Yesterday, ArtCraft posted a live Crowfall Q&A video showing off what the devs are calling “action harvesting” – and it caused a surprising amount of uproar in our comments. Essentially, the game will simply put players into a harvesting mode with a special skill bar. Instead of clicking, grabbing, and darting off, you’ll be finger-dancing skills on the node.
Incidentally, it’ll also leave you exposed to enemy attack, but the chief complaint was actually that it’ll be a boring timewaster, the sort of things other MMOs have tried in crafting and rejected because they’re fun a few times and then, a chore.
Today, the studio’s gone into more depth on the system, explaining that the changes “mesh” with the game’s action combat and were actually inspired by the game’s ongoing power tray redesign as the devs played around with trying to build harvesting that wasn’t just a click to get stuff.
With Patch 5.3 on the horizon, Crowfall is striving to add more than just race and class options. One feature that’s going to be worked into this newest alpha build is what the team is calling “action harvesting.”
Basically, this means that harvesting will become a lot more involved than running up to a node and jamming on the F key. Instead, players have a new survival tray — a dedicated hotbar — that stores all of a player’s harvest-related items and skills. When players switch into harvesting mode, this bar will pop up and they will “attack” nodes by left-clicking, a process that is augmented by the abilities and items they use.
Check out the hour-long development team Q&A on this revised system after the break!
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
Now that Crowfall has split with the whole fixed-archetype thing, it’s a world of possibilities over at this PvP title. And while there will be plenty of possible class and race combinations available to choose at launch, it won’t be anything goes.
The team said that it had to make decisions on which combos to include: “Our initial list was derived based on a number of factors. It took into account the cost to support this combination, the balance of races for each class and classes for each race, and of course the cool factor of each particular combination.”
One brand-new combination that Artcraft announced this week was the Elken Cleric, or “Holydeer” as we are now calling it. When you roll one, you don’t become celibate… you go stag.
We’ve got the full chart for you after the break. The team said that black cells are currently implemented combinations, white are ones that are planned but not finished, half-and-half are ones that only have a single gender so far, and blank won’t be there at launch but perhaps afterward.
All the time through playing Shroud of the Avatar, I found myself wanting to like the game a lot more than I did. And my brain kept turning back to Minecraft, which seems like a worthwhile comparison to make.
Much like SOTA, Minecraft is a game strongly based on the concept of making your own fun. You are definitely making your own adventure in the game. But at the same time, it seems very relevant to point out that the game starts by giving you a clear set of parameters to work within. Monsters will spawn at night, there are resources under ground, you break things to get better things, and then combine those things to make still better things. From there on out, much of the game is devoted to figuring out how these various elements play off of one another.
So they’re both sandbox-ish titles in which you make your own fun. Except that one of them starts by showing you the fun that you’re supposed to be having and giving you a goal, and it does so with absolutely no story to guide you along that route. It shows you exactly the sort of game it’s trying to be and lets you start working at meeting it halfway. But SOTA never quite got there, at least for me.
September looks to be busy for the Crowfall team, as it continues to expand the campaign world and its related testing process. This week, it triggered a small patch that should assist players in getting right to the fun: “Along with bug fixes, we added armor racks to streamline the process of getting geared up so you can jump right in.”
But that’s not all! Coming soonish to the game are several improvements and additions to the environment, including a new beachhead, ground vegetation, rocks, trees, and the like. Also moss! And better snow!
There are plenty of other changes coming, such as some spring cleaning for forts and eventual damage to enemies who spend too long hanging about their foe’s beachhead. The game’s environmental artist previewed these changes and took some questions from fans, all of which you can see below.
It has been a while since the dust settled on late, lamentable EverQuest Next, and even longer since the sandbox MMORPG acquired and then ditched Storybricks for one of its core game systems. Recently, Storybricks CEO Rodolfo Rosini rediscovered a couple of early documents of his company’s work on EverQuest Next, and as these were produced in 2012 before an NDA was signed, he decided that they were fair game to share with the internet at large.
“The first document is the initial pitch after we were told the scope of the game that is now public and it wasn’t clear how many features we would have to develop for the final product,” Rosini said. “As you can see magic was a huge influence on the prototyping stage. The second document was our proposal for a demo of the AI combat system, and that was what helped us advance the discussion for our involvement in EQN.”
It’s certainly interesting to get a glimpse into the fabled MMORPG’s development from Storybricks’ perspective and to once again tantalize our minds with the thought of “what if it had happened this way.” The documents talk about Storybricks creating the “illusion of life” with its flexible scripting program, especially in combat, and how it would be used to adapt and counter players’ fighting styles.
Lore! Huh! What is it good for? Understanding why you’re standing in the middle of a pack of angry people with fangs in MMOs, of course. It’s the thin line dividing your actions from being reckless, indiscriminate mayhem and discriminating, careful mayhem. Lore is how you know what the world is like beyond your front door, and it’s the difference between understanding that you face Ragnaros, lord of flame or just knowing that there’s a dude here made out of fire, so you should probably use water spells on him.
All lore, however, is not created equal. There’s lore that creates a detailed, vibrant world full of people with their own hopes and dreams, and there’s lore that creates a game where you know what you’re supposed to be doing but have no idea what people do for fun afterwards aside from waiting to die. So today, we explore the tiers of lore, arranged in a numbered list because that’s the entire premise of the column. It’s not Perfect Vague Assortment of Concepts. That’s not even a column.
As an MMO enthusiast, I have this tendency to cheer games on and be interested in all sorts of titles — even the ones that I know deep down to my bones are not for me. For example, I am not a great fan of PvP-centric MMOs. I don’t resent their existence, but that gameplay is too stressful and fraught with drama for my taste.
Yet I can’t help but be attracted to some of these games because I like the art, the passion, or some of the non-PvP mechanics involved. Crowfall looks gorgeous and I’m all about its eternal kingdoms housing system. Camelot Unchained has such a great team and talent behind it that I feel wistful they aren’t making a PvE game. And I’ve even gone on record as saying that Albion Online’s art style and cross-platform accessibility is pretty cool. What is wrong with me?
Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate? What do you do with that?
With $2.7 million raised from fans and $12.5 million total in its pockets from multiple sources, ArtCraft has a wealth of money on which to build Crowfall. The studio also has a wealth of experience with crowdfunding, and in a new interview, Gordon Walton shares what he and the other leaders at ArtCraft have learned from running one of the more successful MMORPG Kickstarter campaigns to date.
The five key lessons that Walton shared were: Crowdfunding is a test of a product’s market viability, that it’s important to sell a product and not a dream, that different crowdfunding platforms require different approaches, that studios need to bring their loyal fans out for these campaigns, and that it’s vital to communicate clearly and often.
“The real trick is always about finding the right customers, who want to be part of your business, they want to support you,” said Walton. “A lot of entrepreneurs are more focused on their product than their customers. If I have any advice for people, it’s ‘always think about the customer first.'”
Many players, including some of those here at Massively OP, were crushed to hear last month that the colorful MMO Skysaga had to shut down development due to its publisher pulling out of the deal. While the game wasn’t canceled outright, it certainly looked dire for the project, and developer Radiant Worlds said that it had to lay off a great deal of its staff.
But is there hope for the beleaguered title? While it is wise to be wary of false hope, there might be a glimmer of a path forward for Skysaga. Yesterday, the team posed a cryptic note to the game’s Facebook page, saying, “Please note that the beta pre-registration and few website functions will be temporarily disabled as we are working on some changes.” The official site also changed its beta registration banner to a note that stated, “Stay tuned for more updates!”
The community is understandably confused, anxious, and cautiously excited, begging the studio to come out and share more information. We’re going to keep our ear to the ground on this one and cross our fingers that Skysaga has found a way to continue development even after being dealt that critical financial blow.
Do you like dragging yourself out of bed at three in the morning because something has finished in a game and you need to immediately address it? Probably not. That would be insane. But Crowfall recognizes that it’s a possibility with its skill training system, which is why the game has time banks. If a skill finishes training and you’re offline, time starts to fill up in the bank, and you can immediately spend it on whatever you want to train next, with VIP players able to bank up to 30 days of accumulated time. Players will also be able to use skill tomes to transfer banked time, thus ensuring that newer players can catch up with veterans.
VIP players will have the edge in terms of how many things can be trained at once, but they won’t be able to progress faster than other players while training; a VIP player can train two separate skills at once, but not the same skill twice as fast. You can catch the full overview on the official site so you know exactly how the game will help you train up your skills over time and how you can be sure to balance the demands of your time.
Crowfall, don’t y’all know that Friday is the unofficial industry day to slack off and stream MMOs instead of working, not Thursday? I’m kidding (or am I), at least about the slacking. In fact, Crowfall’s devs are planning to run quite a gauntlet of questions on today’s stream. Instead of just doing their traditional monthly Q&A video, the ArtCraft leads will stream it live instead, bloopers and all. They’re promising, specifically, to:
“Present the new Skills interface and walk through the revised user experience; outline the ‘ripple effect’ of the Race/Class split as it relates to Skill training; address concerns raised about non-VIP vs. VIP accounts; [and] introduce [their] plans for ‘catch-up’ and ‘re-spec’ mechanics.”
Watch along below; it all goes live at noon EDT.