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Elite: Dangerous has no offline mode for story reasons

Betas, Sci-Fi, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

These just keep going, huh.
Frontier Developments head honcho David Braben has been working overtime to defend the 11th-hour revelation that Elite: Dangerous will have no offline play option. A recent video interview with Braben includes his response to these issues; he states that it's not off the table, but it's incompatible with the way that the game handles storytelling. The game world is meant to change over time based on player actions, and it wasn't as functional without players being affected by each another.

Braben explains that the game's missions are generated in part by aggregates of player activity; if a majority of players choose to support a rebel faction on a given planet, for example, then that faction becomes more powerful, and the nature of missions related to those rebels changes. Keeping the game online ensures that these changes can be reflected in gameplay, making the experience more dynamic and engaging. The full interview also covers the details of beta testing and control setups, if you're not as interested in the fine details of staying online while playing in single-player mode.

Elite: Dangerous formally launches tomorrow.

Make My MMO: December 7 - 13, 2014

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Shards Online pretty much stole the show. Sure, Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous made some noise like they always do, but the player-driven sandbox world-builder from Citadel Studios not only polished off a successful Kickstarter campaign but also started getting a bit of pub outside the usual MMO blogging circles.

Click past the cut for the rest of this week's crowdfunding roundup.

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Shards closes its successful Kickstarter campaign with a livestream

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Shards Online has already met its Kickstarter goals, and now Citadel Studios is throwing a celebratory wrap-up livestream as the clock winds down. And when we say now, we really mean now, since the stream runs from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT today. The team will be giving away alpha codes and riffing on some of the gameplay viewable in the new campaign highlight video that we've embedded after the break.

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Elite newsletter talks new ships, Voyager 2

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

Frontier has emailed the 53rd edition of its Elite: Dangerous newsletter. It features everything from Voyager 2 ("still traveling and in the correct location for the year 3300") to the new Adder and Lakon Type 7 player ships to a bit of lore and the usual community chatter.

The Adder is a new exploration-focused craft designed to complement the pre-existing combat- and trade-focused ships. The Type 7 is a mid-range trading vessel with signifcant cargo capacity and the ability to take a beating.

Shards lead dev talks skill caps, pickpocketing, and more

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Citadel Studios CEO Derek Brinkmann was interviewed by Worlds Factory this week, and the subject of course was indie sandbox Shards Online. The piece explains Shards' debt to both Neverwinter Nights and Ultima Online, the latter of which Brinkmann helped develop.

He explains Shards' current skill cap (each skill tops out at 50 while the total cap is 250) as well as everything from hirelings and tamed companions to housing, pickpocketing, and guild wars!

Players power direction of Oort Online's development

Betas, Fantasy, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Oort Online's dev team is not content to make this voxel sandbox in the isolation of its ivory tower (or the corner of a deserted warehouse, whatever may be), but it has been asking for constant input from backers for the direction of the game's development. "As the game currently stands, the playable features are quite contained as we've been focusing on establishing the core MMO services and game engine," the devs posted.

In a recent backer survey, 43% of those surveyed asked for the devs to prioritize the creation of character races out of the four options presented. In addition, the team said that some of the biggest priorities for a 1.0 release include resource gathering, crafting, and PvE combat. At the bottom of the list? "Real money purchases -- I want short cuts!"

Oort Online is a "universe-sized" sandbox that's currently in alpha testing and has raised over $123,000 in crowdfunding.

[Thanks to Jose for the tip!]

Star Citizen's latest patch adds another ship, drunk effects

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

Star Citizen's latest patch is now live. Actually, it's Arena Commander's latest patch, where Arena Commander is the dogfighting and ship pornography simulator that allows players to explore various craft as Cloud Imperium developers get them "hangar-ready."

AC version adds the Anvil Gladiator to the mix, along with a drunk effect for your hangar's liquor cabinet. CIG encourages you to "please drink responsibly."

Shards Online showcases 30 seconds of housing

Fantasy, Video, Sandbox, Housing, Crowdfunding, Buy-to-Play

Housing enthusiasts who have been following Shards Online will like the game's latest video release. Though short in duration, it whets your abode appetite by showcasing various housing styles that players will be able to obtain and place in the open world. It also teases the customization options by giving a peek at a few decorations and promising oodles more.

Shards Online has surpassed its Kickstarter goal and has less than $5K remaining until the next stretch goal (the story editor toolkit) is reached. Interested fans have two more days to back the project; the Kickstarter closes at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, December 12th.

[Source: Citadel Studios press release]

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Elite: Dangerous is due for zero more wipes, releases launch trailer

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

If you weren't clear on whether Elite: Dangerous has launched yet, prepare to remain slightly unclear. Frontier Community Manager Edward Lewis hit the forums earlier this week to clarify that the gamma 2 test phase open to backers will not be wiped prior to next week's official launch:
Hi guys, This is just a quick update to confirm that there won't be a wipe at launch.
So it's not formally launched until December 16th, but it's pretty much launched in the ways that matter. Lewis further dismissed concerns about exploits benefiting early access players. "We're looking at ways to find people who have used exploits. Don't worry about that! But also, don't worry about it if you have used an exploit - the guys on the dev team know the difference between testing something out and abusing the systems!"

Massively's Mike Foster toured the game a few weeks ago, writing that "the gamma version finally brings Frontier's full vision into focus, and the result is a challenging, complex title." The buy-to-play MMO took home Massively's Most Underrated award this year.

We've got the new launch trailer tucked behind the break!

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Make My MMO: November 30 - December 6, 2014

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Shards Online talked up its permadeath plans as well as how it intends to balance crafting vs. loot. TUG's devs revealed that they're hoping for an investor, while Star Citizen continued to make a lot of money and a lot of commenter rage.

Finally, Pantheon previewed a dungeon with a single screenshot and continued taking donations via Patreon. The rest of this week's MMO crowdfunding news roundup is after the break.

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Star Citizen's Hornet available to all backers this week

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

I'm a Star Citizen backer, but I didn't pledge enough to pilot the Anvil Hornet prior to launch. Thanks to Cloud Imperium, though, I'll be flying it in Arena Commander anyway, at least for the next week. The Hornet has been unlocked for all backers, according to a posting on the game's website.

"The Hornet is the civilian version of the F7A Hornet flown off of the elite Bengal carrier vanguard of the UEE Navy," CIG explains. "It may not be the prettiest ship but it is the go-to short range fighter due to Anvil's sturdy design and ability to take as much punishment as it can dish out."

In other SC news, Chris Roberts published another Letter from the Chairman last night which includes tidbits on multicrew ships, modular ship design, and exterior customization options.

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Betawatch: November 29 - December 5, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

Betawatch Landmark
Landmark's beta is getting PvE in 10 days! Because it's actually a beta! What else is new in the world of MMO testing? We've also purged the heck out of the Betawatch list after the cut thanks in large part to the eagle-eyed observations of Massively reader greaterdivinity. A number of games, including Archlord 2, Argo Online, Eclipse War Online, Face of Mankind, Legend of Silkroad, Legion of Heroes, Margonem, Strife, and Taikodom, have departed or moved around in our list due to changes in their open beta status (most of them soft launches, but some of them, like Argo, have simply disappeared from the internet... again). Many thanks to greaterdivinity!

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Frontier teases Elite: Dangerous trailer, gives away old-school Elite for Mac

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Promotions, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

Frontier has published newsletter #52 for Elite: Dangerous. It contains a bit of lore, a sneak peek at the game's newest trailer, and a nifty offer for Mac users in the form of the original 1984 Elite game.

It's free, and all you need to do is log into Frontier's store, put the title in your cart, and check out. If you're currently playing the Elite: Dangerous Gamma or you're planning to play at launch later this month, don't forget to peruse the newsletter's comm chatter section to see how your fellow pilots are flying.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen previews an upcoming dungeon

Fantasy, News Items, Dungeons, Crowdfunding, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

If you're not getting enough of an echo, build a smaller echo chamber.
The volunteer team behind Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is apparently hard at work following the release of the game's most recent update video. A new dungeon preview is available on the game's Facebook page, showing off a single in-progress screenshot and discussing the design principles behind Amberfaet, the Kingdom Underneath. It's not mentioned exactly what it's underneath, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that it lies buried deep below the ancient drive-in movie theater. Or some surface ruins; who knows.

Amberfaet is proudly held up as a sprawling dungeon containing content for mid-level players all the way to max-level raids, with a great deal of time within dedicated simply to navigating the crumbling ruins up and down. OSHA compliance is apparently not a standard feature in the Kingdom Underneath. There's a bit more information on the official preview, if you're so inclined.

Pantheon began collecting donations through Patreon in November following the collapse of its initial funding and paid development team last spring.

Shards Online adds permadeath ruleset

Betas, Fantasy, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

shards online
Shards Online's Kickstarter campaign is on fire, having blown past its $50K fundraising goal and now plowing through stretch goals. With eight days to go on the campaign, who knows how far it'll get, but there's one thing for certain: Thanks to passing the $80,000 mark, the fantasy sandbox will incorporate permadeath into some of its server rulesets.

For the stretch goal, the developers wrote, "We will add an extra official ruleset to Alpha One with increased skill gains and permanent death! Not only will we have this ruleset running on some of our official servers, but players will be able to run these rules on their own community servers."

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