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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Derek Smart’s MMO Line of Defense has a progress update this week covering the state of the game’s build. A new patch is on the way, and it’s fairly light, according to the post, being focused on the “underlying tech.” But that’s partly by design.
“Progress has been somewhat slow due to various factors including team and tech related challenges, as well as scheduling,” Smart says. “In addition to this, due to resources, scheduling, and dev costs, I also made the final decision to complete the PC version of the game using the existing custom engine in order to avoid any long term delays and complications.”
This means Line of Defense will be ported to UE4 by a secondary team. “In the end, we’re going to end up with two engine versions of the game, one for the PC, and the other for consoles,” he tells early access backers. “But due to the similarities between our Havok based custom engine, and UE4, there are currently no concerns related to parity in the game’s features. If anything, most of the noticeable differences will be in visuals, due to the vastly superior graphics of the UE4 engine.”
Saying that the development team has drifted away from the high level of transparency that it originally demonstrated, Chronicles of Elyria’s project lead vowed that the studio would become a lot more transparent with the MMORPG’s construction going forward.
This statement set the stage of a massive state of the game post in which the team looked at the past, present, and future of the title. There’s a lot to absorb in regards to current projects, including the clothing system, mounted animations, and the sheer variety of body types, but curious readers might skip past all of that to see what’s coming up.
The article contains a three-year development roadmap leading from now through its late 2019 release, with the caveat that things change, delays happen, and you know the drill. For the rest of 2017, getting the third iteration of the website and ElyriaMUD running is top priority. Then in 2018 a lot starts to happen: alpha testing, server selection, settlement selection, and Kingdoms of Elyria. Finally, 2019 will transition the project into beta testing and launch.
A couple of weeks ago, when Osiris: New Dawn introduced new classes, I’d delved back into the sci-fi survival sandbox after a bit of a break to check out the state of development in. I was pleased as I perused the new skill tree, doubly so when I saw all the new items that could be crafted. Once I got to the task of actually surviving, I found that that beginning experience had also changed a fair share, from crash landing farther away to new missions to direct you. True, I missed my little robot companion and my inflatable dome, but overall I was pretty impressed with the progress and started a penning this Survivalist to say so.
So imagine my surprise when just before completing my thoughts I read the dev blog about negativity toward the game and its changes. Here I was happy to see how far it had come and others were ripping it absolutely to shreds. Fenix Fire CEO Brian McRae was so affected by the negative reviews and complaints that he penned a response addressing the issues. I admit, when I started reading I was taken aback and even a tad annoyed at the negative Nancys bashing the game. Didn’t folks appreciate the fact that this early access with forging ahead at a decent pace? Sure there would be bumps, but that was a part of actual development.
While progress on Chronicles of Elyria has slowed a little this summer due to illnesses and vacations, the team has a lot to report in this week’s blog update.
One interesting tidbit from the post concerns the game’s tribal lineup, as the team has “skeletal data” in place that allows for the creation of a full dozen races. But could there be more if the species get a-mingling? It looks like there could be, as devs are discussing cross-breeding as part of the offspring system.
Out of the dozen, eight will make up the initial selection of playable races. These include Brudvir, Dras, Hrothi, Janoa, Kypiq, Neran, To’resk, and the Waerd. The other four will need to be discovered during gameplay in order to unlock them as character creation options.
The rest of the letter covered the glory of otter bears, progress made on the MUD client, and a sneak peek at the third version of the website. The team promised that a midyear state of the game address is being prepared and should be posted soon(tm).
So how are things going for The Exiled? The developers had been quiet for a while, and that’s rarely the sign of good news. Nor was it entirely good news in this case; the latest update on the state of the game makes it clear that the game’s population wasn’t sustainable on its own, so the team had to take on contract work for a while. But they’re still around, and they’re looking to double down on what makes the game work with the upcoming survival mode.
The idea with survival mode is to really push the parts of The Exiled that are the most fun, when players are in a constrained area and struggling for resources rather than being largely alone. To do this, the survival mode servers will be around for only a narrow window each day and will also have limited lives for all characters, encouraging players to play carefully but play quickly. You’ll also have a thirst meter, which makes the game that much more dangerous in action. Check out the full breakdown for more details on how the new mode will work as the game continues on in Early Access.
In my mind, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
is all about sticking the landing. After a few years of FFXIV
being out, the game has consistently earned high praise from people who play it. Heavensward
was recognized as a definite high point for the game, improving more or less everything in the game and adding more besides. So the question was whether or not Stormblood
would continue down the same road or try to dramatically upend things, break down what once worked well and lose sight of what people enjoy.
The good news, then, is that it sticks the landing.
Everything that worked well in Heavensward has been brought forward and refined, and the parts that hadn’t worked so well have been trimmed away, repurposed, or outright removed. It feels very much like an expansion to the same core game, but in the process it manages to address almost every complaint I had over Heavensward almost incidentally. And it continues on in the high standards the game has set for itself over the years, resulting in an expansion which I’m already in love with after finishing the main storyline.
One of the frustrating bits about the MMORPG studios that are turning to newly legal online equity crowdfunding platforms is that the very SEC rules meant to protect us also hinder us when it comes to digging up information and reporting on the proceedings. That is, gaming studios and other companies are forbidden from disclosing specific things (chiefly, deal terms) about their campaigns to the media while those campaigns are ongoing. You might notice studios won’t answer most emailed or forum questions either. The idea is that a campaign’s premise would be scattered for different audiences, which could open the game up to legal challenges later.
All of this is preamble to explaining why you might want to tune in to the Q&A sessions Portalarium will be holding with investors and potential investors into its newly announced Shroud of the Avatar SeedInvest campaign. The first is tonight at 5 p.m. EDT and takes the form of a public streamed webinar; the second is a public Reddit AMA next week on June 20th. Presumably, investors will be able to ask more direct questions about the studio’s finances during those established public fora.
As promised, Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter has just gone live
— Intrepid Studios is seeking $750,000, and it’s already racked up $190,000 of that as I type this. Unlike most games that claim the MMO moniker these days, AoC
is all about the massive, thanks in no small part to the MMORPG pedigrees of its team, with an emphasis on player-governed territory, economy, world building, and consequential PvP.
“Ashes of Creation is a new MMORPG that aims to bring the Massive back to Massively Multiplayer,” declares the Kickstarter preamble. “It takes everything we love about the genre and brings it boldly into the future as a truly next generation title. We’ve all wanted a world that lives and breathes and reacts, where our decisions matter, where the world changes because of what we’ve done. Ashes of Creation is that game: The rebirth of the MMORPG.”
Here’s something we rarely see: a promise to refund in case the whole project goes belly-up. “And finally, in the case that Ashes of Creation does NOT launch, we promise to refund all backers in full.”