test server

DC Universe Online opens testing for the third part of the Death of Superman

Superman has died. Bereft of life, he’s gone to meet his maker. But of course DC Universe Online isn’t leaving it there, and players will soon have to deal with the fact that Superman’s body has gone missing from the Fortress of Solitude. This leads Supergirl to conclude that someone used the Phantom Zone Projector to steal it, which makes sense to somebody. Regardless, the third part of the story will see players heading out to find that corpse, and it’s available on the game’s test server right now.

Players can take on new feats, pick up new reward items, and take on one more mission in the latest update on the test server; the patch is also meant to address a number of minor bugs and fix various quality-of-life issues. Check out the full rundown from the early patch notes, or just jump in and start testing the update now.

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EVE Evolved: Getting ready for EVE Online’s Abyssal revolution

If you’ve seen the news recently coming out of EVE Fanfest 2018, you’ve probably heard of EVE Online‘s upcoming expansion: Into the Abyss. Pockets of a bizarre and twisted underspace called Abyssal Deadspace have been discovered all throughout new Eden, and players will be able to venture into them and encounter an all-new enemy: The Triglavian Collective. This new form of solo PvE is limited to cruiser sized ships and is the first form of technically instanced combat gameplay EVE has ever had, sending players into short 20-minute dungeons with incredibly stunning new visuals and deadly NPCs.

The rewards from this new gameplay include powerful player-controllable Triglavian ships, a new type of weapon called the Entropic Disintegrator, and organic Mutaplasmids that can be used to modify existing modules with random stat variations. The sites are currently playable on the test server but aren’t in their final form, so a lot could change from now until the feature is released on May 29th, but there’s enough information available to begin analysing the the effect the expansion will have and the strategies that might work in Abyssal Deadspace.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig down into the debate about the game balance of randomised stats in EVE Online, give some early advice on fitting a ship for Abyssal Deadspace sites, and strategies that should work in this upcoming form of PvE.

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EVE Evolved: A matter of balance in EVE Online

Throughout its almost 15-year lifetime, EVE Online has walked a fine line between developing new features and iterating on existing gameplay. Development has to push forward on new features to keep the game fresh and attract new players, but balance issues can emerge in existing gameplay that equally make the game stale or less enjoyable. CCP Games hasn’t always responded to these issues in a timely manner, at times leaving known balance issues in the game for months or even years because development resources weren’t available to tackle those specific issues.

This strategy has been challenged recently by Council of Stellar Management member Jin’taan in his article “Balance is not optional,” in which he argues that CCP shouldn’t even be making balance changes compete for development time with other features. Player Capri Sun KraftFoods followed up with a look at EVE‘s modular item attribute system, arguing that almost any balance change can be implemented quickly and easily just by tweaking the right attributes. Could it be that easy to iterate on EVE‘s frequent balance issues, or does the nature of the game necessitate caution?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the case for quicker iterative updates on balance issues, look at some of the challenges with balancing a game like EVE, and look at CCP’s new balance team.

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The Division is rolling out patch 1.8 for console testing

Console players eager to test out the next addition to The Division are finally getting the chance to do so… in small numbers. The game’s console test server has opened up, but while the PC server lets in anyone who wants to test, only a limited number of players are invited in for the console testing. If you’re not one of those lucky souls, well, you’re just out of luck and will have to wait for a full release to experience everything in patch 1.8.

You can, however, check out the patch notes for the test server on the official site either way. There are a lot more ways to get D-Tech now (even outside of the Dark Zone), bugs have been squashed, quality of life has been improved, new restock points have been added to the West Side Pier… you get the idea. There’s no assurance you’ll be able to test all of that on console, but it is coming.

Source: Official Site via VG24/7

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Lord of the Rings Online invites players to test out two new dungeons

There was a bit of a problem with Lord of the Rings Online’s first attempt to test its next two dungeons on the test server. Combat music was causing the game to crash, which was most certainly not an intended feature of the design. But now that bug has been fixed, and players can log on to the test server to try out the Dungeons of Naerband and the Court of Seregost.

The Dungeons of Naerband (yes, it’s one dungeon) will require a full fellowship, while the Court of Sergost requires a light fellowship. These dungeons are the focus of this weekend’s testing, so the developers are eager for feedback about how the dungeons feel to play and how they’re tuned. If you already tried to jump in once and had issues, you can be assured that those issues should now be fixed, and if you encounter any other problems… well, that’s the point of testing, isn’t it?

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The Doomfist has been stolen on Overwatch’s test server

There have been hints of it flying around for quite some time from Overwatch datamining, but now it’s happened. A Twitter update first posted that there had been an attack in Numbani, with several guard robots destroyed in the violence:

This is followed up by an update to the Numbani map on the game’s test server with the Doomfist missing from its protective case. And who’s that on the photo credit? Why, it’s Efi Oladele, the robotics genius who mentioned that she was heading to the airport with her family following a robotics grant. So we’ve got a missing Doomfist, a robot expert surrounded by a whole lot of demolished robots, and an unknown assailant. The question then becomes what happens next?

Of course, here’s the interesting point of reference – the impact crater in the attack seems to look a bit like someone punched a robot into a wall, doesn’t it? So there’s a few pieces that may be left to assemble.

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World of Warcraft developers are joining the PvP brawls on the test server

Do you ever get frustrated by the state of World of Warcraft’s design? Do you just wish that you could take those frustrations out on the development team? That’s kind of unhealthy, but it’s also something that you can actually deal with on the test server. The developers are on the test server, testing out PvP brawls with players… and they’re going to make it public knowledge when they’re showing up for the next few weeks. So there’s your testing motivation.

Members of the team will be queueing up for brawls on Fridays between 6:00 p.m. EST and 8:00 p.m. EST from February 3rd through February 17th, with team members belonging to the “Blizzard Alliance” or “Blizzard Horde” guilds. So you can queue up, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be fighting alongside or against a staff member. It’s up to you at that point whether you want to be polite or just take out your frustration, but it’s PvP; you’ll no doubt have plenty of opportunities to do both.

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Overwatch explains the goal of the PTR to players, and it’s not about balance

D. Va has taken a bit of a drubbing in the most recent Overwatch patch on the test server. Her guns do less damage and her armor is decreased; she’s shooting more bullets and has more health to compensate, but she’s still become squishier. The resultant outrage has led to a video response from game director Jeff Kaplan explaining that the test realm isn’t really about testing balance, but about testing whether or not the game crashes into a buggy mess after five seconds of play.

That’s not to say the developers don’t care about balance on the PTR, of course; it’s just not their primary focus, and given the small percentage of players who jump into testing, that feedback may or may not bear out once changes go live. The most important focus is making sure that all of the parts of the patch work without causing unexpected crashes or exploit-worthy bugs. So if you’re wondering why your brilliant dissertation on D. Va’s nerfing has gone without a proper response, there’s your answer. You can see Kaplan’s full response just below.

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The Division launches its next major patch on October 25th

October 25th appears to be the day of the month to launch new patches; The Division is joining the fun with patch 1.4. This patch brings with it the option of selecting different World Tiers to pit players against harder enemies which offer accordingly greater rewards. It also updates and improves the rewards for main missions, search & destroy, and high-value targets, along with the usual plethora of bug and balance fixes for the game. You can check out the full patch notes now if you’re so inclined.

The developers have also shared the present state of the game and the lessons learned from the test server, to boot. The test server was a new experiment for the team, but it turned out to be a positive one that really improved the dialogue between development and the players. The plan is to implement the next test server for Survival mode sometime after 1.4 is out in the wild for players to enjoy, so it’s good to see that it’s becoming a consistent evolution of the game’s testing and patching process.

Source: 1.4 release date, 1.4 patch notes, State of the Game transcript; thanks to Iain for the tip!

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Overwatch puts its next patch up on the test server

Want to play with the next Overwatch patch before it’s live? The game’s next patch is currently up on the test server for PC players, so you can test out all of the changes for yourself. Of course, most of the changes consist of bug fixes, but there are ability balance changes in the mix as well, most of which should wind up serving as straight-up buffs.

Widowmaker’s scope will activate more quickly and Junkrat’s RIP-Tire fires more swiftly, allowing both characters to respond more rapidly to changing situations. Ana, meanwhile, will be charging her Ultimate a bit more slowly, but her Biotic Grenade is getting a wider area of effect by way of compensation. There are also quality-of-life improvements and a few new controller enhancements, but you don’t have to take our word for it; you can get on the test server and try it out for yourself.

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Age of Conan’s next patch is available for testing

You need to be careful to ensure that you’ve got the right sort of chaos going into the next Age of Conan update. The patch is named “Slithering Chaos,” after all; it’d be a shame if the chaos of the update was more of the “crawling” or “creeping” variety, right? So it’s a good thing you can log on to the game’s test server and make sure it’s got the right sort of chaos going on.

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The Division’s test server goes live today for PC players

Ready to try the next update to The Division before it goes live? The game’s test server is going live today for PC players, albeit in limited form; the next four days will just be a small-scale test with specific test players before the server goes live for everyone on September 26th. A posting on the game’s official forums explains what the test server is and runs through everything that players who aren’t familiar with other test servers can expect.

If you’re wondering why the server is only available to PC players, the official posting does explain that. Essentially, all console updates have to go through a certification process to make sure the update won’t accidentally brick your machine; for a test server update, which is frequently buggy and unstable, it would make testing so slow as to be worthless. Check out all of the details, familiarize yourself with the schedule, and get ready to test the next update so you can be done with the content before it’s even live.

Source: Official Site, Reddit; thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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