OK, so “minimum viable product” is pretty much the worst thing an MMO dev can say about her game. But how about “minimum viable powers”? That’s the descriptor for the philosophy underpinning Crowfall’s power development, a new dev blog by ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today.
“We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat,” he says. “We are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e., the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions). In other words, don’t freak out about anything at this stage.”
As his chief example, he uses the Fae Assassin, a “stealthy, quick-attacking, stabby-stab type that utilizes poisons and has positional-based attacks,” to assure backers that the team didn’t accidentally forget about stealth and illuminate the game’s wing and poison mechanics. There’s also a dive into the Sin’s UI, which demos passive and active skills, the power bar, and modes like stealth. Definitely worth a look if you’re the type of gamer who prefers stabbing from the shadows (or, y’know, running away from people like that).
Thanks to a new update, Crowfall is giving its players more freedom than before in customizing their own playstyle. The focus here is on an adjustable user interface that allows a player to drag whichever skill they prefer into the hotbar slot of choice.
The discussion of this new UI feature involves a look at Crowfall’s three types of skills: active, passive, and retaliatory. These can be mapped to the number keys, letter keys, and mouse buttons as desired.
“It may seem a pretty mundane thing to talk about, but the arrival of this system portents so many things coming on the horizon (like Disciplines),” said Design Lead Thomas Blair. “No one has really needed to think about loading out their character’s powers in the past as each archetype was built to have a very specific loadout of powers, but now it will be vital to ensure you have the powers loaded out into their proper slots.”
Crowfall Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair has a new dev blog out this afternoon on the resource harvesting slice of the big world testing going on right now. To understand how it’s changing, you need to understand how the resource system was planned to work originally.
“The most important aspect of resources in Crowfall is that every resource type is important in the crafting system. We are not making a standard resource progression where copper is replaced by a higher tier material, thus turning copper into a low- end trash resource only useful for new players. […] Crafters will combine multiple resources types in meaningful ways to produce crafting components or items with interesting stats.”
Blair says that while the crafting design is working, the resource design wasn’t — chiefly because the models used for each don’t match up and the progression of different materials vs. tools was opaque to players unless they had a chart sitting in front of them.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, PvP and crafting seem to be two flavors that go very well together. Crowfall thinks so, at least, which is why the team is pouring a lot of effort into creating a robust and involving system with the help of legendary game designer Raph Koster.
In a new demo video, Lead Designer Thomas Blair takes players through a tour of how Crowfall’s harvesting and crafting mechanics work. While Blair uses a special test area that won’t be available to players in the live game, you can still get the gist of how all of this will work in Crowfall’s campaign worlds and eternal kingdoms.
Will Crowfall’s crafting suck you in? Is this everything an MMO gathering and crafting system should be? The 43-minute tour awaits you after the break!
Harvesting in an MMORPG is just the boring gruntwork you have to trudge through before you can get to the glory of crafting — or it is? That’s just one of the challenges inbound PvP MMO Crowfall is faced with when it comes to its crafting system. In a new dev video out today, ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas Blair and Design Consultant Raph Koster discuss harvesting and resources and just how they all fit into the game, giving us an a “fly on the wall” perspective of the design process.
For example, Koster questions the harvesting system’s plan for dealing with a surplus of low level resources once the game is mature, since the game incentivizes higher-end materials. “I’m hoping that we don’t have that problem,” Blair says, “because everything is used for the alloy system.” The pair also namedrop Star Wars Galaxies when trying to sort out vertical dependencies and stop crafters from becoming their own sub-component suppliers without being “punitive.”
Crafter and economy players, it’s worth a watch just to see them talk through the problems — they’re problems every MMO must deal with, after all.
In its Q&A session for the month of September, Crowfall Design Lead Thomas Blair and Creative Director Todd Coleman celebrate a whole year of videos and blow their entire special effects budget. OK, they also answer some questions about the game, specifically on fall damage, positional combat, and environmental gravity; technical changes to formerly for sale strongholds and palaces; iteration on skill combo resources; soft-launch campaigns; and Eternal Kingdom building restrictions.
There’s a neat tidbit about iteration and community feedback in there too.
“You ask anyone in the office, you look at the forums, and [opinion on something] could be split half-half, and you’re like, well which way do we go? We gotta pick one,” Blair says, to which Coleman replies, “Half and half is great! Because that means we’re probably OK. When 90% of the players hate something, that’s when we know we have to change it.” Then Coleman turns back to the camera with a laugh. “And yes, we know there’s a lot of stuff that still falls in that category. We’re still working on it! Give us time, please, I’m begging you.”
Have a spare few minutes in your day to exchange for a little Crowfall enlightenment? Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Lead Designer Thomas Blair whipped up a nine-and-a-half minute video to address seven community questions.
The topics range from explanations about stats, whether emotes are being created (not right now), how inventory works in Crowfall (think Diablo-style), chat bubbles, and the purpose behind the Assassin’s wings. She can’t fly, but boy can she glide and feather fall, so those wings aren’t just for show!
You can watch the full Q&A below!
The Crowfall community has no end of questions for the ArtCraft team, and ArtCraft has no end of time to answer them. Actually, today ArtCraft only has a little under eight minutes, but hey, that still is enough time to cover some ground.
In a new commuity Q&A video, Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Design Lead Thomas Blair tackle several topics raised by the community, including how campaign locking works and what restrictions will be placed on adding points of interest in one’s Eternal Kingdom. The devs said that the coming big update, Temple War, will be engineering-heavy, so as a result the next archetype released will use as many pre-existing tech tools as possible to keep development time down. This means that we’re more likely to see the Templar than the Assassin or Frostweaver.
Check out the Q&A after the jump!
Crowfall devs confirmed today that they are indeed working on the Druid archetype. In fact, ArtCraft’s goal is to integrate the Druid into the Hunger Dome and Siege Perilous testing phases.
“[The Druid] is really starting to look great!” writes Design Lead Thomas Blair in a dev blog today. “The base equipment set is done, the character is all rigged and ready to start integrating into the game. That means we’ve started creating all of her alternate armor sets, designing her powers and crafting both her unique animations and her spell FX.”
The Druid plays like a ranged healer and ranged nuker, but Blair argues she isn’t a “firehose” healer.
“I said we don’t have any ‘firehose’ healers, the kind that a party might need to take on a boss monster at the end of a dungeon raid. However, we do have support classes, like the Legionnaire, that can be instrumental in helping your team be more effective once deployed on the battlefield. The Druid is a lot more versatile then your traditional PvE firehose healer. When we were designing her power kit and thinking about her thematically, having two trays made the most sense.”
Crowfall Design Lead Thomas Blair has just revealed a brief new video walkthrough of the catapult, the first combat vehicle in the game and one of the perks of the Siege Perilous testing round.
The catapult gameplay will probably look somewhat familiar to World of Warcraft fans thanks to its targetting mechanics and skill bar, but watching foot soldiers get rammed is fun nevertheless. Check it out below!
ArtCraft is previewing its next big pre-alpha rollout for Crowfall, codenamed Siege Perilous: the “first phase of testing for some of the initial features that will eventually become [the game’s] castle siege system.”
Design Lead Thomas Blair writes that the testing phase will take place on a modified map that leaps past the prep stage of battles straight to castle sieging itself. One faction defends the Tree of Life inside the keep, while the other defends its grove outside the keep. Victory comes through destroying the enemy tree(s) or outlasting the timer.
Siege weapons, in the form of catapults that function as Crowfall’s “first working mounts,” will be seen in action during the test; players will use them to bust through the walls and towers of castles.
Hopefully you weren’t unduly attached to the number-crunched specifics of any of Crowfall’s planned archetypes because the in-development MMO is contemplating some minor changes.
In the wake of the Ranger’s development and new tech, Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair says, ArtCraft is headed back to other systems and archetypes for a balancing pass, something he says we can continue to expect as the Siege Perilous ruleset is tested.
For example, ArtCraft is implementing a “dizzy” state, adding base health and damage modifiers, tweaking heal scaling, adjusting Champion damage powers, and working on Ranger bow damage. The Legionnaire is shifting around a bit too:
“The Legionnaire had a bit of work done on his basic combo chain. We looked at the play metrics and found that virtually no Legionnaires were using the 4th and 5th portion of the chain. So, we cut them and pushed down the power of the Command Buff into the Discipline Buff in the 3rd attack. We also added an instant group heal component to the 3rd attack. This should make the Legionnaire feel a bit more “heal-y”, as most Legionnaires do tend to make it to the 3rd attack. We are also pumping up the FX on the basic heals so you can tell what is going on. (Many folks don’t realize that the 3rd attack has a proc that it puts on teammates that heals mana/health when they attack!)”
In January’s Crowfall Q&A video, Design Lead Thomas Blair and Founder/Art Director J. Todd Coleman discuss Crowfall as an “experimental project.” So many game design elements, Coleman explains, are subject to change because of the team’s experimental mentality. “We’re going to find out what this game is all about, and we’re going to do it by trying things out. Some of them will work; some of them won’t,” Coleman says. “And through the course of this experiment, we hope to find a game that’s really compelling, that you want to play.” He further reveals that the Kickstarter was based on the idea that the right kind of exploration-driven players would step up to guide their path.
The pair also address how Crowfall defies the idea of ship dates. “I don’t even think in those terms,” Coleman tells watchers. “I’m thinking of it as, OK, what’s the 10-year strategy for this game, and what are we going to grow over time. The launch date really is just that moment when you say, OK, we’re not going to wipe again. And usually it’s when you say, ‘And we’re going to collect money,’ but we’re already doing that.” Launch for Crowfall, therefore, will be when the game — persistent characters, specifically — is no longer due for wipes.
A bit of time is spent discussing god choices and Hunger Dome mechanics in testing, and Coleman and Blair shelve a question on monsters in the Eternal Kingdoms. It’s a quick listen/watch, and you can find it below.