user interface

TERA starts its technical console test on December 14

So, why haven’t we gotten a lot of news about the TERA console version? Product manager Matt Denomme has put forth a new video about exactly that, and it turns out that porting the game to console involves a lot of work making the game’s interface comprehensible from the couch instead of the computer chair. But all of the hard development work is getting finished, and that means that the developers are ready to start bringing in a limited technical testing population from December 14th to December 18th.

The bad news is that this is a technical test that’s going to be small in numbers by design; the good news is that it’s the prelude to a larger and more open test early in 2018. This is mostly to make sure that the changes for the console version will actually work, that you can read the interface prompts, and so forth. So it’s not a launch date for the console version, but it’s getting closer.

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EVE Evolved: Calling time on EVE Online’s five-year vision

When Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren walked onto the stage at EVE Fanfest 2013 and delivered her long-term vision for the future of EVE Online, the excitement in the room was palpable. EVE was riding its highest peak concurrent player numbers in the game’s history following the overhauls of the Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution expansions, and players were ready for a new blockbuster feature to fire their imaginations. CCP delivered its ambitious five year vision to hand the reins of EVE‘s living universe over to its players, with player-built stargates and deep space exploration in completely uncharted star systems.

We’re now about four months away from the five-year mark on that vision, and many parts of it have now been completed, but no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. We’ve seen some big feature drops such as the release of citadels, the industry overhaul, and the recent moon mining overhaul, but that deep space colonisation gameplay still seems far off. Some players feel as if EVE is currently in a holding pattern, with everyone waiting for the next big feature or overhauls to their favourite part of the game before deciding what to do next. So what does come next?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the progress toward Nordgren’s 5 year vision so far and talk about the possible next steps I think CCP could take to make it a reality.

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Camelot Unchained fleshes out books, clothes, and the new Dragonfang scenario

They aren’t dressing it up with “burndown” hoopla, but City State Entertainment’s devs are in just that kind of check-it-off testing mode with Camelot Unchained’s development as they push their way to the long-delayed beta one. In this week’s dev update, Tyler Rockwell explains that the team continues work on its template component system, the Dragonfang scenario and Place of Power maps, scenario automation, NPC tech, the world space UI, combat effects, lady clothes, armor animations, the patcher art, and skill buttons – although really they could’ve saved themselves a lot of trouble and just made a single I-win button, am I right?

Books are also on the agenda! “Jon began work sculpting out different Realm variations of books, the magic tomes a caster might use as a type of focus,” Rockwell says. “These, like our other weapons, are being designed to include interchangeable pieces that can be used in crafting.”

“We continue to push forward on the needs for Beta 1, while making improvements to not only combat, but also gameplay. This is part of our commitment, through the Dragon Circle concept, to provide our patient Backers with a more fun experience during testing, up to and into Beta 1.”

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LOTRO Legendarium: Fixing Lord of the Rings Online’s grouping problem

One of the quirks — and frustrations — of MMORPGs is that there never seems to be one game that truly has it all. Even some of my favorites are missing what I consider key features or design elements that are present elsewhere, and it’s maddening to think about how much better the game could be with those features transplanted.

For Lord of the Rings Online, I have to say that my biggest frustration with the game design is that dungeons might as well be non-existent. Oh, they’re in the game (and raids and skirmishes too), but LOTRO has never cultivated a dungeon-running community of the sort that you see in contemporary MMOs.

In other games, I enjoy changing up the routine by grouping up with others for a run through detailed setpieces as we battle our way to the final boss. I enjoy the rewards that those runs bring and learn a lot more about how to play my character. This has almost never been the case for me and LOTRO, and it’s not for a lack of trying. This MMO has a grouping problem that undercuts participation and interest in the dungeon scene, making such runs an anomaly instead of part of the mainstream. I have some observations from my point of view and some thoughts about how it could be fixed.

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Chaos Theory: Exploring Secret World Legend’s anima allocation and other QoL improvements

Remember that big quality-of-life update that Secret World Legends launched mid-November? Chances are your quality of SWL life did indeed improve with a number of those changes. Mine did. Some you may have been enjoying are the new summoned vendor that visits you in the field, or the teleports that allow you to pop instantly back to the three hubs to do your business. Perhaps you’ve gotten one of the new weapon-specific belt talismans (one of the 10 actually works for all weapons) that are mob loot drops. You might even have been having some fun in the Seoul Fight Club with its equal-footing PvP matches. Surely you’ve appreciated the new loot added to dungeons, scenarios, or lairs.

While I certainly benefit from all these other improvements, two of the biggest changes for me have been the anima allocation system and the XP transfer on empowerment. The two are actually tied together, along with the reduced cost to recover glyphs and signets. I wanted to give it some time working with the new system before talking about it. And I’ve concluded that more than just quality of life improvements, these tread a bit into the game-changer category.

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Crowfall’s crafting looks more and more like Star Wars Galaxies’

Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.

For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!

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Crowfall: ‘You don’t have to get into the stats to have a good time in this game’

Crowfall’s J. Todd Coleman and Billy Garretsen are back for another ACE Q&A – you can pretty much mark the months by these things. December’s edition is all about the user interface.

Garretsen says that the UI’s undergone a “pretty big shift” and now has a weighty side-docked UI element that merges the character’s stats, gear, and inventory, a little bit like the UI design in OARPGs like Path of Exile and Diablo. The idea is to boost visibility of the most important UI elements and clarify the game loop and how each piece of your character interacts (as well as deflect criticism that the game felt like a MOBA, and it really shouldn’t given how much goes into character development).

Don’t panic, however, if you just want to play without fussing too much with the numbers under the hood that are less under the hood with the test build’s latest update. “You don’t have to get into the stats to have a good time in this game,” Garretsen assures watchers. The whole Q&A is below.

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Saga of Lucimia lays the foundation for a holiday alpha test

Forget cookies with Santa and New Year countdowns: Saga of Lucimia hopes that you’ll be too immersed in its next alpha test to care about real-life trivialities.

The team revealed that it will be running a ninth early access alpha test from December 22nd through January 5th, which is substantially longer than previous weekend tests. “There are a slew of new mechanics and features in place,” the team said, “and we will be doing a blog post closer to the date to let people know exactly what to expect while still leaving room for plenty of Easter eggs for our community to discover!”

Saga of Lucimia has been making a lot of news lately with its announcement of independent funding and the defense of a lack of in-game minimap or looking for dungeon tool. We’ve gotten in on the discussion here too, with both a soapbox and today’s podcast tackling the issues of immersion, inconvenience, and UI standards.

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Black Desert lays out roadmap with new toon, region, class swapping, and weapon buffs

Over the weekend during South Korea’s FESTA event, Pearl Abyss slipped out the news that Black Desert is due to get another character: Ran. Turns out that when importing her westward, Kakao is calling her Lahn (not the first time that’s happened), and the studio explained there’s much more coming than what trickled across the oceans a few days back.

For starters, Lahn is indeed on the way; she’s a dual-wielder who carries a “unique crescent scythe” and a short-sword offhander and zips through the air. She’ll be accompanied by a new territory in the game, Dreegan, home to dragons. Bring a group!

But beyond Lahn and Dreegan, Kakao says PA has nearly halved the game’s client size and boosted FPS performance in a streamlining project coming to fruition next week. That includes a major UI makeover and 3-D minimap that shows elevation.

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Niantic will reboot Ingress into Ingress Prime next year

Niantic is delivering a massive upgrade for Ingress next year. “Reboot” might even be a more appropriate term.

The company most people know for its bumbling stewardship of Pokemon Go actually launched Ingress in 2012 as a Google venture but then was spun off into its own company. Prior to POGO, Ingress was surely the biggest player in the alternate reality mobile MMO genre, pitting gamers against each other in a massive cyber war overlaid on the real one and causing my husband to drive out of our way to that pancake house in Sacramento to “capture” the node at its infamous bear statue more than once.

So if you are an Ingress player who’s been feeling like the proverbial red-headed stepchild while POGO got all the love and Harry Potter joins the fray, the announcement of what Niantic is calling Ingress Prime ought to fill you with glee. The reboot will boast retooled graphics and an improved UI as it moves to POGO’s more modern tech platform to make the game more appealing to newbies and also crack down on cheating. Critically, Niantic says the game will be “fully staffed,” contrary to the studio’s olden days when it had to shut down player node submissions because it lacked staff to approve them.

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Guild Wars 2 announces weapon contest winners, adds new in-game book interface

Remember that design-a-weapon contest that Guild Wars 2 was running last month? Well, it is all over now, and ArenaNet tallied up all of the player votes to come up with three community-designed weapons that will be brought into the game.

The first, second, and third place winners are a torch, greatsword, and sword, respectively. Those winners get a signed print of their design and a ton of other goodies in addition to the pride of seeing others run around with their creation. The top three were chosen out of over 900 entries that the contest elicited.

In other Guild Wars 2 news, some sharp-eyed players noted that there seems to be a new book interface for reading in-game literature. Nothing big, but hey, it’s easier on the eyes and even is tied to an achievement.

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Destiny 2 acknowledges ‘betrayal’ over XP adjustments and studio silence

While stopping short of an actual apology in this week’s Destiny 2 state of the game post, Bungie acknowledged that players have been greatly dissatisfied over the recent event and subsequent stealth XP changes.

“Last weekend, we disabled a scaling mechanism that adjusted XP gains up and down without reflecting those adjustments in the UI,” the studio said. “Our intention was to keep slower-paced activities as rewarding as high intensity grinding without confusing variations in displayed XP values, but the silent nature of the mechanic betrayed the expectation of transparency that you have for Destiny 2.”

The theme of more transparency and communication from the development team ran through the remainder of the post, which also focused on some of the upcoming improvements to the online shooter. These include a new weapons tier, improved vendor rewards, armor ornaments, better rewards for group events, Crucible private matches, making shards useful, and giving players more options to obtain the rewards they desire.

Source: Destiny 2

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR’s Chiss flashpoint

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched update 5.6, which gave us many new quality-of-life changes to the game as well as our first trip into the Chiss Ascendency via the “A traitor among us” storyline. I am in love with many of the additions like the legacy credit storage and the activities window. But I think the casual player would be most interested in the story on Copero. It’s also the part that I’m most unopinionated about. It’s all right and a good addition to the game, but it’s also just kind of average. It’s better than bad – but it’s not excellent BioWare storytelling.

Let’s take a few moments to talk about SWTOR Update 5.6 and all the things in it, then dive into why I think the Copero flashpoint could have used a little bit more polish.

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