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Fractured pivots from global to regional servers as it pushes toward its Kickstarter goal

Quite often, you hear MMO gamers lament that their communities are artificially separated into different servers, with all of the problems that that entails. A single-shard server seems to be the ideal experience, and one that the upcoming Fractured was aiming to attain… until recently.

The developers posted an article this week explaining that while the original plan was to deploy Fractured on a single server, they received significant pushback from the community on this due to latency and regionalization issues. Looking at the world’s geography and ping speeds, the team has decided that it will eventually roll out Fractured on seven servers that will cover the globe. Additionally, Fractured will be released in Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and English.

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Fractured is hosting a livestream on crafting and building today

Want to know more about crafting and building in Fractured as the game has passed its 75% funding mark? Good news, you’ll have a chance to find out more about it live today as part of the game’s newest livestream. The stream starts at 4:00 p.m. EDT on the game’s streaming channel, so you can check it out, ask questions live, and do all of the things you normally enjoy doing through livestreams.

Assuming that what you normally enjoy doing isn’t disgusting. Please don’t be gross in stream chat.

There’s no scheduled run time, but you can imagine it’ll probably be about an hour of answering questions and leading into details about player-run towns. If that’s not what you care about, this likely won’t have a lot of interest for you… but for everyone else it should be plenty of fun information about making things.

Source: Official Site, press release. Cheers, Luvly.

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German courts rule against companies using ‘coming soon’ marketing for preorders

Making its way through the German court system right now is a case that could be of considerable importance to consumer protections, and not just in Germany.

As German website Computer Base reports (via TechPowerUp and some Google translate because my German has gotten too rusty), a Munich Regional High Court ruling in a consumer lawsuit against MediaMarkt effectively argues that vague promises like “coming soon” are off-limits for dealers of preorder items. In October, the judges ruled in favor of the consumer in a case over a Samsung Galaxy preorder; this past May, the higher regional court upheld that judgment, and an appeal to the top court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) was rebuffed.

“In the view of the judges, this information was too vague to comply with the statutory information obligation of the providers. According to this, potential customers should know before the end of the ordering process how long the delivery time will be at the maximum.”

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Make My MMO: Aria’s second closed beta, Star Citizen’s protest, and Crowfall’s engine on the market (July 15, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, we got our first hints of “emergent gameplay” in Star Citizen as a group of players took over a refueling hub and began blasting everyone who came near it out of the sky. Why? Oh, they’re not just griefers; they’re specifically protesting CIG’s backburnering of the Arena Commander mechanics. I suppose it got them some attention, but also now all the people whose alpha ships they blew up hate them rather than CIG.

Meanwhile, Legends of Aria launched its second closed beta, Pantheon unveiled its character creation system, Saga of Lucimia riled everybody up over its grouping stance, City of Titans posted an epic teaser, Shroud of the Avatar opened a new cash shop to fund the next season and began optional subs, and Fractured’s Kickstarter has leaped up to $88K of its $116K goal with 10 days to go.

Finally, Crowfall had a big week, as its studio, ArtCraft, announced a second studio to license Crowfall’s engine to other companies building MMOs; we chatted with the company’s J. Todd Coleman about it too. There’s a huge chunk of new guide videos out on the game now too.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Leaderboard: How much input do you expect to have into a developing game you’ve paid for?

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!

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Fractured releases development roadmap as Kickstarter campaign enters final weeks

Dynamight Studios has released a development roadmap for its would-be crowdfunded MMO Fractured, which is currently sitting at $66,907 US of its goal of $116,762 with 12 days to go on its Kickstarter campaign. The roadmap lays out the studio’s plans for the game’s development and testing phases, which have been split into four parts: alpha 1, alpha 2, beta 1, and beta 2. Fans will also be excited to know that the first test for the current development phase (alpha 1, of course) will be coming in December of this year. The full roadmap spans from this year into the farflung future of 2021, when the game is slated for release in the third quarter of the year.

Most of the focus, however, is on the game’s current development phase and what players can expect when the first round of testing rolls around in December. At first, the only playable area will be the planet of Syndesia, and players will likely be limited to playing as Human characters, though the post notes that over the course of the alpha 1 development phase (which is planned to conclude around Q3 of next year), the devs plan to give life to all three of the game’s planets and races. In addition, the official post highlights some details of the game’s crafting system, player-run towns, and the unique knowledge system. You can see the full roadmap and get all the details on the aforementioned features over at the game’s official site.

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City of Titans offers up a Fourth of July teaser

“Heroes may fall. Heroism never dies.”

With a not-so-covert nod to the late City of Heroes, City of Titans’ latest 4th of July video attempts to bridge a connection between the fall of one superhero MMO and the coming of another.

The short video shows a statue (which some have called a Statesman homage) on Lockharde Island with the inspirational words listed above. A new shield-bearing hero stands vigilant as the fireworks go off behind him. What’s really notable about this clip is that the studio claims that all assets in it were filmed in the game world, so if that’s the case, then City of Titans is looking pretty darn good from what little we’ve seen of it.

Check it out below!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 177: ArenaNet A-bomb

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!

Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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IGDA calls for transparent guidelines on game studio social media and harassment following Guild Wars 2 dust-up

Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”

“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”

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New Dawn, a survival sandbox set in the 1800s, has launched into Steam 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.

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained’s crash rate is coming down (July 7, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, the Kickstarter MMO crowd held its breath to find out whether or not Camelot Unchained would indeed make its July 4th beta test date as planned. Thanks to an annoying crash bug, it didn’t, but the studio is crunching to sort it out and isn’t anticipating more than a few weeks of delay, which isn’t going to seem like much to people who have already been waiting years.

“Still going through the logs. We’ve eliminated a lot of the crashes. Andrew’s working on another fix that should help things as well,” CSE’s Mark Jacobs told backers last night. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk about [the date] on Monday. […] Still no long-term change, no short-term change, no change whatsoever in what our original estimate was. We’re getting really close.” He reiterates that the crash rate has gone down, but they really need human testers testing, so get in there if you can.

Meanwhile, Richard Garriott rebutted claims that Shroud of the Avatar is a flop, some troll faked a former Star Citizen developer’s Glassdoor review of the studio, Temtem fully funded, and Fractured has passed 500 backers and half of its Kickstarter goal.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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The Daily Grind: How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin?

GIbiz put out an interesting piece this week looking 10 years into the past to see where the buzz was in the game industry back in 2008. It’s worth a read overall (that was the year some rando company called “Riot Games” snagged $7M in funding for something called “League of Legends” – pff, that’ll never go anywhere, amirite), but the segment I want to highlight this morning is the one about the industry hype cycle.

The long-ago author wonders just when the hype cycle for video games should begin, at least in terms of maximizing profits (and presumably not annoying consumers). He compares the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Prince of Persia, noting that the former’s hype cycle was twice as long as the latter’s – and performed significantly better. After all, we’re still talking about AC here in 2018!

It seems a fair topic for MMORPGs as well; for example, World of Warcraft expansion announcements and hype lulls, the difference in buzz lead-up between Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and the seemingly interminable Kickstarter MMO dev/hype/funding cycles are perennial subjects here.

How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin? How long before the planned launch of a game or an expansion – or even a Kickstarter – do you actually want to hear about it?

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Richard Garriott rejects idea that Shroud of the Avatar is a ‘flop’, says the game will run ‘forever’

Shroud of the Avatar has long been an odd bird in the MMORPG crowdfunding space. Driven by the eccentric Richard Garriott, it raised large sums of money and managed to be one of the first nostalgia-driven MMOs to make it from Kickstarter to launch – several times, we’ll note. And yet today, Eurogamer went so far as to call the game an apparent flop, citing its low Steam numbers and the layoffs we covered a few weeks ago.

Garriott has rejected the idea that the game is “on the ropes.” To Eurogamer, he reiterated Portalarium’s party line that the majority of players play off Steam and that the playerbase is “in the many thousands but not in the many tens of thousands of monthly active users at the moment.” He also rebuts the claim that half the team was let go, stating that the company went from more than 20 to a “little under” that now, not counting contractors.

So what the heck is going on over there? Garriott says Portalarium has struggled with marketing, spending on publicity that didn’t materialize; the company is “trialing new marketing internally” to try to tap into the “millions” of Ultima fans who still don’t know his new game exists.

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