state of the game

Disney has canceled Marvel Heroes, Marvel has ended its relationship with Gazillion

We can now confirm this as real, following a statement made by a Marvel representative to Massively OP. We’re updating below.

According to Kotaku, Disney has canceled Marvel Heroes – on all platforms – and nuked its business partnership with Gazillion. Here’s the message Kotaku says it received:

“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”

The news will not come as a shock to MMORPG players, as we’ve been chronicling the mess over at Gazillion for weeks now. We’d gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team, social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews were flooding in, the PC playerbase shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations flew from former studio employees in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio became the goal of some activist players.

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Marvel Heroes’ update silence has stretched to four weeks; here are the latest developments

I’m afraid we still can’t say that Marvel Heroes is going to be OK, as we’ve now gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team.

As we’ve previously covered, Gazillion hasn’t provided its regular Friday update since October 13th; social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews flood in, the PC playerbase has shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations from former studio employees have surfaced in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio is now the goal of some activist players.

While Gazillion issued us a statement claiming “the company is functioning normally” (when anyone who ever played can tell you it’s not), it downplayed the standing allegations as “unsubstantiated internet accusations.” The studio also refused to answer direct questions about the company’s leadership, communication plans, and missed updates. All the company said last week was that it had no news and would update everyone when it could. Reportedly, a studio rep reiterated that statement this past weekend and told in-person visitors to stay away from the company HQ (thread now deleted).

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ArcheAge promises better communication, but the community isn’t having it

A lengthy letter from the ArcheAge team about the state of the game and its direction forward isn’t making a lot of people in the community excited. On the contrary, Reddit lit up with grumblings and complaints over the post, with some taking particular umbrage with Trion’s claims of “more direct communication from the core ArcheAge team.”

“The letter doesn’t address any core problems the community has with the game. It doesn’t even acknowledge them,” one player posted.

“It’s a little disappointing not only for me but I imagine the community when you don’t change anything you say. It’s simply damage control on certain issues by distracting us with another,” said another.

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Marvel Heroes has now missed three weekly updates in a row as Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters

It’s now been two weeks since we’ve had any word on the state of Marvel Heroes, as today marks the third missed Friday update in a row and Gazillion has yet to provide the information it promised on October 20th or explain why the Halloween events were neither toggled on nor promoted. The Marvel Heroes social media accounts remain without posts over that time period, negative Steam reviews are now piling up calling the game “dead,” and the PC playerbase appears to have shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years. There’s also been no news on the Thor promotion that should sensibly be running right now in conjunction with Thor Ragnarok’s release today, nor on the new VR game the studio casually announced via the world’s most awkward stream at the end of September.

As we reported on Wednesday, two key community reps for the studio have been confirmed to have departed in the midst of the bizarre studio silence, and both overt and oblique accusations from former studio employees have surfaced in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio is now the goal of some activist players. Indeed, the studio’s former creative director has publicly stated that the board and company executives were aware of Dohrmann’s alleged behavior “even before they made him CEO.”

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Wisdom of Nym: Musings on Final Fantasy XIV’s current crafting game

Crafting is really important in Final Fantasy XIV. That much can’t be denied; the game places so much emphasis on the options available to crafters, adding in extensive new recipes and options for crafters, new content that can only be accessed by crafters (often with important lore and setting details), and a plethora of gear available just for dedicated crafters and gatherers. It’s indisputably not quite as supported as combat, but it is clearly super important.

At the same time, I think there’s some issues that are still running through the game’s crafting systems at a fundamental level, issues that are easy to overlook for a bit but jump to prominence when you take a closer look. Stormblood has been kind to crafters and gatherers on a whole, but it’s inherited some issues from the game’s initial rollout of systems during Heavensward, and some of these things could use a careful examination sooner rather than later.

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LOTRO Legendarium: Grading Lord of the Rings Online in 2017

At the beginning of 2017, it seemed as though a mini-renaissance was brewing for Lord of the Rings Online. Standing Stone Games broke away from the sinking ship that was Turbine and offered a fresh start of sorts for the long-running MMO. We were coming to a head with the game’s story and a return to large-scale expansions was confirmed with the news of Mordor.

Reality and hopes don’t always get along, and while 2017 hasn’t always been the kindest to LOTRO, it hasn’t been a crushing disappointment either. The more I’ve been looking at the state of the game, reading the forums, playing it, and covering news, the more I’ve felt the need to grade how the game is doing in the right here and now.

So why not? It’s school season, so let’s embrace the academic spirit and assign some marks to LOTRO’s operation and state. Agree with these grades? Disagree? Get out your quill and scratch your own thoughts down there in the comments!

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World of Warcraft’s Ion Hazzikostas talks randomness and Legendaries

There’s been another live community Q&A session with World of Warcraft director Ion Hazzikostas, and if you’re in the “highly frustrated” crowd of fans, the answers received are not going to mollify you. Flying in Argus? No. Randomness? Yes, that’s all good, there’s always been randomness in RPGs. Can we get world bosses more frequently? No.

On the other hand, if you’re pleased as punch with the current state of the game, you’ll probably be happy about minor quality-of-life bumps like the promise to continue using new Druid forms in future expansions or the plans for more realm connections. So take that as you will and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Meanwhile, there’s a strong hint that an Offline mode is coming to Battle.net, since an “appear offline” option has been added to the app in its most recent beta version. So if you’d like to avoid all notice from others, that’s going to be a good thing.

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Conan Exiles updates community on farming, PS4 development, and console/PC parity

Conan Exiles’ latest community update is a great example of why excessive community updates might not really be necessary. The team spends a ton of words basically saying, “We’re working on it,” catching everyone up on the state of the game, food spoiling, item repair, Xbox One stability, and Funcom’s focus on the PC/Xbox One parity patch.

More interestingly, the studio’s internal teams are working on expanding the thrall system, optimization, the building system, sickle harvesting (the first work on the in-design farming system), the new dungeon, the combat system, missing art, and PS4 dev.

“Most of the tech team are still focused on Xbox One, working on crash fixes and stabilization of the PC/Xbox parity patch,” the studio says. “We’ve also begun looking into how we can take advantage of the Xbox One X. This doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the issues with PC, as there’s still work to be done there. On the PS4 side of things, Coconut Lizard have reported that they can now reach character creation on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. That’s not bad for two weeks’ worth of work.”

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Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs on guilds, groups, and the social systems that make an MMORPG go ’round

Over the weekend, the studio behind crowdfunded RvR MMORPG Camelot Unchained released a hefty chunk of its ongoing beta one document, revealing extensive insight into the way the game’s social systems will be laid out. Parts of those social systems will look familiar to MMO players, such as groups (Warbands), guilds (Orders), and raids (Battlegroups). But there are more layers to contend with, including perma-groups or mini-guilds (Permanent Warbands), as well as project-oriented raids (Campaigns), all designed in the service of an ambitious RvR-centered MMO that makes space for soloers and small guilds by not over- or under-privileging the largest teams in the genre. That’s the goal, anyway!

CU boss and MMORPG veteran developer Mark Jacobs, whom many of you know personally thanks to his ubiquity in our comments section, gamely answered about a thousand of my questions over the weekend, which we’ve compiled into an absurdly long interview about how to properly smush together all these groups into a social system sandwich that makes everybody happy. There’s even a Star Trek quote and a bonus question about Warhammer Online’s development and CU’s budget at the end!

I strongly urge you to check out the original doc first, as the interview assumes knowledge of the basic terminology and structure of the game. Fair warning: While Camelot Unchained’s document is almost 6000 words, this interview itself is close to 4000. You put Jacobs in a virtual room with me and my questions go on forever, and damn if he doesn’t answer them exhaustively. It’s a whopper, but it’s worth reading for a glimpse into what could be the future of MMO community planning.

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Conan Exiles offers its first weekly progress report to fans

Last week, Conan Exiles players got an apology and a promise that Funcom would do a better job of communicating what was going on with the game’s development. This week… that promise has already gotten its first bit of follow-through with a weekly community letter discussing the state of the game on both Xbox One and PC along with upcoming projects. The former is being quickly brought up to parity with the PC version, while the latter is having stability fixes rolled out and new updates added for testing.

Further out, the team is working on a new fire-themed dungeon area for players to explore, new building pieces for housing, and an overhaul of the game’s combat system. It also explains the split between the various portions of the team, hopefully putting to bed the idea that the team is only working on one thing at any given time. Check out the full letter to get a sense of where the team is at and what’s next for survivors in the exiled lands.

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Pantheon’s newsletter covers custom lighting, the perception system, and the state of the game

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s latest newsletter heralds a state-of-the-game missive spread out over four pages of content. Visionary Realms notes that its Series A funding round allowed it to hire new staff, including a technical artist who’s been hard at work on lighting in the game and building out the studio’s own forks of Unity’s lighting systems.

“We aren’t happy to just run with default systems,” Technical Artist Bruno Rime says. “We’re creating something that is better suited to an MMO and, more specifically, suited to Pantheon.” He argues that lighting is critical not just for actually seeing but for immersive parts of the game, like its diurnal cycle.

“Our first implementation of the new system is a simple directional light setup — an image based ambient light that covers our physically based renderer scenes. The next stage is rolling out our own time of day system, which allows the lighting to become more dynamic. We’re writing our own shadow system to help cope with the restrictions of an MMO or in our case, the massive scenes.”

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EVE Online pushes back its August patch until August 16

There was supposed to be an EVE Online patch here. It’s not here now, though; instead, it’s being pushed back by a day until August 16th. Considering the fact that said patch contains important changes to structure combat mechanics and insurance, this is likely to have a major impact in the game’s current ongoing war. It’s unclear if the delay is to allow for one last major push for the war effort under the existing mechanics or if it’s simply for some last-minute tweaking.

The recently released economic report on the state of the game may play into this as well, showing off the overall production, mining, and alterations made in the game’s economy over the prior months. If you’re watching all of the conflict unfold as a spectator or an uninvolved player, it’s going to be very important to see how production and economies are shaped by this conflict.

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DC Universe Online lays out future plans, teases skill point respec UI

Look up there, in the sky! Is it a producer’s letter for DC Universe Online? Is it a state of the game post? Nay, it’s both!

Last month’s large-scale stat revamp changed the game from the top to bottom, and now that the dust has settled somewhat, the team said that it is “thrilled” with the response to the changes. It also laid out the plans for what it will be doing in the game short, medium and long term, such as nerfing low-level mobs, updating the game’s gear and progression systems, and providing other avenues for players to earn skill points.

In a tantalizing teaser, the letter also showed a picture of what looks like a faster skill point adjustment UI that gives players the ability to respec much easier than before.

Massively OP’s Eliot recently concluded a tour of duty in DCUO and was pretty disappointed in what he discovered.

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