Alphas & Betas Category

MMOs in various stages of testing and crowdfunding, playable and… not. Don’t forget to follow our Betawatch and Make My MMO columns for a weekly rundown. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

The9’s CEO is throwing over a million bucks at Chinese Firefall players

It’s kind of a nail-biting time to be looking in from the outside when it comes to Red 5 Studios and Firefall. The past few big stories have centered on not patches or content but on the fact that dev pay was delayed over Christmas (which the company says has now been rectified). But it’s happy times for the game over in China, as parent company The9‘s CEO is showering the game’s Chinese testers with over a million dollars in promotional items.

The plan is to distribute ¥10 million ($1.53 million US) worth of “red packets” (presumably akin to gifts for Chinese New Year) to players, which probably means lots of promotional codes. Considering the fact that $100 million has been invested in the game’s release in China, there’s the possibility that it involves actual real money. Regardless, it doesn’t exactly sit nicely next to stories about the US team being unable to make payroll on time.

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First impressions of Black Desert’s closed beta test: Classes, combat, and mechanics

Over the course of my first day in Black Desert, I did a lot of the things you’d expect from the first day in a new MMO: I killed some imps, couriered some items for spectacularly lazy NPCs, and learned a few skills. But I also spent a much larger amount of time doing things that might seem a bit more novel: I built a raft and sailed the sea; I made a hefty profit buying trade goods in one settlement and selling them off in another; I bought out all the real-estate I could, set up a residence for myself, and used the vacant lodgings to house the workers who built my raft; and I, honest-to-god, spent a solid half an hour extracting blood from dead weasels.

Black Desert is a curious and sometimes arcane creature; for the majority of my first play session, I felt more than a bit lost. And I loved it. It’s been a long time since a game has managed to make me feel lost in such a way that I actually enjoyed the experience. Sure, there have been plenty that have made me feel lost through various means, including convoluted UIs full of flashing buttons, poorly translated quest text, and indecipherable tooltips that provide no useful information.

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Dogma: Eternal Night shows sewer demo

Dogma: Eternal Night is not about to let a failed Kickstarter campaign get it down. After admitting to a “difficult year” in 2015, Prelude Games Factory gave its supporters a peek into what’s to come for the supernatural horror MMO in 2016.

The first testing stages for the title will commence in the new year, even though the team isn’t being paid to work full-time. Fans should expect to hear more regular updates during 2016 and can support the title by backing the game on the Dogma website.

The team prepared a special treat for fans: a demo video that shows a crawl through an appropriately dank and dreary sewer. Get it on after the jump!

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Tree of Savior swings the banhammer following its Korean launch

Botters and exploiters, beware: Tree of Savior isn’t having any of that. The newly launched Korean title has banned over 1,000 accounts in its first week for taking advantage of the game.

IMC Games swung the mighty banhammer to smack down accounts that were botting, exploiting, or using illegal programs. This follows a somewhat rocky release in which players have expressed disappointment over the game’s cash shop practices and buggy state.

Of course, you wouldn’t get into trouble for doing these things, would you? Of course not, and because you’re a lovely human being, we’ve got a new Tree of Savior video by Steparu demonstrating some of the game’s animated emotes below.

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Crowfall testing resumes on January 6th

There’s a new video from the development team behind Crowfall taking a look at the game’s past year of development while thanking players who have been along for the ride. But when will you get to start playing the game again? On January 6th, as it happens, just over a week from today.

Currently, six overall tests are scheduled, three each on January 6th and 7th, with the tests starting on the EU servers, moving on to the North American servers, and finishing on the Singapore servers. While these are the first scheduled tests of the new year, they are by no means the only tests planned, so if the video below gets you hyped back up for the game you can take heart that there’s not long to go before you can play once again.

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ARK: Survival Evolved is doing even better on Xbox One than PC

It’s no secret that ARK: Survival Evolved is one of the most popular early access titles of 2015. What is somewhat surprising is that ever since coming out on Xbox One earlier this month the title has already outstripped its PC counterpart in popularity.

Xbox Wire reports that ARK had racked up over a million downloads in its first week (including both the free preview and paid versions). Even better, the game is thriving in an environment without direct competition: “As the only true large-scale multiplayer survival game available on console, perhaps it comes as no surprise that ARK’s daily Xbox One player count is already bigger than on PC.”

Right now ARK sees around 50,000 daily players on the PC, so the Xbox One is north of that figure.

Source: Xbox Wire via Inquisitr

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Albion Online extends beta test, nixes free-to-play for launch

Major changes are afoot at Albion Online — and some might not make fans of the cross-platform sandbox too happy.

Sandbox Interactive announced today that it will be extending the closed beta test at least through August 1st, 2016 and will not be pursuing a free-to-play business model for the launch version. “Making the game ready for a free-to-play model would take up significant development time which we would much rather use to make a better game,” the studio posted. “Free-to-play would also create a lot of risks for the game — spamming, botting, world too small, etc. — which we do not want to take if it can be avoided.”

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Pathfinder Online has a new investor interested in taking over the game

Acting CEO Lisa Stevens has good news for Pathfinder Online fans – the game may have found the investors it has been looking for. According to her most recent dispatch to the fans, the new company is still in negotiations, but if they are successful it would be investing more into the game than Goblinworks had been able to invest in the game over four years of development. Assuming everything goes well, the undisclosed company would take control of the game in March of 2016.

Regardless of the game’s financial future, the developers have continued to work on bugfixes and improvements to the game, such as adding in support for cloaks and backpacks for characters. The next patch to the game is expected for January of 2016 after the team gets back from New Year celebrations. Hopefully 2016 will be a more positive year for fans of the game, although nothing seems to be finalized just yet.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Tyburn, Rhet, Goldstariv, and TJ for the tips!

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The Repopulation rejects blame for Hero Engine’s financial struggles

The Repopulation’s struggles with the money-troubled Hero Engine service have led to game delays, server downtime, and suspended development, and the drama continues today.

Earlier this week, an Idea Fabrik Hero Engine rep seemingly defied confidentiality agreements by telling its community that its revenue problems are the result of a single client refusing to pay royalties for two months.

“Starting in September 2015, one of our clients has refused to pay our royalties amounting to 30% of their revenues. Idea Fabrik/IFS is a small company, and our funding relies on those royalties and our VC’s. After two months of not getting our royalties paid, we were faced with difficult decisions. And after additional two months without being able to find a solution, we had to shut down their live game servers. Please note that we still hope for a positive outcome for all the players and fans of the game – that’s why their development servers have always been and are still up and running, so they can continue to work on their game.”

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Life is Feudal implements weather patch, is ‘hard at work’ on MMORPG

Indie sandbox Life is Feudal has just pushed live a patch that will bring terrible weather and back-breaking snow-shoveling work to players of the game. You’re welcome.

Weather and seasons aren’t just for show in Life is Feudal: Your Own. While rainy days are great for tree growth, livestock prefer the warmth of sunshine, and the perfect mix of both weather conditions can double or even triple crop yields.

Who doesn’t love a good snowball fight? Of course, snow comes with a few complications of its own. If left to accumulate, snow will not only slow you down on roadways (removing the associated speed bonus), it can eventually smother your fields and destroy your crops.

BITBOX further says it is “hard at work” on the MMORPG version of Life is Feudal, which is planned to “allow 10,000+ players to physically shape a massive, persistent world.”

The weather video and a MMORPG-related infographic are below.

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Survarium patch 0.34 adds Christmas-themed raiding and improved netcode

The good news is that if you’re reading this today, you’ve managed to survive the holiday rush. The question, then, is whether or not you can survive Survarium‘s Christmas-themed events, which allow players to received festive toys and exchange them for new unique guns. You could probably shoehorn that in under the spirit of giving if you assume that firing a bullet at another player is like gifting that bullet.

Logging in will reward a player with a unique camo as well as a fire monkey decal, so even if you’re not so good at shooting others down, you’ll still get something. The patch that adds the holiday event also improves the game’s netcode to provide greater stability and smoother movement for all players. You can check out a video tour of the changes down below.

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Bless Online to deliver 2016 game plan in January

Korean website Inven reports today that Bless Online is due for an infodump early in the new year.

Neowiz Games will announce its MMORPG ‘Bless’ public service schedule. Neowiz Games is coming Held January 15, Samseong-dong, the “Bless the public service briefing’ at COEX, and will disclose to a variety of information, including the public service schedule.

Among the topics to be covered will be “core values and future business direction,” the plan for the first half of 2016, and game systems like RvR conflict, character customization, targeting systems, and the final testing period for classes and production mechanics.

Bless was indefinitely delayed in November of this year while Neowiz buffed the game, though focus testing has continued.

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