indie

Gran Skrea brings an indie sandbox MMO to early access

On the prowl for an undiscovered indie MMORPG these days? You might want to check out Gran Skrea Online, as it just went into early access this past weekend.

According to the team, Gran Skrea “combines a desire for new player-defined MMORPG mechanics with influences from classic RPGs like RuneScape, Ultima Online, and The Elder Scrolls.” It’s $9 right now through June 23rd, which isn’t the most exorbitant price we’ve ever seen, and there’s an official Discord set up already.

The sandbox MMORPG sends players “to create their own destiny in an original world of medieval fantasy.” This apparently means a mixture of quests, “ruthless” PvP combat, guilds, and economy. There are already quite a few features in place, including player housing, a criminal flagging system, lots of crafting, and a game world with plenty of lore. There’s more to be added in the early access program, so features such as territorial warfare, auction houses, and naval warfare are still in development.

Get an early look at Gran Skrea after the jump!

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The Daily Grind: Will you sub to EA’s new ‘Origin Access Premier’ service?

During EA Play this weekend, EA announced Origin Access Premier, its attempt at a subscription service on PC. For $100 a year, you’ll basically get a service pretty similar to what already exists on Xbox: You’ll be able to play all the big new games, like Anthem, plus other titles within the Origin Vault, for that flat fee.

Subscriptions rise again, right? Is this a good thing for games outside the service?

“As always, I want to Bree to win the lottery, buy up some MMOs and take them to the Island of Misfit MMOs where $200 per annum gets you sub/pref access to all of RIFT, LOTRO, STO, SWTOR, et al.,” MOP tipster Sally wrote to us, urging us to write about the sub. “But picture that you are a hard-working indie dev. You already have the issues with dealing with Steam. Now a customer has to decide whether to buy your game or just play something like Anthem for no additional cost.”

Will you be subbing to EA’s new Origin Access Premier service? Do you think it’ll have a catastrophic impact on indie games or MMOs with subs?

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Massively Overthinking: Why is no one meeting the obvious player demand for big MMORPGs?

Massively OP reader ichi_san has a burning question about the state of the industry.

“Lots of people seem to be looking for an MMO they can get into – consider the rush into Bless as an example. Lots of games are being released, but most (or even all) have some glaring issues, like pay-to-win, lockboxes, ganking, poor optimization, heavy cash shop, horrible gameplay, and so on. There’s the WoW model and other semi-successful formulas, and a lot of unexplored territory. The market seems hungry, and there is a bunch of history to build on and new territory to explore, but either gaming companies don’t understand their customers or greed/laziness/expediency get in the way, such that we see release after release that fails to scratch the itch. Am I missing something – are there fun MMOs with good graphics and fair monetization that I’m missing? Or is there a gaping hole in the MMO scene, and if so, why isn’t someone filling it?”

I’ve posed his question to the writers for their consideration in Overthinking this week. We’re long past bubble-bursting here when all of the still-major MMORPGs are four years older. What exactly are we looking at? Why is the obvious demand for MMOs not being met?

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Villagers & Heroes’s Midsummer update adds Twilight Vale event zone, buffs monster damage

Crossplatformy indie sandbox MMORPG Villagers & Heroes is building on its May expansion, Wellspring, with another big patch. Where Wellspring buffed the game’s existing housing system, Twilight Vale adds a new event zone, “where mischievous fairies glide through the twinkling skies ready to assail all adventurers, and who lurk in the ever ominous Ladder of doom, have descended upon the Seven Realms to celebrate the always glorious time of year known as Midsummer.”

Mad Otter Games says the update should appeal to everyone from combat questers to crafters to partygoers; the end goal is a new mount and pet. There are also tweaks for guilds, new tool vendors, toy effect changes, auction hall fixes, new cash shop goodies, and some across the board balance changes for dailies, harvesting, and even monsters (monsters do more damage now!).

Don’t forget, the game is on mobile as well as on PC, and yep, you can switch back and forth between them (as long as your account’s not through Steam).

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How the best devs are ‘fleeing in droves’ to escape the abusive games industry

My only nephew is something of a math prodigy, and the fact that he wants to be a game designer when he grows up (and has even been to game dev camp) fills me with the creeping horror that only someone who’s been living in or chronicling the game industry for years can know. The industry is awesome, and it is also a meat grinder that chews amazing people up and spits them right back out. He deserves a better future than that. Everybody does.

Such is the subject of a lengthy piece on Gamasutra this week. Author Simon Parkin interviews multiple developers about their experience making games – and their obvious relief when they finally escape. They’re not just talking crunch; they’re discussing relatively low pay, contract positions, nepotism, instability, post-launch exhaustion, sexism, and actual corruption driving people away.

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Priests bless Project Gorgon’s newest update

Feeling particularly holy — or at least, interested in medieval medicine? Then grab yourself Project Gorgon’s newest skill line, the Priest. This new skill-slash-class arrived with Friday’s update. It doesn’t sound that difficult to obtain, either.

“The Priest skill is primarily a healer and is especially powerful in groups,” explained the devs. “Unlocking Priest requires either Compassion 25 or Psychology 25. A priest in Kur Mountains’ inn area can assist you in learning the skill.”

It wasn’t just holy water and communion wafers with the patch, either. The indie fantasy MMO added offhand dirks, made changes to AOE and DOT attacks, reordered recipes to include prerequisites, and added player titles for owners of the deluxe edition.

Source: Patch notes

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Ship of Heroes discusses milestones and communication, plus we’ve got new day/night screenies

The transparency that comes with crowdfunded and indie MMORPGs is awesome – when everything is going to plan. But what about when it isn’t? That’s what Ship of Heroes has addressed in a new forum post today. Heroic Games’ Casey McGeever explains that the studio’s milestone schedule is an internal tool, helping the team figure out what to do next when it gets ahead or falls behind. And fortunately, he doesn’t think the players freak out when the schedule goes awry.

“We don’t feel a lot of negative feedback from the community when we miss a milestone,” he writes. “And of course, we try to set the milestones so that we can achieve them. But we have missed a few — We’re late right now on delivering a new powerset and our date for the login test is slipping into June because we have people who come into and out of the project. Our core is a group of unpaid volunteers, supplemented by committed contractors. But people, resources and technical issues arise in every project — even if a big firm like Google or Microsoft is doing the project. The point of our schedule is to communicate to you all of you, our community, what we are trying to do and to enable you to understand what is happening at any time. To show what we are focused on at the moment.”

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Legion: The Eternal War’s evil magic pits Elves against Humans

Here’s an indie MMORPG that you may not have known about before this week. Legion: The Eternal War is a small title that’s been in development for a while by Nexus Division, but as of late the project seems to have picked up pace.

The setting of the game involves a world where formerly united Elves and humans have become bitter enemies thanks to the introduction of magic by some sinister crystals into the world. “The game will be filled with entertaining stories, rewarding progression systems, and refined mechanics,” the team wrote. “All of this is presented to produce a memorable experience highlighted by social interaction and nail-biting tension.”

The dev team is staking the game’s future on systems such as player housing, an expansive fantasy world, PvP, character customization, a wide array of magic, wars with guilds, and alliances. Last December, the team showed off a few prototypes of the different biomes that players might find in the game.

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Worlds Adrift plans to launch by launching a real-life skyship

If you’ve been working on a title like Worlds Adrift for years, it’s likely that the impending launch will leave you feeling a bit… giddy. You are likely to give a green light to things you might, at a more sober time, not consider seriously. That having been said, it seems like spending the money to build and launch a fully functional skyship over London with a large number of playable game stations may not be the best use of time and money for a smaller indie title.

We suppose that at the very least it’s not an e-sports bus that will never work correctly, but that is such a low bar to clear that it’s functionally subterranean.

Yes, all of that is real. Bossa Nova will launch the ship 150 feet in the air, complete with stations to play the game, when the title pops into early access on May 17th. Which is indeed about as literal of a “launch event” as you could possibly have, but may be just a touch… let’s say “overzealous.” If you’ll be in London for the launch, you could win a shot to be on the skyship, although for the rest of us we’ll just have to watch and marvel.

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Albion Online is coming to Steam on May 16 – check out the latest trailer

Crowdfunded indie PvP sandbox Albion Online officially launched last summer, finding so much initial success that its servers were hammered and it even suffered a round of extortion-centered DDOS attacks before settling into a scaled-down MMO live team and playerbase. So it always surprises me that the game never came to Steam, in spite of the fact that it was Greenlit on the platform four years ago. The team announced in March it was rectifying that oversight, and as of today, we now have a date: May 16. That’s for PC, Mac, and Linux.

“With its availability on this new platform, the sandbox MMOPRG will now also offer standard Steam features, including achievements – and as a thank-you to veteran players, all achievements developed for the Steam launch will also be available in the native Albion Online client.”

There’s a bonus expies event too. “To celebrate the release on Steam, the Berlin-based development studio Sandbox Interactive is also granting old and new players alike a week-long Fame boost,” says Sandbox Interactive. “From May 16-22, all players will get 25% more Fame for all activities in the world of Albion – gathering, crafting, killing mobs, and everything else.”

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Project Gorgon lets players get more stabby, enlists them into the clergy

If you’ve been missing meaty dev blogs from the Project Gorgon team, then turn that frown upside-down: There’s a massive new article up about your favorite indie MMO. Lead Developer Eric Heimburg wrote up a huge article detailing some of the game projects that is making him excited.

So what are these? Heimburg acknowledges that poor framerate optimization and various types of lag are issues and that he will be tackling them step by step. These engine changes should eventually result in better performance, although it’s not going to happen overnight.

Aside from technical issues, Heimburg discussed the many changes to skills and treasure that are coming to keep the game balanced. Allowing players a wide range of skills has created a challenge to keep the game balanced: “There are more ways to boost damage than I originally planned, and the resulting big numbers are causing problems when making content. Those problems aren’t too bad right now; it’s a bit tough to create content that works for lots of builds, but it’s still doable. But it will become a severe problem by the time we reach level 125 content.”

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The Daily Grind: What’s the silliest gaming terminology you’ve heard recently?

Silly gaming terminology is one of my favorite things to mock around here – I’m a huge fan of Eliot’s ongoing series on gaming terms, some of which have even caught on (“temport” is one I now use all the time!). This week I heard one all-new to me: Triple-I. As in “i.” III. As an adjunct to triple-A or AAA, it’s the triple-A indie, according to developers quoted at Berlin’s Quo Vadis conference by GIbiz. These are games made by smallish teams boasting

“history and experience with AAA games production, and are fed up with not being able to fulfill their creative vision – because of too many cooks in the kitchen. […] Publishers working with them should be a great thing, but sometimes it turns out that it’s not, and they feel restricted… [They] develop games that are maybe smaller in scale, but certainly have that quality that makes it a great game.”

I concede that there’s probably a need for a term for mid-budget, self-published games. But triple-I, guys? What’s the silliest gaming terminology you’ve heard recently?

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Former Marvel Heroes boss David Brevik launches new game, It Lurks Below, into early access

If you’ve been finding yourself missing Marvel Heroes – but not all the drama and lies – you might want to mosey on over to Steam today, where former Gazillion CEO David Brevik is launching his new sidescrolly pixelart RPG, It Lurks Below, into early access.

It Lurks Below is a fun new one-man indie game project from myself, David Brevik, the creator of Diablo and Diablo II. Although the game is already engaging and addictive, I want to use Early Access to make the project even better. I’m a big believer in actively communicating with your community, getting feedback and improving the final product. This has already been going on in a small closed beta, but I’m ready to open it up and make the best possible game.”

Launch is expected later this year; the current version is just shy of 20 bucks. As we’ve previously reported, it’s not an MMO, and it’s not even multiplayer, so you won’t see much coverage of it here going forward, but Brevik is a big name in MMOs, so there you go – consider yourself duly notified about a cool thing he’s doing.

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