Sandboxes are a type of MMO that emphasize player freedom and expression. They frequently include mechanics for building, crafting, trading, character customization and development, roleplaying, destruction, and significant interaction with the world and other players. A sandbox that is dominated by an open-PvP or free-for-all ruleset is sometimes pejoratively called a gankbox. Contrast with the themepark.
Protests in the real world dominated this past weekend's news, and while I surfed around for an in-game equivalent to cover, I couldn't find much of one (though I found people selling themed accessories in Second Life!). That said, protests in MMORPGs aren't unheard of, and I mean actual protests, not memorials and vigils. World of Warcraft players will remember multiple protests throughout that game's history, mostly against the design of the game, but sometimes against Blizzard's policies. How about the Million Gnome March, for example, which caused game outages and threats from the studio claiming protests were "griefing"? Or the 2006 protests against Blizzard's stance on LGBT guilds -- which the studio reversed? How about the multiple Occupy SAB protests in Guild Wars 2, which ArenaNet allowed to transpire without much fuss?
I've never been to an in-game protest that I recall [Edit: I'm wrong. I have! See comments!], but I did stage my own one-woman protest in Star Wars Galaxies, where following the pronouncement that "no one wanted to play Uncle Owen" because moisture farmers were boring, I promptly rolled a character whose primary role was moisture farming on her permanently installed moisture farm. I made a lot of credits and had a lot of fun selling water on that character, right up until the day the servers were sunsetted. Silly? Maybe, but it gave me some life to prove that the suits were full of shit and didn't really understand the first thing about their own playerbase.
Have you ever participated in a protest in an MMORPG?
Slow or fast, zombies never stop coming at you, and zombie games are much the same. Snail Games is making an attempt to join the growing league of online zombie survival titles with its own upcoming Moonlights.
Moonlights is a PC survival sandbox that takes place in China following a zombie apocalypse. Chinese landmarks will dot the background as players scavenge supplies, assemble weapons, and try to make it to the next day.
The name refers to how the zombies in this game come out at night but get all bashful and reclusive by day, similar to the film I Am Legend or most lethargic superheroes. Nocturnal zombies are an interesting twist for the game genre and could go a long way to making the day/night cycle feel more impactful. But we have to ask: what about solar eclipses?
PvP-based survival sandbox Hellion has been taking aim at a January Early Access launch for quite some time now, but it looks as if that target was a little optimistic after all. The development team announced today that in order to make sure the game is at the highest possible standard, it will be launching into Early Access in February rather than the remainders of January.
The exact launch date will be announced on January 25th, which will also provide a decent idea of whether the game has a little more work needed or if it may well get delayed again. Still, February's not that far away now; you can probably make it another month without tearing out your hair in frustration, right?
Project Gorgon has Orcs on the mind this week. No, playable Orcs aren't in the game yet, but their homeland is, as Gorgon patched in the new zone of Gazluk yesterday. The team said that this is just the "bones" of what Gazluk will eventually become, with only basic content available to experience in the region.
"Most of the planned caves are already accessible, although most just have basic content (monsters, some loot spawns, some solo-dungeon chests, etc.) The Orcish city, Gazluk City, is accessible, but the major group dungeon there is not yet ready," the team reported.
Going hand-in-hand with this new high-level zone is a level cap increase to 70. Several skills can now be trained up to 70, with a handful getting increases to 60 (come on, you know you want to be the most skilled cheesemaker on your block!). The patch does contain bad news for seafaring pyromaniacs, however: "Campfires can no longer be deployed underwater." Bummer.
If you are not satisfied with being aware of a game at its broadest, highest-level perspective during development, you might be keen instead to know what is going on day-to-day with a title of particular interest. For these types, Star Citizen has posted a new production schedule for January, showing the planned progress over the next month on various projects.
The team said that it is aiming to bring out Patch 2.6.1 on February 16th, although these things do change. Between now and then, work is being done on Star Marine, ship balance, bugs, UI, and network improvements.
"2.6.1 is intended to be a bugfixing/polish patch rather than a larger content patch," the team reported, "with the main aim of improving the player experience and building upon the foundations for features we introduced in 2.6.0. Because of this, we’re aiming for a closer release date than for our larger patches since there are fewer features being worked on. What we have represented in the schedule below are the smaller improvements to improve the player experience, such as further balancing to ship speeds, improvements to grenades in Star Marine, and some new additions to the menus."
What does the future hold for Black Desert? The present holds the game releasing in Taiwan, but the future is a bit more up in the air. Still, there are hints to be found in an interview that took place during the aforementioned Taiwan release, or you can read a translated and summarized version from Dulfy if you'd rather not futz about with Google Translate.
The team is looking into adding second Awakenings for classes, with the caveat that these new Awakenings will use the original class weapons simply because the current Awakenings easily overpower them. There are also plans to port the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, although there are no firm announcements to be made there and the developers haven't decided if the title will share servers across platforms. Revamps are planned for some of the game's life skills, like Fishing, and the developers haven't yet started any new games due to a desire to get Black Desert into an optimal state first. It's a short summary, but it contains lots of interesting information for fans of the title.
It's one of the more peculiar laws of the universe that when enough EVE Online players meet in the real world, they absolutely must swap stories. You can see it in action at meetups and events like EVE Fanfest and EVE Vegas, where players take a trip down memory lane with corpmates over a beer and regale whole groups of strangers with tales of wars, clever schemes, and treachery. It's like some tribal instinct takes over and we feel the need to pass on our virtual history or bask in glory days gone by like a couple of Klingons in a Ferengi bar.
We're all familiar with the biggest and most impactful stories that go down in the sandbox of New Eden because they tend to hit the gaming media like a brick in the face. When the largest war in gaming history goes down or hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of ships goes up in smoke, you're bound to hear about it. What you don't hear about is the hundreds of compelling little stories that take place every day within EVE, most of which are left untold. Several interesting stories are shared each day on the EVE subreddit and official forums, a few make their way into works of cinematography, and some have been immortalised in song or shoehorned into propaganda posters. These little stories are the everyday reality of what can happen in EVE, and part of the reason so many of us are hooked on the game.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I suggest that the true draw of EVE is in its capacity for making stories with friends, and share a few of my own little histories from days gone by.
When the NDA is away, the cats will play -- and take screenshots! Bless our dear community for documenting upcoming MMOs as they venture into these virgin territories.
ZulikaMiNam had some fun in one game that I haven't seen much from readers yet: "Since there are no NDA restrictions imposed for this alpha weekend kickoff over at Shards Online I will post some pics from there. I accidentally healed a skeleton while trying to heal myself. So my name turns grey and anyone can kill me now. Time to lay low for a bit."
Are you still laying low? You can... probably come out now. That skeleton owes you a life debt for that heroic action.
Does Massively OP's MJ like to give things away? Yes she does! And today she gets to give away a bunch more beta codes for Revelation Online. That means you have the chance to jump in and join her in CBT3. Or you can wander the world yourself, checking out the new dungeons and events. It doesn't matter what you do, but you only have until February 2nd to do it. So tune in live at 4:00 p.m. for a chance to win your own access.
What: Revelation Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 21st, 2016
While there are plenty of similarities among magic systems in MMOs (hey, how about you cast another fireball? There you go, champ!), there is a lot of variety as well. I'm always attracted to systems that put some though into their design, such as Guild Wars 2's illusion-based Mesmers, the mix-and-match Necromancers of Vanguard, and Lord of the Rings Online's wordy Rune-keepers.
At the very least, I have to applaud developers who at least put in the effort to gussy up the same mechanics in a new outfit. But when a team eschews the tired magic tropes and starts to get imaginative with spellcasting? That's when I perk up and pay attention.
What's your favorite MMO magic system and why?
Those still licking their wounds over the years-old demise of the World of Darkness CCP MMO can howl with delight that IP-owner Paradox Interactive is further exploring the franchise in an upcoming werewolf title.
Paradox announced this week that it is facilitating the creation of a Werewolf: The Apocalypse adaptation. The game sounds like a single-player experience, as the gamer will take on the role of a werewolf warrior attempting to "save the world with fang and claw."
Cyanide Studio is handling the actual development of the game, which will come out on both consoles and PC. It may not be the game that MMO fans had hoped to see, but it is still nice to see Paradox utilizing the license in some way, shape, or wereform.
CCP Games sold White Wolf and its IPs to Paradox Interactive back in October 2015 following a failed attempt at producing a World of Darkness MMORPG.
Former PC Games editor and EverQuest senior game designer Josh Augustine announced yesterday that he's made a move to a position on a different MMORPG: World of Warcraft.
"I'm overjoyed to announce that I'm joining the World of Warcraft quest design team at Blizzard," Augustine wrote on Twitter. "One of my life goals and a huge honor!"
Augustine previously worked on several of SOE and Daybreak's titles during his tenure at the studio, including the original EverQuest, the ill-fated EverQuest Next, and Landmark.
One thing that's for certain in the future of interstellar expansion, and that is the assurance that plucky pirates will take their Jolly Rogers out to the stars to follow the call of treasure and conquest. So don't act surprised if you encounter one or two -- or two hundred in Star Citizen.
In the latest episode of Around the Verse, Director of Community Engagement Ben Lesnick explained how players are dealing with buccaneers in the game: "With Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 we introduced a pretty exciting new game mode called Pirate Swarm. Pirate Swarm is essentially a 'gauntlet mode' that throws you against wave after wave of enemy planes. Unlike our previous gauntlet mode, Vanduul Swarm, Pirate Swarm has a whole variety of different ships, ranging from the M50 interceptor to the Constellation multi-crew ship."
You can read the full transcript of the episode courtesy of the folks at Relay or watch it for your own bad self after the break.