sandbox interactive

The studio behind Albion Online.

Massively OP Podcast Episode 181: Some devs just want to watch the world tree burn

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin sift through the ashes of World of Warcraft’s burning developments, make sense of Chris Roberts’ “You win by having fun!” mantra, get cozy with werewolves and tieflings, and more!

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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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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Albion Online’s Merlyn update is live with faction warfare and crafter tweak – here’s the new trailer!

Albion Online’s enriched its sandbox self with another big update today, this one the long-awaited Merlyn patch. As we’ve been covering, the most interesting bit for existing players is surely the complete overhaul and implementation of the faction system in the sandbox, which allows players to fight for one of five city-based factions for loot and fame. Crafters and traders will further find a revamp of the gathering and refining systems, the market, resource locations, and trade caravans.

“In this new update, players will find a plethora of new features, like Faction Warfare, new open-world PvP opportunities, new and unique rewards for faction-based activities, refining and crafting bonuses, a redistribution of resources, a vastly improved user interface for the Marketplace, a new dungeon, and numerous additional improvements. On top of that, a 25% Fame boost applies to all activities until Monday, August 6.”

Trailer down below!

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Albion Online teases bosses and promises a fame boost for next week’s Merlyn deployment

Merlyn is landing in Albion Online next week, bringing a big overhaul to the game’s factions – including new factional bosses for each key city and biome. Sandbox Interactive’s latest video previews five of them, and you don’t really even need voiceover to explain that each of them is a bit different; for example, the Thetford boss is clearly a fireball-flinging wizard, while Lymhurst’s champion was Legolas in another life.

Sandbox has also posted up a huge guide to crafting in the game, covering novice unlocks, item study, foci, and quality.

Finally, with next week’s launch, players will be enjoying a big boost to Fame. “To kickoff the Merlyn update in style, and since we know how much you love that Fame, next week from [July 31st to August 6th] all players will get 25% more Fame for all activities in the world of Albion – gathering, crafting, killing mobs, and everything else,” says the studio.

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MMORPG sandbox Fractured’s Kickstarter has just fully funded at over $130,000

Phew! A few weeks ago, I was not confident that Fractured’s Kickstarter was going to make it, but it cleared its goal with just a few days to go, and now the Kickstarter has ended, having successfully funded at over $130,000 US (well past its $116,817 goal) with 1050 backers.

The SpatialOS game caught our attention when it surfaced a year ago thanks to its anti-grind sentiment, its focus on opt-in PvP, its detailed lore, and of course, its Star Wars Galaxies-esque player city systems. Fractured’s isometric view might make it look more like Albion Online, a game with which it will likely be competing, but its lack of forced PvP will hopefully endear it to a wider playerbase.

“Funding of Fractured will continue on our website, fracturedmmo.com, once the Kickstarter campaign is over,” Dynamight Studios says. “You’ll be able to buy a pledge pack or upgrade to a higher one (if available) once Kickstarter pledges have been integrated with Fractured accounts.” Note that it’ll include funding for future stretch goals too, so things like the Labyrinth levels, enhanced character creation, and animal taming aren’t entirely out of the question.

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Happy birthday, Albion Online – you launched one year ago today

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since hardcore sandbox Albion Online officially launched? I cannot, but that might be because its separate Steam launch wasn’t that long ago. Sandbox Interactive has a recap of its first year up on the game’s official site today, and yes, it does mention the obnoxious DDOS attacks that took the game large out of commission last summer for what seemed like weeks as the hackers tried to blackmail the devs. That frustrating period was followed by several updates, as you’ll recall, including Joseph (PvP and PvE content), Kay (GvG content and the map overhaul), and Merlyn on the way. The devs pepper the commentary with major guild political movement too for those of you who love your popcorn and drama.

To celebrate, Sandbox has a raffle going for some pretty decent packs, so go check that out if you’re curious. The company has also begun a new round of referral rewards, which is definitely going to be the easiest way to get to ride around on a bighorn ram.

Happy birthday, Albion – here’s to many more.

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Albion Online brings faction warfare with the Merlyn update on July 31

Everyone does not get along in Albion Online. It’s not a game about everyone holding hands and being great friends. But when the Merlyn update arrives on July 31st, players will have a new reason to not be friends and to actually try to smash one another in the face with a big hammer. See, the patch is bringing factional warfare, which expands the reasons for smacking someone around from “you took my harvesting node” to “our colors don’t mix and you took my harvesting node.”

The update is also bringing along outposts, trade caravans, faction rewards, and resource redistribution across the world. All of it should give players even more reason to poke at one another in a fight over resources, as well as plenty of exciting new opportunities to do so. In other words, get ready for things to be much more contentious when July 31st rolls around.

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Albion Online’s new dev video talks faction warfare

If faction warfare is your thing, then here’s an Albion Online dev talk video you might want to watch. In this video, Game Director Robin Henkys covers the basics, from describing faction warfare to explaining how you join a faction and detailing rewards for participation. As we’ve previously covered, the new system coming in the Merlyn update is a way for players to participate in PvP in battles between cities without being crushed by the reputation system that governs other parts of the world. In fact, it’s even possible to take part in the faction system and gather points for your side even through PvE-focused activities.

Faction Warfare allows players to participate in the conflict between rival cities on Albion’s Royal Continent, and offers guilds, as well as solo and guildless players, the opportunity for open-world PVP on the Royal Continent. Along with incentives like Faction Standing and new Faction-based Killboards, this system will also introduce new resources, items, and mounts that can be used by players of all levels:
City Heart Fragments: These shards can be used in resource refining to reduce the amount of raw resources needed, or used as a crafting ingredient in various faction items
Faction Capes: The first of a completely new line of cape slot items to enhance combat builds
Faction Mounts: A new set of baby animals that can be raised into mounts with unique stats

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Albion Online has big balance changes planned for the next season of GvG

Sandbox Interactive has a new dev talk video out on Albion Online’s upcoming balance overhaul, specifically for the 5v5 GvG meta, group fights, and the crowd control builds that pretty much, as SI puts it, “reign supreme” in that game mode. Nature builds are definitely due for a nerf, while a number of weapons (bows and staves in particular) are getting buffs.

Buzz on the official forums and Reddit is relatively tempered, though there are definitely some folks annoyed with their perception that Sandbox is fixing only the most glaring problems with the metagame and not focusing on weapon balance overall.

Meanwhile, the devs have updated their doc on the upcoming third season of GvG play, which technically begins on June 23rd, though functionally the killing doesn’t start until the 26th. Have fun!

The whole dev talk is down below.

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Here’s how Albion Online is revamping the royal cities, crafting, and faction warfare in Merlyn

Albion Online Game Director Robin Henkys has big plans for the game’s fourth major update, Merlyn. As he lays out in a new dev video, one of the key focuses of the update is that age-old problem in MMORPGs: How do you keep the core cities populated once players have moved on?

Sandbox Interactive plans to make the royal continent’s cities more desirable with economic bonuses – for example, refinining bonuses (different for every town, but not in alignment with the biome the city’s in) and crafting bonuses (the forest city will grant bonuses to crafting bows). Gatherers, on the other hand, will find that the areas immediately outside the cities will have more resources of some types, with less in the more distant lands, thereby encouraging trade.

Of course, there’s much more in the update; Sandbox actually considers the faction warfare changes to the be most important, and the cities factor into that too as each city will be granted a special resource and sign on mercenaries – you! – to defend their banners. It’s basically a five-sided but optional RvR system with nifty rewards (even capes) to make it worth the risk.

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MMORPG sandbox Albion Online has officially launched on Steam with big discounts

If it seems as if we’ve been covering Albion Online for a long time, that’s because it’s true. In fact, the game officially launched almost a year ago – you’ll recall it as the PvP sandbox that survived exortiony DDOS attacks, slammed servers, and a round of layoffs. One thing it didn’t do? Port to Steam. But we can’t say that anymore, as the title has officially landed on Steam as of today, complete with achievements and a big fame boost for the next week.

Do note that this is a buy-to-play title, though its $30 basegame pricetag has been cut down to under $20 as part of the launch festivities. Naturally, there are bigger bundles for fatter wallets too as well as a sale of all the game’s packs and upgrades. Referring a buddy? The new season of rewards for that has also just kicked off.

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Albion Online discusses the royal city revamp for its upcoming Merlyn update

The trouble with having one universal hub in Albion Online is that basically no one cares about the five other hubs in the game. That’s what the game’s next content update, Merlyn, is partly meant to address. While Caerleon will not be changed, each of the other five royal cities will be getting bonuses to refining certain types of goods and item production. Thus, players will be inspired to seek out the other cities with Caerleon as a fallback, rather than just chilling forever in Caerleon.

“But what about PvP?” The developers are glad you asked that because that segues nicely into having five sides of faction warfare running. Each of the cities represents a different faction, and as it turns out, the factions all hate each other… which means that signing on with a faction allows you to fight people from the other faction anywhere. But signing on to a faction also gives you access to special resources. So it should give you more reason to explore and more opportunities to fight people, even in otherwise safe zones. How joyous! Remember to enjoy all of that when it comes to Steam next week on May 16th.

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Albion Online is coming to Steam on May 16 – check out the latest trailer

Crowdfunded indie PvP sandbox Albion Online officially launched last summer, finding so much initial success that its servers were hammered and it even suffered a round of extortion-centered DDOS attacks before settling into a scaled-down MMO live team and playerbase. So it always surprises me that the game never came to Steam, in spite of the fact that it was Greenlit on the platform four years ago. The team announced in March it was rectifying that oversight, and as of today, we now have a date: May 16. That’s for PC, Mac, and Linux.

“With its availability on this new platform, the sandbox MMOPRG will now also offer standard Steam features, including achievements – and as a thank-you to veteran players, all achievements developed for the Steam launch will also be available in the native Albion Online client.”

There’s a bonus expies event too. “To celebrate the release on Steam, the Berlin-based development studio Sandbox Interactive is also granting old and new players alike a week-long Fame boost,” says Sandbox Interactive. “From May 16-22, all players will get 25% more Fame for all activities in the world of Albion – gathering, crafting, killing mobs, and everything else.”

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