sandbox interactive

The studio behind Albion Online.

Albion’s Hector update brings the Black Market, revised Hellgates, and revised Outlands

Hector is coming! That’s not a person’s name; it’s the name of an update in Albion Online, so you can spare yourself getting a cake ready and all of that. But there’s still a fair bit to do with the update, since Hector brings the introduction of the game’s Black Market as well as revised Hellgates and Outlands for players to explore. The Black Market allows you to sell items which will then be resold to enemies around the world as drops, so you can get rid of that unwanted sword and let someone else pick it up unexpectedly after fighting a beetle.

Outlands are seeing their harbors and cities removed (which means players will need to retrieve items stored there before the patch), replaced with portals that allow quick travel in and out. Resources and watchtowers are being tweaked to allow all players access to the region while maintaining a sense of danger. Hellgates, meanwhile, have a new map layout, new minions and mechanics, and new tiers of difficulty for various players. You’ll be able to try all of this yourself on June 7th, so make sure to grab items from the Outlands settlements before then.

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Albion Online’s final pre-launch update is uprooting cities left and right

Before Albion Online seizes its destiny and launches on July 17th, it is going to have one last hot, sexy fling in testing with a guy named Hector. Well, it’s an update named Hector, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that this “naming patches after your ex-boyfriends” trend is getting a little played out for this sandbox MMO.

Other than slightly wilted flowers and a strong aftershave, what is Hector going to bring when he knocks on your door? The update will remove cities from the Outlands and relocate resources in that region. For players who have stuff in those city banks or plots in those cities, you’re going to want to pack up and get your goods out of there before June 7th.

Get the full development recap after the break and keep your summer spicy!

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Albion Online retools combination PvP PvE Hellgate maps

As part of Albion Online’s pre-beta overhaul, developer Sandbox Interactive is retooling the game’s existing Hellgates. No, not that Hellgate. In Albion, Hellgates are basically free-for-all PvP zones with seriously badass monsters. PvP inside the gates is unfettered and comes without reputation loss, but the baddies and their extreme loot make it worth the effort.

“While in general Hellgates have been well-received and they are a great source for intense PvP fights, we feel that we can make them even better,” Sandbox explains. “The main issues Hellgates currently have are related to teams dodging fights or pulling mobs to gain an unfair advantage in fights.”

The studio aims to incentivize play inside the gates with a newly designed map, three difficulty levels, and the elimination of mob interference in PvP encounters. But there’s still plenty of reason to PvE inside these special maps:

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Albion Online infographic reveals a massacre of rabbits

Just in time for the Easter weekend is news of a horrific and widespread slaughter of innocent little bunny rabbits in Albion Online.

This comes to us courtesy of a new infographic showing various stats from the game’s semi-recent Galahad update. Since March 13th, over 850,000 rabbits have been killed in the MMO, effectively putting an end to the holiday and crushing children’s hopes of a full candy basket on Sunday.

There is a wee bit more to the infographic than just hare-raising mortality figures, of course. 212,815 players in the alpha have wracked up an impressive 2.8M hours played since the patch went live on March 13th. You can check out the rest of the stats after the break!

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One Shots: Eight-bit vista

One of my favorite MMO April Fools of all time is Guild Wars 2’s playable Super Adventure Box. It’s so brilliantly designed and executed that it goes far beyond mere joke territory and became an institution. A fun game-within-a-game.

Reader Little Bugbear took advantage of an initial foray into SAB to take what I consider to be a very arresting picture. It’s almost a silhouette of a character lounging against an 8-bit skybox. “Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a nice day of gaming,” Little Bugbear said.

Before we get into the rest of this week’s lineup, I want to share the news that we’ve made some further improvements to our comment system that should allow you to share your screenshots in bigger and bolder glory, especially when you post one at a time!

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Albion Online has huge plans for its player-run economy, including all-crafted drops

Albion Online isn’t letting up on the updates in the window of time from now to July when it launches for real, nope. Today, the studio’s put out its plan for some of the big changes it’s working on. Economy is first up on the list as Sandbox Interactive hopes to make almost all of the gear in the game player-made — even the drops. You know how Trove’s mob drops are actually player-crafted items? So too will it be in Albion once the team has its way.

“The way this works is that all items that can drop from mobs need to be supplied to an NPC black market first. The black market in turn creates demand based on mobs being killed. If the black market’s demand is not met for certain items, prices will increase, until a player is willing to sell the requested item to the NPC. Items sold to the NPC will then enter the drop pool, i.e. mobs can drop them based on the usual loot tables. However, the black market NPC is somewhat corrupt, and some items sold to him will be ‘lost’, hence creating a nice item sink which will be very important at the lower tiers. If we can make it work, you’ll even be able to see which player originally crafted the item that just dropped from the mob you killed!”

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Albion Online’s new gathering gear helps you get the goods

25Have you ever wondered how strange it was that your fantasy MMO character ends up doing grunt work like farming, mining, or baking apple pecan pies with delicate flaky crusts in your battle armor? That won’t be the case in Albion Online, just in case you were wondering.

With the new Galahad update, gatherers now have their own specialty outfits that will assist the player in the task at hand. By donning one of these gatherer outfits, players can not only look the part but also gain access to special skills to assist in harvesting mats from the game world.

Each of the five gathering professions have several tiers of these outfits to pursue, with the higher offering an increased yield to mats gained. The backpack slot, which is part of each four-piece set, will allow players to carry far more resources than they would be able to otherwise. The only question is, does wearing one of these outfits automatically put a big target on your head for merciless PvPers?

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You’ll need to put in about 20 hours in Albion Online to become competitive in PvP

As Albion Online barrels toward a summer release, the crew took to Reddit yesterday for a marathon AMA session to tackle any pressing community questions.

Asked how much work an average player will need to put in before being of any use in PvP, the team responded, “A general principle of Albion Online — as a game with a strong PvP focus — is that the combat power curves for gear and character progress are very flat […] When you start out a new character, you could expect at least 10 to 20 hours of gameplay before you could be considered competitive in PvP.”

What about super-experienced and -geared players taking over the game’s landscape and making it miserable for everyone else? “Of course, well-organized guilds will always have an advantage over more casual players – it would be weird if that was not the case. However, it is extremely unlikely — and has never happened in any of our tests, two of which lasted around six months — that a single faction will dominate the world.”

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Albion Online AMA on pay-to-win, free trials, and global servers

Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game’s business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!

  • There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues — as well as performance issues. “The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we’d be worried that free trial could slow down the servers.”
  • Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
  • In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game’s $30 buy-in, SI explained the game’s business model is based on EVE Online’s and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won’t afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.

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Albion Online previews next week’s Galahad update

As Albion Online barrels toward a release this summer, the devs are still frantically working to make the PvP fantasy game the best that it can be. On Monday, the team will push out its Galahad update, which will contain rather sweeping changes for the beta.

The fun begins with a brand-new user interface designed, which looks a lot sharper and more polished than the previous version. It’s not just the UI that’s been reshaped; the world geography has been moved around and the map improved for better viewing. Other changes with Galahad include new biome cities, improved open world PvE, guardians (world bosses), expeditions, 25 new spells, and gathering gear.

Albion Online recently announced that it will be launching on July 17th. In the meantime, whet your excitement for this month’s big update by checking out the video preview after the jump!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 106: Ready to relaunch

Call this episode “tangent city,” because it doesn’t take much to send Bree and Justin down conversational rabbit holes! From discussing why Champions Online failed to pick up City of Heroes’ refugees to going on epic rants against gankboxes, you’ll need a flow chart and a five-dimensional mind to follow all of the topics of today’s show. Good luck!

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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MMO Mechanics: 2017’s take on the sandbox MMO

I am finding it hard to believe that we are two months into 2017 already, especially since I’ve had so many pressing Guild Chat submissions recently that I haven’t had a chance to turn my hand back to MMO Mechanics in all that time! As an introduction to a new year, I usually like to include a predictions column that summarises my perspective on how I believe mechanics will change over the following twelve months, but I don’t feel as though the 2016 trends I mentioned have died out yet and wish to instead focus on the sustained emphasis on sandbox MMO development with strong holistic, character developing mechanics.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’m going to talk about some upcoming MMOs and the non-combat, realistic, and technical mechanics added into the 2017 sandbox mix. Although I can’t guarantee that the titles I mention below will actually release this year, each of them has enough solid development behind them to make a 2017 release at least probable; besides, even if these titles don’t release in the next ten months, they will still bear the hallmarks of the state of the modern sandbox MMO and are worth noting. Add your thoughts on the common threads you’re finding in 2017’s planned MMO mechanics in the comments: I’m sure to miss several key mechanics development trends in this non-exhaustive list.

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Albion Online is launching on July 17

Huge news for the Albion Online community today, as Sandbox Interactive announced that the fantasy sandbox will be launching this summer on July 17th. At that time, the studio said, the founder’s program will end, founder’s packs will be removed from the store, and starter packs will be put up on the shelves.

Between now and then, Albion has a lot in store for fans. The “massive” Galahad update, which includes a world revamp and server wipe, is coming on March 13th. After that, the team wants to work on polishing the UI, improving the starter experience, and putting in some quality of life features for guilds. These will all be bundled into the late May/early June Hector update.

Check out the launch announcement as well as a few new overview videos after the break!

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