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Betas

Age of Wulin to finally release in Europe

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, Patches, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

age of wulin
Age of Wulin, aka "the European version of Age of Wushu," is preparing to leave the kiddie pool of open beta for the adult swim of an official launch. Webzen announced that Age of Wulin will be officially launching in EU on November 25th.

This launch will coincide with a major game update, Chapter 3: Wisdom is a Journey. In the update, characters will get additional class skills and a level increase for several current skills. Players will also be invited to tackle current dungeons on a harder mode and fight in two new PvP tournaments.

[Source: Webzen press release]

The Repopulation tweaked housing, vehicles, and shops in October

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Housing, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation, Player-Generated Content

Repopulation
The Repopulation's end-of-October report has arrived, and in it, Above and Beyond outlines the significant improvements made to the sandbox over the last month. Of note, player shops and vendors were added, along with a slew of enhancements to the player housing and city systems, like remote shopping and Star Wars Galaxies-style house relocation. Vehicles and mounts, genetic engineering, rogue nations, the interface, and cosmetic styling also received hefty upgrades.

Capping off the update are 15,845 words' worth of build notes. Yes, we counted.

The devs note that backers not yet invited to the alpha should all be gaining access in November.

Ascent squeaks by its Kickstarter funding goal

Betas, Sci-Fi, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

ascent
The race to fund Ascent: The Space Game through Kickstarter came down to the wire, but in the final moments, the community came through and passed its $35,000 AUD goal by $334 AUD.

This is obviously good news for the game's fans and for Fluffy Kittens Studio (and no, we will never get tired of typing that name). The money will be put to good use, says the lead dev: "The $35,000 Kickstarter goal will allow us to add four months to Ascent's development, resulting in a total of eight months of development time. We strongly believe that the added time will allow us to greatly expand the game's user base by polishing the visuals and fixing the user interface."

Get your first look at Star Citizen's FPS gameplay

Betas, Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Video, MMOFPS, Sandbox, Star Citizen

star citizen
Star Citizen's first-person shooter gameplay has often gone overlooked in its large (and mostly space-bound) features package, but this weekend it's been the star of the show at PAX Australia.

In a 10-minute demo, the devteam ran a four-player co-op mission through a dilapidated space station. Eurogamer notes that animations are synced between viewpoints and players, and that players can move their heads independent of their guns.

The FPS module is currently scheduled to be released (among other things) in 2015. You can get your first look at this combat in the screenshots and video below.

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Gigantic wants to greatly expand its alpha test

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, MOBA

gigantic
Gigantic's alpha program is progressing fairly well, but the team is concerned that the pool of available testers have yet to push the servers to their limits. The solution: expand the MOBA's alpha test.

"The whole point of the test is to find out how many players it takes to push our game systems and our server capacity over the cliff," Motiga posted this week. "So bad news for us is good news for you: We desperately need more of you, so we will be adding more alpha testers throughout the fall season. Thousands of new testers."

The studio is also working to expand the alpha past North America to other regions and is hiring more team members to support a worldwide rollout.

H1Z1's audio is a key part of its immersion

Betas, Horror, Video, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, H1Z1

h1z1
When done right, you hardly ever consciously acknowledge a game's sound, but when it's missing or done poorly, it can jar a player out of desired immersion. In a dev diary posted today, H1Z1 Technical Architect Greg Spence talks about the sound of the game and demonstrates a few tests.

"So much goes into making these sounds seem realistic beyond just choosing an audio file to play," Spence explains. "Taking into account your surroundings, whether you are inside or outside, what type of ground you are on, time of day, and even weather can play a big part in the final thing you hear."

Spence discusses sound effects, environment sounds, and, of course, music. You can check out the audio test videos after the break!

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Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade announces $15 pioneer founder packs

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, News Items, Free-to-Play, Warhammer 40k, Miscellaneous

Warhammer 40k Eternal Crusade
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade has just announced a new founder pack option, the pioneer pack. Pre-order founder packs running from $40 to $450 went live last June, but the newly announced pioneer packs cost only $15. They're aimed squarely at gamers "who want to contribute to the founder's program [...] without as much of an investment," says Behaviour Online's Miguel Caron.

The game's planned hybrid model will restrict free-to-play gamers to the Ork Boyz faction. Pioneer packs "extend the Ork experience" with perks including an Ork-only character slot, 15,000 RTP, badges, gear, and the opportunity to pay for access to the game module planned for early 2015.

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BioWare delays Shadow Realms' alpha

Betas, Business Models, New Titles, News Items, Miscellaneous, OARPG

Shadow Realms
The planned closed alpha test for Shadow Realms, the not-so-massive BioWare OARPG announced back in August, is being delayed, says a new producer letter on the official site. Senior Producer Dallas Dickinson says the devs just "need a bit more time" to gather and process player feedback:
One of the most important things to us on Shadow Realms is listening to – and making changes based on – that player feedback. Having fans play the game at Gamescom and PAX Prime gave us incredible insight. [...] The thing is, feedback was so good it made us want to do more, to get a bit further down the road, before opening Shadow Realms up again. We got so many excellent questions about what the game will be, beyond just the multiplayer piece that we've revealed, and we'd like to be able to show you some answers rather than just telling you what the answers will one day be. But we need a bit more time. We've taken a deep look at the state of the game – what it is now, what we intend it to be, and most importantly what it could be – and realized this is an opportunity to take a great game and make it even better before bringing it back for more feedback from you.
Dickinson promises regular producer letters in the coming months. Interested gamers can still sign up for alpha on the official site.

WoW level designers discuss Draenor's callbacks and vignettes

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

WoW
Blizzard's final Artcraft blog for World of Warcraft has arrived today in the form of an interview conducted by Community Manager Bashiok. Once again, the topic is the design of Nagrand, a zone made iconic in The Burning Crusade expansion and returning in Warlords of Draenor next month.

The five interviewees, all level designers, discuss preserving key landmarks and environments in the proto-zone and how they've incorporated appropriate callbacks for classic content. The popular Ring of Blood arena quests will return, for example, as might everyone's favorite escort quest NPC, Corki. "Vignettes" will sound familiar to fans of more modern MMOs, as well; Senior Level Designer Victor Chong explains:
We've added a lot more vignette stuff, and I was working with Kurt Sparkuhl, a quest designer, on how I could add hidden stuff on the tops of mountains. So we have a lot of vignettes where players have to figure out how to get up there without just being able to walk up. It's stuff like doing some jumping around to get into an area, and then when you get to the top, you find a goblin with a glider that'll let you glide to specific areas that aren't normally accessible. Then if you get through all of that and land on a specific spot, you're rewarded with whatever the prize is there from a chest or something. We're doing a lot of that, and Nagrand was a good test bed for those kinds of things.
The complete interview is available on the WoW official site.

Trove plans open beta for November 5th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Classes, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Trove

trove
Step by blocky step, Trove is working its way toward release. Next week, the colorful sandbox will reach another milestone as it goes into open beta on Wednesday, November 5th.

Trion Worlds announced the upcoming transition today along with one happy fact: There will be no wipes from closed beta. The studio also mentioned that the game's sixth class, the Candy Barbarian (seriously), will be coming "soon."

Trove transitioned from alpha to beta testing late in September.

See Stormthrone's first gameplay teaser

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Free-to-Play, Browser

stormthorne
Hearing is one thing, seeing is another. Today we're no longer just hearing about R2Games' Stormthrone but getting our very first glimpse at actual gameplay (as measured in nanoseconds of video).

The studio released a teaser trailer that highlights the game's PvP battles, co-op mode, and loot system. Currently the game is accepting alpha signups, although the official site has some minigames for fans to earn in-game goodies for their future characters. You can check out the teaser after the break!

[Source: R2Games press release]

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The Think Tank: Fixing the Landmark-EQ Next perception problem

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, The Think Tank, Landmark

Not a Landmark post on Massively goes by without at least one commenter essentially telling SOE to talk about EverQuest Next or shut up. Massively's MJ Guthrie, who writes our EverQuest franchise column, has herself explained until she's blue in the face that Landmark is EQ Next's foundation, and SOE has talked plenty about EQ Next independently too, but for some reason, the explanations aren't sticking with the MMO populace, so the same complaints are voiced in every thread.

So what gives? Has SOE been too confusing with the Landmark/EQ Next co-branding? How can SOE dig itself out of this persistent perception problem? That's what I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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Pathfinder Online early enrollment will not be launching today

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Launches, News Items, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder Online
Pathfinder Online's early enrollment launch for paying backers has already been delayed multiple times since its original goal of September 15th, and last night we learned that release has been put off yet again. Goblinworks' Ryan Dancey explained that the ongoing stress tests convinced the team that the server infrastructure needs bulking-up; consequently, the October 30th date -- today -- has been set aside. Dancey wrote,
We have set an internal objective of being able to handle 2,000 simultaneous connections, and 100 characters active in a single Hex as our minimum threshold for server performance. This reflects our expected peak concurrent activity for the first 10,000 players in game - roughly what we anticipate during the first 90 days of Early Enrollment activity. Currently the server does not reliably meet that benchmark.

With your help, we generated tremendously useful data via the stress test process and our performance team is confident that they can identify areas of the server system that can be rapidly improved to hit that benchmark. They are building and testing the necessary software and are making steady progress.

We want the first players in Pathfinder Online to have a high-quality experience and we are committed to delivering the game in a condition that meets that objective. Rather than commence Early Enrollment on the 30th we are going to enter a temporary "hold" state while we continue to optimize the server. When the team is confident that our benchmark for performance has been met, we will then exit the "hold", notify the community and begin a 48 hour countdown to Early Enrollment.
Dancey told players that Pathfinder's alpha test will continue, allowing devs to "roll out these polished feature iterations and to test server capacity improvements," and he thanked backers for their assistance and feedback.

World of Warcraft chronicles the challenges of Draenor zone design

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Lore, Previews, News Items, Dev Diaries, Subscription

WoW
The third installment of World of Warcraft's Artcraft blog series is now live, and in it, Blizzard Senior Level Designer Ely Cannon discusses the visual style of zone design and how the artists and level designers team up to sculpt the look of zones and sub-zones within the limitations of the game engine. Cannon again references popular zone Nagrand and the difficulties of creating color depth and variation in the Warlords of Draenor version of the famed Burning Crusade zone, with its sweeping and sometimes one-note rolling plains. (Spoiler: The problem is solved with even more green.)

Blizzard has also updated the WoW game guide with new lore about the Draenei leader Velen and human wizard Archmage Khadgar. Both posts are found on the official Blizzard blog.

Line of Defense's Derek Smart recaps ongoing test phase

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, MMOFPS, Dev Diaries

Line of Defense
3000AD's Derek Smart has penned a new Line of Defense developer blog outlining the current state of the MMOFPS title's early access test phase. Smart explains that more than half of the game's world stations have been opened to testers so far, with two more stations expected to open soon. The final four will unlock when aircraft are patched in.

Smart also says that his team is working on a public roadmap website so that players can track release progress and vote on new features. He thanks his testers for their patience with the "staggered" test schedule. " It is for the greater good," he writes. "Been doing this a very – very – long time, so you just have to trust that I know what I'm doing."

Earlier this fall, Line of Defense launched on Steam's early access program, but an error allowed the public to download the game without paying for a founder's pack, leading to negative reviews when the games were confiscated and eliciting a fiery response from Smart.

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