SMITE and Paladins studio Hi-Rez is thanking players today for their efforts in raising funds for the victims of the 2017 hurricane season.
“Earlier this month SMITE and Paladins players around the world contributed to the efforts to support those that have been affected by the devastation left in wake of Hurricane Harvey. Hi-Rez Studios hosted special promotions for its online games SMITE and Paladins where players could purchase in-game cosmetic items with a portion of the proceeds going to hurricane relief. Together the online communities for these two games raised $76,000 which Hi-Rez has donated to the Red Cross for hurricane relief efforts.”
The money raised is a sliver of the $1,401,749 Hi-Rez and its players have earmarked for charity since 2012. “The Atlanta based studio is grateful to its players for contributing to
charitable efforts that help others in need,” the PR says.
When real-life tragedy occurs, it’s perfectly OK to give priority to assistance over interest in video games. But what if you could do both?
Valiance Online has joined the growing club of MMOs and communities looking to do something to ease the suffering and assist in the recovery for those affected by the recent hurricanes in North America. For the duration of this Wednesday, September 13th, the superhero title will shunt all donations made on its website to hurricane relief instead of game development.
This puts Valiance in good company. Final Fantasy XIV’s community recently ran a blood and charity drive for victims of the hurricanes, Destiny 2’s Bungie organized charity events, and even Ultima Online chipped in by disabling housing decay while hurricane victims get back on their feet.
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.
Sometimes MMORPG players might get the feeling that game companies will let just about anything slide in order to keep the most revenue streaming in, but that’s not the case with one particular hopeful City of Heroes successor: Ship of Heroes. Studio Heroic Games is predicating the game on a positive atmosphere, which starts from the ground up.
At this year’s PAX West, I sat down with CEO Casey McGeever to talk about the game: where it’s coming from, where it is now, and where it’s going. We discussed funding, rivalries, community, and the wild backstory about the massive ship that heroes will be living on. After that, I attended the CoH successor panel to hear about the three largest superhero MMORPG games currently in development. Let’s suit up and dig in.
A few weeks back, we reported on the City of Heroes-themed panel coming to PAX West in Seattle at the beginning of September. With the release of the PAX schedule on Friday, we can confirm that it is indeed happening on Sunday, September 3rd, at 8 p.m. in the Cat theater, with reps from City of Titans and Ship of Heroes [update: and Valiance Online] in attendance.
“When the venerable MMORPG City of Heroes shut down in 2012, it gave rise to several projects often called spiritual successors. Each of these efforts took the same inspiration, yet have developed very different titles. Join Casey McGeever of Heroic Games, Chad Dulac of Silver Helm and Nathaniel Downes of Missing Worlds Media for a conversation a conversation about the challenges in making the game, the progress so far, and how these games will build on and stand apart from City of Heroes as something different and new while serving the great gameplay and positive gaming community that has been looking for a home.”
Now that Valiance Online is running its investor alpha test, more eyes are turning to this superhero MMORPG and seeing it more as an actual game than an intriguing concept. And with any alpha test comes the inevitable patch that improves and iterates on the foundation.
This week’s patch adds weapons and particle effects to most powersets, making them sparkle and shine. It also addressed a nasty bug that prevented said powers from working, added collision with solid objects, increased performance, and threw in more environmental art.
Coming soon to the build is improved powersets and the third phase of the combat system. The game is also due to get its first crafting system, Bio-Engineering: “Bio-Engineering will become the first available profession and the world will be progressively populated with harvestable or salveagable items for creating unique amplifiers (consumable items).”
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when Valiance Online would open for testers, the day has come. The investor alpha is starting today (it was announced yesterday, albeit when things were winding up), but there’s still a reason to watch the archived footage of the game’s most recent developer stream down below. Just skip ahead 30 minutes first, because the archived footage has half an hour of “starting in a bit” as a lead time. No, we don’t know why.
Aside from the announcement at the end which we’ve already spoiled, the stream footage covers powersets (starting at around 52 minutes in) and character creation (around 1:55), so there’s plenty of interesting stuff in there if you’d like to see behind the scenes. You can check it out just below if you’d like to watch, assuming you’re willing to jump past the perhaps oversized prep time.
Or maybe you really like waiting half an hour after pressing “play” before watching the video, we won’t judge you.
There will be a City of Heroes panel at PAX West… after a fashion. The game may be gone, but the City of Titans development team will be there to talk about carrying on after the game’s closure and making a spiritual successor. They’ll be joined by representatives of the team
s behind Valiance Online and Ship of Heroes, as well, talking about keeping a strong community going between divergent teams with similar goals.
This panel will be in the Werecat theater in the evening of Sunday, September 3rd, so it’s going to require you to stick out most of the convention if you want to see it. On the other hand, it also features three community-led movements to resurrect the spirit of a beloved game, so that may be motivation enough right there.
Do you like pets, powersets, and behind-the-scenes development glances? Then you’ll enjoy the nearly four hours of Valiance Online stream footage now available just below, which features a discussion of the enhancement system, spreadsheet development, the start of a community-developed powerset (Bubble Projection, starts at around the two-hour mark), a look at one of the pet powersets available, and plenty of in-jokes and laughs among the developers. The video is long, but you can safely skip to around 24:00 and not miss any of the important moments.
If you don’t have time to watch all of that or would prefer more direct information, you can check out the game’s latest lore article about the Starborn, a gang of fashion-obsessed custom-tailored psionic troublemakers jockeying for power more due to boredom than anything else. They’re chasing the latest psionic technology and the latest fashion, and they’re willing to make an absolute mess of the world in the process. So that’s going to be fun.
In an epic-length livestream this past weekend, the Valiance Online team showed off its development alpha test and discussed some of the systems and features that are going into this superhero MMO.
One of these topics was superhero origins, which the team said was a daunting task to incorporate as there are tons of backstories behind all of the caped crusaders out there. So the team created three main origin categories — magic, science, and natural — for now that should cover the broader spectrum.
Even better is a lot of footage of actual gameplay, which takes place in a colorful city and shows off combat, movement, and even a day/night cycle.
Settle in for the nearly four-hour livestream with goofy and easily distracted developers after the break. The actual stream begins at the 22-minute mark; it discusses superhero origins at 1:34:00, powersets at 1:42:00, and gameplay at 2:46:00.
Hearing that something is coming “soon” is the bane of every MMO player; it technically qualifies as a time frame, but it’s vague and unclear and could mean any point between “a few weeks” to “next year.” The good news is that the alpha test for Valiance Online will be starting sooner than that; the latest update from the development team explains that while the game’s update cadence has fallen behind briefly, that has more to do with getting everything properly ready for the alpha launch. And it’s almost there, even.
The team made a picture in June of the absolute cut-off point for what could make a July alpha release, and unfortunately subsequent testing revealed that there were still areas which needed some refinement before that alpha test could commence. As a result, the final polishes are being put on the test and the team is working hard to make sure that important systems like enhancement management and crafting are ready to go. Fans can look forward to learning more in the near future; for now, you’ll have to settle for reassurance that it’s not far off.
Recently we had an interesting question come in from reader and Patron Rasmus Praestholm, who asked me to do a little investigating: “What (if anything of substance) exists in the MMO field that’s not only free, but open source? The topic of open source came up briefly in a recent column, where Ryzom was noted to have gone open source at some point. But have any serious efforts actually gotten anywhere starting out as open source?”
As some graphical MMORPGs pass the two-decade mark in video game history and are being either cancelled or retired to maintenance mode, it’s an increasingly important topic when it comes to keeping these games alive. Not only that, the question of open source MMOs involves the community in continued development, with the studio handing over the keys to an aging car to see what can be done by resourceful fans.
But has anything much been done with open source projects in the realm of MMORPGs? Is this something that we should be demanding more of as online gaming starts using more accessible platforms such as SpatialOS? Let’s dig a bit into this topic and see what we turn up.
“As a superhero MMORPG developer, what would you require before officially launching your alpha build?”
This intriguing question was presented to the Valiance Online community a couple of days ago, leaving it open for all manner of interpretation. Are the devs hinting that the alpha test for this superhero title is on its way or are they simply trying to get feedback for what should take priority before such a test is launched?
Speaking of the alpha, the team posted the latest development roadmap, showing that coding and quality assurance are the two areas left until the build is complete. Players were also given a sneak peek at a few character creation screens starring some of the key figures in the game.