It’s a good time to be a Crowfall pre-alpha tester.
The select elite are being treated to a new build today that adds in all of the new class and race combinations that the developers have been discussing for months. As Patch 5.3 wraps up, players can try out the dozens of additional race and class combos in one of the new persistent campaign settings.
Creative Director J. Todd Coleman is happy to see two of the game’s core systems come together: “Now that Campaigns are live, we can start testing the new race, class and discipline systems. Players can now experience an unprecedented level of character building. Dozens of unique race/class combinations and hundreds of weapon styles and subclasses allows for millions of unique character combinations. It will be possible for players to design a character build that has never been tried before.”
The patch also improves visuals across the game, beefs up monster AI, and revamps the character creation and skill training systems.
Source: Press release
Let’s end the week talking about money. What could go wrong?
Chances are that all save but the most architecturally nerdy among you don’t find walls, panels, and sockets a particularly exciting topic. But your opinion on this might change when those elements are put together to form a protective and useful barrier between you and an army attempting to send you back to the spirits.
In a new developer blog, the Crowfall team shares some of the advances that it has made when it comes to castle wall construction. These improvements include allowing players to seemlessly connect parts together and select certain “panels” that can be used as windows, arrow slits, support beams, and doors. This way, not every castle wall you encounter will be the same as all of the others.
J. Todd Coleman also gave an update on what’s happening with the next big patch: “I want to say that I know you guys are waiting for 5.3. Obviously, it’s taking longer than we would like […] The version still isn’t quite ready, but it’s getting closer on a day-by-day basis and we’re hopeful that soon we can get a version onto the TEST environment, which of course is a pre-cursor to bringing it to LIVE.”
Crowfall isn’t content to make gathering as dull and repetitive as in other MMOs, which is why the team is putting great stock in its so-called “action harvesting.” This system has come under further refinement following its introduction a few weeks back, and the devs were on hand this week to demonstrate why you’ll need to be on your toes when you’re cutting down that tree or scrounging through that bush.
One of these refinements is the addition of “energetic harvesting,” a skill that uses the new action pips to trigger buffs during the process. Players were also shown several of the optional disciplines that a character can equip, such as Logger, Quarryman, Lookout, Hoarder, and Survivalist.
ArtCraft informed the community yesterday that it has started to send out instructions for guilds to reserve their names. “Hey, Crowfall Kickstarter backers: Watch your inbox for guild name reservation info. Newer backers can reserve guild names in November,” the studio posted.
The folks at Procedural Worlds have a new interview-slash-testimonial from Crowfall Lead Environment Artist Jon O’Neal, in which he talks up that company’s enviromental design tools as employed in the service of building the Crowfall world, but he also talks a bit about the game’s 2015 Kickstarter and the point of the platform. O’Neal opines that the game’s Kickstarter was not about getting money and then making a game. “That’s not really what Kickstarter’s about; it’s to show interest to the real investors,” he says, since whatever Kickstarter brings in presumably won’t actually cover the game, just a “proof of concept.”
We reached out to ArtCraft about the statements for clarification, as we were unaware that the Kickstarter was intended to fund a proof-of-concept. That’s because it wasn’t. ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman told us that O’Neal simply misspoke on camera.
“The goal of the Kickstarter wasn’t a ‘proof-of-concept’,” he told us. “We already had a proof of concept: That is what we showed in the campaign’s video. The stated goal of our Kickstarter campaign was to build a ‘core module’ of the game. A proof-of-concept usually includes a fair amount of throw-away work, whereas the core module is the foundation of the actual game. It was created using parts of the PoC + a ton of new systems and content.”
ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman and Senior Animator Eric Doggett are back for another lengthy Crowfall Q&A, discussing upcoming cons and and getting the campaign test server up. “We are rapidly approaching the point where we can actually run a real campaign,” Coleman notes.
The duo also touch on the 5.3 race and class update and the extensive animation and rigging work required to make the team’s relatively new plan to more or less map most classes to most races. This is a big deal, Coleman says, as a lot of money and time is going into the animation efforts.
“Take a character – let’s say, the human knight – it took us two man months to make,” Doggett explains. “Just for the animation part” — not the models, textures, power design, or the testing itself. The studio’s current tool, however, can cut that process down to five to ten days, speeding up the process.
The whole episode is below.
Last month, we included Crowfall among the games discussed in a Massively Overthinking roundtable that focused on MMO monetization running amok. Why? Because Crowfall has one of the spendiest cash shops in the genre, and it’s not even out yet; indeed, one of its palaces is $7000.
That subject is one ArtCraft has addressed today in a new dev blog, which argues that the price is fine because it’s intended for large guilds.
“The price is high because when 100+ players work together to buy something, the total adds up quickly,” J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton jointly explain. “That last part is key. These strongholds are WAY, WAY overkill for use by a single player. Much like in real life, purchasing a giant Imperial Palace doesn’t make a lot of sense if you intend to live alone. The purpose of these larger strongholds is to support large player groups. They provide a mechanism to centralize buildings and exist so that guilds, streamer audiences, or even a loose-knit collection of merchants and crafters can work together, pool resources and create social spaces.”
When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.
But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.
It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.
Last week, Crowfall studio ArtCraft posted a teaser that it would be posting more teasers this week on the road to a something “massive” — a “big splash” — only the fourth such event the studio’s ever carried out. While the actual announcement isn’t coming until May 16th, today we’re getting the first (actually the second?) one, which appears to feature the Frostweaver archetype with (gorgeous) new concept art and a lore bit on ice and fire magic. Oh! I’ve got it. Winter is coming, right?
Speculation on Reddit seems to center on a big adjustment for the archetype system in general — like increased customization through race/class mixing. What do you think?
Who wants a teaser for more teasers! Nobody? Bad news because we’re getting some anyway, so go make some popcorn. A lot of it.
The teaser for the teaser swirls around Crowfall, and ArtCraft insists it’s going to be worth it.
“Since our initial teaser campaign for Crowfall, we’ve only had a few announcements that we felt were big enough, impactful enough, to warrant making a ‘big splash,'” — that’d be the Kickstarter, the EU partnership, and Vessels. While the new announcement isn’t coming until May 16th, the studio is vowing to post a new teaser every day next week.
“You’re not going to believe it. And you’re going to love it,” Todd Coleman writes. “Something is coming, and it is… MASSIVE!”
The first teaser is apparently this dude right here. Anybody got any guesses?
Early this afternoon, ArtCraft Entertainment’s J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton answered investor questions about Crowfall’s equity crowdfunding venture, which closes out on Monday. We’ve collected some of the highlights.
Coleman says investors are “making a bet” that there’s an “eventual win” in terms of an IPO or buyout or some other way. In the gaming business, he says, most companies that have a win, “get acquired.” He wouldn’t say that’s even remotely in the works, but it’s a possibility for companies like ArtCraft and is one way investors might profit from their investment.
When asked whether the raise was initiated because the company needed money, Walton explained that the company didn’t realize they’d be able to do a raise like this (because it was enabled by a brand-new law last fall); in fact, ArtCraft ended a different raise to open this one and had run one prior to the Kickstarter as well.
“Do [we] need more money? Yes, we do,” Coleman says, but he stressed that every company needs and wants more money. He said he now believes the game will cost in the $11M-12M range, up from the original $8M estimate, thanks to mistakes, new features, design changes, and the Travian localization partnership, among other things.
What ever happened to Crowfall’s stretch goal for a QA lead? The answer is nothing happened to it; it’s still a goal for the future, but at the moment the studio’s finances are just such that the bug-tracking needs to be handed off to people already working on the game, including J. Todd Coleman himself. The work of tracking down bugs and issues is still being done, and hiring someone to lead the hunt is still in the cards for the future. But you needn’t take our word for it, since you can watch the latest community Q&A in video form just below.
Many of this round’s questions cover more general QA or technical issues; the game is still planned to allow 1000 people per campaign world as a bare minimum, but major optimization work has not yet been done on the server structure. There’s also more information about how bugs are tracked internally and what’s next for the game’s milestone updates; check out the whole thing past the break.
Crowfall isn’t wasting any time in claiming dominance over 2017. ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman said that, “2017 is going to be our year, I feel it!” in the team’s January Kickstarter update.
ArtCraft said that the next stretch goal for fundraising will, if reached, treat personal investors to a free villa and woodland grove resource parcel. The team wrapped up its progress from December and said that it is revving up for more development now that the holidays are past.
Speaking of development, a lot of attention this past week was given to the Templar: “The Templar is a melee-focused holy warrior using an imposing two-handed great sword to execute judgement and protect the righteous. As a tank archetype she is tough to take down, and uses a combination of healing, hitpoint buffs and defense/counter mechanics to form a strong front-line offense.”
Start off the new year in Crowfall with a 2016 wrapup and a pair of videos looking at the Templar after the break!