mythology

Camelot Unchained continues its ‘interesting and longer-than-expected journey’

Swinging axes, autumn in the spring, and new office space: This is just another week in the life of the Camelot Unchained team (they can call it the “Duck Squad” and thank us later).

This week’s Camelot Unchained newsletter exalts in the work that’s been done on the game’s combat animations as well as the plans being laid out for an autumnal biome (so pretty). And good news from the business side, as City State has signed a lease on some office space for its Seattle team.

“We’re making progress on what has been an interesting, and longer-than-expected journey,” the team said, going on to encourage fans to watch this week’s wrap-up livestream. We’ve got it for you, good buddy, right after the jump.

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The Stream Team: Watch and win SMITE Tactics beta access

Tired of being left out of betas? Want the satisfaction of prying a set of beta doors open so you can get in? Massively OP’s MJ has a crowbar right here to help you get into SMITE Tactics! She’ll be playing and giving away a bunch of beta codes, so tune in live at 10:00 a.m. for your chance to get in and check the game out for yourself.

What: SMITE Tactics
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 10:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

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The Soapbox: Lessons Secret World Legends failed to learn from Final Fantasy XIV

I’ve mentioned many a time that I like Funcom quite a bit. I want to like Funcom quite a bit. Heck, I want to be excited about Secret World Legends, but every day or so I get reminded that such a course of action will be very difficult at the least. Because quite frankly, Secret World Legends seems to want me not to be excited about it, as evidenced by… oh, every single thing that Funcom is doing around it.

Which is odd, because Funcom literally has access to a playbook for a large-scale reboot.

Secret World Legends is coming off of The Secret World, which was a cult MMORPG classic with a mighty fan following. Final Fantasy XIV was coming off of… well, its initial version, which had a fan following full of people who admitted that it was halfway to Stockholm Syndrome. And yet that game managed to get people excited and earn fans, while Funcom seems dead-set on alienating people or making them just plain nervous.

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Funcom’s Joel Bylos on the difference between MMOs and survival sandboxes

Funcom’s Joel Bylos features in a Twitch interview on Gamasutra this week talking up Conan Exiles and explaining the core difference between server-based survival games versus Funcom’s “old MMOs,” as the interviewer put it. Bylos’ answer actually makes a lot of sense.

“[In] The Secret World, we focused very strongly on making really cool and interesting content and story, and the idea was to make it interesting to play. The thing is, with an MMO, a lot of focus goes into repeatable content. A lot of focus goes into things like ‘I’m gonna run this dungeon six times’ or 20 times or 200 times, right? So we need reward systems that give you tokens, that let you build or buy better items. There’s a lot of itemization discussion in MMOs. In a game like Conan Exiles, people are going to lose stuff, and we know that. We need to make it so that they can keep rebuilding stuff, keep creating stuff, keep progressing in the game, but not necessarily wanting them to go, ‘Oh, I want you to go grind this dungeon 50 times so that you can do the next dungeon – slightly harder.’ So [Conan Exiles] is not so much about this very small percentage of power increase to increase your character’s progression. That’s what I would say is a big difference in these type of games.”

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Perfect Ten: Time travel in MMORPGs

Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of time in MMORPGs. It’s one of those things that developers probably don’t want you thinking about too closely, since it could create a crack in the world illusion that they’ve created. But really, how does time work in these games? Are you forever frozen in the same fixed point in history, advancing only to a new era when a patch or expansion releases? Does the timeline advance only as you go through new quests and hit arbitrary milestones?

Even more fascinating is when developers decide to have a little fun with their storytelling by throwing players into the past and future via time travel. It’s not even strictly for science-fiction games, either; plenty of fantasy MMOs work in time travel at one point or the other. It can be a great way of expanding upon the game’s lore and giving players an insight into events that led up to the modern era.

Today we’re going to look at 10 instances of how MMORPGs have used time travel with reckless regard to paradoxes and splintering the world into millions of alternate universes.

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Camelot Unchained takes aim at eliminating zone loading screens

Live it up while you still can, zone loading screens, because Camelot Unchained has its mind to wipe you off the map.

In this week’s newsletter, the team reports that it’s working to eliminate zone loading screens to provide more of a seamless experience. As with most projects, it’s a multi-step process that is a little more complicated than you might assume. Animation development continues apace, with improved walk and run cycles moving along in testing. The team also has created generic realm cloaks for easy visual identification during skirmishes.

City State said that it’s registered the trademark for Camelot Unchained and is still looking around for office space for the Seattle team. Get even more of your weekly ration of Camelot Unchained news with the team’s wrap-up video after the break.

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The Stream Team: Racing to finish The Secret World’s Unseen achievement

It’s definitely a day for racing. Massively OP’s MJ is running out of time to complete The Unseen achievement in The Secret World before the focus pretty much flips over to Secret World Legends. This is one achievement she really wants to complete before the new game starts, so it’s a race against time complete the sabotage missions. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to see how successfully she can sneak tonight.

What: The Secret World
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13th, 2017

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Massively Overthinking: MMOs, from hardcore to casual and back again

Massively OP reader Suikoden wrote this great question to the podcast — too good to let just Justin and me answer it. It’s a two-parter!

“Back when I used to be a hardcore MMO gamer circa 2000-2010, I felt that MMOs of that era were designed more toward the hardcore gamer and even catered to us more. Within the last 5 years, I’ve had to develop into more of a casual player. However, I now feel that games once again cater to me and my current playstyle. Did the MMO genre evolve alongside me, from a more hardcore-centric genre to a more casual playerbase? Or is it the same as it always was and I just feel that it caters to me because it’s designed to feel like it caters to all playstyles? And if there was a change, do you feel it is for the better or for the worse for the genre?”

I posted Suikoden’s questions to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking!

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The Stream Team: Speeding around in SMITE’s new Racer Rumble adventure

Remember back when Massively OP’s MJ announced that SMITE would be doing all sorts of new specialty adventures? Back then, even she couldn’t imaging a racing game of the gods! Yet here it is, in all its racing glory: Apollo’s Racer Rumble. MJ can’t wait to hop in a car and speed around the track. Join us live at 6:00 p.m. and get in on the action. Go speed racer, go!

What: SMITE
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 6:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13th, 2017

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Crowfall’s destructible castles are hungry hungry hippos

One of my favorite early MMORPG PvP memories is from Dark Age of Camelot, where I liked to position my Huntress atop my side’s keep battlements to fire down on the Hibbies and Albies swarming below. But of course, we didn’t build that keep; we just claimed it, so losing didn’t hurt much beyond our pride. In Crowfall, however, you’re going to have to rebuild and hold the strongholds you’re fighting over in the game’s Dying Worlds campaigns.

ArtCraft Associate Producer Max Lancaster has a dev blog out today explaining just how it’ll work. “Strongholds will use a capture-and-rebuild mechanic,” he says. “In these worlds, players will fight over the ruins of existing castles and will need to collect resources from neighboring ‘points of interest’ (POIs), specifically mines, mills and quarries, to rebuild the defensive structures in those strongholds. These POIs will be heavily disputed, so be prepared to fight to gain (and maintain) control of them. This is done by ‘feeding’ resources into what we call hungry spawners.”

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SMITE lands dual patches this week, delays Racer Rumble one day

If you are a SMITE dev this week, chances are that you’re probably not getting a lot of sleep. Hi-Rez Studios made it some sort of insane mission to push out two large updates this week, one for consoles and one for PC.

Both consoles got Patch 4.5: Celestial Voyage yesterday. This update came with spectator mode, a visual update to Poseidon, several new god skins, and the 12-quest Celestial Voyage event. Following a short delay, Patch 4.6: Racer Rumble should arrive for the PC tomorrow with more skins and the wacky new racing mode. We once again remind you that April 1st is over and past, so this is not a goof.

As a bonus to all of the patching fun, SMITE is planning a “double everything” event for this weekend from April 14th through the 16th. During this event, players will earn double XP, favor, and worshipers.

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Jukebox Heroes: Your top six favorite MMO music themes

After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.

Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Glitch by Vexia: “”As proof this is the ‘main theme’ since the game is closed, my soundtrack CDs have some variations of the Groddle Forest music that are titled ‘Glitch Theme (Demo),’ ‘Glitch Theme (Rook’s Woods),’ etc.”
  • EVE Online: Empyrean Age by Alex: “EVE has, like, DOZENS of theme songs. They make a new one for each expansion. It should win on variety alone. Or be in a different category. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the Empyrean Age login theme.”
  • Phantasy Star Online by Totakeke: “Boom, nothing can beat PSO’s theme. Period.”
  • City of Villains by Colonel Zechs: “Who wouldn’t like this song?”
  • SkySaga by Socontrariwise: “Just so cheerful!”

Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!

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Camelot Unchained focuses on particles, trees, and the beta interface

I know most of you come to these Camelot Unchained posts hoping to hear about beta one. I can’t wait to write that post, believe me, and I’m pretty sure CSE can’t either. In the meantime, we’re digging into another weekly update from the team, whose highlight is the fact that the weekend tester build has been updated with a proper particle rendering system, the better to make your spells sparkle.

“This is the system we have been talking about for months. Included in today’s code-drop are almost a dozen new features, as well as some added functionality for existing parts of the particle/lighting system. The next step is for Mike and the art team to update/change existing VFX as test cases of the system. Like the animation system, this is a WIP, and will serve as the basis for our next major improvement, which will happen during Beta 1. In the meantime, the new system will allow our world to feel more alive, magical, and interesting. And more performant, as well!”

CSE has also uploaded some new images — some psychedelic ones showing off the lighting systems on water, some gorgeous blossom-draped foliage, and a first pass on bits of the beta UI. Don’t miss Mark Jacobs’ end-of-the-week summary vid below either.

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