This week in MMO crowdfunding, the much-anticipated indie sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe dropped a starship-load of tutorials on ship construction, the interface, territory, and more. They’re aimed at folks in the pre-alpha, another weekend of which kick off earlier today – it’s a nice chunk of backers, if the activity graph posted to Twitter earlier is any judge. (Cheers, Cotic!)
Meanwhile, HEX launched on PS4, Star Citizen confirmed it’s still granting refunds but isn’t launching S42 this year, Legends of Aria wrapped up its alpha, and Albion Online launched a new trial program.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Welcome back to another edition of Betawatch, the game where literally everything is in early access forever. Except Closers, of course, which is open! I never get tired of that. Yes, Closers Online is running a fully open alpha this weekend, which I guess is what we do now when open beta is actually soft launch. Regardless, you can play it and check it out. What else happened in the world of eternal testing this past week? Let’s see…
- Go Project Gorgon! It put your crowdfunding to work on a programmer to overhaul the in-testing UI.
- OrbusVR kicked off its third round of closed beta testing. Backers could also take part in Dual Universe’s second pre-alpha, which begins tomorrowday.
- Both Legends of Aria and Prosperous Universe put the wraps on their alpha testing.
- Crowfall talked up its action harvesting, while Ship of Heroes went all pew-pew with lightning.
- H1Z1 changed its name. Again. This is its third try and it’s still in early access! So is PUBG; it broke 2.3M concurrent players last weekend. Not too shabby.
- Don’t get your hopes up about Star Citizen spinoff Squadron 42; it’s not launching this year. Star Citizen itself is still busy breaking alpha 3.0. But Bless Online is definitely coming (to us) in 2018!
- Conan Exiles, on the other hand, will stay in testing an extra quarter.
Did we miss anything? Other than Eliot, who will be back in action next week? Send it along to us! And in the meantime, check out our ongoing list of MMOs-purporting-to-be-in-testing that we’re watching.
All right, let’s be honest, you probably didn’t actually think that Star Citizen’s much-delayed single-player Squadron 42 was coming out this year. Around this time last year, it was confirmed to have been delayed; now it seems rather definite that it’s not going to be this year, either, as the most recent update on the schedule for CitizenCon confirmed that it will be the focus of the game’s holiday livestream in December.
So it’s probably not going to be on display at the convention later this month, either.
CitizenCon will be focused on Star Citizen version 3.0 and beyond, which the announcement in question stresses is very important to the development on Squadron 42 and vice-versa. There’s been some ambiguity about which release windows qualify as stated release dates with the single-player game in the past, but the big takeaway is that you’re not seeing the game this year. Next year is still open for placing your bets.
During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.
“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”
Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.
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.
We’ve been chatting about game economies this week here at Massively OP, so it’s a happy coincidence than this week’s episode of Around the Verse features Star Citizen’s shopping kiosks and commodities system in detail. Heck yeah, space shopping.
“The kiosk is going to be the user’s interface to purchase things or sell them within the game that are not physically within the shop in the case, purchasing or things in their inventory, things from their ship all selling with be done through the kiosk,” explain studio reps. There’s also a nifty discussion on the difficulties of scaling the economy to support the sale of “super tiny and inconsequentially priced [items] all the way up to […] massive battlecruisers.” As for recipes,
“Recipe in the context of Star Citizen is somewhat similar to a crafting recipe in other MMOs. It defines the types of commodities and resources that go into manufacturing a given item like a laser cannon or even a ship. The way that we use recipes and the way that you may find them in another game is that those recipes generally aren’t used directly by the players, instead they’re used by the design team to really sculpt the types of goods that are bought and sold in a location in the world and that’s to make that location feel correct. So if it’s a factory that it buys and sells the kinds of things that you would expect from that location.”
The Star Citizen subreddit is aflame this weekend after bloggers on multiple sites and social media platforms, seemingly spurred on by a certain self-proclaimed Internet Warlord, have held up recently disclosed Cloud Imperium loan documents as “proof” that the company is close to failure and in danger of losing game assets allegedly put up as collateral.
Redditors have sought to counter that narrative, arguing that it’s part of a multi-year FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign by Star Citizen detractors. They point out that securing a line of credit is not even remotely uncommon (and is in fact wise) for a large corporation with strongholds in multiple countries, given current interest rates. Others suggest that the “bank” is actually a wealth management company known for investment and that no bank of this caliber would loan a large sum of money if it had little expectation of remuneration, collateral or not.
We reached out to CIG’s PR firm for clarity; turns out the company lawyer just responded on the official forums with the official statement:
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen officially broke the $150,000,000 crowdfunding mark, propelled along by gamers sinking large sums of cash into the latest concept ship. As Relay points out, the original Kickstarter year for the game brought in only about $7M; since then, the game has raised between $28M and $36M every year since, with the biggest year to date being 2016. On paper, the game isn’t on pace to break that record in 2017 so far, but the fansite’s estimation that it might pass $200M this year if Squadron 42 launches as planned isn’t unreasonable. (Thanks, i-Spy, Zander, and fastcart!)
Wild West Online also announced that it won’t be seeking Kickstarter funds after all as it’s already received full funding from investors. That means it probably won’t be back in Make My MMO again since it’s not crowdfunding — but take a peek at our exclusive interview on the game from earlier this week all the same.
Meanwhile, Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter pushed on toward $3M, ROKH’s early access launched as planned, and Crowfall concluded its teaser week with a massive reveal: Classes won’t be racially bound after all, and beta should hit before the end of the year.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.
On Star Citizen’s Around the Verse episode this week, Erin Roberts checks in from the UK studios in Wilmslow, where the team is working on 3.0 as well as Squadron 42. Of note, there’s been progress on the player interaction system, air traffic control, player useables, conversation tech, fog, visual effects, and multiple ships, plus hundreds of animations, including facial animations for shooting guns, which is an absurd level of detail, I think you’ll agree.
The behind-the-scenes segment loops back to the player interaction system, mechanics critical to not just the player’s ability to function in the world but to immersion.
“The Player Interaction System touches everything. It’s a unified interaction across first person experience of shooting, of shopping, of looting,” Calix Reneau explains. “Being able to point at things with reckless abandon actually opens up a lot of opportunity for interactions of ‘I want to find out more about that,’ and we can give back contextual clues of the things that you can do.”
Check out the whole episode below.
This week’s episode of Around the Verse sees Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner bookending the Austin studio update and tech check-in. The Austin branch is focused on major features for 3.0, Producer Jake Ross says, from commodity trading and the mission-giver experience to landing zones (yes with smuggling) and ship damage modeling. Work on Spectrum — that’s the huge in-game/out-of-game communication tool being custom-built for the game — continues as well.
The behind-the-scenes segment will be music to the ears of those of you who want to hear all about how the game and its builds are hosted.
The episode concludes with what is probably its best bit, a May the 4th tease that amounts to “a little glimpse of Mark Hamill in the cockpit of Squadron 42.” We’ve tucked it down below.
On this week’s Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner bookend two key segments. The first is a studio update with Foundry 42 checking in from Frankfurt; Brian Chambers describes the team’s efforts on procedural planets, spawning, moons, performance capture, the conversation system, NPC AI, and missions headed into Squadron 42.
The moons “are getting cooler every week, and they’re actually a really great test example where we’re sort of pushing our tech for the planets, which will also pay off on the more involved planets like Hurston or ArcCorp or Microtech and beyond,” Roberts says. “So it’s a great test bed, and it’s kinda fun for me, and we share it with you guys, but I sort of see the progress weekly in it, and it gets cooler and better. So this universe is going to be awesome.”
It’s always a good day when you get to open up a new box full of fun toys to build worlds to your heart’s content. The folks behind Star Citizen are clearly enjoying themselves as they utilize a batch of new tools to build high-tech surface outposts for planets.
In the latest Around the Verse, the team discusses these “small locations” that players can visit on various worlds. These outposts are being constructed using a modular system, and once the kinks are worked out, the team will be able to make an array of them across the galaxy.
Other discussion in this episode covers the continued testing of Patch 2.6.2, the new Drake Buccaneer ship, an expansion to the QA team in Austin, and some additional work being done on the website, forum, and launcher.
Catch all of the latest developments by watching the show yourself after the jump!
Music and sound for Squadron 42 is the focus of this week’s Star Citizen Across the Verse show. The team brought on Emmy Award-winning Composer Geoff Zanelli to handle the score, who is also the focus of the episode’s featured interview. Zanelli has worked on a variety of projects, including several Pirates of the Caribbean films, HBO’s The Pacific miniseries, and the Call of Duty Nintendo DS games.
You can watch the episode after the break (and the music interview begins at the five-minute mark).