What’s your favorite video game zone? Green hill zone? Marble zone? Aqua lake zone? When Rend comes out, players will find that zone biomes are more than just environmental set dressing — they’ll feature greatly into one’s chances of survival.
The team spent some time yesterday discussing the first few environments that players will progress through in Rend. These include the lush Valley, the pockmarked Center, the cold and black Cave, and the freezing Eternal Wastes. As players progress, they’ll find that each subsequent biome is tougher to survive yet offers better rewards.
The description of the Valley is an example of how the team imagines gameplay becoming steadily more challenging: “The further you get away from your Divinity Stone, the more dangerous the environment becomes. Traveling to the local watering hole is generally a safe bet, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you should probably be well equipped and bring a few friends. Spiders scuttle among the trees, wolves prowl the hills, and beautiful but mysterious elk look down their regal noses at all the other creatures in the Valley.”
Snooty elk, people. You don’t stand a chance.
It’s very rare that this job allows us to use the terms “shutdown” and “good” in the same sentence, but the upcoming alpha shutdown for SkySaga is one of those rare instances. After all, the only reason the alpha test is shutting down is so that the game can move into its open beta, which will serve as a de facto soft launch. See? That’s a good thing.
Other betas were doing stuff this week, too, so that’s also a good thing.
And we’ve got our full list of games just below if you’d like a more rundown-style update. As always, we appreciate it if you let us know what stuff has jumped to another phase of testing or might otherwise be erroneous; we do our best to keep up with changes, but we do miss things from time to time.
Start small, grow wide: This is the class philosophy in the upcoming survival sandbox Rend. While there are only four classes in the game, players will be able to quickly differentiate themselves from others as they level up and make important decisions about how to develop their characters.
In today’s dev blog, the team outlines how the class system will work. Players will choose a mix-and-match pairing between a primary and secondary class, with each combo offering a different experience and set of tools than the others. Then players can earn and spend talent points to flesh out those roles.
“One of our main goals when designing these classes was to give an actual choice to the player. Each class has a benefit and a drawback, sometimes in the same talent tier,” Frostkeep said.
Frostkeep Studios has another dev blog out this week explaining how Rend will improve on traditional survival sandboxes. How? Factions.
The studio’s Jordan Leithart argues that “one of the biggest draws of survival games is the community,” which is great and all for super social people and extroverts. But a lot of potential players will find themselves overly intimidated by a game where most of the people who meet would rather kill them than take the time and risk to become BFFs. Consequently, the studio is adding joinable factions — three of them, in fact, which’ll sound familiar to MMO players who consider themselves Dark Age of Camelot and Camelot Unchained loyalists.
“My favorite part about factions (along with some other systems that we have in place) is that there is a spot for everyone to help with,” Leithart writes. “If you don’t want to take part in the Reckoning, that’s great. You can spend the time leading up to it gathering resources and crafting the necessary gear to help the faction survive the night. If your idea of fun is to protect your hunter gatherer’s from roaming bands of opponent factions, then you’re needed for the faction to thrive.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, City of Heroes-inspired superhero MMORPG Ship of Heroes launched its Kickstarter, seeking $400,000. But three days later, Heroic Games canceled the crowdfunding attempt, saying it believed it “went to Kickstarter too early.” The new plan is to return to development, raise awareness, take donations through the website, and retool development based on its current level of funding, meaning a potentially smaller but earlier game.
In happier news, congrats are due to post-apoc sandbox Edengrad, which successfully launched into early access. Edengrad was funded last year for over $50,000 US thanks to Kickstarter backers.
Meanwhile, Dual Universe reached another stretch goal, Worlds Adrift launched its 6.0 update, Grim Dawn detailed the Necromancer class coming in its first expansion, Elite: Dangerous dropped its cash shop prices permanently, Starfighter Inc. continues to inch its way toward its Kickstarter end, and Shroud of the Avatar is in the midst of another free trial period.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.
It should be quite obvious that the developers over at Rend are huge survival sandbox fans, because why else would you make a game in a particular genre? And in being great fans, the team has had plenty of first-hand experience into these games’ strengths and weaknesses.
In a new fireside chat, the devs talk about two key issues that many other survival sandboxes have, namely a promise of a great PvP war that never comes and an imbalance between player groups. To rectify this, Rend will force players to choose a population-limited faction from the start and then unleash a regular “Reckoning” in which all faction base shields drop to expose these structures to threats both PvE and PvP.
The chat goes on to say that once these core systems were in place, the team exploded with ideas on how to make Rend better, such as including an Ultima Online-like skill system. The decision to launch in early access was also defended, as the team said that the desire to generate as much feedback as possible prompted the move.
If you’ve ever been responsible for interacting with a toddler for any length of time, you’ll probably have some idea of the nature of the “why” practice implemented at Frostkeep Studios. Essentially, the idea is that when someone asks for something, you ask “why” five times to get at the core reason behind it. It might sound childish due to its specific similarity to one of the more annoying games children play with authority figures, but it also informs one of the central philosophies behind developing for Rend to hopefully improve upon the whole survival genre.
The official post explains is that for every element within the game, there needs to be a reason to include it more robust than “these other games have it as a core feature.” It has to be a feature that is, fundamentally, fun for players in this game and something that works well for this design. Whether or not the philosophy will work out in the long run remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a good place to start.
I was pretty well taken by multiplayer survival sandbox Rend as soon as I saw it at this year’s PAX East 2017, as I wrote yesterday. The concept immediately spoke to me as taking a lot of the cool ideas from other survival games while making the game as a whole into something very different. But I also entirely understand that sometimes you can look at the game and wonder what makes it so different. After all, it’s hardly the first time that we’ve had a game using a lot of the building blocks. So why am I over the moon about Rend but not its obvious inspirations and close cousins?
The answer is that in some cases, I am over the moon about its close cousins. But it’s also important to understand the distinction and the fact that Rend is not, say, Crowfall or Conan Exiles or any other game. So what makes Rend different? Not necessarily better, but how does it stack up to the obvious points of comparison?
I don’t really like survival games, typically — I understand why a lot of people do like them, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t care for them myself, for a whole forest of reasons. To make a survival game that I want to play, you have to really come at the genre from a side angle, which can be hard to do while retaining the things that people like about the genre.
At this early juncture, I can’t say that Rend (official site) will do all of that. But I can say that the groundwork is in place for something that might be worth getting excited about.
I was incredibly fortunate to be granted one of the first meetings with Frostkeep Studios and a first look at Rend itself, in a conspiratorial PAX meeting on the second floor of a fish restaurant on the Boston piers. It felt a bit as if I were being shown something that should not be seen, some artifact of great power that had been hidden away from prying eyes. Perhaps that’s as it should be.