the holiday spirit this Christmas season. The team recently kicked off its winter festival starring Santa Booboo. Just roll with it.

The festival has plenty of rewards to chase, such as a winter tree outfit and a red-nosed deer mount. Players should find the world more holly and jolly, thanks to the transformation of carts into sleds and an epidemic of Christmas trees and elves across the land.

The December 1st update also integrated Google’s translation services for player chat, added a whisper command, and improved the Warden Tree system.

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Niantic will reboot Ingress into Ingress Prime next year

Niantic is delivering a massive upgrade for Ingress next year. “Reboot” might even be a more appropriate term.

The company most people know for its bumbling stewardship of Pokemon Go actually launched Ingress in 2012 as a Google venture but then was spun off into its own company. Prior to POGO, Ingress was surely the biggest player in the alternate reality mobile MMO genre, pitting gamers against each other in a massive cyber war overlaid on the real one and causing my husband to drive out of our way to that pancake house in Sacramento to “capture” the node at its infamous bear statue more than once.

So if you are an Ingress player who’s been feeling like the proverbial red-headed stepchild while POGO got all the love and Harry Potter joins the fray, the announcement of what Niantic is calling Ingress Prime ought to fill you with glee. The reboot will boast retooled graphics and an improved UI as it moves to POGO’s more modern tech platform to make the game more appealing to newbies and also crack down on cheating. Critically, Niantic says the game will be “fully staffed,” contrary to the studio’s olden days when it had to shut down player node submissions because it lacked staff to approve them.

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One Shots: Elves have a weeding problem

You may hold Elves in high esteem, but the truth is that they are bonafide slackers. They live forever and can’t even be bothered to keep up with the weeding, so Elves make up some nonsense about communing with nature to cover for it while they binge on Netflix.

BalsBigBrother brings us our first pic of the day, this one from Lord of the Rings Online: “The one is from the High Elf starting instance, with this particular area the last part just before you are thrown out into the ‘real world’ of Middle Earth. Still amazed with how well the SSG folks do with their world building using such an old engine and saddened at times how divorced they often seem to be when it comes to actual player mechanics/fun.”

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The Soapbox: Evaluating gaming monetization through the lens of Nintendo’s mobile history

Bloggers and journalists throughout the online gaming industry have been talking about monetization a lot lately. It’s not just lockbox/gachapon scandals, or their relationship with gambling, but basic monetization and what we want from it. Games, after all, don’t make themselves; we have to pay for something to make that happen. But some gamers seem to view free-to-play games as a game that should be free, not one to be supported if it earns respect. And on the flipside of that, far too few game studios give off a vibe not of experimenting with monetization but of maximizing profits above all else while barely veiling their greed.

However, outside the MMO world, there is a company that’s been doing it “right” for a long time: Nintendo. The AAA developer/publisher is known for both innovation and hesitance, following in others’ footsteps with great trepidation, trying to figure out the ins and outs while entering the mobile market long after it’s been established. The company recently released a new mobile title, but what’s interesting is that it and the company’s last four games are all different genres with different monetization strategies. Exploring these titles and their relationship to their monetization plans will not only highlight the potential success of the models but hint at why they work and how they can be curbed into models gamers and lawmakers can better accept.

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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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