above and beyond

See: The Repopulation

Global Chat: Everybody’s burning up about that Sylvanas thing

Yes, just about every MMO blogger was sharing heated opinions about last week’s World of WarCraft WarCrime. “It’s such a sad event and I’m particularly mad at Blizzard at the way they chose to write this,” wrote Aeternus.

Moonshine Manor was equally appalled, saying that she was “not sad at the story, but at having to mourn my fandom.”

“The storyline strips players of agency, it’s not a good feeling,” wrote Mmosey.

And Leo’s Life couldn’t make sense of it: “The lore nut in me sees no logic in this.”

In An Age sympathized with the outrage but noted, “This cinematic short is amazing in isolation.” And Atheren doesn’t want this to be the beginning of the end of Sylvanas: “I hope she gets a redemption arc.”

And Wolfy felt that the community reaction was too much for an outsider: “The level of the freak-out was above and beyond what I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing as someone barely remotely associated with the WoW playerbase.”

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The Repopulation explains how server wipes will be handled moving forward

Here’s a shocking revelation: MMO players do not actually like having all progress reset in the blink of an eye. So you can understand why the latest post about server wipes for The Repopulation treats the topic gently, since there’s no quicker way to anger players than by telling them that everything they’ve worked toward is now gone. Not that it matters too much, as pretty much everything will be reset with the game’s full launch, simply due to the server structure.

As the official post explains, the game may do system-specific wipes, such as resetting all crafting progress, separate from game-wide wipes. Only one such wipe is planned as the game moves closer to launch, but the actual launch server will be separate from the game’s test server (the currently running server), so any progress would be starting fresh regardless. It’s also worth noting that things like backer perks are meant to be tied to accounts rather than characters, so a wipe shouldn’t affect those benefits. Get the full explanation on the official site.

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The Daily Grind: What are your ‘must have’ features for an MMO space sim?

With Star Citizen on the way (eventually) and smaller efforts like Prosperous Universe, Starfighter Inc, and Dual Universe in the works and titles like Elite: Dangerous already here, the space sim looks to be on the rise in the massively multiplayer space. That’s great news for players who want to leave the fantasy realm and reach for the stars.

Of course, not everyone has the same vision for what they would like to see in a space sim. Me? I don’t want a cold and sterile space environment; I really crave colorful environments and races that are chock-full of personality.

Assuming that you’re interested in playing an online space sim at some point, what are your must-have features that you wouldn’t consider playing without? What features would take it above and beyond mediocrity to make it something special?

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The Repopulation details the changes for art assets and how they help players

The odds are high that when you walk through an MMO’s landscape, you are not thinking about art assets beyond “this looks pretty” or “this looks awful.” But the latest information from The Repopulation team covers why you should care a little bit more about art assets for forests and how they’re set up. After all, the way the game is currently set up, every tree is a different asset, but upgraded systems will make the calls for forests as a single group… thus reducing load times and improving performance as the game draws a single asset instead of many.

The developers are also improving and rescaling existing models (resulting in better collision detection and reduced loading times) and categorizing items more efficiently in the game’s databases. In short, the result should be a title that plays better while looking better at the same time. Check out the full rundown for an idea about how all of this will come together.

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The Repopulation shows off the improvements coming to its UI

There are a lot of things that the new owners of The Repopulation want to change about the game, and some of those are both visible to players and under the hood at the same time. Case in point, the UI. According to the latest update from the development team, the current UI relies on outside components for much of its functionality, which is somewhat incompatible of the development vision to keep things within the Hero Engine… especially when those outside components result in some system lag, to boot.

Of course, the changes aren’t solely about removing outside files. The rework is also meant to improve functionality and clean up the interface, fix longstanding issues like bugs when scrolling lists, and ensure that every part of the UI can be moved and resized instead of allowing some parts and not allowing others. There are also plans to allow for UI customizations to be saved by character or account as players prefer. Check out the full update to see if these are changes you’re excited over.

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The Repopulation is still plugging away at bug-fixing and the new starter island

The current owners of The Repopulation have a brand-new dev update, but maybe don’t expect it to move mountains, literally or figuratively. Idea Fabrik spends most of its words explaining why there’s no patch: essentially, that there are just too many problems in the code that need to be fixed first. The team does note it’s been working on the new starter island and repurposing the original tutorial NPCs, dialogue, and missions, as well as revamping the inventory system.

“Despite the difficulties we face as developers and as players, development is still continuing,” the studio concludes. “So this means that once we do have the patches coming out, we will have a large amount of changes coming your way over the course of a few updates. We decided it was only fair to give you additional information of what we are doing and working on since it was taking so long to get this update out. We are going to give you a snapshot of some of what is going on behind the scenes and what you can expect to see coming your way. Please do note that there might be changes, additions or removal of some of this information based on the feedback from both the testers and players. […] Our primary work has been focused on a) optimizing (art, terrain, world, environments and the time of day), b) review of all dialogue and missions and c) designing the new systems.”

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The Survivalist: Seven survival games I want to love, but can’t… yet

Well that didn’t take long! There are a plethora of survival sandboxes out there for fans to play (as you can see from our multiple guides!), enough that there might be some worry that the market for this genre is getting pretty saturated. Perhaps there is room still, but anyone entering that crowded market needs to have a good hook and be able to deliver a worthwhile experience in order to attract and keep players. Sadly, this isn’t always (often?) the case. Even when you want games to not just survive but thrive, there are a host of factors that work against that.

I have found that I enjoy the survival sandbox genre, and I play a number of the games. A couple get the lion’s share of my attention and game time while others are visited occasionally. Some of these titles have a chance to move into a favored position in my heart and my gaming line up. Others, however, have lost their chance completely. Here are seven survival sandboxes that I want to love, but don’t — at least not yet.

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The Repopulation previews more of its delayed patch

The next big update for The Repopulation has not arrived just yet. It’s the same reason as before; Idea Fabrik wants to use the HeroEngine Live Push system, the game as it’s built right now causes errors with that, and so the team is hard at work hammering at the game until it will work with that system. Lest you say “just don’t use that system,” the developers also reassure fans that the work being done now would have had to be done sooner or later regardless:

Though we have another option to do a full push, this would not help us nor you in the long run. At some point we have to do this clean up so we can begin using the HE Push system as is done for other games.

On the bright side, the latest development update contains a peek at the new art coming with the new tutorial island (which will have no new content, just new art) and improvements to the game’s combat system such as fixing persistent line-of-sight issues and not swapping your target mid-combat. More of the team is apparently working on future content as well, so once the wait for this patch is over, you can hopefully expect more frequent updates. The team is also looking for feedback on the hardware owned by players for future development.

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The Repopulation delays its next update due to backend issues

Almost every player of The Repopulation is eager to test the game’s A.00.00.00 update, but it’s going to take a little longer to arrive on the test servers. In essence, there are some issues with getting the test update uploaded and implemented, and thus the team behind the game is working on cleaning things up, including deleting a huge number of unused or temporary areas from the game’s areas. Ultimately, the goal is to change the whole push system for updates, but that change is being made in stages.

The team is also working on further updates for the next patch, starting with a cleaner version of character selection and creation. It’ll be a while before that’s ready for testing, but progress is being made. Players are also thanked for all of the work they’ve done in testing and offering feedback about the game in its current state, especially the tutorials and guidance when starting the game. Said testers will have to wait a little longer to test more, just the same.

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The Repopulation is working on a new starter island and combat targeting

Let’s get caught up on The Repopulation, shall we? Last week, Idea Fabrik recapped what it’s been working on in the beleaguered sci-fi sandbox, including data replication issues, desyncing bugs, the hints and tips system, UI cleanup, inventory design, improved combat targeting, and the new starter island. That new starter island in particular as well as the new targeting system for combat should land in an upcoming update.

“The new Starter Island design has been finalized and we will begin building the new terrain for this directly after this first Condorslug update is out,” says the studio. “This represents the first phase of the overall world revamp. We are expecting this to take about 8 weeks, as there are several changes to how ABT set up areas and terrain as opposed to the workflow and setup we have in place. Once this is done and we have good feedback, we will begin the rest of the world.”

Meanwhile, the studio is surveying players on a number of features, the most recent of which is a query on inventory systems.

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Mac

In 2003, Sony Online Entertainment tried an experiment to reach out to the (then) small-but-growing community of Mac users. The company released EverQuest Macintosh Edition — quickly abbreviated to EQMac — which incorporated the core game and the first four expansions of EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark, The Scars of Velious, The Shadows of Luclin, and The Planes of Power. Because EQMac was a separate version of the game, SOE segregated Apple players on their own server called Al’Kabor and then, for all intents and purposes, left them alone while the “real” EverQuest continued to expand and advance.

While the population didn’t exactly explode as the progression of time rendered EQMac stuck in a type of video game amber, a singular community of dedicated, helpful players formed. This community soon became proud of their hardcore home. According to many of them, EQMac was the way EverQuest was always meant to be played, frozen in time at the release of one of the game’s best expansions. It was a mark of pride to say that you played on Al’Kabor.

For over 10 years, EQMac quietly and doggedly continued, thanks to this small group of loyal players, SOE President John Smedley’s affection for the title, and one or two devoted devs who helped to maintain the MMO. This is the story of a spin-off game that became a living time capsule.

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Overwatch sets off fireworks and fun for the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year kicked off in Overwatch yesterday, ringing in the game’s Year of the Dog. Above and beyond the celebratory atmosphere, Blizzard has plenty of activities for players to enjoy and loot to gain.

The event, which runs through March 5th, includes the Thai-themed Ayutthaya map, a new competitive mode, and a patch with plenty of gameplay improvements. But you’re probably most interested in the skins: There are also 50 new seasonal items, including 19 limited-time skins. The studio is also making last year’s event items available in this year’s loot boxes. Check everything out down below!

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The Repopulation has big plans for housing, combat, trade, and astronomy in 2018

So here we are in January, one whole year after Idea Fabrik bought The Repopulation from a beleaguered Above & Beyond. The new company got it back online last year, and how could it not, since it owns the engine, right? Today, IF’s published an annual update and roadmap to spell out just what’s coming to the sandbox in 2018.

The company says January has been focused on caching and performance, plus the new targeting system and newbie tutorial. As for the rest of the year, the team is working with an 8- to 10-week update schedule and a new patch numbering system to build out inventory fixes, a consolidated astronomy system, better harvesting and surveying, the farming and horticulture system, a unified race spec system, unified factions, updated guilds, crafting tweaks, new NPCs, a new dynamic mission system, camp spawners, the combat progression overhaul, player merchants, the auction house, the UI, and the housing revamp. It’s, well, everything.

And don’t forget the world revamp. “We want to give the players a full map instead of a partial world,” IF says, “so this will take the longest time development-wise and as a result will have a longer wait time.”

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