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Conan Exiles patch brings gamebreaking bugs, causes community uproar

It seems there’s been a bit of a hubbub surrounding the latest patch for Conan Exiles. It all started a few days ago, when Funcom announced that the “500+ patch” (so named for its “over 500 changes, adjustments, and fixes”) would likely be delayed due to many dev team members taking a “summer break.” This, as you probably guessed, disappointed much of the game’s community, who made their disappointment known on the forums. In response, two days after the initial announcement, Funcom pushed the patch onto the test servers and put out a call to arms for players to come provide feedback, incentivizing them with free copies of the game’s upcoming DLC for players who reached level 25 within a twelve-hour window.

That decision may have been a bit short-sighted, as players packed the test servers in a mad rush to reach level 25 and claim their free DLC, arguably at the expense of actually testing the patch and reporting bugs. So, perhaps unsurprisingly in retrospect, when the patch was pushed to the live servers yesterday, it brought with it legions of unexpected and often game-breaking issues, leading many players to call for complete server rollbacks.

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Ship of Heroes discusses the difference between Alpha and Beta

What makes an alpha? If your answer is “marketing jargon,” you’re not entirely wrong. But the team behind Ship of Heroes is going for a slightly more formalized definition, and it’s explained on the official site right now. In short, an alpha is when you have people who aren’t part of the development team running around in the game, because that’s when you can find the bits that are broken without developers who just know to avoid that stuff.

The team is also preparing for its next major alpha milestones, starting with a 50-player login test with everyone logging into a spot and running around. Assuming that goes well, it’s time to move on to the same thing with a full-fledged invasion, adding combat into the mix. If you’re curious about the exact divisions between alphas, betas, and closed vs. open status, check out the whole piece on the official site.

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Rend is still on track for a feature-complete Early Access this year

The alpha testing for Rend has just recently begun, and as the game’s official Twitter account helpfully informed us, the game is still on track for its Early Access release later this year. Of course, distinctions between Early Access and alpha testing can be rather hazy at this point, so it’s a good thing that Rend’s developers have a roadmap both outlining the overall plans for the game and explaining that they see “Early Access” as the point when the game could be seen as complete without any further updates.

Eager to be part of the testing but not there just yet? Good news; the next wave of test invitations should be getting sent out along with the improved PvP mechanics update, which lines up with the first bullet item on the alpha development roadmap. So things are moving along quite nicely as the game’s development continues. If you’re excited for the game moving forward, there’s every reason to get further pumped up by the news.

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The Daily Grind: How long is too long for early access?

Let’s be real here, there’s no question in anyone’s mind that DayZ has been in early access far longer than it should be. By the same token, I don’t think anyone would begrudge Radical Heights for still being in early access. But somewhere between those two extremes lie a large number of games, some of whom have been in ostensible early access for months, some of which have been there for years, and so forth.

In many ways, early access is like the new version of the game in perpetual open beta; there were many free-to-play games that never technically launched, just stayed in open beta forever until they finally shut down. And yet those games were selling things normally, making the distinction between launch and open beta into a very blurry and nebulous thing. Early access is already blurry, since it asks for money for a game that is decidedly early in its development cycle.

So what do you think, dear readers? How long is too long for early access? Is there a clear limit beyond which games should just bite the bullet and launch, or is it entirely down to the specific game?

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Ship of Heroes readies combat alpha, shows off a massive raid test

It’s a hundred identical superheroes in hot pants facing off against a giant robot, and that robot does not stand a chance.

The following video may look a little odd, but it’s an important one for the Ship of Heroes team. It shows an internal large-scale raid test in which a hundred player clones duked it out in the same instance at the same time, maintaining a 30 frames per second rate throughout. The team says that these numbers shows how the superhero MMORPG will be able to pull off incredible fights among large groups of players and enemies in the future.

“So far, no other MMORPG using Unreal Engine 4 has publicized numbers this large,” a press release said. “Apparently the devs at Ship of Heroes are planning to provide large raids for at least 50 players right from level 1. This stands in a marked contrast to the common MMO trend of making raids endgame content that require grinding or buying loot boxes — or both.”

The Ship of Heroes team is working hard on building this City of Heroes spiritual successor and hopes to have a beta out by the end of 2018. A combat alpha is scheduled to begin next month.

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Seed explains its AI-driven design and its 2018 test plans

The bad news for fans eagerly looking on with Seed’s development is that the game isn’t going to be opening up for external testing until 2018, so you shouldn’t be expecting it any time soon. Heck, the most likely date is around summer 2018. The good news, though, is that once it does arrive players will have a new world to explore that’s driven far more by AI than anything else, according to the most recent development outline on the official site.

While the game had an initial prototype already build, the development team has gone back to basics and is building from the beginning, with the current focus on actionable objects to help guide AI entities through the game world. From there, it’s time to work on feelings and relationships to let things develop organically over time. Read through the whole document if you’re curious; it won’t make the wait any shorter, but it will possibly get you interested in waiting.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Kinya for the tip!

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EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

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EVE Online revenge war update: The war machine stalls

Last week we brought you the news of a massive new war brewing in the north of EVE Online, and The Imperium’s threat of revenge to the alliances that live there. The Imperium has been farming hard in the southern Delve region for months and has built up a massive war chest since it was kicked out of its northern territory during the colossal World War Bee conflict last year. Meanwhile, military alliance Pandemic Legion has been throwing its weight around all over nullsec, interfering in TEST Alliance’s war with Guardians of the Galaxy in the north and dropping supercapital fleets on The Imperium in the south.

The revenge war kicked off as The Imperium formed a pact with TEST Alliance and then moved over 1,000 capital ships to a staging system in the low-security system of Hakonen in the north of EVE. This war seems to be mostly about creating engaging PvP content, but for The Imperium it’s also an opportunity to get revenge on those who sided against them during World War Bee. For TEST Alliance, it’s a continuation of its conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy coalition and perhaps a way to give Pandemic Legion the bloody nose it deserves.

This week has seen some interesting developments in the war, with several failed attempts to anchor citadels and possible strategic blunders and supply issues. Read on for a breakdown of the latest in EVE Online‘s latest revenge war.

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Worlds Adrift offers an update on the next batch of Founder’s Packs

There’s a strange allure to something you want but can’t have. There’s testing available right now in Worlds Adrift, and the developers are happily tweeting out the coolest creations coming from players in the game, but the number of keys for entry to the game are limited. The latest post from the developers explains why the holdup is in place, and it comes down to a matter of making sure that new players log in to the best possible experience.

Development is focused on both fixing bugs and determining how players disperse to assure that new players will come in to a positive and engaging experience. The current plan is to release another batch of Founder’s Packs on the week of June 12th, but the plans aren’t yet locked in stone. So you should keep your eyes peeled for soon if you want into the game, but you should also feel slightly mollified by the effort being taken to make sure you’ll log in to fun.

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World of Warcraft developers are joining the PvP brawls on the test server

Do you ever get frustrated by the state of World of Warcraft’s design? Do you just wish that you could take those frustrations out on the development team? That’s kind of unhealthy, but it’s also something that you can actually deal with on the test server. The developers are on the test server, testing out PvP brawls with players… and they’re going to make it public knowledge when they’re showing up for the next few weeks. So there’s your testing motivation.

Members of the team will be queueing up for brawls on Fridays between 6:00 p.m. EST and 8:00 p.m. EST from February 3rd through February 17th, with team members belonging to the “Blizzard Alliance” or “Blizzard Horde” guilds. So you can queue up, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be fighting alongside or against a staff member. It’s up to you at that point whether you want to be polite or just take out your frustration, but it’s PvP; you’ll no doubt have plenty of opportunities to do both.

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World of Warcraft posts initial patch notes for patch 7.2 testing

The initial build of World of Warcraft patch 7.2 is up for testing now, but be fairly warned: It’s not all of the patch. It’s not even necessarily a majority of the patch; as confirmed by community manager Lore, the main focus right now is stability and testing the new Demon Invasions, which means that players can expect to see many further iterations before the patch goes live. There’s an entire chunk of stuff coming with the Broken Shore, after all.

You can peruse the patch notes for this first build now just the same; they include some nice additions like a “Sets” tab for transmog collections, higher item scaling for World Quests, and more options for gaining reputation from Emissaries past Exalted. You can also take a look at some of the new models already in the patch, including new class mounts of various hues and a long-overdue new model for Trade Prince Gallywix.

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Overwatch explains the goal of the PTR to players, and it’s not about balance

D. Va has taken a bit of a drubbing in the most recent Overwatch patch on the test server. Her guns do less damage and her armor is decreased; she’s shooting more bullets and has more health to compensate, but she’s still become squishier. The resultant outrage has led to a video response from game director Jeff Kaplan explaining that the test realm isn’t really about testing balance, but about testing whether or not the game crashes into a buggy mess after five seconds of play.

That’s not to say the developers don’t care about balance on the PTR, of course; it’s just not their primary focus, and given the small percentage of players who jump into testing, that feedback may or may not bear out once changes go live. The most important focus is making sure that all of the parts of the patch work without causing unexpected crashes or exploit-worthy bugs. So if you’re wondering why your brilliant dissertation on D. Va’s nerfing has gone without a proper response, there’s your answer. You can see Kaplan’s full response just below.

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DC Universe Online releases new powers for stat revamp testing

A lot of testing needs to go into DC Universe Online‘s stat revamp to make sure that all of the game’s powers and such actually work with the new stat balance. The alternative would be kind of embarrassing. Three new sets have been added to the game’s test servers for players to double-check; you can log in to the test realm and see how Atomic, Gadgets, and Sorcery will work under the revised stats. Or just how much you like playing them at level 30, since all new characters will start at level 30 for testing purposes.

Players are asked to focus on endgame content to give a clear picture of how well the new sets are performing, whether or not they’re fun to play, and so forth. There are also vendors to get your characters equipped in a jiffy, so don’t worry about catching up; just make a new character with one of the power sets being tested and go to town. If you’re a dedicated fan of the game, it’s a good time to get in there and make sure that the revamped sets feel fun to play for the future.

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