Cloud Imperium Narrative Director Dave Haddock joins the Around the Verse crew for this week’s episode of the Star Citizen community video. The majority of the studios, the devs explain, are already moving on to the next quarterly release – that being the 3.2 alpha.
But the highlight of the episode is the first iteration of the character customization system that rolled out in 3.1. It’s a pretty complicated system under the hood that hooks together everything from facial structure, hair, eyeballs, and then colors and textures for all of those bits, all properly tagged and linked together to make it easy for artists to add new assets. Hats and hair pose problems too, as any MMO player who’s even been annoyed by clipping can attest. The whole episode is below!
Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:
“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”
I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
Back in 2015, Star Citizen passed a million registered users. At this point, the game has passed two million. Three years later, it’s doubled. It also means that the staff behind the game wants to celebrate by giving backers a shirt.
Not a real shirt, though; an in-game shirt! So you don’t have to just tell your co-workers that you were part of the two million backer mark, you can show it off to the people who are more likely to think you’re cool.
Preview art for both the two million backer shirt and the one million backer shirt are available now; the latter is blue while the former is red, so even if you didn’t notice the number on the back you can still tell the difference. There’s no ETA on when these shirts will be available as the game moves through its test phases, but until then you can enjoy a forum badge to ensure that everyone knows you were in on the ground floor. (Assuming the ground floor is two million.)
One of the challenges for indie and crowdfunded MMORPGs is surely the nature of their development: plugging along without much fanfare, with players seeing only one part of the equation. Saga of Lucimia has a piece out meant to show what that behind-the-scenes iteration looks like in the construction of an in-game asset as it travels from art concept to 3-D model to textured asset to something that’s added to the world by a different team entirely. But then what might be a mundane art blog takes a sharp turn to talk about other MMORPGs and their communities and expectations.
“There’s a major disconnect with some players when it comes to the misconceptions regarding iterations over the course of the game’s development,” argues Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson. “We see a lot of anger around the ‘net in regards to how things change over time with almost every MMORPG’s development, with many claiming the developers lied about how something was going to work, or how something was perceived as being a certain way, and then when it doesn’t work out quite the way players perceived, they claim that the developers deceived them, and that the launched product isn’t anything like what was initially discussed during the development process. The perfect example of this is Star Citizen/Squadron 42.”
On this week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse, I can’t decide whether Sandi Gardiner or Eric Kieron Davis has the cooler shirt, but it also doesn’t matter because internet spaceships! No really, this episode is all about spaceships thanks to the fact that the entire piece is one long Ship Shape segment, sales pitch, and tease for a new ship.
Well, almost the entire piece. If you stick around for the endcap, you’ll note that CIG has laid out a free-fly event all weekend, running through April 16th, meaning that everyone – even if you’re not a backer – can jump into the game and check out the 3.1 patch.
You can watch the whole episode down below, complete with a lot of handwaving (literally) from Disco Lando, plus the chart listing off all the ships (and which ones are actually usable right now) courtesy of Reddit.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained continues inching along toward its planned summer beta. According to the game’s latest update, CSE is running internal tests on a new server while tweaking tooltips, the banes and noom system, capture-the-flag mode, item placement, armor, environment assets, and animations, including new idles for each class.
Meanwhile, Crowfall released its 5.5 alpha, Ashes of Creation announced alpha one will land by the end of the year, Albion Online balance-patched armor and GvG while counting a million dead bunnies, Dual Universe released its April newsletter, and Dogma Eternal Night hit the skids.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Welcome back to another look at all the MMO beta happenings of the week! I’ve stashed Eliot in the brig so that I can take over Betawatch and do some extra work on Friday! Wait, I’m not really sure I’m doing griefing right. Anyway, here’s what’s up.
- Defiance 2050 is hunting for beta testers! Make sure you’re all signed up.
- TERA formally launched on consoles, bringing an end to its beta.
- Soulworker likewise moved from soft launch to full launch.
- Made of money? A big chunk of cash will get you into Pantheon’s pre-alpha next month.
- We got our hands on Conan Exiles’ launch build (and loved it).
- Ashes of Creation is targeting fourth quarter 2018 for its alpha one launch.
- Camelot Unchained is testing, testing, testing.
- Crowfall is now in 5.5 pre-alpha, having introduced a new map and lady centaurs.
- Arcfall may still be in pre-alpha, but now it’s also free-to-play.
- Star Citizen rolled out 3.1 and then 3.1.1, but then rolled back to just 3.1 because bugs.
- And Occupy White Walls was the bright star of the week, offering alpha testers the chance to play around in an MMO art gallery.
The Star Citizen team is still riding high on the launch of alpha 3.1 last weekend. The latest episode of Around the Verse checks in with the UK team, which is working on, among other bits, interiors and exteriors of space stations and the tech to support them. Improved optimization, ship detail passes, and particle effects are also on the menu, and the audio team actually took a field day to play around recording banging metal up against other pieces of metal. Incidentally, I’ve just figured out what I want to be when I grow up, and it’s that job right there.
The larger half of the video revisits the mobiGlas system, which as Star Citizen watchers know is basically an elite smart watch with holograms that can tell the player everything about everything through a slick in-character UI.
Incidentally, CIG did push out 3.1.1 yesterday, but very quickly rolled it back to 3.1 because of a nasty “frequent crash-to-desktop” bug. The company stresses that the rollback is temporary but does affect insurance claim tweaks right now.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar formally launched with the release of R52 this week, which might be confusing to gamers who’ve been playing the soft launch since mid-2016, but this one’s official. Richard Garriott-backed studio Portalarium has since published details for its first three post-launch updates.
Meanwhile, Star Citizen’s alpha 3.1 went live, a former WoW designer is Kickstarting a huge coffee table book, Ship of Heroes talked engine upgrades, Dual Universe founder JC Baillie made the case for Ready Player One as reality, we chatted with the Legends of Aria team at GDC, Star Citizen dinged up to 2M accounts, Chronicles of Elyria showed off its character creation, Valiance Online teased auras, and Swedish crowdfunding platform FundedByMe passed half a billion SEK (about 60 million USD) in crowdfunding across all its projects.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
If you’re bored on the holiday weekend, and you happen to be a Star Citizen backer, you’re going to be taking to the skies, thanks to CIG pushing live the 3.1 alpha on the livest of the live test servers, playable by everybody. Everybody who’s a backer, anyway.
“New features in the 3.1 update include the much-anticipated character customizer, allowing players to add a distinctive look to their in-game avatars by personalizing their physical appearance, as well as the Service Beacon feature, providing players the ability to send out distress calls which other players can detect and respond to.”
CIG is also touting polish on a bunch of December updates (“planetary technology, IFCS (flight control), AI, the Personal Manager tool on each player’s mobiGlas, ship weapons, ship damage physics and overall performance optimization”) plus the addition of the five ships that were up for sale (again) earlier this month.
Did it happen? Are the rumors true? Yes, my friends, Shroud of the Avatar is actually launched now. The game has launched. Which probably means very little for the people who are already playing and have been during the 66 million years of early access, or the people who are not playing for whatever reason. But it launched!
And as long as we’re talking about 66 million years, let’s kick off our list of other beta news!
- Why is that number relevant? Well, it’s the approximate date of the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But they came back in pixel form with PixARK, which is now available in early access! So you can start playing that now and maybe explore 300 islands.
- If you want to definitely explore 300 islands, get yourself over to Worlds Adrift, which is adding that number of player-made islands to the game. That’s a lot! It’s less than two million, though.
- There are over two million people who have registered accounts for Star Citizen, although how many of those are people with multiple accounts is both unclear and probably not relevant. It’s not like you can’t make an account without being a backer.
- You’re going to need to back Project Gorgon to keep playing soon, though, as its free universal access is ending soon. Of course, you have had years to get in on that free testing. You had plenty of time to pick up gear with all sorts of silly stats on it.
- But you cannot pick up silly stat gear in Chronicles of Elyria, which will make sure that you have to very seriously slowly add and remove multiple layers of very serious protective gear when you wish to change clothes. It’s serious business.
Equally serious business is our list of games in testing just below, which contains the best information we have at the moment about the test state of various titles. Is something a little off? Please, let us know down in the comments so we can test it out. We appreciate it; the rumors to that effect are true.
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse is only indirectly about Star Citizen. The episode instead centers on Squadron 42, which is either a separate game or the same game depending on which side of the lawsuit you fall on, but either way, updates for one are crossover updates for the other too. The S42 team says that lately it’s working on details for ships that are so big they basically have their own completely functional massive subway systems to help you get around them, something I can honestly say I’ve never seen in an MMO before, so that’ll be fun to see in the bigger game.
‘Course, if it takes that long to travel between areas on the ship subway, your character’s going to need a loaded mobiGlas device with some minigames to pass the time. Gems, anyone?
The larger section of the episode focuses on flight AI. “This is a single-player affair,” CIG’s Sean Tracy says of S42 specifically, “so a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to both gameplay and story falls on those NPCs and their AI.”
Star Citizen hit another milestone this week: It’s reached 2,000,000 citizens. Accounts, specifically.
The game has been in production since before its Kickstarter launched almost six years ago. According to the official funding stats, the game has raised over $181,000,000 in crowdfunds from donors and pre-order ship sales. It broke a million citizens back in 2015.
What might be behind the recent surge that’s making numerologists rejoice? It might be the new ship sale announced on Friday, which brings back a bunch of older concept ships – for the last time, they swear – at an inflated price, with the promise that they’re actually coming in the next update.
Or it could be the studio’s ruminations on a pivot to releasing a minimum viable – and playable – product; last week, CIG posted a backer-only poll inquiring about the critical features the studio ought to work on first.
Source: Official site
. We’ve amended the title to make it clear that these are registered accounts, not necessarily backers.