Last week, a developer from Parisian developer Dreamz Studio posted about how early access was the best thing that happened to his game, specifically because the early access playerbase acted a sort of extra pair of hands for developing the game.
“I believe that there’s no need to be a former Chef to make innovating pretty little tasty meals,” he writes. “Indeed, you just have to know the basics and then let you guide by the taste of your customers, right?” The studio basically retooled everything from the main character and the world to visuals and level customization based on eight months of feedback, even adding multiplayer because people begged for it.
This is basically how early access is supposed to work, right? This was the whole point of letting people buy their way in early, either with early access or Kickstarter or preorder packages, and then help test and guide the game as superfans. We’ve just seen it go wrong over and over, either because studios abuse the early access tag to make easy money and then abandon the title and the loyal players, or because early testers abuse their input to guide the game into becoming something nobody but them wants to play and causing it to flop hard. I bet you can name games for each group.
How much input do you, as someone who buys in during a game’s development, expect to have in the game’s ongoing design? To the pollmobile!
The super pretty survivalbox Outpost Zero has planted roots in Steam’s early access program. It’s currently $15.99; tinyBuild and Symmetric Games say it’s a fully featured version of the game, though the devs are still working on more mechanics and balancing, particularly in regard to PvP and base raiding. The full launch is expected early next year.
“This Early Access version is a fully featured version of the game. Animals, Pirate Raids, PvP combat, Base Building, Corporations, and Bot AI are all implemented to create a full cohesive survival experience. We will continue to polish and improve these systems over the course of Early Access release. […] In the final version of the game we will be introducing many more powerful and fun Bot AI classes to craft, many additional Pirate Raid mechanics, Flying Vehicles, Massive Battle Mechs, several additional game modes (like horde mode and team vs team base defense), and of course a ton more content, from Equipment and Weapons, Structure types, Animal classes, and more.”
Massively OP’s MJ has been touring the game this summer as part of her deep-dive into multiple survival games for her ongoing column; you can check those streams out below, along with the official quickstart tutorial and trailer.
Arrrr! If Sea of Thieves isn’t doing it for you, maybe you should board a more classic ship, like Puzzle Pirates – specifically, Puzzle Pirates Dark Seas. Puzzle Pirates, of course, has been around for 15 years as an adorable puzzle-oriented MMORPG. Developer Grey Havens has been hard at work on a more PvP-centered version of the game with a new ocean map and a clean economy, and that version, dubbed Dark Seas, has just formally launched on Steam after a stint in early access. Notably, this version is Steam only, whereas the “classic” game also works in-browser; the devs have plenty of fun lined up to get the game’s initial economy rolling.
“In celebration of our Full Release Launch we’re going to have a series of blue grey tournaments and competitions. These festivities will culminate in the opening of the first large island, Melanaster, for blockade on July 14th. We suggest you start recruiting mates and making plans in Parley.”
Did we mention it’s free-to-play? You can dive in right now!
It’s a big day for indie MMORPG Legends of Aria, as its second closed beta official kicks off with a server wipe and a juicy patch. CB2, as we’ve previously covered, revamps the game’s art, adds detail to the cities, adds a diurnal cycle, backer rewards, new encounters, better shops, a more realistic map, new tameables, saddle storage, new music, secure house trading, crafting orders, the dungeon revamp, and better fast travel.
“It feels like a different game, and we need to gather as much feedback as we can to get things just right for Open Beta and the Early Access launch,” Citadel Studios’ Derek Brinkmann opines in his letter to testers today, and that is where you come in: The Aria team wants you to test and has ponied up a bundle of trial keys to get the MOP readers in and playing. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!
Are you looking for a new way to survive? It’s coming. We’ve watched as Rend wandered down its closed alpha path since May, but now the unique survival game is inviting everyone to join in the journey as it makes the turn to beta. Starting on July 31st, Rend launches on Steam early access. Those who want to try the three-faction, pet-taming, base-building, win condition experience can grab the buy-to-play title for $29.99 and dive right in.
What will that one-time purchase get you? I sat down with Frostkeep Studios CEO and co-founder Jeremy Wood to talk a bit about the experience players will have jumping into early access.
New Dawn – not to be confused with Darkfall New Dawn or Osiris New Dawn or Star Trek Online’s New Dawn – is hitting Steam’s early access this week after a lengthy period in closed alpha.
We began watching the game two years ago, when we described it as a “survival sandbox that puts players in the role of South American natives in the 1800s who must fend off pirates while living off the land,” complete with “interesting mechanics, such as taming horses, being killed in your sleep while you’re offline, and a slavery system with the NPCs.” It ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2017, which raised only 4.4% of its $82K goal before it was canceled by Italian developer e-visualsoft.
“At the moment, New Dawn is in Pre-Beta stage, many game mechanics are complete and we have a solid base in programming, which allows us to add new content quickly,” the devs told followers this weekend.
According to Friday’s Daily Grind on hype cycles, a lot of folks think they begin way too early for most games. But what about games with the opposite problem – hype that just isn’t loud enough?
I’m thinking of games like Project Gorgon here. It saw a flurry of activity when it crowdfunded, and again when it went into early access on Steam, but because it’s such a small studio, it doesn’t really generate much hype on its own, being reliant on word of mouth. It’s a wondrous little game with really unusual and unique ideas, but it mostly flies under the radar.
Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?
The saga of Bless Online’s turbulent Western release (which we dove into last week) continues with a new producer’s letter posted today, this time addressing two topics that have been the target of much discussion (and criticism) among players: optimization and hacking. The letter recognizes that optimization is “a big question on the community’s collective mind” and states that the team is “currently in the process” of reworking the in-game options menu to allow players more control over their settings without resorting to altering the .ini file. Moreover, the devs have “identified specific function problems” in the game client and are working to remedy these issues in addition to network-related problems. Neowiz plans to hold stress tests for these fixes “sometime in July.”
The letter also acknowledges that the devs have received numerous reports of players using hacks and states in no uncertain terms that it is “absolutely against [the game’s] terms of service.” In response, the devs “have already been taking immediate action” against these players and are “issuing permanent bans” to the guilty. The team also encourages players to continue reporting players suspected of hacking, particularly by providing video evidence containing character names and server information. You can read the whole producer’s letter over on the game’s Steam page. For more first-hand information on the future of Bless, be sure to check out our interview with the devs.
Survival — or more? You might be surprised. When I first started playing ARK: Survival Evolved at the launch of its early access, it was an all-out dinoriffic survival game. And those of us who played in the beginning knew it just as that. As development moved on, more futuristic additions joined the primitive survival aspects. Some folks rebelled against this, balking at the inclusion of Tek. (Hey, some didn’t even want electricity and stayed playing on Primitive+ servers.) But the point of it all was not to rain on people’s dino survival parade, but because ARK has an actual story to discover. Yes, there is an ARK story. And after experiencing the conclusion of the first act this past weekend, I am way more stoked about it! Warning, there are some spoilers in pictures, so ogle them at your own risk!
Funcom’s fortunes continue to rise thanks to Conan Exiles: The company announced today that it’s “both the best-selling and fastest-selling game” in its history, passing up 2008’s Age of Conan, which sold 1.4 million units in its first three years. Conan Exiles has busted past that record in under half that time since launching early access in 2017.
There’s good news to look forward to, too, as the devs are working on a freebie patch, and the game is picking up new DLC called Jewel of the West in “early August,” which you’ll note isn’t all that far away.
“The downloadable content introduces new Aquilonia-themed building pieces, weapons, armor, furniture, and more. In Conan lore, Aquilonia is the center of the civilized world and its clothing and architecture is inspired by that of the real-world Romans.”
The free content will include pets and taming, “allowing players to find and tame anything from camels to panthers and even spiders and then use them to guard their base, carry resources, and more.”
Enjoy the new trailer along with the satisfaction of knowing Conan is doing great!
Do you have Will to Live Online? Massively OP’s MJ does! And she’s willing to see how long her will actually keeps her alive in this new MMORPG-shooter set in an apocalyptic world. Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a first look at…
What: Will to Live Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 2nd, 2018
It’s been a while since we last caught up with Boundless, that quirky voxel sandbox that might be better known by its former title, Oort Online. It’s now up to Patch 192 in early access, having added features such as an assistance scanner, bombs, brews, portals, meteorites, combat, and so much more over the past six months.
Now the MMO is getting a helpful boost thanks to Square Enix, which has acquired it as part of its indie Collective project and will be the game’s publisher. Boundless is aiming for a release later this year on both PC and PlayStation 4. It will feature crossplay between both platforms.
The publisher introduced the game to its fans: “So what do you do in Boundless? Well, that is very much up to you, since it’s definitely on the sandbox end of MMO games. Unlike many other MMOs, there aren’t any NPCs to give you quests, or buy your unwanted loot. In fact, everything in the game (other than the worlds themselves) is entirely built, crafted, hunted, mined, gathered, or traded by players. And we think *that* is supremely cool.”
Here’s a new one for us: Will to Live Online hit Steam early access back in April. Developer AlphaSoft calls it an “MMORPG-shooter whose action takes place in a severe post-apocalyptic world” – a survival game, in other words. “Explore the world, engage in fights with mutants and other survivors, join the clans in the struggle for existence and prove your right to Live.” It includes basic crafting, quests, survival mechanics like hunting, character development, dungeons, raids, and yes, player-to-player trade. It’s expected to launch next year, but in the meantime, it’s on Steam.
Want to give it a go right now? AlphaSoft has issued Massively OP a bundle of keys for the B2P game, normally worth $14.99 apiece on Steam, to distribute to our readers. There are no regional restrictions, other than the caveat that the game must be available to you on Steam for you to use the key. Read on to enter to win!