interview

Star Citizen shows off atmo moon landscapes, dishes on the studio’s dev process

In this week’s Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts have a stack of gorgeous environmental pan shots for your to feast your eyes on – that’s because the design team has been working hard on the atmospheric moons. The devs are also focused on scramble races, the UI, props, and a pair of ships.

Meanwhile, if you’re curious about the development process behind the game, check out a new piece from Wccftech; the site’s got an interview with CIG’s Eric Kieron Davis. It’s pretty granular, but the writer hits on a few topics of note to the watchers of the game. For example, at one point they talk about the “technical debt” of a project, the legacy code that can trip up a project, but Davis says Star Citizen’s isn’t really that bad. Davis also addresses employee churn, suggesting it doesn’t affect the studio as much now that it’s grown so much larger.

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The Daily Grind: Should being an MMO ‘whale’ absolve a player of toxicity or push him to the front of a queue?

Longtime MOP reader Agemyth recently brought to our attention a couple of bits of commentary that disturb at least my own fundamental sense of fairness. In one recent Waypoint piece, an ex-mod for a trading card MMO discusses how he witnessed staff allowing a toxic player to keep on being toxic because he was a whale, spending tons of money in-game. And in a Giant Bomb chat earlier this summer, a former MMO CS rep admitted to fast-tracking requests from big spenders. “When the email comes in, the first thing we see is how much money they’ve spent on the game,” he says. (Based on later comments from the same person referring to a $100 lockbox released in the middle of the Battlefront mess, the second company appears to be Trion. Incidentally, he also says the most money he ever saw stamped on someone’s account was $130,000. Let that sink in.)

Anyway. “It doesn’t surprise me that these practices exist, but actually hearing some details about it can still bring a grimace to my face,” Agemyth says. Mine too. Does this also gross you out? Should you be able to get away with being a toxic jerk as long as you keep the dollars flowing? Should how much you spend determine whether a company answers your help requests in a timely manner? If you look at it from the perspective of the company, does it change your answer?

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Rend’s Jeremy Wood on how Frostkeep borrows from Blizzard, Dark Age of Camelot, and PlanetSide

GameDaily has an interview with Rend’s Jeremy Wood this week that covers a bunch of meta topics of interest to MMO players and watchers of this oddball hybrid title. While Rend has no plans to suddenly become a battle royale title, Frostkeep is very much watching what the MMO subgenres and companies are up to in order to “fill the same psychological needs that are being filled by those games in [Rend].” Specifically, Wood says his team learned a lot from Blizzard and the MMO genre.

“Our biggest takeaway from our Blizzard experience is you can make a fantastically unique product without really inventing anything new,” Wood explained. “Blizzard got where they are by taking inspiration from all sorts of different great pieces of games in different genres.”

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World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth is live – are you prepared?

Just one hour to go before you too can play World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth! Just kidding, the only thing you’re going to be playing tonight is Queue Wars. And it’s almost here!

Blizzard’s posted a handy chart for the global simultaneous release so you don’t miss it. Although seasoned MMORPG veterans will probably be playing something else tonight and letting the rush subside, right? Nobody took off work this week believing play will happen, right? Right guys? Guys?

While you wait: VG247 has an interview today with Blizzard’s Gary Platner and Terran Gregory loaded with fun quotes. Here’s one that’s gripping and somehow chilling at the same time:

“Afrasiabi designed this expansion like it would be the last – don’t hold back, go for the mega, seize the day on design. Everyone on this team is absolutely committed to seeing that this thing is as powerful and relevant as long as we can. […] We’ll ride this thing until we’re old and grey – if time permits, of course.”

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Bethsoft: Dodgy reseller lawsuits, new media review policies, and Legends crossplay ultimata

Today in why we can’t have nice things, it appears that Bethsoft is using its legal weight to crack down on folks selling fully legitimate boxed copies of its games. Polygon’s report follows one gamer who was attempting to sell his unwanted boxed, sealed copy of The Evil Within 2 through Amazon, but was sent a threatening letter from Bethsoft’s legal team accusing him of not being an “authorized reseller.” Though he wasn’t breaking any laws or agreements, the company appears to be trying to scare games out of selling stuff they legally own by threatening them with lawsuits.

Bethsoft, for its part, told Polygon that the problem was the individual’s use of the word “new” on Amazon rather than “pre-owned,” even though the box was still sealed. “We do not allow non-authorized resellers to represent what they sell as ‘new’ because we can’t verify that the game hasn’t been opened and repackaged,” claims the company.

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The Daily Grind: Do you have an MMO backlog, and if so, what’s on it?

If you follow the mainstream gaming media meta at all, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of sites, spurred on by Polygon, have been mulling over the concept of the backlog – you know, that pile (or digital list) of games you bought and haven’t finished or even tried. Did we even have backlogs before online platforms like Steam? Because I don’t really remember having one back then – I just played what I had. But then again, I’m also primarily an MMORPG gamer. So I don’t fret tooooooo much about the non-MMOs I bought cheap for a rainy day. Occasionally I’ll blast through my non-MMO list and do a sort of 15-minute speed-dating game with some untrieds, but mostly, I’m content with just having some novelty waiting for me when I need it.

My MMO and online game backlog, though, eats at me. I bought Project Gorgon this summer, for example, and haven’t tried it. Staxel and No Man’s Sky too. These kinds of games have a time limit, and yet they require a certain presence of mind and concentration to dig into properly that I haven’t had this season.

Do you have an MMO backlog, and if so, what’s on it?

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Fallout 76 signs on Inon Zur for another musical tour of duty in the wasteland

It’s hard to imagine a Fallout game these days without the haunting and beautiful score of video game composer Inon Zur. Fortunately, players this fall won’t have to fret about Zur’s work being absent from the online Fallout 76.

“Thrilled to finally reveal that, yes, I am scoring Fallout 76!” Zur posted on Twitter. “It’s been an amazing journey collaborating with Bethesda Studios on the biggest Fallout game yet and I can’t wait to share the new music with you.”

Variety has an exclusive interview with the composer. Zur said that this will be one of his “most unique scores to date” that involves “sophisticated and emotional” tracks as players explore the post-apocalyptic landscape of West Virginia.

This will be Zur’s fifth soundtrack for the long-running franchise after Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Fallout 4.

Source: Variety

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World of Warcraft makes some big last-minute class adjustments before Battle for Azeroth

As the final few days count down before Battle for Azeroth drops, World of Warcraft’s developers are making some significant last-minute class adjustments to make sure that players will be in a good place at level 120.

This class change hotfix is mostly made up of buffs — mostly. Many builds, such as Frost Death Knights, Beast Master Hunters, Marksman Hunters, Holy Priests, Elemental Shamans, Feral Druids, and Demonology Warlocks are getting across-the-board increases to their damage output. There are a few nerfs as well, most notably to Assassination Rogues, but they are not nearly as extensive. Many PvP tweaks are being made as well.

And if you’re still hot and bothered over the recent storyline, you may want to listen to this recent interview with former Blizzard lead Chris Metzen, who discusses the negative reaction to the War of Thorns storyline and the harrassment of the writing staff.

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Hands-on with mobile Old School Runescape, plus a chat with the Jagex devs

I experienced a couple firsts recently that you may not have expected from me, and they can both be summed up in two words: Old School RuneScape mobile. Why so unexpected? Well for one, you might not have expected me to try OSRS (can I call it that?) because I started playing RuneScape only recently; I had no nostalgic draw to the game back in that iteration. Two, I am not a mobile player. I just don’t play any games on mobile, preferring my gaming time to be at my PC. But hey, doing the unexpected can be fun, and I am all for new experiences! This experience included sitting down with Jagex’s Senior Communications Manager Jon Wilcox and Product Manager John Colgrave, who shared info and answered questions as we worked our way through the tutorial together.

Now the question is, how was the experience? Would I continue to play on mobile even though the full cross-platform play allows me to move my game seamlessly back to the PC whenever I want? That’s what we are here to answer.

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Interviewing the Bless team on the Assassin, merges, PvP, and concurrency as the patch goes live today

Bless Online is rolling out a hefty content update today as promised, including the Siege of Castra PvP battleground, the faction-based open-world Capital War, and of course, the sneaky Assassin class. We had a chance to speak with Neowiz – specifically, Lead Game Designer Junyoung Hwang, Combat Designer Seongil Ma, and Chief Creative Officer Jangchoel Rhee – about both the update and ongoing concerns in the game. Read on!

Massively OP: First, regarding the Assassin: I’ve yet to see a rogue class in an MMO that wasn’t overpowered in some way in PvP, and that goes double for a class newly added to the game – studios just can’t seem to stop themselves from making the new toon a bit too appealing. How is Neowiz working to avoid all that, while still making the class something people want to roll up as a new toon?

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Niantic isn’t ready quite yet to talk about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Potterheads got all kinds of excited about last November’s announcement of a Pokemon Go-style ARG called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (heck, so did we!). But it’s been months now without any follow-up information on this game, and now it looks like it might be months more before we hear anything.

During a recent interview, developer Niantic confirmed that the ARG will be based on its platform and deal with the same database locations that both Ingress and Pokemon Go uses. The plan is still to release Harry Potter: Wizards Unite by the end of 2018, but that’s all the studio was willing to say on the game.

The studio shared how Pokemon Go’s massive success dwarfed anything Ingress did (with 800 million downloads vs. 20 million). An upgraded version of Ingress, called Ingress Prime, will come out later this year on a new platform and a “refreshed design.”

Source: Gram

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How Glitch’s creator kept pulling successes from his online game failures

NPR recently did an interview with Slack and Flickr creator Stewart Butterfield as part of its series on innovators and entrepreneurs. Butterfield’s drive to create forged a vision for a utopian “Burning Man” online game. He would try not once, but twice, to do this: First with Game Neverending in the early 2000s, and later on with the quirky sandbox MMORPG Glitch. But out of both of those failures, successful products came out of them, the first being Flickr and the second Slack.

“The interesting thing about Glitch was while it wasn’t successful as a business,” Butterfield said, “we were extraordinarily productive. And there was this system for internal communication that we had developed that — we didn’t think about as a thing. Like, it didn’t have a name. We never talked about it. It was just how we happened to communicate.”

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Albion Online’s shift away from mobile was a matter of market forces

If you remember a lot of the early marketing for Albion Online, it focused quite heavily on how the game was going to feature cross-platform play for PC and mobile devices. The game has launched at this point, but the mobile versions are still in testing. A recent interview with CTO David Salz reveals that it’s hardly something the developers forgot; it’s simply that when the game was first planned, it seemed that mobile was the wave of the future. As the game acquired fans, it became clear that PC was the preferred platform for most of the would-be players, which caused a shift in design to emphasize desktops over mobile devices.

Salz also talks about the shifts in business models and the technical hurdles involved in building the game from the ground up, starting with a prototype that was built to see if the game could even be made fun or if the project was doomed from the start. Check out the full interview for a peek at the industry history as well as the technical roadblocks that hit the game over time.

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