When Daybreak’s Columbus Nova fiasco and layoffs were hitting last month, most of the company’s MMORPGs resurfaced without missing a beat, reassuring their playerbases that the patches would continue and the titles would see ongoing support. That wasn’t the case for the survival half of the original H1Z1 known as Just Survive. The lack of communication and information had prompted many players to assume the game would be “Landmarked” – that is, finally released from early access/beta to earn a little launch money and then quietly sunsetted.
But late last night, Daybreak finally tossed its fans on Reddit a bone. Technical Director Mitch Evans apologized for the silence, saying that he still has a “small yet passionate team” working on the game.
“Right now, we are focused on making sure you continue to enjoy the game, so the majority of our resources are spent mostly on maintaining game stability, fixing game-breaking bugs, and improving anti-cheat methods,” he writes.
One of the goals for the new owners of APB Reloaded and Fallen Earth is to avoid falling into the same traps as the past. Little Orbit CEO Matthew Scott has posted a new entry about the impending changes to community management, starting with Tiggs moving out of her current composite role of producer, community manager, and customer support manager. Instead, she’ll be working in more of an advisory capacity while more people are brought in to more effectively split up her overabundance of responsibilities.
The current customer support manager and community managers from Little Orbit will be stepping in to take over the GamersFirst library. The owners are also rolling out a new support site for the games as well as new forum software, although the existing forum posts will still be available to see. Players are encouraged to keep asking Scott questions about the future, although he acknowledges it can’t be his top priority to answer them immediately. So you might have to wait a little while.
If you were taking part in the closed beta for Defiance 2050, you were probably killing Hellbugs. Just from a statistical standpoint. There are over 3 million dead hellbugs thanks to beta testing; that is a lot of hellbugs. Or was a lot of hellbugs, we should say. Now they’re piles of mush and chitin. An important distinction, to be sure, but one that we feel obliged to make in light of the statistics from the game’s closed beta.
Of course, players apparently liked shooting Mutants even more, racking up nearly 5 million kills there; along the way, testers gained more than 200,000 levels and 420 people hit the level cap. All of this provides useful feedback for the developers as the game moves close to its proper launch over the summer, which is good news for fans who had a fun time during the testing. And awful news for hellbugs.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin do their darndest to shape the MMO industry by holding up Wild West Online as a cautionary tale and talking about how studios need to think before applying real-world labels to games.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Is Amazon Game Studios finally about to take the lid off of New World? Maybe, maybe not, but this might be a clue: AGS’ Greg Henninger’s tweet a few days ago sure seems to suggest something’s going on with the company.
“About to go off the air for the next 7 days,” he says. “I am bursting at the seams to tell you all everything I’m currently working on. That day will come soon.”
We noted that Henninger, who was at one point the Daybreak Community Manager for H1Z1, had left Daybreak and moved to AGS back in April. At the time, we assumed he’d gone to John Smedley’s team there, given that it was Smed who’d retweeted it, though Smed is reportedly working on a very different game from New World. So then why do we think it might be New World? Because AGS was reportedly having influencers to the studio to playtest the game earlier this month, possibly signaling that it’s about to break its silence. Order some extra popcorn!
It’s been exceedingly quiet for a long while when it comes to APB Reloaded, and it’d be easy to think that the game’s second lease on life had come to an end. But it turns out that other things were going on. Little Orbit has acquired GamersFirst, the company behind APB as well as Fallen Earth, and is promising players in an open letter that more stuff is going to be happening and that this is the start of more active development for APB.
Source: Official Site
; thanks to Secrets, Genobee, and Steven for the tip!
Internal crisis or no, Daybreak is moving forward with plans to bring H1Z1 to the PlayStation 4. When it arrives, however, this version will be noticeably different than the PC edition in one significant area: There will be no inventory management to handle.
“[With] inventory management we were just like, it just doesn’t feel good to muck your way through this on a controller [where] you’re clicking 100 times to do something,” said Lead Systems and Combat Designer Tony Morton to US Gamer. “So it was like, how do we do the most we can with the least amount of clicks. There were some things like inventory and crafting and salvaging where we just needed to pull it, because it’s not adding anything to the game in terms of how it feels to go through all those steps on a controller.”
MMOs and politics once again collide this week as last night CNN broke the news that Robert Mueller’s FBI team has zeroed in on Russian oligarch and Renova Group chairman Viktor Vekselberg as part of the Special Counsel investigation into Russian election interference, questioning Vekselberg about money Renova’s US “affiliate” transferred to US President Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen. (Tangentially, those allegations were brought to light by Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti.)
And the name of that US affiliate under investigation? Yeah, it’s Columbus Nova, the firm that claimed it acquired MMORPG studio Daybreak back in 2015. Here we go again.
“FBI agents asked Vekselberg about payments his company’s American affiliate, Columbus Nova, made to Cohen, according to one source,” CNN reports. “The Russian was questioned as well about $300,000 in political donations by Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s American cousin who is the head of Columbus Nova, sources said.” Columbus Nova claimed to CNN that it is “owned and controlled by Americans”; it further denies any use of “Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments” to Cohen.
A thinkpiece that we had back in April about the difficulty levels (or lack thereof) in MMORPGs sparked some interesting discussion among gaming bloggers as they grappled with the concept of challenge levels and how MMOs should improve in presenting them.
GamingSF thinks that there is much room for improvement in offering players varied challenges: “I also want to see more MMORPGs introducing non-combat challenges through puzzles and quests that require thinking to complete (e.g. following lore clues).”
And Inventory Full chimes in with this distinction: “I also strongly agree with whoever it was who said that gamers these days equate difficulty with time spent. Indeed, more often than not when someone complains that something is ‘too difficult’ what they really mean is it takes longer than they want to spend doing it.”
Continue on for this week’s Global Chat, as we look at Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor, feelings concerning Defiance 2050, the whole Daybreak mess, and more!
With a multi-platform launch coming sometime this summer, Defiance 2050 has a lot resting on its new free-to-play format and additional refinements. To help prepare the game for its second shot at glory, the team has been running beta weekends, the second of which sounds like it went quite well.
“Beta went great, lots of feedback, found a lot of bugs,” Trion Worlds said in a recent livestream. “We are still going through feedback, pages and pages of it.”
There was a lot of discussion concerning classes in the livestream which makes them sound a lot more interesting than what the original Defiance had. The team also dropped some concept art of a few of the classes. Defiance 2050 will give out four classes to all free players, with additional specialized classes such as the Crusader being offered in the game’s store.
Check out the full livesteram after the break.
Well that didn’t take long! There are a plethora of survival sandboxes out there for fans to play (as you can see from our multiple guides!), enough that there might be some worry that the market for this genre is getting pretty saturated. Perhaps there is room still, but anyone entering that crowded market needs to have a good hook and be able to deliver a worthwhile experience in order to attract and keep players. Sadly, this isn’t always (often?) the case. Even when you want games to not just survive but thrive, there are a host of factors that work against that.
I have found that I enjoy the survival sandbox genre, and I play a number of the games. A couple get the lion’s share of my attention and game time while others are visited occasionally. Some of these titles have a chance to move into a favored position in my heart and my gaming line up. Others, however, have lost their chance completely. Here are seven survival sandboxes that I want to love, but don’t — at least not yet.
Not counting Standing Stone’s titles, Daybreak currently develops and publishes six of its once massive stable of MMOs: Both EverQuests, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, H1Z1, and Just Survive. As last week’s bizarre corporate shenanigans and mass-layoffs unfolded, some of the reps for these games addressed their playerbases (with more than a rote denial that anything was wrong).
DC Universe Online’s Executive Producer Katnikov says that “nothing has changed in DCUO’s development schedule” and “these events have not limited [the team’s] plans for the game and future development” as the Deluge update overperformed and there are two episodes and more style unlocks in development. A huge three-parter Superman birthday tie-in apparently begins on May 16th.
PlanetSide 2 Producer Nick Silva reiterates the statement made earlier on Reddit that nobody from his team had been laid off. “PlanetSide 2 has not been negatively impacted by any of the recent reorganization at the company,” he writes. “Our plans for the rest of this year have not changed and we are excited to continue to bring amazing new systems, features, and content to the game we all love. In the coming month we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of PlanetSide as a franchise. There will be new content, some promotional events, and a new alert type added to the game. We’ll also continue to put out game updates at a regular cadence, as we have been previously.”
As previously announced, Trion is running another Defiance 2050 beta event this weekend, this time including console players along with PC players. Worth noting is that Trion is also selling founder packs. “Get a head start at launch and check out the variety of Defiance 2050 Founder’s Packs filled items including an amazing ATV, special titles, unique classes, slick outfits, and much more!” the studio writes. “PC Players now have the opportunity to unlock the Founder’s Packs, but keep in mind these items will be available when head start begins and not during closed beta. Have a blast with the new Demolitionist class and get an explosive 3-day head start before launch.”
At least one of the packs is a “class pack” that includes the Assault, Assassin, Guardian, and Combat Medic classes, plus their gear; that led some players to believe the classes won’t be freely unlockable in the game. That’s not the case, however, as Trion explained on Twitter.
“At launch, you can select 1 of 4 base classes (Assault, Assassin, Guardian, Combat Medic) for your character and you can unlock them by playing or by purchasing a pack. We’re also adding a premium class, Demolitionist!”