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Elite: Dangerous

Elite's latest newsletter talks hyperdrives, the Cobra MK III, and more

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous Cobra MK III
Frontier has sent out issue #19 of its Elite: Dangerous newsletter. As usual, there's plenty of interesting info on the upcoming space sim sandbox, from how heat (and heat management) factors into Elite's gameplay to the design philosophy behind the iconic Cobra MK III.

This latest letter concludes with more "mostly harmless questions" from the community, including bits about Kepler data and traversing Elite's mind-bogglingly big playfields.
There are two modes of super luminal (faster than light) travel. Super cruise (or frame shifting) is used for travel inside systems. It was originally conceived as a sub-luminal drive, but based on the fantastic collaboration we have been having with our Design Decision Forum backers it was re-worked and is now itself a super luminal system to allow relatively rapid travel within systems. Hyperspace drives are used to travel between star systems.

Hyperdrives with different ranges, charge up times and fuel consumption parameters are available, and so your particular model of hyperdrive governs your specific ability to move around the galaxy.

Both will make their debut in Alpha 4 (not counting the early version of hyperspace in Alpha 3).

Elite's premium beta starts today, expands May 30

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite Dangerous
Frontier has announced that the premium beta for Elite: Dangerous "effectively starts today." Backers may download a single-player combat build and play around with it until the full testing phase starts on May 30th.

Prior to that, the devs will roll out the fourth and final phase of Elite's alpha, wherein the sci-fi sandbox title will expand with two new modes of faster-than-light travel as well as the full Milky Way galactic map featuring 400,000,000,000 star systems.

You can read the full press release after the jump.

[Source: Frontier press release]

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Not So Massively: LoL's Twitch revamp, Dota 2's tourney sales, and D3's hotfix

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Transformers Universe, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Elite newsletter talks alpha progress, to-scale celestial bodies, and more

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous Coriolis station
Frontier has released Issue #18 of its Elite: Dangerous newsletter. It's a good 'un, too, especially if you like development progress updates, videos, and answers to interesting questions.

There are bits about the state of the game's 3.0 alpha client, a docking tutorial video, and a look at the redesign of the iconic Coriolis space station from the original Elite title. One of the more interesting fan questions relates to the size of celestial bodies. "Celestial bodies and the distances between them will be correctly scaled wherever possible [and] real astronomical data is being used," Frontier says. "To give you an idea we're currently at 116,000 stars from various catalogues and [that] includes pulsars and black holes as well as main sequence stars. Exo-planets are the other big import which we're about to start working on."

We've embedded the alpha progress video after the cut.

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Not So Massively: The official launches of SMITE and Diablo III's Reaper of Souls

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Diablo III, Elite: Dangerous

Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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GDC 2014: A video interview with Elite: Dangerous' David Braben

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

GDC 2014 in San Francisco is a great time to catch developers and ask them burning questions about their games. And that's exactly what one fan of Elite: Dangerous did, sitting down with Frontier Developments' CEO David Braben for a long chat about the upcoming MMO edition to the Elite franchise. The nearly 25-minute video interview includes information about the game, Braben's history in the gaming business, and footage of the interviewer playing the game using an Oculus Rift.

Braben revealed that "the original Elite was never conceived initially, in [his] opinion, as a space game." Instead, it was all about the freedom, being an open world. How did it come to be in space then? According to Braben, that setting was ultimately chosen because "it was easier to render." Hear more of his thoughts in the video below.

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Elite's 3.0 alpha is here, as is docking and a new video

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous Sidewinder docking
Frontier has officially released version 3.0 of the Elite: Dangerous alpha. If you've backed Elite or bought alpha access previously, you can update your client immediately and begin testing the new update.

"After successfully proving out the moment-to-moment combat gameplay and multiplayer technology in Alpha phases one and two respectively, phase three starts to move towards building out the game by adding docking, an early version of hyperspace jumps between multiple locations, and ship outfitting within an iconic Coriolis space station," explains the latest Elite press release.

The firm has also released a 3.0 trailer, which you can view along with the full press release after the break.

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Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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Elite: Dangerous discusses alpha plans and docking procedures

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

Danger, commander!  Danger!
Did yesterday's hands-on preview of Elite: Dangerous get you excited for a chance to play the game yourself? Good news -- the game's most recent newsletter confirms that the third stage of alpha testing is arriving in mid-March, meaning the game is that much closer to a wider release. And you can still jump in on the development process if you'd really like to.

But the newsletter isn't just about the continued test process; it's also about docking. As simple as that might sound, docking is a very involved portion of the game, requiring careful positioning for a proper lock. It's so complex that the most recent build of the game has actually simplified the process with an improved docking interface, making it easier for players to line up their ships correctly. Take a look at the newsletter for more details, and if you really can't wait to get in on the experience, consider supporting the game on the official site.

Hands-on with the Elite: Dangerous alpha

Betas, Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Hands-On, First Impressions, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous alpha test
I don't have much history with Elite. I played the original, circa 1985 on my dad's green monochrome Apple II, but frankly I didn't understand a bit of it and subsequently went back to Sundog and subLOGIC's fledgling wireframe Flight Simulator as a result.

By the time Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters shipped in the early to mid 1990s, I was already losing copious amounts of my adolescence to Wing Commander, Privateer, and X-Wing, all of them of course indebted to the space trading flight sim thing that David Braben and Ian Bell published a decade earlier. For all intents and purposes, then, I'm an Elite virgin despite a lifetime of playing nearly everything in the genre it inspired.

And if the Elite: Dangerous alpha client is an accurate barometer, gosh have I missed out.

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MMO Mechanics: Predicting the future of MMO game mechanics

World of Warcraft, EVE Online, EverQuest Next, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
I've been thinking heavily about the future since our parent network's budget cuts were announced, so I decided it would be very apt to pen my last edition of MMO Mechanics with that same train of thought. The industry has changed remarkably over the last decade with trends like the free-to-play revolution and innovations in everything from loot distribution to quest design. In my previous article, I looked at the trend toward using procedural generation and what that might mean for the future of MMOs.

In this article, I'd like to give a better overview of where I think the genre is headed in the coming years and what that means for game mechanics. My predictions are based on market patterns and technology developments, including the great indie revolution, the effects of declining subscriptions on investment, and upcoming virtual reality technology. Pie-in-the-sky fantasy or an accurate predictor of things to come? Let me know what you think.

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MMO Mechanics: Procedural generation is the future

City of Heroes, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, RuneScape, Love, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Trove, MMO Mechanics

MMO Mechanics title image
MMOs are infamous for the exorbitant amount of both time and money that is required to make a fantastic end product. Much of this effort and expenditure goes into producing very specific content such as leveling zones, quest chains, and dungeons. The classic themepark MMO in which all the rides are carefully engineered and maintained is compelling for a time, but the content therein tends to take longer to create than it does to exhaust. This invariably leads to redundant content that ends up on the scrapheap once it has been enjoyed for a time.

Procedural generation corrects much of this redundancy by providing essentially limitless variations of content, adding replayability and variety to the usual MMO repertoire. It also opens up some unique mechanics, like Elite: Dangerous' planned procedurally generated galaxy that is a full-scale replica of the Milky Way.

In this week's MMO Mechanics, I will look at how the genre is evolving because of how accessible procedural generation techniques have become to developers. I'll also explore how this might affect the future of MMOs by examining the mechanics that upcoming titles will incorporate.

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Not So Massively: Star Citizen's procedural planets, Diablo III's Paragon 2.0, and Pokemon's Democracy mode

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Sandbox, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile

Not So Massively title image
Star Citizen reached a whopping $39 million in crowdfunding this week amidst controversy over feature creep and the delayed dogfighting module. The next stretch goal will fund an R&D team to look into the possibility of procedurally generating entire planets for players to explore, but this feature will not be coming until after release. Developers on Elite: Dangerous were surprised this week when two games they developed as part of a company game jam event led to $6.2 million in signed publishing contracts on a yet-to-be-named platform.

Blizzard revealed the final details of Diablo III's upcoming Paragon 2.0 update that will provide theoretically endless progression, and players have figured out how to power-level characters with Diablo II style runs. As the release of Path of Exile's first mini-expansion draws near, Grinding Gear Games revealed details of what will be in the expansion, including a strange new Vaal Orb currency that can significantly buff items.

Valve announced that it will be releasing a new feature-length documentary named "Free to Play" next month, which chronicles the struggles of three participants in Dota 2's first ever million-dollar tournament. SMITE's launch event has been expanded into a new GameVid Expo event featuring prominent livestreamers and YouTube celebrities, and old character Agni received a graphical overhaul. And Twitch Plays Pokemon continues to grow in popularity, reaching over 100,000 simultaneous viewers this week and adding new Democracy and Anarchy modes.

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Here's an Elite: Dangerous alpha preview

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous alpha
If you're curious about the Elite: Dangerous alpha but don't have an extra £200 lying about, Rock, Paper Shotgun's preview article is likely the next best thing. The first impressions are largely positive, though they're gleaned from a tiny slice of Frontier's sprawling procedurally generated space sandbox.

The alpha is basically a linear series of combat missions, see. So you'll have to content yourself with voluminous amounts of prose devoted largely to the game's aesthetic. That said, the article does conclude that "sci-fi dogfighting this good is a rare treat."

Not So Massively: Elite's Alpha 2.0, Star Citizen hits $38m, PoE's first expansion, and MOBA news

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile

Not So Massively title image
Elite: Dangerous released the second phase of its alpha testing this week, giving early adopters the chance to smash each other to bits or play co-operative horde-style missions. Star Citizen hit the $38 million crowdfunding mark to unlock a solar system with an interesting oceanic planet where terraforming is banned, and it showcased the talents of its modders in episode 1.2 of The Next Great Starship.

Turn-based MOBA Arena of Heroes asked for votes on its Greenlight campaign to help the game secure a free-to-play release on Steam. SMITE revealed the deadly and barely-dressed Greek goddess Nemesis in a new god reveal video. League of Legends made a change its ladder system that allows highly skilled players to actually skip the promotion series matches, and week four of the Legends Championship Series ended with further upsets for European team Fnatic.

Blizzard revealed that Diablo III's sales have topped 15 million worldwide on all platforms, putting console sale figures at somewhere below three million units. We also discovered that items dropped before Reaper of Souls will not be enchantable when the expansion hits, and several legendary and set items will be exclusive to Torment mode. And Path of Exile announced that its first mini-expansion will land in March and has promised teasers with more info all this month.

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