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See: Crowfall

Crowfall shows off the behind-the-scenes magic of the Clusterizer

As cool as it may sound, unless you’re actually working on developing Crowfall, the odds are you will never see the Clusterizer in action. You will only ever see what it’s done, and you won’t even know that it was the work of the Clusterizer. But what does the Clusterizer actually do? It helps link zones together, according to the latest article on the official site showing off the intentionally somewhat ugly interface and the mechanics behind this map-linking tool.

Yes, the Clusterizer is a way to put multiple zones into a coherent whole and keep track of each specially developed map, so players can explore, have multiple areas to visit, and avoid retreading the same ground. So it’s pretty technical, but it should be fascinating for anyone excited about seeing the technical side of making the game’s areas in a given campaign fit together. It’s also just fun to say. The Clusterizer.

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Crowfall’s latest community Q&A covers skinning coins and equipment mitigation

Why does skinning something in Crowfall currently result in getting coins? That makes absolutely no sense. Well, according to the latest Q&A video, the developers are well aware that it makes no sense. It’s not supposed to make sense; it’s supposed to be a stopgap at the moment to give you something for skinning while the infrastructure for doing so gets set up. Yes, in the final version of the game you’ll have to do more work to convert things into coins, but for now? Get that core gameplay loop in.

The video also discusses other issues in the game, like how all of the damage mitigation is on chestpieces and thus players are equipping plate chestpieces to reduce damage and leather everywhere else. The developers had originally played with penalties on some pieces, but the work is still being done to figure out just how to arrange bonuses on equipment to make sure that you don’t always want “plate chest and leather everything else.” A bug in armor disciplines is also making things a bit more difficult; check out the full video below for more on this and on other player questions.

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Crowfall explains its new capture system with outposts

As you roam through the world of Crowfall, there will be various points of interest. Sometimes they’ll be obvious resource nodes, yes, but sometimes they’ll be things like the new outposts available in the latest test patch. A new entry on the official site explains that these structures are another part of procedural generation, giving players something new to explore and fight over out in the open world.

Outposts are available in three sizes: war banners, single-tower, and double-tower. (The last variant isn’t present in the current patch, but should be arriving soon.) Standing in the designated circle at each spot allows you to capture the outpost, which allows even solo players to feel as if they’re providing a meaningful contribution to their factions. Check out the full article for a bit more detail on these helpful little nuggets of victory points.

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Crowfall demonstrates the glory of its seasons

It might not be a nice round number (or decimal point), but Crowfall’s Update 5.7 promises to be one of the most significant the game has fielded to date.

Much of the excitement for 5.7 comes from the PvP MMO’s very first procedurally generated world, which is named Aerynth. It’s in this setting that both the day/night cycle and seasonal progression will take place, affecting the landscape, bonuses, and debuffs. Oh, and the hunger system is live too, causing some testers to have rumbly tummies.

Since so much of this update centers around visuals, it’s great that ArtCraft has put together a patch overview video to show off what this world and its seasons look like. Check it out below!

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Crowfall reveals how its dynamically generated maps are made

Not all randomly generated virtual worlds are created alike and from the same set of rules. With plans for multiple campaign worlds blinking in and out of existence, Crowfall is putting a lot of thought into the design of its dynamically generated world system. It’s not going to be a mystery how this works, either, because the devs are here to tell you exactly how these worlds are being crafted through specialized tools and systems.

Crowfall’s campaign worlds are created with what the devs are calling a “bottom up” approach which starts with a random placement of resources and mobs and moves up to things like parcels, biome features, and area randomization.

“Previously, adventure zones had to be manually randomized,” the team said. “Now, [Update] 5.7 brings with it the ability to theme a group of parcels. We have different weights for sprinkling resources and NPC’s into parcels in theme groups […] In the future, we will be separating ‘adventure’ zones from ‘siege’ zones — primary activities will be more spread out: adventure zones will still have strongholds to fight over (but fewer of them) and siege zones will still have monsters to fight (but fewer of them).”

Source: Crowfall

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Crowfall hosts an hour-long art Q&A stream

When your game maintains an aggressive schedule of streaming, it can be a bit of a problem when your usual streaming host isn’t available one week. But Crowfall soldiered on with a new community Q&A; it’s just one with a different focus this month, as lead environmental artist Jon O’Neal took over hosting duty to show off and answer player questions about the art of the game. And considering you’re looking at said art all of the time, it makes a certain amount of sense.

The whole video can be watched in its archived form just below, so if you were ever curious about the process of grayboxing or moving from early concept sketches to finished art, you ought to give it a look. O’Neal also shows off elements like the aesthetics of the Stoneborn, so you can get a feeling for what the full game world will look like in action. Set aside a chunk of time and watch the whole thing below.

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Fortnite makes building more fun and drops cake and llamas for its birthday

Happy birthday, Fortnite! Yes, Fortnite launched a year ago, though back then of course it was focused on PvE – remember at E3 2017 when our demo prompted us to call it Crowfall for PvE fans? Good times. Since then, of course, it’s gone over to the battle royale side, gently tugging its PvE content along for the PvP ride as it becomes one of the biggest games in the entire world. So really, it worked out OK for Epic Games in the end.

To celebrate the day, Epic is dropping cake, bringing back Playground mode tomorrow, adding a new weapon, and rolling out a themed quest. Plus, llamas.

“Celebrate #Fortnite1st with cake, loot, and a special in-game questline. Complete the questline to unlock Birthday Brigade Ramirez. While you’re partying, find and eat birthday cakes to earn event tickets which can be spent on the limited time Birthday Llama.”

The non-birthday stuff in the patch is worth a look took; Epic has basically made building easier and damage to structures more potent, running is less annoying, the kart got a nerf, and the resurrected Playground mode has new options to “let you and your squad set up team battles for practice and training.”

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Crowfall improves performance by changing terrain

It’s far too early in Crowfall’s testing to worry about optimizing the game’s frame rate and overall performance, but there’s a difference between “optimizing” and “improving.” The latest change made to the game exists precisely in that space, as the game should now perform better just because the game’s terrain is now being rendered using custom-built meshes instead of built-in Unity meshes. That… had a pretty distinct improvement on the rendering and overall performance!

Why? Well, the game’s engine no longer has to convert from default options before rendering things, which cuts down on processing power and results in terrain that should look identical but just render more smoothly. There’s also a new way of handling the grass rendering that significantly cuts down on processing as each chunk of the landscape is rendered. All of which should result in an improvement you see in terms of frame rate, but the game itself shouldn’t look different… which is a performance upgrade for you, really.

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Crowfall’s latest patch notes from the future video reads off 5.7 notes

The latest edition of Crowfall’s regular Patch Notes from the Future is not looking very far into the future. It’s actually close to looking into the present because patch 5.7 is very close to deployment. And since there’s been some time with 5.7 in development, a lot of the patch notes had already been read off before the most recent show. But it is available in archive form (you can watch it just below) and it does contain new stuff because apparently patch 5.7 just keeps getting bigger.

For example, the crafting disciplines and associated stats are being rolled into the game with the patch. The systems to alter those stats are not being included, but the stats will be there as part of the game’s UI to explore. There are also elements like decay rate and mega deeds slipped into the workings of the patch, but why take our word for it? You can see the whole rundown in video format just below.

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The Daily Grind: What exactly defines an ‘indie’ MMORPG studio?

Earlier this week, I happened to see a mainstream website refer to ArtCraft as an indie studio, and it jolted me. ArtCraft, as anybody reading MOP knows, is working on Crowfall, which at least in my estimation is a high-quality, graphics-intensive MMORPG from hardcore MMORPG veterans who’ve been in the business as long as anyone alive. The game has raised at least $12M or maybe $15M, at least counting up what we know about.

When I think of indie studios, I think of the tiny outfits working on games like Project Gorgon, Ever, Jane, and Ascent the Space Game. But of course Crowfall is also an indie, right? It’s not running a $500M budget; it’s not ensconced under a cozy AAA publisher umbrella. It crowdfunds.

Then again, aside from the budget/wealth, its profile looks like a bit like Epic Games’ – it even has an engine to vend now. So is it really just about money? Is Star Citizen, with its multiple studios and AAA budget, an indie because of crowdfunding? Camelot Unchained studio CSE has multiple studios – does that factor in?

I’m curious what you folks think. What exactly defines an indie MMO studio? What characteristics must an indie studio have or not have?

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Crowfall explains its new Vivox chat integration

The chat system in Crowfall was developed in-house for chatting within the game, and it had only one problem insofar as it didn’t actually provide a solid framework for chatting. It worked well enough, but it had issues with custom channels, zoning, and so forth. So the latest development entry is all about the new Vivox-based system integrated into the game starting with patch 5.7, which provides players with far more robust options for managing channels, contacts, and all manner of discussion.

Players will be able to create new customized chat tabs, along with individual chat filtering and autofilling commands. The team is still working on making the new system as useful as possible, so it’s important to note that the current iteration is just the first and most basic option for chatting across zones and with your faction. Check out the full breakdown if you want to see more of the tools you’ll have at your disposal for conversation with the next patch.

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Crowfall talks about test patch 5.7 and the horrors of zoning

The latest community Q&A video from Crowfall is actually not that at all. It’s supposed to be that, of course, that’s what it claims to be on the tin (or in the video header), but the upcoming test patch 5.7 is the real topic of discussion for this video, and that has overtaken any actual list of questions. And with good cause; there are lots of little things in the patch that seem simple, like having multiple zones in the same world, which have actually been huge technical headaches that take a lot of development work to make functional.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your views), zoning isn’t the only challenging thing going on in the patch. After all, there are other mechanics like crafting changes, new monsters, and of course the infection by the Hunger. You can find out about it in the video just below; just don’t expect to get much in the way of questions answered. Shifting zones works, that’s reason enough to be happy, right?

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Interview: ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman on prepping Crowfall’s Artisan Engine for the broader industry

Yesterday, Crowfall studio ArtCraft announced it was spinning off a brand-new company dubbed ArtCraft Technologies that would basically turn Crowfall’s engine into a marketable product for other studios, “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games.” We had opportunity to chat with ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman about the move and what it means for the studio and genre. Read on!

Massively OP: So to start, we’re curious about the “why” behind the new studio. Is ArtCraft thinking of this venture as an extra revenue stream for the company? Or is it trying to encourage more MMORPGs – or maybe both?

J. Todd Coleman: This wasn’t originally part of our plan. In the last 12 months, we’ve had a few different studios contact us to see if we would consider licensing our technology. The more we looked into it, the more it made sense. The additional revenue stream is great, obviously, but that has to be balanced against the potential distraction. We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t see it as a great strategic move for the company, and a chance to leverage what we’ve built into something much bigger.

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