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Crowfall shows off the Assassin’s toxic skills

Nasty toxins, sneaky attacks, and underhanded tactics: If these things appeal to your style of play, then you’re definitely going to want to check out Crowfall’s newest class, the Assassin.

To master the class, players will need to utilize the Assassin’s toxins and positional combat to the greatest effect. The Assassin can break out poisons, heals, and nature damage based on which crafted toxin is applied to her blades. She can stealth, of course, and attempt to ambush, blind, and stun foes to keep them from retaliating. Other skills include backstab, kidney shot, diffusion, dagger storm, shadowstep, disengage, and engage.

Get a quick look at the Assassin’s powers and effects after the jump!

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Magic: The Gathering Arena’s business model stands on a ‘simple idea’ of universal access

“We want everyone to be able to experience Magic: The Gathering.”

Upon this “simple idea” Wizards of the Coast is building Magic: The Gathering Arena’s business model, which could quickly be summed up as free-to-play that gives players a choice of time or money as a way to progress. By earning gold (in-game currency) or purchasing gems (RMT currency), players can purchase card packs, access events, and open up “The Vault,” a special treasure trove with secret rewards.

Wizards said that it is structuring the game’s economy based on a few principles: “Make our players’ valuable time as fun as possible; players need a variety of cards to have the most fun, so reward them with as many as possible; and make sure players can get the specific cards they want.”

Magic: The Gathering Arena went into beta testing last month with the eventual goal of releasing an online card game that will mirror the physical set releases and be more accessible to the general gaming public.

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Crowfall’s Raph Koster goes into insane depth on the cost of creating video games

If you have an exceptional memory, you might recall that a couple of months ago, Crowfall and Star Wars Galaxies designer Raph Koster wrote up a blog post on the cost of making games. The MMO expert followed that up this week with a much, much more detailed presentation that attempts to show hard data to back up his claims.

Koster said that he used industry contacts and other research to assemble data from over 250 games made from 1985 to today that shows the development cost minus the money spent on marketing. He even goes so far as to break down the cost of dollars per developed byte of information, which is where he sees costs for game falling. He said that when you look at it this way, players are getting a “deal” for games these days.

“Lots of people have made the observation that in terms of raw purchasing power, players pay around half of what they used to in the ’80s,” he notes.

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Lost in Crowfall’s alpha? There’s a video for that – three videos, in fact

If you’re a Crowfall backer currently logging into the game’s current test phase for the first time because you are too impatient to wait for the game’s delayed soft launch, you’re not alone. And if you’re lost and wandering around trying to figure out what the heck to do because the game has changed so much since its original Kickstarter design docs, you’re also not alone. ArtCraft has a plan, however.

“Although we have a wonderful How to Play page that we work to keep updated, often it gets overlooked, or people are too excited to jump into the game to read it,” says the studio today. “So we set about creating a series of tutorial videos that cover the main aspects of Crowfall. These videos are meant to be brief overviews that will get a new player started, but will still allow for discovery and theorycrafting as they delve deeper into each of these systems.”

Fun fact: You can actually watch the vids from inside the game lobby, so no need to exit out to look up what the hell is going on. The first three are down below, including the basic welcome vid, the harvesting vid, and the gear vid. Enjoy!

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City of Titans drafts volunteer to build metro landmarks

Considering that it’s City of Titans and not Prairies of Titans or Lonely Country Road of Titans, it’s safe to assume that this indie MMO has quite a few buildings to construct for superheroes to visit or (more likely) fly by in a flash. While most of the metro area will utilize standard and reusable models, the team did draft a volunteer to create unique landmarks that will help give the city an identity.

“Enter our current Mogul and Landmark Titan, Nathan Purkiss, a 3-D modeler with a passion for architecture,” the team posted on Kickstarter. “We were thrilled to see his application and immediately made buildings his sole priority and domain. That was some months ago, and he’s been making excellent progress.”

Some of Purkiss’ work was shown as game models, including the Central Library, the Pharos Fire Station, the Vander Vere Museum of Technology, the Holt House, and the Thunderbolt Dive Bar. Each of these structures isn’t just a pretty facade but contains lore and history, such as a repurposed abandoned theater that is now used for private parties and shady dealings.

Source: Kickstarter

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Crowfall explains its fun-first class balancing philosophy

Earlier this week, ArtCraft posted up its monthly ACE Q&A for Crowfall, and there are some juicy nuggets to behold within! Design Lead Thomas Blair and Senior Game Designer Mark Halash begin by dishing on class design, basically explaining that the studio’s philosophy is to make the classes as cool as possible and then smack them with balance based on what players min-max, all to avoid a “vanilla” experience.

“Obviously we’re going to use best practices and not make anything that’s going to be too terribly broken,” Halash says. “But we’re also not going to be like, ‘Well we’re not going to let you do A and B’ – we’re going to see if A and B are broken first before we take any sort of [action].”

The duo also talk about nerfs for overpowered teleports, combat iteration, race-and-class restrictions, and connected accounts (spoilers: That’s not multiple accounts; it’s just social media account linking). The whole shebang is below.

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Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones comes together in one of Crowfall’s races

Can’t decide between your love of two popular geek fantasy franchises? Come on over to Crowfall, and you can enjoy both!

The Crowfall art team is happy to announce that work has progressed on two additional gender/race combinations, the male Nethari and the male Half-Elf. The latter can give thanks to pop culture for his outfit: “The inspiration for their gear was a bit of the Night’s Watch from Game of Thrones and a bit Ranger from Lord of the Rings. Shrouded in dark fabrics and leathers, they blend into the night and the shadows and walk among the creatures of the world without notice.”

These racial options should be in the game soon. Players who pick the male Nethari can roll up a Confessor, Templar, or Assassin, while the male Half-Elf is all about being a Ranger, Assassin, or Druid. Next on ArtCraft’s plate? The male and female versions of the High Elf. So many Elves, so little time.

Source: Crowfall

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Radiant Worlds is rescued but SkySaga’s fate remains uncertain

Things looked very bleak for SkySaga and its parent company Radiant Worlds last August when the upcoming multiplayer game shut down production following Smilegate’s decision to pull out as publisher and leave Radiant without funds to finish the game. However, hope for the studio blossomed following a statement today by UK media developer and publisher Rebellion, in which it was announced that the company had acquired Radiant Worlds for an undisclosed sum.

The publisher said that Radiant Worlds will now become a sister studio called Rebellion Warwick and “will immediately transition on to current projects including the 1930s co-op adventure Strange Brigade.”

Unfortunately, this acquisition did not include SkySaga, so don’t put too much stock in a resurrection. “As much as we loved working on SkySaga, the game belongs to Smilegate, so any future development plans would be from them, not us,” Radiant tweeted.

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Crowfall is spicing up its maps with ‘adventure parcels’

The maps in Crowfall are assembled in a combination of procedural and hand-crafted generation. Individual bits are hand-crafted, but the maps as a whole are put together using these linking pieces. Players have seen plenty of the stronghold parcels of maps (places where you can build things) and the wilderness parcels (places where you can harvest materials to build things), but the maps also contain adventure parcels, filled with dangerous critters to hunt for valuable materials.

These parcels are also constructed from several smaller parts, but they allow players to feel guided through rough terrain in a different way, complete with cosmetic layers and different possible layouts to ensure that while the parts might be recognizable, the overall map never becomes repetitive. You can check out all of the details in the recent dispatch about how these parcels guide you through danger; there’s also an article about handling your graphics settings in the game’s newest test builds if you just want to improve your performance or the look of the game.

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Raph Koster on MMO ecosystems, the balance of power, and tennis

Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.

That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.

In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.

And then? The whole system collapses.

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Massively Overthinking: Our MMO hopes and wishes for 2018

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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FCC extends accessibility requirement waiver for online games once again

Last year, my husband deployed the requisite accessibility tools to the college science lab he runs to accommodate a bright student who happened to be blind, which opened a window for us into how people who are blind navigate tech. It’s flipping amazing what’s available in terms of searching and communication, and I don’t just mean phones!

So you might be wondering how video games have skirted regulation when it comes to accessibility; after all, the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 should apply to our industry too, right, particularly online games with chat tools? Turns out it’s because the Federal Communications Commission has been granting waivers for years at the request of the Electronic Software Association, and in fact, it’s just granted another.

As Gamasutra explains, the FCC has now extended the existing waiver again, exempting games released before 2019 from the CVAA requirement that “any communication functionality like in-game chat and any UI used to navigate and operate communications functionality must be accessible to people of varying sight, motor, speech, cognitive, and hearing ability.”

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Working As Intended: The MMOs we lost in 2017

It’s true that we lost a lot of MMOs in 2016 — bigger and more important ones than in 2014 and 2015. 2017, however, has been a different sort of beast. The list is long, and while it’s painful for those whose games are gone, the genre didn’t lose many major MMOs this past year. And that startles me.

Marvel Heroes was surely the most dramatic of all the sunsets, given that it shut down early without notice. Earlier in the year, we saw Daybreak put an end to Landmark after less than a year of live operation, while Turbine let the Asheron’s Call franchise go, Firefall formally closed, Club Penguin’s sunset broke the internet, and NCsoft called it quits with Master X Master. A number of other MMOs simply halted development – Perpetuum, Sword Coast Legends, and SkySaga being the most prominent of those. And on a more positive note, there were a few sunsetted MMOs that were revivified, including Otherland, Uncharted Waters Online, and RaiderZ.

Farewell, old friends.

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