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Massively OP Podcast Episode 136: Westward ho!

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree saddle up for discussion on Wild West Online’s alpha, Star Citizen’s back-backlash on schedules, the miserable state of Phantasy Star Online 2, and more!

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:

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The Daily Grind: Do you feel crowdfunded MMOs ‘owe’ you something?

My husband and I were chatting about the whole Chris-Roberts-is-fed-up-with-trolls-and-date-estimates-that-everyone-knows-aren’t-going-to-stick thing from last week when he said something that struck me. “It reminds me of how people harangue George R. R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) about his next book,” he observed. “They believe he owes them something for being his loyal fans,” which you’ll recall once prompted famed author Neil Gaiman to declare, “George Martin is not your bitch.”

The difference, of course, is that George R. R. Martin can do whatever the heck he wants while he rolls around in his well-earned piles of money because his books aren’t crowdfunded. He quite literally doesn’t owe us anything, even if people who’ve been his fans for multiple decades might feel otherwise.

Crowfunded MMOs like Star Citizen aren’t quite in that position. Technically, you knew when your credit card number hit the screen that yours was a donation toward an idea. Some of the games we Kickstart? They fail. Or they drift in limbo. Or they don’t meet the vision. They aren’t all Path of Exile and Elite Dangerous is what I’m saying. But when those campaigns masquerade as pre-orders, people can be left with the idea that, well, they’re owed what they think they paid for.

Do you feel the MMO you’ve crowdfunded owe you something? Or are you content knowing you donated toward a vision of a better genre?

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Star Citizen’s alpha 3.0 inches closer to testers, CIG touts its mission system

In this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, Cloud Imperium says it’s reduced its must-fix issues by 50 over the last week, bringing us that much closer to the release of the 3.0 alpha for the earliest outside testers, though we should probably note that not all the issues were actually resolved, just set aside. That means there are now 26 must-fix problems left to go.

“We’ve tightened the focus of our first test plan for the Evocati, which will be traversing and experiencing the expanse of the new universe and all that entails,” CIG’s Eric Kieron Davis says. “Then, while we’re getting larger test support, we’ll continue to polish and bugfix more features, push them out for more testing, and so on and so forth until release.”

The episode’s content preview this week focuses on the mission system specifically. It’s heavy on the tech jargon, but toward the end, the devs dig into the philosophy behind really building out every detail of the mission system — customization built on top of procedural generation, not just one or the other, and not just slapping down some quest text and NPCs or letting a spreadsheet do the heavy lifting.

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Star Citizen denies claims that a backer sought and received a $45000 refund

[Update: ArsTechnica now reports that a Cloud Imperium rep has gone on the record stating that some of the Redditor’s claims are fabrication, including the amount (CIG maintains it was $330, not $45000) and that the screenshots and videos depicting poor customer service are forgeries. We can confirm the same statements have now been made to us by the same CIG rep. Cheers, Cotic! The original article follows.]

If you’re as “fed up” with waiting for Star Citizen as Chris Roberts is “fed up” with providing endless moving release dates for alpha 3.0, there’s one recourse left to you: get a refund.

That appears to be precisely what one guild has done. A report on ArsTechnica points to claims on the Star Citizen Refunds subreddit, where an anonymous player has seemingly provided proof to the public and to moderators that he and his guild sought and received refunds on $45,000 worth of completionist packages (three for $15,000 apiece). He makes clear his antagonism toward the game, too.

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Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts is ‘fed up’ with giving 3.0 release estimates

Eurogamer’s just published a long Gamescom interview with Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts on Star Citizen, and anybody concerned about the state of 3.0 and its long delay and missed windows should probably give it a read — it may not change your mind, but it’s the gospel from the boss’ mouth. Also it’s significantly more entertaining than debating space poop.

Roberts first won’t agree that the 3.0 alpha, when we finally see it, constitutes beta. “With 3.0, the game is moving into a phase akin to Early Access,” he says, as “3.0 is the first time you’ll have some of the basic game loops and mechanics,” the first slice of the game with “proper persistence for your character, ship and items in terms of what their state is, their location is.” Terms like beta and early access, he says, are “just labels.”

“People still think of the old way [of making games], like my past games. We’d talk about a game for years, we’d show it, but no one would have their hands on it ’til it was out. There was an obsession with ‘when will it get released’. Even with those [traditional boxed] games now, they get patched, they add things, make things better over time.”

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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMOs of 2017’s PAX West

PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.

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No, Star Citizen’s 3.0 alpha isn’t ready yet, but here’s how to ‘breathe’ while you wait

3.0 when?

We still don’t know. Star Citizen’s Eric Kieron Davis begins the latest Around the Verse with a Burndown segment, noting that the team’s reduced the must-fix list down by 18. That means there are 76 critical issues left to fix, unless they find more while preparing the Evocati tester build, and they will.

In the meantime, the rest of the weekly episode is all about stamina — literally, how to breathe. And also how not to suffocate in the void of space, though space isn’t your only consideration; a player will have to carefully consider how much effort he’s expending to keep his stamina levels in check. Running out of stamina and blowing through your oxygen will directly impact your ability to play the game, from jumping and shooting to getting your suit on right before you’re spaced.

Check the whole episode out below. Bet you can’t stop thinking about breathing now.

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Star Citizen counts the 3.0 bugs it’s quashed and the toilets on the Origin 600i

This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse is more or less a recap of Gamescom and a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the chaos behind the curtain, so if you follow the game closely, you probably don’t need it. As of recording time, the team says it added 27 issues to the must-fix list and checked in 768 updates over the week, bringing the game to 94 outstanding issues that need a clean-up before 3.0 can roll out to the Evocati.

Meanwhile, Cloud Imperium has posted a Q&A on the Origin 600i, one of its newest concept ships, desirable for its modularity and solo-friendliness. More stylish than the Aquila (and also pretty much every other starship you’ve ever seen), it’s admittedly “extremely expensive,” even though it’s not as powerful or long-range as other ships in its class.

“We are building a universe, and part of that means we can consider aspects that a standard game does not, such as value and desirability,” CIG explains. “When we look at vehicles in the real world, its apparent that more functionality does not always mean something is more expensive, and vice versa. In the Star Citizen universe, a sleek, luxury ship created by Origin will bring certain connotations with it, in the same way most people would find a sports coupé more desirable than a family sedan, despite the fact it has [fewer] seats and cup-holders.”

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 133: Gaming Gamescom

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree shovel through the mountain of Gamescom reveals, including a trip to World of Warcraft’s Argus and Star Citizen’s elaborate Alpha 3.0 tease. The duo also mourn the premature demise of SkySaga, a promising-looking MMO that got a raw deal from its publisher.

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:

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Gamescom 2017: Star Citizen demos ‘real-time, player-driven facial animation’

If you skipped out on the Star Citizen Gamescom presentation, you missed out on some pretty good stuff. You also missed out on an hour of awkward preshow and a loooong wait when one of the demo machines crashed mid-show, true, but there was plenty of good stuff too go around, headlined by Cloud Imperium’s collaboration with Faceware. Anybody remember SOEmote? Yeah, it’s that: “real-time, player-driven facial animation.”

“The new feature will track players’ facial expressions and movement, then reproduce them on their avatars in-game, allowing for the most immersive and realistic player-to-player communication. […] Using Faceware’s soon-to-be-released facial motion sensor, this new feature enables Cloud Imperium and any Star Citizen to detect hundreds of facial movements in a variety of lighting conditions. Those movements are then instantly streamed onto the character’s face, in-game, a critical element in creating believable digital faces. The feature can also be used with the computer’s built-in webcam, though the quality of facial detection may vary.”

Seen as a demo during the presentation, it looked pretty cool, if the crowd’s gasps and claps are any judge, though I found the moving-camera bit a tad nauseating to watch without my being at the controls myself. Will facial animation catch on this time? Guess we’ll see.

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Bring your own popcorn to the Gamescom Star Citizen stream

The capstone to Star Citizen’s Gamescom hoopla is slated for this afternoon at 3 p.m. EDT, when Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts takes the stage from Cologne for the core presentation of the game.

“We’re excited to be back at Gloria Theater on 9 p.m. (UTC) Friday, August 25th, for another great show. Hosted by Chris Roberts, showcasing some of what we’ve been working on this year, and delivering some never-seen-before gameplay! If you’re not there in person you can watch live on Twitch, or join one of the 20+ Bar Citizens around the world and watch with the community.”

Join us as we watch along below as it begins shortly, and don’t forget to get caught up on this week’s Star Citizen news so far.

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Gamescom 2017: Star Citizen goes in-depth on the alpha 3.0 delay issues

With the high drama and surly community demanding Star Citizen 3.0 already, it’s made for a slightly awkward Gamescom appearance for the crew.

On the show floor, Erin and Chris Roberts were front and center for a live show in which they discussed little else but 3.0. The team is only showing the demo of a single moon at the show, while 3.0 will reportedly span an entire system. There’s a lot of parts that the devs need to finish up and make sure they work well together, such as getting more players into the same server space, character customization, survival mechanics, and ship items.

The team said that it wants “as many [players] as it can” fit on a server at 3.0’s launch, although whatever this cap will be will most certainly increase afterward.

If you’re still wondering what the holdup is with the Alpha 3.0 release, the Star Citizen team devoted this week’s entire Around the Verse show to going point-by-point through the various issues that the team is addressing. Check it out after the jump, and then check back this afternoon at 3 p.m. EDT when Roberts takes the stage for the big presentation.

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Gamescom 2017: Star Citizen confirms survival mechanics, rolls out ship profiles

Cloud Imperium has continued its relentless Star Citizen streams from Gamescom all week, causing the usual sideshow drama over whether the 3.0 build on display is indeed partial, why it’s available at the con but not for backers, whether it looks pretty cool or spells certain doom, and why Squadron 42 isn’t being shown at all.

The main event is still slated for Friday night, but you can get caught up in the meantime with some pics collected by Reddit, the daily stream recaps, the four ship profile videos (so far), and a nifty Q&A with Erin Roberts, which confirms what appear to amount to survival mechanics for the game, including bathing, drinking water, and eating food to avoid penalties.

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