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?
Remember the old adage that less than 10% of a free-to-play playerbase pay for the other 90%? A poll conducted by LendEDU and Pollfish attempts to cast some shadow on that assumption. The groups say they surveyed 1000 hardcore Fortnite players and determined that almost 70% of them had spent money on the game – an average of $84 apiece for those who did, the majority of that on outfits and characters. More than a third of them had apparently never spent money on a game before.
However, it seems to have been a self-reported survey of highly invested people who identified Fortnite as their primary game, so it’s not really a fully random cross-section of all Fortnite players; one might assume that the type of people who consider themselves Fortnite fanatics and would answer a survey like this would be exactly the type to pay into the game and thereby skew the results.
When it comes to ranking friendly, warm, and welcoming MMO communities, Final Fantasy XIV is right up there near or at the top of the list. Yet that doesn’t mean it is free from some of the corrupt and evil influences of the world, as evidenced in a recent scandal that involves a fansite, blackmail, and sexual harassment.
The fansite in question is The Moogle Post, one of the largest FFXIV community sites on the internet and which was led by an editor-in-chief known as Oldbear Stormborn. Nine women — part of a group of 15 called “Anonymous Janes” — came forward to PC Gamer to accuse Oldbear of “blackmail, coercion, and extensive emotional manipulation” of those he grew attached to in game and through the site.
Some of these accusations include Oldbear’s alleged use of nude photos as leverage to blackmail the women. In all of the situations, his accusers say, he would form a bond with women and then attempt to manipulate them, make unwanted advances, and isolate them from others.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen continued inching its way toward alpha 3.2, as the latest build has hit the PTU for the early “Evocati” player testers. It’s got a few waves to go before it’s released to all backers, but that’s OK: People are leaking stuff all over Reddit anyway if you’re dying to be spoilered.
As for live Kickstarters, TemTem has nearly tripled its goal as I type this, reaching yet another stretch goal – mounts – with Nintendo Switch support on the horizon.
Meanwhile, Dual Universe dropped a new trailer ahead of E3, Ever, Jane updated with butlers, Camelot Unchained says its still just barely on track for beta next month, Project Gorgon whipped up a bugfix update, Wild Mage successfully completed its Kickstarter and promised multiplayer, Albion Online got a small patch to Lancelot, and Elite Dangerous fans are busy at this weekend’s Lavecon 2018. (Thanks, Colin!)
Finally, Ashes of Creation dropped this teaser in its last press release: “We’ve got some very exciting business developments in the works, and while it’s not yet 100% official, we can’t wait to share with you the news. Make of that what you will, but don’t worry – we promise it’s good news for our fans all over the globe.”
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
One of Ever, Jane’s biggest advantages is providing a social gameplay experience that is unlike what you’ve experienced in other MMOs. And while your fancy games may have striking graphics, action-packed combat, and expansive worlds, do they give you butlers? Because Ever, Jane just did that.
Personal butlers came with this week’s Open Beta 4 update to facilitate morning calls between players. Who wouldn’t love to drop in for a visit and gossip over tea? It’s how the Massively OP staff starts every day, to tell the truth, along with a spot of sabotage (which has also come back with this patch).
The patch also added some new NPC AI, as well as fixes to “misbehaving” furniture and roaming bands of horses. The team notes that this build will see a slight frame rate decrease and still hasn’t reactivated the Mac version, which remains broken.
The veil of secrecy has been lifted from Worlds Adrift, and now every Tom, Dick, and Jane will be able to know what the team is working on, thanks to the new public roadmap posted on the website.
Soon-to-be-released projects include male haircuts, beards, an updated hotbar, beginner assistance, the Kioki region, alliances, and a public test server for all founders.
Another bit of good news is that an improved version of climbing is now in the game. So how is this new version of climbing better than the old one? “It doesn’t kill you,” said the devs. “We had to make people feel confident that they weren’t going to die.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, French website AFJV reported that Dual Universe studio Novaquark has snapped up one of the original EVE Online designers: Hrafnkell Oskarsson. The crowfunded sci-fi MMORPG recently opened up its own custom crowdfunding portal to continue development, which is currently still in pre-alpha. “Together, Novaquark and Oskarsson will be working on Dual Universe, the giant multi-planetary sandbox universe where potentially millions of people will be able to invent new stories for themselves, create new political systems, economies, cities, and empires,” says the company in its PR.
It was a big week for the larger Kickstarted MMORPGs: As promised, beloved crowdfunded indie Project Gorgon hit early access this week to cheering crowds on Steam in spite of its relatively high price, and Shroud of the Avatar pushed out new videos ahead of its formal launch this week.
Meanwhile, Pantropy canceled its Kickstarter and is planning a second go, ROKH got a substantial update and a promise that it’s not being abandoned, Crowfall obsessed over death, Ascent The Space Game readied an engine switchover, and Albion Online rolled out its Lancelot update.
We haven’t checked in with pre-eminent roleplaying MMORPG Ever, Jane in a long time – since last summer, in fact – but the game, as it turns out, has been humming right along in in beta.
You’ll recall that in autumn of 2016, the Jane Austen-themed social MMO had launched into open beta with loads of quest and lag bugs repaired, special events in October, proximity chat, login stability, and new content. In December of that year, studio 3 Turn Productions rolled out the 3.1 update with the home ownership system. A year ago, update 4 hit the server with even more housing as well as horseback riding and carriages. And then… well, that’s the last newsletter on the official site, though we covered the card-playing update this past summer.
Here is a question for you to ponder: Do MMOs make you feel more productive than your main job or school? If so, it might not be an accident.
In an essay over at the Talk Amongst Yourselves Kinja, author @CleonWrites notes how video games have started to fill people’s needs for productivity and world fulfillment when they can’t get it in the real world. And you might be getting a hit of this emotional high when you jump into your favorite MMO.
“Using MMORPG’s as an example, [game designer Jane] McGonigal notes that games can offer a certain satisfaction in doing work,” the essay says. “‘Work’ in games commonly take the form of quests, or objectives, which the player is asked to complete. On completion of these tasks, players can be rewarded through experience points, better armour, and in particular, more quests. This constant repetition of easily completable tasks, and increasingly common rewards, drives home a feeling of productivity in the player.”
The team behind Star Citizen is on the floor at Gamescom talking about 3.0, which would be pretty awkward if that update wasn’t already playable. (In other words, yes, super awkward.) The good news is that they can explain, apparently. At least the team brought part of the patch with them? And they’re confirming survival mechanics? And you can catch up on their live presentation?
Aw, heck, let’s just move on to other beta news, all right? Yes.
- The recap for the first OrbusVR beta is now available, delayed slightly by massive flooding issues. In the real world, just to be clear. The next test is planned for September 15th, so get your headset ready if you have one. (If not, well… as you were.)
- Bad news for The Repopulation fans; after everything the game has been through, the new developers are struggling to get the game’s next content patch together. This story needs a happier present, much less a happy ending.
- Eugh, let’s get some good news. How about Dual Universe kicking off pre-alpha on September 30th? Yes, “pre-alpha” is kind of ridiculous, but it’s something.
- All right, that’s not washing the taste out of your mouth? How about Moonlight Blade hitting its final closed beta test? That’s not actually a release date or anything for a localized version, but it’s closer, right?
- This just isn’t being optimistic. Let’s all sit down in Ever, Jane and enjoy a relaxing game of cards instead. Yes, cards. That’ll fix everything.
Perhaps we’ll all have better fortune down in the list. You remember the list, don’t you? It’s a list of games in testing, but there’s always the chance that something has jumped phases without us noticing, so we encourage you to let us know in the comments. Seriously, we appreciate it.
When you are a part of high society, it comes with certain expectations and customs. Entertainment is not found in slaughtering goblins, but in sitting around a table, sipping tea, and playing a friendly game or two of cards.
The refined and plucky Ever, Jane added a new card table with this week’s open beta update. And it’s not just decorative, either: “Strategy games can help build a strong mind and as such Mrs. Hatch has placed a new gaming table in her entry room. Four players may play together free-form card games, such as Whist.”
Next week Joe and Jane Gamer can secure their own ticket to the moon itself — granted that they are playing Overwatch. Blizzard is opening the airlock to its Horizon Lunar Colony on June 20th, and the team couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s the first map that the studio has built for the game that is 90% indoors.
Citing both a strong character hook and story hook, the devs said that the lunar colony was at the top of their most-desired locations list. The map allows players to visit the origin of Winston, the super-intelligent gorilla, and get some insight into what went on at this remote science facility. Of course, how much lore you’re going to soak up while bunny-hopping your way at lightning speeds down corridors is debatable.
“We were always inspired by the fact that Overwatch was a universe future enough and expanded enough that there could be a colony on the moon,” said Game Director Jeff Kaplan. Get a full map preview after the jump!
First there was EverQuest. Then there was Ever, Jane. Now there’s EverClicker. This sort of trend could go on (wait for it) forever.
KingsIsle, the studio behind both Wizard101 and Pirate101, is branching out into the mobile space and is looking for fan support to propel its newest title onto Steam. On the Wizard101 forums, the team asks the community to head over to Steam Greenlight to vote for EverClicker in the hopes of seeing it hit the big time.
Oddly enough, both 101 games have yet to debut on Steam themselves, but KingsIsle said that EverClicker could pave the way for that. “It’s easier to start our journey onto Steam with a game that isn’t hugely complicated with a lot of moving parts,” the studio said. “Starting with EverClicker on Steam allows us to learn the process. If successful, we hope to be able to offer more of our games on Steam and other distribution outlets in the future, which could include games such as Wizard101 and Pirate101.”